Friday, April 27, 2012

Vintage Tea Room Fun

Remember When Tea Room
     You may be thinking, a tea room?  Not for me, too old school.  But any of you lovers of Downton Abbey will have to agree that it's exactly this kind of place, or the pure opulence and "fruffery" of the scenery that drew you back to the tv set week after week.  
     This was my second visit to this place, "Remember When Tea Room" and I came back because I remembered how unique, fun and inspiring it was here.  Not to mention the tea selection with over 60 different varieties and great food to boot.  It's not just the food and tea I was after, but a great experience as well...          
      So, fix yourself a cup of tea and sit back to enjoy a visual feast of colors, food, nics-nacs of every kind imaginable. You'll see these and anything else you can imagine in this one-of-a-kind tea room with its painted floors, ceilings and vintage retro item-filled rooms.  
     There are way too many pics here, but I had a difficult time whittling them down; the memories of the experience fueling my photo enthusiasm. I think you'll enjoy this visit as much as I and my lovely companions, mom, sister and mom-in-law!  Enjoy...
Happy faces to greet ya...

Love the colors in this trinket...

Lots of great tea items to stir up your appetite
Heads up!  The hallway ceiling covered in dried celosia flowers...

You walk through a maze of gift shop rooms before arriving at your destination

Lovely Sista

French Vanilla Tea, thank you

Lots of love here...

Saffron-Chicken and Mushroom Crepes - they!!
Not into crepes? Try their Asparagus Asiago Cheese Quiche.

Belgian Chocolate small pot of tea

Lemon Curd and Devonshire Cream
A great lunch and tea is over, time to explore...
I believe this was a kid's item room, painted floor too.

Bath item treasures

Lots of opulent items for sale


There's your favorite tea to purchase on your way out...
A great little vignette to draw contemplation from...

More sparkly trinkets
Their Christmas ornament room and the end of our trip...
Want to check it out?  Visit their webpage at for more information.  It's a fun place, and the whole area in Kirtland, Ohio has quite a few treasures to visit.  Blessings!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Making Your Beds - Garden Style

    We aren't this far along this year with our garden as of yet, but I had these pictures from last year, so thought I would talk about prepping your garden.
     We have an extremely small yard, but lots of enthusiasm, so we have this small garden in between our wood storage "shed" and our storage shed.  It's large enough for all our greens, some beans and whatever else I can think to put here.  
     Last year I grew several different types of basils.  Purple, Lettuce Leaf and Lemon to name a few.  
Todd, hard at work
     I always grow too much basil.  It just happens. I start it from seed IN the garden itself.  I've tried starting it in containers and transplanting it, buying plants from the store, etc...but the way it seems to work the best is to just plant it in the garden.
     I think if you wait until the soil really warms up well, it just takes off and always would catch up and look much healthier than any transplants.
      Todd is working hard with this amazing Honda rototiller.  A friend of ours who doesn't garden anymore is letting us use this as long as we garden.  It's a definite back saver! There are different theories about the usage of rototillers, some for them and some against their use, but it seems to work for us. We rototill leaves, grass clippings and whatever else right in so it will add to the soil.

     When we dig into the garden, we can actually see all the new "dirt" that has been made and the clay dirt mix of the original back yard....nice!  
     What helps with this is our compost bin.  I have a very lovely stainless kitchen bin that I empty into our large yard compost container.  Yes, all those veggie scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags (paper kind only), and eggshells all combine with leaf material to make a nice hummus-y mix.  It's a great way to recycle household waste, and use up yard waste to 
The robins love to go through the soil to find any stray worms!
actually make something that will benefit your garden.  We take all of the old flower stocks from the flower beds and place them in a big pile to work on breaking down.  This will become a nice bit of soil after awhile.

Why "make" dirt?  Have you seen the prices of dirt lately? It's crazy and if I can keep my garden waste out of landfill to make FREE dirt, then well, there you go!
Happiness shiny kitchen compost bin, found online.
So, the compost begins it's life in the kitchen in this most lovely of compost containers.  It was actually a birthday gift a few years back.  I kept asking my sister for one for my birthday and she finally broke down and against all her love of shopping, bought me this beauty! Ahhh!  I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I have to say that the birthday I received it is forever burned into my memory as a very happy day indeed!

This was the garden growing in mid-June.  The large pyramid in back is for my pole beans.  I have lettuce going on on the far left, mustard greens and turnip green, arugula and broccoli raab.  Notice the raise beds too. During a bad rainstorm, parts of our yard can get a little flooded.  The raised beds actually help keep the plants above the water line.  Raised beds also tend to warm up faster and provide good drainage.  We also place a thin layer of grass clippings on the walkways to keep down weeds and eventually enrich the soil.  It's important to go easy putting on a lot of green clippings as they tend to steal nitrogen from the soil around them which is needed to help them break down.  
This is the garden when it's still a baby.  We have one more bed to the right which is out of the picture because it wasn't planted yet but was waiting for basil.  So nice!
Well, here's to dreaming about your garden beds...can't wait until ours gets done!  Very soon we hope!  Be blessed!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tomato Basil Tortelloni Soup!

Time for another recipe which includes some garden greens.  I made this soup today and a few people requested the recipe.  So, thought I would just turn it into my next blog.
The greens are my Swiss Chard and Giant Red Indian Mustard.  I can't help but be so grateful that these greens are up and giving me so many leaves to cook with this Spring.  
I am a lazy Spring gardener.  My garden beds aren't turned over yet and nothing is planted except for some nice cutting lettuces and extremely small parsley plants.  Good gardeners take advantage of this weather and can be already harvesting lots of food.  But no worries, looks like these plants came to the rescue and giving me more than enough for soups and recipes.

The Swiss Cheese of the Garden
Swiss Chard
Okay, so on with the recipe.  I would say this recipe is a mix of Minestrone and Chicken Tortelloni Soups.  I've gathered my ingredients below and promptly peeled, chopped and julienned all the corresponding vegetables. All that's missing from the picture is some great homemade or quality chicken broth and whatever meat (if using) you plan to prepare.

Tomato Basil Tortelloni Soup

1 large can of tomatoes, stewed and blended or puree
2 -3quarts of home made or quality chicken stock, low sodium
1-2 cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 lb of ground Italian sausage, (turkey, beef or skip if making a vegetarian soup) browned, crumbled and drained
1 onion, diced
1-3 cloves of garlic, diced
 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
1-2 cups of greens, julienned into small ribbons or whole if using spinach (Kale, Swiss Chard, Mustard, Collards)
1 small zuchinni, sliced and diced
1 tbsp of Italian seasoning or basil
8 oz. of quality tortelloni, any flavor
1/2 tsp of freshly cracked pepper
Salt to taste

After meat is browned and crumbled, add diced onions and garlic and saute until onions are translucent, making sure the garlic doesn't burn.  Add your 2 quarts of broth and tomato sauce, or puree.  Bring to a boil and add your carrots, and diced zuchinni.  Let the soup simmer for about 10 minutes until the carrots are soft. Bring back to a boil and add your julienned greens, beans, Italian seasoning, pepper and tortelloni.  Cook tortelloni according to the directions on the package.  Mine was a four cheese variety. Add your extra quart of broth if the soup is too dense.  It's all up to your own personal preference.  Once cooked, season with salt to taste!  You can also add more Basil or seasonings if you would like.  We like lots, so feel free to change the quantities to suit your own flavor profile.

I also fill in soup with any vegetables I may have on hand.  You can add chopped celery, green beans, yellow squash or whatever you have on hand if the soup is not thick enough.  


Serve this soup with your favorite grilled cheese or panini sandwich and whal-la! You're in business! The tortelloni really swell up and start to fall apart.  So, this soup is probably best the day you make it.  Hope you like it! We all did...and that's what counts!  Be blessed!

A pocket full of posies; violets found alongside the road while on my walk after lunch.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Photo Hike

Okay, here's an easy way to hike without ever leaving the room.  It doesn't rid you of excess calories or build any muscle, but it is visually refreshing and that's almost as good.  We have so many great parks in our area thanks to an excellent park system.  So our "hike" on this day was at Hogback Ridge.  (The name comes from the fact that the high ridge with two steep valleys on either side resembles the bony spine of a hog.  Makes for a good story at least!) It's not a difficult place to hike because of the 1300 foot boardwalk, but the steps going down to the river compel you to exercise, hands down. So, enjoy the journey and hope you feel as refreshed mentally as we did once we were finished. 
Trekking on the trail, boardwalk style
This boardwalk is pretty easy for most strollers so this makes a family friendly park.
Early evening hike 

Approaching the steps to the river 
Going down was a bit harder than going up because of the steps.

Trail going to the river
We'll be there any minute now...

The prize...
The Grand River in all its grand style.  Love the reflection on the water...
Eye Candy
Beautiful, but icy water

Not just admiring the scenery, but checking out for Steelhead Trout. Huge fish that swim  up the creeks for winter and head back out to Lake Erie in early Spring.  Sometimes there are a few stragglers left behind.
Lovely white Trillium wildflower

If you don't want to hazard the steps going down to the river, then up on the ridge is another short trail that runs alongside it.  It has an overlook as you go along and then the boardwalk is replaced by gravel.  It's a nice short little walk and we usually head back up here after we walk along the river a bit.  There's usually so much to be seen and done by the river, that this feels like a nice wind down to the rest of the hike.  You can also find a few spots to walk down to the river along this trail that aren't as "treacherous" or as long as the previous steps.
Approaching the overlook, overgrown some, but a nice place to rest.
Last bits of sunshine

Boardwalk ends and gravel trail begins...
If you have a stroller here, be prepared to walk fast, it's a pretty steep  incline!

View of the water from along the trail.
A lone Violet makes a statement

Almost finished

Sunset on the trail

The reward?  Coffee and a chocolate almond biscotti at the local coffee house.  Perfect.

Have an amazing day!!