Of Spring, Outdoor Parties & a Broken Ankle

I just don’t do well two seasons of the year… autumn and winter – and that takes a pretty big chunk out of the year, doesn’t it?  But recently I’d been feeling energetic and full of that old spring time joy.  The garden beds were all cleaned out just waiting for the weather to warm up, all the outdoor furniture had been moved outside and washed, and the fire pit was all set for late night soirees.

Then I broke my ankle…as many of you already know.  The party went on nevertheless and was a big success.  Everyone loved the Shredded Chicken Sandwiches and the Chicken Tortellini Soup with Italian Sweet Sausage and Baby Spinach. (I’ll post both recipes soon.) My granddaughter was really happy with her birthday cake, which I posted last Saturday. And after dark the fire pit roared with searing heat thanks to a few of my pyromaniac male friends.

Tired of Thin Layer Cakes – Here’s a Trick to Fix That! Yellow Layer Cake with Mini Chocolate Chips and English Toffee Bits

Tired of Thin Layer Cakes - Here's a Trick to Fix That!  Yellow Layer Cake with Mini Chocolate Chips and English Toffee - My Yellow

I didn’t really feel encumbered until the next day when I realized how much I can NOT do on crutches, such as going outside to finish cleaning up.  In fact, I’m not able to do half of what I could manage 20 years ago when I broke my other ankle.   ; o (

Example, I put about 12 solar lights in my front garden just to see which ones worked… They’re all still out there… some shining with light after dark and the others… just kind of sitting there…

To the rescue – my trusty little rented scooter. And mine has a basket!!

scooter for broken legs

I love new conveniences like my little scooter – and being able to order groceries online and have them delivered – hurrah!  Tomorrow between 10:00 and 12:00 the Pea Pod truck will be pulling into the driveway here at my old yellow farmhouse and lots of wonderful food items will issue forth. I’m sooo happy!!  Me and my little scooter are gonna get busy preparing and posting two recipes this coming week – Coconut Joy Cheesecake Cake Bars – and – Mushroom Ravioli Lasagna with Creamy Tomato Sauce.  At least that’s the plan.  As we know, life sometimes gets in the way!

My Yellow Farmhouse.com - Tulips in Spring -2016

 

Wishing You the Merriest of Holidays!!

I had planned to post various recipes for sugar cookies – and was going to call the series ‘The Sugar Cookie Experiment’, but as sometimes happens, life & The Holidays just got in the way.  

I didn’t return from my trip to Italy until late November and, before we could even begin thinking about Christmas, my son and I had to clean out the barn and put away all my outdoor furniture  …. a big and ‘not fun’ project.

Then began the lugging to and fro of lots and lots of Christmas stuff from the 2nd floor of the barn, such as lots of extra chairs and leaves for two tables, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons, plates and platters, tree decorations and lights etc. etc.  (Hay had been kept, many years ago, on the 2nd floor of the barn.  It’s so cute up there with all the gables and the quaint ‘tack room’ from the days when the barn housed horses that I’d love to fix it up sometime with a pool table etc.)

For the first time in years I have a real, live Christmas Tree. I am so in love with it!  This year I had an ‘assistant’ in the form of one of my sons, who helped me pick out a lovely tree and set it up. The decorating he left to me, which was fine ’cause I love decorating for Christmas.  

The lamp my friend Frank made me, based on A Christmas Story, still ‘blazes forth in all it’s glory’!

Christmas 2015 002

As you may remember, our moth-eaten but much beloved angel is placed at the top of the tree by one of my grandchildren.  

Our Traditional Christmas Angel - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

Every year our family celebrates what we call Our Roy Christmas in the middle of December.  This year it was Saturday, December 12th and entailed lots of gift buying, gift wrapping, decorating and cooking which had to be done almost two weeks before the 25th!  Somehow – we manage to pull it off each year – and it’s always so much fun.  

Christmas 2015 - 4 001

My yellow farmhouse looked so festive and just so downright happy that I decided to host another party this past weekend.  As I often do, I prepare several heavy appetizers and ask others to also bring something to share.  We always end up with copious amounts of delicious things to eat!

++  A few photos from my December 19th party!  ++  

The cage with my parakeets, Linda (who’s a boy..) and Skye can be seen in the background.  They loved all the noise!

christmas party -1 2015

Christmas pary 2015

Christmas party 2015 2a

 I promise to post a few of the recipes from this year’s parties before New Year’s Eve!!

Christmas 2015 - copy

Mason Jars ‘n More! Sharing Some Outdoor Decorating Ideas I’ve Saved on Pinterest

Happy Spring Everyone!! 

tulips - clipart

The last two days have been simply gorgeous – fierce sunshine accompanied by light breezes.  The daffodils broke out from their winter’s nap and are doing their very best to produce flowers in a few weeks…. which won’t be easy since, last summer, the guy who mows my lawn simply mowed over all the naturalized daffodils living under my big oak tree.  Spring flower bulbs need to absorb a good amount of sunshine through their leaves so they’ll have enough energy to push through the ground the next spring.

++ There’ve been years I’ve made fencing with small twigs and twine to protect (from my lawn mowing guy) the daffodils after they’d bloomed.  Those leave may not look like much – but they should remain until the tips begin to brown.  Only then can you be sure the bulbs will bloom in Full Force for the next spring.

duck in the rain++  I’d really love it if you shared some of your summer decorating ideas in the ‘comments’ section below.  (If you don’t see the comments section, click on the title of this post – which will bring you to another page.)

This morning the sun is hidden behind misty grey clouds and rain is soaking the thirsty perennials and bulbs.  So – I am forced to forget about working outside in my gardens.  Instead, I perused some of the great summer decorating ideas I’ve saved on Pinterest.  I thought you might enjoy seeing a few of these ideas, and that they might inspire you as they have done for me!   Enjoy !! 

– – – – – – – – – –

Mason Jars are so versatile… but you already knew that!  You can wrap them in twine and use them as vases – or as utensil holders for buffets or barbeques.  You can have the kids paint flowers on the outside, put a battery-powered ‘candle’ inside and, using florist wire, hang them from the nearest tree.  I’ve also tied raffia or ribbon to the tops of small mason jars and used them as candle holders. 

Mason Jar VASE... with twinePhoto Courtesy of Big Lots

Floating votives - mason jar - courtesy emmalinebride.comhttp://emmalinebride.com/handmade-wedding/mason-jar-centerpieces-floating-candles/

Carnations in Mason Jar - courtesy of catchmyparty. comhttp://catchmyparty.com/photos/553667

Twig Vase - courtesy of Martha Stewarthttp://www.marthastewart.com/270813/twig-vase

outdoor tables from whiskey barrels and glass.

Whiskey Barrel Tables – easy and inexpensive.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this idea !! 

Eighteen inch Whiskey Barrels, sold at Home Depot, topped with 20′ glass table toppers from Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Viralnova.com is loaded with tons of excellent D.Y. I.outdoor ideas, including these tables.  I suggest you ‘drop by’.

http://www.viralnova.com/diy-backyard-ideas/

I know the idea of placing a pot of flowers on an old chair is nothing new, but I’m finally going to do this  with an old ‘ladies rockerI’ve had for years. A ladies rocker is smaller than most old/antique rockers and there’s no arms on the rocker.

It took me awhile to be able to ‘save’ the photo of the chair on the right – but it was worth the effort.  I love the delicate lines of the back.  And I’ve been inspired to use yet another item from my barn – an old dining room chair.  Which means, if I actually get to it, I may have the ladies rocker in one area of my garden and the old dining room chair on my back porch.  (I’ll post photos of both, I promise.)

++ Follow link for directions to turn an old cane-seated chair into a flower display.    http://tparty.typepad.com/the_tcozy/2008/04/a-chair-of-flow.html   (Uses chicken wire and sphagnum moss.) 

ladies rocker - courtesy of wikiart.comChair with Flowers - courtesy of http://tparty.typepad.com/the_tcozy/2008/04/a-chair-of-flow.html

To get the effect below, I suggest buying a hanging planter & removing the hanger.
And don’t forget, occasionally, to give all your potted plants a good dose of plant food !
courtesy of - media cache - pinterest.com
I hope these ideas have inspired you a bit – especially on a dark and dreary day such as today!

++ Woman in (Ladies) Rocking Chair – courtesy of  www.wikiart.org

To quote Roseanne Roseanadana, “It’s always something. If it isn’t one thing – it’s another!”

Roseanne Rosannadana

I could’ve titled this post ‘The Pie that Didn’t Make It’….  or “The Terrible, No-Good, Very Bad Pie Day”… but you get the idea.

I had planned to ‘kill two birds with one stone’ when I chose to make a Toffee Ice Cream Pie for a party I was attending, but, as often happens, my day did NOT go as planned.  And the final result of my Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Pie Day necessitated a visit to the ER the next morning.l

Like many of you, I’m constantly saving recipes on Pinterest, so I decided to find a super yummy dessert recipe.  And I did, namely Toffee Ice Cream Pie, which features a ‘Nilla Wafer’ crust, ice cream (I used Butter Pecan simply because I love it), crushed toffee candy bars and a delicious homemade caramel sauce.

The cookie crumb and butter crust came together easily. Then I prepared the caramel sauce while the cookie crumb pie crust cooled for a bit in the freezer.

Once the sauce has cooled a bit, a good amount of that fabulous caramel sauce is poured over the crust, then slightly-softened ice cream is added.

Toffee Ice Cream Pie - myyellowfarmhouse.com

My overly-softened ice cream began to melt as I was taking a few photos, so I hurriedly sprinkled on the crushed toffee candy and put the pie into the freezer for a few minutes before I drizzled on the rest of the caramel sauce.

Now here comes the bad/sad part – I wiped out the top of the pie as I put it in the freezer.

Half of all that  buttery caramel, toffee candy, ice creamy goodness was left dripping from the bottom of my ice cube maker, where it immediately began to freeze.

I tried repairing the damage and photographing the pie while at the party but, although absolutely delicious, it looked like a disaster.

And now I come to the part of my day where I did a serious, no-holds-barred face-plant into my hosts’ front door – which resulted in me sleeping in pain that night and going to the emergency room the next morning.  As I trotted up my friends’ front steps, my boot failed to clear the top.  I stumbled forward a few feet, hit the front door with my face and fell backwards like a turtle. I ended up with an instant bump on my head, which is still there. Of course, both my hands were injured in my futile attempt to save myself.

Luckily nothing was broken (as it turned out, I had broken a bone in my left hand…) but my right hand is now in a removable splint and looks like a small, fat balloon.   ++ I should never be put in anything removable ‘cause I end up doing a lot of removing.

I’m going to make another ‘Toffee Ice Cream Pie’ within a day or two & I’ll post the recipe. (Of course, making another pie will necessitate removing my splint.)     ; o )

++  The ‘do-over’ turned out just fine!! Here’s the recipe!  ++

Toffee Ice Cream Pie with Homemade Cookie Crust and Caramel Sauce - myyellowfarmhouse.com

Has Anyone Heard Anything from ‘ChgoJohn’ of ‘The Bartolini Kitchens’?

ChgoJohn

This is a highly unusual post…  John (ChgoJohn) of ‘The Bartolini Kitchens’ hasn’t posted anything since December 24th.  I’ve sent him a few emails, yet I haven’t heard from him.  And he unfailingly returns my emails within a day or two.  And – if he plans to ‘close the kitchens’ because he’s traveling – he always let us, his readers, know.   Which makes me wonder if John’ beloved Zia might be ill…

I know so many people, including myself, have come to love John and consider him a friend.  He always has the best ‘tales to tell’ and posts (as many of you know) the most fantastic recipes which have been handed down to him by his mother and his Zia – John’s mother’s sister.

For those of you who aren’t followers of John’s blog – here’s a wonderful post from November 29th, 2014.  The post shows both John’s sense of humor and his warmth – and his love for Zia… because November 29th was Zia’s birthday.

http://fromthebartolinikitchens.com/category/3-non-recipe-posts/personal/

Please post a comment if you’ve heard from John – thanks!

NIGHT GARDEN – Photos and a Poem

I honestly believe I was a Native American in an earlier life because I don’t like coming inside once dusk has come and gone. It’s so quiet, peaceful and beautiful outside that I wish I could stay all night!  And there’s been more than one night (crazily,  considering the bears..) I’ve dragged a few cushions, pillows and blankets outside so I didn’t have to go inside – at all. And I’ve always slept like a baby – never waking up ’til the sun shone full in my face.

I hope to have a little bitty house built on my property just so I can sleep outside – and and it would look something like this. (Uncle Mikey – are you listening!?)

++ I had no idea writer Jane Yolen (who I had once the pleasure of meeting) wrote a poem called “The Night Garden” !!  See below for my poem “My Aunt’s Twilight Garden’.

A little house in Arkansas... so much like the one I dreamt about...!!!

Tonight, as I watched the clouds scuttling across the sky… I moved where I was sitting so the ‘Intruder Hummingbird” could have his late night snack….(The ‘Intruder’ is very wary because the Resident Hummingbird, who got used to me very fast, is always chasing away the ‘Intruder’, who’s still too nervous to feed when I’m close….. )

In any event, I decided I’d try to capture the beauty of my gardens after the sun goes down. I hope you enjoy both the photos and my poem.

Night Garden - My Yellow Farmhouse 2014

Night Garden - My Yellow Farmhouse 2014

Night Garden - My Yellow Farmhouse 2014

Night Garden - My Yellow Farmhouse 2014

 +++   My Aunt’s Twilight Garden   +++

 Crickets would chirp merrily among the Bachelor Buttons and Zinnias in my aunt’s twilight garden.  I would tiptoe out to their hiding place, and bending low, whisper goodnight.

Viewed from my childhood window, trees would rustle and sigh gently, silhouetted against the darkening sky.  The sounds of older children at play would drift along the breeze, arriving muted but gay.

God was in his heaven during those lazy summer twilights.  The world would slowly close its eyes until darkness and peace descended

Unknown and unseen, but felt deeply, something beckoned to me in the moonlight.

In adolescence I learned the world was not asleep but had only changed into its nightly coat of jet black and diamonds. And I began to realize the night sounds had somehow hushed their voices so I could no longer hear them in the moonlight?

I had arrived at the future.

The bright sun of day leaves but little time for dreams.    And yet…..

May all your twilights be full of magic and may you always hear the crickets whispering to you in the moonlight !    Cecile Hamel-Roy – –  My Yellow Farmhouse

Night Garden - Aug. 2, 2014 018