Pretty Little Flowers–What Is it?

We have a flowering shrub in our yard that produces the prettiest little white flowers.  They are so dainty, and they remind me of vintage for some reason.  I’d love to put a name to this plant, does anyone know what it is?


Orange and a Little Bit of Red

I was in the mood for orange.  Orange is one of my favorite colors.  Right up there with the colors red and pink.  And since I haven’t spent a lot of time with my camera lately (and felt a little guilty about it) I decided to spend some quality time with it.

These sweet little Mandarin oranges (and a few strawberries) assisted me in this photography adventure.  They make life so much brighter.


I would love it if you’d share your favorite photo on Pinterest.  Happy Orange (and a little bit of red) Day!

A Book, Photo’s, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

I’m dreaming of spring.  I want sunshine, warm temperatures, budding flowers, and green grass.  I want campfires, picnics, and days on the water just rowing our canoe to nowhere in particular.  I want to be able to open the windows and let loads of fresh air in, without letting all of the heat out.  I want to work on the Pink Paradise, and once she’s road ready I want to camp, or should I say glamp.

I’m not asking for much considering I live in upstate New York and we’re not even through the month of February yet. 

To help the cold winter months pass more quickly I’ve been reading and walking more.

I just started to read a book that I won during a giveaway hosted by the blog Pixi Wishes & Forehead Kisses.  It’s too early to give a  review, but I have to say that I was so glad to have found out that the author, Sandy Ward Bell, grew up a little less than an hour away from where I did.  

And as for the walking, it’s being done in an effort to help burn off some of the calorie laden treats that I can’t seem to stop making.  To make my walks more interesting I’ve been taking photo’s.  I thought I’d share a few.  If you’re looking for anything that resembles spring you won’t find it in these pictures.

And as long as I’m sharing – here is one of those calorie laden treats I was talking about.

Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Pretzel Bars

1 c. chopped pretzel pieces

1/2 c. creamy peanut butter

2 tbsp. margarine

2 tbsp. sugar

1 c. mini- marshmallows

1/4 c. powdered sugar

1 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided into two

1 tbsp. vegetable shortening

Lightly coat an 8”x8” pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In a large a saucepan on low heat, melt peanut butter, margarine, and brown sugar.  Add marshmallows, half of the chocolate chips,  powdered sugar,  and stir until completely melted and mixed. Remove from heat and press mixture flat into prepared pan.

In a double boiler, melt other half of chocolate chips and shortening.  Spread melted chocolate over top of peanut butter mixture.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

What are you most looking forward to this spring?


A Joy of Caking DIY Project

Every winter I need a reminder that spring is just around the corner.  One of the best ways to do that is by making something pretty, bright, and flowery smelling.

Homemade soap fills all those requirements.  With a block of clear, unscented glycerin soap base that is easy to find at your local craft store, a bottle essential oil, and a bottle or two of soap colorants you can create your own personalized soaps to remind you of April showers and May flowers.

You can invest in a soap mold or use Dixie cups, plastic electrical tape containers, or anything that you can think of that will get the job done.

I like to pick the glycerin soap up when I get the big coupons in the craft store’s weekly circular.  As for the oils and the colorants, they relatively inexpensive and seem to last forever.  You can also use them to scent homemade candles too.

This project is simple.  It does require a microwave for melting (follow directions on the glycerin package), and it’s very kid friendly (with adult supervision) of course. 

Soaps can be creatively packaged or stored in a box with a lid to help maintain their nice scents.

Check out last years batch here.

What little tricks help get you through the long winter months?  Do you buy yourself fresh flowers, start your spring cleaning early, or start a seed garden inside?



Mixing up a batch of spring fresh

The other afternoon I decided to make a batch of soap.  I usually make homemade (cold-process) soap from scratch, but it can be a bit tricky, and time-consuming.  So, on occasion I cheat and  buy a block of glycerin soap base at the local craft store. This is the easiest and safest way to make soap in your own kitchen.

On this particular day I was in an easy mood, and I was thinking along the lines of spring fragrances and colors,  I had a half of lemon that needed to be used up so I knew which direction I was headed in where fragrances were concerned. 

I peeled the skin off the lemon and ground it in the food processor. Next, I melted the glycerin base in a large glass measuring cup in the microwave. Once melted, I added my choice of colors, scents, and herbs.  I poured the liquid into greased molds ( you can use either store-bought molds, or containers you have on hand like pudding cups, milk cartons, etc.) Once the soap hardened, I unmolded it.


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  I opted to make three different fragrances for this project.

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Lemon Melon (pictured on the right) is made with yellow colorant, lemon-melon oil, and ground lemon rind, Vanilla Lavender (pictured in the center) is made with no colorant, vanilla oil, and dried lavender, and Lemon Lavender Carnation (pictured on the left) is made with yellow colorant, carnation oil, ground lemon rind, and dried lavender.

Make a batch of these pretty little soaps to brighten your day, and give a bar to a friend to brighten their day too.

Oh, and one more thing. The winner of the giveaway is Elisha.  Congratulations!!


Lemon cheesecakes with black raspberry glaze

Today, it snowed again. Very un-welcomed after a couple beautiful 60 degree days. My mind is focused on spring. I really need to get out in my flower garden and do some serious work. It appears that our chickens love my flowers as much as I do. Of all the places they can roam. Guess where they end up? Yes, in my flower garden. I’m actually worried they may have dug some of my perennials completely out of the garden. Maybe I could teach them to weed the garden and leave the flowers alone. Did I tell you I’m a realist?
Since I couldn’t work outside today I took to the kitchen instead. I decided lemon cheesecakes with black raspberry glaze were in order. You can’t get much springier than that. Can you? I’d love to hear what your idea of a spring dessert is.These little desserts are sweet and tangy. Because of their size they are a nice finish to a big meal.  If you’d like the recipe please email me.  I’ll be glad to share it. 
Oh, one more thing.  This week my blog will turn one year old.  Pay close attention because I’ll be celebrating with a great giveaway!! 



Take a hike, literally

The winters in New York can be so discouraging.  Cold and snow, and more cold and snow.  Unfortunately, there are more gray and overcast days than there are sunny ones. 

As a child I loved winter.  My time was spent sledding, skiing, ice skating, and building snow igloos.  All of my friends and I  spent more time outside than we did inside.   Today it’s quite the contrary. 

I’ve been exercising everyday, mostly on my stationary exercise bike.  To be quite frank, it is darn right boring.  I do it because I’m stubborn.  I won’t let it get the best of me.  I will get the best of it. 

This weekend, deliberately to avoid that boring exercise bike, I decided go for a hike in our woods.  With a wee bit of encouragement I convinced hubby to tag along.   Dressed for our outing, camera in hand, off we strolled. 

The first point of interest on our walk, a beautiful Red-Tail hawk soaring over us with such grace and elegance.  Oh, how I wish I could fly.  I was so engrossed in this creatures flying ability that I forgot I had a camera in hand.  We had startled the hawk from a secluded area which we decided to explore.   It was there that we found a freshly killed rabbit. Undoubtably the hawks supper. 

Our walk led us through the woods.  No beautiful wild flowers, colorful foliage, or any other sign of life.  Just a forest dormant, blanketed with snow.  A stark, yet tranquil setting.

It is in these woods that we harvest our sap for maple syrup.  Every year we anxiously await the time that we can get out our taps and buckets, and wait for the sap to flow.  Maple sugaring not only produces wonderful bottles of syrup, it also gives us hope that spring is not too far away. 

I look forward to warm sunny days, hints of spring, more hikes in the woods, and the smell of that sweet sap cooking down..  What do you look forward to in the days ahead?