Monday, March 31, 2014

Marshmallow Fluff can be made into Marshmallow Sauce

The clouds look like marshmallow fluff! I was recently given an ice cream sundae tip that I must pass along.  Did you know that you can make "marshmallow sauce" for ice cream by adding a bit of warm water to Marshmallow Fluff and stirring with a fork?

My aunt's sister-in-law passed this tip along one day when we were reminiscing about going to Sanders' ice cream shoppe for chocolate sundaes with marshmallow sauce - my mom's favorite. Now we can have a marshmallow sundae at home with this easy tip.  Thanks, Marty!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Palm Beach Pizza: Where Fancy Meets Familiar

Oh how I love to eat lunch outside! It was a dreamy day at Pizza al Fresco in Palm Beach.  In the midst of some very upscale shopping, this beautiful courtyard restaurant offers a delicious and accessible lunch - pizza! 

I come every year and there is rarely an empty table. We shared a margherita pizza (tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil) and had individual green salads. It was perfect.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Kentucky: Maker's Mark Bourbon: Best Field Trip Ever

I have always loved the taste of bourbon.  My grandmother's "rum balls" were actually made with bourbon.  And when a cookie, cake or pie calls for liquor, I always reach for the bourbon.  

I don't really drink anymore, but at one time I did and it was then that I mentioned to my friend, Beth, that I liked bourbon and ginger ale.  Bourbon fans aren't that common, so she thought I might like to become a "Maker's Mark Ambassador."  It's a fun program where you proclaim your loyalty and vow to speak well of the brand and support its endeavors whenever possible (ha!).  I loved the idea and the fact that my name would be on a barrel in the vast warehouse and that someday I would be given the opportunity to buy a bottle from that barrel after it had ages properly.  The program also sends little gifts and logoed materials to my house every once in a while. It is my kind of "enthusiasm" and I think its fun.  I joined about 7 years ago. was wonderful luck that Dan (who was working in Cincinnati for the week) and I were able to drive a short distance and spend the weekend with our friends, Beth and Richard in Louisville, Kentucky.  Yes, Kentucky.  Now you see where the bourbon element comes in.  Beth proposed that, as Ambassadors, it was really important that we visit the Makers Mark distillery. It was an hour and a half drive from Louisville, but it was worth it. 
We had so much fun!  The glasses below (I was trying to photograph the subtle change in color between the types of bourbon available) were from the tasting that is offered on the tour.
The tour starts at the very beginning, when the owners started dipping bottles of their small batch bourbon in their kitchen.

And ends with the very modern bottling set up that makes each bottle of Maker's Mark pure and true.
On the tour, thirty of us heard all about the process of making bourbon, saw the foaming vats of liquid in different stages of fermentation and admired the gleaming kettles that brought it up to temperature.  (Clearly I know nothing about making bourbon, so don't rely to heavily on my description.)
Below you can see the barrels aging in orderly fashion.  Doesn't it look beautiful with the light streaming it? My name is engraved on one of those plaques  on a barrel somewhere in the building.
The best part of the day was this tray of bourbon chocolates for us to sample on our way out. Hallelujah. A creamy bourbon center is dipped in chocolate and topped with a fresh roasted pecan.
I bought a box and made it last as long as possible. Yum yum yum.
Inside their beautiful gift shop (see in the first photo above), I also stood in line to dip the bottle of bourbon I purchased in their famous red hot wax to seal it. Silly, but fun and I'm glad I did it.  If you are ever within reach of the Maker's Mark Distillery and share my love of bourbon, be sure to visit this really beautifully designed experience. You may even find yourself signing up to be an ambassador.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Beautiful Palm Beach Courtyards can Spark Your Imagination

This is one of the charming walkways between the shops on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach. It has a water element and leads to a courtyard rimmed with small shops.  Once you walk down this path and admire the plantings and trailing bougainvillea (raspberry pink blooms on strong craggy vines), you see that the courtyard has walkways that attach to other courtyards. 
Some courtyards connect one-after-another, while some walkways lead to a single hidden gem. It is really fun and relaxing to explore each and every path.
Can't you see a romantic movie set in the shops and courtyards of this beautiful and exclusive area? Use your imagination and consider what kind of characters you'd like to see here.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Water Garden boasts Waterlily and a guest Dragonfly

Every year when I am in Florida, we drive over for lunch and shopping on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach.  It is a beautiful luxury shopping destination and the window displays alone are worth a trip.  
I always stop at the water garden next to Chanel, hoping to find the waterlilies blooming.

I was lucky!  I am showing you both images to show you the power of cropping.  You can see the area that I photographed in the bottom right of the picture above. Would you have recognized it?

And look at the surprise guest in the top right...a dragonfly landed on one of the blooms!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Using Stencils for Beautiful Cakes

It was an easy masterpiece! True, the cake and frosting were homemade (check out - search recipes for "perfectly chocolate" chocolate cake) but I can attribute the fuss my guests made to the powdered sugar design I made with a Martha Stewart cake stencil

A little powdered sugar goes a long way. You can find full cake (and cupcake) stencils at the craft store (in the Martha Stewart section) and online. 

Try it!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Hawaii: Oahu: North Shore Soap Company

What I remember the most about the North Shore Soap Company was that it smelled like a spa. I realized today that I never told you about the time my friend and I went exploring the North Shore of Oahu, knowing only that we had to stop at the historic Waialua Sugar Mill for what was touted as the best shaved ice on Oahu.

While we were on the sugar mill property, we noticed a silo (left over from the sugar production days) that has been converted into a soap making business and adjacent shop. It is rustic and small, but the soaps are just beautiful.  I would have loved to visit when they were cutting these beautiful slabs into bars. And look at these giant soap blocks - they are each the size of a toaster oven!

Remember when I made my first Bundt cake soap? I may not be a soap-maker, but I have fun dabbling when I have time.  I wonder if they offer classes?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Perspective: Flowers From Every Angle

I am so lucky.  I have a wonderful life and I'm so happy that I've found a way to bring delight to others through my photographs and story telling.

I've taken a break from daily blogging this last week to organize, think and plan my next 6 months.  I decided that a post showing the 3 different sides of the same floral arrangement could help me illustrate just how illuminating it can be to look at things from a different perspective.
Peonies, roses, dahlias and gerbera daisies in a Spring palate all worthy of our attention. Which side do you prefer?