Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thirsty Thursday - It's Martini Time

One of my favorite cocktails are martinis. Not the James Bond ,"stirred not shaken" kind, but the yummy , fluffy, girly kind.
We are taking a trip to the local orchard this weekend and that got me thinking about apple martinis. I found this great recipe at

Apple Martinis the perfect fall martini!


  • 1 (1.5 fluid ounce) jigger best-quality vodka
  • 1 (1.5 fluid ounce) jigger apple schnapps
  • 1 (1.5 fluid ounce) jigger frozen lemonade
  • 1 (1.5 fluid ounce) jigger chilled lemon-lime soda
  • 1 lime wedge
  • 1 maraschino cherries


  1. Pour the vodka, schnapps, lemonade, and soda into a cocktail shaker over ice. Cover, and shake until the outside of the shaker has frosted. Strain into a chilled martini glass, and garnish with a lime wedge and maraschino cherry to serve.
The next most important thing when having a martini is proper stemware . Enough can NOT be said be said about proper stemware !

Love these glasses!

Aren't these beautiful? And FUN !

And what are martini's if not fun ???


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Fall is defiantly upon us . The leaves are changing and the drive home with Addie was beautiful ! Today I decided we would shop for pumpkins . What fun we had ! Addie would have picked out even more if I would have let her!
Addie refuses to let me take her picture anymore !

I asked her to sit on the pumpkin with Tippy , but she still wouldn't look at me !

She escaped ! But LOVE the bumpy pumpkins!

Still NOT lookin'!

She's out of here !
Even though she wouldn't let me get any good pictures , Addie picked out some awesome pumpkins! And I made another priceless memory with my granddaughter!

Here are some of the things I plan to do with our pumpkins  ~


Will this scare my birds away?

LOVE this !

Love this ! Black chair + pumpkins = FAB !

Pumpkin Candy Corn - what a fun and simple idea for the front porch!

Pumpkin Candy Corn ~ PERFECT !

autumn Welcome

 This arrangement will be awesome in my wooden wheelbarrow !

That's as "wordless" as it gets with me folks !

Monday, September 26, 2011


It was a cold , rainy , yucky day here in Northeast Iowa. I have been lazy, lazy, lazy all day ! I decided to make a list of things I MUST get done this week and if I make it known , then maybe , just maybe , I will accomplish them.

#1 . REMOVE all of the "stuff" sitting all over my kitchen, dining, and living room that needs to go to the store. I'm tired of my home looking like a flea market ! I need to find a way to organize all of our "finds" until they are ready to go to the store and my living room is NOT the place to store them.
#2. REORGANIZE  the guest room. It has become a catch -all for smaller treasures and half finished projects also for the store .....GEEZ...I'm seeing a pattern here.
#3. CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN . My dust bunnies have been breeding like rabbits and those cobwebs in the corners are NOT Halloween decorations ! Speaking of which....
#4. CONTINUE with the Fall decorations. I got off to a small start last week ( see Antlers and Acorns ) but have much,  MUCH, more to do. I am hosting a bridal shower for my niece- to -be  AND having a " girlfriends" party at the end of the month and my house is far from ready for the festivities !
Am I getting an of this done ?..... Well no, not really.... I have however found some great inspiration on Pinterest. LOVE , LOVE, LOVE,  this site . What a great way to waste time .... get inspiration from other people.
Here are some Halloween/ Fall ideas I plan to put my own spin on :
LOVE this !
Perfect for my front step.

Love this idea. I have a perfect birdbath for this !

Defiantly going to do a version of this display in the entry. Picked up crows at the Dollar Store the other day , already have similar containers and plenty of spiders, just have to find some hedge apples....Hmmm

Last but not least. I love this vase. Super easy and I have everything to put it together.  Beautiful  example of an all natural display !

Now just to get off my lazy bum and accomplish something .....I'll keep you posted !

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The GRAPE Adventure

As I mentioned ALL week , I had a wonderful weekend planned with my old friend Rhonda , my favorite winery , and some awesome music by a local musician she introduced me to ( I may not have mentioned that part before). What a great time!
She also introduced me to her friend Erin ( now my new friend ) I knew if Rhonda loved her I would too, and I did ! What fun we had !
We left Rhonda's house at 7 am ( which meant getting up at 6 , not so good for me , as I am NOT an early morning person ! ) We needed to be at the winery at 7:30 ( we did make it on time ) , by 8:30 we were in the vineyard picking grapes. When I say "we" , I don't mean just the three of us , I'm not sure how many were there , but their web site  said they took 100 reservations and they were full every weekend !
They sent us out to our alotted acre and we began picking . We were picking Concord grapes , which I guess are one of the later varieties. The owner explained that they are harder to pick because they grow under the foliage and that it would work best if one person lifted the vine and another picked. This was one of the few times in my life  being short payed off.
I climbed right under the vine and started picking. I'm not sure how Erin got under there , she is REALLY tall , especially compared to me . And I'm not sure if she was picking at this time or just taking a picture of me . In her words "  You know I'm here for the wine , I'm not really here to work , right ?"
She was really helpful at lifting the vines though , I mentioned she was tall right ? Anyway, the veiw from inside the vines was SPECTACULAR !

Isn't that gorgeous! I had an absolute ball picking these grapes !

Then came the real fun . The owner arrived with a cooler full of chilled wine for us to sample !

Good stuff !
Then it was  grape stomping time !
Yes, they actually had a big vat of grapes for us to climb in and stomp !

Not quite Lucy and Ethel , but we were close. And we stayed upright. That may sound funny , but there was actually a girl that slipped while stomping . She was grape juice from the waist down ! Too much wine , maybe?
I can't finish this post without mentioning Chad Elliot. He is a local folk singer /song writer we went to listen to that night. He was fantastic. This is the second time I have been to one of his concerts and I enjoy him more each time. I just wish we hadn't been so tired from our adventure , we left before his oncore , we were just beat ! But please check him out at :  
And that my friends , is the story of my Grape Adventure !

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thirsty Thursday

Photo of a pin

Welcome to the first installment of Thirsty Thursday. On Thursdays , I will post recipes and pictures of some of my favorite cocktails ( and there are quite a few ! ).
In honor of my upcoming wine weekend I am sharing one of my famous ( or infamous, depending on who you talk to ) sangria recipes. I LOVE sangria! At our favorite Mexican restaurant , I am known as Grandma Sangria ( ok , we must go there too much ) !
If you like wine and people know it , you tend to get gifts of wine that maybe don't appeal to you. I NEVER waste a bottle of wine ! If it's not one I enjoy , I just save it for a Sangria Event. Sangria recipes generally make a pretty big batch so I don't like to make it unless I am having an "EVENT", besides Sangria is always best shared with friends !
Sangria is basically a wine punch made with fruit and liquor. And the great thing is there are as many combinations as there are people. You just can't do it wrong. Sometimes I add a little ginger ale or soda to a glass 3/4 full of Sangria , but again , it's all personal preference.

Photo of a pinToday I am going to share the recipe I used for my Sangria at out Labor Day potluck at the campground . It was DELISH !
One Bottle of Merlot - I will interject here and say it's best to use a cheap wine. Why use a expensive wine when it's  flavors are just going to mingle with that of the liquor and fruit.
One Cup Raspberry Schnapps-  I like to use a sweeter liquor , like Schnapps  or brandy.
One Cup Triple Sec - I almost always use Triple Sec
One bottle of Cranberry Juice -  I always use a fruit juice of some kind , depending on the flavor combo I'm going for . I usually prefer citrus though , like,  lemonade , limeade or  even a mixed fruit punch. This particular weekend I happened to have a bottle of cranberry juice in the frig.
Sliced fruit - if you slice the fruit the flavors mingle faster. AGAIN , it's all preference. This weekend I used a lemon , lime , orange and frozen  mixed berries.
Another tip - if you freeze your sliced fruit or use frozen fruit , you don't need to use ice , which dilutes the Sangria. Who really wants diluted Sangria ? NO ONE !
 I called this one WILD Berry Sangria !  And I have to say it WAS a hit !I can't think of a better  or more affordable cocktail to serve a crowd than Sangria. Experiment with different combinations , I can honestly say I have never made two batches alike ! Give it a try !
Wine = Happy

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Almost

So , I'm pretty new to this blogging thing , (but I am having fun with it ) and I see quite a few blogs that do " Wordless Wednesday" posts.
Now I have Addie every Wednesday afternoon, so I thought it would be a pretty cool feature on my blog too.
Here's the problem.... it's almost impossible for me to be wordless about ANYTHING ! But.... I am going to try use as few words as possible.
This Wednesday's theme : INSPIRATION.
I have found another cool thing while blogging , it's called Pinterest . It's a great creative tool , that lets you look at other people's inspiration. It's like an online scrapbook of all things that interest you. How many times have you looked at a picture in a magazine and thought it was great and got some inspiration from it , then when you tried to find it back , you couldn't remember which magazine it was in or which issue of which magazine (  if you're like me, you have all the issues because you just can't part with them , cause you might need to refer back... someday ), well this helps you store all of those ideas on " boards". For instance , I have a board for "garden" and " quotes" and "inspiration " and , well , you can have as many boards as you have interests if you want . It's awesome , I'm telling you !
ANYWAY...... here is some of my INSPIRATION ....

chair inspiration
Inspiration for my " chair obsession"

Idea for next year
An Inspiration for next year in the Moon Garden. Can't you just see a similar arrangement with silver pots and white flowers ? HEAVEN !
chalkboards in frames
One of the next DIY projects I'm going to tackle. Addie LOVES writing with her chalk. Just because it's functional doesn't mean it can't be beautiful !

Pomegranate Champagne Punch
Pomegranate Champagne Punch
I think this will be the "signature cocktail "  at my next Girl's Night party ! YUMM!

true that !
My quote of the week.....BUT oh, so true !

Ok , so it wasn't "Wordless" , but this is as close as it gets for me. The wordless Wednesday word is INSPIRATION and  I hope my blog gives you a little of that.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's new feature , "Thirsty Thursday". I haven't found a blog yet that does that , but I'm sure there must be one or two !

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Obsession #2 - Iowa Wine

This coming weekend , I am going to my favorite Iowa winery, Summerset Winery , to be part of their Fall Harvest. I will pick grapes, drink wine, and get to spend time with an old wine drinkin' buddy ( and I'm pretty sure a new friend too).
I have friends that still prefer California wines to Iowa wines, and that's OK. But I feel very passionate about Iowa wines. The Iowa wine industry has come a long way in the last decade.
A little history of the wine industry in Iowa... The first commercial vineyard in the state was planted in 1857.
In the early 1900's , Iowa ranked sixth in the nation in grape production. In the 1930-40's with the beginning of Prohibition and the onset of disease issues , the grape industry in Iowa fizzled and the main focus of agriculture shifted to corn and soybeans.
In the  late 90's with interest in wine growing , Iowa farm land once again was planted to grapevines . Today, there are 87 wineries and almost 1500 acres of land are planted to grapes.

    The rolling hills and fertile Iowa farm land  along with the advances in grape varieties have really boosted the wine industry.
I am very lucky to have another awesome Iowa winery just a few miles from me . The Engelbrecht Family Winery  and Farm House Bed and Breakfast in located in Fredricksburg , Ia. Until recently it was also a working dairy farm ( another thing near and dear to me ). I have visited them often since they opened the winery and started planting their grapes in 2004. Their wine has come a long way since then and they have several wines I really enjoy.
To this day though , my very favorite wine continues to be the very first Iowa wine I ever purchased, Summerset Winery's Caba Moch. It's actually is a lot of people's favorite. Sales of Caba Moch make up 40% of Summerset's sales ! It's DELISH ! And this weekend I get to be part of their magic ! Just picture Lucy and Ethel stomping those grapes! That will be me and Rhonda ( although , she gets to be Lucy cause she has the red hair !) More pictures and an update to follow ... I promise !
Let the good times roll......

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Cupcake Queen and her Sprinkle Princess

This weekend we celebrated my Granddaughter Addie's 2nd birthday. She won't actually be 2 until the 29th, but Addie has so many people that love her and wouldn't miss her birthday for the world that her smart Mommy decided to divide it into two parties. And OUR side of the family was this past weekend.
In my family , I am THE CUPCAKE QUEEN ( in other families , I might not be as impressive , but in mine , I am the BEST ). So when Addie was asked what she wanted for her birthday party and she said " CUPCAKES AND BALLOONS ! " It was up to me to deliver on the cupcake part.
Now I have to back track a little to last years party. It was a "ladybug" theme ( Addie's Mommy was very into themes back then ). And I have to say the theme went a little over the top, plus we had both sides of the family together ( TOO many people) . I made close to 100 ladybug cupcakes ! Her Mommy made her ladybug cake ( I think , I don't remember clearly , visions of ladybug cupcakes dancing in my head)
Isn't she ADORABLE ?
Anyway, when I found out this year that she just wanted , " CUPCAKES AND BALLOONS" ( she actually yelled that every time you mentioned her birthday) , I was a pretty happy Grandma. I decided to take her to a nearby store that sells bulk food and has an awesome selection of sprinkles and let her pick out the sprinkles for her CUPCAKES. The first ones she picked out were Breast Cancer sprinkles ( white sprinkles with little pink ribbon sprinkles) , OK , we can get those. Then she picked out red, white and blue stars . Hmmm... well , how about some multi colored flower sprinkles instead ....YEP....phew....
On Friday it was time to bake our cupcakes. Addie was a big helper.
She put the cupcake liners in the pans.
Of course, she licked the whisk ! She gets her sweet tooth from her Papa.

Now we don't just make REGULAR cupcakes in our family . No... we have FILLED cupcakes. And what they are filled with depends on the occasion. For Addie's 2nd birthday , it was white cupcakes with cheesecake filling and chocolate cupcakes with fudge filling . Sounds impressive huh ? ( well, I am the Cupcake Queen , duh ! ) It's not really. It's just cupcakes from a mix ( I'm a Queen , not a Saint ) and the filling is either pudding, or pie filling or pastry filling ,depending on what flavor is needed. Now I'm going to let you in on my secret.

The cake decorator from Pampered Chef. I LOVE THIS GADGET ! I would not be the cupcake Queen without it ( I have actually gone through 2 of these, really ! ), just fill the container , stick it in the center of the cupcake and pull the trigger. WALLAH ! Filled cupcakes ! It also comes with many different attachments  for frosting. I tend to use the "star" tip the most.
On Saturday Addie's Daddy brought her back to decorate all the cupcakes. I also made her her own little cake . Of course when I took the cover off to show her her cake , she stuck her finger in the icing !
She put some of both the sprinkles she picked out on her cake plus some black and white cow sprinkles leftover from her Daddy's birthday ( my son , the dairy farmer).
Her masterpiece !
Funny ... I didn't get any pictures of her cupcakes! Oh well... I started out volunteering to make the cupcakes for her party and ended up making a priceless memory with my Granddaughter ! It doesn't get much better than that !

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Chair Obsession

I LOVE chairs ! Small Chairs , shabby chairs, comfy chairs, overstuffed .....well you get the picture. I spent this rainy day working on projects for the store. It was a great day to do it and I got SO much accomplished. There is nothing I love more than giving new life to a discarded chair ( ok , well , there are a few things I love more , but... well again , you get the picture).
Aren't these AWESOME ! I call them modern country /cottage !
These babies are going to the store tomorrow. Here's another one I created today for the store.
Isn't she pretty . I think it's called a harp back chair ( I think ) . Anyway, the paint color is called Cinnamon, which I thought would be a rusty brown which was perfect because I wanted to make her a "fall" chair. However it turned out to be more of a pumpkin orange, still fine for fall , but I didn't really have any fall fabric that looked right. This fabric I used  is actually a piece from a vintage tablecloth which I had been wanting to use for quite awhile. I love working with vintage fabric , it  just seems to be a sturdier fabric , anyway , I was very happy with the way she turned out .
I have collected small Mexican chairs for several years now. I got my first one because it was red and cute. I LOVE red and I will find a place for most any little red thing I find. I rarely pay more than a couple dollars for my Mexican chairs and usually find them in junk shops and second hand stores. I have several red ones , some natural wood ones and Emily ( my baby girl , ok , she's almost 22, but still MY BABY ) found me an awesome white one at a Goodwill .
Just part of my collection.....
You can't really tell but this picture , but the picture in the center is actually a PICTURE OF CHAIRS ! I got it for three dollars at a thrift store , I couldn't go home with out it. It had an ugly green frame , but that was easy enough to change !

I found this little gem in one of my favorite second hand shops and KNEW it had to go home with me. I had no idea where I would put it , but it was too sweet to leave behind. Emily was like , " Mom , do you really need that?" and I was like , "Nope, but I want it !"
It's just like my Mexican chairs only child size !
I stuck it in a corner of the bathroom ( cause it fit really well there) and there it languished with out much thought from me ....UNTIL... Miss Addie  ( My Darling Granddaughter) started potty training . Now she scoots it up to the sink to wash her hands. I just knew I needed it in my house !
And last but by no means least , is my  version of shabby chic.
Gorgeous , right ! Well maybe not to everyone, but I. LOVE. HER! Again , I wish I was a better photographer :( She has kinda chartreuse embossed flowers ( which were originally more olive but have faded to chartreuse) with a little fuchsia thrown in . I found her in a junk shop and fell in love from across the room ! I gravitated right to her . Price tag - $10. I knew I had to have her, but Ryan ( Emily's guy) was with me and he never pays the asking price for ANYTHING  ( I think it would physically hurt him to pay the asking price), he offered the guy $5 and this shabby little lady was mine ! Hubby about had a fit ,but he has gotten used to her  ! Yah !
SO ... there is a small sampling of my chair obsession.
What is your decorating obsession ?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Antlers and's a start.

Well... I did it. I just had to . I could not hold back any longer. It was 37 degrees when I went to work this morning and a whopping 57 when I came home . Therefore , I could NOT stop myself. I HAD to get some of my fall decorations out ! Just a few.  I felt I exercised a little self -control . If I hadn't there would probably be a Halloween tree up ( don't think I wasn't tempted).
But no, I started small , some bittersweet , faux pumpkins , acorns and gourds. And one print , just one. My beautiful witch on canvas is still in the Halloween closet ( I'm not kidding, I really have a closet dedicated to all that is Halloween ).    
I LOVE antlers . Can you tell? Hubby has been a hunter since before I met him and that's a REALLY long time. But most of these antlers are sheds, meaning in the spring when the deer shed there antlers , they fall off and regrow new ones. Hope that doesn't gross anyone out. It's the natural way of things. I find them fascinating. Each antler tells the story of the animal that shed it. Some are from young bucks, some bare the scars of battle with other bucks and some have laid so long before they were found that they became a source of calcium and vitamins for other forest creatures like squirrels. Some husbands bring their wives roses, mine knows I am much happier with a new antler! We even  have a shed antler from an elk, it covers the entire top of my china cabinet. We did not find that in the woods or even in a field, we found it in a home decor/consignment store , really , funny huh?
I love to decorate with my antlers. In the spring I use bird's nest and moss. In the fall, it's acorns and bittersweet. In the winter , pine cones and evergreen. 
Other elements I use in fall decorating are of course , pumpkins, gourds, acorns and bittersweet. Natural elements. I use a lot of nature in my home. Partly because we are country people and partly because Hubby is a real outdoors man. I feel strongly that your home should reflect the like and interests of all those living there.
I have to stop and say here that although the elements of this arrangement represent nature ,they are not natural, they are faux ( a much cooler word for fake, don't you think). Normally I HATE faux ! One of my BIGGEST pet peeves is people that put FAKE ( I had to use that word ) flowers or plants in their outdoor planters. I mean , really, if you can't take care of the real thing , don't use anything ! PLEASE ! I hope that doesn't offend anyone , but I feel very strongly about this ! I do use the real thing, but mostly in my outdoor decorating. You only have to have a fresh pumpkin or gourd go bad and leak it's guts all over one of your favorite baskets or antiques to never do that again ! I would LOVE to use fresh bittersweet , but it is very hard to come by and it's not nearly as pliable .   
Here is a close up of my first fall arrangement of the year ! YAH!  I wish I was a better photographer, cause it really is pretty awesome.It's not much, but it's a start.
Bring on the Fall!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Wine Bottle Trees

I thought this might be a good post to show off my wine bottle trees and the garden that surrounds one of them. I am quite a fan of wine , maybe I mentioned that before , anyway ... I once saw a picture in a garden catalog of a wine bottle tree, it was kind of like a Shepard's hook with posts to place empty wine bottles on . I really wanted one , but being the cheapo I am , I couldn't see paying $40 plus shipping and handling . I drew a picture for a friend of ours. He  is a very good and creative welder  ( I am very lucky to have talented friends) , now would be the time to mention , he is also a bit over the top. He takes any idea and 100 times it ! In this case , lucky for me .
Mine turned out to look more like a weeping willow than a Shepard's hook and holds about  50 wine bottles ! It's about 7 feet tall and I'm 5 foot , so assistance was needed to place the top bottles.  I know you are wondering , is it full ?... The answer is yes . Next question , did you drink all of that wine ?... Answer again , yes.... but I did have help ! Cause really ... what's a bottle of wine without someone to share it with ? Well... it's still good of course, just not as fun ..... oops , got a little off track there.....
This garden is prettiest right now ( like all flower gardens ) mainly because there is a beautiful Sweet Autumn Clematis growing up the wine tree and it is surrounded by purple mums . Great combo , right !?

Here's a little close up . Pretty , huh ? I love , love , love it ! I have had people actually pull in my driveway to take pictures of it. Now would probably be a good time to give credit to and thank Aaron for going EXTREME on my design !
I also have a wine bottle tree at the Summer Home ( surprised ?) This one is much smaller . We made it out of an old stump . Handy Hubby cut re bar at about 8 - 10 inches , we drilled holes into the stump ( well , he drilled , but I told him where to drill ), and pounded the re bar in . Simple design . I have seen a similar wine tree made from a porch post , pretty cool.

And yes, I did drink all that wine , but not in one summer and not by myself :)
Cheers !

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