Friday, July 30, 2010

Last Friday of July - Keeping it Simple

July 2010 will soon be history.  I decided to take it easy and just enjoy summer.  All my projects will still be here if I decide to just sit and read a magazine.  So I thought I'd just post of photo of some of the delicious green beans in the garden.  We have so many I think I could post a recipe for each day of the month.
Sydney went with me to the garden.  She found a nice spot in the shade.  

Have a wonderful weekend and relax and enjoy summer.  Where I live, summer is too short.  See you on Monday, which will be August!  Already!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Big Photo Challenge: ME

The Big Photo Challenge   Another photo challenge and this week the subject is ME.

Rather than take a photo of myself, I decided to compose a photo of what makes me, me.

  • Wife and mother - photo of family
  • I like to work out - a running shoe
  • I like to cook - a copper pot
  • I'm a gardener - vase of herbs
  • Beach lover - glass of shells
  • Books I love
  • Bible for my faith
  • Silver bracelet - my jewelry business
  • Everything is composed in a vintage suitcase because I like to collect and I love to travel
  • favorite color
Same arrangement but take with my iphone hipstamatic app

1-Line Spice Rack


Wouldn't this spice rack make a great wedding gift?  I love the functionality and design.
Available from DESU Design for $199.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Zinnia Inspiration and Etsy Finds

This is the first year in a while that I am pleased with the plants in my front yard containers.  It started with the purple coleus in the center and then I added a lavender verbena and small, pink zinnias.  The plants are all doing well together with the amount of sun and water they are getting.  That is often a hard mix to achieve.  I got lucky.  

Red Zinnia a giclee print of an original watercolor painting by Gini Gaunt  $80

I haven't done an Etsy search for a while and I decided to see what I could find with a 
Zinnia theme.  

Red and Pink Zinnias -- Giclee Print 4x6  printmakerjenn $8

Zinnia - Scalloped Round Gift Tags momentinthesun's  $7.49  
Zinnia Flower Notecard Set of Four soobeeart's $10

1 Fabric Travel Clutch - Spring Floral Stripe owlsay's  $25 

 ATOMICAPRONS Anna Maria Horner  atomicaprons $25

3 Zinnia Big Bloom Felt Flower Hair Accessory or Brooch PrettyinPosies $10

1Zinnia Sandwich Sak - WasteNot Saks Reusable Sandwich Bag  WasteNotSaks $7.50

 2 Lola's Flower Garden Felted Wool Pillow lolagodiva $42

1 Toddler Zinnia Bucket Hat KBSDreams $7  

2 Zinnia Diaper and Wipes Case Holder Clutch Diamonds2Diapers $16.99

3 Burp the Baby Red Zinnia Set BundleBaby $25

4 Zinnia Silk Flower Infant Newborn Soft and Stretchy Satin Elastic Headband pinkpeppermintdesign $11.95

All handmade items found on Etsy

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Variation on a Zucchini Bread

I'm sure every baker has a favorite zucchini bread recipe and by this point in the summer a new variation may be welcome.  I was looking for a departure from the normal, oil laden block and I had some pineapple that needed to be eaten.  I found a recipe that included pineapple and required only three tablespoons of oil.  I made a few adjustments and the result is a tasty cake reminiscent of carrot cake.  It is dense and moist and, if you are feeling decadent, with some cream cheese frosting you wouldn't miss the carrots or the fat.  The ingredients include whole grains, vegetable, fruit, nuts and minimal fat with lots of spicy goodness for flavor.  
This may be my new favorite zucchini bread.  
This recipe serves:  12
nonstick cooking spray
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
2 - 4 tablespoons milled wheat (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 whole egg
1 egg white
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/4 cups grated zucchini, tightly packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup drained, canned, crushed pineapple or well chopped fresh pineapple
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.2. Spray a 9" loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.
3. Sift the flour,sugar, wheat germ if using, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt together. Set aside.
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg, egg white, oil, zucchini, vanilla, pineapple and nuts if using and mix well.
5. Add the flour mixture to the zucchini mixture and stir gently just until combined. Do not over mix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the bread is golden brown and set in the center, about 50 to 60 minutes.

Serving Size: 1/12 of loaf

Based on recipe from

Monday, July 26, 2010

Meet Sydney: Future Leader Dog for the Blind

She is a 5 month old Labrador Retriever puppy that came to live with us on Saturday. 

Our precious Nikki died at 15 1/2 years old in April.  Hubby and I were so sad that we immediately applied to be puppy raisers for the organization Leader Dogs for the Blind.
 We were very excited to be approved as puppy raisers and were eager to get a puppy this summer.  Saturday was an open house at the Leader Dogs for the Blind campus in nearby Rochester, MI.  

When I entered the lobby for registration I was greeted with the scent of "wet dog" and was captivated by the sight of calm, obedient dogs sitting at the feet of their raisers and owners.  The veteran puppy raisers welcomed me as a new raiser and assured me it was a rewarding, fun, and sometimes exasperating experience.  

Two puppies with their Leader Dog bandanas awaiting obedience evaluation.

Puppy play area in the kennel.
The kennel houses up to 310 puppies and dogs in various phases of training.
april 11, 2011
I already know that on April 11, I need to take Sydney back to the Leader Dog campus where she will undergo several phases of training and then be paired with a student.   After successful completion of the program, the graduate of the program will take Sydney home and be able to lead of life with greater mobility,independence, and quality of life.

You could raise a puppy too.  Click here for information about raising a puppy to be a Leader Dog.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Shopping: End of Summer, Peek at Fall

I did some shopping yesterday and was able to score some great end of the season bargain sales.  When I got home I noticed an email from Target allowing me a sneak peek of their fall accessories.  I'm sharing with you!

Ombre Scarf in Pink, Purple and Orange $12.99 Mossimo Scarf in Tie-Dye $12.99

Leaf and Beaded Dangle Necklace in Gold/Green $49.99

Genuine Suede Lug Boots in Gray $39.99
Faux-Suede Zipper Flats in Purple $19.99 Also available in black.

These are my favorites from the fall accessories soon to be seen in Target stores.  I can't wait for those scarves.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I've been back from Australia for a week now and I want to thank Steve and Amanda for their very entertaining and informative guest blogs.  I also want to offer feedback on some products I've talked about in earlier posts.

I highly recommend wineskin.  I brought two bottles of wine back from Australia in my checked luggage.  Both bottles arrived intact.  There is a "bubble wrap" inner liner surrounded by a tough plastic skin.  A very sticky adhesive seal the package and IF the bottle would break, it couldn't leak if sealed properly.  Click here for the wineskin website.

April 14, I blogged about vertical gardening, specifically, Woolypockets.  I purchased several of the Wally Three model.  You can see my present result in the photo above.  I learned that to hide the planting pocket, you need to choose plants that cascade.  About 2/3 of the plant material is herbs and the remaining are foliage or flowering plants.  I really enjoy having plants on the deck wall and growing in the Woolypockets is easy.  Once the plants are in place just water and fertilize occasionally.  
I saw the Wienermobile this week and just had to have hot dogs for dinner tonight.  Potato salad with fresh dill and tomato salad rounded out the picnic meal on the deck.  But I never know what wine goes with hot dogs.  (I don't like beer) 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Blueberry Lovin'

My basket was overflowing when I left the Farmers Market this past weekend.   Most impressive are the blueberries, juicy-sweet and large as if on steroids.  I'm loving them on cereal and yogurt.

Hubby requested a blueberry cake for breakfast.  I knew just which recipe to choose, Blueberry Crumb Cake from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan.  Brimming with berries, this light, tender cake has a walnut crumb topping.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack time, anytime is perfect for this cake.  

Yield: 8 servings

For the Crumbs:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped walnuts
For the Cake:
1 pint (2 cups) blueberries (preferably fresh, or frozen, not thawed)
2 cups plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2/3 cup sugar
Grated zest of ½ lemon or ¼ orange
¾ stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch square pan (Pyrex is great for this) and put it on a baking sheet.

To Make the Crumbs: Put all the ingredients except the nuts in a food processor and pulse just until the mixture forms clumps and curds and holds together when pressed.  Scrape the topping into a bowl, stir in the nuts and press a piece of plastic against the surface.Refrigerate until needed. (Covered well, the crumb mix can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

To Make the Cake: Using your fingertips, toss the blueberries and 2 teaspoons of the flour 
together in a small bowl just to coat the berries; set aside. Whisk together the remaining 2 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. 
Working in the bowl of a stand mixer or in another large bowl, rub the sugar and zest together 
with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and aromatic. Add the butter and, with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the sugar with the butter at medium speed until light, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, beating for about 1 minute after each addition, then beat in the vanilla extract. Don't be concerned if the batter looks curdled - it will soon smooth out. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture and the buttermilk 
alternately, the flour in 3 parts and the buttermilk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients). 
You will have a thick, creamy batter. With a rubber spatula, gently stir in the berries. 

Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and smooth the top gently with the spatula. Pull the crumb mix from the refrigerator and, with your fingertips, break it into pieces. There's no need to try to get even pieces - these are crumbs they're supposed to be lumpy and bumpy and every shape and size. Scatter the crumbs over the batter, pressing them down ever so slightly. 

Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool just until it is warm or until it reaches room temperature. 

Serving: Like all good coffee cakes, this needs nothing but coffee - or tea. 

Storing: Best served the day it is made, the cake can be wrapped well and kept overnight at room temperature. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

3bbags - Reusable Produce Bags

photos from 3bbags
We're taking our reusable totes to the grocery store, saving trees by reading newspapers online, and remembering to use our travel mugs for coffee to go.  BUT how about those dozens of plastic produce bags we use every month?  I try to reuse mine at home but I never remember to take them back to the grocery store for reuse.  

 A Great Find in the Martha Stewart Magazine (August 2010) was these reusable produce bags from   These reusable mesh bags have a drawstring and they are machine or hand washable.  These sturdy bags would be great to take to the farmers market as well as the grocery store.  

A pack of three bags contains 2 bags, 11x14 and 1 bag, 14.5x18.5
Click here to be taken to the website order page.  I may take advantage of the order 4 packs and only pay for 3 offer.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer Sunday

Hubby and I had a great time at friends' lake cottage on Sunday.  We spent the day kayaking and floating on the lake.  
Sunday night was our couples book club meeting.  We read Death of a River Guide: A Novel.
Unplanned but coinciding with my trip to Australia, the book is by a Tasmanian author and takes place in Tasmania.  Though it sounds morbid, the story is reflections of a river guide as he is drowning in the river.  He relives his own life and the stories of his ancestors that make up the what is the man and the Tasmanian experience, a very interesting way of story telling.

I had a great summer Sunday.  Hope you did too.  

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bird Spotting

The flora and fauna of Australia is vastly different from the United States.  I regret that I have not seen a kangaroo or koala in the "bush".   I have, however, seen many birds that are common to Sydney but NOT to Michigan.  
Posted by Picasa
1 Magpie  2 Rainbow Lorikeet  3 Miner  4 Dusky Moorhen
1 Australian White Ibis  2 Myna(?)  3Little Black Cormorant  Sulfur Crested Cockatoo 
While bats are mammals and not birds, I couldn't help but include this photo of Flying Fox bats.  These were roosting in the Botanic Garden.  The Flying Fox bats have become a nuisance and caused the demise of several irreplaceable trees in the Garden.
Do you think it looks like a fox?

Have a great weekend.  
See you on Monday.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bison Australia

I learned about bison from several blogs.
 I couldn't wait to visit the retail shop in Sydney

bison australia
manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer of fine australian stoneware products

Made from fine Australian stoneware clay, these decorative pieces are food-safe and can go into oven, microwave and freezer.

A small sample of the 28 glaze colors.
This individual milk bottle is their signature design.
I was overwhelmed with choices.

Unfortunately I couldn't fit these gorgeous mixing bowls in my luggage.
The vases on the left are called "Penguins".  I got several in different sizes and colors as gifts.  Bison is now available online in the USA.  Click here to order Bison for yourself.  

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Big Photo Challenge: Green

The challenge for this week is GREEN

Looking up from under a tree fern at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney

Click below to view all the entries.

The Big Photo Challenge


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