I've been keeping busy this past week but if I don't have pictures on my camera or phone, I can't quite remember what exactly I was up to. I recently bought a little daily planner at Target. Emily rolled her eyes and asked what on earth I could need a planner for. I thought that I would get organized, fill in the empty spaces with projects and organizing I wanted to get done. Set aside a day for baking or make-ahead meals. A specific day for blog posts(ahem)...just get my life running like a well oiled machine. Well, it's March and the planner still has a lot of blank pages. I think I'm more the spontaneous type anyway.
I do love to retreat into my lab (as The Husband calls it). I bubble and boil away all sorts of concoctions on the stove. I bake strange confections with odd flavors and then give them away so I don't get tempted to eat a ton of sugar.
I have the neatest pan with molds that lends itself best to quick breads, and I made these little beauties. The texture is a bit more dense than a muffin, and a sprinkle of powdered sugar adds some sweetness. These are so perfect for dunking in a mug of coffee or tea.
And I tried my hand at making a Naked Cake. Sounds provocative, doesn't it? Baking (and cooking in general) is leaning toward the simple and rustic, much like we see in decorating currently. Presentation of food in photography is still carefully arranged, except now we see all the little drips and globs, sometimes a fork resting on a plate with something half eaten. It's all bare bones and crumbs, and I think we can identify.
So it goes with Naked Cakes. I read an article, saw the pics and recipes, and just knew it was something I was going to try my hand at. So this is my first attempt. A butter cake with whipped vanilla frosting. Three layers in 6 x 2 spring-form pans. Trial and error of course. I spread the frosting on each layer, keeping it thick towards the edges. I smooshed those layers down and then spread the frosting all around the sides of the cake with a wide spatula. I wish I had a smoother effect, but it seems contradictory to want to perfect "rustic".
Forget the fancy fondant and molded sugar candies. Toss out those frosting bags and tips. Bring on the edible flowers and berries (I found the edible flowers near the herbs in my grocery store). Final thoughts...I loved making this and I plan to keep delving into ideas. Cakes have become my new cupcakes, which had been the cookies, which took the place of the pies back in the fall. Never let failure keep you from making new failures!
I recently made some changes in the bedroom. Last week when I was looking for a lamp for Abby at Target, I found this queen size comforter marked down 60%. Yes, you read that right! Once I brought it home I washed and dried it on delicate and it fluffed up so nicely. Score. Some have asked how I can have so much white in my house with two dogs (and yes, they are on the furniture quite a bit). The answer: Oxy Clean. It's a miracle worker. I use a little of it in all of my white laundry loads. So Milo and Layla want to tell you that this is one cozy comforter!
And it was love at first sight with this throw from Anthropology. Look at those tassels! My friend Melanie joked that her kitties would be having a ball with these!
I have a lot of irons in the fire right now. In addition to redoing the den (and that seems to have been put on the back burner right now), I have Abby's somewhat empty room to deal with. She's doing really well in her new place. Her biggest challenge has been taking a new route to work, and with the snow, rain and ice we have been having, it's nerve wracking for her (and me). I've been feeling blue off and on. but you reach a point where you have to shift your attention to other things. So, I'm working with what I have in her old room. Right now I'm keeping the Tiffany Blue paint color as this was done just two years ago. This dresser looks to be in bad shape but it's actually very solid maple. I am having a go at it with my sander and some paint, finding some new hardware. Any advice on how to get those stickers off? :(
She didn't want this shelving unit and since it makes a great TV stand, I'll slap some paint on it as well. I think some baskets on the shelves will look great.
This will be a guest room which practically sends me and The Husband into hysterics. I don't think we've ever had a guest here in our lives! Unless you count the children that have left the nest and then came back to regroup, cause a lot of upheaval, leave a ton of their belongings behind, and move on again.
We have to buy a bed frame and mattress, and I hope to find a used headboard somewhere to jazz up. I will never be the type to make a headboard out of pallets or cork, so don't expect any forthcoming tutorials! ;-)
During Lent we try to stick with fish on Fridays. Well, I do more grilled cheese and pasta because I'm not an a-fish-iando when it comes to making the stuff. I do okay with shellfish, and one of my favorite meals is cioppino, or fisherman's stew. It's a simple tomato based dish with a variety of fish, usually a combo of shrimp, scallops, firm whitefish, mussels and clams. I happened to have a zucchini and some mushrooms so I threw those in for color. And the bread I bought that day was sensational. It's baked fresh at my grocery store and it had pieces of green olives in it. We had a great dinner Friday night. Here's my version of cioppino:
Heat 5 T. butter in a large stockpot or dutch oven. Add 1 large chopped onion and 3 cloves of minced garlic. Cook on low until just softened. Add 2 1 lb. 12 oz. cans of tomatoes (I used diced but you can use whole and mush them up), about 3/4 of a box of chicken stock (the boxes are 32 oz. each), 1 1/2 c. white wine, 2 bay leaves, and a T each of thyme and oregano. Cover and simmer 45 minutes. Add the fish of your choice, I used 1 1/2 lb. each shrimp and bay scallops, 1 lb. each little neck clams and mussels, and 1 1/2 lb. cod, cut in small chunks. Cover and simmer 5-7 minutes, making sure that all of the clams and mussels are open. Season with salt and pepper and put on your bibs!!
I'm happy to say I have the Pin button working so if you use Pinterest, you can hover over any picture and add it to your pages. I also want to say thanks to so many of you ladies who are following me on Instagram. It's so much fun! I changed my user name recently to my blog name so you can follow me here if you'd like. I would love to share with some of you ladies who don't always comment on the blog!
In other news, Kevin and Mary Clare came over for dinner Sunday night with Elsie. She is such a great baby, slept almost the entire time and when she fussed a bit, Kevin would gently swing her car/infant seat back and forth and she would be fast asleep in about a minute. I love watching him be a father. He's very gentle and cautious, and I can sense that he has one eye on her all the time. He and MC are a great team.
In some sad news, and I can't go into detail because information is very limited right now, we learned this morning that two pipes broke at the lakehouse and we have some water damage. Please keep your fingers crossed that the damage is minimal. Next month is about the time we start to get ready for the warm weather up there. With all the crazy projects I have going on here, a trip to Asheville in June, a wedding in Louisville in August as well as my son Jeff's wedding in mid August, and a plan in-the-works for a trip to Nashville/Franklin, TN. in October, I just want some smooth sailing! :) I'll be back later in the week.