Sunday, June 30, 2013

We Be Jammin!

My youngest daughter and I made strawberry jam last week and it turned out really well. Only four ingredients and you have yourself a tasty jar of summer fruit.  You can use the jam for breakfast on waffles, toast or bagels, on the top of ice cream, or on baked goods.  It is not too sweet and full of strawberry flavor.  Next week, Peach Jam so stayed tuned.

This is what you will need, fresh strawberries, sugar, lemon, pectin, jars, seals and rims

Washed and hulled berries

slice them up

cooking on the stove and almost done

Canned and ready to eat or give as a gift

Packaged up for gifting.  These are the canning items I purchased on clearance at WalMart that I
showed you in an earlier blog, fabric lid covers, ribbon and tags.

YUM! ready to eat!

Fruity and tasty spread on my bagel flat... SO GOOD!


4 1/2  cups of strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
1 cup of white sugar
1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice
2 ½ tsp pectin
1 tsp water

Wash 5 – ½ pint canning jars in very hot water.  Place the metal rings and seals in a pan of water and bring to a boil, then turn the water off and leave the lids in the pan.
Bring a deep, Dutch oven type pot with water, to a boil.  It should be deep enough with water to cover the jars once you lower them into the bath to seal them.
Prepare the fruit. You can either place in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times or mash with a potato masher.  Transfer berries to a large saucepan. Add ½ cup of the sugar and the lemon juice.  Stirring frequently, bring the mix to a boil for about 15 minutes and continue stirring. When you are ready to gel it, add the 1 tsp of water to the berries and stir.  Mix the pectin with the other ½ cup of sugar and add to the strawberry mixture.  Stir quickly so the pectin dissolves into the mix and cook for about 2 -3 minutes until thickened.

Fill jars while the jam is hot. You can use a ladle or a canning funnel if you have one.  Make sure you keep your jars clean by wiping with a moistened cloth.  Leave about ¼ inch of space near the top of the each jar.  Place hot seal on top, then place the ring loosely, not too tight, on the jar (jars and rings can be reused but seals cannot).

While the jars are still hot, place them in the Dutch oven that is filled with boiling water using canning tongs. Lower them into the pan, without tipping them, right side up.  They should be totally covered with water at this point.  Continue to boil the jars for 10 -12 minutes.  Then remove from water, keeping upright, onto a cookie sheet to catch any dripping water.  All the jars should be sealed tight.  If they are not sealed you will be able to tell by pressing the center of the seal, if it has any give at all the jar is not sealed. Let them cool overnight so the jam sets.  Check again to see if they are completely sealed.  Tighten all the rings.  Jam will keep for up to 6 months unopened.  Once it is opened, store in the refrigerator.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Little "Vignettes"

Setting "little scenes" in the home are eye catching to visitors and keep it interesting.  When you turn a corner you never know what you will see.  I do this throughout my home and change things often by regrouping items from another scene.  I have collected so many things over the years from family members, purchasing them myself or thrifting.  Some are antiques or heirlooms that I just can't part with, so I display them to share with others.  They will always start a conversation or bring back fond memories. 

Rooster was bronze so I whitewashed it. Found at the grocery store for $9.99.

I love birds and found this bird nest and bird at a home decor shop in the country.  The burlap runner with ruffled hem came from there also.

'76 flag and double flag with stand I found at thrift store for $1.00 each. 

Antique Roseville Vase

Iron bird candle holder, Bombay writing desk.

 Found this Majolica looking bunny planter with crackle finish at a thrift store for $2.00 and it came with the Afican Violet!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Bring on the Summer Fruit!

Summer is abundant with all kinds of fresh fruit and you know fresh is always better.  Here is a new way to use fruit in salads that is refreshing, and filling, on hot summer nights. It always tastes good, no matter what fruit you are using. Try it, you will like it, and it will become a new favorite of yours too.  Recipe below.

Pull out your greens, fruit, nuts and cheese

Layer it

OOOH looks so good! Now drizzle on the dressing.

Spinach Salad with Fruit and Feta

1 bag of fresh spinach, rinsed and stems removed
½ bag of mixed spring greens, rinsed
10 strawberries rinsed, hulled and sliced
1 cup of blueberries, rinsed and stems removed
¾ cup of crumbled feta cheese
½ cup of sliced toffee almonds

Build salad by layering spinach and mixed greens.  Add strawberries, blueberries, feta then the almonds.  Top with dressing.  If you like you can add sliced fresh peaches, pear or kiwi.

Sweet and Sour Dressing
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ apple cider vinegar
½ cup canola oil
1/3  cup of sugar, use more if you like a sweeter dressing
¼ tsp paprika
1 tsp poppy seeds
1 tsp sesame seeds

Measure all ingredients into a container or jar with a lid and shake vigorously until combined.  Serve over the salad.

Gotta Love Cats!

Growing up we always had a dog in the house.  My mother did not like cats, she was Irish and very superstitious about them, so we were not allowed to have them.  I didn't have a cat until I was in my late 40's.  The first 2 cats came via one of my sons teachers who found a litter under her front porch.  He begged and begged to take 2 so I relented.  We already had a dog and I did not know anything about kittens.  So I educated myself online about cats and their behaviors.  To my surprise, my cats who are strays or feral, are the most loving, clean animals I have owned.  

This is Bootsie - she is the first to the house, with her brother Smokey who passed away, and the oldest at 13.  I can make hand sounds and she will go to wherever I am in the house.

Jessie - My oldest daughter found him on her balcony one New Years Day.  Animal rescue said he was
  un-adoptable so I took him home.  Jessie is in charge of the whole clan.  He keeps order in the house, and he loves to be cozy.  If there is a cat fight Jessie breaks it up and sends them on their way.  I have had him for 13 years.

Sammy- the feral cat who someone found on my job and couldn't keep so I took him in.  He was near death and was eating pebbles to survive.  After about $1500 in vet fees (I know, I know,  it's CRAZY, but look how cute he is) to get him healthy and some training, he is now a beautiful cat.  Sammy is the toddler and the  "spice" in the house.  If there is food you will see Sammy!  He is 3 years old.

 Trevor - He is a hefty boy! Loves to eat and sleep and is a lovable guy. Trevor is 12 years old.

 Trixie - thinks she is in charge but Jessie says otherwise.  She is sweet, loves to cuddle with you and at 12 she still has spark and playfulness, just ask her to play "mouse" and she will show you.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Italiano Tonno Insalata (Italian Tuna Salad)

Since I was first introduced to tuna, when I was a young girl, I have always liked it.  Whether it was made traditionally with mayo, onion and celery or plain, drained and right out of the can. I buy it in bulk now and always have it in the pantry. It's a quick meal when you don't feel like cooking.  This recipe is a new take on the old favorite.  It's light tasting and refreshing on a hot summer night. The recipe is below for you to make and enjoy as much as my family and I do.

This is what you will need for fabulous great tasting tuna!

Drain the tuna and flake in a bowl

Add onion, celery and lemon juice,  then oil 

Mix and serve with a fresh crusty Italian bread or a baguette  


2 – 5 oz.  cans Bumble Bee Premium Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water, drained

½ large red onion, diced

1 stalk celery and the leaves, diced

1 tsp lemon zest

1 large lemon or 2 small lemons, juiced

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, or less if you like

Salt and Pepper, to taste

1 loaf of crusty Italian bread or a baguette, sliced

Into a medium size bowl empty drained tuna.  Add the onion, celery, and lemon zest.  Mix all together.  Add the lemon juice and stir, then add the olive oil, salt and pepper and mix all together.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use.  Serve on thin slices of the bread. 

NOTE:  If you do not want to use the celery leaves use fresh parsley or you can use both.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fashion Wednesday

I have loved clothes my whole life.  When I landed my first job in high school I spent all my money on clothes, shoes and handbags.  A girl has got to look good! I never leave the house unless I have makeup on and my outfit is put together. It doesn't take much to do either of them.  Spend a few minutes on yourself.  MY MOTTO:  If YOU don't take care of YOU no one else will.

Navy and White Maxi Skirt, White Dolman Sleeve T- Shirt, Hot Pink Bubble Necklace
 and Navy/White Sandals 

Dark Wash Skinny Jean, Gold and White Bat Wing Top, Turquoise Bubble Necklace and Bracelet
and Gold Sandals

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Out and About

While out and about these are some of my sale finds. I go out browsing alot and happen upon some useful things that I need or want at low sale prices.  It never hurts to look, you never know what you will find. 

Resin Koi Fish Fountain Sprinkler - $4.99 Ollies, small deco pebbles - $1.99 and bulbs for landscape lighting - $1.99 Ikea (these are very expensive everywhere)

Happy Birthday Felt Flag Banner - $2.99 Christmas Tree Shop

Found 2 of these platters at a thrift store for $.75, painted it w/chalkboard paint

Vintage Mirror $2.00 and Vanity Chair $10.00, both at a thrift store, will be painted and chair
 reupholstered (stay tuned for updates on these pieces)

Rooster hook $1.00 at thrift store and shabby chic umbrella stand $9.99 at Gabriel's

2 -12 1/2 " boxwood topiaries $9.99 each, bird cage $14.99 at Home Goods

They decorate my kitchen window

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Making of the Cheesecake

Sometimes making a cheesecake can be tricky.  I think what's tricky about it is the quality of the ingredients that you use.  I made one a few weeks ago and had to throw the whole cheesecake in the trash, because I didn't use a good quality cream cheese.  For this recipe you will need a 9" springform pan.  Here is my redo on my cheesecake (recipe below).  Follow all the instructions and yours will be light, creamy and full of flavor.  Cheesecakes always taste better on the second day when everything settles and the flavors all marry.  So....

Get out your ingredients

Crush the graham crackers. Low fat, gotta save some calories somewhere and does not affect the taste at all

Crushed grahams, melted butter and sugar for the crust

Press those crumbs in a 9" springform pan

Beating the cream cheese

All mixed up and someplace to go....

Right into the pan!

All baked...

And served up with some fresh strawberries


The Crust
1 1/2 packages of Honey Maid Low Fat Plain Graham Crackers
3 Tbsp sugar
1 stick butter, melted

Put graham crackers into a resealable bag and crush with a rolling pin until you have fine crumbs.  Pour into a medium size bowl.  Add the sugar and the melted butter and mix until all is combined.  Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9" springform pan. Set aside.

The Cheesecake
4 - 8 oz. packages of regular Philadelphia Cream Cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp vanilla or 1/4 tsp of vanilla bean paste
1 Tbsp lemon juice
4 eggs

Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice until smooth and combined. Mixing on low speed, add eggs, beat after each one.  Pour over the crust.  Put springform pan on a cookie sheet that will accommodate its size.  Bake for 1 hour (depending on your oven) until the center is set.  Shut oven off and open the door.  Let the cheesecake rest  for 10 minutes inside the oven.  Remove from oven, place on a cooling rack.  When cheesecake is cool run a flat knife between rim and cheesecake to loosen, then open the spring on the rim to remove cheesecake from pan. After cheesecake is cooled, cover and place in the refrigerator.  Any leftovers should also be kept in the refrigerator.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Versatile "Little Black Skirt"

If you don't have a little black skirt, get one.  It is a "must have" article of clothing, long or short, that every woman should have in her closet.  It's basic and you can dress it up or dress it down.  I have paired one of my black skirts to make three different outfits.  You can wear these outfits all year long just by adding or taking away a jacket or a sweater.  Add a pair of boots, heels, flats or sandals, whichever you prefer, and you are looking chic girls!

Little Black Ruffled Hem Skirt - Ross, $10.99
Crossover Cinched Waist Top - WalMart, $8.99 (clearance rack)
Metal Bib Necklace - Fashion Bug

Lime Green jacket - Costco, $19.99
Sequined Snake Skin Print Tank - Fashion Bug, $14.99
Orange Bracelet - Avenue

Hook and Eye Black and White Print Top - Lane Bryant, $19.99 (clearance)
Red Bead and Metal Necklace - Avon, $5.99 (clearance)
Metal Flower Bracelet - Gabriel's, $3.99