Sunday, December 29, 2013


Red is my favorite color.  So naturally, my favorite bird is the cardinal.  ☺

The cats and I enjoy the birdfeeder...but for completely different reasons.  My chocolate lab, Luke, is on constant squirrel patrol.  I only have to whisper "squirrel" and he goes crazy. My yellow lab, Josie, sleeps through the whole thing.

I shot through the window, and bokeh flares are from the Christmas tree lights.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Frozen Morning

About 2 weeks ago we had small snowstorm that ended with a decent icing (1/2").  We lost power for about 15 hours...and when one has a well, that means no running water and! no flushing toilets!

With no electrical distractions, I ventured out with my trusty canon and found some great shots.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Spritz Cookies

These are wonderful little butter cookies!

1 Cup Butter (2 sticks)
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 Egg Yolks
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 1/4 Cups Flour
Food coloring (optional)
Chocolate chips, lemon curd, sprinkles (optional)
Cookie Press

Preheat oven 350ºf degrees.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add vanilla and egg yolks (and food coloring).  Mix together.  Sift flour and salt and add to butter mixture.  Mix thoroughly (start slowly or you will have a cloud of flour!)

Dough is sticky.  Place in cookie press.  Squeeze shapes onto Silpat baking mat and cookie sheet.  Add sprinkles or chocolate chips.  If using lemon curd, making an indentation in middle of cookie.  Add a small dollop of lemon curd.

Bake cookies on middle rack for 10-12 minutes until edges are lightly golden.

Now, try to only eat 1!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Pecan Puffs

I love baking Christmas cookies.  I go through at least 15lbs of butter by the end of December...

The first cookies I ever learned to bake are Pecan Puffs. Yes, they may look like Mexican wedding cookies, but they are far more delicate and just so yummy to eat!


1 Stick Butter
2 Tablespoon Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Cup Flour
1 Cup Pecans (ground after measuring)
Sifted Powdered Sugar (in a separate large bowl)

Preheat oven to 300ºf degrees. 

Cream butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add flour and pecans.  Mix thoroughly.
Place dough in fridge until firm.   Roll dough into 1" balls. I use a Silpat baking mat on a cookie sheet, but if you don't have one, use parchment paper.  Place dough balls about 1/2" apart.  Place cookie sheet on a rack in the middle of the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Cool cookies.  Place small batches of cookies in the bowl of powdered sugar.  Roll cookies until completely coated.


Saturday, November 30, 2013


These limes caught my eye; I love how Whole Foods stacks their produce so beautifully.  I wanted to take more photos, but I got the "evil eye" from the produce manager.  Next time, I am after the party-colored peppers...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gingko Trees

One of my favorite places to wander and photograph is University of Virginia's Blandy Experimental Farm. The State Arboretum of Virginia is located within the Blandy farm.  It is a wonderful four-season experience.  My favorite time, of course, is Autumn.  Blandy is home to a large grove of ginkgo trees. For a brief period in October, the whole grove is golden; the tiny fan-shaped leaves painted gold.  The golden leaves don't stay long on the trees, and when the leaves fall of the tree, it's all at once...and the base of the grove is blanketed in a glorious gold carpet.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fleur de Sel Caramels

I love salt. I love caramel.  Combine the two and I can't resist! 
<insert snarky references about the Toronto mayor>

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Yates Ford Road

I live in the last bit of rural part of Fairfax County, VA; just outside of the tiny town of Clifton.  Yates Ford is a winding, narrow road; go one way and you pass Paradise Springs Winery, and the road eventually ends at Hemlock Overlook Park and Bull Run.  Go the other way, Yates Ford zips onto Clifton Road, then zags back off to the left (never could figure out why) and eventually you wind up back into the hectic/traffic-filled Fairfax County.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Say Hello to my Little Friend

This big boy was outside my front door this morning!

He was very patient and let me photograph him...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Memories

My parents loved Halloween; especially my Father.  He would design my outfits and Mom would design my sister's.

I am permanently scarred by some of my costumes...

Case in point:

1.  We were living in Kenner, LA while Dad was getting his masters degree (after 3 tours in Vietnam, the Army sent Dad to Tulane).  Laura was this adorable angel; I was a Viking princess.  All night people would hum Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries" to me or ask where was my "trusty steed"...<sigh>

2.  This goes down as the worst costume idea Dad decided upon...think of the time Tet Offensive...the war is going badly...and my Dad puts me in black pajamas with a Montagnard hat...Yup, I was Charlie.  I love how much Mom tried to jazz it up with sequin bands.  Laura was this adorable bunny rabbit; she would hop up to each house, turn around wiggle her fuzzy tail and get handfuls of candy.  Me? Oh, I got the usual "Hey, Charlie!" and maybe 1 piece of candy...I felt just like the Charlie Brown Halloween special: "I got a candy apple! I got chocolate! What did you get Charlie Brown? "I got a rock."  <sigh>

3. And the last time I let Dad design my outfit.  Dad had spent time in Jordan and brought back several Keffiyehs.  Yup, that's me, a 12 year old girl; looking like a young Arab OPEC Oil Embargo.  Look how cute Laura looks as Raggedy Ann!  I can't remember how many times I was called a boy and all the snarky comments that followed...<sigh>

For politically correct purposes I shall decline to show/discuss the other 2 outfits: Aunt Jemima Yes, a toddler dressed as Aunt Jemima in Ft. Benning, GA during the Civil Rights movement), and the white sheet ghost outfit (looked like a mini 1960s Columbus, GA)...

I swear, I think my parents were trying to have me killed...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Red Velvet Cookies

These cookies are luscious!

Red Velvet Cookie Recipe
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick of softened butter
  • 1 beaten eg
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • Red food coloring
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 squares (1 oz. each) of melted unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 4 oz (1/2 pkg) softened cream cheese
  • 1/2 stick of softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • dash of salt
  • 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • red sprinkles (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 375F degrees.
  • Cream together butter and brown sugar.
  • Add egg and blend well.
  • Put evaporated milk into a small bowl and stir in food color until a deep shade of red.
  • Add dry ingredients, alternating with the red evaporated milk.  (I used a mixer at this point to fully incorporate the red)
  • After batter is well combined, add the vanilla and melted chocolate and blend on low speed until completely combined.
  • Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpat sheet and use a large tablespoon to spoon dough on sheets.
  • Bake at 375F degrees for 10 minutes, turning the sheet 180 degrees half way through baking.
  • Slide cookies off cookie sheet and allow them to cool completely.
  • On medium speed, beat together cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and salt until creamy.
  • Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until smooth and slightly fluffy.  Can add an additional 1/4 cup more powdered sugar (to taste) for a thicker frosting. (taste as you add)
  • Place in a fitted with a decorating tip and pipe frosting on top of cooled cookies. Or use a ziplock back and snip the corner to frost.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Decoupaged Pumpkin

I love, love, love Pinterest!

Saw some decoupaged pumpkins and this is my version:

I painted a dollar store pumpkin and some faux leaves ASCP white. Tore up my old English Lit book; cut up some left over burlap ribbon; gathered some sticks and small branches from the yard. I soaked the pages in watered down coffee, then let them dry; tore the pages into small strips, dipped them in mod podge/water mixture and placed the strips all over the pumpkin...making sure to overlap the strips.  While the pumpkin was drying, I cut up pieces of the branch for the pumpkin stem; applied Elmers glue to the pieces and leaves then rolled all of them in Martha Stewart glass glitter.  Before I assembled everything, I sprayed the pumpkin with Mod Podge sealer.  Then I went to town with a hot glue finis!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Covered Bridges of Frederick County

Maybe it's the movie (The Bridges of Madison County) or the nostalgia of a bygone era, but there's just something about a covered bridge that pings my heart.

Last week's weather was gorgeous and I needed a "field trip".  There are 3 covered bridges about 90 minutes from my home.  All are in Frederick County; the last one, Roddy Creek Covered Bridge, is outside of Thurmont...close to Camp David.

Loys Station Covered Bridge
(my favorite)


 Roddy Creek Covered Bridge

Utica Mills Covered Bridge