Monday, January 2, 2012

Dry Skin Indulgance

I suffer from psoriasis.  My skin is very dry.  I have tried every single moisturizing product I can get my hands on.  I have spent an unfathomable amount of money on so many things that have brought me little relief.  I have used many prescription products and seen several skin/psoriasis specialists.  I practice yoga and I try to meditate.  Stress evidently makes it worse.  My doctors have put me on biologic and the list of side effects are SCARY.  I have decided to find a way to manage the dry skin without breaking the bank!  My oatmeal bath that I love so much is climbing in price!  


As I scanned the ingredients, I thought I can make this for alot less at home.  I turns out I like my version better!  I take 1 Cup of Oatmeal and process it in a food processor to a fairly fine dust.  I add 2 Cups of Epsom Salts and process until mixed.  Then, with the motor running, I drizzle in 1/4 C of Honey.  It looks like pastry dough--see above.  I add about 1 Cup or more to my bath and soak. 

This would make a lovely gift in a vintage blue canning jar with an old ladle to ladle it under the running water. 

I found I have about 24 hours of dry skin relief when I combined this with a Sesame Oil Rub Down before I towel off.  I have used both separately and found this combination offers the best relief for me at the moment. 

 Make up a batch, unplug, fill the tub and let your skin drink this in. 

As always, exploring my corner of the world,

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Old Dog, New Trick

I often jump right into things without knowing exactly what I am doing.
Is anyone else like that?  I decided I wanted to blog about my decorating style, cooking style, and lifestyle with those beautiful pictures just like so many of the blogs I admire.  So, jump, I went.  What I quickly discovered is that I don't have the pictures up to par.  Immediately I decide it must be the camera because there is nothing wrong with my eye. 
Well. . .that is true, almost.  It is more like I have a decent, although old digital camera.  A Cannon GI to be exact.  I found that shooting in natural light seemed to be better but when I went without flash I ended up with blurring and all sorts of ugly things.  I wasn't excited about editing them through Photo Shop either.  Who has that kind of time? 

Enter my Dad, who is an accomplished, self taught, photographer in his own right AND the one who bestowed the camera to me.  Well he explained shutter speed, a mini tripod, the remote, the built-in macro lens, and fade out background setting.  Ta DA.  Already so much better with this Christmas Center Piece pictured above, don't you think? 

And look at the utility side of my grandmother's Kitchen Scissors.  This taken with only a crappy 60 watt bulb on in my very dark dining room. 
Which turns out to be a good thing.  I have a gift idea in mind for this picture to the most gifted woman I know with scissors! 

So a good lesson, once again!  Do my homework!  And I can't wait to finish my office space that has this bright natural light and photograph more wonderful things for you to see! 

This candle stick holder is sitting on the dining room table and I love this picture of it.  I blurred out the background and it turned out great.  No photo shop required! 

And now for my new adventure!  I am now the proud owner of Booth Number 150 at my favorite flea market, Collectamania, here in Des Moines!  My official opening date is set for January 15, 2012.  I don't think I am leaping before I look this time and won't disappoint!  I will post all about setting up a booth and my experience with it.  I am starting small and hoping it will be something I am good at.  It is time to let some things go and have a small store to do it in! 

So, for now, I bid you a Happy New Year, as I am ending the year on a high note and getting ready to ring the new year in with better photography skills and a new "store" to boot! 

Exploring my corner of the world,

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Marrying Deserts

Does anyone else do this?  Marry recipes?  You know, take a bit from this and a bit from that and come up with something new?  I do it all the time and this recipe was a molten home run.  It was wonderfully frugal, too!  Bread Pudding is a classic frugal trick.  A great way to use up old bread. I have found many versions of bread pudding in frugal cookbooks and in one cookbook recalling recipes of the Great Depression.  The Italians use dried bread to create wonderful salads, too. 

My twist is Chocolate Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pudding.  I used stale Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls instead of Bread and part of a Mexican Chocolate Bread Pudding Recipe.  I have found this method of mixing recipes to be a fun, innovative, and a great way to use up odd ingredients.  It can be very easy on the pocketbook, too.  I have found that you can easily deviate from many recipes and eliminate costly ingredients but not detract from the taste.  There are some things you can't do without, for example, I don't deviate from the dough portion of the cinnamon rolls but play with the filling and the glaze.  I used the Bread Pudding Recipe as guide for portions and cooking times. First the recipes as they appeared in my cookbook. 

From Chef Jacqueline Mc Mahan as
published in The San Fransisco Chronicle
Cookbook Volume II

5 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 C warm Water
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 C slightly warm buttermilk
2 tsp. Vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 C fresh or canned pumpkin puree
1/2 C Light Brown Sugar
1 TBSP Salt
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1/4 C Canola Oil
About 7 Cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 C Butter, Melted

1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C light brown sugar
2 TBSP Cinnamon
1/2 C Currants

1 TBSP Butter
1 TBSP Milk
1 1/4 C Powdered sugar
About 2 TBSP Boiling Water
1 tsp. Vanilla

To Make the Dough, Combine the yeast, warm water, and sugar in a bowl; set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Blend together the buttermilk, vanilla, egg, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and oil in a large bowl.  Stir in the yeast mixture, then the flour, 1/4 C at a time, until a soft dough forms and clings to the side of the bowl as you mix.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead for about 5 minutes, or until springy and smooth.  Add 1 TBSP of flour at a time to keep the dough from sticking.

Transfer the dough to an oiled mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until dough is doubled in size.  The rising time is longer due to the heaviness of the pumpkin.

Divide the dough into 2 equal portions.  Pat or roll each portion into a thick rectangle, about 8 by 12 inches.  Spread each rectangle with half the melted butter. 

To make the filling:  Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and currants;  sprinkle half over each rectangle.  Press the currants into the dough.  Roll up each rectangle into a cylinder, then cut up each cylinder into about 9 thick rolls.  Place the rolls on parchment-covered or greased baking sheets.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for about 45 minutes or until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Bake the rolls for 22-25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes before glazing.  Note:  You must let them cool before glazing or the glaze will not stick to the rolls.

To make the glaze:  Combine the butter and milk in a bowl and warm in a microwave for about 30 seconds.  Or combing the milk and the butter in a saucepan and warm over low heat just until the butter melts.  Stir in the powdered sugar.  Add the boiling water and vanilla and whisk until smooth. 

Pour glaze over barely warm cinnamon rolls.

There are only 3 of us in our family and we can't eat these all before they go stale, although we really try.  I have had good luck freezing them in the past but decided bread pudding made with the cinnamon rolls might be worth trying.

From Chef Jacqueline Mc Mahan as published
in The San Fransisco Chronicle Cookbook Volume II

1/4 C Sugar
1 C Milk
1 Can (14oz) evaporated milk
3 C finely diced crust less bread, dried out in oven
4 oz semisweet chocolate, melted
1 TBSP Vanilla
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
2 eggs
2 egg yolks

1 C whipping cream
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 TBSP powdered sugar


Place an ovenproof 2-quart baking dish or deep metal pan near the stove.  Put 3/4 C of the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat.  After 3 to 4 minutes, begin swirling the pan.  Do not stir.  Cook for 8 to 10 minutes (again, do not stir), or until the sugar caramelizes.  Immediately pour into the baking dish.

In the same pan, heat the milk and evaporated milk over medium heat stirring in the remaining 1/2 C Sugar.  Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.  Remove from the heat and add the dry bread.  Push the bread into the milk and let it soak for 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place a roasting pan filled with 1 inch of water in the oven. 

Stir the chocolate, vanilla, and espresso powder into the mushy bread.  Beat together the eggs and egg yolks in a bowl;  add to the bread mixture.  Pour into the prepared baking dish, cover with aluminum foil and place the in the roasting pan in the oven. 

Transfer the pudding to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes.  Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. 

To serve, loosen the edges with a knife, then unmold the pudding onto a rimmed platter. 

Just before serving, make the topping.  Whip the cream so very soft peaks.  Stir in the espresso powder, vanilla, and powdered sugar.  Spoon a dollop on each serving.


I used dried cranberries instead of currants in the cinnamon roll recipe.  I have also used miniature chocolate chips, too.  I dried the cranberries myself.  I bought them by the bag full at the end of Thanksgiving last year.  I froze some and I also halved some and placed on the racks of my dehydrator and dried out.  I don't deviate from this recipe other than that. I did use milk with 1 tsp vanilla last time, too as I didn't have any buttermilk either. That is a classic substitute found in any standard cookbook. 

For the Bread Pudding, it is to be served cold, inverted like flan.  That just didn't sound appetizing to me, I like mine warm and gooey.  I skipped the first step, caramelizing the sugar, and baked it for the above mentioned time.  Mine should have baked longer but I decided to take it out then and serve it warm.  It was similar to a molten cake. If that is your choice, too, I would start checking it about half way through the baking time.  You want everything hot and bubbly. I also didn't need to dry the rolls out in the oven.  They were very dry when I made the pudding.  Note, the drier the bread the better it soaks up the egg mixture creating a custard like filling. 

I didn't have cream in the house but I had some leftover raspberry sauce from the last of the harvest at the beginning of November (a record for us!).  It was wonderful drizzled on top. 


In a sauce pan place equal amounts of sugar and raspberries.  Cook on low heat until sugar dissolves and sauce forms.  I let mine sit for about 20 minutes. Stir frequently. Taste.  Add lemon juice if needed to brighten flavors.  Store in glass jar in refrigerator.  Mine is still good and was made the first week on November. 

The Cinnamon Rolls, served with local bacon, and piping hot coffee on the morning they were made. 
In the background is a stack of Vintage Day of the Week Tea Towels and Fabrics that I used as a center piece.
I couldn't bear to put them in the cabinet and the tea towels are a definate hands off set! 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Cake

2008 Found us in a our current residence and I was making Thanksgiving Dinner for my parents and my mother-in-law.  I went all Rachael Ray with my recipes and we had a great meal.  My mother-in-law showed up with this cake.  A CAKE!  Who brings a cake to Thanksgiving?  This is the holiday where pies rule. . until you taste this cake!  Think crustless pumpkin pie with a crumb topping made with CAKE MIX!  Another thing I don't typically use!  This was utterly delicious.  A couple of notes, my mother-in-law was terrible about organizing things.  Her estate was filled with bags, boxes, and piles of recipes from magazines, newspapers, and on handwritten pieces of paper.  We had asked her for the cake recipe and she couldn't find it.  I did find it while sorting through mountains of recipes and a picture of Mary Jane Buck with her son, Tommy taken in 1964.  The recipe came from Mary Jane and we are glad to have located it and passed it down this year.  It stole the show.  It is seriously good and easy to make--so easy a child could do it!   

My mother-in-law, Marilyn in her high school years.  Simply beautiful. 


3 Large Eggs
3/4 C Sugar
1-15oz Can Regular Pumpkin
3 tsp. Pie Spice
1-12oz Can Evaporated Milk

1 package Yellow Butter Cake Mix or Butter Pecan Cake Mix (we used yellow)
1 Generous Cup Chopped Pecans
(They toast while the cake bakes)
 1 1/2 Sticks Butter, Melted

My son, demonstrating making this cake.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place eggs, sugar, pumpin, pie spice (I used cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice and nutmeg to taste as I didn't have spice mix)
and milk into mixing bowl. 

Mix througly

Pour into a greased 13 X 9 Cake Pan

Sprinkle on Cake Mix but do not mix into batter. 

Sprinkle on Nuts and Drizzle on Melted Butter

Place Cake in Oven and Bake 50 Minutes Until Knife Inserted in Center of Cake Comes Out Clean.  Cool in Pan.  Serve with Favorite Whipped Cream Topping. 
We Served it with Whipped Cream flavored with Vanilla and Powdered Sugar. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

This is my beautiful dog, Scout.  He has been with us for 2 1/2 years now.  He is a sweet, loving dog.  He is a Black Lab and wants nothing to do with being a Lab.  He is seen here lying on the couch (oh, the story behind that!) on my Tulle Pillow.  The pillow is one I made with scrap fabrics and hem tape, ironed together.  I made them about 9 years ago and they have held up very well! 

Why am I talking about my Lab and my Pillow?  Well, it is because I suffer from what most of us do!  Unfocused attention.  While I started this blog for design related tips and some cooking, I am finding my interests are moving in many different directions.  While I love design--it is my job and love cooking--there are other things I need to talk about. 

Frugality.  Living a Frugal Life.  I think it is all interconnected somehow.  While people talk about organic lifestyles and all the benefits, I see high price tags!  Prices I can't afford to spend.  Then it hit me, frugal living!  So much of it is organic!  Home Gardening, Preserving, Recycling, and doing without.  Hm.  Think I am onto something!  So, I am going to interject some ideas on living more frugally that might inspire you to do the same. 

The pillows, Not more than $ 5.00 for the pair.  They have graced 2 bedrooms and now my living room.  Have held their shape.  Well worth the investment!  Simple to make, too.  I used co-ordinating fabric, hem tape, and stuffing.  I ironed 3 1/2 sides together, stuffed, and then stitched up the remaining side.  Hem Tape is not supposed to be a permanent bond but as I said earlier they have lasted 9 years so far.  When I put them together I had no idea I would still be enjoying them today!  

So, for Frugal, check out my side bar for some new links! 

Find this book--I think it is on Amazon.  It is the holy grail of living a frugal life.  Indispensable. 

And, as always, exploring my corner of the world.

Friday, November 18, 2011

It is Friday nite and I should be kicking up my heels in anticipation for the weekend in front of me.  Instead my mind is thinking of my sick boys in their beds, Thanksgiving preparations, the giant box of food from Co-op, chores, finishing my office, pictures that need taking, ideas undone, work I need to finish.  So many things to do, so little time.  Oh, the lard that needs rendered.  Yes, I am giving it a try!  So for now, a late night, filled with little sleep, an upset tummy, a mind reeling from overload, a cat and dog trying to snuggle with me, and my heels planted firmly on the couch.  Tomorrow, after work, I will grab my camera, render lard, plan for Thanksgiving, and let you know where my heels are taking me. For now, a little favorite recipe when you are sick.  Simple, hot black tea, plain saltines with butter, and clean, cold sheets. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Welcome Jasper's Edge Farm!

A big giant welcome to my dear, dear friend Regina!  I am so excited to see her in the blog world.  She has a lovely farm that is in its 5th Generation.  She raises exotic sheep and spins this amazing yarn.  Please visit her blog!  She can be found at
Her yarn is sold under the name Esther Purl Fibers and she can be emailed at
 She is a very creative soul and I hope that she gets "Paint the Farm Red Days" going soon!  There will be more information to follow as she works out the details.  She is an amazing wealth of knowledge of all things!  Please take a moment to link to her blog! 
This snap shot is a "before" picture she sent me while she was working out the accessorys for her back entry.  Darling! 
Maybe we can get her to post pictures of the AFTER!