My card, madam….

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I like to have my own calling cards, like women used to before the First World War. It makes it so much easier when you want to exchange phone numbers or email addresses. No scrambling for a pen, etc. I had some ones that I had printed professionally in the past but they are almost gone. I decided I could make my own and I wanted to make them a little more personal. I took what I liked from my old card (rounded corners and grey font color) and added my own photography and some revised information. For instance, I added my blog site and deleted my home phone number. I’m thinking seriously of dropping our landline, now that my parents are gone and the Hubs and I use our iPhones almost exclusively. If it wasn’t for Zoots calling for dry cleaning pick up two times a week, it would only be my aunt calling. Even my siblings and I communicate more on our cells, which we did by necessity when our parents were ill, and none of us were home. If I could I would use glossier and thicker card stock, as the card stock for home printers just doesn’t seem thick enough. If I stick with this design I might have them professionally done and maybe have the edge of the roses laser cut!

The Way Back Machine April Edition

Here’s what I was working on for the great “craft a week” project last year during the month of April.

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First I made this little Bunny jar using an old Bonne Maman jam jar, and then attached a little plastic leaping rabbit with some super duper glue and then spray painted the whole top.

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Then because I could do some planting oh so much earlier than I have been able to this year, I made a little bunny garden with some beautiful Irish moss .

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I found a pine branch in the backyard that had fallen in some storm over the winter and painted it silver. I used it all summer to hang little pink votive holders that lit all our after dark meals and conversations all summer.

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My mother’s favorite store ( other than the Christmas Tree Shop) was Lord and Taylor. She loved it, and always found a bargain. I remember one year on the nite before Thanksgiving, we fed my father and the Hubs, and off we went to shop our brains out. I think she finished half her shopping that nite. So last spring, after my father had closed out her account, I asked for her card. I framed it and it hangs in my dressing room. It makes me smile every morning.

Macarons, the Magnificent Obsession…Part 4 or is it 5?

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It doesn’t feel like late April today. It’s rainy and damp and chilly, so of course it’s the perfect day to make bright and sunny, lemony yellow Lemon Raspberry Macarons.
Normally, cold, and damp especially is not friendly to the uber dry environment needed to bake macarons. Even with no heat on in the house
( gets turned off on April 1st, no exceptions…) I get around it by keeping the oven on for a bit longer than needed and using my trusty personal size fan to dry out the piped discs.

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I managed not to break the buttercream that I made during the week by adding lemon extract…hooray! I also added the gel color when I finished whipping the meringue BEFORE the macaronage step. The wire whisk of my trusty Kitchenaid stand mixer is so much more effective than my right arm and a rubber spatula.
I piped a bit of raspberry jam in the middle of each macaron ( big shout out to the Hubs for making emergency supermarket/Dunkin Donuts run at a critical moment…) . Then pipe the lemon buttercream around it and a assemble the sandwiches!

A little something I whipped up…

I was feeling particularly creative in anticipation of the Easter holiday and had some extra eggs, some moss, and some ribbon and put these hanging nests together.

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The only hard part is securing the moss to the styrofoam wreath. I think I needed to wet it down more to keep it from shedding.

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Once I struck on the idea of using twine to wrap it, it was much more secure,

Look what I found!

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I had a beautiful David Austen rose that never made it into the ground or proper pot before I had to move it indoors for the winter. I found this lovey rosebud on Friday morning, stretching towards the light from the garage window! I can’t wait till it’s a grown up rose!

Mr. McGregor’s garden…

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My sister made the cutest crudités platter for our Easter afternoon. A mini replica of Farmer McGregor’s garden that Peter Rabbit found so much trouble in. She used mini carrots, and the individual florets of broccoli and cauliflower. Brussel sprouts stand in for cabbages, and pumpernickel bread slices are the garden dirt. So clever, the only thing missing are the blackberries that Peter, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail all ate until their bellies hurt!

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A new favorite to share

When I took my bread class recently, we tasted some of the baguettes with a variety of gourmet salts and spreads. My running away favorite was this smokey salt.

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The salesperson told us it was really good on grilled steaks and grilled veggies, and it is. But a little bit really brings up the flavor of roasted peppers, roasted tomatoes, grill cooked baby potatoes, even eggs! I think it will be my summer hostess gift of choice! And….bonus! It comes in an elegantly simple and re purposable square jar with a well fitting cork lid!

Et Voila! Part 2

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This could be my favorite bread….really. Brioche was the second part of the “French Favorites” class I took 2 weeks ago, and it has a longer production time than a baguette. But it is so worth it!

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Friday nite I made the starter…easy peasy. Because the windows in the house are open now I put the mixing bowl on top of the stove for an hour to be out of the draft. It doesn’t rise a lot, but it needs to start bubbling up.
Then the remainder of flour, eggs and all this butter….

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Yes, I know, but I said it was worth it didn’t I?

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Incorporating the butter takes about 20 minutes and then you crank up the mixer till you hear the dough make the telltale THWAP, THWAP, THWAP against the side of the bowl. You can also see that the dough has become very soft and smooth.
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Then you fold it a few times to strengthen the gluten and into a lightly greased bowl for 4 to 16 hours in the fridge.
Yesterday morning I took the dough out of the fridge and it had puffed up nicely, but more importantly , as promised the dough had hardened up.

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Into the loaf pan for another hour to rise before baking.

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All brioche gets egg washed but my instructor recommended a mix of egg yolk and heavy cream. Who am I to argue? What’s a little cream after half a pound of butter in the dough?

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60 minutes later from a 375 degree oven, I pulled this beautiful, delicious, eggy, buttery loaf of bread !

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