Wednesday, September 30, 2015

One of the joys of the season ~

I really know that it is fall when bulbs appear at the nursery.
I love bulbs, they are such a wonder, plant them now and then when you have forgotten all about them, they burst forth in spring.

Our weather is so temperate not all bulbs do well here. Tulips will bloom but they need special care and personally I long ago gave up on that.

Now I stick  bulbs that don't need a period of chilling such as daffodils  narcissis, freesias, lilies and leucojum.

Although I loose a few bulbs each year, mainly because I forget where they are and accidentally dig them up, if the foliage is allowed to die back naturally they will multiply and come back. Some bulbs, like Paperwhites can even become a bit of a nuisance.

One of my favorites is the miniture daffodil, Tete-a-tete, planted as you can see in the photo below in my driveway median. 

For some reason for the past couple of years I haven't been able to find them locally, too bad because they perform so well and you can tuck them into little spots. This year however I was able to order them online.

This is also the time to plant and divide iris...but that is for another day and quite too much work to think about while our temperatures continue to be so hot. Next month I think, although I will buy them now while there is still a good selection.

 I use wooden paint stirring sticks to mark where I plant bulbs.
They make good and not too obtrusive garden markers.

Have a lovely day

Monday, September 21, 2015

A bit of new ~

# 1  New dress

This dress is a prototype, I have a beautiful rayon fabric I really want to make it out of but I thought I 
 would try it first in an inexpensive black and white check gingham...just in case I didn't like it. 

But I do, and in some ways I might get more wear out of this casual look.

I have just found out that my camera will take timed photos which will be so much better than selfies with the camera blocking in the way. Now, I just have to learn how to do it.

For now, this is the best I can do...don't you love the camera strap...but the dress turned out rather well.

#2 New shoes

I needed a pair of shoes for a formal outdoor event coming towering heels or platforms.

I was so lucky to find these on sale at Macy's. Perfect color and perfect style.

#3 New sunscreen

The dermatologist has recommended using a physical rather than a chemical sunscreen. I like CeraVe products so I thought I would try this one. It protects with zinc and I really like it. It goes on smoothly and leaves a matte finish. Daily use of sunscreen no matter the weather is so important, especially in warmer climates.

That's all my"new" news for a while.  

Thank you for visiting I hope you have a happy day.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Joie De Vivre ~

I have been reading this delightful book, Joie De Vivre. In it the author, who is a chef, speaks about the importance of food in daily french it is purchased, prepared, consumed, all which adds to the joy of life, joie de vivre. And who couldn't use a little more of that.

According to him the usual french breakfast consist of a bowl of excellent coffee and tartine, made from slices of a day old baguette, spread with jam; strawberry seems to be a favorite...homemade if at all possible. Croissant and brioche are saved for Sundays and special occasions.

Since I do not have a neighborhood boulangerie my breakfast consists of a bowl of Wheat Bran cereal, a piece of whole wheat toast and tea. Healthy but a little boring. So last Sunday I decided to indulge my french fascination and have a little treat. In this case it meant making French Breakfast Puffs. Where this name came from who knows, this recipe is from an ancient Betty Crocker cookbook and certainly isn't french. But like many french foods it is delicious.

Be forewarned, when warm from the oven it is hard to stop at one!

Now what will I make for next Sunday...? Life is short, everyone deserves a little Sunday treat.

~ French Breakfast Puffs ~

Mix thoroughly...
1/3 cup soft shortening (part butter)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg

Sift together...
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Stir in alternately with..1/2 cup milk

Fill greased muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Immediately roll in...
6 tbsp. butter, melted
Then in mixture of ...
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Makes between 8 to 12 muffins depending on the size of your muffin tin.


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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Grass love ~

Between water restrictions and increasingly hotter summers gardeners here in Southern California are spending lots of time rethinking their landscapes, looking for plants that will thrive, look good, and do well under these adverse conditions.

With this in mind I am looking forward to adding more ornamental grasses to my garden. They are tough, the foliage adds interest and when the sun shines through the blooms they are ethereally beautiful.

Cutting them back every winter is the only care they seem to need.

Red Fountain Grass by the pond

I already have quite a few grasses. I am very fond of the Red Fountain Grass, Pennisetum rubrum and have several scattered around. Even when out of bloom they add a wonderful burst of burgundy color

I love this dwarf Pampas grass which is planted in the back garden.This variety stays small and fits quite nicely in my garden. When it blooms in early fall it is spectacular. I would really like to add another one...or two. This one hardly ever gets water and look at it.

Dwarf Pampas grass by the green house

With all of this in mind I was very pleased to walk into Home Depot and find a nice selection of ornamental grasses.  Two of them are new to me, Fireworks Pennisetum, a variegated variety and Panicum Cheyenne Sky which promises blue green foliage with red tips in the fall.

Lucky me.

 These will be a great addition to my garden. Look how beautiful they will be in the early morning sun. Spectacular I am going to check online for another dwarf Pampas grass, then I will be perfectly satisfied...well for a little while anyway. Pretty soon it will be time to plant bulbs.


Today we finally have some relief from our continual bout of hot, hot weather and the El Nino seems to be gathering steam. Hooray!

Thank you for visiting.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Mindful acrobatics ~ a Miss Twiggley post.

Some cats are very agile and able to reach quite high and unexpected places. One of my most memorable cats...well, they have really all been memorable...a siamese cat named Pyewaquet, was able to reach the top of the refrigerator with little effort.

Well, persian cats are not like that. Perhaps it is their shorter legs, or maybe their more docile dispositions but aerial acrobatics are not something they excel at and really don't even attempt much.

But Miss Twiggley does have her moments of daring as you can see below in the guest bathroom. She can easily reach counter height in one leap, the mantle in the front room with a little cheating from a side table and the room divider between the front room and the dining room. And of course any table set with my best crystal and china prior to a dinner party.

So, I was a little surprised when I went into my bedroom and saw her peeking around the corner, perched on the top of the step ladder I had been using to change some light bulbs.

Actually, she really didn't leap up to the top, but climbed the steps...once there I don't know if she really knew what to do. But I have a feeling she was very proud... and probably saying to herself, "now how do I get down!".


Thank you for visiting.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Daybed ~

The guest bedroom in my house is very small, 10x12 feet, excluding the closet which completely takes up one wall. A second wall is all windows and there is a door leading to the guest bathroom/powder room on the third wall.  Small, with little wall space this is a hard room in which to place furniture.

When I decided to redo this room I really wanted to replace the old daybed but even a twin bed wouldn't leave enough space for anything else. I was pretty much stuck with what I had. Darn!

It's not that the daybed is so ugly, but frankly I wasn't looking forward to making all of the bedding it required.

No choice...

And now that it is all finished it looks pretty darn good.

I used a matelasse coverlet to make the bed cover and the bolsters, I got one with scallops and cut it out so I could use them on the edge.  The bolster forms were purchased online at Pillowflex. I have never made bolsters this large before but once I got the cording covered it was easy. 

I coordinated two of the pillows and the bed skirt with the drapes.

Online I found this beautiful dusty rose damask for accent pillows. If I had seen it before I probably would have used it for the bed skirt ~ too late now, I'm definitely not making another one of these for a while.

Painting: by my aunt Lily Strauss, painted for my grandfather in 1945

So it's all done. And it really is the best fit. Using the daybed enables me to have a dresser, armchair and a little desk in the room and still leave enough space for comfort.

Sometimes you just have to stick with what you have.

Thank you for visiting.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Macaroni and Cheese ~

One of my favorite comfort foods is Macaroni and Cheese. I know it is a calorie dense meal but once in a while it isn't going to hurt you...I feel this way about chocolate, ice cream, wine, and homemade cookies too. Moderation is what's important.

I came across this recipe long ago in the LA Times. One of the reasons it appealed to me is that unlike most Macaroni and Cheese recipes you don't have to make a white sauce which means it is very fast and easy to prepare. And because the ingredients are ones usually available in every pantry it is a wonderful emergency meal.

Macaroni and Cheese

1/2 pound macaroni (2+ cups)
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg, beaten
3 1/2 Cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

Boil the macaroni in water to cover generously until tender. Drain thoroughly.
Stir in butter and egg. Add cheese reserving 1/2 cup to sprinkle on top. Put into buttered 13x9 inch casserole. Mix dry mustard and salt with 1 tablespoon hot water and add to milk. Pour over macaroni. Stir, and sprinkle with reserved cheese. 

(I usually add buttered Panko crumbs on top of the cheese)

Bake at 350 until custard is set and top is crusty about 40 minutes.

Don't overcook

 Simple good food and with a glass of red wine and a nice green salad...


Thank you for visiting. I hope your day is full of delicious things to eat.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Ruffles ~

I have been making ruffles. By the way, I hate making ruffles, but sometimes they are necessary and at least I have a way to make them that is fail proof. I set my zig-zag stitch at the widest setting and sew over crochet thread. When I am  done I  pull the crochet thread to make the ruffles. This works particularly well with heavy decor fabrics.

Voila! ruffles made.
 You can see below how the crochet thread method works.

I found this gorgeous brocade fabric at an online remnant store. I thought is would be right for the daybed pillows in the guest bedroom. I bought it without sending for a sample and held my breath when it came and I opened it. Perfect!

When I get these pillows finished  this room will finally be done it seems to have taken me forever, rooms including lots of fabric seem to require the most time to pull together and with this room it was the drapes plus the bedding for the daybed.

I did manage to squeeze in a little sewing time to make a new dress. This is for casual wear. I love this dress pattern. Made out of knit. It is so comfortable to wear in our hot summer weather, goes together like a breeze and is actually quite flattering.

Enough sewing for now, the weather has cooled down a bit and the garden is demanding attention.

Thank you for visiting I hope you have a great day!