Sunday, November 29, 2015

Silent Sunday 11-29-2015

Have a great day!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Pamper Yourself at the Holidays with Perfect Linens

Good morning! How was your Thanksgiving? I ate way too much but we had a fabulous time cooking, baking and just being together.

I know that Christmas is the time of giving and doing for others.  It isn't supposed to be about us but I personally think that during the holidays more that ever we need to do something special for ourselves.  After all, in my house I am in charge of the baking, the shopping, the cards, the shipping, the decorating and more.

Recently I was approached by Perfect Linens to review their Second Skin, 400 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. I was offered a choice of three embroidered sets and I chose the Blue Double Stripe. These sheets fit in perfectly with the scheme for my new blue master bedroom which I told you about a few weeks ago. 

To me shopping for sheets is always a challenging task. I can never find sheets soft enough, warm enough and yet still cool, or for that mater that fit my pillow top mattress. I have to be honest, I was a little  skeptical about accepting  a pair of sheets that I had not chosen myself. 

According to Perfect Linens “Second Skin's" outstanding softness is the result of a natural enzyme process which removes molecules from the cell walls of the cotton, making the fibers easier to bend. The enzyme process is permanent so the exceptional softness cannot wash out. Sateen-weave, with fewer yarn-locking intersections per square inch, reduces stiffness further.
Durable 400-threadcount Egyptian cotton construction is mid-weight and ensures dependable wear. Made in Portugal.
  • Enzyme-treated 100% Egyptian cotton
  • 400-threadcount sateen
  • Generously oversized

With the above in mind I accepted a set a sheets for review. The sheets arrived simply but nicely packaged along with linen wash and instructions on how to launder and care for the sheets. Perfect Linens recommends that you take the sheets out of the dryer while still damp to minimize wrinkles. That has never been a problem for me because my mom taught me to iron my sheets and pillow cases. This step will now save me some time. 

To say that I love these sheets would be an understatement. Right out of the package they are soft, silky  and smooth, once you wash them they are even more soft and comfy. They are like snuggling into a soft, warm cocoon  on a cold night and yet they keep you cool at the same time, which is always a good thing at my age. 

I also love that the sheets are generously sized and fit my pillow top mattress perfect. My husband is a restless sleeper and frequently his fitted sheet comes loose in the middle of the night, not so with Perfect Linens. The deep fired sheets stay in place with my restless husband and two pups walking around all night. 

Just in time for a little Black Friday shopping you can get $35.00 off your purchase of $100.00 or more. Please use the code PineCones35 if you would like to try a set of these soft comfy, cosy, sheets for yourself .

Have a happy, safe weekend. If you will be out shopping the salesI hope that you find lots of great buys!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free in the hope that I would review it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”    Many of my posts are written because I  liked a product and wanted my readers to know and I do not get compensation for those.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Gratitude and Thanksgiving

Good morning! I hope that you are having a great week! Are you ready for Thanksgiving? I braved the store yesterday along with every other last minute shopper. Today I am making pies with my niece and looking forward to a great celebration tomorrow with my family.

On the eve of Thanksgiving my heart is filled with gratitude and thanksgiving for my family, friends and life.

I have been blessed to have a wonderful, loving family that has celebrated my triumphs, wiped my tears and everything in between. 

In the age of Facebook where people have hundreds of friends I count my blessings that I have a few close fiends that I know "have my back" at all times, who love me, for me and who are there to talk, laugh and share adventures with.

In the virtual world I have "met" so many wonderful people. Their kindness, encouragement and friendship is a blessing and I am grateful that blogging led me to their corners of the world.

I am blessed to have a my health, a home, a fabulous education and so much more.

I thank you for visiting me here at Pine Cones and Acorns, for sharing my little world and for sharing your world with me. Through you I have learned about new books, people, restaurants, places to visit, ways to decorate and so much more.

I wish for you today a day filled with the love of family and friends and of course a wonderful feast.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Spiced Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Good morning! I hope that you had a good weekend. I did because I was a virtual shut in, I baked, read, sat in front of the fire, wrapped Christmas gifts and decorated.  It is hard to believe that I lived in Alaska and the Midwest for half of my life and now that I have moved South I am a wimp! In my defense it has rained for 3 days and it is cold. It dropped over 30 degrees in two days.

I have Thanksgiving on my mind and I was thinking, what if you have guests that don't like traditional pumpkin and pecan pies? I cannot imagine such a person but what if you did? You could serve them this moist scrumptious  Banana Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting which I recently made in addition to your traditional treats. 

Banana Spice Cake
Recipe from Kitchen Treaty

2 cups all-purpose
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon all spice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch cloves
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
11/2 cups granulated sugar
11/2 cups mashed ripe bananas
1 cup sour cream
2 large eggs

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
milk to get frosting to desired spreading consistency

Directions for Cake:

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a 13 x 9 inch pan with cooking spray. 
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and powder, salt and all spices then set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, this will take about 2-3 minutes. Then add the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Mix in the sour cream and the mashed bananas. The add the flour mixture a little at a time, beat until incorporated. 
Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until the cake is golden and a tester comes out clean. 
Remove cake from the oven and cool on wire wrack until cool. 

Once cake is cooled frost with frosting and enjoy. 

Directions for Frosting:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the softened butter and cream cheese   on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Turn mixer to low and add powdered sugar slowly. Once powdered sugar is incorporated add the vanilla and mix on medium until fluffy. Add milk until the frosting is at the consistency that you like. Frost cake and enjoy!

Of course if it is the "Fall" spices that your guests do not like you could always make a traditional banana or perhaps a chocolate cake.

This Best Ever Banana Cake  is an excellent choice. Or perhaps this scrumptious chocolate cake?

Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake

Whatever you serve I am sure that your guests will love it, after all it is not about the food, it is about being together.

Have a great week!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Friday Favorites from My Notting Hill, Architect Design, Emily Clark, Country Days and More

Good morning! I am so happy it is Friday because that means there is only a few more days before my sister gets here to celebrate Thanksgiving.  I cannot wait.

This week there are tons of great recipes and table scape ideas to get ready for the holiday on the web and as I  am sure that you are already ready for the holiday my Friday Favorites are about everything but that. I hope you enjoy.

Image My Nottiing Hill via La Dolce Vita

I love interior design and this week My Notting Hill featured the work of blogger and designer Paloma from La Dolce Vita. I would gladly have Paloma design my living room or any other room for that matter. By the way, this room is only half finished.

Are you a royalists? Do you enjoy seeing and learning the history of the Royal family in the UK? I do and this week Architect Design featured a great post on Kensington Palace, former home of Princess Diana, current home of Kate and William and the birthplace of Queen Victoria(that fact I did not know).

Or perhaps you are a fan of William Churchill and his lovely wife Lady Clementine Churchill? Katie Armour featured 6 Fun Facts about Lady Clementine Spencer Churchill that you might find interesting!

Image Brooklyn Limestone

For those of you who are already decorating for Christmas (ME!) Emily Clark had a great idea for a wreath making party! I am actually going to be making magnolia wreaths with my sister next week so that she can take them home to the Mid-west, perhaps I should invite some friends as well and make it a party!

Country Days

Speaking of making things, do you eat Christmas pudding? I have never made it but I came across a recipe on Country Days and thought I would share it just in case you want to try it this year.

For all of you that love a good book, here is the list of the 2015 National Book Award Winners. Perhaps there is something that you want to add to your Christmas list?

I hope that you found something new and interesting here and if you have something to share, please do.

Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Virtual Cookie Exchange

Good morning! I know that next week is Thanksgiving and I should be thinking about the menu but honestly, the pumpkin pie is all I care about as far as the food goes. 

Sugar Cookies

For those of you that know me,  sweets are my thing and this week my mind is on Christmas. Christmas cookies that is. 

The women in my family are fabulous bakers.  I learned to bake at my grandmother and mothers side and in the weeks leading up to the holidays these ladies were busy.

My grandmother had 10 kids and she came from a family of 13 kids so she was baking for a small army.  I can remember as a child there was a closet that was stacked from floor to ceiling with cookie tins, each containing a different kind of cookie.  Talk about utopia for a little kid. 

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have about 8 kinds of cookies that I bake and send to people every year. This year I want to branch out and try some new things. So I thought I would ask you to share your favorite cookie recipe with me. Is there a family recipe that you love, or something that you go back to year after year that the holiday would not be complete without it? 

Snowball Cookies

If so, please consider sharing your recipes with us. If it is something that you have already made and posted on your blog than send me the link and I will share it with everyone. If you have a link to the recipe that you follow send that as well. Or just copy and paste the recipe into the comments.

Raspberry and Apricot Rugulach

I will compile a separate post of any cookie recipes that are shared here so that we can all try them out. 

Have a great day! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cranberry Almond Coffee-Cake

Good morning! How was your weekend? It is strange to come here and post about a recipe after the terrible tragedy in Paris. Thankfully all of my friends are safe but my heart goes out to all those who lost their lives or are injured. 

I have a busy week and am trying to get as much done for the holidays before my guests arrive next Monday. That means, Christmas trees, wrapping, desserts, and more! EEEK!

This weekend I made a few cranberry coffeecakes to test the recipes and see if I wanted to have them while the guests are here. This is one of them and it is delicious! Moist, sweet, with a hint of almond and more. Throw on the crumble topping and I think it is the perfect cake for breakfast or dessert. In fact I liked it so much I am making them to give away!

Cranberry Almond Coffeecake with Crumble Topping
3 Eggs
1 1/2 Cups sugar

1 1/2 Sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 Tablespoon almond extract
1 1/2 Cups sour cream

2 1/2 Cups all purpose flour

2 Teaspoons baking powder

1/4 Teaspoon baking soda 

1 Teaspoon salt

2 Cups cranberries, plus more if you want to garnish

Crumb Topping:
1/2 Cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
1 Stick unsalted butter, melted
1/4 Teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare an 8" spring form pan with cooking spray, or butter and flour. Line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper. 

To make the crumb topping, combine the sugar, flour and salt in a small bowl.  Stir in the melted butter and mix until it resembles small crumbs. 

To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar together using  a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Then beat in the eggs on at a time. Add the almond extract and sour cream and continue mixing until just combined.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. set aside. Stir the flour mixture into the wet batter and mix.  
 Place the cranberries to a small bowl and add a tablespoon of the flour mixture.  Toss the berries in the flour to help prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the cake. 
 Add the cranberries to the bowl and stir just until combined.

Place the crumb topping evenly over the batter and bake  for approximately 50 - 60 minutes or until a tooth pick  comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan.  Dust the top with powdered sugar and sugared berries if you like. 

Have you been experimenting with any desserts this weekend? If so, do share the recipes. And if you have a few suggestions for Thanksgiving breakfast let me know.

I hope that you have a fabulous week!

Linking to:
Stone Gable The Scoop
Coastal Charm
The Dedicated House
Savvy Southern Style
Dixie Delights

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Silent Sunday 11-15-2015

My thoughts and prayers are with all who have lost their lives or are wounded in Paris. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Happy Birthday To Me: 15 Lessons I Learned From My Dog

Happy Birthday to me, happy birthday to me. Today is my 49th birthday and oddly I don't feel almost a half a century old. Exactly, what is that supposed to feel like? Whatever the case on my birthday I like to post about the lessons that I learned in the past year. This year my biggest lessons came from my dog Munchen.

Here are 15 things I learned this year. 

I guess it is true, there are lessons to be learned everyday from everyone around us, including our beloved pets. 

In honor of my birthday I wanted to announce my new adventure, Dunstan & Moles. You can read all about my artisan leather and bespoke goods at the Dunstan & Moles blog

Have a great day and BE HAPPY!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My Thanksgiving Table Ideas

Good morning! How are you and your week going? Mine is great! I am on my second week at the personal trainer and thankfully this week I can actually walk and I can lift my arms above my shoulder. This has been a painful reminder that unless you use it, you loose it! 

This week my mind is on Thanksgiving because instead of traveling as I thought we were going to be doing, my family is coming to see me! I cannot wait because in addition to all of the tasty things we will be preparing for the big feast we will be shopping, baking, seeing the latest movies and so much more. After all, isn't that what Thanksgiving is all about? Family. 

I have been dragging my collection of dishes and cutlery out to try different settings and this in the one that I have settled on. A beaded place mat with a stag, white plates with gold pine cones, vintage brown transfer ware, and a white salad plate with acorns to top it off. The cutlery is handmade and looks like twigs.

As for the centerpiece, candles and a collection of brown transfer ware pitchers filled with flowers, leaves and who know what else. I think I'll add a few baby pumpkins and call it a day. 

Then I can concentrate on the menu. For now we are thinking either ham, turkey or pork loin. Oddly no one really likes turkey but it feels like we should have a little one because after all it is Thanksgiving. 

As for the sides, chestnut stuffing, cranberry and wild rice, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, rolls and whatever else we can come up with. 

The dessert, for me it is all about the pumpkin pie! But I know we will have apple and pecan pie as well. 

If I did not eat anything else on Thanksgiving day I would not care as long as I had pumpkin pie. 

What are your plans for the holiday? What is on your menu? If you celebrated as my friends and family in Canada have, what was your favorite part of the celebration?

Have a great day and thanks for sharing.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Making a Charcuterie Board and The River Cottage Curing & Smoking Handbook

Good morning!  What a beautiful November weekend.  Oh my goodness, this year is flying by and the holiday are edging closer and closer. I am starting to get a little anxious because typically by this time I have begun shopping and wrapping, as of yet I've done nothing. 

Frankly my mind is now on food and not shopping. I am already thinking about Thanksgiving and holiday parties and entertaining. One of my favorite things to serve friends coming over as well as at parties is a charcuterie platter. What could be easier for last minute entertaining than a platter of cured meats, nuts, fruits, and cheese?

I made this platter recently and my guests loved it. It is substantial enough for a light dinner but also as a great hors d'oeuvres before going out.

A charcuterie board is basically a meat version of the cheese board, and it cannot get any easier because you can get most everything at the grocery store. I typically head to Trader Joe's or my local market and pick out a selection of cured meats including, but not limited to salami, prosciutto, bresola, coppa, and to change it up a little pate, etc. (FYI: Plan to serve 2-3 ounces of meat per person.)

Also make sure to serve something pickled, like mini gherkins, pickled onions, okra, etc. In addition, you can serve a selection of dried or fresh fruits and nuts, like almonds, walnuts, apricots, grapes, cranberries and more.

I also like to serve small bowls of mustard's, Dijon, whole grain, and spicy to name a few.

Last but not least, serve a selection of interesting crackers, fresh bread or even bread sticks.

You can plate all of these tasty morsels on a cutting board or a big platter or if is not big enough serve the meats on a platter and then put the other stuff in small bowls.

As I was writing this post on charcuterie I thought you might be interested in a book I received recently from Blogging for Books  it's called The River Cottage Smoking & Curing Handbook. While I wish I could say that I smoked or cured a few of the meats on my board that is not the case. I believe after reading this book by Stephen Lamb that I could in the future.

The River Cottage Smoking & Curing Handbook  is a small but excellent hardback resource for anyone that would like to try to smoke, cure, or brine. The book is much more than a cookbook; it begins with the traditions and the science of curing and brineing, then moves into the science, the equipment and ingredients and methods behind it. The second half of the book is filled with 50 recipes for everything from bacon, salami, pastrami, cheese and more.

If you are interested in curing and smoking this book is for you!

Are you a fan of cheese plates, charcuterie platters and antipasti? Do you have a favorite cheese or meat or perhaps way to serve it? We would love to hear about it!

Have a great week!

Linking to:
Coastal Charm Monday
Cedar Hill Farm
Our Home Away From Home
The Dedicated House