Fish fry

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It was our turn this week to host dinner with Izzy.
It’s always fun to share some of our favorite recipes with the ones we love, so we smoked up the house with a fish fry.

There was breaded fish made with coarse cornmeal served with garlicky roasted potatoes and sauteed swiss chard and kale. In the middle of the table there were dishes of tartar and cocktail sauce and slices of lemon.

No one seemed to mind the smoky fog as we delighted in the fact that we are now eating dinner without having to turn on a single light!

Chris’s Fish Fry

4 fillets of atalantic cod, talapia or sea bass
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1 1/2 cup coarse cornmeal
Olive oil or coconut oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Rinse fillets.
In a large cast iron pan heat 1/2 inch of olive or coconut oil at medium to high heat.
Coat fillet in flour on both sides.
Dip floured fillet in egg wash, coat entirely.
Coat fillet heavily in cornmeal.

Fry in oil on both sides until cornmeal turns golden brown. About 3 minutes on each side.
Drain on a paper towel.

Spring vignettes

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With spring just around the corner I have begun to tuck little reminders of what’s to come into the vignettes around my home. Nests, blown out dyed eggs, glass rabbits from my childhood and tiny birds have all come out from hiding.

As each new season approaches I pull out the many cards that I have saved throughout the years that correlate. I have quite a collection for each season and holiday and like to scatter them about on my wire card wreath, tucked into mirrors and showcased on the wooden card stands made by Chris.

Branches found on walks and clipped from my yard have been submerged into vases of water and are just beginning to bud out. (Read more about how to here).

It is still a bit chilly here but the light is changing and I have found several things peeking up in my garden.

I may still be wearing my wool coat every day but these little vignettes inside my home encourage me that soon it will be Spring!

Local friends, I will be teaching my Creating Space for Beauty and Simplicity Series at Harvey Oak Mercantile this year. This month I focus on the home and creating vignettes and incorporating the seasons into your decor.

A few new inventions

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Chris and I make a good team. He likes practical and I like beautiful. Lucky for me everything he makes is beautiful!
I enjoy my home when it is neat and orderly which means I like things put away (or hidden away according to Chris).
I am always switching things up around the house which means where things live sometimes changes.
He is always asking me “So where did you hide it now?” about many of his belongings.

His slippers are one of those things. I may put them in his closet, or by his bedside. Sometimes they make their way by the back door on the shoe rack. Or placed in a basket with all of the other slippers.
I knew he was trying to make a point when he came home last week with his newest invention- Slipper Hooks.
As much as I like things put away out of sight, I had to admit I loved his idea.
He came home the next day with a hook to hang above for his pajamas. And there you have it a new “practical” place for his things with no excuse for me to hide them away.

And while we are on the subject of inventions, check out our affordable version of a new recliner for Chris. To back up a bit, we had been searching for a leather recliner similar to this one for a while. Since they were hard to come by in our price range we settled for an Ikea POANG chair. It was the right size and is actually pretty comfortable. Since the matching ottoman was too bulky for the space Chris decided to make a custom one that slants down at just the right angle that he prefers. Not only is the whole combination beautiful but it is surprisingly ergonomic!

Wednesday night dinner

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The girls have each taken on a night to make dinner. Hannah cooks on Wednesdays and Norah on Thursdays.
This week Hannah made chicken, veggie stir fry.
As she chopped and prepared, I made ginger snaps for Craft Circle that evening.
I love working together with my family in the kitchen, especially when the back door can be wide open.
Hello Spring!

42!

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Last weekend it was Chris’s turn to be celebrated so we hosted our favorite friends for desserts and drinks.

I made this chocolate almond torte that I now make for almost every party. People of all ages love it. I asked Chris to cut out a design from card stock for the top of the cake. I said maybe a “C” for Chris? But he had other plans in mind.

I also served my mom’s baked brie recipe which I had forgotten all about. It was a huge hit. I plan on making it more often.

While all of the kids were upstairs watching a movie our friends had us participate in a mad lib they created all about Chris. It was a hoot!

Mimi’s Baked Brie

1 large brie wheel
1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup of pecan pieces

Melt butter. Turn off heat and mix in brown sugar and pecan halves.
Pour over brie and refrigerate.
Close to serving time bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
Let set for 15 minutes before serving.

You can half or quarter this recipe for a smaller wheel or slice of brie.

13!

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Well I officially am the mama of a teenager. How can that be? Time really has flown by but I can honestly say I have cherished every moment. It is a complete honor and joy to be Hannah’s mama. She is such a sweet soul who embodies a great sense of self and style, a gentle leader who stays true to who she is.

She got to celebrate the beginning of teen-hood with her favorite friends last Friday night. She wanted to include art making (collages, self portraits and silhouettes), dancing, a photo booth and movie.

Her best friend slept over the night before and they spent the day of the party decorating with handmade tissue pom poms and a paper banner. They set up the photo booth and even made goodie bags labeled with each person’s name cut out from magazines. The bags were filled with fun art supplies and chocolates.

The girls did what most pre-teen and teens do- hang out, giggle, sing, dance, squeal and chatter.
Hannah ran the show and there wasn’t much needed from me other than to snap a few photos.

As much as I love entertaining and putting on a party, it was fun this year sitting back and watching Hannah create her own party.

Mondays: Baking with Norah

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Norah has been inspired these days by this show and was wanting to branch out and bake something a little more fancy this week.

Her heart was set on a cake and she wanted to include berries with pink frosting.

She chose a recipe for a simple yellow cake from Joy of Cooking but added mixed berries that she had cooked down with some sugar.

She strained the berries to make a simple syrup which she then added to a cream cheese icing to get the pink hue she was going for.

Once the cake was cool she adorned it with fresh strawberries and icing where she got to use her new piping set she got for Christmas. She tested out each tip size and used the finest one for a face on each strawberry.

It was so much fun watching her come up with her very own creation. I helped a little but really just followed behind wiping and cleaning up.

Next week she wants me to have a list of ingredients laid out when she comes down in the morning to challenge her to make something with them.

I see a future cooking show star on our hands!

A New Piano

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I grew up with a piano. I took lessons and played along side of my Pop as a child. I always loved playing but didn’t stick with it.

When Chris and I first moved in we bought a relatively inexpensive piano from Craigs list. I couldn’t imagine a home without one. I played a little but then running a farm and raising two babies got in the way and it just sat there untouched unless my Pop came over for a visit or the occasional friend who played. We decided to get rid of it and make room for other things.

A few years back we were given another piano on a long term loan. I was determined to play and get the girls lessons but the long term loan turned in to a very short visit and the piano had to go earlier than expected.

I decided to put the idea of a piano on the back burner and began to fall in love with my open and airy dining room without one. I replaced it with a secretary desk which I used for my every day dishes and it worked well as a serving piece when entertaining.

But a few months back the girls began asking for a piano again. When visiting my cousin over the holidays, Hannah sat down at the piano and asked me to play with her. When my fingers touched the keys I was filled with warm memories of playing with my Pop. I Love Coffee, I Love Tea, Send in the Clowns, One Enchanted Evening and songs from Fiddler on the Roof, were some of our favorites to play and sing together.

When we were in Florida last week I got an email from a friend who was looking for a new home for her piano. I thought about how much I love my open and spacious dining room with my little plates stacked neatly in the desk shelves and was ready to decline but then I thought about my girls, my Pop, learning to play again, a home filled with music and something made me write yes and press send.

It was delivered last night and I am adjusting. I get a little grumpy sometimes when I bring in something new. But I do love it.

It needs tuning and I so do I. Lessons will begin in a few weeks.

After everyone went up to bed last night I sat back and admired the new addition to our home. I dusted it’s wood and adorned it’s top. I greeted it and sat down to introduce myself and played a few songs.

It felt good and I swear I heard Pop humming along.

Chicken Pot Hand Pies

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We made these last night for dinner and they were to die for.
True comfort food I tell ya.

Early morning I started a whole chicken in the crock pot and when I arrived home in the afternoon I made the dough and filling. I saved the fun part of constructing the pies for Norah and Chris. They got straight to work rolling out and crimping the dough when they got home.
We make a good team.

I doubled the recipe so there would be plenty of pies to pack in everyone’s lunch the next day with still a few left over to freeze.

Everyone declared that pretty much anything wrapped in that cream cheese dough would be delectable.
So we came up with a list of different fillings we want to try.
Stay tuned…..

Sunday Afternoon Craft Circle

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A few weeks ago the girls asked if they could host their own craft circle with friends. I guess after watching their mama have fun crafting with her friends each month for the last 15 years they thought they should give it a try.

They decided on the first Sunday afternoon of every month and hosted their first one yesterday.

Each girl brought along a craft to work on and they all sat around the fire chatting and working on various projects. A few worked on crocheted ipod charger cords, Hannah began knitting a hat while her friend worked on a knitted bear project. There was some duct tape art and after much finger knitting over the years Norah began her very first knitted project on needles~ a scarf!

And of course there were refreshments. Norah made back bean brownies again and served them with peppermint tea.

Although there was a bit of a generation gap and the conversation may have been a bit different, craft circle on the first Sunday afternoon of the month with the girls looked a lot like craft circle on the second Wednesday evening of the month with the ladies. There was laughter, lots of chatter, sharing of tools and ideas and of course tea and goodies.

I know that this Sunday afternoon tradition may not last forever but for now I will cherish these moments and feel a little bit proud that my girls want to follow in their mama’s footsteps.