Saturday, July 4

*Happy Birthday Liberty*

I know that many of you were out celebrating today in style: parades, BBQs, fireworks and general family togetherness. All I have to say is, WHY NOT? Today is a day to celebrate Liberty! We join together and think of why is it so important to each and every one of us? The answer is simple in my eyes. Today I am grateful for the beautiful balance between art and science that Liberty gives us. The truly gorgeous perspective that she shares with us all. Her unique sense of style, her appreciation for the traditional mixed with contemporary elements. So today, we as a country salute you. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARY ELIZABETH LIBERTY !

Friday, July 3

*A different kind of lesson with Penelope*

Some people teach children how to count, others teach them colors. What does Penny learn when she is here? Well, this last time we went over all sorts of important skills. My little chef stood on a stool and learned how to properly hold a chefs knife, how yeast works and also why it is that an oven ought to be preheated when working with it. She learned how to stack sage, roll it, and then create a lovely chiffonade, and appreciate great fragrances by wafting the smells from the oven or stove safely towards her nose. Not too shabby since she did potty training just last year. The next important lesson? If only I can get her to appreciate not just the smell but the taste of great food.
I heard her ask her mom if she knew that she would one day be a chef. Later when she burned her arm on a jelly roll pan, as we held it under cool water her tears where somewhat soothed when she sighed and agreed that chefs likely had to get used to that sort of thing.

Wednesday, July 1

*Mexican chocolate cake*

Here is a recipe that I found about 8 yrs ago that I loved so much that I used it for the groom's cake at our wedding. I had never eaten anything quite like it with the cayenne pepper, balsamic vinegar, cinnamon and the like. The result though is a bevy of dynamic flavors that is the furthest you can get from a bland cake. Try it out! It takes no time whatsoever, and is fun for kids to assist with as it is a dump and stir type of recipe. Bon appetit!

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 c sugar
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa (I use dutch processed)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or ground Mexican chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 c cold water
1/4 c canola oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Chocolate glaze:
1 c confectioners sugar
1/2 c cocoa
6 tbsp water

10 fresh strawberries

Preheat oven to 350* Lightly coat an 8" cake round with cooking spray

To make the cake, simply dump all of the cake ingredients into a mixer and mix until smooth. Pour into a pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in the cake pan for 10 min on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely. (Note, I like to flip it out onto a piece of parchment paper to allow it to cool)

When the cake has cooled, whisk together the first three glaze ingredients. Dip each strawberry into the glaze and set aside. Pour the remaining glaze over the cake and arrange the strawberries on top. Set aside to dry, about 30 minutes.

*Variations: Sometimes I chose not to do the dipped strawberries, and sometimes I do them with alternating white and milk chocolate and instead of arranging them on the top of the cake, I circle the base of it. Today I chose to skip the strawberries alltogether and double to recipe to make 2 cake rounds that I split and made a 4 tier chocolate cake with the frosting in between each layer and then sprinkled powdered sugar over a lovely cake stensil for decoration. Simple and delicious!

*Charlie in sunglasses*

Yes, she is a total diva. . .

and she knows it!

*The morning after*

Tuesday, June 30

*Ladies after my own heart*

Tonight the ladies and I:

Made dinner from scratch
Set a lovely table
Tidied up the kitchen
Made smoothies
Went clothes shopping
Bought jewelry and various accessories
Loaded up on classics at the bookstore
Rearranged furniture to create lovely spaces
Snuggled up in down comforters and pillows to read books
Ate truffles
Took a bath before retiring

*All in all, a perfect night*

Sunday, June 28

Pretty Penny with the cookbooks

Looking up in the craft room

A fun nook in the girls' room

*Images of home*

An arbor in the back yard covered in roses

a pretty place in the laundry room

Gigi playing in the garden

My new cherry tree springs to life

*Penny and Charlie come to visit*

PJ and Charlie came over today with Sarah to play at my home. I had some of their fun little things down at their eye level and then just watched them. We went outside and cut fresh roses, made lunches, played in the garden, and gave each of them digital cameras to take pictures of whatever pleased them. One thing that I loved watching is how Penny took my entertaining glassware and added it to the shelves in her room. All in all, a great day.
I love having the girls come to visit.