Thanksgiving Projects

Yes, I’m a little early, but nothing compared to the retailers pushing Christmas in August!!  I feel like Thanksgiving gets lost among the leaves…or rather holidays of Halloween (is that technically a holiday?) and Christmas.  That being said, I’m here to hopefully encourage you to do something a little special this year.  Invite somIMG_1430eone new to your dinner table, try a new recipe or craft or better yet, treat every day like Thanksgiving.  We all have something to be thankful for, even on the grayest of days.

Here’s an idea for a Thanksgiving dessert and a centerpiece all in one.

Take a look at the date on the bottom of the copied magazine page…Country Living October 2006.  Do you think I saved this recipe long enough?  I finally pulled it out last weekend and made the pumpkin-shaped cake.  It turned out pretty good, albeit a tad dry.  We really liked the combination of chocolate and pumpkin, but agree IMG_1415it was not quite strong enough.  If I were to make this cake again, I would increase the pumpkin to 1 full cup and the pumpkin pie spice to 3 teaspoons.  I used two smaller (6-cup) bundt pans and they worked fine.  I only had to do a little trimming to get the cakes to stack evenly.  In addition to the drizzle icing, I spread a very thin layer of chocolate icing between the layers and mixed the leftover icing with the cake trimmings and shoved them down in the middle of the cake; I knew the family would want more icing, and I needed something to support my leaves and stem. I took the easy way out and used artificial leaves and stem (chenille stems twisted tightly together).  I just didn’t have time to make marzipan, although I highly recommend it because it looks so much better.  If you try this cake, let me know how you make out.

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Easy Pumpkin Spice and Pecan Cake

1 Devil’s Food cake mix

2 t pumpkin-pie spice (increase to 3 t)

2/3 c pumpkin (I suggest increasing to 1 c)

1/4 c softened unsalted butter

3 whole large eggs

1 cup finely ground pecans

3/4 c water

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly butter and flour or use baking spray to coat two 6-cup bundt pans, 1 large bundt pan or three 6, 8, or 10-inch round cake pans if you want to do some serious carving.  Double the recipe if using the round cake pans.

Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat using a mixer on medium-high speed until batter is smooth.  Fill the cake pan(s) and bake for approximately 25-35 minutes.  Watch closely and test with a toothpick.  Do not over bake.  Cool cake(s) completely on a wire rack before assembling.  Trim the pumpkin cake halves flat on the side that would be the bottom of the bundt pan before stacking together to form the pumpkin.  If you are using round cake pans you will need to carve the cake into a pumpkin shape after stacking the layers.  Decorate as desired.  Viola!  Easy peasy!

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My grandson loves to make name cards for special occasions, so I decided to try to make pilgrims hats.  This turned out easier than I expected and I’m including the instructions for you.  Names and/or artwork on the hats can be provided by the little pilgrims in your life.   All you need is white paper (you can use copy paper), black and yellow construction paper, scissors, glue and Scotch tape.

Lady Pilgrim’s BonnetIMG_1413

Cut a piece of white paper (8-1/2 x 11 inch copy paper in half) to 5-1/2 inches x 8-1/2 inches.  Fold one of the longer edges back 1 inch; this is the front of the bonnet. On the opposite side measure in 2-1/4 inches on each side and then up 1-1/2 inches toward the center of the paper.  Mark the center of the same edge with a pencil dot.  With your scissors, cut up to the 1-1/2 inch marks and then down to the center dot.  This looks like an “M” when it is cut out (see picture).

Bring the 2-1/4 inch sides together and tape front and back to secure; it looks like the Flying Nun’s hat at this point.IMG_1417

Now, pull the center point down to the bottom of the back shaping it to fit as you go.  Secure with tape.  Punch a small hole in each side of the front of the bonnet.  Tie a knot in the end of a 6-inch piece of string or ribbon and pull the unknotted end through the hole.  Repeat on the other side.  Tie a bow with the ribbons to hold the bonnet in place.  All done.IMG_1419

Man’s Hat

From black construction paper cut a 6-inch diameter circle for the brim of hat.  Cut a 4″ x 9″ rectangle of black paper.  Cut a 1-1/2 inch x 8-1/2 inch piece of white paper and a 2-1/2 inch x 3-1/4 inch piece of yellow construction paper.  Look at the picture above for the finished hat to use as an example for the man’s hat.IMG_1414

Glue the strip of white paper 1/2 inch above one long edge of the large black rectangle.  When glue is dry roll the rectangle into a cylinder and tape inside and out to hold in place.  Do not fold or crease this piece.  Poke a hole in the center of the round piece of black paper and then cut pie-shaped wedges, approximately 2-1/2 inches, toward the outside of the circle.  Fold these wedges up into the center of the cylinder and tape.  Cut the center out of the yellow rectangle leaving 1/2 inch borders on all sides and glue on top of the white band at the front of the hat.  I did not cover the top of the hat, but you can if you like.  All done!

 

 

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COMING NOVEMBER 30, 2015

WINDWARD SECRETS

Visit me at http://www.KathleenAndrewsDavis.com

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Haunted Dollhouse

Get ready, it’s almost here!

Check out this haunted dollhouse.

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Trick or Treat!  We’re waiting for you…

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My friend (to your right) dieted a little too much this year.

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Candy anyone?

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Yes, I’m talking to you little girl.

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Please don’t step on the flowers!

 

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Pick a room and spend the night with us.

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How about a little treat?

 

Have you been “Booed?”  This is fun!  Our daughter and her family were “Booed” for the first time last year.  This involves making up gift bags, placing them at the doors of friends/neighbors with a note attached, ringing the doorbell and running! There are lots of fun things for Halloween already on sale, be creative and conjure up some fun.  You can use candy, but we preferred not to use edibles. My grandson and I packed little bags with Halloween projects for three families in his neighborhood.  When it started to get dark, he did the running and we strolled along behind him.

For details go to http://www.beenbooed.com/ for details.

Woohoo…….what fun.

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BOO!!!

This is a great time of year to tell stories and read.

Hot cider, donuts, a big fuzzy blanket, and a good book are the ingredients for the perfect Halloween potion.

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Tea for Two…or more

     IMG_1139At the top of my list of favorite things is having tea with friends either at home or at a tearoom.

No matter season, time or place, there’s nothing like a warm cup of tea and a good friend to feed your soul.

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I first fell in love with having tea in storybooks and then was bitten by the bug over 25 years ago when I was a volunteer tour guide at Baker Mansion in Altoona, PA, and fund raising chair for the Blair County Historical Society.  Although I planned and enjoyed many different events, a series of summer tea parties was my favorite.  With no kitchen facilities we had to transport everything we needed, including fine china and silverware, to the mansion and then lug all the dirty dishes home.   It was an ordeal but well worth it.

Our adult teas included full tea service and an entertaining program.  My favorite of the season was a children’s tea served on the front lawn of the mansion with covered chairs and pastel tablecloths.  The menu was especially fun including cookie cutter sandwiches, gummy fish swimming in Jello, and cupcakes baked in ice cream cones.  The tables were decorated with antique soda fountain glasses with floral arrangements provided by the Blair County Garden Club.  Guests were serenaded by 13-year-old, harpest Rachel Eardley.  At 13 she already played like an expert.  I remember looking down the long, half acre lawn to see a daddy holding his little girl’s hand as they approached.  I nearly broke my leg running down the hill to meet him because I was thrilled to see a daddy escorting his little girl to tea.  He was the only dad there that day.  We concluded the event with a magician and sent everyone home with full tummies and smiles on their sweet faces.Bell wedding dress

Built in 1844 by iron master Elias Baker the mansion is open for tours and special events.  Reputed to be haunted, the mansion boasts the wedding dress of Anna Bell, of Bellwood, PA, that supposedly moves while enclosed in an airtight case.  I spent many an hour sitting in that room, but the dress never honored me with even a slight tap of a wedding slipper.

I make it a habit to visit every tearoom I can find, among my favorites is Tilly Mint’s in Souderton, PA (northwest of Philadelphia, Buck’s County) which is as English as you can get.  Although modest in terms of decor, Tilly Mint’s stands out with exceptional service and the most varied and delectable treats I have personally experienced.

Owner, Trish, British expat is happy to share stories of her homeland and tea with her mother who gave her the nickname of Tilly Mint.  Patrons and owner alike correspond with family and friends in England.  Trish proudly displays pictures of the newest Royals, George and Charlotte, that were sent to her personally by Prince William and Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.
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An especially unique experience was having tea at Meadowbrook Farm, the estate of the late J. Liddon Pennock, Jr, (1913-2003) a renowned Philadlphia florist and landscape designer.  Mr. Pennock is best known for providing the florals for the Trisha Nixon wedding at the White House.  The estate is now maintained by the Philadelphia Horticultural Society who welcome visitors for tours of the house and grounds.  The big surprise for us was a retail nursery on site.  The house is English Cotswold dMeadowbrook-image-garden-loweresign with the original furnishings still in place.

Our tea was served in a beautiful garden room by Chef Brenda Board, whOliver-and-Company-Tea-Room-3-640x426o at that time was catering teas in historical buildings in and around Philly.  We were not only impressed by our surroundings (after finally getting there because we got lost) but by the wealth of knowledge Chef Board had to share.  Did you know there is such a thing as a tea sommelier?  After completing culinary school, Chef Board returned to school to study tea.  She made me dizzy with what I didn’t know about tea.  Brenda presented an exceptional gourmet tea of a unique combination of sandwiches and desserts.  When in the Philly area, try to spend an afternoon enjoying this beautiful estate.

twinings3     If you are a Jersey Shore fan you must visit the Twinings Carriage House Cafe & Tearoom on the Emlen Physick Estate in Cape May.  You can dine outdoors on the tented patio or in the original horse stalls.  I know, that sounds unsanitary but there is no evidence horses ever lived there.  The carriage house is full of character and so unique it looks like an architect’s idea of the perfect carriage house with glossy wood and iron fittings rather than the over 100 year old building that it is.  A member of the Twining family personally visited from England and guided the opening of the tearoom nearly 20 years ago and it continues in popularity with wonderful teas and culinary treats.twinings 4

You’ll have trouble leaving the carriage house withtwiningsout making a purchase in the gift shop…but it’s Cape May and we all need a little token of our visit.

Cape May has boasted the top five restaurants in New Jersey for years and now they can claim the Carriage House Tearoom as one more jewel in their crown. This beautiful little town is the perfect destination to celebrate special occasions.  Stay in one of the many B&B’s, take a horse and carriage tour through the town, and be sure to stop for tea at the Carriage House.  Don’t forget to tour the Emlen Physick house while you’re there, I promise it’s worth your time.

 

 

I consider myseltea merchantf very lucky to have several fine tearooms within driving distance. Tea Merchant 101 located in Duncansville, PA, is a more contemporary tea room with literally over 100 teas to chose from.  Owner, Joe Doyle, offers a light tea on the premises or you can purchase any of his teas to savor at home.  Joe also offers tea accessories and gift baskets.

 

         If you are a lover of all things Victorian, then Bell Mansion Tearbellmansion3oom, in Bellwood, PA, is the tearoom for you.  Owned and operated by Pamela and George Wertman this is definitely the place for tea for two or special events such as showers and birthday parties.

     George’s chicken salad is the best!!!  Their tea selection is vast and worth trying a different tea each time you visit.IMG_20140329_143246

     The Wertmans were kind enough to host a launch party for my first book, Emerson’s Attic, The Blue Velvet.  We had a wonderful time with the mothers and daughters who attended.  Pamela encourages her guests to wear one of her fancy hats and chose their own teapots.  In addition to hostess extraordinaire, Pamela is a talented pianist and surprised me by playing the theme from Somewhere In Time at the event.  Her music was so incredible I had trouble holding back the tears.IMG_20140329_145507

     The Wertmans now offer Bed and Breakfast accommodations on the second floor of the mansion. Keep this in mind when you have too many guests and not enough bedrooms.bellmansion2

     If you don’t have a local tea room where you can buy interesting teas, then I suggest looking for Twinings and Stash brands.  If you cannot find them in your local store, go online.  I love all the different flavors, but am an Earl Gray lover at heart.  Time and time again I chose Lady Gray or Earl Blue.

     There are several things I am an obnoxious snob about, one of them is scones.  Many times I have been told that scones can only be made one way…of course that being the favorite of the speaker.  Well, I’m here to tell you after a month in England and several weeks in Ireland, there is absolutely NOT only one way to make scones.  Every town I visited had a different type of scone.  They run the gamut of rolled and cut, dropped, or in a round cut in wedges, sweet and savory in every flavor you can dream up.  The most surprising thing to me was the best scone I had was on the Virgin Atlantic plane on the way home…go figure, probably commercially made and frozen.  Who cares, it was delicious.

     Many Americans say they don’t like scones.  Yes, they can tend to be a bit dry sometimes and not very flavorful.  I personally think the problem is we Americans don’t do it right.  Scones are meant to be pared with clotted cream, butter, lemon curd and/or preserves.  The terms clotted and curd seem to scare Americans…okay, call it Devonshire cream and lemon pudding. Don’t let a term ruin a new experience.

    After literally years and dozens of recipes I finally found the scone recipe I like best and even my husband (one of those scone haters) likes.  I share it with you below, but I encourage you to test as many recipes as you can until you find your favorite.

My Favorite Scones

2-1/3 c all-purpose flour

3 T brown sugar

2 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

1/2 c butter

3/4 c dried fruit of your choice

2-3 T grated orange peel.

8 oz sour cream

1 egg yolk, beaten (save the white for brushing tops)

1 T water

1 T coarse sugar

     Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a large bowl stir together dry ingredients.  Using a pastry blender (I use a food processor because it’s much faster) cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add dried fruit and orange zest and toss until mixed. Make a well in the center of the ingredients.

     In a small bowl combine sour cream and egg yolk, add all at once to the well in the flour mixture.  Using a fork, stir just until moistened.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface.  Quickly knead by gently folding and pressing dough until smooth. Divide dough into two equal parts and shape into 8-inch rounds approximately 1/2 inch thick.  Cut each round into six wedges.  Place wedges one inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Brush tops with a mixture of egg white and 1 T water.  Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

     Bake 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from baking sheet and cool or serve warm.

Mommies and grandmothers, take your favorite little girls to tea or have a tea party at home.

You’ll be starting a new tradition you will all enjoy.

Last but not least…here’s a special little craft project for tea lovers.

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Dollhouses, memories, and more…..

I am a mother, grandmother, author, and now blogger…why blogger?

As the keynote speaker, at a recent writers’ conference  said, “nothing is new, it’s just presented differently.”  That being said, you won’t find earth-shattering news on my blog.  What I hope you will find are dollhouse pictures and projects, simple craft ideas, recipes, tips for busy moms, and who knows what else, just about anything I can think of that will encourage families to make more time to do things together.   Stop and smell the roses…okay, not literally, but do take time every day to observe your family and surroundings, these are your future memories.

Let’s talk dollhouses.  I never played with dolls, but I wanted a dollhouse!   I asked Santa for a dollhouse when I was about 5-years-old and as Santa usually does, he delivered.  It was a tin dollhouse with 4 or 5 rooms and of fairly small but adequate size.  The front was solid and the back was open.  Everything was already painted inside the dollhouse, the walls, the wood on the floors, braided rugs, curtains on the windows, even the appliances in the kitchen were painted on the kitchen walls.  If you google tin dollhouses you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.  There was minimal plastic furniture and I don’t remember any people or tiny accessories.  I was a bit disappointed because it was not at all what I had in mind.  Of course these dollhouses are now “vintage” and selling for many times more than I’m sure what they cost in the 1950’s.  I wanted a big, wooden dollhouse that I could decorate myself.  Okay, so I had not made myself clear to Santa.

Apparently, I had a serious problem communicating with Santa, and my parents too for that matter, because I asked for a horse every Christmas with no success.  As my mother used to tell it, I asked for a horse as soon as I could say the word.  Santa started with a simple wooden rocking horse.  That wasn’t right, so I asked again the next year, this time it was a tin horse that when you stood up on the stirrups it moved up and down.  Still not right, I wanted a horse with “real fur.”  This request resulted in a rocking horse with soft fur and a long tail and mane. Still not right!  Eventually, they got the picture I wanted a real horse.  My parents explained, “we live in the city and we have nowhere to keep a horse.”  I thought I solved this problem rather easily…”just put planks down the cellar steps and he can live down there.”  I must have driven them crazy because we finally moved to the country and got our first horse and pony.

I know I’m rambling but bear with me.  We were sitting in church one day and the priest was giving a sermon about asking God for favors.  Now, he was talking my language, in English not Latin, so I could actually understand what he was saying.  I sat up tall and listened intently.  Surely he was going to tell me the correct way to ask for and get a horse (dollhouse now long forgotten).  Instead, he said, “sometimes God says no.”  I was so shocked I slumped dejectedly in the pew.  I could feel my dad looking down at me as if he could read my mind.  I’m pretty sure he did that a lot, Dad that is, not God.

Anyway, back to dollhouses.  I think I must have been a strange child because I was interested in architecture and furniture while still in elementary school.  I remember dusting my grandmother’s mahogany end tables that had Chippendale fretwork so intricate I had to cover my index finger with a thin cloth to get in between all the open work (wish I had those tables now).  She also had red, frieze (nylon looped, tone-on-tone) sofa that when you sat on it in shorts the design was imprinted on the back of your thighs…oh yeah, some of you will remember that too (glad I don’t have that sofa).  My favorite architecture was, and still is Victorian, so of course my dollhouse had to be Victorian and yellow because of a yellow house in a Hayley Mills/Walt Disney film.

I finally got my “real” dollhouse.  It took over 50 years but my family bought me a dollhouse kit for Christmas.  This was my third best Christmas; first was the year I got my shiny, lime green Huffy bicycle with chrome fenders; then my sweet kitten Alexandra; and the third was the dollhouse.  I was really excited until I tried to lift the box.  Oh my, who knew!  It was so heavy I had to open it on the floor and when I saw the thousands of pieces I stopped breathing.  This was serious business, but I was determined, and I wanted to do it all myself without my husband’s help…bad decision on my part, and of course once said I could not admit I needed help.  See those bay windows, killers, absolute killers for a novice and the directions were no help figuring out angles.  This is where dollhouses become family projects, dads and brothers come in handy when you need help with tools and building technique.

If you have seen the first page of my website kathleenandrewsdavis.com…that’s my dollhouse.  This is a teaser because I’m embarrassed to tell you the house is still not done X-number of years later but it is a work in progress.  I now use the excuse that I want to share the experience with my granddaughter.  Actually, when I have the time I love working on it and it’s amazing how much you can get done in a few hours.

Wait, I lied.  That was not my first dollhouse kit.  The first one was a little house that I made for my special friend Sally when she was about the same age when I asked for my first dollhouse.  Sally loved her little house and anytime another child played with it she wanted to know “who was in my dollhouse?”  Kind of like, “who was sleeping in my bed?” asked Papa Bear. She knew exactly where she had left everything and did not like items moved.  Sally has since moved on to a much bigger and better dollhouse of which I’ll show you pictures in a future blog.  It’s particularly cool because it is designed after the board game Clue.

I have a friend who is virtually a dollhouse guru and is always there for me when I need answers.  The “Dollhouse Lady” will be happy to answer questions for you as well.  I’ll be featuring pictures of some of the many dollhouses and miniature boxes she has made throughout the coming months.

 

House for Sale

 

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The Rosedawn Plantation – designed and constructed by the Lawbre Company is a magnificent statement in the Antebellum Southern Classical Greek Revival tradition. The Rosedawn contains three floors with twelve rooms and measures 55″ Wide x 26″ Deep x 37″ High.  The Rosedawn is the ultimate in dollhouses and the perfect gift for daughter or granddaughter. Visit Lawbre.com to appreciate their craftsmanship.

The Rosedawn, completely electrified and all but one room meticulously decorated, is being offered for sale to the highest bidder (over the owner’s pre-determined minimum) with or without the existing furniture.  If you want a superior quality dollhouse and don’t have the time or interest in doing the detail work, this is the house for you.  If you are a miniature enthusiast you will recognize the quality of this house and an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

 

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Ladies room  1

Dining room 1

mens room 2

 

Bedroom 1Bathroom 1

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The house is located in the Maryland suburbs outside Washington DC area and is large and significantly heavy.  The successful bidder will be responsible for picking up the house or arranging for packing and shipping.  The original shipping crate is available.

Please send bids to me with your contact information and I will forward them to the owner for consideration.  Christmas is just around the corner…don’t delay.

 

Busy Mommy Tip:  Save time in the mornings and reduce stress by working with your stylist to find a haircut that is low maintenance.

Quote Of The Day:  “When you have the choice of being right or being kind…choose kind” – Dr. Wayne Dyer.

See you next time!