Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Watermelon Kind of Day

What sort of things do you look forward to at this time of year?  I must admit that Memorial Day weekend kick starts the summer frenzy for me.  Having waited so long during the long and cold Wisconsin winter, the holiday weekend is the beginning of when things come alive and continue with an over abundance of events and activities.

A good example of such chaos can be evident in my indecisiveness of which content I will use as my first post for the summer season.  I am sure you will agree that with so many events that the summer months have to offer, there is so much to do and write about.  For my current post, however, I have chosen to go with A Watermelon Kind of Day since this watermelon-themed tablescape truly represents the carefree summer days ahead filled with playfulness, adventures and pure delightful fun.

Can you remember family trips to the lake where the entire day was spent swimming, playing in the sand and enjoying a picnic, including an array of tasty food and treats?  Our picnic always included grilled hamburgers and sausages, potato salad, noodle salad, snacks, cookies or muffins and, of course, some cool, juicy watermelon!  No wonder the fruit has become the epitome of the fun and frolic of summer. The watermelon is so popular during the summer that it has its own special event.  During my childhood days, there was a mid-summer watermelon seed spitting contest each year at a park in the small town near my family's cottage.  How exciting is that!

So start your summer activity to-do list, indulge in some sweet and refreshing watermelon and lets begin the summer celebrations!  Happy Memorial Day!!!

These blue and white tie-dyed style napkins folded into a cup with a Mason jar insert makes a cute flower pot holder for a bright and cheery red geranium.  A red and white gingham ribbon and a mini watermelon clothespin helps to keep it all together.

A cool and flavorful Asian-inspired noodle salad is packed full of bright and crunchy vegetables.  A complete nutritious meal in one bowl.

Some easy to eat Cranberry Orange Nut Muffins topped with a Cream Cheese Frosting is great to make ahead and freeze.  They are certain to thaw in time to eat them after a full morning of family activities.

Don't forget the snacks.  This apple pie spiced trail mix offers a healthier way to energize and satisfy any cravings.  Popcorn, peanuts, walnuts, pretzels and cranberries are sure to please adults and children alike.

Apple Pie Trail Mix

3/4 C butter
1/2 C brown sugar
4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 - 6 C popped popcorn
2 C pretzels, any shape
1 C whole walnuts
1 C peanuts or pecans
1 C dried cranberries, raisins or dried apples

In a small pan, melt butter and brown sugar.  Add spices and pour over the popcorn, pretzels, nuts and dried fruit that has been combined in a bowl.  Mix until the sauce has completely covered your trail mix.  Pour onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake at 250 F oven for 10 minutes.  Cool completely and store in an air-tight container.

Be sure to stop in again for my next posting commemorating the upcoming Manitowoc County Breakfast on the Farm. This year's farm tour and breakfast is scheduled for Sunday, June 11, 2017 from 8:00 a.m. to noon at the Habeck Homestead Farms LLS at 12135 Pleasant Road, Maribel, Wisconsin.  Admission is $7 for adults, $4 for children ages 5-10 and children under 4 are free.  The farm event is always a wonderful inspiration for creative ideas for a tablescape or summer back yard celebrations. The post will include a variety of farm animal ideas for children's parties and/or adult country cook-outs.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Waterside Elegance

Who anxiously waits for warm evenings to return and time spent on the beach?  Perhaps you too look forward to spending an entire day enjoying a picnic on the soft, warm sand and relishing in the fresh, cool breezes until well after the light of the day fades and the twinkling stars begin to add bling to the night sky.  Do you enjoy listening to the waves and watching the sparkling sun reflect off the water? This week's tablescape entitled Waterside Elegance calls to mind the evenings spent by the water at sunset and as the moon rises and begins to shimmer over the glittery water.

Hopefully, the tablescape captures nature's splendor at twilight on the beach.

This black, grey, silver and gold table topper was a piece of material I had leftover from a previous project.  Made into a 60 x 60 inch square, it makes a exquisite piece to a standard grey and black tablesetting and, as my inspiration piece, it conjures up the image of the glistening ripples of water that flicker as the rising moon reflects on the pitch-black water at nightfall.

The silver floral mesh tulle fabric was another remnant which I sewed into sheer napkins used to cover the gold lamé napkins.  The napkin rings made up of silver beads and gemstones also mirrors the sparkling quality of the silver waves at dusk.

Underneath the iridescent abalone shell plate is another black scallop shell plate.  The black color is perfect for displaying and providing contrast to the scalloped shell which was painted silver.  The white Auger shell ceramic candleholders also helps to create a beachside theme.

In celebration of the dazzling water's beauty, a dinner including Grilled Cedar Plank Trout is fitting for the occasion.

To accompany the smoky flavor of the trout, some shell-shaped cornbread biscuits and herb butter also formed into the shape of a seaside shell, makes a great pair.

The crunch of a fresh Broccoli, Cauliflower and Cranberry Salad gives texture and an assortment of flavors to the subtle taste of the fish and biscuits.  The salad is even embellished with cheese in the shape of an adorable beachcomber, the sandpiper.

What a wonderful way to eat your raw veggies.  Topped with a sprinkle of crispy bacon pieces, it is a meal in itself!

The following is the recipe for this delicious salad:

Broccoli, Cauliflower and Cranberry Salad

2 or 3 medium florets of broccoli, raw, chopped
1/4 or 1/2 cauliflower head, raw, chopped
1/2 c dried cranberries
2 T chopped onions
4 - 6 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped into pieces
2 T shredded cheddar cheese


1/2 C mayonnaise
1/2 C sour cream
1 - 2 T sugar
1/8 tsp. salt or salt to taste

Mix dressing until creamy and pour over salad.  Mix and refrigerate for several hours before serving.  

Take pleasure in your wanderings on the beach.......

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Mother's Day Garden Greatness

I am a mother of two lovable children who mean the world to me.  However, at this time of year with Mother's Day quickly approaching, I can't help but also reflect on the precious memories I had with my own mother. Mom passed on many years ago, but I can definitely say that I had been truly blessed with a loving mother who, in addition to being my mom, later became my good friend.

What also reminds me of my mom besides this special day of the year that celebrates all moms is all of the planning and debating that takes place regarding what to plant in the garden each season.  My mom was an excellent cook and did a great amount of canning and freezing.  She was raised on a farm and was one of thirteen children in her family to work the family farm which grew vegetables and raised dairy cows for milk. And although she and my father decided to have a large family of their own too, the yard just didn't seem big enough like the childhood farm to grow everything which was needed. Instead we made frequent trips to the weekly farmer's market for additional bushels of fruits and vegetables, bundles of herbs and flowers and large quantities of farm fresh eggs and chickens for roasting and making soup.

As I write this post, I swear I can smell the fresh scent of dill and vinegar for canning cucumbers into pickles and I can hear the "pop," "pop" as the mason jars are lifted from their bath water, cooled and sealed shut.

As I reflect on these cherished memories, I decided to honor my mother and the memories and make my Mother's Day tablescape in this week's post a representation of the healthy, simple, homesteading life of my mom.

What goes well with a hardy bowl of Mom's Homemade Tomato Vegetable Soup for a Mother's Day lunch than some Dilly Cheese and Cucumber Butterfly Sandwiches filled with garden fresh dill, cool cucumbers and juicy tomatoes.

Of course, it wouldn't be a garden without some flowers too.  These cool and refreshing flowers are made with watermelon with cantaloupe centers.  They are great to eat as they are or can be dipped in a marshmallow cream cheese dip.

There are visitors in the garden.  Bumble Bees and ladybugs are out and about making the back yard colorful and busy.

And perhaps some delicate Pecan Bird Nest Cookies made with local farm fresh butter and filled with chocolate eggs for dessert.

Lastly, I came across the following poem one day and decided to save it and share it in this specific post since I felt it was so appropriate for Mother's Day and Father's Day.  For me, this poem reinforces what I already experienced myself watching my own children grow up.  It can only reaffirm my belief that I was very fortunate to have witnessed their entire cherished upbringing and loved and delighted in every minute of it. Their growth into adulthood was inevitable and I couldn't stop the time that went by all too quickly as they developed from child to adult.  But as one of many parents in the world who watched their children mature and leave home for a life on their own, I realized that I will forever be among many others who also yearn for "just one more day of last times."   Happy Mother's Day........

The Last Time 

From the moment you hold your baby in your arms,
you will never be the same.
You might long for the person you were before,
When you had freedom and time,
And nothing in particular to worry about.
You will know tiredness like you ever knew it before,
And days will run into days that are exactly the same,
Full of feedings and burping,
Nappy changes and crying,
Whining and fighting,
But don’t forget….
There is a last time for everything.
There will come a time when you will feed your baby
for the very last time.
They will fall asleep on you after a long day
And it will be the last time you ever hold your
sleeping child.
One day you will carry them on your hip,
then set them down,
And never pick them up that way again.
You will scrub their hair in the bath one night
And from that day on they will want to bathe alone.
They will hold your hand to cross the road,
Then never reach for it again.
They will creep into your room at midnight for cuddles,
And it will be the last night you ever wake to this.
One afternoon you will sing “the wheels on the bus”
and do all the actions,
Then never sing them that song again.
They will kiss you goodbye at the school gate,
The next day they will ask to walk to the gate alone.
You will read a final bedtime story and wipe your
last dirty face.
They will one day run to you with arms raised,
for the very last time.
The thing is, you won’t even know it’s the last time
until there are no more times, and even then,
it will take you a while to realize.
So while you are living in these times,
remember there are only so many of them and
when they are gone,
you will yearn for just one more day of them.

For one last time.

Author Unknown