May Day -A Celebration of Spring!

It’s MAY! It’s MAY!…the Lovely Month of May!May Day - A Celebration of Spring!

TIME  TO  CELEBRATE!

May Day is a time of celebration and has been since ancient times. The earliest celebrations of spring appeared in pre-Christian times with the Festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, the Germanic countries Walpurgis Night celebrations, and the Gaelic Beltane, marking the beginning of summer.

Today, May 1st – May Day – is celebrated internationally with festivals, parades, May Poles, dancing, singing, FLOWERS, and ,,, cake? (Let’em Eat Cake!) . Today, too, May Day coincides with International Worker’s Day – a celebration of laborers and the working classes.

May Day may be best known for its tradition of dancing the maypole dance and crowning of the Queen of May.  For me, it has always been about Flowers.

May Day -A Celebration of Spring! The giving of “May Baskets” — small baskets of flowers and/or sweets, usually left anonymously on neighbors’ doorsteps on May Day is a tradition I learned in childhood.

I have fond memories of my sister and I helping our mother make small ‘cone’ baskets filled with blossoms and then running around early in the morning on May 1st,  hanging them  on the neighbors’ doors…anonymously was a big part of the fun!  I attempted to continue the tradition with my own children, but while living in the cold northern climes (and in a rural area) where rarely a blossom was in sight on May 1st. (and neighbors were miles apart!), I let the tradition fade away.

Still, I think of flowers on May Day, and might treat myself to a lovely bouquet! I prefer May Flowers -but any bouquet of blossoms will do!

May Flowers – Lily of the Valley  – are sweetly scented, delicate tiny white bells.  May Day - A Celebration of Spring.They are the ‘Flower’ of the month of May. In the ‘language of flowers’, the Lily of the Valley signifies the return of  happiness. The scientific name, majalis or maialis, means “of or belonging to May”, and old astrological books place the plant under the dominion of Mercury, since Maia, the daughter of Atlas, was the mother of Mercury or Hermes.

Lily of the Valley is a popular flower for weddings. It was the flower chosen by Princess Grace Kelly to be featured in her bridal bouquet. Most recently, it was featured in the bridal bouquet at the Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

Lily of the Valley is in the coat-of-arms of the Norwegian municipality Lunner,  was the floral emblem of Yugoslavia, and also became the national flower of Finland in 1967.

Farewell to Winter – Spring is here!

It’s MAY!

 

 

Image credits:

Dormouse: Mel Turbyfill

May Basket: Great Group Activities

Lily of the Valley: Agnes DeCrits

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easter Bunnies and Chicks – Springtime Fun

Hippity Hoppin’ Down the Bunny Trail

How cute are these? – Almost too cute to eat! These little Easter bunnies and chicks will bring fun and delight to your Easter dinner or any spring-time celebration.

Easter Bunnies and Chicks – Springtime Fun

Easter Bunnies and Chicks – Springtime Fun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People are so creative! I am constantly amazed at what cute little creations come hopping along. These bunnies and chicks are perfect examples.

These adorable little  Bunnies look easy enough to make. They didn’t come with instructions other than this photo   It looks easy enough: small balls of dough for dinner rolls are snipped to make the ears before baking (it looks like they must already be raised and ready for the oven at snipping time).  And, of course, make the little eyes with a polk from a  skewer or chopstick.Easter Bunnies and Chicks – Springtime Fun

 

 

 

 

 

Perky little Deviled Egg Chicks  created by Chris Eileen Preston, will require a bit more finesse. She says she made them for Easter a few years ago and never imagined her cute little creations would become ‘world famous’.Easter Bunnies and Chicks – Springtime Fun

Here are the instructions and filling recipe as shared by Chris Eileen Preston:

“I cup the egg on my palm and wrap my fingers around it to support the sides.  Then I very carefully loosen the yolk with a very tiny sharp paring knife.

The filling is:  “mayonnaise, mustard, pickle juice, garlic and onion powder, salt, sugar. Keep the filling stiff. I beat it with an electric hand mixer and use a large star tip with a coupler on a cake decorating bag.

Push the tip down into the egg as far as you can without ripping the white. Then slowly withdraw it as you fill, moving it around so you have no air pockets.

The eyes are black food gel coloring dotted on with the small end of a chop stick. The beak is a wedge of cheddar cheese.”

Pepper corns or pieces of black olives also work for the eyes and a wedge of sliced raw carrot can also be used for the beak.

The flowers are the part sliced off the big end to make them sit straighter and then filled with the star tip.

Have a Happy – and Delicious – Easter!

Easter Bunnies and Chicks - Springtime Fun

 

 

Glass Sculptures in the Desert

Glass Sculptures in the GardenColorful Glass Creations Light Up the Desert 

These dramatic, whimsical and graceful  blown glass  sculptures appear to ‘grow’ amid the flora at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Glass Scupltures in the Garden Chihuly in the Garden is a stunning exhibition by world renowned artist, Dale Chihuly.  His “ambitious architectural installations ” are found in historic cities, museums and gardens around the world. Chihuly is “credited with revolutionizing the Studio Glass movement and elevating the perception of glass medium from craft to fine art.” 

Glass in the GardenGlass Sculptures in the Garden

These vibrant and flamboyant sculptures are carefully and artfully placed among the stately,  sometimes stark and mostly muted desert plants.

Chihuly During the  Day

Extraordinary shapes and colors delight visitors during the daylight hours.

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Chihuly At Night

After the sun sets, these amazing works of art become colorful bursts of light and swirling shapes in the quiet dark of the Desert Botanical Garden.Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Irish for a Day – St Patrick’s Day!

Irish for a Day - St Patricks Day!How Irish are You?

In celebration of St Patrick’s Day,

we can All be Irish for a Day!

Any reason is reason enough for a special celebration and helping the Irish celebrate St Patrick’s Day is a fun one:  wearing of the green, wishing the ‘luck o’ the Irish’ with shamrocks and gold coins, eating great food and drinking green drinks! It has become an international festival celebrating Irish culture with parades, dancing, special foods and lots of green!

 Who IS Saint Patrick?  and  What is this Day all about?

Irish for a Day - St Patrick's Day!

St. Patrick depicted with shamrock in detail of stained glass window in St. Benin’s Church, Kilbennan, County Galway, Ireland

We can enjoy celebrating St Patrick’s Day just for the fun of it – without knowing what – or who – the celebration is all about but I like to have a little background.

St Patrick is the most commonly recognized patron saint and national apostle of Ireland (c. AD 385-461). He is credited with bringing christianity to Ireland.

Why March 17?  It is the date of Saint Patrick’s death, so the ‘Feast of Saint Patrick’  or the “day of the Festival of Patrick”  is celebrated every year on March 17 to honor him.

Green ribbons and shamrocks were worn in celebration of St Patrick’s Day as early as the 17th century.

Great FOOD and Green DRINKS!

The ‘Feast of Saint Patrick’ has it’s share of great food along with the revelry, festivities and a lot of green. 

Irish for a Day - St Patrick's Day!The classic St Patrick’s Day meal of Corned Beef and Cabbage is more American than Irish. It seems Irish Americans in the 19th century created a simple, hearty one-pot dish using spiced salty ‘corned beef’ to flavor plain cabbage as a tasty and cheaper alternative to cured pork and potatoes.

Today, other delicious Irish foods such as as Haddock soup, braised beef, and Shepherd’s pie are found on menus along with Corned Beef and Cabbage.

I am excited to finally find a recipe for making my own ‘corned’ beef. I will have to wait until next year as it takes at least 17 days to ‘cure’ the beef.  I like lots of potatoes and carrots with the cabbage and beef…more veggies, less meat.

Complete the meal with a dark rye bread  (I am not fond of the classic Irish Soda Bread) and a beer – it doesn’t have to be green – any dark stout will do!

Top off your meal with an Irish Whiskey or Baileys and cream.

St Patrick’s Day – What a deliciously fun day to celebrate!Irish for a Day - St Patrick's Day!

May the Irish hills caress you;
may her lakes and rivers bless you;
may the luck of the Irish enfold you;
may the blessings of Saint Patrick, behold you.

Go muirní cnoic na hÉireann thú.
Go mbeannaí a lochanna agus a haibhneacha thú.
Go dtimpeallaí an ádh Eireannach thú.
Go bhféacha tú beannachtaí Lá Fhéile Phádraig.

 

Image credits:

Pierson Library; Wikepedia; Celebrating St Patrick’s Day

 

 

 

 

 

Oscar Night: Fun & Festive Menus & Recipes

It’s Oscar Time!

And Epicurious.com has done it again with cleverly created menus for Oscar Night celebrations featuring recipes inspired by food themes and food ‘moments’ in each of this year’s Best Picture nominees:

13 Sophisticated Ways to Dress up PopcornSpicy clams and “piccata of the gods” for American Hustle

A pizza-night menu is drawn from Theodore and Samantha’s carnival date in Her  

Outer space-themed dishes such as potato ‘meteors’ and star-shaped Linzer cookies to celebrate the celestial setting of Gravity.

Fruitcake and tea for Philomena whose enthusiasm for and love of food is evident through out the movie.

An over-the-top menu that includes sushi, steak, lobster, and Champagne reflect the lifestyle in The Wolf of Wall Street. With so many extravagant dishes, You may want to scale back this extensive menu or risk ‘incuring the wrath of your CFO and father for spending $26,000 on dinner”.

To see all nine movie-themed menus, read more.

 Plan your Oscar night around your favorite movie or the menu you can’t resist. Or pick one or more recipes from each and create your own one-of-a-kind Oscars feast.

Oscar Night: Fun & Festive Menus

Make more Oscar Night magic at home with:

 

Easy Appetizers

Oscar Night: Fun & Festive Menus

12 Sweet and Savory Puff Pastry Recipes

Theater-Style Snacks                                                                                                    Popcorn with a Twist

Oscar Night: Fun & Festive Menus

Microwave Popcorn Tase Test

 

13 Sophisticated Ways to Dress up Popcorn

13 Sophisticated Ways to Dress up Popcorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adapted from Epicurious.com: Best Oscar Party Recipes

Image Credits: Epicurious.com

 

 

Happy Heart’s Day!

Happy Heart's Day!

 

May your day be filled with Joy and Happiness

and your heart filled with Love !

 

Happy Heart's Day

 

HAPPY  VALENTINE’S  DAY

 

 

 

 

 

Food Art Images source unknown

 

 

 

Girl Scout Cookie Dessert Fun

It’s Girl Scout cookie season!  

Girl Scout Cookie Dessert Challenge

And the “Girl Scout Cookie Dessert Challenge” is underway in Arizona

Arizona Girls Scouts have launched the “Girl Scout Cookie Dessert Challenge”.   This contest – the first of its kind  – is being hosted by the Girl Scout Arizona Cactus Pine Council (GSACPC) with assistance from some talented local chefs. 

One of the girls of the Arizona Council suggested that her troop donate a portion of their cookie sales to Camp Sombrero a 14.5 acre urban camp situated at the base of South Mountain in Maricopa County.  To increase the cookie sales, the Girl Scout Cookie Dessert Challenge was created.

Local chefs were invited to participate by using Girl Scout Cookies and their “culinary prowess to re-imagine” one of the Girl Scout cookies into a custom dessert menu item. Each chef has been assigned one of the six Girl Scout cookies types and challenged with the task of creating a tasty dessert to be served at their restaurant through the month of February.

Girl Scout Cookie Dessert Challenge Watch one of the chefs preparing his cookie dessert, “Girl Scout Cookie Roll”  (recipe follows) in this news clip from abc15 Phoenix.

The chefs are seeking votes from patrons for the title of  “Champion” of this first-ever Girl Scout Cookie Dessert Challenge. The restaurants are  also donating a portion of their in-house dessert sales to the troop for their Camp Sombero campaign.

BUY YOUR COOKIES! What clever Cookie Dessert will you create?

If you are in the Phoenix or Flagstaff area — or plan on visiting?  (Spring Training Games are happening now!) — here is a list of  Participating restaurants

5 th and Wine
Location: 7051 E. 5 th Avenue in Scottsdale
Assigned Cookie: Samoas
Dessert: Samoa Bread Pudding

Beckett’s Table
Location: 3717 E. Indian School Road in Arcadia
Assigned Cookie: Tagalongs
Dessert: Tagalong Napoleon

Blue Wasabi
Location: 2080 E. William Field Road in Gilbert
Assigned Cookie: Trefoils
Dessert: Girl Scout Cookie Roll

Café Bink
Location: 36889 N. Tom Darlington Drive in Carefree
Assigned Cookie: Trefoils
Dessert: Trefoil Jamboree Ice Cream Push Pop

CHoP
Location: 2625 E. Queen Creek Road in Chandler
Assigned Cookie: Thin Mints
Dessert: Cookie: Kick-Off Ice Cream Sandwich

Hopdoddy
Location: 11055 N. Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale
Assigned Cookie: Tagalongs
Dessert: Tagalong Shake Rattle & Roll

Lumberyard Brewery
Location: 5 S. San Francisco Street in Flagstaff
Assigned Cookie: Samoas
Dessert: Samoa Turtle Cheesecake

Olive + Ivy
Location: 7135 E. Camelback Road in Scottsdale
Assigned Cookie: Trefoils
Dessert: Blueberry Cheesecake with Girl Scout Cookie Crust Gelato

Salty Sow
Location: 4801 E. Cactus Road in Phoenix
Assigned Cookie: Samoas
Dessert: Samoa Cookie Coconut Cream Pie in a Jar

The Herb Box Southbridge
Location: 7134 E. Stetson Drive in Scottsdale
Assigned Cookie: Thin Mints
Dessert: Choco Thin Mint Ice Cream Sandwich

The Herb Box DC Ranch
Location: 20707 North Pima Road in Scottsdale
Assigned Cookie: Savannah Smiles
Dessert: Savannah Smiles Sunshine Icebox Pie

Tom’s Thumb
Location: 9393 E. Bell Road in Scottsdale
Assigned Cookie: Do-Si-Do
Dessert: Do-Si-Do Apple Pie

TQLA
Location: 1840 S. Val Vista Drive in Mesa
Assigned Cookie: Tagalong
Dessert: Tagalong Tiramisu

For more information on the challenge, please visit:  http://www.girlscoutsaz.org/cookie-fun

 

RECIPE

Blue Wasabi – Girl Scout Cookie Roll:

Ingredients:

2 Fruit Roll Ups (full size)

3 Rice Krispie treat squares

8 Samoas cookies

6 Trefoils cookies

Whip cream can

Caramel sauce

Chocolate sauce

Strawberry puree sauce

Preparation: Lay fruit roll ups down overlapping the shorter sides by 1/2 inch. Unwrap Rice Krispie treats and place in microwave for 20 seconds. Push Rice Krispie treats down onto the Fruit Roll Up and spread them onto the Fruit Roll Up into one even layer so no Fruit Roll Up is showing. Turn upside down so the Rice Krispie treat is on the cutting board and the Fruit Roll Up is facing up. Break four Samoas in half and lay them down, overlapping just a little bit in one line lengthwise across the Fruit Roll Up. Break three Trefoils into pieces and lay them on top of the Samoas. Roll the rollup to look like a sushi roll. Break four Samoas in half and lay them across the top of the roll. Use a sushi rolling mat to crimp the roll into shape and push the Samoas down into the top. Cut into 9 pieces. Place the roll lengthwise on a plate with each piece offset slightly from the one ahead of it. Place a dollop of whip cream on each piece and generously drizzle caramel, chocolate and strawberry puree on top of the roll. Crunch up remaining Trefoils and sprinkle cookie crumbles on top of the roll.

 

 

 

Image: Girl Scouts Az.

Video: abc15 Phoenix

Perfecting Potatoes

From BAKED  (vintage vendor cart)  to FRIES  (Pommes Frites in Belgium)  to . . .    COCKTAIL status?

Perfecting Potatoes

Enter:  MASHTINI  (aka MashPatini)

Mashed potatoes served in a martini glass — A fun and elegant way to present potatoes.

I encountered my first Mashtini/MashPatini Bar at the After Party of WordCampPhoenix (a fabulous weekend of learning more about websites and blogs!).  Served as part of an appetizer ‘bar’, we scooped creamy mashed Voilá -a delicious, satisfying and very elegant serving of a comfort food!Perfecting Potatoes

I  thought this was such clever creative idea – one of those “why haven’t we thought of this before?” things when I discovered it has been thought of before!   In doing a little research (it didn’t take much) I came across a reference from waaaay back in 2010 – yikes. Where have I been?Perfecting Potatoes - Mashtinis & MashPatinis

 Mashtini/MashPatini bars have apparently become quite popular, especially in the catering aspect for banquets, weddings, even holiday parties. Think of it… the options are endless as are the ‘flavors’, combination of toppings and presentations.Perfecting Potatoes - Mashtini/MashPatini

Thanks to Bob Evans (refrigerated mashed potato company), the Mashtini has been elevated to elegant ‘cocktail’ status. More than just mashed potatoes piled in a glass and covered with toppings, add a little flair, a twist of the wrist and they are works of art – Edible Art!  With names like The ClubSmokey Sub BBQAutumnCarbonnaraMac’n Mashtini,  Thankstini, and Sweet TaterTwist.

Perfecting Potatoes - Mashtini/MashPatiniBob Evans offers recipesvideos, even a downloadable Mashtini Planning Guide!

When is YOUR next Mashtini (MashPatini) Party??

Images from BobEvans Mashtini and Great Food Fun Places

Wine for Your Thanksgiving Feast

 

Thanksgiving Feasts are filled with a variety of tastes, textures and aromas.Thanksgiving Wine  Choose the correct wine to go with this special meal.

Sommelier Stacy Slinkard offers this advice:

Thanksgiving Wines: Sparkling1. Sparkling Wines. From appetizers, to white and dark turkey meat, mashed potatoes, yams, herb-filled stuffing, cranberry relish, pickled this and peppered that, all the way to pumpkin or pecan pie – is there truly a single wine that can take you seamlessly from start to finish?
Enter, sparkling wines – an increasingly popular pairing partner. Sparkling wines bring both elegance and food-pairing versatility to any meal, but with Thanksgiving these wines really shine.

 

2. White Wines.
Thanksgiving Wines: white wineRiesling: A white wine that can be dry or fairly sweet, excellent with any dishes that are spicy, salty or sweet, and is the top pick white wine for pairing with Thanksgiving dinner. Riesling’s innate flavors of apple, apricot, honey and its clarifying acidity give it a significant pairing edge with the likes of sweet potatoes, turkey meat and spice-laden or herb-filled stuffing.

Gewurztraminer: This white wine tends to have the aromatic gusto and spicy palate appeal that give it a solid standing with turkey and gravy, bringing out the best in both.

Pinot Grigio: Capable of handling garlic and onions, herbs and rich, flavorful, high-fat dishes, this white wine is a natural for the demands of Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving wines: red

3. Red Wines.
Pinot Noir: This red wine is a traditional favorite for Thanksgiving. Pinot Noir’s subtle earthy undertones tend to show well with the traditional flavors of turkey and stuffing.

Zinfandel: A fuller bodied red wine that ups the intensity from a Pinot Noir, but still maintains a balancing effect on many traditional Thanksgiving side dishes. This would be a great wine pick for those looking for a heartier red wine with the capacity to accommodate spice, bitter, and sweet flavors.

 

Cheers!

Giving Thanks never tasted so good!

 

 

 

Adapted from: “Timeshare travel – Wine for the Thanksgiving Table”  – a RedWeek.com post. “Take a timeshare rental vacation to northern California’s amazing Wine Country”  Napa timeshare rentals start at just $143/night.

Source: Thanksgiving Wines 
Photo Credit (top): thanksgivingwallpaper.blogspot.com
Photo Credit (1): wine.lovetoknow.com
Photo Credit (2): whitewines.net
Photo Credit (3): wine-vignettes.com

Mosaiculture in Montreal

FROM A FRIEND:
“Passing this along,  wish I was there to see it.
I thought you might enjoy this!”
Leanna
Montreal Mosaiculture
Mind-boggling!!!!!!!!
Montreal Mosaiculture
Mosaiculture
Once every three years, in a major city somewhere in the world, there is an international competition in horticultural sculpture, called “mosaiculture”.  This year it was Montreal.
This is not topiary  but rather creating sculptures out of living plants. A year in advance, the greatest horticulturalists in the world – from 20 different countries – submitted plans.  Steel armatures were created to support the works (some are 40 feet high); they were then wrapped in steel mesh and filled with dirt and moss and watering hoses. Then they ordered 3  million plants of different shades of green and brown and tan, and these were grown in greenhouses all over Quebec.
In late May, the horticulturalists arrived at the Montreal Botanic Gardens and planted all of their plants into the forms.  These sculptures stood on display through the summer until September 29.  There were 50 major sculptures along a path two miles long.
Montreal Mosaiculture
Truly  incredible!
Mosaiculture
Mosaiculture
See more sculptures (33 photos!) and read more about the Montreal Mosaiculture Exhibition 2013, at My Virtual Garden