Castle in the Trees

Tree Top Tree House Castle

Castle in the Trees

Castle in the Trees

Always a symbol of creativity and imagination, Tree Houses are traditionally a few planks of wood secured in the branches of a tree. Now, they are being elevated to new heights of luxurious accommodations and designed as Castles.

Castle in the Trees

These delightful Tree House Castles, are complete with turrets and towers, suspension bridges, secret trap doors  and climbing walls.

Castle in the Trees

Castle in the Trees

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castle in the Trees

 

 

A Castle in the Trees offer a place where you can enjoy the freedom of space and proximity to nature without sacrificing the comforts of home –a luxurious home!

 

Castle in the Trees

Castle in the Trees

BlueForest Tree House and Design is leading the way creating fantasy play areas, romantic hideaways, exclusive accommodations for hotels, and inspiring eco-classrooms. You can have one built or find one for a vacation stay! Contact BlueForest

Let’s Eat CAKE! – mmm…CHOCOLATE!

 February – the month of LOVE – of Hearts…Flowers…Valentines and….

mmmm…. CHOCOLATE! 

Let’s Eat CAKE! 

A beautiful Chocolate Cake for this month of LOVE and Hearts and Flowers and Valentines and — mmmm…CHOCOLATE! This basic chocolate cake with sour cream fudge frosting is easy and also elegant — perfect for anytime: simple Sunday dinners or extra special occasions!Let's Eat CAKE! - mmm...CHOCOLATE!

Starting as a recipe titled ‘Top Tier” Devils Food cake, this is anything but ‘devils food’ … the flavor is a bit light,  lacking the dark  richness one expects of a ‘Devil’s Food’ cake.

The ‘Top Tier” aspect apparently is to offer that delightfully sized ‘top’ of a wedding cake. We chose, instead to go full-on with three 9″ layers of chocolate goodness.  Let's Eat CAKE! - mmm...CHOCOLATE! Doubling the cake recipe didn’t quiet fill  the larger pans, allowing the cake to become more torte-like.   To frost the entire cake including the sides, the frosting recipe, should also be doubled. As written, it is the perfect amount to finish off the “torte” look.

Overall, the flavor of the cake seems mild. Expecting a rich ‘Devils Food’,  we are disappointed. However, the recipe does call for ‘milk’ chocolate bars and only 1/4 cup of cocoa, so it is not going to be dark or rich flavored.  It IS an easy cake to make….so ‘top’ it with a lovely fresh rose, and ‘Voila?! Very Elegant!Let's Eat CAKE! - mmm...CHOCOLATE!

 

Get the Recipe

 

Images: A. Perkins

 

It’s Girl Scout Cookie Time!

Girls Scouts cookies are here!

It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!

Girl Scout Cookie Time is a fun annual tradition that many of us look forward to, if for no other reason than our own bit of nostalgia. remembering our own efforts at sales — or getting to eat them!

My first memory of Girl Scout cookies and still a favorite of mine, is the shortbread Trefoils. I don’t remember which came first:  eating them or selling them.   Our Granddaughter – a Brownie Scout this year and yes – selling cookies! – announced that the Samoas are 40 years old this year. I was shocked! …and prompted to look into the Girl Scout Cookie History.It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!

An icon of American culture for nearly 100 years, the tradition, efforts and experiences offered to the Girl Scouts  through cookie sales has provided valuable life skills in leadership, personal development, confidence, and community involvement.

It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!As early as 1917, just five years after Girl Scouting in America was started by Juliette Gordon Low, the sale of cookies has been  a way for troops to finance activities. During the 1920′s and 1930′s, Girl Scouts across the country, in partnership with their mothers, baked simple sugar cookies, and sold them door-to-door, packaged by the dozen in waxed paper bags sealed with a sticker. Get the Recipe below! It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!

The Greater Philadelphia Council was the first to sell commercially baked cookies (1934) and the Girl Scout Federation of New York purchased a die in the shape of Trefoil and used the words, “Girl Scout Cookies” on the boxes being sold (1935). The very next year, (1936) the  national Girl Scout association began the process to license the first commercial baker to produce cookies that would be sold nationwide by girls in Girl Scout councils. And the rest, we might say is “History”!

It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!

Cookies were replaced with calendars during World War II with shortages of the key ingredients of Sugar, Flour and Butter. After the war, the sale of cookies resumed and three varieties were offered: Shortbread, Peanut Butter Sandwich, and Chocolate Mint.

A few year later, the flavors had evolved to a vanilla-based filled cookie, a chocolate-based filled cookie, shortbread, and the chocolate mint. Since the mid-1960s, a few more varieties have been offered, with the most popular and best sellers still the Shortbread, Chocolate Mint , and the Peanut Butter Sandwich. Now known as Trefoils, Thin Mints, and Do-si-dos, these continue to be the top sellers with the Samoas catching up in popularity!

It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!The cookie boxes have also undergone a steady transformation. Now, bright and colorful, they depict scenes of Girl Scouts in action: hiking, canoeing, biking and promoting the benefits of Girl Scouting.

As early as the 1950s, and with the growth of suburbia, Girl Scout Cookies began being sold by girls at tables in shopping malls.

It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!

 

Images and information from Girl Scout.org

 

GIRL SCOUT COOKIE RECIPE

An article  by Florence E. Neil, a local director in Chicago, Illinois, was published in The American Girl magazine in July 1922, by Girl Scout nationeal headquarters. In the article, Miss Neil provided a cookie recipe that had been given to the council’s 2,000 Girl Scouts.

Girl Scout Cookie, circa 1922

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • additional sugar for topping (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • • 1 teaspoon salt
  • • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Instructions

  1. Cream butter and the cup of sugar; add well-beaten eggs, then milk, vanilla, flour, salt, and baking powder. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Roll dough, cut into trefoil shapes, and sprinkle sugar on top, if desired.
  2. Bake in a quick oven (375°) for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Makes six- to seven-dozen cookies.
http://greatfoodfunplaces.com/2015/02/01/girl-scout-cookie-time/

Fun Football Food

Ready for the Big Game?

… here is some Fun FOOTBALL Food for any game time!

How fun is this?? A simple ‘football’ shaped meatloaf cleverly decorated with cheese is perfect for any  game day but especially Super Bowl!

Not a meat eater?  This great idea and simple presentation can even be adapted to yummy veggie-based loafs and burgers.

Fun Football Food

 

 

Get the Meatloaf recipe here

Get a non-meat loft recipe here

Sleep under the Northern Lights!

More beauty from the North – Aurora Borealis – the Northern Lights

Sleep Under the Northern LightsYou can view the Northern Lights from the comfort of a bed in a rented Glass Igloo at Kakslauttanen, Finland.

The Northern Lights are one of the most magnificent natural phenomena and are visible in the night sky between late August and late April.Sleep Under the Northern Lights

An Arctic Resort in the wilderness of Lapland Finland, Kakslauttanen is a family hotel offers unique accommodations such as the Glass Igloos, as well as Snow Igloos, Log Cabins, Gold Diggers Cabin, a Traditional House and even Santa’s Home!

Sleep Under the Northern Lights

In addition to viewing the Northern Lights at Kakslauttanen, a variety of other experiences include winter and summer activities such as reindeer safaris, husky safaris, ice fishing, gold panning, mountain biking and skiing and snow boarding.

Located about 250 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, Kakslauttanen is easy to reach. It is only a 30 minute bus ride from the nearest airport at Ivalo, Finland  and not far from northern Norway or Murmansk, Russia.

 

 

Images from Kakslauttanen

 

Let there be SUNSHINE!

Let there be SUNSHINE!

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine, almost always, makes me high   (John Denver)

Let there be SUNSHINE!

Sunshine is a precious sight this time of year  - especially in the northern countries!

Celebrating the shorter days and longer nights of winter with festivals of light (St Lucia, Christmas Trees, Chanukkah, New Year’s fireworks), many areas also welcome the brief light of Sunshine!

Soft sunlight contrasts with the snowy white of frosty landscapes creating scenes of peace and serenity!

Let there be Light

Let there be Light

Let there be Light

Let there be SUNSHINE!

Images: M Viukari; Walter Rodriguez; Luka Esenko; Anton Shvain

Happy New Year from Russia

Russians welcome the New Year by saying

“S Novim Godom!”

Happy New Year from Russia

Happy New Year from Russia

 Most Russians consider the New Year as their main holiday of the year 

and celebrate it in a BIG way!

My friend, Lyudmila K., from Moscow, enjoys observing her country’s traditional New Years celebration of late dinners, family fun, and gift giving, with other family members and friends from Russia even after being here in the United States about 15 years.

Family and friends gather for late night dinners, sparkling wine, and fireworks at midnight. Games are played, gifts are exchanged, and toasts are made. Festivities also include decorated fir trees, and visits and gifts from Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost -the Russian equivalent of Santa Claus) who is sometimes accompanied by his granddaughter, Snegurochka (The Snow Girl or Snow Maiden).

Preparations begin early in the day on December 31 for their late night feasts of traditional foods such as Russian salads, herring ,cheese and breads, pickles and marinades. Happy New Year from Russia

Russian salads are significantly different from their European counterparts – many of them are made from the boiled vegetables and mayonnaise. The favorite salad of Russians and the main dish on New Year’s table is, of course, Olivier. This salad is made with boiled beef or chicken, with boiled potatoes, carrots, onions, pickles, boiled egg, green peas and mayonnaise. Sometimes sausage or ham are used in place of meat.

Just before midnight, a speech is given by the President of the Russian Federation in which he briefly sums up the results of the year and congratulates the the country with the holiday. Precisely at midnight, all TV channels broadcast the Kremlin chimes heralding the beginning of the New Year at midnight.  Then come the fireworks and the traditional drink of Champagne at Midnight.

 

This ornate giant Christmas ball is part of the Holiday Season decorations in central  Moscow.

IMG_0267

 

Read more about New Years and Christmas Traditions in Russia

Image Credits: tourspb.com; themoscowtimes.com;

Stumptown Coffee Celebration

STUMPTOWN COFFEE

Portland, Oregon

Celebrating 14 years of serving coffee

 

color15yrreviewv5.112751

Bûche de Nöel

Let’s Eat CAKE!

Bûche de Nöel

Bûche de Nöel

 Christmas Yule Log Cake — a traditional French Cake for the Holiday Season.

You will see it in many shapes, colors, and flavors. The recipe is quite basic: cake, filling, and frosting… and is fairly simple to make. I’ve seen many variations but only tasted a few.

I still like my recipe the best! Besides coming from a dear friend in Provence, France (so it is quite authentic) I think it has the best flavor and texture. The frosting is a rich French Butter Cream (Lots of butter!). Since we have a family member who doesn’t eat chocolate (yes – there are a few  non-chocoholics around!!), we make a vanilla version for both the cake and butter cream filling adding a touch of coffee flavor to the frosting to give it a little darker color.

Assembling is easy: once the rolled cake is filled and re-rolled, a simple diagonal slice off one (or both) ends provides a ‘branch’ (or two). With the diagonal cut tucked against the main ‘log’ and a second piece perched on top, the Bûche de Nöel takes shape looking like a branch of a tree. A simple squigle through the frosting with a fork and … voila! you have the look of bark. Further adoration of greenery (either pine twigs, rosemary sprigs or even plastic representations,) and other Christmas-y ornamentation (mini balls, figurines, or try edible sugared cranberries) followed by a light dusting of powdered sugar and you have the proper Yule Log – a Bûche de Nöel.

Bûche de Nöel

Ingredients

    CAKE
  • 6 eggs - separated
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 c flour (sift 2x)
  • BUTTER CREAM for Frosting and Filling
    chocolate:
  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3 1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 2 tsp rum or vanilla extract

Instructions

    Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF
  2. Prepare a jelly roll pan with buttered waxed or parchment paper
  3. In mixer, beat egg yolks & sugar until foamy and light colored
  4. With mixer on low, add flour and baking powder (sprinkling)
  5. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until firm.
  6. Gently fold beaten egg white with flower & egg mixture
  7. Pour into prepared pan and gently spread evenly over pan
  8. Bake 10 minutes
  9. Lay a towel on the counter and dust lightly w/sugar. As soon as the cake is ready invert on the towel.
  10. Roll up the cake loosely rolling the towel with it
  11. Cool 10 min
  12. Meanwhile prepare butter cream
  13. Butter Cream Filling & Frosting
  14. Cream butter and sugar until smooth
  15. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each
  16. Add melted choc and rum or vanilla extract
  17. Assemble Log
  18. Unroll cake & spread with about half the butter cream
  19. Re-roll cake very carefully (without towel this time!)
  20. Cut ends of the cake on a diagonal slice and set the small piece on top of the cake or on the side for desired effect.
  21. Spread the rest of the frosting over the cake
  22. Decorate by simulating bark or wood designed with the tip of a fork
  23. Add 'greenery', ornaments, berries, figurines as desired
  24. Dust lightly over all with powdered sugar
http://greatfoodfunplaces.com/2014/12/25/buche-de-noel/

 

 

Authentic French Provincial Recipe and photo by Great Food Fun Places

 

 

 

Holiday High Tea

High Tea is fun any time  - and any where.  During the Holidays? Perfect timing! But in the western town of Cheyenne, Wyoming, of all places?  Quite a surprise!!

Holiday High Tea

The location is a fascinating historical site — the Nagle-Warren Mansion — in the Wyoming capital of Cheyenne.

Holiday High Tea

Holiday High Tea

One of the few homes still standing in Cheyenne from the 1880′s, the mansion is located on the edge of Cheyenne’s historic downtown sections on Cattle Baron’s Row. It is currently a bed and breakfast (B&B) with 12 guest rooms decorated in Victorian West style.

Originally the residence of Erasmus Nagle in 1888, the mansion was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and became it’s current position as a B&B in 1997.

 

Holiday High Tea

 Gorgeous on the inside, the mansion is especially elegant with the added Holiday decorations

 

Holiday High TeaHigh tea was as elegant as you can get. The food was very gourmet, and all you-can-eat!  I’ve Never had that at a High Tea!Holiday High Tea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday High Tea

Holiday High TeaHere are is a sampling of the generous 18 items on the menu:

Cream Currant Scones with Lemon Curd Spread

Raspberry Almond Tea Bread with Amaretto Butter
Smoked Trout and Roasted Red Pepper Open-Faced Tea Sandwich
and
- Sugar Plums!
 A Holiday High Tea in the western town of Cheyenne, Wyoming – the home of the Cheyenne Frontier Days - is a delightfully grand affair. The Nagle-Warren Mansion B&B is a perfect venue for taking a step back into history and experiencing an elegant English High Tea!