Saturday, June 23, 2012

Book review..........The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve

This was a very good book and I'm surprised because I usually don't care for Oprah's picks.  She tends to go to the "dark side" when she picks books.  There's always lots of drama and terrible, sad, pitiful tales.  This was wasn't happy go lucky but it wasn't so awful that it gave you bad dreams.
  The Pilot's Wife is by Anita Shreve who is an outstanding writer and makes it easy to get involved with her tale from page one.  The story involves a high school English teacher who is married to an airline pilot and they have a 15 year old daughter.   The plane her husband is piloting crashes and everyone is killed.  The real story lies in the days and weeks following the crash and the path her life takes and how she copes with all the aftermath.  It brought forward the events in my own life when I realized that we never really know another person no matter how close we may feel to them.  Human beings are a surprising lot.
I enjoyed this book as it was masterfully written without bush whacking you with terror or gross details.  It was more like a mystery unfolding in front of you and gently placed in your hands to hold for a brief time.  This book will go in my "keeper" bookshelf and although I don't recommend many of "Oprah's picks", I do recommend this one. I think I picked it up at a garage sale or library sale.  I know I didn't buy it new.
I'm going to look into other books by Ms. Shreve especially another book that was a national bestseller, The Weight of Water.  If any of you have read this book or any of her others please let me know what you thought about them.  Thanks for stopping know you make my day with your kind comments!
I wish you a satisfying Saturday! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Made a coffee cake yesterday.......I mean a real "coffee" cake!

This was a recipe from my new cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Food From My Frontier by Ree Drummond.  This is her second cookbook and I have her first which I dearly love.  There's not a recipe of hers that I've made that hasn't been fabulous!  This woman knows good food.  This cake is no exception.    As Ree described it......"If you're a lover of coffee, it's twelve trips to heaven and back!"  I could not agree more.  It's an easy cake to  make although you dirty a lot of dishes in the process or is that just me?
I love coffee but actually I'm not a huge fan of cake....but I'll make an exception in this case.  It IS pure heaven to smell, taste and eat down to the last crumb and of course perfect with a cup of coffee!   I'm sharing the recipe but remember to credit Ree and if you're lucky enough to get the Food Network, she has her own show on Saturday's, I think.  Her cookbooks read like a novel and the pictures and photography are exquisite.  You must try this won't regret it and you'll be rushing out to buy your own copy.  I guarantee!

Coffee Cream Cake

2 sticks of butter
3 tablespoons instant coffee crystals
1 C boiling water
2 C all purpose flour
2 C sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 C buttermilk or 1/2 cup milk with 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Creamy Filling:
8 oz package of cream cheese at room temperature
1 C powdered sugar
1 C heavy cream

Coffee Icing:
1 1/2 sticks of butter
2 tablespoons instant coffee crystals
4 tablespoon half and half (I used milk)
4 C powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions for cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly grease and flour 2 round 8 or 9 inch cake pans.  To make the cake, melt the butter in a saucepan.  Sprinkle in the instant coffee.  Add the boiling water.  Let the mixture bubble up for a few seconds, then turn off the heat.  Add the flour, sugar, and salt to a large bowl.  Pour the hot butter/coffee mixture over the top and stir to combine.  Mix together the buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla, and pour it into the bowl and mix everything together.  Pour the batter evenly into the cake pans and bake for 13-15 minutes, or until set.  I used the toothpick test and had to bake for an additional 7 minutes.  Remove the pans from the oven and allow the cakes to cool inside the pans for 10 minutes, then invert the cake layers onto a work surface and allow to cool completely.

Directions for creamy filling:
To make the creamy filling, add the cream cheese to a mixing bowl.  Add the powdered sugar and the heavy cream.  Beat until light and fluffy, then set aside. (I used my Kitchen Aide mix master for this step)

Directions for coffee icing:
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the instant coffee.  Stir it together, then add the half-and-half and whisk together to combine.  Turn off the heat.  Add the powdered sugar and vanilla.  Whisk well to make the icing perfectly smooth, then let it cool for 5 minutes.  When the cake layers are completely cool, spread the creamy filling mixture on the bottom layer.  Gently lay the second layer on top.  Drizzle the coffee icing on top allowing it to drip down the sides.  Swirl the icing around on the sides  and this is a direct quote from Ree.......
"count how many seconds it takes you to cut a very enormous wedge and serve it to yourself".
Happy Friday everyone and enjoy!
P.S.  The only thing better than this cake would be this cake with a side of coffee ice cream!  Oh yeah...that's what I'm talking about!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Decorating book review!

I just finished reading this book.....yes, I said "reading".  I don't know about you but I have gathered decorating books over the years and would look at the pictures but never read the text.  I think I was impatient in my youth.  I am now going through my books and reading and sorting through and clearing out.  I came across this softcover book from Sunset and the cover room was what I fell in love with!

 Yes, there it is again..........and you see all the yellow highlighting?  I do that in all my books and have for years, magazines too.  Anyway, obviously I LOVE this room and the colors and many of it's features.  After all these years I have finally sat down to literally figure out what I like and don't like.   It's sort of like Oprah's "What I know For Sure" .....this is more "What I know I like and don't like, for sure"!  At my age I don't have to waste time or money on experimentation.  After all these years, I know exactly what appeals to me and what makes my house feel like home to me anyway.   
This book is definitely a "keeper" as there was just so much about it I loved.  So many decorating books are nothing BUT pictures with no real information in them but this one had tons of practical application and even references to other books if you wanted to delve deeper into something like stenciling or different painting techniques for walls and furniture.  
I apologize for the not so good photos but they are pictures of pictures plus I was trying to hold the book open while taking the picture.  I love this bright and cheery kitchen below.............

I've discovered I like window pane checks and hardwood floors for sure (I hate carpeting...sorry Carpeting Institute of America) and I MUST have a fireplace of some sort.............

Can you see that fireplace in the picture?  It is made of "clinker" bricks.  I never heard of them but what a beauty it is!  It has a built in shelf too.  I'm not fond of the brick fireplaces but I'll take this one!  My favorite was my Vermont Castings wood burning stove I had on my farm in Iowa.  That little puppy could heat that whole farmhouse and there was many a blizzard where we were warm and cozy without any electricity for days and I could use the top of it for warming things up to eat, like soup or coffee plus I always had a big pot of potpourri on it which humidified the house and made it smell good too.
Below reminds me of the screened in porch I had on the farm.  It was like an extra room in the Summer and even in the Winter when we had family get togethers I could put food out there and soda etc; when the icebox got full.  A screened in porch is heaven for so many reasons!
I remember Elaine, from Sunny Simple Life earlier this Spring, talking about her dog-eared copy of her Sunset gardening book.  Sunset has been around for years but I guess I never paid much attention to them but I will now!  They are great books full of great information and pages of resources and websites in the back....and pretty pictures too! LOL!
Have a terrific Thursday and thanks for stopping by....I'll be by your place later!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

First day of summer and Lesson #2 in wool applique..........

Happy first day of Summer everyone!  Wool and Summer you say?  It is a strange combination but down here in the South...Summer is like Winter in the North.  Right now I have my windows open but it is going to be in the 90's today and once my little brick house heats up (like an oven) I will have to close the windows, close the drapes and turn on the AC.  I'll turn on a few little lamps, light some candles and there you go....cozy just like in the Wintertime!  So you see, it's not so strange after all to do wool applique in the Summer! LOL! 
The last "lesson" I traced and roughly cut out my patterns on the tracing paper and gathered my wool.  Next I chose my pieces of wool and the patterns and ironed them onto the wool.  I trace the patterns onto the dull side of the freezer paper and then iron it onto the wool with the shiny side facing the wool.  You don't iron it for long...I usually just run the iron over it like 10 seconds tops and it sticks!  Freezer paper that you buy at the local grocery store!  Who knew? 
Below and above is what it looks like after I've ironed them all onto the wool.

Next is cutting them out on the tracing lines and I end up with all my little pattern pieces that I then "corral" into a container as these pieces (especially the tiny ones) are easily lost...sort of like socks in the dryer! 
So, there you have it........all my little pieces for my next block!  Stay tuned for Lesson #3 when I prep the block for applique.  Happy Summer and stay cool and don't forget the sun block!
P.S.  I have been negligent about visiting you all and I am trying to catch up.  I've just been really working hard around here on other projects and still having a bit of a problem with my pc being extremely SLOW....I'm really hoping I don't need a new one.....ahhhh!  It would really put a crimp in my budget!  We shall see.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

OMG! This is SO cool!!! Well....I think it is....Cath Kidson book!!!!!

This is my first Cath Kidson item and I am "over the moon" about it!  I had to order it from England but it is so worth it!  And get came with a cross stitch kit!!!!! I have not got anything new started in my cross stitch category........but I do now!!!!  Take a look at this.........

 It's a little zippered purse!  Is that sweet or what?  And here are some more projects I plan on working on "down the road".  Below is a cowboy chair pad...oh yeah!
Look at this sweet cherry shelf trim....oh, I do love me some cherries!

I also love me some polka dots!  This is a tea cozy.....

If you want to really commit yourself, how about this needlepoint rug.....polka dots, stripes, multi-colored....I love it all!

I love this's all about the embellishment!  These are just a few of the wonderful projects in this book.

What do you think?  Is this style something you like?  Tastes change and I was surprised myself when all of a sudden I was loving roses and bright colors and what I like to call "the U.K. style"!  So cozy and homey and right up my alley!  I hope you enjoy these pictures from her book....there is lots more too!  Thank you Cath Kidson!  I'm a fan now and there are more books!  Have a great Tuesday and I hope you have something that gives you joy today!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Book review and candles too!

 This was an excellent book about a woman's NDE(Near Death Experience).  She's been on PBS with Dr. Wayne Dyer and I'd been wanting to get the book when lo and behold it was at the library!  Coincidence?  I don't think so..........
It was truly a fascinating account and confirmed for me some of my suspicions about illness and our purpose here on  earth.  Her experiences have been validated by numerous physicians.  No matter what your views or religious upbringing, you need to read this book and most certainly if you have a fear of death.

My candles came in the mail!  Supposedly there was a store on McCall's website that said they carried them and it was near Walmart but when I went there they told me they hadn't carried them for years.  Just an F.Y.I, when you look at those store websites that tell you "your nearest retailer" carrying their first!  As it was I was going to Walmart so it wasn't too far out of my way but still it was a waste of gas and my time.  I came home and ordered them online just in time before the heat of summer.  Ordering candles in the "hot" months can be a melted mess!  Ask me how I know this. LOL!  I used to get McCall's candles up North and they were my favorites.  I sort of forgot about them until Elaine over at Sunny Simple Life
reminded me of them.  They happen to be her favorite too!  I got Country Store, State Fair and Raspberry Lemon.  I love them all!  These are my  "scents of Summer".
Oh!  BTW...did any of you watch Anne of Green Gables last night from 6-10 on INSP channel?  I did and it was WONDERFUL!  The story (I've read the whole series), the scenery (filmed on location in Prince Edward Island) and the houses and their decorating sent me to heaven!  I must order the dvds as I could and would watch it over and over again!  Happy Monday everyone and have a wonderful week!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

No spin today...........

I apologize for not blogging for the past couple's been quite a week!  I won't go into details but suffice it to say the "sun spots" were definitely doing a number on me this week!  Also, I was doing the Sunday Spin as a "rest" on Sunday but turns out there are copyright issues on other's photos and also it was taking me much longer than a regular post on my "day of rest".  LOL!  I will continue to point out blogs of interest but I just won't include pictures just the link to their blog.  I guess Pinterest is fair game though because I see a lot of that out on the blogs.
I don't have a lot to show for the last few days either as all my efforts were put toward electronics and fixing and phone calls and going without electricity.  Today is catchup in all areas!  I did manage to gather up my materials for my next quilt block though.  Here's the pattern for the next block........
 I trace the patterns and their letters onto freezer paper...........
 Then the fun part comes in......going through my wool stash picking out the right colors and/or even dying some wool if I don't have that color in my stash.  Here are some nice greens for the leaves.........

 Then how about these colors for the orange.......
 Then I  need some blues and purples for the grapes............
 Below you can see the subtle differences that come about from hand dying or over dying.  I love the effect.
I'll update you when I have more progress on this block....hopefully I'll get to work on it today.
I hope you're having a relaxing Sunday and Happy Father's Day to all those Dads out there!  Enjoy your day!