Friday, May 28, 2010

Flyin' Away

Hello dear Spiral Style readers.  I left Michigan for a Bahamas getaway today.  I tried a different "airline" called YellowAir Taxi.  Just a 9 seater plane and I got to ride in the co-pilot seat.  Loved watching the broad vista spread out in front of us...just sea and sky and the occasional ship below.  
So before the real vacation begins, my plan is to paint the upstairs of our house before hubby and some guests arrive next week.  I'll share before and after photos next week.  

Hope you had a great week.  Do you have plans for the holiday weekend?  Parades or picnics?  One of my most memorable Memorial Day observances was visiting Arlington National Cemetery and observing the flags on all the graves.  Very poignant.  

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Safe Wine Transport

Have you been on a wine tour in Napa or the Loire and wanted to take a bottle or two home but didn't know how to do it safely?  Here's the answer, wineskin.  No need to worry about breakage or leaking.  This transport system is safe and secure. Just slip the bottle inside the wineskin and a double-seal with keep your precious cargo safe from rupture and drips.  Click here to read more about the product and find out how to purchase.  Wineskin would make a great Father's Day gift.  

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

sweet paul

sweet paul is an online magazine that is definitely worth a peruse.  The sweet paul motto is "chasing the sweet things in life".  This easily navigated magazine is filled with recipes, crafts and lifestyle features that are realistic and creative.  Be inspired, if for no other reason than the beautiful photos.  The magazine evolved from the blog which you can check out here.  If you have a chance to relax and "flip" through a magazine, try sweet paul.  You have nothing to loose because it is free.  Check it out by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


My asparagus supplier at the Farmers Market told me that our asparagus season here in Michigan will end in about a week.  I'm trying to squeeze in all those recipes I've been collecting to make use of those delicious spears before they are gone.

Asparagus Pesto
Pesto does not have to be composed largely of basil.  Pesto means paste and can be concocted from a variety of herbs and vegetables.  This pesto would be delicious on toasted baguette slices with a sliver of a good, ham or prosciutto.  

My inspiration and recipe is from Mark Bittman.
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch segmants
1 clove garlic, or more to taste
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper, salt
Juice of /12 lemon or to taste
1/2 cup packed basil leaves (optional)
Bring a large pot of water to boil and add about 2 teaspoons of salt.  Add the asparagus and cook about 8-10 minutes or until tender but not mushy.  Drain well, reserving some of the cooking liquid and let the asparagus cool slightly.
Transfer the asparagus to a food processor and add the garlic, pine nuts, 2 tablespoons of the oil, Parmesan, basil, if using, a pinch of salt and a couple tablespoons of the cooking liquid.  Process the mixture stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary and gradually add the remaining oil and a bit more of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten if necessary.  Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Pulse one last time and serve over pasta, fish or chicken(or cover and refrigerate for up to a day)
Yield: about 1 1/2 cups
Tonight we had pizza, cooked on the grill with asparagus pesto, bacon and fontina cheese.  It was amazing!   Instead of pizza dough, keep it simple and use a tortilla instead.  Let your kids assemble their own pizza.  

Monday, May 24, 2010

Feels Like Summer

I hope you had a wonderful weekend.  After a rainy start, our weekend could not have been nicer.  Hubby and I had our first al fresco dinner of the season Sunday evening.  I celebrated the sun and heat with my favorite summer drink, Campari and soda.  I love the bitter orange flavor.  Very refreshing.  
We planted Woolly Pockets on the deck.  See the April 14 post for a description of these pockets and vertical gardening.  These pockets contain my herb garden, all be it skimpy at best.  If all goes well, the "pockets" should disappear and be covered by robust, thriving herbs and the wall will give the impression of being made of plants.  I'll post photos from time to time.  

Friday, May 21, 2010

Poached Eggs with Two Types of Toast "Fingers"

If you have time for a relaxed breakfast this weekend, you may want to try this recipe from Food and Wine Magazine.  Poached eggs with crispy toast fingers to dip into the soft yolks. 
Strips of sourdough bread are brushed with olive oil and crisped in the oven.  Half are baked with Parmesan cheese topping, the other half are wrapped with smoked salmon.
 This is so simple it really doesn't need to be called a recipe.  Click here to view the Food and Wine instructions.  

I made the preparations even more simple by poaching the eggs in an egg poacher rather than in simmering water.  Some home-fries rounded out the meal.  Simply delicious.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Silver Bracelets

I've sold a lot of hammered bangles lately.  These make great graduation or bridesmaid gifts.  Most people buy them in sets of 3 or 5.  $12/each Etsy

I really like this new link bracelet.  The S links are a fresh change from circles and ovals.  $40 Etsy

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Big Photo Challenge: Three

This week the photo challenge is THREE.  

A common set of three with three textures.  
Taken with a digital camera.  No digital manipulation.

As I was about to pop a mini pretzel in my mouth...I became aware of the three holes and the three "lobes" of the pretzel. 
Digital camera with no digital manipulation.
The Big Photo Challenge

Click on the button above to view other entries.

Self-Balancing Serving Tray

Someone paid attention in physics class to come up with the idea for this self-balancing serving tray.  This tray is one-handed and spill proof. "Beautifully balanced, it allows you to open doors, shake hands or serve the contents of the tray. But it also allows a freedom of movement because you know the drinks will not slop."  $72.50 at the   Wouldn't this make a great Father's Day gift or shower gift?
Check out the A+R Store for other great gift ideas.

Handle folds for storage.                  

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rhubarb: Love or Hate?

Rhubarb is a herald of spring as is asparagus, fiddlehead ferns and ramps.  Our local farmers markets offer rhubarb but there is no queue as there is for asparagus.  When I ask friends if they like rhubarb, noses crinkle and and heads shake NO.  Those lovely crimson stalks have a very tart flavor and it takes quite a bit of sugar to make it palatable.  Strawberries are a common pairing and are most frequently seen together in pies or crisps.  I made a lovely chutney last week that also featured ginger.  

I happen to like the piquant flavor and look forward to a spring dessert featuring the fruit stalks. Rather than a pie this season, I looked for a cake recipe.  I was very please with the one I found in The Good Cook series from Time Life Books.  The recipe is credited to Hans Karl Adam.  The cake has a medium crumb, almost rustic, and the rhubarb is soft without being mushy and retains it's tart flavor with just the right amount of sweetness.  A half cup of walnut halves tossed with the rhubarb would add a nice texture contrast.

Rhubarb Cake
10 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 lemon, peeled grated, juice strained
1/4 cup milk
1 1/4 lbs. rhubarb, cut into 3/4 inch pieces (about 5 cups)
1 teaspoons cinnamon

Cream the butter with 2/3 cup of the granulated sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Sift together the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt.  Alternately beat the flour mixture and the eggs into the butter.  Beat in the lemon peel and juice, and lastly the milk.  Spoon the batter into a buttered and floured spring-form pan.  Toss the rhubarb with the cinnamon and the remaining granulated sugar, and spread the mixture on top of the batter.  Bake the cake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft and the cake has shrunk slightly from the sides of the pan.  Let the cake cool completely in the pan. Remove the cake from the pan.  This would be great with vanilla ice cream for dessert or delicious for a breakfast treat with a hot cup of coffee.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lady Gaga Acapella Cover

I had a very busy weekend gardening, working outside, attending two farmers markets, baking, and other more mundane obligations.  Therefore, I thought a little entertainment was in order.  Here is a fun video by a college men's acapella  ensemble performing a Lady Gaga cover.  Enjoy! 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Groupon: It's a Group Coupon

Have you heard of Groupon?

What is Groupon?

Each day, Groupon features an unbeatable deal on the best stuff to do, see, eat, and buy in your city. By promising businesses a minimum number of customers, they get discounts you won't find anywhere else. They call it "collective buying power!"
For example, in Detroit yesterday, the Groupon was for a magazine subscription.  Last time I looked, 642 bought it and it only took 25 buyers to make it happen.  

$8 for a One-Year Subscription to "Hour Detroit" Magazine ($17.95 Value)

See Today's Groupon Deal
Company Information:
Hour Detroit Magazine
Redeem online 
$8 for a One-Year Subscription to

Tomorrow's Groupon could be for a hair salon or restaurant.  
Click on the website  to see if Groupon is available in your city.  Click on FAQ to learn how Groupon works.

To join Groupon, click here
Check it out

After a rainy week, we are to have some sunny weather this weekend.  I plan to stain the deck with hubby and then plant the flower boxes.  
Have a great weekend.  See you on Monday.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Lighter Gumbo

It was a damp, dreary day here is Michigan, feeling more like November than May.  I decided it was the perfect day to make gumbo.  I've never made a true gumbo before.  Hubby showed  a recipe to me from the NYTimes by Mark Bittman.  Mr. Bittman calls this a "lighter gumbo".  It uses a roux as a thickener and contains only scallops rather than adding sausage.  Any shellfish or combination of shellfish could be used in this recipe.  The most labor intensive part is browning the roux without allowing it to burn.  Then it is just a matter of chopping and adding vegetables and finally the scallops at the last minute.
* a roux is not only a great scrabble word but is a combination of fat and flour, cooked until brown and then becomes the tasty base of the gumbo as well as the thickener.   

I used frozen scallops, thawed and they were just fine for this dish.  Served with cornbread and coleslaw, this was a satisfying meal.  Click here for the NYTimes article and video.  Click here for just the recipe.  

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Big Photo Challenge: Blue

This week's photo challenge is BLUE

To me, blue is defined by sea and sky in the Bahamas.

The Big Photo Challenge
Click above to view the other entries 

Taupe Trend

I'm loving the new taupe trend in nail color for the spring.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Today's my birthday!  I'll celebrate by taking two classes at the gym followed by lunch with my workout friends.  I'll get some cupcakes for dessert with hubby tonight.  
I'm really excited because Hubby got me a Kindle!  I'm always reading and this will be great because I won't have to pack an extra suitcase of books to take with me on trips.  I'm just beginning to explore all the wonderful things I can do with Kindle.  If you have one, share with me your favorite books or tricks.  I need to see if there is a travel guide for Australia because I'm going to Sydney and Melbourne in July!!!!  Can't wait.  

Monday, May 10, 2010

Perhaps you saw this video during the Super Bowl.  It was an ad for Google.  I know it is too large for this post but you'll get the idea.  I received a video very similar to this for Mother's Day that was created just for me.  These YouTube videos are called Search Stories and you can create one too.  Wish I knew about this before Mother's Day and I would have shared it with all of you.  But now you'll know for Father's Day or a graduation.  Wouldn't it be a great way to tell friends you are engaged or having a baby!!!  Click HERE to go to YouTube-Create, Search Stories.  You can enter up to 7 "searches", add music and your text.  You will be able to view Search Stories that others have created and are willing to share.  Have fun!

Have a great week!  
Tomorrow is a special day for ME!  Stay tuned.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Drink Responsibly

So by now you probably carry a reusable bag for groceries and other shopping.  Have you started to carry a mug or reusable cup for your coffee or other beverages? invites you to take a pledge to do just that.

I found this porcelain cup that mimics the appearance of a paper hot beverage cup.  The silicone band protects your hand from the heat.  The cap is a silicone imitation of the disposable top.  I'll be making an effort to keep this in the car for those routine stops at my favorite coffee house.

Have a wonderful weekend.
 Happy Mother's Day to all the moms.  Enjoy your day.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Big Photo Challenge: Abandoned

I joined a photo challenge hosted by Adorible Photography blog.  Our assignment this week was 

Empty, bleached conch shell.  Elbow Cay, Bahamas
Taken with Olympus Stylus 790 SW  no digital enhancement

Living in southeast Michigan, I see foreclosed houses that have been vacated, factories that are defunct,  and projects halted due to lack of funds.  I couldn't sum up the devastation in one photo.  Instead, I decided to submit a photo of natural abandonment. 

Click on the icon below to view the other entries.
The Big Photo Challenge

Anthropologie: Wild Animal Decor

I am wild about these whimsical paper mache animal heads from Anthropologie.  $68 each

Floor cushion.  $99.95

Taper holder from Jonathan Adler  $48

Menagerie Rug  Price varies with size

Zebra dishtowel  $18

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tea Party Celebration

This is not the tea party that is in the news lately.  I'm thinking afternoon tea is a very civilized way to celebrate mothers.  It is rare that we take the time to get a bit dressed up, sit down, and sip tea, indulge in sweet treats mid-afternoon and share in lively conversation.  Upscale hotels often host afternoon tea as do tea houses, but of course with a bit of planning, you could host a delightful tea party at your own home.  A good excuse to use some of your finery for a gorgeous presentation.  
Click here and here for some ideas for planning a tea.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Not Your Normal Mother's Day Flowers

Instead of a traditional Mother's Day arrangement, why not get her a book of flower arranging that will inspire her to have fresh flowers to enjoy all the time?  This new book, Flowers Chic and Cheap is due out on May 4.  You can read a short book the review from the NYTimes.  

For a young mom, how about a bright, spring like pendant? Etsy $28

For the avid gardener, a journal.  Etsy $32

A Peony Bloom photo  Etsy $12

A padded laptop sleeve  Etsy $36.99 


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