Friday, November 21, 2014

I Love the Smell of Cinnamon in the Morning

Isn't that the greatest, most delicious aroma? If you don't have cinnamon rolls to greet you in the A.M. then cinnamon toast is a wonderful substitute and that's what I'm enjoying this morning. I made it from a loaf of bread I baked in my bread machine yesterday afternoon.
My bread machine version of Honey Egg Spice Bread
We were having soup for dinner and I wanted something to go with. I could tell from the ingredients that this would be a little sweet and it turned out to be too sweet for dinner but oh my is it ever perfect as a base for cinnamon toast! The spices in the recipe only enhance the cinnamon toast goodness.
I found the recipe at one of the blogs I visited in my blog roll this week. Fresh Eggs Daily is the name of the blog and Lisa is the talented blogger. Her recipe for Honey Egg Spice Bread can be found by clicking on the link. Her pictures are MUCH better than mine and there's lots of stuff on her blog so do jump over and tell her I sent you.

MY RECIPE NOTES:  I cut the spices in half because I was making this for a dinner course and I didn't want the spices to dominate. Next time I'll use the full amount because I'll be going for the breakfast goodness. I used the Quick Cook Option on my bread machine and it worked just great and cooked in 1 hour instead of 3 1/2. My bread looks like it's a bit denser than Lisa's because it only had one rise.

I don't use my bread machine very often so I'm no expert on it's uses and applications. I consider breads from the bread machine utilitarian loaves for quick and easy consumption. They're not pretty and certainly not gourmet. That being said they do need to taste good and this fills the bill.
I leave you with a picture of this little cutie. This is my sugar bowl. I've had this little mug for over 40 years. It was part of a set of animal mugs I purchased when my boys were small. They loved to have their hot cocoa in those monkey, giraffe, elephant and lion mugs. These were only brought out on rainy days and this is the lone survivor. I consider it a real treasure which makes me smile each day and reminds me that too much sugar will make me as big as an elephant!

Until next time,

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Autumn Splendor & A Giant Chicken

We managed to squeeze in our annual visit to Apple Hill amongst all the other things going on around Dogwood Lane and picked up at least a bushel of glorious apples. Along the way we saw some peculiar sights and some beautiful fall flowers.
The attack of the giant chicken! Run for your lives!!
I kinda want to take this guy home. I think he would be amazing bear protection. One look and any self respecting bear would head back into the hills! Conversely, my dogs might have heart attacks on the spot so I guess he'll have to stay where he is.
Not exactly certified organic
These are the type of farm animals to have - no upkeep and no by products if you get my drift. And, so decorative!
Now, on to the splendor part. 
This is Fall color!
The deer had eaten all the mums and all that were left were marigolds putting on a wonderful show.
The weather turned cold enough to freeze these out right after these pictures were taken so they're only a memory now just as they are in most of the rest of the country. Stay warm and sip some hot apple cider along with me.

Until next time,

Monday, November 17, 2014

Alaskan Inspiration

 You didn't think I went all the way to Skagway, wandered around this wonderful quilt store crammed full of treasures and bought nothing? Of course you didn't! I would lose my quilter's membership card if I did a thing like that.
I came home with Alaskan inspired fabrics which I'm pretty sure could only be found up north and batiks which spoke to me of the colors I was seeing all around me on our trip.
Remember the totem art that surrounded us in Ketchikan? I really wanted to recreate the feel of that and found just the thing to help me at Embroidery Library using their Native American Creation designs.
Let's see how well I can interpret these totem designs in fabric.
First a rough sketch of my idea. I'm planning two or three small wall hangings in earth, sky and water color changes featuring the animals we saw on our trip. Speaking of which, what process do you use to plan a project? Do you sketch it out, EQ 8 or whatever number it's up to now? Or do you just wing it?
Add caption
This looks pretty static right now, I hope the quilting will add a lot to the overall design.
The second color way is moving along. See, I have actually been spending some time in the sewing room along with all the other things that have been going on.

Linking up to Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times for the first time in a while and looking forward to hearing from you about your design process. If you want to know more about my Alaskan adventures follow the tag: Alaskan Cruise.

Until next time,
P.S. If you left a comment in the last month and I have not answered, I apologize. My laptop died and I had an awful time retrieving data so I pretty much gave up on the reply thing for the past month. I hope to keep up now with a brand new, BLUE laptop. Snazzy!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Not Your Grandma’s Bourbon Pumpkin Bread

I've been absent from my blog for a little while attending to family matters so I thought I would reward you all with a recipe from the archives. It is the time of year after all for all things pumpkin. You can't walk down any aisle in any store without PUMPKIN screaming at you. When did this become a thing? Anyway, as the title implies this is NOT your sweet Granny's recipe for pumpkin bread. That is unless your Granny was like mine and liked her bourbon neat and was not sweet at all! I could tell you stories but that would be more like a soap opera than a recipe so...

Don't worry about the bourbon in this recipe affecting the kiddos, the alcohol cooks away and you're left with the smoky, sweet flavor that cuts through what can sometimes be overwhelming pumpkin in most pumpkin bread recipes.

Not Your Grandma’s Bourbon Pumpkin Bread
Makes 2 8X4 inch loaves or 1 GIANT 9X5 inch loaf

1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup melted butter
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 cups pureed pumpkin

3 cups white flour
1 tsp ground cloves
1 ¼ tsp cinnamon
1 ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp allspice
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
1 cup chopped nuts, whatever nut you like (I like pecans)

⅓ cup bourbon (You could leave out the bourbon and substitute with vanilla but don't use 1/3 cup of vanilla for Peete's sake!)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*F. In a large bowl, combine the sugars, pumpin, eggs, butter and oil. Beat until smooth, about a minute.

  1. In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices. Use a whisk to mix these together thoroughly. Combine the wet and dry mixtures and beat until smooth. Stir in the bourbon and beat until it is incorporated.
  2. Scrape the batter into greased pans, filling no more than ¾ full. If you make just one large loaf this will take a LONG time to bake! I sprinkle mine with raw sugar before baking, I like the way it makes the loaf look and I love the sweet crunch.
  3. Bake in the center of the pre-heated oven for 65 to 75 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. (TIP -  I use a piece of uncooked spaghetti as a tester)  The top will be crusty and have a crack of some kind. Let cool for about 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Wrap with plastic wrap to store at room temperature. This is better the next day but who can wait??
Is this not a gorgeous loaf of deliciousness? See how the raw sugar adds sparkle?
I love to toast slices and slather them with butter. I think this is called gilding the lily and yes slather is a real word.
Those who know me well know that I do take after my Grandma in a few ways - I also like my bourbon neat!

Until next time,

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sailing Through Glacier Bay - glacier bay
Spectacular isn't it? The ship spent the entire day sailing slowly through Glacier Bay giving everyone the opportunity to be on deck and revel in the sights and sounds. - glacier bay
The day was overcast and the atmosphere moody, very primordial. The waters of the bay calm and glassy. - glacier bay
We were able to see some small bits of glacial calving but nothing major. I'm kind of glad about that because it made me very sad to see just how diminished these glaciers actually are from photographs I've seen of them taken in the past. - glacier bay
The glacier is larger than it appears, several hundred feet tall. You have to remember that I'm taking the picture from a higher perspective on the upper deck of a large ship and not at sea level. There was a bald eagle perched on the tallest spire of this glacier the entire time we were there just surveying his territory but you could only spot him with binoculars.
Bill & Marsha, Carol & Jay on deck
It was soooo cold on deck like stepping into a deep freeze! We stayed outside for hours drinking in the sights. Luckily we were prepared for the cold with long johns, hats, gloves and down jackets. I can't stress enough if you are thinking about a trip like this you must pack warm clothes so that you can enjoy your time outdoors. It's a tradition on Holland America vessels to serve split pea soup on deck while cruising Glacier Bay and it was greatly appreciated when porters came around with those large mugs of steaming soup I can tell you! - glacier bay

The glaciers reflected in the bay was so beautiful and other worldly. A sight I'm not likely to see again and will remember always.

After our day in Glacier Bay we spent a night and day in the open ocean sailing to Seward and the next leg of our journey on land to Denali. The open ocean was choppy and most of the passengers were seasick, no kidding the entire ship seemed to be unwell except for our group. We managed to escape unscathed and were looking for something to do with our day at sea. 
This is what we came up with. Swimming in the outdoor pool! Kind of like a watery roller coaster ride. You'll notice that the one person not in the pool is the one taking the pictures - me, the only grown-up in the group. I'm standing look out in case the pool police come along as we were pretty sure we weren't supposed to be swimming in rough seas.
This little guy says good-bye to our ship board adventures and we set forth across land to see what the interior of Alaska has to offer.

Until next time,

Monday, October 27, 2014

Professor McGonagall's Robe

Surprise, surprise! I actually have been spending some time in my sewing room between all the other goings on working on a Halloween project. My daughter-in-law is in charge of the Ready By Five program here on the Georgetown Divide and at Halloween she gives out books and treats to the children on Main Street in Georgetown. She wants to dress up as Professor McGonagall of Harry Potter fame this year.

We may not be able to exactly match the awesome look of Maggie Smith in this role but we can certainly match the spirit!
Liz found a gorgeous velvet choir robe in a thrift store for only $5 and I set to work with my embroidery machine to add a few embellishments. Minerva McGonagall is not particularly fancy so we just wanted to add a few hints for the children to get the idea.
Harry Potter's favorite house had to be represented of course.
Being a school master the professor cannot play favorites so she will also wear the badge of all the Hogwarts houses.
Here's the finished robe. Even though it's not green it's still pretty cool ( we prefer to imagine she's going through a fiery phase), with the addition of a broach and a pointed hat I think it will work. I got the designs from Lorraine's Embroidery and Designs , Harry Potter Set.

Linking up to Design Wall Monday for the first time in a long time. I've been working on some other things too that I'll show you a little later on.

Until next time,

Friday, October 24, 2014

Skagway and Some Hiking

Photo of Mount Roberts Tramway

Shopping seems to be a big feature of cruising and I have to tell you I'm not much of a shopper. I'm sure you can guess that Chris isn't much for shopping either so whenever we hit port we looked around for other things to do and this being Alaska the great outdoors beckoned. We planned ahead and packed our hiking boots and outdoor/all weather gear to make this easy.
After our amazing Mendenhal  Glacier experience we still had plenty of time in Juneau to explore so we took the Mount Roberts tramway to the top of the mountain overlooking the city. There are wonderful views and hiking trails but it was VERY expensive so I'm on the fence about this one.
At the top of Mt. Roberts
Hiking, walking really was lovely and rainy. Not a problem since we were prepared and there were some beautiful sights around almost every corner.
Tree totem hidden away atop Mt. Roberts
We managed to find places to get away from the tour crowds at every stop.
There's no such thing as bad weather...just the wrong clothes!
A selfie taken from a rock!
I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK!
After Juneau our next port was Skagway and this was by far my favorite Alaskan town although I can't say exactly why. Perhaps because it looked the most like a gold rush town with the buildings in their original condition and not a modern structure in sight. The town relies on the tourist season and very much caters to the cruise ships but is still very charming.
This was the jumping off point for the great Yukon gold rush of 1897/98 and we made it a priority to take the White Pass and Yukon train trip which traces the route used by gold rush hopefuls up the White Pass. What an extraordinary excursion it turned out to be!
All Aboard!
Built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush, this narrow gauge railroad is an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, a designation shared with the Panama Canal, the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty. The WP&YR climbs almost 3000 feet in just 20 miles and features steep grades of up to 3.9%, cliff-hanging turns of 16 degrees, two tunnels and numerous bridges and trestles. The steel cantilever bridge was the tallest of its kind in the world when it was constructed in 1901.
I was standing outside on the small platform between cars to take pictures. Freezing cold I might add! That's the front of our train about to go over the first of many trestles.
Ghost trestle
More than a little hair raising!
The gold seekers followed this route on foot and there are places that we could see the path they made worn into the stone itself so many men had trudged up the mountain before the railway was built. Be sure to follow the links to learn more about the Yukon gold rush it really is awe inspiring and completely different from the California gold rush experience that I'm familiar with living here in Georgetown, a gold rush town.
This was a wonderful day, we loved every minute with a very knowledgeable conductor to fill us in on all the local history. By the way, there's a FABULOUS quilt store in Skagway where I dropped quite a bit of cash. I'm not opposed to all forms of shopping!
Rushin' Tailor's Quilt Alaska. They have a web site too with lots of beautiful kits all with the flavor and color of Alaska.
Next on the itinerary is another highlight - Glacier Bay! 

Until next time,