I find that there are magical moments in life where Mother Nature seems to capture my every sense. Moments when nothing else seems to satiate my appetite for comfort, calm and peace.
Taste, touch, smell and sound seem to melt together in a timeless, almost standstill dreamlike vision.
My sight seems to have the ability to meet my every need with effortless perfection. I find that when life gets to be too much and everyday troubles bubble up and over, a retreat to the cabin accompanied by a walk in the fresh air, can in an instant, calm…no matter what the season.
But there’s just something about Spring.
And the flowers. The delicate, intricate, unassuming flowers. Especially the early spring flowers who find themselves among the first to brave the unstable elements. The ones who have the quiet strength to weather the cold winds and last few spits of icy snow as they tenderly open themselves for all to admire.
Despite the unknown they hold their heads high and bloom for the promise of what’s to come.
Their beauty is nothing less than tiptoeing into a real life fairytale.
Their unassuming grace and quiet majesty have the abitliy to reach out wrap me in a quiet whisper.
My eyes are speechless.
My voice, blinded.
And my heart melted.
Into a puddle,
of quiet bliss.
My youngest daughter and I quietly pad through the early morning dew,
drawn to the tufts of glowing daffodils basking in the first gentle rays of the golden honey sun.
And without hesitation or even a conversation begin to gather a bashful, blooming, bundle of stems,
We have the winners for the 3 signed by Ree The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier cookbooks!
Winners have been picked at random by my family.
They are…(drumroll please)…
# 1 Cassie
“my favorite kind of doughnut is a cake doughnut with maple glaze!”
# 444 Hannah S.
“Maple bar! The coconut-crumb cake donuts are a close second”
# 1,263 Jessica Baer
I will be emailing each of you for address information.
Thank you SO MUCH to all who joined in the FUN!
It’s spring break in suburbia. So I did what any other mother of a darling teen and pre-teen daughter lamenting to spend a week on a beach but had to stay home would do. I improvised. I packed the car with some clothes and Ree Drummond’s delicious new cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier and headed to the cabin with the girls and my parents for some cooking, eating and bonding time.
I mean it is the second best thing, right?
Ree’s newest cookbook is a collection of mouthwatering recipes explained through beautiful pictures and heartwarming stories of life on the ranch with her darling family. Just flipping through her lovely book makes you feel as if you’ve been whisked away to her ranch to enjoy all the adventure, food and fun that it has to offer.
So I figure, why not have some of that at the cabin? We’ll turn our charming little cabin into a sprawling ranch only without the horses and cowboys and instead a little improvisation.
We decided that we just had to make Ree’s homemade glazed doughnuts. Doughnuts hold a cherished place in all of our hearts. We love doughnuts. Not to mention, I always think of Ree whenever I see a doughnut after reading one of her posts that has now become one of my very favorite. And what a better way to kick off our weekend than to do so with delicious homemade doughnuts? It was a perfect plan.
I cracked opened the cookbook and the fun began.
I soon realized that I had no doughnut cutter. No mixer with a hook. No silpat mats or parchment paper. No cooling racks.
Can you see that improvisation was a theme here?
But no worries. I mixed the dough with my hands. Used an antique vase and a wine glass for doughnut cutters. Aluminum foil in place of my beloved silpat mat. And scrubbed the dickens out of the oven rack to use as a cooling rack. To see the recipe done the right way with a step by step photo tutorial check out Ree’s post for Homemade Glazed Doughnuts.
Now back to the ranch, um I mean cabin. After letting the dough chill in the fridge and then rise the next morning Sassafras and I got busy.
It was such fun cutting out the doughnut holes with an antique vase.
I may never go back to a doughnut cutter personally.
After the little gems sat in a warm spot and turned into little pillows of fluffiness, it was time to fry them.
Pretend like I have a photo of the little darlings in their glory of puffiness. Thank you for your cooperation.
I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised about how easy and fun it was to fry the little suckers.
Insert angels singing.
Are those glorious or what?
Just so you know. An oven rack works perfectly as cooling rack.
Or in this instance a doughnut-glaze-dripping-rack.
And a cookie sheet works fabulously as a doughnut-hole-glaze-pouring surface.
And my mouth works perfectly as a doughnut-taste-tester.
Just thought I’d share. Le YUM! We’ll never buy doughnuts again!
You really must get your hot little hands on one of these delightful cookbooks. The recipes are divine (even when a little improv is necessary) and you too can have a slice of Ree’s frontier right in your own home. But guess what? Today is your LUCKY day! Sweet Ree is actually going to give three lucky winners a personalized cookbook!
Enter to win one of three Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier cookbooks signed by Ree and addressed to you!
Just leave me a comment below telling me your favorite kind of doughnut.
Entries will be accepted today March 20, 2012 through Friday March 23, 2012 midnight EST.
Winners will be announced sometime on Saturday March 24, 2012 and contacted via email. Make sure to leave a valid email address with your comment!
Did you know that you can force forsythia inside your home and enjoy glorious blooms indoors while it’s still cold outdoors!
Although it’s been a very mid winter this year, nothing thrills my soul more than the first sweet whispers of Spring. The warm breezy days that entice the few flowers that are brave enough to push their way through the stark thawing ground. The barren trees that stand naked one day and then magically begin the next dressed in buds that will become intoxicating flowers after a few more weeks of delicious sunshine…
I want it all and I want it now.
So you know what I do this time of year when I’m itching for Spring?
I force forsythia in my foyer.
You should try it. It’s brilliantly simple and splendidly soul satisfying.
First you’ll need to find a forsythia bush. Make sure that you can actually see some buds that have already formed on the branches. Forsythia is some of the first budding-blooming-bushes of Spring, exactly when will vary depending on where you live.
Then, pull on some rubber boots and tromp through the soggy ground with some cutting shears and cut a few branches that you find to be breathtakingly beautiful.
Before you place the beautiful branches into a sturdy vase (that won’t topple over once it’s full of branches), you’ll need to gently tap, tap, tap the woody ends with a hammer.
This will allow the branches to more easily drink up the water. Remember to use warm water. This will also make it easier for the forsythia to drink.
*Note, no forsythia branches were harmed during this photo shoot.*
Next you’ll want to find a warm sunny spot for your forsythia to bask in the golden sunshine. This will encourage the branches to believe that it is indeed time to bloom.
My warm sunny spot happens to be my foyer.
And as you can tell, this charming chap is thrilled to pieces to share his favorite spot with a vase full of forsythia.
This is Oliver. And Oliver loves nothing more than the warm golden sunshine that spills into the foyer as he lounges upon the buffet table.
Sharing it with the forsythia. Not so much.
“Maybe if I ignore the forsythia it will go away.”
Or maybe Oliver will just go away.
Anyway. Back to my forcing of forsythia.
After about a week or so, you’ll begin to see some sweet green peeking out from within the buds.
Then, before you know it, all of the branches will soon be covered in the gorgeous green.
A day or so later, some lovely yellow will appear.
And then the unfurling of the first forsythia flower…
And before you know it…
You’ll have a foyer full.
And that my friends is how you can get a fabulous fan of forsythia in your foyer with or without a finicky feline who is far from farklempt over the fact that he has to share his favorite spot.
Recently I returned home from shopping to find this waiting on my front step… it felt like Christmas.
Well, o.k. actually, it was almost Christmas, but if you could imagine that tickle you get in your belly at Christmastime, then you’d know exactly how I felt when I saw that box.
The Traveling Cookbook had arrived on my doorstep.
What’s The Traveling Cookbook you ask?
Well, two lovely ladies, Chris Ann and Kristin of LoveFeast Table have put together a fabulous project called The Traveling Cookbook. In a nutshell, one cookbook will travel from one blogger to the next and cook a few recipes from the book, share their experiences by scrapbooking in the cookbook and then pass it along. Eventually the cookbook will be as full of personal experiences as all of the bellies that got to enjoy the recipes and it will be auctioned off with all proceeds going to Feed My Starving Children. How cool is that?
The first cookbook to take this most splendid journey is The Pioneer Woman Cooks, by Ree Drummond.
While working on a project that involved cotton candy the other day I tore off a tiny fluffy piece and popped it into my mouth. The sweetness took over my senses. My salivary glands kicked in and I was wrapped in the euphoria that comes along with that moment of sugary delight.
And then it was gone.
In an instant.
It made me stop dead in my tracks and think about all of the sweet moments in my life that melt away without me consciously paying attention to them.
Sugar cookies are a tradition to last the test of time. Decorated with colorful icing and sprinkles, weather eaten or hung on the tree, will warm everyones heart.
Ever since I was a wee little nipper, sugar cookies dressed with icing have been a Christmas time tradition.
My sister, Marcey, & I would put on our little aprons, push up our sleeves and bake our little hearts out.
We would adorn our family tree with the cookies that we had baked and decorated along with candy canes, bows and strings of cranberries & popcorn that we had strung by the fire…
…dressed in our matching stretch & sew outfits that mom had so lovingly made for us.
Just kidding, we didn’t always sit by the fire.
I can still remember the thrill of unwrapping the precious cookies from past years. We would eagerly tear their tissue paper cocoons open and hang them on the tree. The cookies became a growing collection…a connection of the past to the present – an ongoing documentation made of sugar and flour and each precious year frozen in time .
These memories will be forever baked into my sappy nostalgic mind and my sister’s too. We still remember those special moments as if they were yesterday. Marcey can probably remember the time, temperature and exactly which stretch & sew outfit we happened to be wearing. I can still remember the colors of the icing, how many dragees I snuck into my mouth and what outfit I painted onto each cookie.
We both have the minds of an elephant. It can be both a blessing and a curse.
In honor of nostalgia, I decided to rally the troops for a day of memory making, baking, icing, decorating and just plain fun.
My mom, sweet baby sister and darling little *ahem* (they’re taller than my sister) girls couldn’t wait to get started. It doesn’t take much to create a day full of sweet confections and memories that will last a lifetime.
Just gather some sugary bobbles to decorate with,
cookie cutters and baking sheets,
paintbrushes for painting the icing onto the cookies,
and straws for making holes in the cookies to thread ribbon through.
Our day started with Nana and Sweet Cheeks diligently
making the icing.
Sassafrass got busy making the cookie dough.
After the dough chilled, we all took turns rolling,
and cookie cutting.
Nana was in charge of making the straw holes in the tops of the cookies before they went in the oven.
And then after the cookies cooled…
the creativity began.
Paintbrushes make a fabulous tool for applying icing to your cookies.
My sister has Celiac Disease so she wore rubber gloves to ensure that she didn’t absorb any gluten.
Perhaps next time we’ll make a gluten-free version as well.
Imaginations can run wild with a rainbow of icing and a few sprinkles at your finger tips.
A little ribbon tied through a cookie can make a most adorable ornament.
And a day spent in the kitchen making a big ‘ol mess with those you love can make a most lasting memory to enjoy for years to come.
What are you waiting for?
Go bake some memories!
Warmest holiday wishes to you!
Nana’s Sugar Cookies
Recipe Type: cookies
Author: Wenderly | Wendy Hondroulis
Serves: 3 dozen
Sugar cookies are a tradition to last the test of time. Decorated with colorful icing and sprinkles, weather eaten or hung on the tree, will warm everyones heart.
3 cups flour (plus more for dusting)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 400° F
Sift dry ingredients and set aside.
With *hands* mix butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Add sifted flour, baking powder and salt and mix with hands until incorporated.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
When ready to use dough, sprinkle falt surface with flour and roll dough with a rolling pin until it’s a 1/4 of an inch. Cut into dough with cookie cutters, (poke hole with straw if you want to hang cookies on tree) place cookies on ungreased cookie sheet or silpat baking mat. Bake in a pre-heated 400° oven for 6-8 minutes until golden brown. Repeat process until all of the dough has been used. Let cookies cool completely before icing them.
*Note: For the icing we just followed the recipe on back of confectioners sugar bag and added food coloring.
I’ve just returned from a most fantabulous weekend spent at Joshua Creek Ranch in Borne, Texas indulging in
the enchanting landscape,
and the magical moments that come with surrounding yourself in the magnificence of Mother Nature, fresh air and some good girl bonding time spent chatting over a smoking gun.
Why should the boys always get to have all the fun?
Georgia invited a few of us gals to join her in a Girl Hunter adventure so that we could walk in her boots for a weekend.
And that we did.
All the while learning about her love of cooking the wild game she hunts herself. It’s not just a sport. It’s a way of living. And loving what you do. And Georgia wanted to share it with all of us. I found it to be very poetic and soul satisfying, not to mention nourishing on so many levels.
When’s the last time you’ve put any thought into what you are putting on your plate? And even more importantly into your body. Honestly I hadn’t really given it the deep thought it deserves until Georgia started the conversation. It’s truly fascinating to think about.
You don’t have to be a hunter (or even a girl for that matter) to sink your teeth into this eloquently written story of a Wall Street business girl turned chef who lives off the land. This story can be applied and appreciated by all.
I can assure you that you haven’t seen the last of this Girl Hunter.
Do yourself a favor. Go ahead and unleash your inner Girl Hunter today.
You’ll be glad you did.
I know I am.
Here’s the official Girl Hunter trailer, take a peek.
I woke this morning with my mind already working on a million different tasks. Before the coffee had even been perked and my lips had wrapped themselves around the warm steamy edge of my very favorite coffee mug, my subconscious had pulled up a chair, sat down and proceeded to run through a list a mile long. By the time I had dropped Sweet Cheeks off at school tiny beads of sweat were collecting across my forehead, my stomach was tied in knots and I was in the midst of holiday chaos.
I was decking the halls that need to be decked.
Baking the goodies that need to be baked.
Wrapping the gifts that need to be bought.
Writing the Christmas cards that need to be written, addressed, stamped and sent.
AND I achieved all of this while adding more lights to the already decorated tree that had a dark spot on the fourth branch from the bottom, 32nd branch from the top on the lefthand side.
Did I mention that this all happened within a few hours?
I mean seriously people. Self talk/mental-multitasking can be exhausting.
Do you know what saved me from myself? The mailman. The very same mailman that could have been delivering the invisible Christmas cards that I had written in my own head.
I heard the familiar sound of the mail truck squeak to a stop in front of my house and I instantly dropped all of the internal conversation and ran to open the front door with glee.
Only to run squarely into the wreath that was hanging there…
I’m pretty sure that I still have the glitter on my nose to prove it.
I was hit squarely between the eyes by what has been knocking on my door the whole time.
In an instant all of the stress, mental-multitasking and self talk just vanished. My mind filled with images of my precious children, loving husband, wonderful parents, incredible sister and the many joys that make my life complete.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes it takes a head-on collision with a wreath full of joy to make sense of it all.
The halls will get decked. The goodies will get baked. The gifts will be bought. And the cards will get written.
For now I’m going to pour another cup of coffee and open the door to let all of the JOY in.
One of my very favorite things to do as a little girl was watch my mom scurry about as she set our dining room table. The dining room always meant a special occasion. Whether it was a holiday, a birthday celebration or the ladies coming over to play cards, the dining room was always dressed in her finest to entertain the guests. I can still hear the doors of the enormous antique hutch pulling open and the old china dishes gently clanking as she would try decide which pattern would best suit her theme of the evening.
I find myself doing the very same thing as I set the scene for special occasions.
There was something so magical about watching her work. I loved seeing all of the old dishes and glasses that had been passed down for generations and hearing the stories of who had eaten on them before me. I was in awe of the delicate tablecloths and napkins neatly folded in the drawers waiting for their turn to grace the table. Her eyes would sparkle as she gathered the candles and glass globes of all shapes and sizes to use in her centerpiece.
It was a delicious feeling…
watching my mom weave the atmosphere of an evening with her creativity.
I guess that must be where my passion for setting the table began.
My mom would always have the most lovely of centerpieces.
She would retreat to our yard in search of beloved objects from nature to incorporate into her creation.
I chuckled at myself as I used a cluster of heirloom pumpkins for my centerpiece while setting a Thanksgiving table the other day.
A warm smile spread across my face as I decided to collect some additional leaves to tuck around the pumpkins as little reminders of my Grateful Garland.
It’s really such a gift to have memories of watching someone I love take such care and relish so in creating a table for all to enjoy.
I feel like I get to relive that feeling each time I set a special table.
I had all of my mom’s inspiration in the forefront of my mind as I created the place cards for the Thanksgiving table.
I decided to use pears embellished with chocolate initials to greet each guest.
I just melted some semisweet chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and poured the melted chocolate into a small baggie. Then gently squeezed the chocolate into a corner of the bag, snipped off the very teensy tip of the bag and piped chocolate initials onto each pear.
It’s easy and inexpensive.
And makes a darling,
not to mention edible way to make each guest feel special. And that’s what it’s all about isn’t it?
The memories that I cherish most, aside from watching my mom set the scene, are of those special dinners enjoyed with family and friends in our dining room, sitting around those beautifully set tables.
It’s all about the gathering of special objects and the love and care woven into a special meal.
And, wanna know a secret?
I’m not even hosting Thanksgiving this year. I just felt inspired to show those that I love what they mean to me. The little blessings in my life that make my heart complete.
We don’t need a holiday to do that do we?
Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving that fills your heart as much as your belly.