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Friday, May 27, 2016

Bird Watching at Barb's

When I went out to help set up our Make-and-Take Tea and Project, Barb and I found time to take a break. (Especially after the tea!). She lives in the country and the birds were bountiful. And nesting!


So, here are a few of our Michigan birds. The redwinged blackbird is always seems to mark the arrival of spring, as much as a robin does.


Barb must have blackbird friendly food because these colorful little guys were everywhere!


They're feisty fellows, too! We witnessed more than one scrap among these fellows!


My favorite, and one of the fastest moving, was the red bellied woodpecker.


I don't know why they call these the red-bellied woodpecker. As far as I could see the had tummies white as snow.


But their heads were spectacular! That's a little sparrow next to him.


And of course the cardinal. We see cardinals year round here.


And year round, they are a favorite.


Of course, it all comes back to the new life. Pretty soon I'm thinking there will be a few more robins in Barb's neck of the woods!


The tea post will be coming up! Meanwhile, I may be spottier than usual visiting your blogs and commenting. Real life appears to be getting into the way of Cyber Life! A combination of travel, internet issues and a few other things are placing time at a premium. I'll do my best to keep up but might be slower than usual with comment replies!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Make and Take Tea: Silk Scarf Project

Last year my friend Barb and I hosted a Make-and-Take tea at Barb's where we had a project, followed by a full tea luncheon. We had such a good time we had to do it again! The tea part of this afternoon will be in another post but this is the very easy and delightful activity.

                   

This time our project was creating a 72" habotai silk scarf. We started with blanks ordered from Dharma Trading Company and used Sharpie Markers for the design.


I found this project thanks to one of you -- Elizabeth from Altered Book Lover, who first featured it here. (She has other links on her sidebar related to Sharpies if you find this interesting!)


You can do this a number of ways -- you can draw on your scarf from the beginning to end and then with the magic of rubbing alcohol go through the whole scarf making the colors bleed and pop in the most amazing of ways. This was the method we did.


(Another method involves taking a small container and using a rubber band, making a portion of your fabric tight, coloring it and then dropping the alcohol. I've done this too -- both work well but for our purposes, not fussing with containers was easier.)

          

There is only one rule to this project. Leave your inner Norman Rockwell at home because it will probably NOT look like how you think it will! You can try patterns and a shade of them will remain -- but don't count on it!


Supplies include Sharpies, an eye dropper or similar and alcohol. Lots of paper towels will help protect your surface. When the project is done, heat set it by 10 minutes in a hot dryer (probably in a pillow case or laundry bag so it doesn't snag). Hand wash in cold.


We had a grand group of creative people and everyone's scarf was completely different.

 

Jan did hers by drawing on the dark squares and then adding her color around it. (Her inner Norman Rockwell didn't quite go to sleep but it was one of my favorites and turned out as she wanted it!)

 

Rosemary went with lots of purples and a violet theme.

 

Kate went the stripe route. The colors were great with what she wore to the event!

 

Kate and Susie were the only ones using orange in their scarves. It really popped!


Julie's was another abstract that looked perfect with her outfit of the day.


So did Tracey's! Lots of blues with some black.


And Pat came up with a wonderful floral print.


There are a couple of guidelines that I haven't mentioned -- one is not to forget the hem area. It doesn't have to be colored in, of course, but if some of your colors start to bleed into the hem, intentionally add it a bit more, just so it looks planned!


We did this project easily in 90 minutes. And quite literally, a child could do it. What a fun thing to do with a grandchild! It might be a homemade Christmas present mom could actually use, not just love to pieces!



You can also do this on other surfaces -- a very rough, fiberous paper, a mulberry paper or cotton. It doesn't work so well on materials with too much poly on them. Natural fibers are best.


 I loved Barb's apron!



I think you can see from the happy faces that we were very pleased with our scarves!


Thanks, Elizabeth, for posting the idea!


This post will be shared with Thoughts of Home on Thursday where you'll find lots of fun, creative links with projects, home decor, recipes and more! And don't come back for tea time!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Once a Year Whether You Need It Or Not!

I was making my favorite summer salad recipe in honor of finally being able to eat outdoors without a sweater. It seems like every now and then I share this recipe, but I have been blessed in the past year with some wonderful new readers so I thought I'd share it again! It is especially good for open air picnics and warm days as it has only a vinegar and oil base and doesn't require refrigeration. It's good cold but I like it best at closer to room temp and this one gets better as the flavors meld.

 

It was originally called Orzo Pasta Salad which is accurate but boring. I'm not sure where the original recipe hailed from but I've heard it was a variation by my friend Kate from a Cooking Light recipe -- a good decade or two ago. Kate's friend Esther made it on a WKAR cooking show and I co-opted it from there, making my own variation.

I call it two things -- Confetti Pasta Salad or Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad. For obvious reasons.
 

Basically, while your water is heating for the orzo chop to a small size (but not fine dice -- you can be as casual as you like with this) a mix of veggies and herbs. For the version you see here I used:

1 handful Japanese spring peas (the flat ones)
1 handful of asparagus
1/2 or a little more of red, orange and green pepper (but you can use whatever colors you like!)
5 large radishes
10 kalamata olives (because that is what I had; I would have used more!)
5 green onions (or if I'd had shallot or purple onion, I'd use that in place of or in addition to)
A handful of basil
A handful of dill
A handful of flat pasley
Sun Dried or diced tomatoes (grape tomatoes, are good; I used a roma. Sun dried is best!)
A block of feta cheese (I suppose you could use gorgonzola or bleu -- the feta seems "fresh.")
Salt and pepper
Vinegar and olive oil

Put it all in the bottom of your bowl.


Boil up your bag of orzo. It takes about 7 minutes, give or take (the sizes on this rice-shaped pasta can vary a bit).


Then run it under cold water to cool it and pour over veggies.

Add vinegar, oil, salt and pepper to taste. You want it to have the flavor but not be too wet! (After it's been in the fridge a bit, you may want to add a bit more since the pasta absorbs it.)


Voila! A wonderful salad that makes a lot (excellent for pot lucks) and doesn't take long. If you don't have all the items listed, substitutions are fine -- broccoli, carrots, even finely diced raw sweet potatoes are also good in this!

This post will be linked to Thoughts of Home on Thursday! Check out the links!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Southern Exposure: European Edible Basket

Back to Southern Exposure for the final workshop of the spring. It was a cold, wet, gloomy day. The bits of blue sky we saw on the way down disappeared sometime between breakfast and the end of the workshop and we were all wishing we'd worn fleece!


During wedding season, the first thing you see when you come through the gates is this wonderful vintage car!


It takes you back to a gentler, easier time, to be sure!



We went to Southern Exposure for a workshop that the brochure called a European Hanging Basket. I call it the European Edible Basket because the project was filled with herbs and edible flowers! But more on that later.


It may have been gloomy but we were welcomed with bird song in the air and rose petals on the walkway!


We arrived in time for a quick walk about, and then it was time for a fabulous, herb-packed breakfast. Chef Elsie did well by us with scrambled eggs with basil, hash browns with thyme, rosemary herbed butter for our croissant, a fabulous grilled pork with the salty tastiness of a bacon or ham, and a honey yogurt with granola. The hot tea (or coffee) was welcome and so were the cheery mimosa, the closest thing to sun we would see all day!


The workshop itself was fun. We received nine plants to include in our hanging basket -- basil, thyme, parsley, rosemary, kale, Swiss chard, viola, dianthus and dwarf snapdragon. The flowers are edible. Then it was a matter of putting it together. A little moss covered the finished product.

 

Of course, Scott and Angie brought us all mimosa while we worked!


I was happy! Can you tell?


And yes, the chickens made an appearance. They deserved applause, having offered up their fresh eggs for our breakfast!


Then it was time to continue our walk.The trillium were in perfect bloom.


And I couldn't resist taking lots of photos of the bleeding hearts.


Bleeding hearts are one of my favorites, bringing back powerful memories of times spent on my grandparents' farm as a child.



It had rained the night before (and yes, that morning!) so the droplets on the flowers took my breath away.


I love shooting on an overcast day because the intensity of the colors is more powerful and far less washed out. Today was perfect for that.



I'm always fond of the gates and fences at Southern Exposure. It was fun playing with my new camera setting to see how differently things could look!



The Straw Guy was holding court too, this time with a giant pot of pansies.


One of my favorite stops is in the small greenhouse.

                  

I particularly like the light in here, too! And the lovely things tucked inside.


You might pass by this statue in the garden, somewhat hidden by foliage. Yet she was lovely.


We also stopped by the chicken house to thank the birds for sharing their eggs for our breakfast.



And wandering by the other buildings is always a treat.



And as always, we ended up back at the gift shop.

 

Thanks for joining us on our Southern Exposure excursion. Unless we head back simply to walk the gardens in the summer, this is our last visit until workshops begin again in the fall.


I have a feeling we might have withdrawal!


This post will be linked to Talk of the Town on Wednesday, Thoughts of Home on Thursday and Pink Saturday on -- yes, Saturday! On Monday I'll be at the Second Garden Party hosted by Share Your Cup and Thoughts of Home -- check out some amazing gardens there!


Come back later in the week to check on the links to visit lots of beautiful blogs!

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