Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Small Fortune

It's that time of year again, back to school, back to college, and back to an empty wallet (well, mine is pretty empty all the time). While clicking here and there I happened across these extremely lovely fortune cookie coin purses designed by Diana Eng. The talented Diana was educated at RISD and started her career as a designer on Bravo’s Project Runway, Season 2. Impressive!  
Diana Eng website

Diana Eng website
When I saw these I immediately thought of my niece who is starting her first year of college. Aaaah, the wonderful world of college, no idea of what's ahead of you, no family around you, no sleep, and no money. Wouldn't this be a sweet gift for a college student? With a special note of good fortune and well wishes inside, it is sure to brighten their day.

Made in the USA and created from recycled leather, these purses measure 4” x 4” x 2”. Each purse has a unique laser etched ID number. So unique! The coin purses come with an adorable bag and printed fortune inside. So Sweet!

Diana Eng website

Although I would love to get my niece one and tuck a small fortune in it for her fresh new start in college  I'm already making her a quilt to comfort her through this new chapter in her life. Oh well,  I may have to get myself one.....to hold my small fortune.

Click here to see some additional products that designer Diana Eng has to offer.   

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sunny & Bright

Last month while I was in Maine I made a stop a the Echo Lodge. Back in 1950 the property was a golf course, today it is a sunny and bright spot for passersbys to enjoy. The first thing that caught my eye was this wonderful orange pickup. I think an antique vehicle enhances any property and should be factored into everyones decor; and you know I'm a sucker for antiques so I had to stop.

In 2004 Christine & Carl Plummet started the Echo Lodge. While I was poking around Christine came in with an armful of vegetables. Her bright smile welcomed me, and it wasn't long before she placed her pickings in a basket and took me outside for a tour. 

We took a walk through the sunflower patch which has several varieties that I had never seen before, one in particular, the Moulin Rouge. Its color is rich, velvety, and a deep red. It's the dark one featured in the lovely bouquet below.  

We continued towards the vegetables where we found this little friend, a humongous tomato hornworm. If you happen to find one of these in your garden I recommend that you take it out and look at it under a microscope. They are gorgeous but can eat at a rapid pace, and before you know it your garden will be consumed. 

In addition to the fresh vegetables, homemade breads, and beautifully arranged flowers, the Echo Lodge also has a community garden where many locals stop by to get pick up vegetables for there daily meals. Luckily this year there was more than enough to go around so the Echo Lodge was able to provide fresh produce to local food pantries.

If you're driving through Rt 121 in Raymond, Maine be sure to stop by. 
(207) 655-4893 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Eat Fresh, Eat Local, Eat Well

Have you ever had a stop that you wanted to make but kept putting it off? "Next time I'll stop, no time right now to stop, if I only had 20 extra minutes I'd stop". This is the case with a stop that I finally made today. 

I had been wanting to stop at Apple Street Farm many times, but I was always on my way somewhere, or coming from somewhere. Today when I found myself with a few extra minutes to spare I pulled right in to see what the  farm was all about. 
Located on Apple Street in Essex, MA, this farm may be hard to find unless you live on the street, or use Apple Street as as a cut through (that's what I do). Several months ago I saw a cart at the entrance to the property filled with fresh vegetables, I knew I wanted to stop, but was unable to. The next time I drove by I saw a tent popped up in the back. My interest peaked, but still no time to spare. Today there wasn't a cart or tent, just a few friendly faces willing to share their 14 acre New England treasure with me.
While workers were busy plucking and watering the crops, Liz, the farm manager was busy packaging up fresh heirloom vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers, to be distributed to farm owner and chef Frank McClelland's famed Boston restaurantsand featured on his daily menu. 

His motto Eat Fresh, Eat Local, Eat Well.

In addition to supplying their harvest to restaurants the farm also sells their vegetables at their farm stand, offers farm shares, holds cooking classes and has a dinner series during the summer that I hear is top class!

Click here for additional information about Apple Street Farm  

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Zu "Queen" ni Bread

Have you noticed that the nights are getting slightly shorter and a little chillier? Although I am not happy about either one thing I do enjoy is the fruits and vegetables of the season, and the wonderful recipes that can be made with them. 

  • Yesterday when I stopped by my mother's house I took a walk through her garden. I was amazed at how tall the corn had gotten, how nicely the pumpkins were growing, how colorful the squash were, and how big the zucchinis were. 

  • Among the beautiful green leaves, I found this lovely zucchini. It made me want to come home and cook a zucchini bread. Have you ever made one? To be honest I haven't because my mom is the  Zu "Queen" ni bread maker. I'm not sure where she got her recipe but it is really yummy especially with cream cheese on it. Maybe this will be the year that I cook me up a batch of bread........nahh, I wouldn't want to steal her crown!

  • Here is her recipe - Enjoy:

  • Zucchini Bread

    3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 cups of raisins


  1. Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
  3. Beat eggs, oil, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and raisins until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  4. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Honestly, How Can You Resist!

Several years ago when my BFF was living on Martha's Vineyard I had the opportunity to visit her many times. I love everything about the Vineyard. The  landscape, people, beaches, quaint shops, and unexpected surprises. One of those unexpected surprises was a colorful array of cut flowers-roadside. Often times when we were visiting a friend or relative for dinner we'd make a stop to purchase a bouquet of these beauties. This was one of my favorite stops because these flowers were from a person's home, cut fresh that day, and placed into  bundles ready to be sold - on the honor system of course. Love that!!

When we moved about six years ago to our home, I was thrilled when I was driving down the road and found a similar unexpected surprise.  A roadside explosion of color. I immediately stopped.

DeJager's is a local landscaping company that also sells imported Holland bulbs. During the summer months they place a table outside of their building and they sell cut flowers. Depending on the time of year they may have a variety of Gladiolus, Tulips, or Zinnias, but by far my favorite is when they are selling the Dahlias. The first time that I saw them I was blown away. Honestly, how can you resist a 10" round bright yellow Dahlia?

Dahlia's come in a blast of different colors, shapes and sizes, and can reach six feet in height! If you need a little color on your table, or a beautiful bouquet to brighten someone's day be sure to make this one of your stops.  DeJager's offers a stunning variety, your choice 3 for $5, honor system of course. Love that!! 

DeJager's is located at:
188 Asbury Street, Hamilton, MA (978) 468-1117 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Traveling Watermelon That Kills

Last week when my cousins visited us from Canada we had several dinners with them. One day at my dad’s house, one day at my sister’s house, one day at my house, so on and so forth. The evening that we had them over at my house we prepared a simple barbeque medley finished off by an array of yummy desserts. My father in law brought a beautiful whole watermelon; but because there was way too many desserts to choose from we decided to hold off on cutting the watermelon. Since we were getting together the following night at my sister’s house I told her I’d bring the watermelon over to her house, which I did.

The next evening as we finished a feast at my sister’s we started to bring out the desserts. Again there were so many to choose from so the watermelon got left behind. “That’s ok, I said, I’ll bring it to Maine for our vacation next week.” We laughed at how the watermelon kept traveling.
That's me wearing  the traveling dress

It reminded me of a dress that I had that would travel every summer from my house and then to my friend’s house. We got a lot of use out of that dress; hopefully the watermelon won’t be around from year to year. I’m pretty certain that it won’t because in many Portuguese circles the older generation believes that watermelon kills.

What? Watermelon Kills, you say?      

It’s actually quite hysterical because as the story goes apparently my dad’s brother’s girlfriend’s sister’s aunt’s nephew’s brother’s daughter’s friend’s uncle’s grandfather’s grandmother’s niece’s friend died after they drank wine, brushed their  teeth, picked their nose, and ate watermelon. Bizarre right? Of course it is, because it NEVER happened but it’s a funny ongoing thing because during any Portuguese get together you always hear the older generation telling a tale about the watermelon that killed so and so.

We’ve had a lot of laughs that evening about the watermelon that kills, maybe that’s why it keeps travelling with us and not getting eaten.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

In The Weeds

Did you know that seaweed is rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals? And when compared with plants that grow on land, seaweed or sea vegetables from the ocean, are 20 times more nutrient-dense.

Wow- I'm glad that I like seaweed.

Last week when my cousins were visiting from Canada one of my stops took me to the shoreline of Magnolia, MA to collect seaweed for a family feast. As a child I remember waiting for low tide, climbing the rocks, and collecting seaweed off the rocks.  When we’d get home my mother would prepare the seaweed and we would eat it.

At the time I didn’t know that it had so many healthy benefits, I just knew that it was a delicious treat, and whenever we ate it meant that we had guests from out of town that didn’t live near the ocean. Thanks to my cousin's visit I was able to relive days gone by.

My mother and I picked for about an hour. We laughed as we contemplated whether or not we had enough. We screeched as we slipped on the rocks. We enjoyed the moment and reminisced about the past. It was a beautiful evening, one that I will treasure.
After we finished we sat and looked out at the ocean. I felt blessed to live in such a breathtaking area. I felt blessed to have a mom that is a true friend; a kind, humble and giving women.
Thank you  Canadian cousins- for deciding  to visit us on your vacation. You could have gone anywhere in the world but you chose us. If you hadn't come to visit I may not have made this stop with mom. I love you & the time we spent together.....but happy you're gone because the extremely late nights/early mornings were killing me. Kisses!

Do you want to try making seaweed? It's easy.
1- Pick the brown seaweed (the soft one not bumpy) off the rocks by simply pulling it
2- Pick through and cut any long pieces
3- Marinate it overnight in a little red wine, garlic, and red pepper(Goya)
4- Put a little oil in a pan and put in the seaweed. Cook for apx. 20 minutes stir occasionally
5- Consume with tons of Portuguese corn bread and a glass of red wine. YUMMY!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Manchester Arts Festival - #2

Today I continue my walk through the Manchester Arts Festival with Eugene Quinn. 
As paddle surfing has grown in popularity here in the North Shore, when I saw this painting of a surfer on the beach it really caught my eye. Eugene's use of color is magnificent, and sets the mood for all of his oil paintings. You must make his studio in Rockport, MA one of your stops, I promise that you won't be disappointed.  
These colorful little ladies created by artist and mom Shayne Ostrowski caught my eye as I walked the festival. Shayne started Orabelle Baby after having her first child. Frustrated at not being able to find clothes she liked she decided to create her own line. If you are looking for modern clothing for your little lovely Orabelle Baby has colorful dresses, skirts, shirts, and much more. 

A I continued my walk I stopped to watch artist Susan Kenna in the ancient art of needle-felting. Each bead that she creates is individually designed and made of 100% wool. The process is really fun to watch, and the end product is really beautiful to wear. 

Artist Patrick Horgan uses the ancient art of Gyotaku to create his art. Gyotaku is a Japanese word that literally means “hand-rubbed fish impression” and involves brushing a thin coating of ink on the surface of a fish, and making an impression of the inked fish on a thin sheet of paper. Who would have known that fish are not only delicious on the grill but also look amazing on rice paper?!

Have a great weekend. I'm off to Maine next week so stay tuned for fun stops to share when I return.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Manchester Arts Festival - #1

I love being around creative people. As a creative person myself, it helps me look at things differently and inspires me to be artistic in everything that I do; whether it’s re-purposing a chair, making a special card for a friend, wrapping a gift, or simply getting dressed in the morning.  

A couple of  weeks ago I stopped by the Manchester Arts Festival which took place in Manchester-by-the-Sea. This year’s festival featured  fine art, sculpture, textiles, pottery, jewelry, apparel & accessories, garden ornaments, photography, paintings, and more!

These photos should give you a glimpse of the day, and hopefully these artists will inspire you to create.

Here are some that caught my eye during my stop.

Kreative by km KreativebyKM@gmail.com
Just like Kristen, her creations are colorful, sweet, and adorable. At the festival Kristen displayed many key fobs, handbags, camera straps, baby one-seez, and small clutches. 

I'm a sucker for nautical, screen printed items, and little pooches so when I ran into Agnes Magnolia I had to stop. Three friends / artists form Agnes Magnolia. They handcraft and hand screen print their items using organic materials when they can. For their story about how they got their name, and their pooch mascot, visit their Etsy shop.
Snowbound Pottery www.snowboundpottery.com
Potter Anna Kasabian creates these little lovelies by hand, in her hands, not on a wheel. They are so delicate and beautifully glazed; a must have in any room of a home.

Back in the early 90's I remember making decoupage purse and jewelry with my friends Tracey and Cathy so when I saw Jenn Sherr's booth I had to stop. Her decoupage bracelets and handbags have been featured in many newspapers and magazines, and have made their way into the "clutches" of celebrities. 

That's it for today, I'm going to shuffle through my pictures and show you some you more tomorrow. Need a gift? Support and artist!