Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Mini Cheesecakes

Easy, peasy.....a favorite dessert from my childhood. My mom was not a baker, but we loved the simple desserts she made for us. Cheesecake from the box was one of our favorites, and I was thinking of mom today and picked up a box of cheesecake mix. I've been working long hours at the office and there is no time to bake. 
My hubby was born and raised in New York City where they can buy the best desserts. His favorite cheesecake was from Juniors in Brooklyn. He ate my mini-cupcakes and was grateful to have something sweet. 
I bought these darling cupcake cups at the MacKenzie-Child's barn sale. 
Remember the five bags that I showed you from the barn sale? In those bags were a Courtly Check lampshade for my gossip bench, a Parchment Check vase, two large courtly check pumpkins that my hubby bought, a welcome mat for our back door, a purse, some darling rabbit tassels that a friend asked me to pick up for her, some small bowls for another friend, wrapping paper, paper napkins, socks, and some holiday gifts. I'm all stocked up for another year! Looking forward to Barn Sale 2016 ;o)
This is my favorite purchase. A mini bucket bag that fits nicely in my tote bag.
Thank you for stopping by! I'm joining Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Summer Day in Aurora, NY

 I love how this topiary was made. They put the plant container on top of a birch log. Our day was spent dream shopping at the annual barn sale at MacKenzie-Childs and this large flower pot was on my list but they didn't have any.
 Joe has been to six barn sales with me, and is always patient and sociable (and he actually enjoys the barn sale as much as I do)
 We were up at 3:45 a.m., left the house at 5:15, arrived at the barn sale at 7:20, got in line and were in the barn at 8:07. We were the first wave of customers for the day even with the longish line. We left the sale around 10:30, and the wait appeared to be about three hours. I always seem to end up with five bags! Two of the bags each held a large item which will go on display in the Fall. The rug you see by the door was also a barn sale treasure.

Loving this Parchment Check vase. Once I unpack the other bags, I will share ;o)
Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Nonna Franca's Lasagne

Our weather was cooler yesterday, and I started craving lasagna. I recalled making this lasagne with a meat sauce, and a rich and a creamy Béchamel sauce with a hint of nutmeg. 
  Here is the printable recipe in Italian if you wish. Click here.

The recipe points out that you want to stay away from no-boil pasta sheets or freshly made pasta for the noodles, but I used fresh pasta sheets from Wegman's with great success. I gave the recipe five stars, but my hubby prefers my red sauce lasagna as he is not a big fan of béchamel sauce.

Nonna Franca's Lasagne
Printable Recipe in English
1-2 Cups of Parmesan cheese (I used one cup)
1 box of Barilla lasagna
Olive oil (6 Tablespoons)

Meat Sauce
1 pound of ground beef
1 carrot
1 medium onion
1 garlic clove (you could add more if you like)
Pinch of fresh flat leaf parsley
1 ½ Cups of Tomato Sauce
1 teaspoon of Sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Béchamel Sauce
4 ¼ Cups of whole milk
½ Cup (1 Stick) of Butter
½ Cup of white all-purpose flour
Sprinkle of Nutmeg
Finely chop carrot, celery, onion, garlic, and parsley (I used my food processor).

In a medium sized pan, add six Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.  Let olive oil heat for just a minute and add the chopped carrot, celery, onion, garlic and parsley. Sauté for 3-5 minutes until vegetables are bright in color and garlic is fragrant.  Add meat and cook until brown.  Add tomato sauce. 
Add a teaspoon of sugar, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer for 1½ hours. Stir every once in a while, and add chicken stock if the sauce gets too thick. Once the sauce has cooked for about an hour, start the béchamel sauce and preheat oven to 350°.

Melt butter in a non-stick pan. Add flour, salt, and a sprinkle of nutmeg and whisk until smooth.
While still whisking, add milk and incorporate ingredients well. Over medium heat watch for the sauce to thicken. You want it spreadable.

In a large stock pot, bring salted water to a boil. Note: You want to stay away from the no-boil pasta sheets or freshly made pasta as the noodles will continue to cook while lasagna is in the oven. Cook pasta for ONLY 2 minutes. Drain pasta well. By this time your meat sauce should be finished cooking.

Ladle meat sauce to cover the bottom of your baking dish. This recipe will make enough to fill a 13”x9” pan. Layer noodles on top of the meat sauce.  Add the béchamel sauce on top of the noodles and top with parmesan cheese. Repeat until all ingredients have been used (about four or five layers). Top with Parmesan cheese.

Cook lasagna for 25-30 minutes at 350°. The top should have a golden color.

Buon appetito! I am joining Rattlebridge Farm for Foodie Friday.
Thanks for stopping by. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

On your mark, get set...BARN SALE! July 16-19 in Aurora, NY

We had a wonderful vacation in Rhinebeck, NY. I'll share photos in the next post as we must focus on the MacKenzie-Childs Barn Sale that is happening this week. 

Hooray, Hooray!

Come along and join the fun.

 Living in upstate NY and not far from the Finger Lakes, it was easy to fall in love with MacKenzie-Childs.  I have been a collector for 25 years and started going to the barn sale in 2009.  As I type, people are packing their suitcases and some will start camping out on Tuesday and Wednesday just to be the first to enter Thursday morning. They have everything under tents organized by outdoors, enamelware, ceramics, holiday, glassware, furniture, etc. and plenty of cash registers and shipping areas. The barn sale has hefty discounts, and you can expect to save 50% or more. I have found 80% discounts on specific items. 

The sale attracts over 15,000 people, some driving hours across the country. This is a wonderful event at the company’s gorgeous 65-acre estate farm in Aurora, New York.

Here is a photo from the MacKenzie-Childs barn sale in 2014. 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

I have received many emails over the last two months asking questions about the barn sale. I hope you all decided to attend! 
Thanks for stopping by!

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.