August 30, 2011

Beautiful Blooming Limelight Hydrangeas

They provide long lasting, summer color in my yard.
I recently had someone come into my yard and cut some of my hydrangeas without asking. I have to say it really angered me. How bold of someone to step right onto our lawn and take something that my husband and I worked hard to grow and maintain. After all, I don't even cut them because I want my shrubs to be full of blooms so the yard looks as beautiful as possible.

This morning the air was so cool and fresh and I was pulling a few weeds around one of the planting beds and I kept looking at the hydrangea bushes. After being inspired by this post and this post. I decided that if I clip from the back and thin the blooms where there are several in one spot I could bring a bouquet into my own home to enjoy. That's exactly what I did.


I recently purchased this galvanized metal container and I thought it would really pair well with the hydrangeas. I wasn't sure how it would hold water though. So I filled a tall glass vase with water and set that right inside the metal container and then arranged the flowers.

I had some fun playing with the photo's and also creating a color palette from them. What is your favorite variety of hydrangeas? I love them all. I think I might plant some of the giant, strawberry colored, variety next.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

Rustic Blackberry Cobbler

This is the easiest cobbler you will ever make. I promise.

Rustic Blackberry Cobbler
Preheat oven to 375°.
Fill a 13x9 baking dish with at least 6 cups of blackberries (you can use any berry you have on hand).
Then in a separate bowl mix 2 c. flour, 2 c. sugar and 2 eggs until you get a nice crumby texture.
Cover the berries with the mixture.
Melt 1 1/2 c butter and pour over the top of the entire mixture.
Bake at 375° for about 40 minutes. Make sure to check it because you may need to leave it in a bit longer. You want the berry mixture to be bubbling and the topping to have browned slightly.

Fresh Whipped Cream
1 pint of heavy whipping cream
1/3 c sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Whip all ingredients with a hand mixer or a stand mixer using the whisk attachment until peaks form.
You don't want to over whip because it will break down and be a runny mess.

Top the warm cobbler with a dollop of fresh creaminess and savor your efforts.

This really is a great recipe to serve up when you have unexpected company. Keep some frozen* berries on hand and who doesn't have flour, sugar, eggs and butter on hand?

*If using frozen berries you may need to bake for a little longer.

Enjoy!

This is based on a Southern Living recipe.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

August 29, 2011

Coleus Clippings Taking Root

After this past weeks hurricane my window boxes need replanting. The wind really tore the plants up. Some of you may have a similar problem. If you've got Coleus or sweet potato vines take the best clippings and put them in a dish or cup half full of tap water. Make sure they've got plenty of sunshine and in a matter of a few days you'll begin to see roots.

Once all my clippings have a sufficient root system I will put them into a larger pot with moist soil and keep them in my little greenhouse over the winter months. By next spring I am sure to have several flourishing plants.

I like to have my window boxes full at least three seasons out of the four. I had planned to grow ornamental kale and cabbage but have not started the seeds. I'm going to do that in the next few days and hope that they're fast growers. Boxes filled with lots of the same type of plant always make a big impact. Are you planning on planting anything for fall?

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

August 27, 2011

Changing Things Up...

In The Dining Room
I have yet to finish decorating all the rooms in my current home and it's been six years. Because I'm decorating on a slim budget and I have to purchase things in onsies and twosies it seems to take forever and then just when I think I'm done with a room I decide I want to start all over again. Will I ever complete what I see in my minds eye before I want to change it? At this pace - probably not.

Anyhow, I finally found a set of white dishes that were reasonably priced. Now I've got another option for food photography as well as another set for entertaining other than the red set. Yeah! White is so much more versatile. I spotted a great set on clearance at Ballard Design several months back and I kept checking online undecided on whether to buy or not. I waited to long and they were gone. Do you ever do that and then regret not jumping right on the deal? I do it ALL the time. So that's why when I spotted these dishes at Marshall's I did not hesitate to load them in my cart instantly. Eight bowls, eight dinner plates and eight salad plates. They had mugs but I didn't buy those. This set was a great price and it has just enough decorative detail.




I'm also adding the word "DINE" somewhere in the space. I'll most likely wrap these letters in twine. I've seen the moss covered letters and considered that but I don't want to chance bits of moss falling off in my kids food. God forbid moss fall onto a guests plate.
This room is currently an apple green. with red accents. I really loved it when I first painted it and for a couple years after that but now I've grown tired of the green walls. I'm trying to decide what color to paint them. It has to be something that works with my color scheme throughout the entire house. There needs to be a flow and a sense of thought and purpose behind the choice. The problem is I don't want the red anymore either. However, that means replacing the red rugs and the red drapes and repainting the red ceiling. Yes, I said "red ceiling". Chaching, Chaching! Did I mention the red kitchen?

I can see my husband twitch and cringe every time I mention wanting to change things. He truly believes that when I do something in a room it will remain that way forever. So he mentally checks it off the list never having to revisit that project again. I on the other hand know full well that in a couple of years I will grow weary of whatever it is I've been looking at. Styles change, there are always new trends and color combinations to try. I've considered a shade of blue grey, maybe a honey wheat or even a really pale taupe. I want to brighten my space up a bit.

While we were visiting the Outer Banks last week I went into one of my favorite little home decor shops. It's called "The French Door". I got to talking with the sales clerk about the current economy and housing and I told her a little about my situation. I'm a girl that grew up on a small farm with a great family and a great upbringing. Large open spaces, beautiful views and privacy. I let her know that my husband and I bought a house in a cute little development at the height of the market. It wasn't our plan to stay more than three years. It's been six years now and we find ourselves in a position where we can't sell unless we want to take half of what we paid. Ouch! We also don't feel comfortable leaving the area and renting our house out because jobs are scarce and to uproot your family when you've got a good paying job isn't the smartest thing to do. My husband tells me that over and over again. But my heart tells me something quite the contrary. Our oldest daughter has 5 years left of school. I didn't want to put my roots down here. I wanted her to finish school where we planned to officially settle, close to our families. So we could share holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and on and on. So all the kids would know their grandparent's better and enjoy their aunts, uncles and cousins.

There's more to be said but I won't bore you with the details. To bring this story to a close the shop clerk said, "Isn't it funny how things come full circle? We end up wanting what we had growing up." If only I'd have know that 15 years ago. But I didn't. Now I do. Maybe some of lives decisions would have been different. I always looked at Virginia as a building block or a training ground of sorts and then we'd move on to our true purpose.

To give me a little pep talk she said, "it might be something as simple as a paint color on your walls to make you feel like it's more like home and  maybe you can bring in pieces or accents that remind you of where you grew up."

I've got a lot of work to do. I don't think any amount of paint or accent pieces will fill this void in my heart. But I'll give it a try.


Now to get back to decorating and entertaining. I picked up those great drink dispensers in the photo above at Pottery Barn and they're resting on some white cake stands that I purchased at Marshall's. They had bright colored ribbon woven around the edges but I swapped it out with a jute ribbon. Much better for the final look I'm going for.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

August 26, 2011

The Storm Before The Storm

Last night and shortly before hurricane Irene reaches us and right after our region was shaken by a 5.8 earthquake this storm front moved through. I captured this turbulent sky with my point and shoot from the front porch.

This is what I saw out my back window at the exact same time. A rainbow - a reminder of God's promise to never allow the entire earth to flood again.

Isn't that amazing?

From the Amplified Bible:
Genesis 9:13 I set My bow [rainbow] in the cloud, and it shall be a token or sign of a covenant or solemn pledge between Me and the earth. 

Genesis 9:14 And it shall be that when I bring clouds over the earth and the bow [rainbow] is seen in the clouds,

Genesis 9:16 When the bow [rainbow] is in the clouds and I look upon it, I will [earnestly] remember the everlasting covenant or pledge between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. 

Genesis 9:17 And God said to Noah, This [rainbow] is the token or sign of the covenant or solemn pledge which I have established between Me and all flesh upon the earth.   

I wonder what Irene will look like.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

August 25, 2011

The Outer Banks

A few photo's from our last hoorah of the season.
Our timing was impeccable. Hurricane Irene is barreling up the coastline headed for OBX. Pray that another weather system pushes Irene off the coast or that it greatly decreases in strength.
A morning walk on the beach.

A ghost crab.


Feeding the seagulls.

Family photo op. I need to start training for an upcoming 5k. Seeing myself in photo's isn't always fun.

Fun in the waves and on the sand.

We were privileged to see dolphins heading up the coastline each morning, watch pelicans dive into the sea for their sustenance, people horseback riding along the beach, and crabs scurrying from sand hole to sand hole.

A few restaurants that I can recommend in the area would be "Tale of A Whale", "La Cabana", & "Stack 'Em High". All three of them had great food and great service.

We can't wait to go back. It's becoming a favorite family vacation spot.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!


Jenny K.

August 17, 2011

Sundried Tomatoes

I made my very own! Yes I did. If you've read any of my past posts this summer you know I bought a Tommacio plant from a local nursery. This is a hybrid that was developed specifically for producing a raisin tomato. The idea was that if you leave them on the vine they'll dry all by themselves. However, Virginia humidity would have nothing of the sort. These sweet things need to be harvested at their peak ripeness. Just like the photo below shows. No waiting for vine drying.

1. Rinse them and then pat dry.
2. Cover a cookie sheet in aluminum foil and sprinkle a couple tablespoons of salt evenly.
3. Spread the tomatoes out over the salted surface and put into a 300° oven for 3-4 hrs.
4. Check periodically because some will dehydrate quicker than others and you don't want burnt raisin tomatoes.

This is what they look like about half way through the process.
You can see some of them are just about ready to remove from the oven.

Here are the Tommacios when they're all finished up.
Perfectly dried and ready to use in homemade breads and pastas. Yummy!
You can store them in a zip lock bag but I'm storing mine in a mason jar.
 
If you love sundried tomatoes as much as I do definitely look for these at your local nursery next growing season.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

August 13, 2011

Testing The Waters

So I did it! My very first market and I sold everything except a handful of sugar cookies. I've made some mental notes for next months market and I think I've decided I will do it up bigger & better. Did I make money? No. I may have broken even. However, I've learned what sells the fastest and I also don't have to purchase table covers, banners and business cards the next go around.


The "Freshly Baked" banner is something anyone can do on their own using a home computer and printer. I chose twine to string it up with and I also used twine to tie the cookie bags. It's quite versatile.


I sold flower and beach ball sugar cookies on a stick and not on a stick. I chose to display them in little tin buckets and also hanging from my cookie tree. Who wouldn't want a cookie tree in their backyard? However, this tree was very sensitive to the wind and had to be held in place most of the time.

 

Brightly decorated sugar cookies.


I made a half dozen pans of cinnamon buns and every one of them sold.


The french baguettes and light wheat french loaves all sold.


... and I handed out a few calling cards promoting my Etsy Shop & blog.
 

So while I didn't make buckets of money, after expenses, this first go 'round. I met some really great people and had a lot of fun conversing with the market goers.

Thank you to all the shoppers that purchased my treats! I hope to see you in September.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

August 3, 2011

Family Road Trip 2011 Wrap-Up

The Farm, Some Fun & A Wedding
Grandma & Grandpa O's horses. The one in the back is a horse I grew up riding. Her name is Pepper and she is really up there in age but still looking so spry. She happens to be blind but she manages quite well with her baby, "Tawny", taking care of her. It's amazing how keen an animals senses are. Tawny watches over her Momma and guides her threw the field. The kids enjoyed spending time with these gorgeous animals.

I felt sorry for my niece Avery's, little dog, Finny. Because of her small size the kids were all over her. My wee one took her dress off AGAIN. I have no idea where it was when I was taking these pictures.
Let me just say that I think my favorite time to take pictures is when the sun is going down. You have to be careful with shadows but if you get your direction correct you can achieve some of the most beautifully lit pictures in your collection.
One of my favorite pictures is the one at the top. My daughters walking through the field with the horse just behind them. I just might have to enlarge this one and get it framed.
 
My son had been talking about Grandpa's heavy equipment for weeks before we made this trip. Because we live in a development that is still under construction my little guy sees a lot of bulldozers and backhoes that he cannot touch. One day while walking to the garden we were passing some equipment and he said, "Boy I sure do love Grandpa!" It must have triggered his memory of all the talk that Grandpa had all of this stuff. So shortly before we left Michigan Grandpa O took him for a ride on the bulldozer. What little boy wouldn't be enamored by this. Grandpa is his hero!
We took the kids to a Go-Kart park one of the days we were on vacation. Down the road a little was a riding stable. What is not pictured here is myself and my two daughters taking a trail ride. My wee one insisted on riding a big horse. She didn't want to go in circles on the little pony. The stable allowed double riders on the trail if the child was under five so I took her with me and she was as good as gold the entire 50 minutes. I think I've got another rider on my hands. When the handsome hubby is in charge of picture taking there are usually very few photo's. I really wish I had a few for my photo collection. It's not often that a two year old rides.

We also visited a little ice cream shop and at the end of the night when we were dog tired I had my mom take a pic of my sister-in-law and I. I should have had her take a photo of us at my mom's kitchen table putting our makeup on before we left for the day. LOL!

Then there was this beautiful wedding. My husbands oldest brothers, oldest daughter was married in May with a big ceremony in Minneapolis and then did it all over again in Michigan. I really thought it was going to be a small reception only but it was a full blown wedding with a horse and carriage followed by a big reception. The bride was stunning, the groom was a hoot, the wedding was beautiful, the reception had wonderful comfort food and we got to visit with family. What more could you ask for?
We stayed with my husbands family at the end of the trip. I was able to get a few photo's of my husband with his Momma and his brother Tim. I also grabbed a shot of my oldest daughter with Grandma K. They had the exact colors on that day. A pale yellow with black accents. Perfect! Uncle Tim showed the kids his newest additions to the farm. A miniature stallion and a couple goats. What is not pictured are the two cockatiels and the rooster. The kids would not leave those poor birds alone.

Thanks to everyone for making our Family Road Trip a success! We miss all of you and look forward to our next visit. Much Love!

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.


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