My grandfather had the most amazing flower garden, and every week when I would visit as a child he would take me out to the garden and pick me a bouquet of flowers to take home. Those weekly hand picked bouquets sparked an immeasurable love of flowers for me that sticks with me to this day. You can imagine the excitement I felt a number of years ago upon seeing an Ad for a pick your own tulip farm in Rhode Island. I instantly went on-line to find out more information and to my disappointment they were sold out for the year. For the next few years I kept remembering about this farm too late and ran into the same problem. Well, not this year!
Last week as I was slowly driving through a beautiful neighborhood admiring all of the tulips that had bloomed, it occurred to me that the tulip farm in Rhode Island must be open. When I got home and checked their website I had hit it perfectly this year and there were still tickets available. I couldn’t text my daughter quickly enough to see what her schedule was like for this week so I could purchase us tickets.
Yesterday morning I grabbed some baskets for picking, a bucket and water for transporting, my camera, and off I went to pick up my daughter at school for the day I have been waiting for for years. We drove about an hour and forty five minutes from Boston to Exeter, RI and it was well worth the drive. You are instantly greeted with friendly employees in the parking area, followed by just as friendly employees at the check in tent. A ticket gets you 10 tulips and if that is all you will be picking, you are allowed an additional tulip. You can also purchase extra tulips if you choose. Believe me, it was a struggle to only taken home 11 tulips each.
Once entering the farm you are just in awe of the absolute beauty of the neat little rows, upon rows of tulips and all of the people carrying their baskets and buckets brimming with flowers. For a flower lover like myself it was as if I had entered a form of Heaven on Earth. And to share it with my flower loving daughter made for a perfect morning.
Many of the tulips are organized by color, while some are an assorted mix.
While all of the tulips were beautiful, we didn’t realize at first that tucked in amongst the classic tulips there are varieties that I have never seen. There is such a wonderful assortment of different shapes and color combinations.
My daughter noticed these unique beauties right away, and the bouquet she picked for herself were just breath taking.
We strolled through the rows of tulips for about an hour taking it all in and finding our favorites to bring home. This farm is also the perfect backdrop for photos and just about everyone there was not missing this opportunity, including ourselves.
As you can see they look even more amazing the next day!
If you are near Rhode Island I encourage you to take a trip to this farm, I am already looking forward to visiting again in the years to come!
These brownies are absolutely amazing! Hence why I named them Amazing Brownies. It is the easiest recipe, and it only uses one bowl which is a huge bonus. They are fudgy and delicious, and honestly one of the best recipes you will find.
I have used this recipe for the Santa Hats and Brownie Trees that I have written about, and as I have mentioned it is the recipe inside the Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate box. I have been using it for years and will never switch or try anything else.
3/4 cup butter
1 4oz. package Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
In a large mixing bowl add the butter and chocolate. Microwave for 2 minutes, then stir until the chocolate is melted. It may take a a little while but it will melt from the heat of the butter.
Add the sugar and combine well.
Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
Add the flour and mix until well incorporated.
Pour into a 9″ x 13″ pan lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with cooking spray. You don’t have to use aluminum foil, but it is so much easier to cut the brownies this way. Once the brownies are cool just lift the aluminum foil out and put on a flat surface to cut.
I usually either add chocolate chips or M&Ms to the brownies. If you are going to add something I suggest waiting about 10 minutes after they are in the oven and sprinkling the chocolate chips or M&Ms on top, then continue baking.
Bake for 27-30 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick inserted comes out with fudgy crumbs.
These adorable candles are an easy fun craft perfect to do with children. If you are looking to make a properly colored candle, crayons are not the way to color them and you will need to use candle wax dye. However, as far as a craft goes, this is a perfect way to do it. You can be as creative as you want and depending on how much time you want to spend, you can make multiple layers.
For these candles you will need:
Find some crayons that you don’t mind parting with and think of the colors you would like to put together. This is a perfect use for all of those broken crayons you have laying around that the children no longer color with.
For the wax, I use soy wax but you can use whatever candle wax you choose. You can either melt the wax and crayons on the stove as I have, or melt them in the microwave if that is easier. For the stove method, add a small amount of wax to a saucepan along with an unwrapped crayon broken into pieces.
I made two identical small mason jar candles and used about 4 oz. of wax per layer with one crayon for each layer.
The wax and crayon melt very quickly. The color will be streaky as crayons don’t mix perfectly with candle wax.
Take the pan off of the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
While your wax is cooling anchor the wick to the bottom of the jar. To do this dip the bottom of the wick into the melted wax before placing in the jar. Keep in mind once you pour the hot wax into the jar the wick may move. Be sure to either hold it in place while pouring or use a wick holder which sits on the jar.
Once the wax has cooled for a few minutes you can pour it into the jars. The easiest way to do this is to use a funnel. It not only helps you by not spilling the wax all over your counter, but also helps to keep the wick in place. I’ve tried a few different ways and the funnel was definitely the best option.
Let each layer set for about 30 minutes before repeating the melting process and adding another color.
Once the candles are set trim the wicks with scissors and they are ready to light.
I am constantly purchasing antique mason jars whenever I see them at estate sales and use them for so many different things. I absolutely love old jars, all kinds of jars actually. I have made snow globes out of antique mason jars, have many decorating my sunporch filled with shells and seaglass that I’ve found, and some on my kitchen window sill helping me root plantings I have cut. As an antique dealer I often use them to sell fun decorative collections of vintage marbles and thread spools. The repurposing possibilities are endless, and I wanted to share another fun use for those fantastic old jars.
Of course you don’t have to use antique jars to make candles, new mason jars will work just as well.
Making your own candles is quite easy, the only somewhat difficult part is calculating the wax to container ratio, and the fragrance to wax ratio. You have to remember that wax is measured by weight and not by volume. What this means is if you have a 3 oz. jar that does not mean you use 3 oz. of wax, you use 2.4 oz . I have included a chart below to help you calculate the measurements.
The first number represents the size of the container by volume, and the second number next to it represents the amount of wax needed by weight.
3 oz. – 2.4 oz.
4 oz. – 3.2 oz.
6 oz. – 4.8 oz.
8 oz. – 6.4 oz.
10 oz. – 8 oz.
And so on.
If you decide to add a scent to the candles, use fragrance oil specifically for candles. As far as the measurements go, I used .5 oz of fragrance oil for 1 lb. of wax, and .75 oz of fragrance oil for 20 oz. of wax and they smelled nice and not too overpowering.
You can also color the candles but you need to use dye specifically for candles. Food coloring or crayons will not work perfectly. I did make some candles with crayons for a fun craft idea, but the crayons don’t blend well with the wax and the colors aren’t as nice they would be with candle dye.
To start you need some candle wax, I purchased 10 lbs. of soy wax.
You will need a scale to measure out the wax. I used a kitchen scale that I had and just scooped the wax onto the scale.
Once the wax is measured, transfer it to a saucepan and melt it on medium heat on your stove. It melts very quickly and easily.
Once the wax is melted stir in the fragrance if you are using one, and remove it from the heat to cool.
While your wax is cooling anchor the wick to the bottom of the jar. To do this you can dip it in the melted wax and stick it to the bottom of the jar. Keep in mind once you pour the hot wax into the jar the wick may move. Be sure to either hold it in place while pouring or use a wick holder which sits on the jar as I have.
Once the wax has cooled for a few minutes you can pour it into the jars. The easiest way to do this is to use a funnel. It not only helps you by not spilling the wax all over your counter, but also helps to keep the wick in place. I tried a few different ways and the funnel was definitely the best option.
Once the candles have set, trim the wicks with scissors.
Now they are ready to burn. I am loving not only the coffee scent, but how it looks in this aqua colored antique jar!
On a bend in the road at the tip of Southport Island in Maine is the most adorable alpaca farm. I can remember years ago being in our favorite little library, which happens to be next door, and one of the librarians asking if we had seen the new neighbors that had recently moved in. After peaking through the library window trying to catch a glimpse, my children and I walked a little further into the library parking lot to see these cute furry creatures never imagining that someday we would be walking them on leashes. Right? Who walks alpacas on leashes?
Soon enough, this small farm opened it’s “doors” to the public and we met some of these fascinating animals as well as their people, Anne and Mike. And what wonderful people they are. Of course I assumed they must have been alpaca farmers for years but come to find out this was fairly new to them. I let out a little sigh every time I leave their farm and think of how nice it would be to pack up and leave things behind to have a change of life as they have. I’m sure being an alpaca farmer is much more difficult than they make it look, however, and I doubt I would last a week.
This year we spent the Christmas holiday in Maine for the first time and were able to reserve a spot to take an alpaca for a walk. How cool is that? I caught myself smiling under my mask every time a car went by wondering what the people must think as they drive past. I’m sure in the summer months especially there must be quite a few heads that turn as people utter “were they just walking alpacas?”
So the other day my daughter and I headed over to the farm on a 28 degree winter day ready for our trek. Anne explained how to walk an alpaca, filled our jacket pockets with feed, and off we went through the neighborhood while our alpacas took turns trying to lead the pack. Zara was on my leash and Gracie on my daughter’s making their cute little moans as we walked along. Gracie moaned quite a bit, I don’t think she was as excited as we were about this excursion.
It also didn’t take Gracie very long to figure out my daughter’s pocket was filled with treats.
By the end of the trek my daughter Sara and Gracie seemed to have a little more of an understanding of each other 😅
When we returned to the farm it didn’t take long for the other alpacas to also realize what Sara had in her pocket. What an amazing experience to be surrounded by these beautiful gentle creatures. I am pretty sure my daughter would say the same even though she may have gotten “sneezed” on by one of them, twice. Better her than me 😛
This little farm is truly such a special place and I could not be more thankful to have it as a neighbor in Maine.
The next time you are visiting the coast of Maine, make sure to take a detour down Rt. 27 towards the Boothbay peninsula and head over to Southport to pay a visit to Anne and Mike and all of their wonderful alpacas at Cape Newagen Alpaca Farm.
Happy Halloween!! When my children were younger I used to love decorating for Halloween and making spooky fun treats. I haven’t had the opportunity in a few years but I loved looking back at these photos and remembering how much fun my children had.
One of my favorite creations was this meat foot, in fact I think I will make this tonight for dinner. Why not, right? My husband might think I’ve lost it, but I am pretty sure he already does.
I just made a regular meatloaf, you can use any recipe you like. Shaped it into a foot, used onion slices as toenails and more slices and a chunk of onion for the bone stump (gross to even say that), and ketchup as blood. Then just bake it as you normally would and voila! Spooky meatloaf!
This Guacamole Frankenstein is perfect for younger kids, or older. Spread guacamole onto a platter, use blue corn tortilla chips as the “hair”, sour cream as the eyes, and then use black olives as the facial features. So cute!
Every Halloween gathering needs a spooky Witch’s Brew! This Eyeball Punch was just plain fruit punch with some floating plastic eyeballs. Of course if it is for an adult party you can add some alcohol if you choose.
Who doesn’t love Deviled Eggs? Halloween is a perfect time to turn those deviled eggs into bloodshot eyes. Make them as you normally would, add a black olive slice and a little red gel frosting, and there you go!
And of course the classic Pillsbury Crescent Rolls Mummy hot dogs. So easy and fun, and yummy!
Ok, now this final Halloween treat is gross. Really, really gross so be prepared.
This was one of the funniest, and grossest, things I have ever made and tricked someone with. Years ago, hence the poor quality photo, when my husband and I were first married we had a Halloween party and put out this cake to fool people. At the time we did have a cat which made this cake more believable. I think the worst part was that until everyone found out it was a cake, people thought we were the type of people that left a dirty litter box in the middle of our kitchen.
At one point during the party my husband picked up the “litter box” and said he was sorry it was there and excused himself to go empty it. As he was walking through our guests he picked up the scoop and took a bite. The look of pure horror on everyone’s face was priceless!
Warning, this cake looks real and absolutely disgusting in person. Even though you know it is a new clean litter box and scoop, it still grosses you out to eat from it.
Kitty Litter Cake
2 boxes yellow cake mix
1 package of vanilla sandwich cookies like Oreos
1 package vanilla pudding mix
Green food coloring
Cook the cake as directed, cool and crumble. Crush the sandwich cookies into crumbs. Prepare the pudding as directed.
Mix the crumbled cake with the pudding and half of the crushed cookies. Spread the cake mixture into the kitty litter pan. **New and clean kitty litter pan.
Mix the remaining half of the crushed cookies with a few drops of green food coloring, this makes it look like the chlorophyll in actual kitty litter. You don’t want the mixture green, but for there to be little bits of it green here and there.
Sprinkle the green tinted crushed cookies over the top of the cake.
Microwave the Tootsie Rolls for a few seconds until they are soft enough that you can shape them to look like poop. So gross, I know!
Then place them on the cake as a cat would, and kind of bury them a little.
We are living in a time that many of us never thought we would ever see. Schools are closed, businesses are closed, beaches and parks are closed, there are lines outside of grocery stores with people standing 6 feet apart while wearing masks. A time where we are all asked to stay home and social distance not only to save ourselves, but to save others and stop spreading a virus. All of this seems so unreal, like I am having a bad dream or that I am a character in a movie that I would never agree to watch despite my husband’s pleading.
As I sit this morning drinking my coffee in my sunroom and listening to quiet that I would not normally hear on a Tuesday morning unless there was a snow storm, I started thinking about how much of what seemed so awful yesterday will be missed tomorrow. Will any of these “new” behaviors and thoughts stay with us when our lives are back to “normal”? Will we still see ourselves and others out walking at a slower pace and really seeing everything around us instead of hurriedly walking and talking about the stresses of the day? Will we still take notice of the daily changes in the trees and flowers outside? Will we miss this time together as a family? I know I will.
I am embarrassed to say that I have found myself stressed over some of the wrong things during this time. Stressed because we can no longer have everything we want when we want it. I found myself in tears after numerous nights trying at midnight to order groceries with no success because somehow other people’s computers must be faster than mine. Groceries that I want, but not desperately need. Feeling so much pressure that my family might not be able to have their favorite baked french toast on Easter this year unless I can find a way to get French bread while not potentially exposing my asthmatic lungs to this deadly disease. Trying unsuccessfully to order items to put together Easter baskets. All of these things that felt so important at the time, really aren’t that important are they? While it is disappointing to not celebrate Easter with family like we always do, isn’t it more important that we are safe, have a home to be together in, and food to eat regardless of what it is?
Maybe all of this will help us appreciate what we have more and not take everything for granted. Maybe next year if things are back to “normal” that Easter brunch will be cherished and appreciated more. Maybe we’ll all find we aren’t throwing away as much food. Maybe even when l can go back to running to the store for every little thing, I will decide to continue making my own tortillas, pasta, and pizza dough. Maybe I will still hear my children’s laughter alongside the bouncing sound of a basketball more often.
Searching for shells and sea glass is one of my absolute favorite things to do, and I could not be more thankful that my daughter feels the same way. We are often bundled up in the winter combing our favorite spots for treasures from the sea. Any time we are at the beach you will always see the two of us walking slowly and looking down, and I often have to remind myself to look up and enjoy the ocean.
We recently visited a beach down the Cape and found so many scallop shells and while I normally fill antique mason jars with my favorite finds, scallop shells are hard to really appreciate in a jar. While I’m sure this idea isn’t new by any means, the thought came to me while rinsing the shells and thinking that I wished they could stay the color they are when they are wet. There may be a product specifically for shells, but without doing any research the first product that came to mind was polyurethane.
Since I am not typically a crafty person per se and we are on a stay home order because of the virus, I just ordered what I assumed would work from Amazon. I ordered the gloss finish because I wanted the shells to look as glossy as they did when they were fresh out of the ocean.
I just used a small paintbrush and brushed a thin coat on to the shells and let them dry for a few hours.
You can see what a huge difference it made. Whether or not this was the correct product for this craft, I am thrilled with the outcome.
These are what the shells looked like before,
and these are what they looked like after. The colors are just so beautiful!
All I needed now was to order a few shadow box frames with linen backs and a bottle of Gorilla Glue.
Then it was time to create some wall art!
Once I had the shells lined up I used a little bit of Gorilla Glue on the back edges of the shells and held them in place for a few seconds. That glue is very strong so make sure you place it where you want it because it is not going to move. You should also wear some sort of gloves when using this glue which we learned the hard way. I’m pretty sure my daughter no longer has fingerprints on a few of her fingers lol.
Just a quick side note, yes that is my childhood ruler 🥰
This was one of the pieces I created, and the one shown in the blog header is one my daughter created.
Now we have these beautiful frames filled with our favorite shells to forever make us happy! Our next project is going to be with sand dollars!
Yesterday my son and I decided to make homemade potato chips. This is not something I had ever done, and it was a fun thing to do together. I don’t think we will be putting Frito Lay out of business any time soon, but they were really good. They tasted much better than they look. A little too good actually, we couldn’t stop munching on them and there were hardly any left when we were done. They say there are no calories if you are standing while you are eating, so it wasn’t that bad 😜
We peeled some russet potatoes, the potatoes were small so we used six of them. Then sliced them as thin as we could get them.
I tried using a grater to slice the potatoes but they were coming out too thick so I switched to the sharpest knife I own, which was this small pairing knife. It definitely would have been easier if I owned a larger sharp knife.
As we were slicing the potatoes we kept putting the finished pieces in cold water to soak. Once they were all sliced we drained them, rinsed them, and put them back in a bowl of cold water with 3 tbsp. of salt and let them soak for 30 minutes.
We heated canola oil in a pan until it reached 350 degrees.
Drained and rinsed the potatoes and added them in small batches to the oil.
Once they browned we transferred the potatoes onto paper towel lined plates and patted them to remove the excess oil. They are browner than we wanted, but they still tasted delicious!
We made three different kinds; ranch, nacho, and sea salted. For the ranch and nacho I used popcorn seasoning.
We are already planning on making them again the next time we make turkey burgers. So good!