Friday, January 30, 2009


32.  Doilies are a treasure to me, mostly the ones my mother and mother-in-law made.  I have made a few and know the tedious work that goes into creating each little stitch.  My collection began when I was in college and would go to local second-hand and antique stores searching in their boxes of linens.  This beautiful one has the word BREAD stitched into it.  
I found this in one of those boxes and tried to act calm.  I asked the clerk what he wanted for it...being that it was so "useless"...he said $1.00...and I just about hugged and kissed him.  I quietly walked out the door after handing over my precious dollar, (because in college every cent was important) and smiled all the way back to the dorm.
As a young teen I would see my mother crocheting away with her DMC cotton string and tiny needle and my what beautiful creations she would make...

like this one.

Just look at the tiny detail...she doesn't use them any more around the house so I scooped them up.  I have doilies in just about every room.  They are art!  plain and simple!

As I got older I began making doilies for my own home.  These are glass covers.  I found the idea in an old doily book and came up with my own pattern.  You use them in the summer to catch the liquid that forms on the outside of the glass, so as not to use a coaster or have a water ring on your table.  They work so well and I love them.
This doily I received from a missionary from Romania.  The couple had dear Romanian lady friends who would make them doilies to give to their American friends...I love it!  If you notice, the cotton thread is very thick.

My mother-in-law would crochet tablecloths.  Not really for any reason other than the enjoyment of the task.  Once when we visited I commented how beautiful and she opened a drawer that was full!  I gasped!  She just laughed and said, "I don't really need all of these and nobody really wants them...would you like to have them?"   Would I like to have them?  You don't have to ask twice!  She loved the pineapple shape design.  But what an artist she was.  I miss her but have her lovely art to remember her by.

Another joy of mine is finding old doily patterns and pattern books.  These are coaster covers that I adapted from an old pattern.  They fit on the "Thirsty Stone" coasters.  Sometimes the coaster design just doesn't match the season or your room decor...these are great cover ups.
Doilies are works of art, though some people think they are dated and unusable...I can always find a use for them.  

"Chains do not hold a marriage together.  
It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads 
which sew people together through the years. "
~Simone Signoret

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Painting On A Canvas

31. So today I was playing at painting...acrylics on canvas, that is. I've had an enormous canvas that was just sitting in the I got the itch and an idea. I love painting fruit and really enjoy looking at the master painters work in museums. How they make everything look so real like a photograph. One of my favorite painters of still life is William Hughes from the 1800's. His paintings are absolute masterpieces! The painting of "Bird's Nest and Fruit" is one of the most awesome paintings.

Each of us begins each day with a blank canvas...waiting for some type of medium to be applied. How do you start out your day...cup of coffee, a jog around the neighborhood, a prayer, being jumped on by your kids or licked in the face by your dog, or do you have to make your bed perfectly before doing anything else...everyone has their own routine. Life hands us a variety of options and tools to work with. Some of us have more priviledges than others but at the base level...we are all the same. We start out with life, breath and our will.

How we will respond to our family, people we rub shoulders with on the street or job and everyone we call friend. Do we look for opportunities to encourage or is our focus directed mostly to ourselves?
Every circumstance we experience is an opportunity to add color and shape. What do people see in us when they are around us?

Allow beauty to be seen in you everyday...on your canvas of life.

"Art is a collaboration between God and the artist,
and the less the artist does the better."
~André Gide

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mushroom Strudel

30.  So my journey through my favorite cookbook, "The American Country Inn and Bed and Breakfast Cookbook",  continues... 

It was time to prepare dinner, so I looked in the refrigerator:
I had a few shallots,
left-over phyllo dough from Christmas, 
2 containers of mushrooms,
ground meat,
sour cream,
and carrots. 
What can I do with that...hmmm.   I pulled out my cookbook and started to look through it. Swedish Meatballs were at the top of my list, till I saw this recipe for "Mushroom Strudel"and just had to try it.  

I made mini meat loaves, rice, julienne carrots and peas and the "Mushroom Strudel".  It was so yummy and as I was going through the process, I realized how easy it would be to make mini mushroom strudels for appetizers.  Here is the recipe:

The Governor's Inn Mushroom Strudel

6 cups minced, finely chopped mushrooms, tops and stems
1 tsp salt
¼tsp curry powder (I added ½ tsp)
6 Tablespoons Sherry (I substituted with Apple Cider)
¼cup chopped shallots
¼cup butter
1 cup sour cream
3 Tablespoons dry bread crumbs
❅     ❅     ❅     ❅     ❅     ❅     ❅     ❅
1 16oz package frozen phyllo dough, (1 packet thawed)
½cup butter melted
1 cup dry bread crumbs
sour cream
chopped parsley

Sauté the mushrooms with the seasonings, Sherry, and shallots in butter until the mushrooms are wilted and the liquid is gone.  This will take about 20 minutes over medium-low heat.  Allow to cool.  Add the sour cream and dry bread crumbs.  Refrigerate overnight (or transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool over a bowl of ice water.)
Unwrap the phyllo dough carefully.  Place a sheet of dough on a large breadboard (or parchment paper). Brush with melted butter and sprinkled with bread crumbs lightly.  Repeat until you have 4 layers.  Spoon half of the mushroom mixture onto the narrow end of the dough.  Turn the long sides of dough in about 1 inch to seal the filling; then roll the dough up like a jelly roll.  
Brush the completed roll with butter and sprinkle with a few more crumbs. 
 Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet (lined with parchment paper).  
Mark with a sharp knife into eight equal slices. 
 Repeat the above process using the remaining mushroom filling. Bake in a 375° oven for 40 minutes.  Garnish with a small dollop of sour cream and chopped parsley.  Serve hot.
Makes 16 slices.

Optional individual mushroom appetizers.  Layer the phyllo dough in the same process then cut the dough in 8 equal squares.  Place dough in muffin cups ruffling the dough to fit.  Fill with mushroom filling.  Bake 30-40 minutes. Garnish and serve hot.

It turned out beautifully and tasted sooooo gooood!

"Winter is the time for comfort,
 for good food and warmth,
 for the touch of a friendly hand
 and for a talk beside the fire:  
it is the time for home. "
~Edith Sitwell 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


29.  This week my fingers have been busy 
making beautiful creations. 
 Heart pins, of course!  
Wool felt is a delightful material to work with. 
Cutting the felt into sweet little heart shapes
then embroidering them together, embellishing and adding a pin.
I am selling them in my Etsy Shop,"The Lilly Tree" here.

"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."

Monday, January 19, 2009


28.  This morning when I woke up, this was my view from the window.  
Lovely snow...a hushed tranquility!
I love the beauty of snow and how it blankets the earth.

"Kindness is like snow ~ it beautifies everything it covers."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rachael Ray! I was on her show!!!

27. My daughter went on-line and reserved tickets for the Rachael Ray Show in NYC. So we invited a friend to come along and made our plans, where to eat, take a cab...don't take a cab.... We were very excited, when this past Friday my daughter received a phone call from the studio asking if she would like to help in a segment of the show. She turned it down, not feeling comfortable in front of people but suggested her mother!!! So, of course, they called me and it went something like this...
"Hello, is this Lilly?"
"Yes, who is this?"
"This is Carina from the Rachael Ray Show. We know you have tickets for the show this Tuesday and we would like for you to participate in a special segment, 'Gifts I Got For Christmas'. Would you be interested in helping us? We need someone who is comfortable talking in front of people and has a bubbly personality. "
"Why, yes, I would love to help you out! What do I need to do?"
"Well, we will provide you with a product and you will explain how it works to Rachael Ray!!!!!!! "
(At this point my heart began to leap) "Sounds great!"
"Ok, my producer will be calling you tomorrow to tell you more about the product." "Thank you so much...good bye."

So, today was the day... I was excited to go into NYC to a taping of the Rachael Ray Show.
I know opportunities like this do not come around that I jumped at it!!
When we arrived, they took me upstairs into hair and makeup, (that is so much fun to say) and then myself, with three other guests rehearsed our lines and were introduced to the products we would demonstrate. I did not want to be nervous, but take in the whole experience! We then went into a holding room and they fitted us with mics. Minutes before the taping started they brought us out and placed us in the audience. I was so glad I was able to sit next to my daughter, and her friend Caitlyn, in the second row. It was awesome to be so close to the front! It is not a live show, so in between segments it is very relaxed. The special guest was Diane Sawyer. What a lovely, interesting guest she was. Then Rachael cooked mini deep-dish Chicago Pizzas and then it was time to do our segment. How much fun this was!!! My product was called "Wallies", adhesive chalk boards. I had to walk up to the left of the set and stick a Wallie on the door next to the stove and explain to Rachael what they were and how to use them. It was surreal and of course seemed to happen lightening fast...but how exciting to talk to her and help out in the show!!! They taped several segments for two additional with exceptional children and a make-over show...a Benjamin Buttons theme of not looking your age. We were in the second row on the right! It was an awesome experience...but even more awesome than that, we all received the four gifts that were highlighted...and one of those gifts was an HP Vivianne Tam Digital Clutch Mini 1000. It is worth $ awesome is that!

So, the show will air this coming Monday, MLK Day. Tune in and see my television debut! Or watch it here: "Stuff I Got For Christmas"
And, Rachael signed my cookbook!

Oh...and...we went to Alice's Tea Cup on the upper East side after the show for wonderful scones, tea and sandwiches. My tea was Rooibos Wedding was terrific!
"God knows how to bless our lives in the most perfect ways!"

Monday, January 12, 2009

Shrimp Newburg

26.  Have you ever had the delicious opportunity to try Seafood Newburg?  I recall, the first time I enjoyed this rich, succulent dish was my first year in college.  My roommate invited me to her home in New England for Thanksgiving.  Her mother was a phenomenal cook and made Lobster Newburg...the memory has stayed with me to this day.  

So this new year, I am cooking through my favorite cookbook, The American Country Inn and Breakfast Cookbook.   The first recipe that I made was for Shrimp Newburg.  It was amazing!
My family raved during the entire meal.  What a gem of a recipe!!!  This would be a lovely meal to make for a special dinner.  

Shrimp Newburg
Oregon Caves Chateau, Cave Junction, Oregon

1 Tablsp minced shallots
1 Tablsp butter
❇     ❇     ❇
1/2 cup butter, melted
flour, approximately 1/4 cup
❇     ❇     ❇
1 quart whipping cream
1 quart milk  or half and half
❇     ❇     ❇
2 Tablsp butter
2 Tablsp minced celery
1 Tablsp minced shallots
if you so choose (2 oz Marsala wine)
salt to taste
1/8 tsp paprika (I added 1 Tablsp)
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch nutmeg
❇     ❇     ❇
2 to 3 pounds frozen large shrimp, thawed, shelled, and deveined
❇     ❇     ❇

In medium saucepan saute' 1 Tablespoon of shallots in 1 Tablespoon butter until soft.  Prepare a roux with 1/2 cup melted butter and flour in a small bowl smoothing all the flour lumps with a fork. Add the roux to the saute' shallots and cook.  Add the whipping cream and milk.  Bring to a boil, continually blending with a wire wisk.  Cook till the mixture thickens.  Pour through strainer (I did not do this...I like the little bits of shallots).
In a small saute' pan melt 2 tablespoons butter; saute' the celery and 1 tablespoon shallots until soft. Add wine and flambe', if you so choose.  (I did not use wine and it was just fine.) Add this mixture to the cream sauce, blending with a whisk.  Add the seasonings and blend.
Place the shrimp in a large casserole dish or heat proof serving casserole.  Pour the cream sauce over the shrimp.  Bake in a 350º oven until done, about 8 minutes.  Sprinkle parsley and garnish with croutons or place crouton toast on plate and pour Newburg Sauce over.
Serves 8   Serve over rice.
You have to try this will be very pleased with the results!  Just wait to hear the ooh's and aahh's.
I am on my way to the Rachel Ray Show in NYC  with my daughter Emily, tomorrow morning...I can't wait to see what Rachel cooks!


Friday, January 9, 2009

Handmade Card

25.  This Christmas I spent some time making special handmade cards for some very special girls.  I teach a girl's club class for 3rd, 4th and 5th Grade girls every Friday evening at my church.  We have so much fun together and it is always a highlight of my week!
Each week I like to prepare a craft for them to do together.  Sometimes, it goes along with our lesson...most of the time, it is just for fun.
So our last class before Christmas vacation, we had a snow storm and had to cancel...leaving me with a winter craft...for no one to do.  Well, I got to work and made them personal for each girl and sent them the craft to construct at home.  I found this idea in the Family Fun Magazine several years ago.  You can find the instructions here.   It really would be fun to make any type of make-your-own card...maybe for Valentines Day and fill the bag with items to decorate a card with hearts.  
Here are pictures of my handywork.

Cutting out the shapes...I needed a Martha Stewart circle cutter gadget!
I placed each item in a zip bag and then taped the bag to a window card.
Here is the finished product.    The girls had fun making them! 

It is Friday, and tonight we are talking about Grooming.  You know body shapes, face shapes, clothing and cleanliness.  My friend, who helps me in class, is a beautician by trade.  She will be giving the girls hair makeovers tonight!!!   Exciting!

"The moment one gives close attention to any thing, 
even a blade of grass it becomes a mysterious, 
awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself. "
 ~Henry Miller

Sunday, January 4, 2009


24.  My sister made a request for my scone recipe. Esther, this is for you!   I think you will enjoy them.  This recipe is delicious and easy to make.
  There is an attractively unusual tea house in Manhattan that my daughter Emily discovered called Alice's Teacup, Chapter I on West 73rd Street.  It is quite a charming spot and their scones are excellent.  We love to order the "Mad Hatter" that arrives at your table as a three-tiered server.  Each level a delightful selection of tea sandwiches, scones, muffins, cake, cookies accompanied with butter and preserves.  Of course, the tea is the main event, but I always look forward to the scones!!
I have experimented with several recipes for scones.  The experts all have their own idea of what makes a perfect scone and whether they are Scottish or English.  Just hop on-line and type in "scones" and you can read a variety of "do's and don'ts" in scone making.  Some say oil is best, others say shortening or butter.  In my depends on what taste and texture you desire.
My recipe is from (my most favorite cookbook!!) The American Country Inn and Bed and Breakfast Cookbook.  Although it is out of print, you can still find it on the web.

The Madison Inn Buttermilk Scones

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt, omit if using salted butter
1 1/2 sticks cold butter, cut in small pieces
3/4 cup chopped pitted dates, raisins or currants
1 tsp grated orange rind
1 cup cold buttermilk plus 1 Tblsp
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 Tblsp sugar

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt until thoroughly blended.  Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles course cornmeal.  Stir in the fruit and orange peel.  Make a well in the center of the butter-flour mixture; add the buttermilk all at once. Stir the mixture with a fork until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl
.  With your hands, gather the dough into a ball; turn out onto a lightly floured board.  Roll or pat into a 1/2-inch thick circle or rectangle.  Using a 2 1/2-inch heart, circle or star cutter, or simply cut into triangles the individual scones.  
Place 1 1/2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheets. Brush the tops of scones with cream; sprinkle lightly with mixture of the cinnamon and sugar.  Bake in a 425º oven for 12 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned.  Serve hot out of the oven.  Yield 12-18 scones

Banana Walnut Scones, add 2 very ripe bananas, 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts omitting the fruit and orange peel.
Poppyseed Lemon Scones, add 1/4 cup poppyseeds, lemon peel and 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice.  Decrease milk to 3/4 cups.  Omit fruit and orange peel.
Cranberry Orange Scones, add 3/4 cup dry or fresh cranberries, orange peel and 1/4 cup orange juice.  Decrease milk to 3/4 cups.  Omit fruit.
Your own combination  You can experiment with a variety of items:  chocolate chips, blueberries, frozen raspberries, lime, candied are only limited by your imagination!

Lovingly for you my sweet sister!  

"The discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness
 than the discovery of a new star." 
 Antheleme Brillat-Savarin 1826


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