Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Eric Solomon Selections

Let me introduce you to Eric Solomon.
He was named Food and Wine's 2007 Top US Importer.
Yes, Eric Solomon is the middle man, the importer, but you can trust any bottle that carries the Eric Solomon, European Cellars on it's label.
Joe, my local "wine guy" gave me this tip, "you can't miss with an Eric Solomon wine", and he is so right. The wine is imported from France, Spain and Portugal. Many of the wines are less than $10 per bottle. You can do your own research for your favorite varieties of wine by searching

Fabulous white wine is great with fish. Read a review here.
A favorite red that I buy for $7.99/bottle!!!-

"Move over Las Rocas, there's a new smash hit value in town. Outstanding ripeness and concentration, with notes of black cherry, black currants, mocha and a savory coffee note. This is a must buy by the case."

This is a favorite with burgers and pizza. It got 90 points from The Wine Advocate.

Enjoy searching for a great, affordable bottle of wine.
Please tell me your favorites in the comment section following this post.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fresh, Quick, Delicious

Yesterday was crazy-busy. I planned to make this fast and fantastic dinner. I still have basil in the garden and incredibly scrumptious corn from the Farmers Market. Add those fresh ingredients to shrimp and dinner is just a few minutes away.
see the recipe below
photo by me

Shrimp and Corn with Basil
serves 2
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kernels from 2 ears of corn
1/2 lb shelled, deveined, large shrimp
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over moderately high heat, then saute corn and shrimp, stirring, until shrimp are cooked through, 3-5 minutes. Stir in scallions and basil and season with salt and pepper.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hope Town House Rental

Monday was a very damp, rainy, cool day here in Michigan. I must say I was dreaming of being at my Bahamas house, baking something with coconuts. Instead, I had a dental appointment and walked the dog in the rain. I also booked some weeks at my house for rental guests. 2010 weeks are going fast so I thought I might let my readers know about Cozy Corner, my house on Elbow Cay in the Bahamas. Click here to view Cozy Corner and renting. Click here to read about Hope Town, the quaint settlement on Elbow Cay.
If you would like to inquire about renting Cozy Corner, send me an email by clicking on the "Contact Me" envelope to the left of this post.

Typical, quiet beach.
Cozy Corner, 3 bedroom, 2 bath house with pool.
Living space with stairs to the loft.
Full kitchen with dishwasher.
photos by me
Famous lighthouse and Hope Town cove.

Granite: Method is my Method

I love my granite counter tops and I have a penchant for gleaming counter tops. I tried a variety of microfiber towels and sponges as well as cleaners but nothing achieves the shine I love like
Daily Granite, a non-toxic cleaner by Method

No streaks or smudges and non-toxic. The packaging is 100% recycled.
This product is a winner.

I am using other Method products too, like this Hand Soap.
If you have decorative pump soap dispensers, why not use these Eco-friendly pouches to replenish your soap.
I have been using this shower spray for years. My shower remains free of soap scum and mold and only requires an occasional scrub.
Method is easy to find at most grocery stores and Target.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fall Colors

The best thing about Fall for me is the color change. While it is too early to see much change in the leaves here in Southeast Michigan, the wildflowers have changed the color of the fields and roadsides.
photo by me

Gorgeous, wild asters have turned the landscapes vivid purple, highlighted by white and gold.

I'm spending the afternoon shopping for pearls and gemstone beads for holiday jewelry. I wouldn't be surprised if I am attracted to all things purple.

Have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Must Have Baking Cookbook

When I get a new cookbook, I am pleased if I find one or two great recipes from the book. Baking, From my home to yours, by Dorie Greenspan, exceeds this expectation by leaps and bounds. It is now the first place I look for a baking recipe.

Today I found Dorie's engaging blog filled with fun stories and recipes. Dorie knew Julia Child and was invited to France for a preview of the movie, Julie & Julia. She talks about the trip to Paris and of course, good food.
photo by me

I had some plums and turned to Baking for a recipe. Here is the result, Dimply Plum Cake!

1 1/2 cups flour 2 large eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder 1/3 cup flavorless oil (canola)
1/4 teaspoon salt grated zest of 1 orange
scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon (optional)
5 tablespoons unsalted, room temp butter 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar 8 purple or red plums (halved and pitted)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 inch square baking pan and dust with flour, tapping out excess.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom, if using, together.
Using a mixer, beat the butter at med. speed until soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. On medium speed, beat in the oil, zest and vanilla. The batter will look very light and smooth, almost satiny. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.
Run a spatula around the bowl and under the batter, just to make sure there are no dry spots, then scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Arrange the plums cut side up in the batter.
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is honey brown and puffed around the plums and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 15 minutes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Need a Chuckle?

Sometimes you just need to giggle. Watch this cute video and laugh along.

Have a fun day.

Matisse Leaf Earrings

Fall is just a few hours away. I am trying to be big about it and embrace autumn with these copper earrings.

photo by me

These earrings are oxidize copper with oxidized silver ear wires. The leaf shape is reminiscent of Henri Matisse cutouts. The earrings are available on my Etsy site.

Read about Henri Matisse and his paper cut outs here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Last Day of Summer: My Highlights

Today is the last day of summer. Makes me sad and wishing I could back up. Guess I'll have to just back up with memories.

Posted by Picasa
photos by me

I have some great memories of traveling, family, friends, and enjoying being outside.

Enjoy your last day of summer and have a Happy Monday!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Super Simple Succulents

Living in Michigan, I was skeptical about growing succulents. My perception was that of cacti growing in the dessert. I read that they are easy to grow and needed very little attention.

Last summer I took a shallow planter, (mine had no drainage holes) put some potting mix in the bottm and filled it with a variety of succulents. I chose the plants based on color, texture and shape.

photos by me

This is how my succulent planter looks at the end of the second summer. I have never fertilized the plants and I don't think I watered it this summer unless it was very dry. I took the planter in the house for the winter and kept it in a window. Just a little water once a week and back outside in the spring. Consider succulents, they are a pleasure!

Have a wonderful weekend. See you on Monday.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gazpacho: The Answer to "What can I do with all those tomatoes?"

Gardens and Farmers Markets are teeming with resplendent tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash and herbs right now. Take advantage of the last days of summer and chop up a refreshing, cold gazpacho soup. Sharpen your knife, it is worth the effort. No cooking involved.

This photo illustrates the 1/4 inch dice. Hand-chopping helps retain vibrant color and firm texture of vegetables.

photos by me
Serve the Gazpacho with a dollop of sour cream.

This recipe is based on a recipe from Cook's Illustrated.
Makes about 3 quarts and serves 8-10

3 medium beefsteak tomatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs) cored and cut into 1/4 inch dice, about 4 cups
2 small red bell peppers (about 1 lb) cored, seeded and cut into 1/4 inch dice, about 2 cups
2 small cucumbers (about 1 lb) one peeled and one with skin on, both seeded and cut into 1/4 inch dice, about 2 cups
1 small, sweet onions, peeled and chopped
2 med garlic cloves, minced
1 or 2 hot chilies, cored, seeded and cut into very small dice (optional, to taste)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup vinegar (balsamic, red wine or sherry vinegar)
ground black pepper
5 cups tomato juice
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (optional)
sour cream or olive oil for garnish

Combine tomatoes and their juices, peppers, cucumbers, onions, garlic, salt, vinegar, pepper to taste in large nonreactive bowl. Let stand until vegetables just begin to release their juices, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato juice, hot pepper sauce, cilantro. Cover and refrigerate to blend flavors at least 4 hours. Taste before serving and adjust seasoning if needed, adding salt, pepper or hot pepper sauce.

Serve and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil or a dollop of sour cream.

note: for a quicker version, use same ingredients but pulse in food processor to achieve 1/4 to 3/4 inch pieces. Proceed as directed above.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

FreeRice: The Game That Feeds

Help end world hungerI am adding the button, to the left of my posts. When you click on the FreeRice button you will be taken to where you can play games and "win" rice to feed the hungry. (you can click on the button in this post to try now) For each right answer, 10 grains of rice will be donated to the UN World Food Program. 10 grains doesn't seem like much but remember, thousands of people are playing at the same time. Together we all make a difference. Since October 2007, FreeRice has generated enough rice to feed millions of people.

Be sure to check out the subjects of the games. Vocabulary is the traditional game but I enjoy the art game since I sat through many art history classes. The nerd in me likes the challenge of trying to remember the periodic table in the chemistry game. I am really challenged by the geography games. Have fun!

About FreeRice

FreeRice is a non-profit website run by the United Nations World Food Program. Our partner is the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

FreeRice has two goals:

  1. Provide education to everyone for free.
  2. Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.

This is made possible by the generosity of the sponsors who advertise on this site.

Whether you are CEO of a large corporation or a street child in a poor country, improving your education can improve your life. It is a great investment in yourself.

Perhaps even greater is the investment your donated rice makes in hungry human beings, enabling them to function and be productive. Somewhere in the world, a person is eating rice that you helped provide. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Angela Vandenbogaard, Etsy Artist

I just received this poppy print in the mail. I ordered it from Etsy artist, Angela Vandenbogaard.
Angela's Etsy shop is Jellybeans. She has a very distinctive style that is colorful and playful.
Angela has a first-rate blog, also called Jellybeans, where she shares her art and some great recipes as well as her life in Ontario. Today is her birthday!!!

The Jellybeans site has some fabulous cards. I love these holiday cards.

Angela has fun gifts like this notebook. There are also cute mirrors for your purse, and calendars.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bubble Cuff

A gallery shop in Northville, MI (Starring, The Gallery) attracts attention by having a bubble machine outside the store. Bubbles float along the street in the breeze and attract smiles and attention. That is what I was thinking of as this bracelet evolved.

This cuff bracelet is composed of multiple sterling silver circles soldered together and formed into a cuff. This bracelet is available at my Etsy site,

photos by me

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hot Stuff

My friend Tina gave me this wonderful dried chili pepper strand. Tina is from Abruzzi, Italy. She grew up making these strands and cooking with the dried chilies. She and her husband grow the peppers and then string them.

Tina gave me chilies to make my own strand. With the abundance of colorful peppers available in Farmers Markets this time of year, you may want to buy chilies and make your own. Be sure to buy the narrow chilies, cayenne, work well. The thicker peppers will rot so get the narrow chilies.

Take a heavy needle and sturdy thread and pierce the needle straight through the top of the chili just under the cap. String the peppers and finish with a loop to hang the chili strand.

Hang the strand in a warm, dry place to dry. Enjoy using the chilies. Tina adds them to just about everything from roast chicken to pasta sauce.

Last night I chopped a dried chili and added it to pasta with shrimp, tomatoes, and fresh oregano. The chilies gave it a nice "punch".

Thanks Tina for teaching me something new.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ann Arbor Art Center Featured Artist Gallery Shop

I am very honored to be the featured artist of the month at the Ann Arbor Art Center Gallery Shop
I took my first jewelry class at the Art Center when I moved to Michigan about 18 years ago. I went on to get a BFA from Eastern Michigan University and then returned to the Art Center as a jewelry instructor. The Gallery Shop has been representing my work for about 10 years.

(click on the photo to enlarge)
Featured Artist: Deborah Flanagan

Discover the beautiful jewelry designs of Deborah Flanagan in the Gallery Shop. Her medium of choice is metal which she "coaxes into delicate pieces for adornment."

"My designs are meant to be worn and only then are they complete". Deborah's designs will be featured in the Gallery Shop throughout the month of September.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cadbury "Eyebrows"

It is a gray morning in Michigan and I needed a smile. Hope you get a chuckle from this video.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Day of School, Feels Like Fall

It is the first day of school here in Michigan. For many, that means a new beginning. I found this quote that is challenging and exciting at the same time.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who are alive.” – Howard Thurman

I found this fun booth at the Northville Farmers Market. The owners grow gourds. They dry and finish them in very artistic ways. They vary in size from huge to tiny and the diverse shapes allow for very interesting groupings. Vist Gourdology on line here.

This is my gourd collection.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The (Permanent) Close of the Michigan State Fair

The oldest state fair in the country closes today forever.
Lack of funds is the reason. I have some fond memories of seeing livestock lovingly cared for by young 4-H'ers, carousel rides and eating all kinds of food on a stick.

from KarlGustav

Ferris Wheel
from Diana B Photography

Looking at the calendar, summer is over as of tomorrow. I see appointments and committee meetings and deadlines. I think I'll just sit around today and enjoy the "last day of summer". Enjoy your holiday.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Berry Bling

Hubby arrived home early from work the other day and the weather was too gorgeous to sit around at home. We went raspberry picking.

The berries were abundant and just falling into our pails.

The fields of berry bushes were humming with bees feeding on pollen and nectar.

all photos by me

It took about 1/2 hour to pick these berries.
Last night I made a chocolate, raspberry tart for dessert and added berries to my oatmeal this morning. I froze several bags of berries for winter use by freezing berries on a cookie sheet and then transferring the individually frozen berries to a freezer bag.
Now what will I do with the other two boxes of berries?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bountiful Basil

Lots of basil means pesto.
Pesto is such an easy thing to make and having it in the freezer in winter makes summer seem not so distant a memory.

These are the ingredients: 2 cups firmly-packed basil leaves, 3 cloves garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, 1/2 cup oil, 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Process garlic with salt, add basil, pine nuts, oil and cheese

Pesto will look like this

You can freeze in ice cube trays, pop out and then store in freezer bags. Great portion size for adding when cooking.

all photos by me
This is a homemade pizza with pesto, onion, red pepper and feta cheese.

My friend, Pam, served salmon, grilled with pesto on Saturday at her lake house. Yum!
Try it on chicken and on pasta salad. Toss a pesto "cube" into soups.


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