Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring Sprucing and Cleaning

Hi Everyone! I hope you all are having a wonderful spring. The buds here sure are looking pretty. I snapped a couple of pictures today of one of my favorite spring trees (pictured above). I love the color! The temps are finally staying up warm enough in the day to suit me and the cool nights make for good sleeping.

I am a devoted Tasha Tudor fan. I thought I would share one of her books with you. Even though this book has "spring" in the title it really isn't about the season spring. However, I love the illustrations and the book seems festive to me for this time of the year. You can click on the pictures and they will enlarge.

We had one leather recliner in our family room. Talk about comfortable!! Mmmm, what a delight! Hubby and I would take turns sitting in it and finally a couple of weeks ago I went to the furniture store and ordered another one. It came last week and here it is! These two recliners are huge and really too big to have two side by side but these face the TV and we love them so that is what it is all about right? We do feel like our grandparents now; nestling in the recliners at the end of the day. Our grandparents were smart huh?

And finally you can see a little bit of what I have been up to also. Ugh. Spring cleaning time!!! I do love getting everything clean top to bottom inside and out. This year I have someone helping me and she is a godsend. I am so tickled that we will have everything spic and span this week.

Baby son is on his way back from Europe as I type. The week has gone very fast! I am so glad that he will be coming home but so happy that he has had this wonderful experience.

I hope you all are enjoying Spring as much as I am.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you ~

"May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields..."

Irish Blessing

Come sit out on my front porch with me and we will have shortbread and tea. In case you are interested, the china pattern is Belleek from Ireland. I only have a few pieces but each one is adorable. Such a dainty china; and so sweet to me.

Monday, March 16, 2009

What a Difference a Day Makes!

Photo removed at teenager request :)

What a difference a day makes! Pictured above is my "baby", my high school senior. This photo was taken yesterday morning at about 9:30 am on my back breezeway before I took him to the airport. This morning at 9:30 am I got a call from this precious child of mine from Milan, Italy where he was standing in the middle of a plaza looking at a huge cathedral; according to him.

I have been the type of Mother that let my children go and do and explore probably more than I should have. Their father is a captain for a major airline and has flown both domestically and internationally. From the age of 1 month I have had my children on airplanes. We have moved several times and experienced different cultures. Thanks in part to living in Texas for 6 years, along with one of the most gifted Spanish teachers ever, he speaks fluent Spanish.

This trip that my son is on is a little bit different than his usual outings. He went on a 9 day trip to Europe with 8 other friends from high school. There are some adults going and this was a guided tour thingy. They will go to Italy, Spain and Monaco; how exciting!

I warned him about the delicious ice cream, pastries and breads in Europe. I tend to gain about 10 pounds just thinking about them! When he called this morning he said that I was right about the ice cream and he had already had three servings! That's my boy! We love our food.

I raised my children to be very independent. They were doing their own laundry by age 8, making their own beds, etc. As morbid as it sounds, I wanted them to be able to function in case something happened to their father or myself. Of course, with independence I have had to let go faster or sooner than I wanted to at times. However, I could not be prouder of my children. They are able to conduct themselves in all sorts of situations and are already contributing members of society holding down jobs, going to school, etc. Apologies for the shameless bragging.

Thanks for letting me share a bit of my life with you today.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Don't You Quit; inspirational video for those that need encouragement

Don't we all need encouragement from time to time? We all experience life's ups and downs. It is our friends that are there for us and help us through. But in the end, it comes down to the will within each one of us as to the course our lives take with the decisions that we make. I wanted to share with you this awesome video; I think it is so well done.

Don't You Quit.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mama's Pecan Pie

I wanted to share a good, solid Pecan Pie recipe that will appeal to a broad range of palates. This is "Mama's Pecan Pie" from the cookbook Bon Appetit Ya'll".

Isn't this a pretty cookbook?

And here's the recipe, you can click on the picture to enlarge.

I overbaked it a tad due to a hot oven that I have to watch like a hawk. I think you will find this a safe pecan pie recipe that will be welcome in any serving situation. This throws together very, very easily and with store bought pie crusts you can be your own semi-homemade chef!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Queen of Tassels, Nancy at Southern Lady

I would like to introduce you to the Queen of Tassels: Nancy over at Southern Lady

Nancy makes beautiful tassels for any room in your home. They also make perfect gifts! I actually even got a compliment on my dining room tassel (pictured above) just today! Nancy has an etsy shop called Nancyrosalina's The Tasseled Nest.

I have always been a tassel person but Nancy's creations take tassels to an entirely different level. They are so charming and creative.

Please visit Nancy at her wonderful blog and also her etsy shop. Please tell her that I sent you.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

TJMaxx Notecards that look Lilly Pulitzer-ish

Oh my gosh, I love TJMaxx! I also love Lilly Pulitzer. What is a girl to do when she is a thrifty shopper? She heads to TJMaxx and finds these ~darling~ notecards. Feel free to click on the picture to enlarge it to see just how darling these notecards are. They also have the most neat envelopes; they are miniature business mailing envelopes. Can you see how the flap is on the end of the back of the envelope and not the standard fold down flap? Love love love these and they are fairly heavy weight also. Bonus!

I will be out and about all day today so I won't be around to your blogs or responding to comments very timely. Please forgive me! I will get to you as soon as I can. Gotta feed the addiction ya know!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Signs of Spring

I shot these random photos in my yard yesterday. I am so excited to see the buds and blooms and signs of spring. I also see the need to refresh the mulch pronto!

Isn't it amazing that nature does what she does? How awesome that every year without fail she unfolds this beautiful, colorful show. The pansies were so pitiful all winter. I confess that I didn't have the faith in them that I should; I thought that there was no way they could survive. And, they are just gorgeous. Their sweet little faces appearing and it's almost like they are smiling and saying "We're here and spring is on its' way!". The lady that owned this property before us planted bulbs all over the place, and while I can't really understand the method to the madness, the daffodils are sure pretty to look at. The redbud has the newest of buds on the tips of its' branches and the Bradford Pears are so billowy and cottony looking to me as they are budding.

What a colorful show Mother Nature is putting on. I am eager to see it all unfold.

A Time for Change

The clock pictured above was presented to me after two terms as President of my local Women's Club back in the '90's. It represents some good times in the past.

I took the photo above on Sunday, time change day. I love Springing forward every year. Well, except for the losing an hour of sleep thing! This year we were lucky enough for time change day to come on the warmest, sunniest day of the year so far. What a wonderful day to life the spirits. To be able to have an extra hour of that glorious day was perfect. It was like the universe agreed: the day should linger on.

With time change and the coming of Spring I always become energized to clean out and clean up my house and surroundings. I may not always accomplish everything but the spirit is there.

This year I have decided to take stock of myself as well. Is it time for a change? If so, what changes?

Change can be difficult, but necessary. I think of the phrase "no pain no gain". I tend to want to have no pain with a lot of gain. Selfish I suppose.

Time changes back the first Sunday in November. I figure we've got a little time to work on the things we need to work on. Don't you?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Bramble Patch's Newest Followers, I'm up to 5!

I am so blessed to have these wonderful ladies follow my blog. Please take a few minutes to go check out their fabulous blogs!

~Melissa at Melissa's Heart and Home

~Nancy at Southern Lady

~Kathi at Blessings and Beautiful Things

~Debra at Georgia Rectors

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Baking Bacon Baby!

Ok, so maybe some of you already know about this but I am gonna blog about it anyway! I love baking bacon!

I have always hated the mess that frying bacon caused. I also didn't much care for the pretty constant tending that one must do when they are frying bacon. I don't like for hot splatters on my hand and ....ok, you get the idea! :)

I found out about baking bacon and my life has been a happier, more content one ever since! No more splatter screen, no more cleaning the backsplash, no more babysitting the fry pan!

I have made bacon in the oven a variety of ways and all of them have their great points. You can heavily pepper the bacon for a peppered bacon (the grocery store charges big bucks for peppered bacon, you can do it for pennies!), you can also rub the bacon down with brown sugar (I love this!) and have your own instant brown sugar bacon. You can also rub liquid smoke on the bacon for hickory smoke flavor. One of the things I like to do is bake bacon en masse and then crumble it (and refrigerate!) to be used through the week for salads, baked potato toppers, etc. This is so much cheaper than buying those packaged bacon pieces and is probably healthier too! If you don't use it up just freeze it!

So, what I do is line a bottom pan (cookie pan) with aluminum foil. This will catch the grease and can be easily tossed afterwards for a speedy clean-up! Then I place the rack on top of the pan. I place as many slices of bacon as I want or will fit. Usually going crosswise on the rack is preferable. On my pictures above my husband placed the slices :) I preheat the oven to 350 and bake the bacon for approximately 20 minutes. Thickness of bacon, temp of your oven, etc. will have times vary. Until you get comfortable with your situation check at 10 min, 15 min, 20 min, etc. When the bacon is done you can place it on paper towels to drain any remaining fat; however, there is not near as much fat as what you find in the fried variety. Some folks have said that this makes your oven dirty. I have never experienced that and I am fortunate enough to have a self cleaning oven that takes care of it. Also, if I want crispier bacon I go to 375 degrees.

I've talked more than any one person should about baking bacon. Thanks for indulging me!

PS. Sorry about the pre-cook picture. Lighting is a problem for me but I hope to resolve my issues soon!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Thrift Find: Beautiful Glass Tray / Cake Plate

Isn't this glass tray beautiful? My mom found it out thrifting and it was $2.00!!! I love it! The etching comes through kind of white on the picture but it isn't. It almost seems "wedding-ish" in a way but I will love it for pretty, festive foods and occasions. I think I will be using it most for a cake plate for when I have cakes that I want to have room for a garnish of fruit, etc. around the base. It is well used and has scratches on it. To me, that adds to the piece. I daydream about the lady (ladies?) that have used this to serve off of; and I daydream about all that have enjoyed treats off of this beautiful tray. This tray is heavy also; I love the solid feel of it. What else can I do with this piece you creative people?

My First Follower and My First Comments!

I am so excited! I have my first follower! Thank you Lynette at Lynette's L.A.M Blog for the following my blog and leaving my first comment!

I also want to thank Sandy over at Four Reluctant Entertainers for commenting on my blog also!

Thanks ladies; you have made me feel welcome!

My blogger friend, Cynthia, over at An Accomplished Woman recently did a post on her refrigerator that made me drool with envy! Please check out her post and her entire wonderful blog!

I was inspired to clean out my fridge. I spent a half a day taking every single thing out of my fridge; including bins and shelves! I threw away a garbage bag full of stuff - gross! I scrubbed and cleaned and amazingly enough it made me feel great! I have to confess that I don't have pretty bowls in my fridge like Cynthia has in hers; but it is much neater, cleaner and more organized. I have included an afterwards and a during cleaning pictures above. You didn't think I was brave enough to include a "before" pic did you? :) I don't desire the health department visiting! LOL.

Now, your turn; let's see your fridge! Come on, don't be shy!

P.S. I did clean the outside smears and fingerprints once I was done! :)

Beef in Red Wine with Noodles

It is so hard to take a good picture of this dish. I can assure you that it tastes much, much better than it looks.

As I mentioned in my post below I do a lot of cooking with my slow cooker. This is one of the easy dishes that is so flavorful that I would not hesitate to serve it to company. I love that this has a "grown-up" taste but yet it is made in a slow cooker. One usually doesn't think of those together. It is still comfort food so that makes for a happy and warm tummy.

I am one of those cooks that is not very good about measuring; a little of this, a splash of that. My recipes are rarely specific and certainly allow for personalization.

For this dish I tossed the beef cubes in a flour/pepper/salt/seasoning mix concoction and then browned in butter. However, this recipe does just fine if you toss the untouched beef cubes in the slow cooker without those steps. I am not sure that you can go wrong with any approach. Here is the recipe:

1.5 to 2 pounds of beef stew cubes
1 large onion, chopped in fairly large pieces
1 envelope of dry onion soup
mushrooms to suit your taste ( I had some sauteed in butter in the freezer and tossed those in)
1.5 cups of a good red wine (merlot, etc.)

Egg Noodles or Rice

I placed the beef cubes in the bottom of the slow cooker. Then I topped with the contents on the onion soup packet, added the onions and mushrooms on top. I then took the wine and poured it all over everything. I set the slow cooker for 6 hours on high. (You can do 8 or 10 hours on low if you wish). The house smelled absolutely heavenly while this was cooking. I ended up taking it out at the 5 hour mark and it was more than done. I served over hot noodles (I forgot to butter them!). We had a side of broccoli and french bread. The au jus that this makes is so wonderful that you might want to consider a side of mashed potatoes. Just don't forget the bread to sop up the juice. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Liners

I love to use my Slow Cooker! With busy lives it is not only a time saver it helps prevent us from eating out, grabbing take out, etc.

One of the most helpful products invented is the Slow Cooker Liner. If you haven't seen or used these I urge you to give them a try. They have made cleanup on slow cooker nights a complete breeze.

These are plastic liners that withstand heat. Being that they are plastic I have friends that tell me that they won't use them. I respect that decision; however, they are made with "friendly to food" plastic. I figure one thing or another will get us eventually and if it is my once a week use of a plastic liner then at least I will die a happy death from not having scrubbed all of those caked on bowls.

Why blog about this? Well, I thought since I do a lot of slow cooking, and I will be blogging quite a bit about that, you might as well get used to the tools I use :)

I don't work for the Slow Cooker liner company but I proudly hawk their product. Have you tried these? I would love to hear your opinions on them.


I feel like this is an exciting thing; birthing a new blog! I am not sure what twists and turns this adventure will take. I am looking forward to the journey.