Friday, May 27, 2011

Cookbook Confidential

(Here’s the article for this past Sunday.  I wanted to add some pics, so I had my daughter take a few quick pictures of a portion of my cookbook collection.  I don’t think she was into  it as they were all shot from her full-standing height—one shot each.  Let’s just say, she wasn’t into the composition of her photos.  Worse yet—I couldn’t edit them!  I wanted you to see the full truth of my addiction, but not the full truth of my poor housekeeping habits!  Anyway, I hope you enjoy.  Let me know if you can relate!)

As promised, here begins the true confessions of a cookbook-aholic and why I’ll never even try to recover.

Okay, first, I come by this honestly. (Yes, this is where I blame my mother, but I will note I publically heaped praise upon her just a few weeks ago, via a blog post!) Actually, I wouldn’t even call it “blame,” per se, as I don’t believe it to be a problem—unless, of course, I account for the expense. My mom brought me up to enjoy cooking, but her mother lived for it! My grandmother loved entertaining—big dinners or luncheons and everything in between. She thoroughly enjoyed cooking, eating and discussing food. We often joke about the fact that even though she wasn’t able to work in the kitchen in her later years, she would pore over cookbooks and magazines looking for recipes; the Food Network was her favorite station. My parents would find notes about recipes she had seen on a show, Paula Dean being one of her favorites, written on anything within her reach.

They both love cooking, but it was Mom who gave me a copy of the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook when I graduated from college or was it when I got married? Anyhoo, it was my first basic cookbook—it was the one she used the most for her basic cooking and I’ve found that it’s still my “go to” book. Later however, my sister, Nikki, gave me The New Basics Cookbook by Julie Rosso and Sheila Lukins and I found my new love! I referenced that book for new twists on old traditions, but also for all of the great cooking quotes they included throughout its pages. In fact, I incorporated four of the quotes in a border I painted in my kitchen in Georgia. While in Georgia, I started receiving the Southern Living Annual cookbook as a gift from my Grandmother; she provided me with many in my collection, then my mother gave me several from my Grandmother’s collection after she passed. I’ve since decided to collect them for each of the years Darren and I have been married—I’m only missing a few!


I find that I often reference the seasonal menus you can find in the Southern Living books, which is a feature I enjoy in many other cookbooks, as well. I’ve found many of our “family tradition” recipes with this resource. Another favorite is Jane Brody’s, Good Food Gourmet, her black bean soup is fabulous and I used her Asian Coleslaw recipe for my basic peanut sauce recipe. One that I’ve purchased in recent years is Julia Child’s, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I love everything I’ve tried in this treasure—I should use it more.


My mother pointed out that Jane Brody’s book came at a time when cookbooks started to change. They became more of a lifestyle guide—meaning not just recipes, but also entertaining ideas and personal stories, as well. I think those are my favorite kind! I have a few selections at the shop written by Tessa Kiros; they are all beautiful!


I’ve purchased a few bombs, too. I know Martha Stewart is the queen of cookbooks and entertaining, but I rarely find a recipe I’d use a second time; her Carolina bar-b-que sauce recipe being the only exception. (Guess I can kiss any future endorsements from Martha good-bye!)

There you have some of my favorites, but there are so many others. They can be found in almost every room of my house—on my bedside table, in the stack on the floor by my reading chair and, of course, in the kitchen.

Now it’s time for true confessions—tell me I’m in good company! 

Thanks for your indulgence!


Monday, May 23, 2011

Weekend Activites

This weekend went by in a flash, but I feel like we accomplished a lot.  Yesterday, my daughter Hannah helped me clean-out our backroom (a never ending job), while Kimberly Santiago and her daughters painted the “art/vintage gallery” room and Larry Corrigan and his son worked on the lighting in my display windows.  Lots of stuff happening all at once!

On Saturday, however, we enjoyed ourselves at the “Southside Brew Fest,” hosted by Amy Johnston at her home is southern Montgomery County; or, as Hannah commented, “the edge of the Earth!”  (We really don’t get out of downtown Clarksville much!) 

Our hostess:

our hostess


Me and my girls:

me and the girls


But before we went and had our fun, I put together a huge bowl of pasta salad and these:

stuffed cookie

Yes—they were delicious!  Bonus:  they were easy!

I used to pride myself on making all of my cake, cookies and brownies from scratch—now, my pride is found in finding the time to make anything!

That being said, the recipe can be found on the back of the Pillsbury Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookie Mix box.  Instead of the recommended vanilla ice cream, I used Breyer’s Black Raspberry Chocolate ice cream for the filling.  Oh my!

The cookie recipe is doctored a little to help it serve as the outside layers for these sandwiches, but you probably have the additional recipe requirements in your pantry (even if you’re using mixes, too!)  Once you make this very thick dough, you then roll the dough into balls:


Then you press them with the bottom of a glass/jar for a uniform shape:

post pressing

Then you bake them:

post baking


After letting them cool completely, you add a small scoop of ice cream and toss them (quickly) into the freezer.

After we put them all together, my daughter reminded me that my friend, Martha, had brought some ice cream sandwiches very similar to these to a cook-out last year.  (She probably made them from scratch!)  I’m sure the were lingering in the periphery of my subconscious!

I probably should have made them 24 hours in advance—rather than just two hours—but we enjoyed them!

Pretty sure I’ll do this again!

Thanks for your indulgence!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Books—they’ll never be out-of-style here

(This was my Leaf-Chronicle article on Sunday, May 15th)

Remember a few weeks ago when I stated: “I consider an orderly house representative of time misspent.” Now, take a look at the title of a book I saw on the shelf of a local (but not downtown—hint, hint) book store: A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of A Misspent Life: How to live creatively with collections, clutter, work, kids, pets, art, etc... and stop worrying about everything being perfectly in its place. (Yes—that’s the title!) I thought, this is my missing since birth, twin sister, but then I saw her picture and thought—I could only be so lucky! The author’s name is Mary Randolph Carter and I’m sorry to say this is my first encounter with her. I picked-up the last copy, but I’m sure you can have Books-a-Million or Borders order it for you. (You’ll note I’m not recommending you purchase it online—shop local!) She has another one I’ve asked them to order for me, entitled: For the Love of Old: Living with Chipped, Frayed, Tarnished, Faded, Tattered, Worn and Weathered Things that Bring Comfort, Character and Joy to the Places We Call Home.

perfectly kep house

I have to say, the other reason I think we’re related is her verbosity! She says a mouthful, too.

Well, this got me thinking . . . I always talk about my magazine addiction, but rarely bring-up my love for books. Boy, do we have some books! If ever the book I can hold in my hand disappears, I’m not sure what I’d do. I am not interested in those book tablets—at all. I’m a book holder. I love the paper stock, glossy pages are nice, but more and more I prefer matte. I don’t dog ear pages, but anything flat and within reach has been or will be enlisted as a book mark. In fact, those little solicitation cards that fall out of my magazines are my favorite recycled bookmarks! I prefer hard cover (when I can afford it) and I will almost always buy something related to home d├ęcor. Novels, on the other hand, are almost exclusively ingested in the form of books-on-tape.

Since I’ve often posted about repurposing items and about flea market decorating, I thought I’d share the titles of some of my favorite reference books for these topics. So, here you are:

I love Junk Beautiful: Room by Room Makeovers with Junk Market Style by Sue Whitney and Ki Nassauer. These ladies have an eye for repurposing nearly anything they can get their hands on. Sue then partnered with Kimberly Melamed to write Junk Beautiful Outdoor Edition. This book has really inspired me to take our back yard to a new “junk” level! Next, I would recommend anything by Rachel Ashwell, but my favorite is Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting and Decorating Guide, because it’s her “how to” book.

Those are just a few of my “go to” favorites. I’d love to hear about your favorite home decorating books—be sure to visit my blog where you can mention the titles in your comments. Next week, my cookbook addiction!

Thanks for your indulgence!


Sunday, May 15, 2011

volunteering a little time for spring beauty

Spring is in the air and the flowers are in the planters—thanks to some wonderful volunteers.  This is what we we did Saturday morning:

various pics in may 044

Our eldest daughter, Hunter, fresh off her freshman year at Austin Peay State University, woke-up early on a Saturday to help.


various pics in may 045

Linda Shepherd, of Edward’s Steakhouse, and Anne Head, of Rogate’s Boutique, joined us in our beautification of Franklin Street and Strawberry Alley.


various pics in may 049

Here’s my sister, Kendall Welsh, of ARTifacts, with Anne, trying to pretend there isn’t a dumpster behind them.


various pics in may 050

One of my best.

various pics in may 056

Helping Ryan Bowie, of The Roxy Regional Theatre, put the finishing touches on a planter.


various pics in may 058

Did I get any pictures of anyone standing upright?


various pics in may 060



various pics in may 064

Still not upright . . .


various pics in may 065



The City of Clarksville usually fills the planters with flowers in late-April, but due to the winds and storms, they’ve been busy cleaning-up downed trees and flooded parks.  So, we struck a deal—the city provided the flowers and some extra dirt.  We provided the man-power (woman-power, too).

Thanks for your indulgence . . .


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Thanks, Mom!

Mother’s Day—while an invention of the greeting card industry—is the perfect occasion to publically acknowledge all of the great gifts I’ve received from my mother . . .

balanced meal


the ability to pull-together a balanced meal (not that I always do, but I know what  one looks like!);




the ability to set a table—I’d have to reference Emily Post for a “State Dinner”—but thanks to Mom I know where the forks, knives and napkins go!





the knowledge that you never appear in public in your pajamas or without appropriate foundation garments.  (I admit it, I wasgoing to use those “people of WalMart photos,” but they’re just too gross—besides, I always look like this when shopping . . .)




hospital corners.


graduation 472

the ability to listen to my children without constant instruction—to allow them to make mistakes with the minimal amount of “I told you so’s”—to support them even when I feel the endeavor is completely pointless—the ability to love them even when they’re not-very-lovable.


stack of paper


I now read those pages the pharmacist prints out for my information.




never, ever throw away a magazine you might find useful in this (or the next) lifetime.

okay—I’ve got to end this somewhere.  I just wanted the world, or at least my 124 followers, to know that I think the world of her and I appreciate all she’s done for, and continues to do for, me.

Thanks for your indulgence!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

mayhem then moss

What a week! We’ve had entirely too much excitement around our house and I am glad to have those days in my rearview mirror. While we were left safe and reasonably sound, many were not and they are in our thoughts and prayers.april 025

I have to say, however, the end days of the week were absolutely lovely and almost worth the anxiety of the storm warnings. Is there anything better than temperatures in the 60s with the sun shining? Darren and I even found pleasure in sitting in our garden and pulling weeds. One drawback of feeding the birds all winter long is the discarded seeds, which quickly germinate in the spring. Yet, the seedlings are oh so worth dealing with while listening to a birdhouse full of chickadees as they await the next feeding from their parents.

So the gardens and lawn are looking lush and lovely. I hope we can keep them that way. Last year was so dry—it was hard to keep-up with the amount of watering it required. My favorite thing about all of the wet weather, however, has got to be the moss which is taking hold on our patio. Yes—I’m one of those. I love to see moss growing between pavers or beside a path. Darren has acquiesced and was even heard saying that it was filling in well. (He didn’t say he liked it, but at least he didn’t bend over and pluck it out!) When he first began laying our patio, my first thought was of the wonderful times we’d share with friends and family, but my second was of the moss that I would encourage to grow!

april 078

What is it about a moss covered patio? I think it’s like most other things I prefer to have around me—it feels comfortable, carefree and aged. I don’t like worrying about water rings on coffee tables. I like stacks of books and magazines within arm’s reach of any chair. I like plants to intermingle in the garden and I like moss to grow on our patio. I consider an orderly house representative of time misspent.

Of course, our old house and building are anything but “carefree;” in fact, they have both provided Darren with an endless list of chores. Wet, stormy weather seems to bring many needed home repairs to light. Nothing can do damage to wooden structures like water can. Roofs and basements will leak and gutters runneth over. Darren is slowly working his way around the house, scraping old paint, repairing damaged siding, corbels and finials, but has paused for the storm damage repairs. I think we have a love/hate relationship with our old structures . . . I love them, he hates them!

If you’re a moss lover, too, there are several methods for cultivating moss in your garden and on your patio. I found the following information on the web at: Moss does best in shaded, moist locations—in fact, it will not grow in a location that gets the hot afternoon sun. To start it in the garden, it’s best to transplant a piece of it from another location. It must be kept moist for several weeks. You may need to pin it down or hold it in place with several small stones. If your trying to encourage moss on your patio, you can mix-up a recipe of 2 cups of buttermilk or plain yogurt with 1 ½ cups of chopped-up moss (fresh or dried). Once the mixture is well-blended, you then paint it on your desired surface. Allow to sit for a few days, but you should start see a mold like substance followed by the moss!

I think I’m going to try that recipe on a few terra cotta pots I’d like to age. I’ll let you know how it works.april 080

Here is a picture of the pots on the bottom of my “potting shelf.”  As it turns out—they’ve take care of the moss cover on their own!  I still plan to try some on my own.

Thanks for your indulgence.


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