How Is It . . .

While I love all seasons including Winter – Winter lacks in the area of green/flowery life.  Well, this year I decided why not grow some of those gorgeous paper whites and have a pot of them in the house all winter.  I just knew for sure that this would satisfy my need of green growth which it did however . . . how is it that this gorgeous flower yields such a foul scent?

Imagine my excitement of watering and watching my great pot of green stems growing and then the oh so awaited display of flowers appear to leave me wondering what the heck this foul smell was in the kitchen.  After standing there smelling the air for several minutes trying to identify what and where this smell is coming from, I realized the scent must be coming from our cat’s litter box which didn’t make sense because I had just scooped it so why would the smell be waffling all the way into the kitchen?  Gosh maybe my cat isn’t drinking enough water which is making her urine more pungent – oh gross!  To my surprise of arriving at the litter box it didn’t smell in that room – huh interesting – back to the kitchen to figure this out.  Now I’m feeling like Walter Matthau in the Grumpy Old Men movie where Jack Lemmon places a dead fish into Walter’s car and Walter goes to drive it and says “Shoe Wee what’s that smell…ohhhh man what’s that smell?”  LOL – Love that movie!  Well as you can figure it was the gorgeous paper whites permeating our home with this awful cat urine scent.   I still can’t figure out how it is that these gorgeous flowers yield this awful foul scent.

To make matters worse, I couldn’t part with this pot of stink that I put so much love and care into.  It became a daily discussion within the household.  Michael couldn’t understand how I could keep such stink in our house especially considering I have a real hang up with smells.  I couldn’t explain my rational other than they were so pretty, it gave me a daily reminder that spring will arrive, and I couldn’t part with this green life I had created.

I have 10 more bulbs in the fridge waiting to transform themselves into stinky life however I’m thinking I’ll wait and plant them in the spring and display them on our deck.

I’m Posting every week in 2011!

I’ve decided I want to blog more. Rather than just thinking about doing it, I’m starting right now.  I will be posting on this blog once a week for all of 2011.

I know it won’t be easy, but it might be fun, inspiring, awesome and wonderful. Therefore I’m promising to make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similiar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can.

If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, and good will along the way.

Brandi

Awesome Almond Biscotti

Emm YUMMO!  I decided to bake one of Mike’s favorites today and thought I’d share the recipe and a quick picture guide in biscotti making.  I dare say the finished presentation looks pretty good but not nearly as good as they taste!  The recipe originated from a patient at my office.

So preheat that hot pot (oven) of yours to 350 degrees and lets get mixing ~  These are the only ingredients you’ll need.  Looks pretty easy right?  It really is!

This is how your dough should look once you’ve finished mixing it.  Go ahead and plop it on the counter like I have and give er a little log shape like I did.  The dough should be fairly easy to handle and should NOT stick to your fingers if it does add more flour a little at a time until it’s not sticky anymore.

Now cut your log in half and make two logs out of it.  Place both logs on your pre-greased and floured cookie sheet and shape like I did into about 2″ x 10″ logs.  Your logs should look something like this.

Now stick em in the hot pot for 25-30 minutes until golden.  Umm I must say this is the FANCIEST oven I’ve ever used much less owned in my entire life!  I mean I’m really just a chick from the sticks who is undoubtedly thrilled with this loaded appliance.  Amen for gas ranges and ovens that bake evenly!

Pull your logs out and they should look something like this

Lower oven temp to 300 degrees.  Let your logs cool for 10 minutes and then slice those babies up into 1/2″ slices

Place the slices back onto the cookie sheet(s).  Place your cookie sheet(s) back into your hot pot and bake 20 minutes longer, until surface is golden and crisp.  See those two lonely floating pieces?  Well those two are the heal of one log.  I have to admit that I LOVE these little guys . . . I will eat two of them at this stage and eat the other two once they’ve been baked for their final time.

Friends and family who’ve had these little pieces of almondie heaven leave droll on my counter tops.  So if you enjoy almond flavor you must give them a try.  You’ll notice in the recipe to follow that you can change the nuts and flavoring and use the basic dough to make ANY flavor biscotti you like.

ALMOND BISCOTTI

3 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup granulated sugar

2-4 teaspoons almond extract

1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease and flour cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, beat eggs with oil; add sugar and almond extract.  Continue beating about 5 minutes until mixture is thick and pale.  Fold in chopped almonds.

Sift flour with baking powder.  Stir into egg mixture using wooden spoon then hands, if necessary.

Shape dough into 2 logs about 2″ x 10″ each, and arrange on cookie sheet.  Using a wet spatula, flatten top, and smooth sides of logs. ***Note from Brandi:  I don’t use a wet spatula to shape my logs, I just use my hands and add a little bit of flour onto the log to give it a tiny bit of a floured surface and makes it easier to shape.

Bake 25 – 30 minutes until golden.  Remove from oven and lower oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Let logs cool on cookie sheet about 10 minutes.  Cut into 1/2″ slices using a serrated knife.  Lay slices flat on cookie sheet and bake 20 minutes longer, until surface is golden and crisp.

When done, transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool.  Store in airtight container.

Side Note:  You can change the nuts & flavoring.  Add dried orange flavored cranberries and orange extract.  Use this as a basic dough and add whatever you like.

Felt Cottages & other delectables

I spent the day yesterday doing one of the things I enjoy most in life . . . crafting.  Here is what awaited each of us at our assigned seats.  INDEED YUMMY stuff in that pie tin!  And I didn’t even get my bag filled with more delectables in this picture.

Charlotte Lyons hosted and taught a fabulous class on making felt cottage houses.  Here is one of her gorgeous master pieces.

Here’s mine . . . not nearly as fully decorated as Charlotte’s.  But these cottages are a work in progress.  You add to them here and there to your heart’s content.  I’m loving my choice in chimney construction, for sure buttons are a girls best friend especially in the cream color family!!!  Gosh I’m thinking I play it too safe with my choice in colors or lack there of!  I should let loose and craft something in a wild saucy color pallet.  Yeah I need a little sauciness added to my play it safe personality.

As if having the opportunity to meet and be taught by Charlotte Lyons wasn’t enough, we were served a delectable breakfast, lunch and snack by Charlotte’s good friend Suzanne who I just read is a former Vogue food editor and gourmet chef.  Oh my can she bake and cook all the while keeping her vogues on the down low.

Oh wait, one more thing . . . I won this as a door prize!  I was skipping with glee when my number was drawn for this piece!  It’s hand made by Elizabeth Williams who sells her goodies on Etsy.

The Treasure Hunt

I know I know, I should be posting pics of the new house but wanted to share my awesome finds rummaging the flea market yesterday.  I love the hunt and the treasures awaiting my arrival.  Thank you Michele for spending the morning with me and enjoying the hunt together, I had a great time and the homemade cinnamon & sugar donuts are to die for!  YUMMO!!!

My most favorite find of the day is this gorgeous shabby storage cabinet which was much needed in my studio.  They wanted $125 & I got them down to $100 . . . SWEEEET!!!! The black wire basket sitting atop the cabinet is another find for $3.  It will have a new home this fall on the kitchen island.  The day before I had found a similar basket but it was new and $20.  The funny thing is that I LOVE the $3 basket much more than the $20 one!  Rummaging sure pays off!

And these little lovelies are simply adorable, the cabinet cards of the children are so sweet.  The vintage yard stick unfolds and I have an awesome plan for it too for the Scottie Buddy Boy Collars and Leashes section of the studio.  The blue jewel and tiny spoons just couldn’t be passed by!  We’ll definitely be making another trip again this fall for more treasures!

Steadfast & Faithful Furriness

Adorable picture of my buddy loving his momma or wait . . . maybe I’m loving my buddy?  Well today I wanted to post about this little animal that brings such BIG love to our family!  He’s constant, loyal and well plain accepting of all my recent moodiness, me and Mike’s urge to work all the time, Darcie and Pele fighting, brown boxes all over the house stuffed with everything that used to blanket our home, and the decrease in his carefree walks due to Mike and I being overworked.  Soooooo many things are changing around him but he remains the one constant within this household.  The steadiness and indebtedness dogs provide to mankind is truly amazing to me!  One of God’s greatest creations!!!

A Little Crafty Time & a Tuturial

Hey all my crafty friends.  I couldn’t resist posting my most recent projects.  I’m taking an online vintage paper arts class were you learn how to re-purpose, re-think, and re-invent things.  Meaning thinking outside the box to re-use otherwise thought to be useless things.  Ya’ll know I love vintage things so this class over at Big Picture Scrapbooking taught by Jenni Bowlin was the perfect match.

My first challenge was to make a journal where I jot down miscellaneous notes or brilliant thoughts I may have.  HA!  Imagine that 🙂  Vintage items on this journal are the clock hand and the round cream colored poker chip under the doo dad that says “create”.

Next challenge was to make an inspiration board where you pin up items that give you inspiration.  I made two boards and am currently adding one item per week until class is over in September.

I was then challenged to utilize vintage milk caps.  I decided to use one for the center of my gigantic flower or perhaps it’s a tree?  Cute non-the-less!  Also used one flipped upside down as my sun.  Had to utilize vellum on the flower/tree as well thanks to Keisha Campbell’s gorgeous use of this product (love her design)!

I MUST share the easy-peasy tuturial for you to make your own inspiration bulletin board.  So here goes 🙂

Step 1:
choose a frame.  Keep in mind size as you look.  Decide how much space you have to work with, i.e. a 4 foot frame would be hard to display in a closet.  If you would like an antique/vintage frame, you can easily find one at any flea market or antique store.  If you don’t have a vintage shopping location close by, you can find options galore at Ebay.  Just search for “vintage picture frame”.  You can also very easily use a new frame and can purchase one at any mass retailer such as Target, Walmart, or Hobby Lobby.

Step 2:
Assemble the rest of the materials:
•     Large    cutting    mat    and    ruler
•     Matboard    (available    at    any    craft    store,  or use extra thick poster board or a scrap piece of chipboard).
•     Craft    knife

•     Cork    tiles    (find    them    on-line    here or at Hobby Lobby or other major craft chain.)  A roll of cork will also work cut to size, although rolled cork is usually not as thick as the tiles.

•     Remnant    piece    of    fabric
•     It    is    best    to    keep    your    fabric    a    neutral    color    without    much    pattern    (if    any    at    all).  I have used old grain sacks, tablecloths, and homespun fabric.  choose a fabric that is not too thick (you will have to wrap this around the cork) but not too thin either (you don’t want to see the cork through it).
•     Duct    tape    (any    color    will    do)

Step 3:
cut piece of matboard (or alternative) to fit inside the frame (not too tight as you will be wrapping the fabric around this later).

Step 4:
Trim corkboard to fit onto matboard and use adhesive foam tape (usually included with the cork tiles) to adhere the cork to the matboard.  At this point, lay the cork/matboard piece in the opening of the frame and make sure there is still room for the fabric.  Trim a little bit off of each side if necessary.

Step 5:
Lay cork/matboard piece on top of the wrong side (if there is a wrong side) of fabric remnant.  Trim fabric to
approximately 3” around cork/matboard piece.

Step 6:
Begin wrapping the fabric onto the cork/matboard piece, starting with the top edge, then the bottom, then the right and the left, pulling the fabric tautly as you work and securing with the duct tape.

Step 7:
Add covered piece to the opening in the frame and cover the backside with duct tape to secure.

Step 8:
Admire your finished board!

The Smallest of Gifts = The Soul of One’s Heart

Memorial Day on our boat this year was indeed special!  Bridget & Jeremy blessed us with their presence and in tow was one of the cutest little girls on the planet, Isabella.  And to my surprise she anxiously awaited my return to give me this special surprise she had made especially for mua.  One doesn’t “need” their own children to experience the compassion, love and thoughtfullness only a child can give.  I find it straight through my nieces and nephews whom are some of the most loving children I know!

Along with the beautiful flower Isabella so graciously picked out of her dance rehearsal bouquet she wrote a letter with a picture of our boat and how much she loves visiting us on the boat.  My sister allowed her to sound out and spell the words by herself.  By the way, I think the now dead flower looks just as lovely as it was alive, it’s just a different color now.  hehe

It says “Aunt Brandi I Love it” with an arrow pointing at her drawing of the boat.  The part that looks like the sun is the wheel of the boat and I believe the two little lines to the left of the wheel is the captains seat.

This is the backside of her letter saying she loves me and loves being at our boat.  Don’t you love how she spells “at Brade” meaning “aunt Brandi”.  Then she writes “I love you at Bran” . . . the “bran” cracks me up because I’ve always despised being called Bran for short.  Sounds like a box of cereal or something.  What a sweet thought to give a gift to her auntie that usually only mom’s experience.  From the soul of my heart, Thank you Miss Bella you make me smile!  You’re so sweet I could put you in my coffee.

Picture was taken of Isabella and I sitting on the bow of the boat.  I didn’t know Mike had taken this picture until I uploaded to find it amongst all the others.  She was telling me stories about a mouse of which I now forget how the story goes. I do recall her saying “he was the sweeeeeetest mouse!”

Frog Dreams

Haven’t we all dreamed of odd things that don’t seem to make any sense to us.  Or having dreams of all these weird things that don’t seem to have relation to one another.  Well I had one of those dreams last night and here’s how it went ~

I was preparing my home for a showing when the door bell rang.  Upon answering, it was a man who had previously looked at my home and said he’d like to buy the house but that he had to do some repair work around the house.  I told him that he could do that once he purchased the home but he was insistant to do the work right then and there.  In my dream I went along with it, but in real life I would’ve sent him off to pound salt (LOL).  So here he is inside my home with his saw, drill and tool belt making all these changes to the house.  Meanwhile I’m thinking that this other couple was suppose to be putting a bid in on the house and i’d prefer to sell to them but didn’t know how to get this guy out of my house.  I go upstairs to the masterbedroom and I see all these frogs on the floor.  There were big momma and poppa frogs and also baby frogs, all hopping around.  I hear the guy coming up the stairs and I tell him he can’t come upstairs because it’s a mess and we have frogs all over the place.  Then all of the sudden the frogs were dead (all of them)!  So I’m quickly picking them up and putting them into the trash.

The End ~

Okay, well I’ve never dreamed of frogs before so I googled what frog dreams could possibly mean.  It’s an array of things.

1.  frogs represent the alter ego/the darker side that we all possess.

HA!  So what about my alter ego?  My alter ego is a good one!  I have a dark side?  I will never tell LOL

2.  a potential to change or to do the unexpected.

Well this one could be related to the big change that is bestowed before us with moving.

3.  The frog may be a prince in disguise.

OOOO . . . a prince?  I thought I already had my prince?  🙂

4.  The frog may suggest you need to do some cleaning.

Are you kidding me?  No way!  Ask Mike about cleanliness around our home.  LOL

5. The frog may mean you’ve been jumping from one thing, person, or idea to another.

Well hmm . . . could be truth to this one with relation to my hobbies.  I have limited time for hobbies and I have a lot of them and don’t know exactly which one to work on when I have the time.  I therefore get confused and don’t do any.

6.  You are taking major steps toward some goal.

True ~ moving from our first home

7.  You need to take the “leap” on a risk.

Well yeah I would need a “frog” to tell me this.  I’m a conservative person and think long and hard before taking any sort of risk.  So it may be telling me to go ahead and take the risk of moving into a bigger home to accommodate our ever growing business.

Interesting non the less!