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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

"Before" and "8 years After"

Sometimes it's nice to look back and see how far we have come......We live in a world of before and after pictures. Don't get me wrong, I love a good after shot. But, it's easy to loose a sense of reality and begin to think all "after" pictures happen overnight. When in reality budget, time, and energy constraints ARE the reality.
 I, like most people want to make my world more beautiful to live in. A desire to improve upon what I've been given is just who I am. But, there are times when the cost of groceries to feed my kids override the option of spending money on new built ins in the living room. We can't afford to pay a professional landscaper (which is fine I have more fun doing it myself anyway) so bit by bit we put our green thumbs to work. It has taken us 8 years before we could finally stand back and say look what we did/are doing. So while the transformation of our yard didn't happen overnight, like on TV or pinterest. It is an ongoing labor I love! Bring on the before and 8-years-after pictures!
Before
8-years-after 
Before
That sad tree in the middle of the picture died.
8-years-after

The tan pavers I got for free from a neighbor up the street.

Before
8-years-after

I think I need to  plant more hostas around the black planter.
I want them to get big and bushy!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Pretty Pinwheels for Easter

When I was decorating for Easter I wanted to do something happy and whimsical. I'm feeling a litter burned out on banners so why not...........
PINWHEELS?!
I made a few pinwheels using double sided paper (you could glue 2 pieces of paper back to back too) and stuck them on my mirrors using plasti-tack.
Pinwheels are so easy to make. I used some little flower brads to hold them together.

Here are some other pictures of my little Easter show case.

And of course my famous tinsel tree got and egg-cellent make over for Easter!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Slow Cooker Clotted Cream

You haven't lived unless you have had a proper English tea with scones and clotted cream. But, clotted cream is terribly difficult to find in the states and terribly expensive if you do find it.
Afternoon tea at Kensington Palace Orangery. If you are planning a trip to London I highly recommend it! Clotted cream is that buttery/cream cheese (note:it is neither butter or cream cheese) looking substance on the middle tier in front of the scones.

I recently had a hankering for clotted cream with my scones. I've tried the method where you cook heavy cream on super low in the oven for approx 12 hrs but didn't have the most impressive results. Then I had a light bulb moment....ding! The slow cooker!! Since my oven was on the fritz anyway this seemed to be the perfect method.
I started with heavy whipping cream-it can be pasteurized but NOT ultra-pasteurized.
Simply pour the cream into a 4 qt slow cooker. I used my retro 90's chic forest green-family of 4 slow cooker because it was smaller than my modern stainless steel family of 7 slow cooker. Basically it just cooks better in a smaller crock pot.
Turn the slower cooker on low, put the lid on, and walk away for approx. 8 hours.

When you come back your cream will look like this - all golden and buttery in color with a thick layer of cream at the top and a more watery layer at the bottom. Scoop, the now clotted cream, out with a slotted spoon. You only want the thick top layer.
I let mine drain in a cheese cloth lined strainer in the frig for a couple hours. Make sure you cover it with plastic wrap too. When you are ready to eat it, beat the clotted cream slightly with an electric mixer - just to get any lumps out.
It's tea time! Now this is what I remember clotted cream tasting like....success!
My sister Nicola during our tea at the palace. By the way we highly recommend the peppermint herbal infusion tea.

Now that you are in a right jolly tea drinking, scone eating mood, here is a link to the recipe for Kensington Palace Scones too. Cheerio and pink up everyone!