Early Garden Bounty

It was certainly not my intention to have two posts before 9AM, but when I went out to the backyard to pull the trashcans to the curb, look what I found! The first ripe tomato of the season. While I'd like to slice it and eat it now, I think I'll save it for a little Bruschetta Salad later in the day.

Kathy's Cottage Summer Recipe Swap

Today is the day to share easy summer recipes for Kathy's Recipe Swap. I'm a fan of the whole "semi-homemade" genre of cooking, especially for summertime meals. Both of these recipes come from the Kraft Foods website/magazine. If you don't subscribe to this free publication, you should. Four times a year you receive a beautiful magazine in the mail with seasonal recipes and lots of pictures. Even if you aren't a Kraft fan, your favorite brand substitutions can be made. Click here to visit the Kraft website and subscribe. Now...on to the recipes!

Grilled Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

Prep Time:12 min
Total Time:22 min
Makes:4 servings
1/4 cup KRAFT Mayonnaise (or sour cream; or bottled Ranch or Bleu Cheese Dressing)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup BULL'S-EYE Raging Buffalo Barbecue Sauce
4 crusty sandwich rolls, partially split
4 leaf lettuce leaves
2 medium tomatoes, cut into 4 slices each

PREHEAT grill to medium-high heat. Mix mayo and onions; cover. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Brush chicken with oil.

GRILL chicken 4 min. on each side. Brush lightly with barbecue sauce. Continue grilling 2 min. or until chicken is cooked through (170°F), turning and brushing occasionally with the remaining barbecue sauce.

SPREAD top halves of rolls with the mayo mixture. Place lettuce and tomato slices on bottom halves of rolls; cover with the chicken and tops of rolls.

Layered Bruschetta Salad

Prep Time:10 min
Total Time:10 min
Makes:4 servings, 2 cups each

4 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup KRAFT Zesty Italian Dressing
1 bag (10 oz.) torn romaine lettuce
1 cup croutons
1 pkg. (6 oz.) OSCAR MAYER Italian Style Chicken Breast Strips (I always grill or cook extra chicken breasts whenever I fix chicken to use in recipes like this)
2 Tbsp. KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese

COMBINE tomatoes, basil and dressing; set aside.
PLACE lettuce in medium serving bowl; top with layers of croutons, chicken and tomato mixture.
SPRINKLE with cheese. Serve immediately.


Sunday Puttering

Since it's too crowded and noisy outside my front door (and backdoor, too), indoor activities are in order for today. A few weeks ago, I purchased a box of binders from Office Depot with the thought of arranging all of the magazine clippings I've had for at least the past 20 years. While going through some of these, it's sparked new ideas and projects. The process of arranging all of this paper is a bit overwhelming, so I've taken it in small doses. The paper lining the spines of the binders is from Amy Butler's paper collection.
I've been asked by more than a few people if the picture on my blog header is my mantel. Yes...last Sunday morning I went out to cut some more hydrangea and I arranged it in the aluminum tumblers--inspired by a photo on Vintage Indie. The mantel seemed to be a logical place to display all of those flowers, and I wanted a fresh, clean look.

Heartened by many positive comments, I did list my earrings on Etsy. Later this afternoon I plan on making some other styles. I've been collecting beads and findings for quite a while...along with collecting lots of other stuff! It's now time to use it or move it on out...something I'm not really inclined to do.


Pink Saturday, part 3

I love this vintage quilt square I received from Kathy @ Shocking Pink Thread. We were in a Happy Miscellany Swap several months ago. My eyes are always drawn to vintage quilt patterns and I love the pastel '30's look of the fabrics.
Now for a bit of shameless self-promotion...earrings I've made this week...pink pearls, Swarovski crystal rondelles, Japanese Delica beads, and sterling silver findings. I'm thinking of listing them in my Etsy store, but I'm hesitant because there are so many wonderful jewelry makers out there already. What do you think?
More pearls, with oxidized silver findings
This quilt is from Quilt Pink from Better Homes & Gardens. I've been collecting pink fat quarters for several years...this is the quilt I want to make.

Thank you, Beverly, for hosting another Pink Saturday!


A Summer Memory

Many, many years ago this little drive-in restaurant was the place to be...it was a few towns over from my hometown, and it was always a treat to stop here and eat. This was all pre-McDonald's and any other "fast food". The Spot had the usual menu; burgers, breaded tenderloin, fish, all kinds of what I like to refer to as "good grease." Summertime brought fresh strawberry pie to the menu...you know, big whole fresh strawberries swimming in a red gel, topped with whipped cream. While going through a kitchen drawer this morning, I came across this recipe:

"The Spot" Cream Pie
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
pinch of salt
Mix and put in an unbaked pie shell. Pour a pint of half and half over this and stir with a finger so as not to tear the pie shell.
Bake at 350 for 70-75 minutes.
The top of the pie forms a golden brown balloon, which deflates upon removing from the oven and cooling. It's good plain, but a little sliced fresh fruit topping makes it outstanding.


Guess what will be here in just less than 6 months...

While at work yesterday, as I flipped the calendar over for the day, it hit me...Christmas is six months away. It's hard to imagine on this very hot and humid day, but Christmas will be here in the blink of an eye. With everything so expensive, and higher prices for food and fuel on the horizon, I started looking around for some inexpensive but heartfelt gifts I could make. Last year before Christmas I found a cute lunch bag pattern...great for gifts for co-workers. Click here for the post. (Edited to add...the link on the December post has been corrected. Click here to go directly to the pattern directions.) The cute little tie-on pin cushions look easy and would use lots of pieces from the scrap basket. Find the directions here.
Journal covers...everyone always starts a journal for the new year...these covers are cute and look easy to make. Follow this link for the instructions.
This would be a great little project for right now...summery colors, and again...a fairly simple project. The directions are here.
All photos and links from American Patchwork and Quilting


A Wonderful Giveaway...follow the link

Kristin at The Retro Cafe Art Gallery is having a giveaway. Follow the link here so you can leave a comment and be entered for this wonderful Angel piece.

Summery fresh recipes

If you like salads but you're tired of the same old greens and dressings, this is the book for you. It's filled with combinations most of us would not think about, yet they turn out beautiful and tasty. Here are a few recipes I've tried from this gorgeous book:

Peach and Tomato Salad
4 large ripe tomates, peeled, seeded, and cut into large dice
2 large peaches, peeled and cut into large dice
1/2 small red onion, finely minced or cut into thin slivers
About 1/3 cup citrus and black pepper dressing (recipe below)
3 tablespoons thinly slivered fresh mint or basil, for garnish
Combine all the ingredients in a salad bowl and gently toss with the dressing. Garnish with the mint (or basil) and serve.
Citrus and Black Pepper Dressing
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
Sea Salt
Whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl.
Moroccan Salad of Raw Grated Carrots with Citrus Cinnamon Dressing
4 large carrots
1/4 cup citrus cinnamon dressing (see below)
Chopped walnuts or almonds
Grate the carrots on the large holes of a box grater (or use a food processor with the grating blade attached). Toss with the dressing, top with chopped walnuts or almonds and serve.
Citrus Cinnamon Dressing
1/2 cup mild olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
orange flower water (optional)
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl with a whisk, then add orange flower water to taste if you like.


Shades of Blue

Tuesday blues from around the house...McCoy planter duo, my favorite Bennington trigger-handle mug, Rowe pottery--salt-glazed blue and gray, patriotic platter, old Ball jar--loose tea storage, blue chintz covered dish--from Nell Hill's, vintage seam binding, and my bicycle...

I need ideas to fill the planters; I've had silks in them, ivy, hydrangeas (of course), but I just can't seem to get it right. Perhaps I should hand them over to my friend (a shout-out to you, Carol) and see what kind of floral magic she can do with them.


Wish List

I suppose that at the top of my list I could wish for world peace and an end to the crazy weather patterns sweeping across the US, but what I really want (and can actually imagine getting) are these things....a cool bicycle basket....either the front mount or back mounted versions, both from Cynthia's Twigs
Room for Toto, too...
A shopping cart...from Martha's Vintage Trifles blog. Don't you love the way she's lined it?
And this necklace I've been craving for months from Elizabeth Williams' Etsy shop eliwill.


Simple Sunday Pleasures

It is an absolutely beautiful day here along the Ohio River. We 'downtowners' need to embrace the quiet of the day...in just a few days the Freedom Festival will begin. Starting on Monday morning and lasting all the way through July 7th, Riverside Drive will be closed so the craziness can begin. Every year I always tell myself that I need to leave town for at least the Freedom Festival...it's noisy (hydroplane races and acrobatic jets making my windows rattle), it's hot, and the streets fill with lots of people who enjoy their alcoholic beverages but have no hesitation to throw their trash in front of my house. I must revel in the quiet of this beautiful Sunday morning.

I puttered around outside early this morning, weeding (they grow overnight, I swear!), watering, and snipping. I stood by the tomatoes and wished them to hurry and ripen...I can't wait until my first tomato, sun-warmed and rosy, pops into my mouth.

The sun tea is brewing, and I look forward to a nice, quiet afternoon on the sunporch...reading, maybe napping, and enjoying the peace and quiet.


Second Pink Saturday

Here's my little collection of pinks for Beverly's Pink Saturday. The Fiestaware sits high atop my kitchen cupboards. I would have climbed up to take just the pink out, but I think it stands out among the other colors. The teacup and floral arrangement on row 2 is a Pay-It-Forward craft/gift from Mary at Little Red House. Pink geraniums line the staircase to my home. I love the pink veins in the coleus on my front porch...very vivid in real life. The heart, center in row three is a purchase from Kathy at Kathy's Cottage.
Soft cotton pink chenille yarn. Since I don't know what I'm going to make with it, I'm quite happy to see it displayed in this old wooden bowl alongside rosewood knitting needles.
Another shot of the geraniums. They're exceptionally prolific this year...could it be the Miracle Gro?
This final pink picture is on my "wanted" list. I love poppies, but have none. Aren't these beautiful? They're available from White Flower Farm...."Helen Elizabeth".


Silver Message Board--finished!

The tray...with two nail-punched holes (this was the hardest part of the project).
I taped around the border of the tray and gave it a light coat of paint.
Contrary to what I was told on the phone, our local JoAnn's does not carry Plaid Pink chalk board paint. They do have black spray...and I really like spray paint. So easy.
The finished product after three coats of paint.
The paint has to cure 24 hours before you can use it as a chalk board.


What is it with Fridays and rain? I didn't really have any outdoor activities (other than weed-pulling) planned, but I was going to hit a few yard sales this morning. I'm a "fair weather" yard saler...so I stayed put at home. A friend came over later in the morning and we did our own crafty things...she's working on a wool penny table runner, and I knitted. I'm just knitting wash clothes...simple, no thinking involved wash clothes. I have a little project in mind for later in the day; it involved picture number 3 below.
A few weeks ago I went to a neighborhood (not mine) yardsale. It's an annual event, and I had been looking forward to it for quite a while. It turned out to be a little disappointing since there wasn't a lot of participation in the sale...in some cases, just two or three per block. My friend spotted the typewriter...I used to have a similar one, but gave it away years ago. This one has a broken space bar, and doesn't actually work. My plan is to remove the keys and use them for jewelry. I'll be on the lookout for an old typewriter in better shape.

I found this mirror at the city-wide yardsale in Ferdinand, Indiana a few months ago. It hangs on the door of the guest room.
I want to turn this tray into a message board this evening. I've located the Plaid brand pink chalkboard paint, so I just need to prime, paint, punch 2 holes in the tray and thread a ribbon through them in order to hang the tray.

Another bargain find...a wrought iron rooster hanging bracket. It will be the new home for my asparagus fern on the sun porch.


A P.S. to my first post of the day

This wasn't directed at anyone. I just found it to be a more precise description of how I've been feeling about some things and situations I've been involved in. If I had a 'problem' with a friend, I'd certainly sit down and discuss my feelings with them...you don't write off friendship that easily. It seems like for many years, I was a 'yes' person. Any request, any chore, any committee...if someone asked me, I would say yes. I'm much more frugal with my commitments now; I have to really want to be involved in something to make myself available. Being positive is something I try to attain each and every day; work gossip drains me...since I spend a good portion of time at work, I want my time there to be productive and upbeat. Life's too short. I just feel that we all need to edit our lives and focus on the positive...blogging certainly has become a positive force in my life. I try to find the beauty in small things. Thanks for listening!

Something to think about

Yesterday I found the following in my inbox from The Daily OM. I read over it a few times, emailed it to a friend, and thought about it for the rest of the day. I want to share it with you, if you don't "subscribe" to this newsletter.

The Friend We Want To Be

Evaluating Our Relationships

There comes a time in all our lives when we may need to evaluate our relationships, making sure that they are having a positive effect on us, rather than dragging us down. Without realizing it, we may be spending precious time and energy engaging in friendships that let us down, rather than cultivating ones that support and nourish us along our path. Life, with its many twists, turns, and challenges, is difficult enough without us entertaining people in our inner circle who drain our energy. We can do so much more in this world when we are surrounded by people who understand what we’re trying to do and who positively support our efforts to walk our path.
We can begin this evaluation process by simply noticing how we feel in the context of each one of our close relationships. We may begin to see that an old friend is still carrying negative attitudes or ideas that we ourselves need to let go of in order to move forward. Or we may find that we have a long-term relationship with someone who has a habit of letting us down, or not showing up for us when we need support. There are many ways to go about changing the status quo in situations like this, having a heart to heart with our friend showing through example. This process isn’t so much about abandoning old friends as it is about shifting our relationships so that they support us on our journey rather than holding us back.
An important part of this process is looking at ourselves and noticing what kind of friend we are to the people in our lives. We might find that as we adjust our own approach to a relationship, challenging ourselves to be more supportive and positive, our friends make adjustments as well and the whole world benefits.


Favorites for Summer

This beautiful wreath is from Williams-Sonoma. Details can be found here.

Isn't this a wonderful sleeping porch? I can just imagine sitting on that daybed on a summer afternoon, reading, dreaming, and just "being." Photo...O at Home
This is my inpiration for a bedroom "redo". I've had this photo in my file for quite a while. It looks beachy, don't you think? Photo...Cottage Living
Another idea, from Cottage Living...a simple pine board and "found" hooks. I have an old coffee can full of these.

And here's my easiest (and most affordable) summer favorite. Crystal Light Cherry Pomegranate. Cool, low cal, and refreshing.


Oh to be young again...

Yesterday afternoon when I got home from work, the neighbors were having a pool party...the house next door, filled with twentysomethings, erected a pool in the driveway last weekend. This week, they've added fencing. These guys know how to have fun...since the weather has warmed up, they've been out in the driveway grilling, playing games, drinking beer, and just having a good time.

It's a quiet Sunday morning now, but I just had to share a picture of the 2nd Street Beach. If only there would have been the scent of Coppertone in the air, the sounds yesterday afternoon would have taken me back to my early teen years at Meadow Lake...music, splashing, and fun.


Pink Saturday

Yesterday, while blog visiting, I read about Pink Saturday on Beverly's blog. I decided to join in, thinking at the time that I had "lots of pink" around the house. I was wrong. I have a favorite pink vase...

A pink dish...I'm sure this has a real name or purpose, but I usually have a few buttons in it...
My favorite soap dish filled with a portion of the vintage German lucite beads I purchased at Bedazzled in Washington D.C.
...and of course, a few pink flamingos. Flamingos used to be a running joke in our family. My brother and I exchanged these on many occasions.
These guys don't make their home in my livingroom...they just flocked here for photography.


Rain kissed hydrangea

Rainy Friday, busy day

Since it's such a gloomy day, I took inside pictures...this is the grave rubbing Beth did while in Ireland this past May. She's a "rubbing maniac"...anything with an interesting pattern...manhole covers, any and all ironwork....they're wonderful memories of trips and all you need are some newsprint and pencils.

I have a huge "to do" list to accomplish today...including picking up tickets to see Bob Dylan at a local outdoor ampitheater in August. I could have purchased them online, but all of the extra charges vs. going six blocks to the local ticket window makes a local purchase more appealing even though it's just a little inconvenient. The tickets go on sale at noon. After that, I'm meeting my daughter for lunch at Shing Lee. Rainy days and Chinese food seem to go together. Major housecleaning is also on the list...I've let things pile up in the entryway and living room, and it's time for the piles to disappear.

Someone gave me several bags of "live plants" that they didn't get around to planting...Asiatic lilies, ranunculas, candytuft, and clematis. Hope those bare root plantings still have a bit of life to them. I've got the ranuncula (ii?) corms soaking in water, and if the rain lets up a bit, I'll find a place to plant these little "orphans".