Friday, July 31, 2015

Tales of the Traveling Tote #2 and a Giveaway


We are having more fun with Tales of the Traveling Tote than I ever expected. Our next post will be September 15, and we are going to one of our local, state, national parks. We've had some lovely summer days here.  Sunflowers, daylilies and clematis are blooming their heads off. Miss Aurora has been enjoying our summer weather and is "feeling useful". 

Toted beach towels to our dock at camp (her favorite thing to do in summer)

Toted the snacks for our annual croquet game on Fourth of July weekend at camp

She strolled the meadow at Olana Historic Site (Hudson Valley)

Visited Cedar Grove (Thomas Cole Site)

Enjoyed her overnight stay at Beekman Arms in Rhinebeck, NY

Helped pick out an oak tree at Zone 3 (Inlet, NY)

Made a quick visit to "hang" with the artsy moose at View (Old Forge, NY)

Fit right in at the Adirondack Renaissance Fantasy Festival (Inlet, NY)
We attended the first annual Adirondack Renaissance Fantasy Festival near our camp in Inlet, NY. Thimbleberry the Woodsprite and her bestest friend Foomp were a delight to young and old. We were entertained by the Paddy Nappers, Gypsies, Fairies, battling Knights and belly dancers.

Miss Aurora was welcomed at Woodsy Gifts (Old Forge, NY) 

Hung out on the chair while I was reading a book at camp

We really enjoyed our trip to Rhinebeck, a tree-lined village that is upstate from New York City. A place for adventure, celebration and resting your head at night at a cozy B& B or Inn.  If you take Amtrak, you can get off the train, grab a shuttle and walk to quite a few inns, many fine restaurants and shops.
Talking to the locals was one of our favorite things to do. The Hudson River came up in every conversation, and defines "this side of river" and their preferences on what to do and where to live in the Hudson Valley. Our agenda included dinner at the Liberty Public House, saw Love and Mercy at Upstate Films, fine dining at the Terrapin and The Local, shopped for gifts at the Paper Trail (my favorite store in Rhinebeck) and the Rhinebeck Department Store.

While in Rhinebeck, we went to Olana State Historic Site. Loved this place!
Today Olana is known as one of the most important surviving picturesque landscapes in the United States. Produced during the same period with the same aesthetic and ideological motivations, the landscape at Olana has been compared to Central Park. Olana was one of several grand artist's homes in the Hudson River valley, and was the magnificent estate of Frederic Church.  

Church began the physical landscape design at Olana by searching three years for the ideal property. Frederic had walked and sketched throughout much of New England and elsewhere by that time, but his formative two years studying with Thomas Cole in nearby Catskill, New York, brought him back to the Hudson Valley.
Before you leave, tell me if you enjoy picnics, where you picnic and what you bring. Everyone who leaves a comment with an email link will be entered in my Voyage of Life giveaway. Winner of four photo cards and a surprise gift will be notified on August 14, 2015.

Located in the heart of the Hudson River Valley, the Thomas Cole Site (Catskill, NY) and Frederic Church's Olana (Hudson, NY) are two miles apart directly across the Hudson River from each other, connected by the Rip Van Winkle Bridge.

While we were in Rhinebeck we visited the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, home to Thomas Cole (1801-1848) founder of Hudson River School of Art.

The Voyage of Life, painted by Thomas Cole in 1842, is a series of paintings that represent an allegory of the four stages of human life: childhood, youth, manhood, and old age. The paintings follow a voyager who travels in a boat on a river through the mid-19th-century American wilderness. In each painting, accompanied by a guardian angel, the voyager rides the boat on the River of Life. The landscape, corresponding to the seasons of the year, plays a major role in telling the story. In each picture, the boat's direction of travel is reversed from the previous picture. In childhood, the infant glides from a dark cave into a rich, green landscape. As a youth, the boy takes control of the boat and aims for a shining castle in the sky. In manhood, the adult relies on prayer and religious faith to sustain him through rough waters and a threatening landscape. Finally, the man becomes old and the angel guides him to heaven across the waters of eternity.
MacKenzie Joy is "traveling" to celebrate Colleen's grandson's birthday and toting S'more jars made for another birthday celebration. Her beautiful tote looks so cool, festive and inviting. (Excuse the issue I am having with fonts and spacing on this post. I copied and pasted from emails and it is not working out)
Miss MC la Mer does not have many vacation plans this summer but came to lunch.
Yummy salad and fruit in the new MacKenzie containers...nice day to sit outside under the shade at the picnic table.
Check out my Tote playmates:
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
Welcome our newest playmates:
Rita with Miss Luna C  @  Panoply 
Samantha with Christabel @ Samantha Stone
Tote playmates that don't have a blog
Tami and Miss MC la Mer
Colleen and Miss MacKenzie Joy

If you are enjoying the Tales of the Traveling Tote, I hope you'll visit again in September when Miss Aurora shares her tales of picnicing in a famous park. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Blueberry-Nectarine Crisp

This is my all time favorite recipe using fresh picked blueberries. I found the recipe in a magazine in 1999, but don't recall the name of the publication.  I went blueberry picking on Saturday, and it's always a fun event. I heard some young man yelling out to his nephew -- no stems! I would have to agree since no one wants stems in their blueberry pie. 

Blueberry-Nectarine Crisp

1 1/2 lbs. nectarines, pitted and cut into eighths
2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tsp, lemon juice
1 TB cornstarch
1 cup flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter cut into small pieces

Heat oven to 375. Toss nectarines, berries, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch in large bowl. Spoon fruit mixture into 8 x 8 pan. In same bowl, mix flour and brown sugar. With fingertips, mix butter into flour mixture until crumbly. Sprinkle over top of fruit. Bake at 375 for 50-60 minutes, until bubbly and browned. 

I hope you'll try it. I'm joining Rattlebridge Farm for Foodie Friday.

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.