Saturday, October 3, 2015

Recycling to Create a Votive Holder

Votive Holder

We had used up a couple of salsa jars that screamed votive holders to me! So far I have played with one.
This gold clay is odd to work with since it streaks darker tones. However I thought it would be perfect for decorating the jar.
Rolling out strips is very relaxing.
After baking the clay I went through my stash and decided to cut several pieces of this ribbon yarn to hide the top where the lids screws on. It complements the color of the clay perfectly.
I was going for something that would give off a lot of light and also create cool patterns on the wall and ceiling. It really only creates neat lighting on the table but I love how much light it gives off with a candle flickering!

A little tip I learned for removing the labels was a 50/50 combo of vegetable oil and baking soda stirred into a paste. The labels peeled off easily but the residue left behind would not scrub off! I also tried rubbing alcohol. The paste was the one thing that worked. I let it sit on the jars for about 5 minutes and the residue scrubbed right off!

Thank you for stopping by! Have a wonderful week ahead. ~Val

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Life Lately

Dymo Label Writer
I got the Dymo LabelWriter 4xL! It is an amazing time saver that I wish I purchased sooner. This printer prints up the 4' x 6' shipping labels using thermal technology so no ink cartridges are needed! It will take some time to pay itself off but the time I will save using this is priceless.

Fruit and Nut Bars
The recipe for these fruit and nut bars is from Sweet Potato Soul. Since I have been very happy with recipes from this site, I knew they would be a hit.

The first time I made them, I did so to recipe. I did have trouble with them holding together in bars when cutting. The recipe states to add more fruit if they are not holding together.

So the second time I made them I also used sticky dried figs and a little extra coconut oil. They held together much better so I know I will eventually master this one! Jim LOVES them too. I also used cashews instead of almonds which worked great so substituting ingredients is ok! 

Custom Order
This was a request for a navy blue eyeglass chain. These beads are Czech glass with a gorgeous matte finish. So pretty!

Thank you for stopping by. I hope you have a great week ahead! ~Val

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Kitchen Fun!

Corn Chowder
I found another way to use silken tofu where you don't notice its texture! This is in creamy soups and chowders (used in place of dairy).
This soup is easy and absolutely delicious. I can't believe there is no dairy in it! 

The ingredients are as follows:
3.5 cups of vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
2 medium potatoes (chopped into 1 inch cubes)
3 cups of frozen (thawed) or fresh corn
package of 12.3 ounce silken tofu (the Mori-Nu brand is just the right size) pureed until smooth in a food processor or blender

First boil the broth with all the spices in it. Add potatoes, cover and cook on high until tender. Then turn down to low. Add tofu and corn. Simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. Then enjoy. It taste amazing as a leftover too!

I will definitely be playing around with silken tofu in soups this coming winter!

A Delicious Stack
We had a bunch of extra red bell peppers that I was worried about going bad so I roasted them. They are perfect in this lunch of a simple stack with the pepper, tomato and mozzarella cheese. Topped off with a balsamic vinaigrette and dried basil. Yes, it completely fell apart when I ate it!

Freezing Fresh Carrots
I have frozen fresh carrots in the past, but never properly. So internet searching I went to learn how to help these orange guys maintain their flavor.

These were baby carrots that I chopped up. Then put them in boiling water for 2 minutes. Then added the carrots to ice water for an additional 2 minutes. 

This blanching process takes care of natural enzymes and bacteria that can cause the carrots to lose flavor, color and nutritional value. So now I have 2 batches in freezer bags ready to be added to soups in the near future!

Thank you for stopping by! ~Val

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Russell Orchards

The day we were driving back from Castle Hill we stopped at Russell Orchards also in Ipswich, MA. What a charming place!
They offer their own fresh produce, condiments and wine.

Antiques for show!
I was wondering why there were so many mommies with little ones in the parking lot. Here's why.
I was impressed with how white and regal looking this dude was below.

They also have apple, blackberry, raspberry, cherry, currant, blueberry and strawberry picking here. A fun thing for kids too!
We saw some other signs of Fall.
We also saw some floral beauties here.

I hope you enjoy this little visit to Russell Orchards. I love when we make a random stop somewhere and it is full of charm!

Thank you for stopping by! ~ Val

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Castle Hill - Part 2

The 165 acre estate where the Great house of Castle Hill is stunning. It's hard to believe this was only a summer home. 
A line of statues is on both sides of part of the massive grass mall in the back yard.
In the middle of the back yard is the Casino.
There was once a saltwater swimming pool in the center of this structure.
Included were bathhouses, cabanas and an indoor ballroom! Off in the distance is the Atlantic Ocean although you can't see it due to the rolling green mall.
Massive chess and checkers! I don't know if this is original or not. 
It takes a while to walk the length of the back yard. That is the house you can barely see in the center to show perspective.
Eventually you reach a beautiful area where you could lie out on the grass and enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of the ocean.

To get to the beach it was a MUCH longer walk. I think we took the wrong trail! It started like this and we thought we were close.
Then we just kept walking which got harder as the sand became fluffier. If you have ever walked a distance in fluffy sand you know what I mean! We both felt it in our legs the next day.
Fun Hollywood East facts - This site has been seen in a few films. The Witches of Eastwick (1987), Flowers in the Attic (1987), and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009). Apparently the grass mall was used in the first episode of the Amazing Race 17. 

I hope you enjoyed this visit. It was a treat for us! Thank you for stopping by. ~Val

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Castle Hill - Part 1

Jim and I visited Castle Hill in Ipswich, MA. A first for both of us! This land was first owned by John Winthrop, Jr., the son of the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony back in 1637. 
Designed by David Adler
Afterwards it was owned and run by farmers. Today there is a mansion on site that was built by Richard T Crane who purchased the property in 1910 building the stately house in 1928.

Back Side
There are many charming elements about the home and exterior decor. Of course there are cranes!
Part of the coastal land has been donated to the state and is named Cranes Beach. I always thought that was due to the crane population in the area but apparently it has to due with the family name!
Inside has some gorgeous wood detailing.

I will be back next week with the grounds which are beyond amazing and immense. It has its own beach on the Atlantic but it was quite a hike to get to the shore! 

If you live in the area, I would recommend visiting. Besides the Great House, there are 4 miles of roads and trails to enjoy.  There is a schedule of concerts, movies and more that take place here. You can even book your wedding!

Thank you for stopping by! ~Val

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Nakd Bars

So this is a different sort of post for me. I was asked if I would be willing to review Nakd bars.  These healthy treats are made by Natural Balance Foods of the UK. They are looking to expand into the US market, hence the review! 

The bars are gluten and dairy free. They are also vegan and 100% natural with no added sugar or syrups. As a health nut with both dairy and gluten sensitivities, I was excited to try these! In addition, they are also iron rich which we need. To learn more about iron rich foods, please click the link.

Nakd Bars
How cute is the box saying Hello Gorgeous?

The ingredient labels are easy to read on the packages and I have listed them below by bar. Dates are used in all. I suppose that is what give them all a perfect, soft texture that also holds the bar together. Besides great texture in all along with healthy ingredients, I love their natural sugar fix. Perfect for the afternoon pick me up!

So here goes with the 14 bars I sampled! These are listed in order of my favorites to least favorite. This would vary for others since we all have different taste buds, but these were my thoughts.

Cocoa Orange
40% dates, 40% cashews, 14% raisins, 5% cocoa with natural orange flavor
This has always been a favorite flavor combo for me and the bar was a win!

Caffe Mocha
55% dates, 26% cashews, 12% raisins, 6% cocoa, natural flavors
This one would be perfect with a cup of coffee. It has that delicious coffee chocolate flavor!

Berry Delight
47% dates, 31% cashews, 17% raisins, 3% raspberries
This was delicious if you love raspberries!

Strawberry Crunch
43% dates 17% soya protein crunchies, 17% raisins, 17% cashews, 4% apple juice, 2% strawberry
Strawberry has always been a favorite fruit for me and this bar was a win with it's strawberryness.  I do like those crunchies too which are also in a few of the other bars.

Ginger Bread
48% dates, 32% almond, 18% pecans, ginger, cloves and cinnamon to spice
Loved! If you love the flavors of typical baked goods at Thanksgiving and Christmas time, this is for you. I loved tasting the holidays!

chocolatey flavors to pick from

Cocoa Mint
48% dates, 29% cashews, 17% raisins, 6% cocoa, natural flavoring
This is very minty with minty after taste. Mmmm! Another thing I have always been a fan of is chocolate and mint together.

Cashew Cookie
51% cashews and 49% dates. Cashews are my favorite nut. I would say the dates overpowered here but I still enjoyed it. It is nice and sweet in a natural way.

Pecan Pie
52% dates, 28% pecan, 20% almonds
This was the most nutty to my taste buds. It has a great sweetness with the dates.

Cocoa Delight
48% dates, 29% cashews, 17% raisins, 6% cocoa
While this was chocolatey it was not like a candy bar. It would satisfy a chocolate craving in a healthy way.

Bakewell Tart
49% dates, 35% cashews, 19% raisins, natural flavoring
Didn't think I would like this one since I'm not a tart fan, but I loved it!
Anyone who loves tart would probably enjoy it. Plus it will wake you up with its sour ways!
fruity flavors to pick from
Rhubarb and Custard
55% dates, 25% cashews, 19% raisins, natural flavoring
Sweet with tart undertones! Another tart treat I liked. Tantalizing on the tastebuds.

Apple Crunch
43% dates, 17%  soya protein crunchies, 15% cashews, 14% raisens, 7% apple, 4% apple juice
I was anticipating a strong apple flavor didn't quite get it. The bar was ok.

Banana Crunch
43 % dates, 18% soya protein crunchies 15% cashews, 15% raisins, 6% banana, 3% apple juice
I'm not a huge banana fan which is why this is towards the bottom of my list. However a banana fan may love this one (my boyfriend did)! 

Cocoa Crunch
43% dates, 16% soya protein crunchies, 16% raisins, 15% cashews, 5% cocoa, 4% applejuice
I did not care for the taste of this one!

Interested in trying them for yourself? You can shop at Natural Balance Foods to have them delivered to your door. You can start with a sampler package to find out which ones you like best. Shipping is free within the U.S.

I hope you enjoyed this review. I certainly had fun with it! No I didn't eat them all yet. I sampled and froze the remainder of each one for later enjoyment. They are great out of the freezer too!

Have a great week! ~Val