Sunday, June 28, 2015

Garden Views

I played in the garden on Saturday before heading to work. Ten minutes of pure joy!  The tote is used to transport files to the office but a detour to the garden was mandatory ;o)

Monday, June 22, 2015

2015 Mackenzie-Childs Barn Sale Dates Announced

I've received friendly emails asking when the barn sale is, and I'm just getting around to posting the dates for the 2015 barn sale. 
Strawberry and blueberry picking is one of summer's delights for us. My next door neighbor just brought me strawberry muffins that she made from local strawberries, and before long it will be blueberry season. 
 The flowered plates, butterfly napkin rings and small colander are from Mackenzie-Childs, and I was                         lucky enough to find a bouquet of colorful napkins at Tuesday Morning. 
Help yourself to a muffin from the bouquet. Will you be attending the barn sale?

Monday, June 15, 2015

MacKenzie-Childs Traveling Tote

This is going to a long post so help yourself to a cookie while you visit ;o)

Dear Blog Friends,

Twenty years ago, I wrote a list of three life goals.

1.  Learn to make a good pasta salad.

2.  Finish hiking all 46 mountains in New York State that are over 4,000 feet in elevation. (some of the most beautiful mountains in America)

3.  Travel

So far I am 2 for 3, and still working on traveling the United States.

What is a Traveling Tote, and why are we doing this you say? It all started in January when a text message was sent to me by the very observant MacKenzie-Childs collector Patti @ Pandora's Box telling me that the Courtly Check tote bag was on sale and that we might want to take advantage of the reduced price. After I bought mine, she contacted Sarah at Hyacinths for the Soul because she thought she needed one too and the more the merrier. (Patti could have a second career as a personal shopper)  Linda at More Fun Less Laundry (love the blog name) wanted some fun too, so let the adventures begin. Can't wait to see where these ladies and their totes have been.
My two friends Tami and Colleen are also MacKenzie-Childs "collectors" so we invited them to share their adventures. Sorry, neither of them have blogs. Tami might share a photo of her sweet self this summer, and I'll include it in my September post.

Of course, we named the totes and bags ;o)

Debbie (Miss Aurora) @  Mountain Breaths 
Linda and Miss Rosie @  More Fun Less Laundry
Patti and Miss Kenzie @  Pandoras Box
Sarah and Miss CC @  Hyacinths for the Soul
Tami and Miss MC la Mer
Colleen and Miss MacKenzie Joy
Miss Aurora's maiden voyage was to Tybee Island in March. She enjoyed leaving the snow behind, and going to the beach. 
Over Mother's Day weekend, Miss Aurora transported picnic items to a private 35 acre garden in the village of Marcellus. A few times each year, the Hanford family graciously open their gardens to the public with proceeds going to benefit a local non-profit agency. 
Miss Aurora went to our camp over Memorial Day Weekend. She said I stuffed her too full and brought everything but the kitchen sink. The tote has a roomy interior so it's very tempting to overload it. 
Miss Aurora and Miss MacKenzie Joy attended the Country Living Fair in Rhinebeck, NY and the chic tote was filled with a bottle of champagne, crackers, strawberries and cheese. We loved the Rhinebeck and Hudson Valley area, and read that National Geographic Traveler proclaimed the Hudson Valley region as one of the top 20 destinations in the world. It's designated a National Heritage Area is steeped in history, natural beauty, culture, and a food and farmer’s market scene. 
While Miss Aurora was waiting in line for a tour of Old Savannah, she decided the pirate would look mighty handsome holding the tote.
              Miss MacKenzie Joy (Colleen's bag) made her debut in February to celebrate                                                                            birthdays with a group of friends at Zeina's.
Miss Aurora went to the Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid in February. Not exactly an exotic journey in the snow, but a fun adventure.
Cherish your friends and the memories by doing crafts together. We are a group of seven women that get together on a regular basis and we recently celebrated two birthdays and made it a crafting day. I enjoyed filling the tote to the brim with gifts and supplies.
Tami's tote, Miss MC la Mer. went to a needlepoint class.  She also loves going to Cape May and thus her beautiful name.
Miss Aurora was seen visiting Paula Deen's restaurant in Savannah in March.
   Miss Aurora can dream right? She'd like to take her pretty self to the Cinque Terre to see the 
                     centuries-old seaside villages on the rugged Italian Riviera coastline. 
              In each of the 5 towns, colorful houses and ancient vineyards cling to steep terraces.
If you enjoyed this post, come back in September to see what Miss Aurora did over the summer.
I just read an obituary in our local paper, and the lady was a member of the Girls Pampering Club. My obituary will read that I was a member of the Friends and the Traveling Tote. YOLO ;o)

I'm joining A Stroll Thru Life for Inspire Me Tuesday.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

MacKenzie-Childs Barn Sale 2015

The 2015 MacKenzie-Childs Barn Sale has not been announced but they will announce the date at least three weeks before the event begins.

Last year, MacKenzie-Childs had their annual Barn Sale – Thursday, July 17th – Sunday, July 20th. The sale attracts over 15,000 people, some driving hours across the country and others even camping out overnight. I'm a big fan of the whimsical luxury home d├ęcor brand and items from ceramics, glassware, furniture, rugs, holiday and more are all up to 80% off. This is a wonderful event at the company’s gorgeous 65-acre estate farm in Aurora, New York.

Here are some photos from the MacKenzie-Childs barn sale in 2014 that were shared on their FB page. Always a fun event!!!!

 If you are interested in previous Barn Sale posts on my blog, I have included the links here 20102011 two posts from 2012 and here 2012 and 2013
 The flower pot is in the Wallcourt pattern. Did you know that the Mackenzie-Childs story began in a humble studio run out of the basement of a Wells College dorm named Wallcourt? I love that. 
Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Ragged Robin and Fig Jam with Secrets

We were in the country when I spied this field of "Ragged Robin" and Joe nicely stopped so I could take a picture. Thankfully it was a country road with hardly any traffic. Ragged robin seems to have many "nicknames" - you may see it referred to as Meadow Spink, Polly Baker, crow Flower, Shaggy Jacks, etc. Have you ever seen a field of Ragged robin? This was a first for me. 

I was looking for information about Ragged robin, and happened upon the history and uses on this blog. Learn something new every day ;o)
This is what Ragged robin looks like. 

Once in a while, I have a few minutes to go through my news feed of favorite blogs and today I discovered the dates of "our" Lavender Festival. That field of Ragged robin reminded me of lavender fields!

When I was asked to consider reviewing Preservation Society Home Preserves by Camilla Wynne, I knew her preserve recipes were just what I needed to get out of my strawberry jam slump. 

 {Although I will always love strawberry jam.}

Camilla Wynne is a writer, home preserving teacher, and the founder of Preservation Society, a small batch preserves company based in Montreal. She has been a pastry professional for over a decade and is one of Canada's only Master Preservers.
I was drawn to her recipe FIG JAM WITH SECRETS which she has been making since 2006 and I've had a fig tree from CNY Figgery on my list for a few months now.  Hopefully will take a drive in a few weeks to pick up my fig tree.
I chuckled when she said she can’t remember what the “secrets” were back in 2006, but the new ones are perfect. The secret ingredients are orange, vanilla bean, cinnamon and Amaro Nonino (an Italian bitter) — all to enhance the taste of the figs.  Camille's assistant Ariane, says this jam looks like a starry night sky, which is perfectly, poetically apt, and just one more reason to make it as soon as possible.

I'm sharing her original recipe, although I made half a batch and didn't can it. And I had to use dried figs since our markets don't have the fresh figs yet.

3.3 lbs fresh black figs (about 25 large) (I used dried)
3 1⁄4 cups + 2 tbsp granulated sugar 
       grated zest and juice of 1 orange
1⁄2 cup bottled lemon juice 
      vanilla bean, split and scraped 
              1-inch piece cinnamon stick (preferably Ceylon) 
1⁄4 cup Amaro Nonino liqueur (I didn't have this so added a splash of Limoncello just for the heck of it)

Remove the stems and coarsely chop the figs. You should have about 
7 1⁄2 cups. 

In a large pot or preserving pan, combine the figs, sugar, orange zest and juice, lemon juice and vanilla bean. Crumble in Ceylon cinnamon or, if using cassia cinnamon, just throw in the stick. Cover and let stand to macerate for anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight (or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week).

In the meantime, prepare the jars and lids.
Bring the fig mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often. Boil hard, stirring often, until the setting point is reached. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the vanilla bean and cassia cinnamon (if using).

Ladle jam into the hot jars to within 1⁄4 inch of the rim. Remove any air bubbles and wipe rims. Place the lids on the jars and screw the bands on until fingertip-tight. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.


Do not substitute freshly squeezed lemon juice in this recipe. While acidity varies from one lemon to another, bottled lemon juice has a constant pH and will ensure a safe pH level for these figs, which are a low-acid fruit.

If you can find Ceylon cinnamon, splurge on it. Most cinnamon sold in the grocery store is cassia cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is softer, almost crumbly. You can find it in spice stores or gourmet shops.

© The recipe was reprinted with permission. 

Thank you for stopping by!