Monday, September 29, 2014

Coffee Shop Treats At Home

Today is National Coffee Day.  I am a late bloomer as far as coffee is concerned.  I really only started drinking it about three years ago.  I attribute this to working and smelling that yummy aroma in the morning coming from  the break room.  Everyone else seemed to really enjoy the brew so I jumped in and haven't looked back.  I learned that I certainly enjoy it more with cream although black with just a touch of vanilla is good too.

I have a coffee cup that is one of my favorites.  It is from Ashley Brooke Designs.  My daughter sent it to me as a surprise!  When I was working they always called me "fancy pants".  To be honest I have been called that in lots of settings.  I do like bling!  The saying on the cup fit not only me but also my daughter.  "Let's always be fancy" is the perfect mantra to start my day! :-)

In honor of the "holiday" I tried a new drink.  One that I had spotted and marked from the October 2014 Good Housekeeping magazine.  Pumpkin Spice Latte sounded so good and the idea of making it at home was very appealing!  It is super simple and sooooo good!  I am sipping a cup as I am writing and loving every drop!

I am sure they would not mind me sharing the directions with you.  I changed it up a bit to make mine more calorie conscious. In a saucepan, simmer 2 cups each of water and sugar, 1/4 cup pure pumpkin, 2 cinnamon sticks, and 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice. Whisk it continuously for 10 minutes. Strain the mixture twice.  Chill (up to 1 month).  Mix 1 to 2 tbsp. syrup with coffee and warm milk to taste. Top with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice.  My changes were using Truvia in place of sugar and I used fat free milk.  I didn't top it with whipped cream only because I didn't have any! :-)  I will buy some low fat whipped topping tomorrow and then will love the drink even more!  This recipe makes one pint of the flavoring. The calories are minimal (at least in my version) and it is certainly so much cheaper to enjoy a coffee shop treat at home! 

The only addition I would make to my celebration of National Coffee Day would be a loaf of pumpkin bread to go along with my latte.  Tomorrow baking is on my list!  I have some leftover pure pumpkin in the refrigerator just waiting to be added to my pumpkin bread ingredients.  So Good and perfect for the Fall days we are enjoying now!

I hope you will try creating a coffee shop feeling in your home.  It is sure to be a success!  If word gets out you just may draw a crowd!
Enjoy and once again Happy National Coffee Day!  Blessings!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Shopping For Chickens

The popularity of chickens in an urban environment is something that I would have never dreamed of as a child.   I was  fortunate that I grew up living right next door to my Grandparents.   One of the many benefits of this was helping my MawMaw care for her chickens.  She had four hens and one very obnoxious rooster.   MawMaw would let me feed the chickens and gather eggs.  I didn't do this everyday but often enough that I learned how to care for the flock. In the Fall we would clean out the chicken coup.  Not a fun job but very necessary.  My grandparents also had a large chicken house and raised chickens commercially for many years.  They worked so hard and were keenly aware of the needs of the chicks and of how weather, disease, and predators could effect their livelihood. 

My Dear Hubby has decided that we should have chickens.  I have reluctantly agreed.  He has never been involved in the day to day care of chickens so this could be interesting.  The plans for the housing are in place.  Materials have been purchased and construction should begin tomorrow.  The lot is ready.  Fencing is in place and the area is cleared.  Today we went chicken shopping.  I made one thing very clear.  No baby chicks!  I want fully grown chickens.  I have raised two children and one more babies in Mrs. DD land. :-)  To say that the adventure was an eye opener would be an understatement.  The feed store had many hens of all shapes and sizes.  Some laid brown eggs, others white, and my favorite the hens that laid blue eggs. One hen even had a purple bow in her feathers.  No I am not kidding! There were of course roosters as well but I have also been clear that no roosters will live in Mrs. DD land.  Yes I am mean and just to be clear it is an ordinance that we can not have a rooster.  Thank goodness because as I mentioned before they are temperamental and loud.

We were just looking today but had discussions on the way home about which hens we would eventually buy.  I want "pretty" full grown hens that lay "pretty" eggs.  My hubby has consented to my requests.  I have also chosen names for the hens but I will reveal those once the hens have arrived.  Like any new Mom I don't want others stealing my names! :-)

I did make friends with the store mascot.  A very large turkey was roaming the sidewalk in front of the store.  He was quite friendly and allowed me to take his picture.  I am sure as Thanksgiving approaches he may become more scarce and may disappear completely....who knows?  If this is actually a she not a he I am sorry.  My MawMaw didn't have turkeys and to be honest I don't know how to tell the difference. LOL

My hubby and I are anticipating lots of eggs by Thanksgiving at the latest.  If you see this sign outside my house feel free to stop by.  My new occupation may be the neighborhood egg supplier. 

Do you have hens?  If so any advice would be welcomed!  I will keep you updated on the progress of the adventure and of course will introduce you to the new family members just as soon as they arrive.  Stay tuned this promises to be quite a journey!  Blessings!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

City Of Roses, Bridgetown, PDX!?

One year ago my dear son called to let me know that he had found his ideal job.  A detailed description followed and I was really excited about the prospect of him realizing his dream of being a full time music therapist.  After talking for some time he told me where the job was.....Portland, Oregon.  Now Mrs. DD land is about 3,000 miles from Portland, so of course I was somewhat concerned.  My dear son assured me that there was "no way" that he would actually get the job and that I shouldn't worry.  Well several days later I received another call to let me know that he had been offered the job and he had accepted.  Needless to say I was in a state of shock but I was also very proud that he had the courage to spread his wings and fly. 

One year later my dear hubby and I finally had the opportunity to go for a visit.  Let me just say that I now understand why people flock to Portland.  I also understand why once they visit they don't want to leave. 

My hubby and I explored some of the rose gardens on our first afternoon.  It was easy to see why Portland is called the " City of Roses".   It is the home to the International Rose Test Garden.  Every bloom was huge and the colors were so vibrant!  The climbing roses were so tall!

We stopped for a quick snack and I soon realized that I was no longer in the South.  Fried green beans!?  I had a delicious blackberry smoothie...yummy!  No I didn't try the green beans.  I wish now that I had.

Our first night we dined at one of the many food truck pods.  My son told us to trust him to pick all of our courses and I must say he has very good taste!  I liked everything but my favorite was the most unusual....a delicious waffle sandwich with turkey, swiss cheese, and raspberry jam.....Oh my!

Dessert was next at Salt & Straw.  A wonderful ice cream shop with some of the most unusual flavors I have ever seen.  The menu changes according to the season with some flavors continuing year round.  Yes one of the flavors is sweet corn!  My hubby and I had delicious peach and walnut.  Snickerdoodle was my son's choice and his fiancee choose chocolate with nuts. 

The next morning we had a yummy breakfast and headed out for a day of exploring.  On the list Columbia Gorge, Multnomah Falls,  Pittock Mansion,  Powell's Bookstore, and Voodoo Donuts. 

There is no way to express in words or photographs the beauty of Oregon.  The mammoth cedar trees, ferns, mountains, rivers... it truly is "God's beautiful world".  We hiked up the falls (well to be honest I stopped half way and rested for awhile).  My husband and son went all the way.

Pittock Mansion has a spectacular view of the city! The flowers were just beautiful!  I told my hubby that I wanted a flower garden just like theirs!  Because of the climate the vegetation is so green and the flowers (not just the roses) are huge!

On to downtown and Powell's Bookstore.  The only way to describe this store is to imagine stepping into Amazon and being able to actually touch every book old and new alike.  I had a ball!  I did take home a few goodies but I tried to restrain myself! :-)

Portland is known as "Bridgeland" because the city contains 7 bridges.  Each one is unique with its own special personality.  As we crossed the bridge going into downtown I noticed a counter.  My son said it was the number of bikes that had passed that day.  It was one in the afternoon and already over 2500 bikes had crossed that one bridge!  Portland has been recognized as one of the most environmentally conscious cities in the world.  It is so clean and each citizen seems to take a great deal of pride in keeping it pristine.

No trip to the west coast would be complete without a trip to Voodoo Donut.  I really believe they must have created every possible type of donut.  It is difficult to choose just one so my son talked us into getting a dozen.  A girl needs variety!  Obviously my dear hubby thought they were yummy!  Krispy Kreme better watch out! My son and I took a short walk after all those donuts and watched the bicyclists as they rode home from work.  In the land of coffee we certainly had to have a latte.  Unfortunately it wasn't decorated very well (not at all).  I was so disappointed. :-(  Obviously word had not reached that barista that he was serving Mrs. DD!

After donuts then it is time for dinner.....right?  We ate at a McMenamins restaurant.  These brothers are known for taking historic buildings that would have been destroyed and turning them into unique restaurants.  The menu and decor are the same in each one but of course the history and tradition of the building is preserved.  The Kennedy School was the site of this restaurant.  My husband and I took a trip down memory lane because this historic school was almost identical to our elementary school.  It brought back so many memories.  The food was delicious!

We slept well and woke up refreshed and ready for more excursions.  I was excited to head to the beach.  No girl should travel to the west coast without seeing the Pacific Ocean. We visited one of the local coffee shop for a scone and of course a latte before starting our journey.  This barista had heard I was in town and did add a heart to the latte. :-)  It took about an hour to arrive at Cannon Beach. This beach town is truly a picturesque little village.  It was a picture perfect day!  We saw Haystack Rock.  I put my toe in the Pacific.  So cold!  My hubby and I picked out our ocean front home and decided we could live here if the lottery tickets work out. :-) We enjoyed a delicious lunch before heading inland.  My son and hubby were so proud to have some fresh shrimp.  What else do you eat at the ocean!  I visited the coastal yarn shop and brought home a couple of samples.  Let's just say that this winter I should be sporting two new pairs of socks by the name of haystack and tide pooling!

Portland is known as the DIY capital so of course a visit to the "world's largest fabric store" was in order.  I was overwhelmed!  It was hard to know where to look or what to do.  Rest assured that I figured it out and left with a few goodies!  A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do!

Homemade pizza, dancing to the record player, and a walk to the waterfront in the moonlight rounded out a perfect day.

We were up bright and early to start our journey home.  Sad that it was over but so glad we were able to experience the beautiful city that our son calls home. 

I certainly miss Matt everyday but I am so glad that he had the courage to take a chance and go where he knew God was leading him.  I remember vividly the day he left a year ago.  I told him then through tear filled eyes to "go and follow your dream".  He has done just that! 

Thanks Matt and Sydney for a wonderful visit!  I look forward to seeing you soon and I understand why you both love Portland so much.  You better watch out Dad is already looking at real estate!

If you ever have the chance to venture to the West Coast, be sure to visit the City of Roses, Bridgetown, PDX.  You are sure to have a fabulous adventure!


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Pouring It On For ALS

I know that all of you have certainly seen and heard all about the Ice Bucket Challenge in support of the ALS Association.  If you have participated in the challenge let me just say a word of thanks!  You see I have a very personal interest in this frenzy.  My Mom died of ALS a year ago.  I know first hand the absolutely horrible effects this disease has on the body.

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that effects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.  It has no cure and no real treatment.  The cause is unknown and it leads to paralysis and death in one to five years.  I remember when I was in Nursing School it was called "the devil disease".  That is a pretty accurate description.

The money and the awarness that this campaign has brought to ALS is unbelievable!  Over 50 million dollars and climbing that can be used to hopefully find a cause, treatment, and cure for this fatal disease!

I have taken the Ice Bucket Challenge and so have all the members of my family.  I also donated to the ALS Association in memory of my Mom.  I am challenging all of you in blogland to participate in the frenzy.  Yes the water is cold momentarily but when you complare it to ALS.....well there is no comparison.  If you would like to donate please do at als.org .  

Thanks and please let me know if you have participated in the challenge.  It is actually a great way to bring attention to a disease that has touched so many families. It has certainly shown the power of social media.  If we all do our small part this disease can be beaten!  Blessings!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

We Share A Name

My grandfather was born on this day in 1895.  He passed away when I was only 10 but he left a lasting impression on my life.  I was named after him.  I always thought that I could have been on Pettycoat Junction because like the characters on that oldie but goodie television show my middle name is Jo.  He used to tell everyone that I was his name sake and I would beam with pride!

PawPaw had several jobs but his true talent was carpentry.  He could build anything and had quite a reputation as a master craftsman.  My Mom gave me his carpentry books, ruler, and carpenter's pencil several years ago.  I keep them on display in my living room.

He also was an amazing musician.  He could play the piano, organ, fiddle, banjo, and any other instrument that he was handed.  He never had a lesson but could play blue grass and old time gospel better than anyone least that's what I thought!  I can remember him coming to my home and playing all of the old hymns on my upright piano.  He and I would sing together. That's part of the reason I just can't get rid of that old piano.  So many memories!  The shape note hymnal you see in the picture was his. I still use it when I play the old songs.

My PawPaw smoked a pipe and cigars.   Even when he was plowing the field he had a cigar in his mouth.  As a child I loved the smell of a cigar.....still do.

This is the only picture that I have of my PawPaw and I.  I know that it isn't the best quality but it is priceless to me.  I remember the time it was taken vividly.  My Mom had my brother and I get on the tractor with him as he was plowing the garden.  I even remember the shoes I was wearing.....brown leather loafers.  I was so proud of those shoes.  I thought I looked really grown up!  I also remember getting into trouble for wearing them into the garden! :-)  Because of this picture I have a love for the Farmall Cub tractor.  Anytime I see one it reminds me of this day. 

My PawPaw certainly wasn't a perfect man.  He had his vices just like most folks but as long as I knew him he was a loving and kind grandfather.  He loved all of his grandchildren but I feel like he and I had a special bond.  You see we shared a name and we both took great pride in that fact.  I still do.

Happy Birthday PawPaw!  I'm still gardening, singing, and playing the piano.  I think of you often especially when I see a Farmall Cub tractor,  smell the smoke of a cigar, or write my middle name!  Blessings!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

As Busy As A Bee!

This Summer is flying by and I have truly been "as busy as a bee".  It seems every morning I roll out of bed with the intention of accomplishing a long list of tasks and happens.  I have learned to expect the unexpected and just roll with the flow!

As most of you know I love doing tablescapes!  Usually they reflect the time of year or what is happening in my life.  About two years ago I found some cute plates at Hobby Lobby.  The theme was bees and I just had to have them. Since my life has truly reflected the life of the busy bee it seemed the perfect time to pull out my "bee collection".  One of my goals is to have my own bee hive and get to enjoy the yummy honey that is produced.  Maybe someday! 

Right now I can just enjoy my dishes and dream.  It is the perfect place to eat my breakfast and watch the birds out of my kitchen window.

My favorite piece is the coffee cup!  The little bee on the handle is strategically placed as a resting spot for your finger.

Anyone who visits gets a bag of honey crisp cookies.  They are delicious!  The perfect combination of honey and cinnamon!

Since I've been working soooo hard, I treated myself to some fresh flowers at the grocery store today.  These gorgeous sunflowers were on sale and so they came home with me!  They are going to look great on my table!

Don't worry my dear husband was not forgotten.  A coconut creme pie made its way into my buggy as well.  He loves these!  I wonder which prize will last the sunflowers or his pie?  :-)

Drop by Mrs. DD's place soon and we will enjoy a delicious cup of coffee and you will leave with a bag of honey cookies!  We might even sneak a piece of coconut creme better hurry I'm not sure how long it will last! :-) Gotta go! This busy bee has got to get back to work!  Blessings!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Nature's Lace

Today on my daily walk around the neighborhood I was reminded of my MawMaw.  I was truly blessed to grow up living right next door to my Grandparents.  They had a huge garden, chickens, and an apple orchard.  They also had a large open field above the orchard and every Summer it was filled with beautiful lacy flowers.

Queen Anne's Lace is really considered a weed but to me it was and is a treasured flower.  Tonight I found out some facts about the plant that surprised me.  It is edible and makes a tasty tea. The bees in the picture certainly seem to be enjoying it! Some people call it "wild carrot".  Apparently the root looks similar to a carrot.  Tomorrow I plan to pull one up and take a look! :-)

The plant seemed to truly flourish in the field along with "rabbit tobacco".  With a little research I found out that this plant is considered a medicinal herb and has been used for centuries to treat numerous illnesses.  Who knew?  Not me!

I am certain that MawMaw knew that these plants had all of these good uses.  After all my MawMaw knew everything!  The most important thing to me is the pleasant memories that these flowers brought to mind today.   The name fits for they are truly "royal" as far as I am concerned!  A lacy, delicate, femine,
 flower...just like fine lace.  A lace created by God.....nature's lace!

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