Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Favorites from The Enchanted Home, Traditional Home, A Spicy Perspective, What She's Having and More!

Good morning! Are you ready for the weekend? What are your plans? An adventure somewhere, a concert or perhaps a good book? All of that sound good to me, throw in some time relaxing in the sun, perusing my favorite blogs and the weekend would be complete.

Image Here

This week I have been dreaming of summer and travel. I have a list a mile long of things I want to do and see and sadly France is not on the summer list. I can however visit Tina at The Enchanted Home and gaze longingly at her stunning photos of Provence and if I think hard enough transport myself back to sunny days spent at the market or the cafe with the smell of lavender wafting through the air. 

Show House Traditional Home
Speaking of summer, I could imagine spending long days relaxing and reading in this room of the Traditional Home Stately Homes by the Sea House. You can check out the rest of the house and its history by clicking here.

Summer Cobb Salad from A Spicy Perspective

If you are like me you are already pondering a change in the menu from soups and comfort foods to salads, barbecue and more. This Summer Cobb Salad salad from A Spicy Perspective seems like the perfect meal for a warm summer day. 

Summer Berry Tart From What She's Having

Maybe I will just skip the salad and go for a slice of this Summer Berry Tart from What She's Having. Doesn't this look scrumptious? 

Blackberry Cheesecake Bars

Or I may have to make a pan of these Blackberry Cheesecake Bars. Hopefully I will not eat the entire pan myself, anyone want a piece?

Image Ralph Lauren Home via Pinterest

If you are looking for summer recipes and ideas check out my SUMMER Pinterest Board

Like many of you I am a voracious reader but I cannot say that I have read to many books that I feel have changed my life. Starting this month I am going to read or reread  32 Books That Will Change Your Life a list compiled by Buzzfeed. Oddly enough,  I have already read most of these books but I must not have been in the right mind frame if they did not "change my life." Have you read any of these? How did you feel?

I know this is about the time that many are getting ready for their bikini, this body at 47 years old is not going to see a bikini but I will be hitting the beach. So I was curious, do any of you have a Fitbit? If so and you would like a virtual walking partner let me know. I generally walk between 10,000 and 12,500 steps a day and am always up for a challenge. 

What did you find interest this week, any books, movies or recipes that you think I need to look at? If so please share.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dori Greenspan Hidden Berry Torte

Good morning! Wednesday already, can you believe it, some weeks I do not know where the time goes. This week is whizzing by and I feel as if I am continually trying to catch up. What about you, how is your week shaping up?

I love baking, I find it relaxing and satisfying. I enjoy seeing the raw sugar, flour and eggs turn into a cake, a pie, cookies and more. And I absolutely love seeing the faces of the recipients who are typically people that I know do not bake or have no one to make things for them. Often they will tell me that the cookies remind them of their mom or their grandmother and that is a nice feeling. 

Dorie Greenspan is one of my baking idols, she is the author of Baking with Julia and makes everything seem easy. Not to mention that there is a large population of the blog world that enjoy her recipes as well as baking in clubs like Tuesday's with Dorie of which I have followed for years. 

I am baking this year from her book Baking: From My Home to Yours and this Hidden Berry Torte is one of the first things I have made. The crust is so good that I am embarrassed to say I ate the dough raw, yes I know one should not eat dough with raw eggs but it was that good. Once it is baked the crust is like a sweet shortbread and honestly you could just eat that and call it a day. Initially I was taken in by the photo of this torte but then shied away from making it for sometime because of the cottage cheese of which I am not a fan. I should have known that mixed with cream cheese and sugar this would turn into a silk, creamy, sweet filling that the perfect compliment to the berries and the crust.

This torte may just be my new favorite dessert!

Hidden Berry Torte
Recipe from Baking by Dorie Greenspan

Crust Ingredients

13/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
11/2 unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1/3 cup thick berry or cherry jam

9 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
8 (1 cup) ounces cottage cheese, at room temperature 
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg 
2 large eggs at room temperature


Butter a 9" spring-form pan, and dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment or silicon mat.


Put the flour, sugar and salt in the food processor and pulse just to blend. Toss in the pieces of butter and pulse until mixture resembles course meal. Stir the egg yolks and vanilla together with a fork and still pulsing the machine, add them to the machine and pulse until the dough comes together in clumps and curds. Do not let the dough come together in a ball.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface. If you want to roll the dough, gather it together and wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 20 minutes before rolling. Or you can press the dough into the pan and about 11/2 inches up the sides. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Center the rack in the oven and preheat to 375. Fit a piece of buttered foil into the bottom of the pan and fill with rice, beans or pie weights, then place pan in oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes remove the foil and bake another 5 minutes. Don't let the crust get too brown.

Lower the oven temperature to 350.


Stir the jam ad spread it over the bottom of the crust in an even layer, you can do while the crust is still warm.

Put the cream cheese and cottage cheese into the food processor and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times. Process for 2 minutes until the mixture is smooth and satiny. Add the sugar, spices and salt, and process for another 30 seconds. With the machine running add the eggs and process, scraping the bowl as needed for a final minute. Pour the filling over the jam.

Bake the cake for 60-70 minutes or until the cake is puffed and no longer jiggly. Gently transfer spring form pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature. During the cooling the filling will collapse and form a thin layer.

Run a blade between the crust and the sides of the pan, then open and remove the sides of the spring-form. Chill the torte slightly or thoroughly before serving. 


I made my own berry jam and then added a layer of raspberries to the bottom. Also, when I made the crust I had a little problem with the dough. I was lazy and pressed it into the pan and it was sticky and did not look pretty. Next time I will roll it as suggested. Then I missed the direction where it said to chill the dough once in the pan. In the end the crust turned out fine, just not so pretty.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Summer Garden Wedding Guest Dresses Part II

Image Pop Sugar Dress Oscar de la Renta

Good morning! Did you enjoy your weekend? I actually sat in the sun, on my chaise lounge and read a book. It was heavenly to have a slight breeze wafting by and the sun warming me, I almost forgot what that was like.

I mentioned a few weeks ago(HERE) that I am going to a garden wedding and that I am searching for a dress that is floral, summery and of course pretty. The search is still on because I have found several contenders but have yet to find the perfect dress.

Dress Oscar de la Renta Image Look and Love with Lolo

If money were no object these are a few of fabulous dress that I found and frankly would wear any and all of them.  I wanted to share them with you in case you have somewhere that you can wear them or an unlimited budget. 

Image Moda Operandi Dress Oscar de la Renta

Image Moda Operandi Dress Oscar de la Renta

Less formal but I love the pattern Dress Oscar de la Rent

Image Moda Operandi Dress Oscar de la Renta

Image Moda Operandi Dress Oscar de la Renta

Image Moda Operandi Dress Mary Katrantzou

Image Moda Operandi Dress Mary Katranzou

Dress Oscar de la Renta Image Harpers Bazzar

What do you think? Would you wear any of these? All of these dresses and more can be found on my Pinterest boardHave you seen any beautiful floral dresses while you have been perusing the shops and magazines lately? If so, let me know. 

Have a great week!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Friday Favorites from Velvet & Linen, The View from the Great Island, Splenderosa, and More

Good morning! I hope that your week has gone well and that you are finally seeing a little sun. We have had a little sun, a little cold and a lot of rain, all in all not bad weather for April.

What are your plans for the weekend? I have been to the garden center and although it seems a little early I am going to start my container gardens, if you need a few ideas I posted some inspiration this week (HERE). Aside from that a good book is on my agenda.

The View From the Great Island

Rhubarb is a very popular to cook and ale with in the Spring, although I have never made anything with it I am inspired to now that I saw this post for  Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler  from The View from the Great Island. Doesn't this look scrumptious?

Vanilla Bean Panna-Cotta with Strawberry Rhubarb Topping

Panna Cotta is one of my all time favorite desserts to make and eat simply because it is so easy to make and versatile. The sweet creamy  base can be topped with anything and it just makes it all the more special. This Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Strawberries and Rhubarb.

Image from Velvet and Linen Blog Photo by Lisa Romerein

Exciting news in blog land, Brook and Steve of Velvet and Linen are putting the finishing touches on their new book Patina Farm. They are so talented it will be a pleasure to see a book chronicling the dream house they designed and built with love!

Image from Kristy Woosdon Harvey

Also, Kristy Woodson Harvey of Design Chic is counting the days until her first book Dear Carolina is released on May 5th. I have already had the pleasure of reading it and I will tell you about it at a later date. You can order a copy of the book online or you can click here so that you have it for your Spring and Summer.

I am a huge fan of Marsha from the blog Splenderosa and her series By Invitation Only and this week was one of my favorites because it was all about the Luxuries of Life. I think you will enjoy it if you check out the links. 

Backwards in High Heels

I do not know if you know this blog, but it has been a favorite of mine for sometime, Backward in High Heels, features the fabulous writing of Tania Kindersley and stunning photos of her horse, dog and the English countryside.

Did you discover anything interesting this week, any books, articles, recipes, movies or more? Please share your finds. 

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

15 Container Garden Ideas for Spring and Summer

Better Homes and Gardens

I don't know about you but I am more than ready to get on with Spring and Summer. I want to lay at the beach, get out on my board and sit on my porch in the afternoon and relax while taking in my beautiful containers.

Photo by Helen Norman Image Tone on Ton via Pinterest

I typically stick to plants that I have good luck with, geraniums, coleus, hyraagenas, sweet potato vines, lantana and a few more. I know it is not very adventurous but I do not have a green thumb and I hate to get plants and then have them die mere weeks later. These containers found around the web are making me rethink my container plans this year. 

Image Martha Stewart

For those of you who are looking for  great container ideas, feast your eyes on these gorgeous combinations that I found.

Image P.Allen Smith

Better Homes and Gardens

Image Signature Gardens

Image Better Homes and Gardens
Image Southern Living

Image from Container Gardening For You

Image from Proven Winner

Image from Southern Living

If you would like to see more great combinations and advice check out Signature Gardens and Debra from 5th and State of of course for gardening ideas visit Loi at Tone on Tone.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Buttery Almond Braid

Good morning! How was your weekend? Mine was fabulous, the weather was perfect, slight breeze, sunny, 78 degrees and 0 humidity. I wish it could be like that all summer. I took walks on the beach, took my dogs for long walks, had a picnic in the park and planted my containers for the season. I felt like a new person, perhaps the long winter was getting to me. 

Whatever the case I am looking forward to more beautiful days to get outside. In the meantime I am still trying to satiate my cravings for almond sweets; I have been making pastries, breads, cakes and more. This week I tried this recipe from Willow Bird Bakery for Buttery Braided Almond Bread and while my finished product did not come out as beautifully braided as Julies' it was melt in your mouth delicious!

Recipe From Willow Bird Bakery

Dough Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water for egg wash

Filling Ingredients:
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • dash of salt
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 7 ounces almond paste, frozen until firm and then grated with hand grater
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, divided

Icing Ingredients:
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • ⅛ teaspoon almond extract
  • sliced almonds for topping
  1. FILLING: Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale yellow. Mix in the salt and almond extract. Beat in the egg until just combined. Stir in the almond paste flakes and about 1 cup of the slivered almonds.
  2. DOUGH: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In the bowl of a food processor, mix the flour, powdered sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the cream cheese and butter into the flour mixture and pulse about 6 pulses.  Add the milk and almond extract and blend until it’s just starting to come together into a loose dough.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a big sheet of lightly-floured parchment paper and knead each very lightly for just 4-5 strokes (be careful not to overwork the dough or it’ll be tough! Don’t worry about getting it smooth — just knead for these few strokes and let it stay a little rough.)
  4. Turn the dough out onto a big sheet of lightly-floured parchment paper and knead each very lightly for just a few strokes (be careful not to overwork the dough or it’ll be tough. Don’t worry about getting it smooth — just knead for these few strokes and let it stay a little rough.) Very lightly flour the top of the dough and roll it out to a 10- by 12-inch rectangle. Measure and mark the dough lengthwise into thirds. Spread the butter mixture over the middle third of the dough.
  5. ASSEMBLE THE BRAID:  Make diagonal cuts at 1-inch intervals on each the long sides. Do not cut into the center filling area. Fold strips, first one from one side and then one from the other side in an alternating fashion, over the filling. It will now resemble a braid. Use the sheet of parchment to carefully transfer your braid to a baking sheet. At this point you can cover and refrigerate the braid overnight, or you can continue to the next step.
  6. Bake and glaze the braid: Brush the pastry braid with the egg wash mixture. Bake in the 425 degree oven for 20-22 minutes, until the dough is really golden on top and the filling is set. Allow the the braid to cool for around 30 minutes, and then whisk together the powdered sugar, almond extract, and milk in a small measuring cup with a pour spout. If you do not wait the glaze will just run off the braid. Drizzle over the top of the braid. Top with sliced almonds and serve.

NOTES: My dough was very sticky but I was afraid to keep adding flour for fear it would get tough. Because it was my first time making it I had a hard time with the braiding, so mine did not look as beautiful as Julies.' Lastly, I made lots and lots of glaze/frosting to cover up my wonky braid. I think it look and tastes excellent. 


This Buttery Almond Braid is just like the pastry that you get at the bakery. The pastry is light and flaky and the inside is buttery, sweet, creamy and has a delicious almond flavor. Add the glaze and the slivered almonds and I think this is a breakfast treat that you will want to have in your recipe file to make every weekend. 

What about you, did you bake anything or make anything that you thought was out of this world fabulous? If so, please share because it is always nice to have recommendations from friends. 

Have a great week!

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