Thursday, December 18, 2014

Just Give Me Cranberries!

Just north of us a bit, on the Long Beach Peninsula, live some cranberry bogs. We try to get up there every fall in time to grab a bag or two of freshly harvested cranberries that are sold at roadside stands. They freeze well so it's perfect and then for most of the year we have nice, locally grown cranberries for chutney, sauce, pies and such. Yum!

Today, I decided that I needed some cranberry muffins to go along with my afternoon coffee and Christmas present wrapping so I whipped a batch up. 

(Another fabulous thing about cranberries is that I have found if I don't plan ahead and thaw them out, it really doesn't matter. They bake up just fine anyway!)

I found a recipe that sounded pretty scrumptious and mixed away. Don't you just love how those red berries pop against the white batter? So Christmasy!

They smelled incredible baking away and I could hardly wait to eat one...(pardon me; my mouth is a bit full right now.)

I would so love for you to join me for a muffin, a spot of coffee and a chat.  What would you like to chat about today?

Cranberry Nut Muffins
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beat that sucker!
1-1/2 cups fresh OR frozen cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons grated orange peel

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, combine the orange juice, milk, butter and egg:  Stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened.  Fold in cranberries, pecans and orange peel.  Fill greased muffin cups 3/4ths full. 
 Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until nice and golden brown.  
Cool for 5 minutes, then remove from pan.
(makes about 1 dozen)


Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some presents to wrap!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Rainy Night Cottage and a Giveaway!

Happy Sunday!  I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend full of the beauty of nature, some reading, hot drinks, and something delicious in the oven! 

I want to invite all of you to connect with my Rainy Night Cottage page on facebook. This page is comfy and cozy. A place where I want to share my love of home and natural health. Baking, knitting, hot tea (and coffee!), reading, and essential oils.  

The Rainy Night Cottage facebook page is almost up to 100 likes and to celebrate that, once it actually makes it, I will be giving away a FREE bottle of certified pure Lemon Essential Oil to one of the followers of that page, so to enter, please follow this link, like the page and leave me a comment on one of the last few facebook posts to let me know you've been there! Please comment here as well!

Why would you want a bottle of certified pure therapeutic grade Lemon essential oil?  Oh my goodness. Let me count the reasons. (I actually don't know if I can count that high!)

Let's see - We use lemon oil for so many things at my house. The biggest is in my "allergy bomb".  I've had bad allergies my entire life and the use of these oils has given me allergy relief that NOTHING else has ever been able to do. Every morning, I put two drops of lemon oil, peppermint oil, and lavender oil in a little shot of water and drink it. My allergies are all but gone. If I do this every day, I rarely have any allergy problems anymore. 

For respiratory support, we rub a drop or two right on the chest and it helps with congestion and to open the airways.

For a sore throat, a drop or two on a spoonful of honey works wonders, or in a cup of tea, or simply rubbed on the throat. 

Lemon oil is a very gentle cleanser for our systems, so I love to put a drop or two in my drinking water as well. Every day. 

There's so many reasons to have this oil. I could go on and on. Wouldn't you like to win one for yourself?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Homemade Hairspray ~ Removing the Toxins

We always hear about all the toxins in our environment and I have to admit that I've only recently started paying attention, and that happened because I heard something that really hit home. Recently I attended the doTERRA Convention and in several different sessions that I was in, toxins were either the main topic of discussion or had some role in the discussion.  One doctor spoke about the fact that we have always had auto-immune disorders, behavioral problems, cancers even, in our world but how those things are at epidemic proportions now and much of it can be directly linked to the toxins in our environment. As I'm listening to this, I'm thinking about the fact that I have fibromyalgia, GERDS, IBS. Not only that, but all three of my biological children have those three things as well.  On top of that, one of my kids has lupus. My two biological grandkids have GERDS. Something went wrong in my genetic line at some point, wouldn't you say? Maybe it's past time to pay attention.  

One little fact is that the general personal hygiene product that we buy off of the shelf has an average of 9 parabens in the product. Parabens are synthetic antibacterials that are added to the products and are linked to environmental and food allergies, behavioral problems, compromised immune systems, as well as other problems.  

One way I have recently started removing these toxins from our home is by making my own hairspray.  SUPER easy and the hold is just as good as anything I've ever purchased off the shelf! 

1 cup water
4 tsp. sugar (more or less, depending on the hold you want)
2 drops lavender oil
2 drops rosemary oil
2 drops geranium oil
2 drops peppermint oil
8 oz. glass mist bottle

1) Combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil until sugar dissolves. Let cool.
2) Put essential oils in mist bottle
3) Pour in cooled sugar water

That's it! It couldn't be easier!  
Use whatever essential oils you want, so totally customizable to you! 

I've been making this for a few months now and love it! Like I said, the hold is just as good as what I used to buy off the shelf at the store, free of those nasty toxins, and no, bugs don't bother me. I have to say that I was a little bit worried about that in the beginning. It was fall and bee time when I started making this and I was afraid I might be swarmed but had absolutely no problem with that at all! 

(This post is also working for my November 4th photo of the day~ Something I can't live without!)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November's TTP...T

For years I've wanted to be part of a book club  and Turn the Page...Tuesday hosted by the wonderful Adrienne at Some of a Kind is very much like a book club. I've always enjoyed the first Tuesday of each month since Adrienne started this and reading reviews of what others have read.  Every single month it adds to my want-to-read list, for sure!  Well, a friend of mine bought a bookstore here in town a while back and now she has started an actual sit-down-and-talk-about-it book club! I'm so excited and I am starting my reviews with the book we read for our November bookclub read. 

The Telling Room ~ A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese ~ by Michael Paterniti

I loved this book, but that wasn't the case with all of us around the table.  Different tastes in reading is why there are so many books out there, right?!

The Telling Room was a fun and enchanting tale of the author's love affair with a small village in Spain and the maker of the greatest piece of cheese. Starting out in a small deli in Michigan,  the author encounters a round of cheese that he can not afford to even nibble on, and a hint of a story of the greatest cheesemaker in the world. Several years later as a journalist, the author finds himself in Spain and makes a point to visit the small village of Guzman and try to meet this cheesemaker, Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras. It took some searching but finally Michael and his friend and translator, Carlos, were able to sit down with Ambrosio in his Telling Room and begin the story that would take ten long years to tell. During that telling, Michael visits the village countless times and even moved his family to the village for almost a year in order to immerse himself and his family in the culture.  The tale is one of an old family recipe revived, friendships, mysticism, tradition, betrayal, revenge, and of course, cheese and wine. 
I really enjoyed this book and traveling time and again with the author to this small piece of the world. The book is full of footnotes that add fun and depth to the story instead of detracting from it as footnotes usually do. I too fell in love with Ambrosio, his ideals and way of life and felt anger at the betrayal that stole his beloved cheese. One of the best and most fun works of non-fiction I have ever read. Well done!

From Amazon;
In the picturesque village of Guzmán, Spain, in a cave dug into a hillside on the edge of town, an ancient door leads to a cramped limestone chamber known as “the telling room.” Containing nothing but a wooden table and two benches, this is where villagers have gathered for centuries to share their stories and secrets—usually accompanied by copious amounts of wine. 
It was here, in the summer of 2000, that Michael Paterniti found himself listening to a larger-than-life Spanish cheesemaker named Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras as he spun an odd and compelling tale about a piece of cheese. An unusual piece of cheese. Made from an old family recipe, Ambrosio’s cheese was reputed to be among the finest in the world, and was said to hold mystical qualities. Eating it, some claimed, conjured long-lost memories. But then, Ambrosio said, things had gone horribly wrong.  
By the time the two men exited the telling room that evening, Paterniti was hooked. Soon he was fully embroiled in village life, relocating his young family to Guzmán in order to chase the truth about this cheese and explore the fairy tale–like place where the villagers conversed with farm animals, lived by an ancient Castilian code of honor, and made their wine and food by hand, from the grapes growing on a nearby hill and the flocks of sheep floating over the Meseta. 
What Paterniti ultimately discovers there in the highlands of Castile is nothing like the idyllic slow-food fable he first imagined. Instead, he’s sucked into the heart of an unfolding mystery, a blood feud that includes accusations of betrayal and theft, death threats, and a murder plot. As the village begins to spill its long-held secrets, Paterniti finds himself implicated in the very story he is writing. 
Equal parts mystery and memoir, travelogue and history, The Telling Room is an astonishing work of literary nonfiction by one of our most accomplished storytellers. A moving exploration of happiness, friendship, and betrayal, The Telling Room introduces us to Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras, an unforgettable real-life literary hero, while also holding a mirror up to the world, fully alive to the power of stories that define and sustain us.

Rebecca ~ by Daphne Du Maurier

'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.'

I love classics, for the most part, and can't imagine why I let Rebecca linger on my shelves, unread, for so long.  I have a beautiful 1938 hardcover edition with a dust jacket that I picked up several years ago at a thrift store or yard sale and it was just hanging out on the shelf waiting to be read.   Very reminiscent of a gothic thriller, I thoroughly enjoyed this classic.

This story begins with the sentence above, dreaming about being at Manderley again, (which I imagine might be more of a nightmare than a dream!), and our heroine's name is never revealed to us throughout the story.  She is a young girl working as a companion to a cantankerous older woman when she meets Maxim de Winter, a man 20 years her senior. He's a handsome and brooding widower who takes a fancy to our young heroine, though she can't figure out quite why.  Is he in love with her or does he simply like her companionship like her employer does?  Maxim asks her to marry him and after a quick wedding, takes her to his family home, Manderley.  They arrive to a dark and sinster housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, who has been there for many years and was quite fond of the deceased Rebecca de Winter.  It seems that everyone loved the beautiful and charismatic Rebecca and our heroine could never come close to competing with her husbands dead wife.  When she wanders in to the iconic Rebecca's old suite, she finds that Mrs. Danvers still keeps the suite up and clothes laid out as if Rebecca will soon be back to occupy them.  Spooky and sinister, this was a great October read. 

What have you been reading?  Pop on over to Adrienne's Some of a Kind to join in and see what others are reading! 

Monday, November 3, 2014

November Photo of the Day

A photo of the day challenge for November just sounds like fun! Lots of people playing along so I thought I'd give it a shot and maybe even try to keep up~ heeheehee~

DAY 1 ~ something blue
Something Blue~
This is what you see from our couch if you try to watch tv on a sunny day. Beautiful blue sky and cloud reflections.  A much better show anyway, wouldn't you say?

DAY 2 ~ I saw this!
On November 2nd, I saw this hanging out in our living room.  Our daughter, Brittany, was wearing the Big Red Dog hat that I made for our 3 year old granddaughter. Silly girl!

DAY 3 ~ weather
Here's what the weather is doing in our little corner of the world today. It's a cloudy, rainy day on the Columbia River and I love it! 


Fat Mum Slim is where you would go to check out the curator of this fun photo of the day and find the "rules" although there really isn't any rules, just fun. 

Connect with Rainy Night Cottage on Facebook as well!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Turn the Page...Tuesday

Oh my gosh! Adrienne's back! I'm so excited for her first Turn the Page...Tuesday in a really long time! Here we go!

Tell me Something True ~ Leila Cobo

After the death of her mother in a tragic plane wreck, Gabriella was raised by her dad in Los Angeles, spending a month every year with her maternal grandmother in Cali, Columbia. Now, as a young adult, Gabriella is back at her grandmothers for her yearly visit. Her grandmother lets her know that the old family house is scheduled for demolition, so Gabriella goes to the house to have one last moment there. While there, she finds a box pushed far back on a shelf in her mothers old closet. Pulling it down, she finds that it is the purse her mom was carrying on the flight that night, never opened by her grandmother. Inside the purse is a red, leather bound diary that starts out when Gabriella is born and is written to her. As she reads, she uncovers an affair her mom was having in the last several months of her life. This knowledge is devastating to Gabriella and makes her angry with her grandmother, who knew about the affair as well. In a bit of rebellion, Gabriella decides to go against her grandmothers wishes and continue to see a young man she met at a party. Angel is handsome and nice, but with some scary secrets of his own. 

I loved Gabriella. She was the perfect heroine for this novel, beautiful, sweet and a bit naive. Both stories, the backstory in the diary, and the present day story, were equally intriguing. A moving peek into another world, where you great love can be found, but where it can be dangerous to simply be out in public. I look forward to reading more by this author. 

China Dolls ~ Lisa See

Grace has been raised in the mid-west but finds herself in San Francisco when she runs away to escape from her abusive father. In her hometown, Grace has won numerous dance contests and dreams of being a big star, so San Francisco during the World Exposition of the late 1930's seems to be a great place to go, but Grace is told there is no openings for a Chinese girl so she makes her way to Chinatown where she meets and befriends Helen and Ruby. Together the three girls audition as dancers at The Forbidden City, an exclusive Oriental nightclub that is opening right outside of Chinatown. The story then takes us through the ups and downs of friendship, the nightclub world, and a world at war. The US has not yet entered into the war, but when Pearl Harbor is bombed everything changes.

Lisa See does such a fantastic job of bringing depth to her characters. Grace was my favorite but I loved Ruby and Helen as well. It's a great author that can make you feel the joy and pain of the people she writes about. Historical fiction is my favorite genre and China Dolls took me right to the heart of the 1940's. You will be laughing and crying with these girls and at times your heart will break for what they endured and what they put each other through. This was a very emotional story that I couldn't put down. Well done!

I'm so thankful to have received this book as an Advanced Reader's Edition from Goodreads. Know that what I stated in my review would have been said the same had I purchased this book full price from the shelf of any bookstore. It was fantastic!

What have you been reading? Pop on over to Adrienne's place at Some of a Kind to see what others have been reading and to join in the fun! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

French Onion Soup Goodliness

Oh fall, how I love thee!  It's supposed to rain this week and I am so looking forward to filling up the house with the scent of wonderful soups and baked yumminess. Mmmmmm,,,delightful! What are you looking forward to in the crisp, autumn days ahead?

French Onion Soup and Toasted Roast Beef Sandwich's

1 medium yellow onion
1 medium red onion
1 medium leek (use white part only)
5 green onions with tops
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tblsp. butter
40 oz. or so beef broth
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup of red wine ( I used a nice flavorful Cabranet)
Shredded Cheese ( I used a blend of parmesan and swiss)
Slices of French bread

Slice all onions about 1/4" thick.  In a soup pot over medium heat, saute' onions and garlic in butter for about 15 minutes or until golden and tender.  Add broth, worcestershire sauce, nutmeg and wine.  (Now's a good time to pour a glass for yourself as well.)  Bring soup to a boil.  Reduce heat;  cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes.  I think the longer it simmers, the better it is.  Mine simmered away for about 2 hours before we ate.   
Put hot soup into oven-safe bowls, top each with a slice of french bread  and a handful of shredded cheese.  Place on cookie sheet and toast.
I have a "Toasting" setting on my oven, which toasts for 4 minutes and works beautifully.  If you don't have that setting, broil will work just fine.

OH!  Wait a minute.  Get that soup back out of the oven!!! Got it?  Oh good.  We forgot to put the sandwich's on there. 

Toasted Roast Beef Sandwich's

You will need more slices of French bread, sliced cheese and deli-sliced roast beef.  I tossed a handful of roast beef right into my simmering soup for just a few seconds, pulled it back out with a fork and arranged it on top of the slices of bread.  I made sure and got a scoop or two fo those yummy onions from the soup onto the sandwich's as well.  Top them with a handful of shredded cheese, place them on the same cookie-sheet with the bowls of soup.  NOW we are ready to put them all in the oven and toast away. 

Holy buckets! I've been gone so stinking long! I've missed so many blog friends and hope we can reconnect again!