Saturday, February 28, 2009

Good Morning

After a good nights sleep, walking down the stairs, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, on auto-pilot walking to the coffee maker, I look outside to this! SNOW DAY! Yipee!
What this translates into is Nancy in art room ALL DAY LONG with coffee, slippers and p.j's. Ah yes, listening to c.d after c.d and doing something artzy craftsy. Curious minds need to know, what do YOU like to do during unexpected weather events???

Friday, February 27, 2009

Chocolate Cake


This is my Mom's recipe that has been made countless times over the years and is a staple anytime there have been chocolate cravings. Be sure you have iced cold milk near by!
Chocolate Snacking Cake
1 1/2 c. flour
1c. sugar
3 Tbs. cocoa (I use dark cocoa)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbs. vinegar
1 c. cold water
Sift all dry ingredients, making three holes. Pour oil in one, vinegar in another, and vanilla in the last one. Pout water over all and mix. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Check to make sure no gooey spot in center...may need an additional 5 minutes.
Frosting
1 c. sugar
1/4c. cocoa
1/4c. butter
1/4c. milk
Stir while boiling one minute. Cool to touch. Beat until thick and spread.
ORRRRRRR........option number two (my preference). Stir until boiling one minute, let cool for 2 seconds, pour immediately over cake so it absorbs frosting and eat immediately.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

One day...many, many moons ago my friend Melinda and I were at a cute little antique mall out in the country and I saw one of these plates. Immediately drawn to the trim with ACORNS, I knew trouble was on its way. I tried to ignore, walked past it, came back...looked at it again and left the store without bringing it home. Months later at another antique mall, I spotted a plate, and knew I was going to cave in and bring it home where it belonged. It's actually been a lot of fun because I love poking around any antique store in hopes of finding more pieces. Of course I cheat once in a while and go to ebay, but it brings me more joy to randomly find pieces at an antique store. My mother-in-law and I stumbled across a gold mine of them while antiquing and she bought me 10 plates as a birthday present. Wasn't that sweet? In my house of monochromatic camel, butterscotch, and amber, I love the red.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Prothe's Pecans

I use my ACORN small cookie cutter to trim the edge of the pie...I took a knife and added a criss-cross pattern, but you can't see that too well. My stomach saw it real well though!
Every spring and fall the county south of where I live (country drive heaven) has a wonderful farm tour. One of the farms I love is Prothe's Pecan Farm.

They have a tractor and take you out to this majestic view where you can take in miles of patch work farmland. Oh, how I would love to have a home right on that very spot and watch the springtime lightening storms roll in. There is a 10 mile plus view in all directions.

Mr. Prothe's ancestors established the farm in 1879. Can you imagine a farm being in your family generation after generation? Quite the accomplishment. He has a grandson in training who I have no doubt will run the farm some day. He helps his Grandpa with the farm tour and knows more about Pecans and their history than all of us put together.


Each year the tour ends the same way. Me buying bags of their fresh delicious nothing like you ever tasted from the store pecans and harassing Mrs. Prothe about writing a pecan cookbook. Each year she responds "I know, I know...I really should".


For those of you who have never, ever made a pecan pie, let me put ALL of your fears at ease. It is THE EASIEST pie recipe you could ever make.



Southern Pecan Pie


The goods: 3 eggs
1/3 cup melted butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup pecans
1 cup dark corn syrup
pie crust (I cheat and use Pillsbury)




Directions: Beat eggs thoroughly with sugar, a dash of salt, corn syrup & melted butter. Add pecans.

Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Cool. Make a pot of some good french roast coffee, whip up
fresh whip cream. Maybe grate a smidgen of whole nutmeg with a
microplane on top of your whip cream. Enjoy!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Morning Glory

Morning Glories are one of my favorite flowers. When we moved into our home, my neighbor (aka Mrs. Greenthumb) brought me over some of her seeds to share. I planted them underneath my living room window, and they come back every year, up a trellis and weave up the shutters. I love sitting on my couch looking outside, especially in the early morning having a cup of coffee framed by their beauty.


Isn't this a lovely bird house? All houses should be so pretty for our little feathered friends. I have plans to add lots more birdhouse throughout our yard....in addition to the two Acorn bird houses I already have. I love the Victorian one, as well as the ones that are hand painted like the one above. They say Cottage with a capital "C".

Sunday, February 22, 2009

This Old House

Ever drive past an old home like this? I have to pull over, and sit & ponder. What happened? Why did no one keep it up? Who lived there? What was it like when it was in it's full glory?
When I stopped by this house, you could still see the beautiful floral wallpaper in the front left room. It makes me want to win the lotto even more so I can do a new program called "Extreme Makeover; Acorn Cottage Style".




Saturday, February 21, 2009

Daydreaming

Here's what I wish I was doing today....going for a spin in my bug with the top down, but it's 30 degrees in Kansas and I can't warm up! I'm going to make Tina's Coconut Pie from her recipe collection at cherryhillcottage.typepad.com. Hopefully having the oven on will help take the edge off. There is hope....I have seen blossoms on my lilac bushes and the daffodils are poking there way up through the earth.

Friday, February 20, 2009

No...this ISN"T Acorn Cottage!!!

No, this isn't Acorn Cottage! But isn't it cute??? I am one of those people who is not shy about taking pictures of houses that I find cute or interesting. This beautiful home is in a small town north from where I live. You can't really see it (unless maybe you can click on the picture and it gets bigger) but the window boxes have greenery with pinecones in them. I thought it was a nice touch why we impatiently wait for spring to arrive. Can't wait to get my hands into some soil and plant some flowers and get a garden going again. Sorry the picture is a little tilted, I tried to fix it, honest I did, hope no one has motion sickness via my phtography skills!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Impatient for Spring

This is what I live for....going on a drive in the country, randomly taking any road that stretches out for miles, and coming across a rural farm and capturing a seen like this. Did you see the rooster on the upper left corner poking his head around the tree. That cracks me up!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Spoiled

Valentine's Day turned into Valentine's weekend.....unbeknownst to me someone, okay, the husband...was sneaky...very sneaky....and made plans to kidnap me from my humble home and sweep me away to...to...this! Now mind you, there aren't any other pictures except the bathroom, because that in itself, was enough, to make me float on air. Now you have to keep in mind that my bathroom at Acorn Cottage (built in 1942) is probably 3x5 (and that's probably being generous). My ENTIRE bathroom could have fit in this shower! My Volkswagen Bug could have fit in there!
Lovely granite surface with garnet gemstones embedded within...I should have taken a picture of the ceiling, which was recessed and had a giant light fixture, and the toilet
was in a separate room and had a telephone in it...just in case...(I'm still scratching my head on why you would want to call someone while..well...uh hum..yeah). The weekend was amazing, but that's because I'm a loved. Being loved is good!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Artsy Craftzy

Is it just me? Or does every one's craft area look like this? Good....because this is the cleaned up version. I just want to tell all of you out there that I applaud you out there for your creative genius. In the last 24...okay 48 hours...I have been on my computer more hours this weekend than I have ALL MONTH LONG....trying to figure out to change my background paper, load the blog kit I bought, learn Photoshop. (Did I tell you my sweetie bought me Photoshop Elements 7?) I was DREAMING about blogging, woke up at 1:30am and was awake until 4:00am trying to figure out how to make things happen. So frustrated was I that I MADE my own banner, scanned it and actually got it to show up. Of course, never artistically satisfied, I went back to Photoshop to add a font title, then it didn't like the format.
ANYHOW....what I'm trying to say is you are all GENIUSES! My hats off to you for making your blogs look so great, so enticing. I will conquer Photoshop...I WILL figure out this *!#$^&*()_&%+HTML language! If I need to buy Photoshop and Blogger for Dummies, so be it. So desperate in my attempt to be just like you, I even signed up for a Typepad account, yes, when I was delusional at o'dark thirty convincing myself that it would probably be easier. Boost my ego, actually get something looking like everyone else's. By 6:30am, the account was cancelled and I stand here, humbly before you...saying "I'm not worthy...I'm not worthy" You are all creative geniuses. I think I'm going to brew some more java!

Lovey Dovey

I had a wonderful Valentine's Day...starting with coming downstairs, sleep in my eyes, blindlessly working my way to the coffee pot to discover....someone....had snuck downstairs in the middle of the night and put these beautiful roses on the table for moi! We had a lovely dinner out, exchanged gifts and cards and there was a PDA...(public display of affection).

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine's Day Breakfast

This is the most romantic image I have ever come across. It's a photograph by Steven White and it is untitled.
For all of you who need a special Valentine's start to your day, here is a recipe I HIGHLY recommend. Make a regular batch of waffles. Top immediately with a smattering of mini chocolate chips, some fresh sliced strawberries and REAL maple syrup. Garnish with a dollop of whip cream and a whole strawberry on top. The combination of chocolate and strawberries is scrumptious.









Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hummingbird

This has to be, and will probably forever be, the most unique photograph I will ever take in my lifetime. Such a very rare, precious picture on a Hummingbird sitting on her nest. The nest was a delicate weave of the finest angel hair found for her nest. I don't know about you, but I've rarely seen a Hummingbird sitting still, and to see her on her nest, left me speechless. This picture was taken at the Omaha Zoo, and she lives in the desert dome, but don't walk too fat, or you'll miss her...now there with her grown baby!


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Anxious for Spring

We are being teased here in the Midwest with days that feel like springtime. One of the best surprises of all when we moved into our home was when walking around our garden, I discovered Lily of the Valley in bloom. So delicate, I'm sure it's a favorite of the woodland fairies to rest beneath. When I was about 6 years old, I used to make special houses for the fairies. I would gather up pine needles, sticks, specially picked leaves, and sweep on spot clear on the dirt and construct what I thought was a masterpiece for them to live in. I knew they were too shy to come out for me to see them, but was sure they enjoyed their newly built home when I went to bed at night.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The puppies


I went to a furniture store this weekend, and leisurely walked around. Running my hands over a rich chocolate brown sofa, dreaming about falling into the over-sized stuffed chair that came along with it. Trying to decide which Jane Austen book I would read, and what tea I would prepare. Lost in a moment in time. Then reality hit me of what it's REALLY like at my home. Floyd on the left, Trixie on the right...couch dogs. Yeah I should have trained them when they were little not to get up, but they are going on 8 years old now. Floyd's main focus in life is to sleep about 22 1/2 hours of each given day. Trixie about 21 hours. Their thrill each day is when then pretend they are sleeping and then spring up to terrorize our postman each day. I still refer to them as "the puppies" which causes people to look up at me sideways. I love them dearly, and come to my senses that a new couch will have to wait. After all, they just got this one broken it the way they like it!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Old house in the country



One of my friends surprised me for my birthday and had bought this oil painting by Maxine Booker for me. It was at an art exhibit and I mentioned how much I loved it, and always regretted not purchasing it. Three months later, when I clueless she had made arrangements and contacted the artist, I was presented with this wonderful gift.
I have it in my art room and just love looking at it and daydreaming.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Birds at Acorn Cottage

Here are some of the beautiful birds that live here at Acorn Cottage. The illusive Woodpecker. They seem like a fairly shy bunch. I was very surprised when this one came to feed. He's got a sunflower seed in his beak. One of my favorites, the Robin. During the summer I see them fanning their wings out to cool down on the green grass.

This trio was captured on camera during the warmer months. During wintertime there is nothing more beautiful than seeing the brilliant red of a cardinal against the backdrop of snow. It always reminds mind how amazing it is that they survive outside during the cold weather. One of life's little miracles.


Always try to remember to provide food & shelter for these beautiful creatures. On the days when we want to be inside warm the most, are the days they should be provided for.








My Art Room

This is the room where all my creative projects take place. Like most creative people there are always several projects going on at once. There are so many things I want to do, it's difficult to get anything done. I may be out to get supplies for one project, and while shopping see something else that peaks my interest.
I've become fond of birds and love my little collection. The top picture I bought at a crafts fair, the middle picture is actually a card my sister sent me, that I cut out and made a little collage, adding buttons, background paper and painted and distressing the frame. The bottom picture is needlepoint that I got a an antique booth at another fair.

Believe it or not, this used to be a 1960's black vinyl office chair. I bought an upholstery stapler and went to town. I made a slip cover for the top portion of the chair. I took the arms off, sanded, & painted them.


This picture was a cottage must have. I bought it from Victorian Trading Co. which is trouble with a capital "T" for me! I love all things English so it was a perfect fit.



These are the curtains I made. I saw the idea if mixing patterns at a store and loved it! The mixture of the toile and gingham with trim makes for a cozy inviting look.










Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Woodland Creatures

I love all things woodland creatures. My sister was in a Trader Joe's restroom and found this adorable hand painted mural. Miraculously she had her camera in her purse and sent this photo to me. I wish I could see the signature to give the artist their due respect. I try to carry mine with me most all the time because you never know what you might come across. Of course this doesn't pertain to me living in Kansas for 4 1/2 years and NEVER getting a picture of the wild turkeys I spot. Usually when we are taking a country drive, camera in lap, ready for action I spot nothing. On the days when I don't have my camera, we spot turkeys. Driving out to an orchard to pick apples in the fall (with the camera in the lap, ready for action) we spotted some turkeys. Of course the normal speed during one of these occasions is 50MPH. I shout to my husband "TURKEYS!!!!!!" and he knows the drill, slows down the car, makes a u-turn and we slowly approaching the area. But are the turkeys there? The only turkey I see is the person in the passenger seat, camera in lap, ready for action. Oh there are many, many more turkey stories....too many to recount. One day I will have my glory, Oh yes, I will.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Wintertime





Being from California, I never really experienced the seasons the way I do now living in the Midwest. There is a distinction with all the seasons, and just when you start to tire of one, the climate changes and and you start noticing subtle changes occurring. I love each season we have and all the things I associate with them. During the winter, I make the most of being indoors and take the time to work on artzy craftsy projects, organize my art room which has a multitude of projects going on at any giving time and cooking comfort foods. I love having a fire going, putting on my gnome p.j.'s and settling into the couch with my favorite Mom crochet blanket and having a cup of this creamy cocoa. Now, to you Midwesterners, this recipe is like second nature. One of those recipes that your Mom taught you to make when you were 7 years old. This winter I made a big batch, filled mason jars, cut out stock card in the shape of a mitten and wrote the recipe on them and tied them to the jar with raffia. Everyone that lives here said "Oh I've had that recipe before". Deflated, my only hope was to impress my relatives that are still in California, hoping they would think it was the greatest thing since the Espresso Latte from Starbucks. Okay, who am I fooling, but it is a great cocoa mix, nice and creamy, not like that packaged stuff you get in the store that taste like chocolate with water in it.



Hot Chocolate Mix

1 cup powdered cream (such as Cremora)

2 cups Nestle's chocolate milk mix

2 cups powdered sugar

enough powdered milk to make 9 quarts (basically a 25.6 ou. box, minus 1 cup)

Blend all ingredients together. Store in air tight container. When ready to make hot cocoa mix 1/3 cup of mix with 8 ou. of hot water.

Enjoy!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Recipe Book




A couple of years ago, I came up with an idea to make recipe books for family and friends for Christmas presents. I bought 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 "Half Pint" binders by We R Memory Keepers at http://www.wereonthenet.com and page protector sheets (for when that brownie batter is flying in the air). I pre-cut background paper to fit inside, and then cut card stock style smaller in size to print the recipes on. I hand lettered the titles on each page and used embellishments that complemented each recipe or coordinated with the background paper. I must say I think from the compliments I received, it was one of the nicest homemade gifts that really touched everyone.

The first books I made all had a European theme. The ones I have made more recently have been customized for each person, which can get you into all sorts of mischief while shopping.

Even my punk rock loving, tattooed sleeve, mechanic of a son has requested one (but he'll never own up to that in public).