Friday, June 15, 2012

Picnic Paradise

 Picnics can be as simple, or as grand as you wish; but either way they are a humble way to spend an afternoon, with the people you love.

     It might technically be spring for six more days, but in my world summer time is definitely here.  The sun has been shining for at least a week now, most children have left academic study behind them, and the smell of freshly cut grass perfumes the air outside. 

     In my backyard the green tomatoes are growing plump, the strawberries are turning red, and the english lavender is in full, fragrant bloom. I get to watch the cute, fuzzy bumble bees, that I love so much, bob through air as the delicate butterflies with white wings float amongst them.  It is so serene.

     We have been indulging ourselves with getting outside as much as possible lately.  This (of course) means bringing food outside, hooray for picnics!  I have a few items that I love to bring on picnics, the foods require no silverware, and we don't use plates.

The Perfect Peasant Picnic 
  1. Large blanket
  2. Basket
  3. Napkins
  4. Apple slices**
  5. Carrots chopped into 2-bite sections**
  6. Fresh squeezed lemonade in jars (make sure lids are on tight!)
  7. Sliced cheese
  8. Sliced summer sausage
  9. Artisan loaf of bread (many like baguette)   
**Pack in a no spill container with ice to keep fresh, it is okay if the ice melts a little, it will make the produce crisp.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Raspberry-Orange Summer Tea Cake 
Raspberry dotted buttermilk cake, with a raspberry-orange cream cheese filling!
A slice of this delicate tea cake will make any warm sunny day seem even brighter! Some like it warm, some like it completely cooled, I like it both ways myself.  I always serve this light fluffy cake with morning tea or coffee. This cake is moist, and slightly creamy; perfect for a Sunday morning treat!

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup evaporated cane juice (organic sugar)
1/2 cup butter, softened 
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup fresh raspberries

4 ounces cream cheese, frozen
1 tablespoon finely shredded orange peel
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
*garnish: a sprinkle of powered sugar and a few extra raspberries


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease the bottom of a 9x1-1/2-inch round cake pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment. Grease and lightly flour parchment; set aside. 

For cake, in a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl beat sugar and the butter with a mixer on medium to high until combined. Add the egg and the vanilla. Beat on low to medium for 1 minute. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to sugar mixture, beating just until combined after each addition; set aside.

For cream cheese filling, freeze cream cheese so it easily crumbles.  Add orange peel and 1/2 cup raspberries to the crumbled cream cheese, in a small bowl. Gently combine.

Spoon half the cake batter into the prepared pan, spreading to edges. Sprinkle filling over batter, spreading to edges. Dollop remaining batter on filling, carefully spreading to edges of pan.  Make sure the inside filling is completely covered.

Bake for 20 minutes or until puffed. Gently press remaining 1 cup raspberries into cake. Bake 25 to 30 minutes more or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. 

Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen edges of cake from pan; remove from pan. Serve warm, or completely cooled. 

Optional: Sprinkle with powdered sugar and top with additional raspberries.

*Recipe Adapted from BHG with the help of my mum; photo courtesy of

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Browned Butter Butterscoth Blondies!

I recently created an account on the wonderful site, and decided to sell, besides my paintings, jar mixes!

I LOVE jar mixes, especially to give as gifts and for holidays.  And as you know Mother's Day will be here before we know it!  I think mixes are really fun and easy for the recipient; all they have to do is pour the contents of the jar in a bowl, with a few wet ingredients of their own, stir together, bake, and voila, done!

They are cute too (if I do say so myself), with fabric tops and a decorated instruction card to boot.

Right now I am selling one of  my all time favorite jar mixes, I call them Brown Butter Butterscotch Blondies. Oh they are just heavenly!  They are chewy, sweet, with a hint of salty, dense, rich, buttery, delicious goodness...and the dough is to die for.  I like to bake mine until they are almost all the way done, but not quite, then I refrigerate them so they get a bit firmer.  Anyway, in the jar I use all natural ingredients, that are both high quality and delectable.  I would never sell anything I didn't feel comfortable putting in my own body.

 I wish shipping was cheaper, but that's what I get for selling something so heavy; but if you think about it, the amount of goodies this jar makes combined with the price you pay for them, is nothing compared to if you bought the same amount at a bakery, even with shipping.

Made with the toffee shown above, organic walnuts, natural butterscotch and white chocolate chips too!

So you can take a gander at my site (yay!) by putting this address in your search bar:
Or there is a link at the bottom of my blog by my followers.  Thanks for taking a peek, it means a lot!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Simple Life Still Needs Vacation

My young life has been filled with roller coaster like events.  Many twists and turns, and ups and downs.  For some, a life full of turbulent rides might sound exciting and fun, but I prefer my roller coasters rides to take place exclusively in theme parks.  For as long as I can remember, I have just wanted my life to be a quiet silver ship sailing across clam, cool waters.

As I become steadily older, my life has increasingly become more and more stable.  My relationships have become more concrete, I have become more financially sound, and my education plans are almost complete. 

My successes continued when two days ago, my new fiance slipped a beautiful diamond ring on my finger.  We are now being swept up in a whirlwind of wedding and (most importantly) honeymoon possibilities.

Growing up poor was hard, we didn't really go on family vacations.  I never thought I would be planning such an exciting trip for my 'soon-to-be' little family.  Because I have always wanted a "normal" life, I consider going on vacation a staple in the American way of living.  That being said, I also feel many go overboard with vacation, spend too much, and become greedy.  Vacations can be experienced in moderation with a small budget, and still be amazing.

There are always ways to save on the grandest of trips.  Take cruises for example:

  • Book through a discount website
  • Travel during off season
  • Stay in a small inside room instead of one with a veranda (You can get a view all day by going to various decks)
  • Choose to do zero, one, or two excursions, you can always just go exploring!
  • Don't drink on your cruise, alcohol is not needed for an excellent time.
  •  Save the food from the ship (it's usually included in sailing fair) for the port days.  Just pack it away, and take it with you.
  • Give people post cards as souvenirs, or a refrigerator magnet and a picture of you on your trip.  You will save a ton if you can go easy with the trinkets you are bound to find. 
  • And for yourself find a few meaningful souvenirs, not everything in the gift shop
There are many more things you can do to save, you just have to brainstorm, and research your options.  I love vacations and can't wait for my honeymoon, but I will be looking for ways to save until we leave for our much needed get away.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

God is Good

God has been so good to me, and even when life gets hard, I have faith that everything happens for a reason.  He is uplifting and good; just as I attempt to be.  I will continue to do so to better myself, others in my life, and to honor him.

Thank you God, for my life.