Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Recipe: Boterkoek - Dutch Butter Cake

My mother and most of her brothers and sisters were born in the Netherlands.  Although I have never been, I feel a strong connection with my Dutch lineage.  

My mother's family still speaks Dutch on a regular basis, and many of them are still in touch with relatives in the mother-country.  
And of course, they still wear wooden shoes at home, much as you and I would wear a comfy pair of Crocs.  

Though my Oma and Opa have long ago made their journey to heaven, I still have fond memories of visits to their farm. The sheep, ponies and schnauzer puppies kept us happy and busy until it was time to come inside for the yummiest of home-cooked meals.  

And every meal, whether it was Dutch meatball soup or rabbit and mashed potatoes with onion gravy,  ended with some kind of Dutch-style sweet treat. 

Are you familiar with almond windmill cookies?

I still buy them for my kids --even though they call them "helicopter" cookies!

Now if Oma had time to bake before our arrival she would often have a batch of  home-made almond cookies ready for us.  My father ADORED them- I am sure she only baked them for him!!

These days, every so often, when I think of Oma and Opa, I get the need for homemade almond cookies.

And this is what I always make:

Boterkoek - Dutch Butter Cake


1 cup cold butter
2 cups flour
3/4 cups white sugar
Dash of salt
1 egg
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp almond extract   
1/2 cup sliced almonds

1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.  
2.  In a medium bowl, cream the butter, sugar and almond extract until light and fluffy.

3. Remove one teaspoon of the beaten egg and set aside.

4.  Pour the rest of the egg into the mixture, and stir well. Add the flour and baking powder, and mix until you have a smooth dough.

5.  Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch pie plate, and pat down with the back of a spoon until smooth (you might find it easier to use clean hands to smooth the mixture).

6.  Mix the teaspoon of egg with a teaspoon of water, and brush on top of the boterkoek. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds, and bake for 25-30 minutes until just golden and firm to the touch.

On this particular day, my 3 kids and I enjoyed our slices of boterkoek with some milky tea.  It was absolutely scrumptious!!

I'd love to hear of you tried my recipe out in your own home.  I promise - you won't be disappointed!!

Before I sign off, I wanted to show you a bouquet of flowers I put together for my mother-in-law.  I was so proud to be able to say that EVERYTHING came out of my own garden - tulips, lilacs and crab-apple blossoms.  

When we moved into this newly-built home 5 years ago, one of my main goals was to plant and keep a garden that would give me plenty of blossoms every year for "bouquet enjoyment."
  Finally I am at that point. 
 I am SO looking forward to all the other flowers that bloom throughout the growing season and I am sure I will share them all here!

Hugs to you and yours!!


Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Down on the Farm Baby Quilt

One of my dearest friends, Chris, who I have known since we were 8, had her first child last week. 

Isn't he the sweetest little thing?

 Honestly, I had been hoping for a "Baby Sandals" for years, and had almost given up on seeing my friend as a mother.  Don't get me wrong - she has always been an amazing aunt to her nephews and an awesome "pseudo-aunt" to my three kids, but both she and her dear hubby Richard were meant to be parents, too!
They are both easy-going,  gentle but firm and can find humour in almost any situation - all keys to surviving parenthood!!

So, you can guess that I was over the moon when she called late last fall to tell me that she was expecting and due in May.  

Within hours I was scouring online fabric stores for the perfect fabric to make the new baby a play-mat for the floor. 

Chris and I grew up in farm country, in southwestern Ontario.  Neither of us had farmers as parents, but we both lived in the countryside surrounded by fields, tractors and farm animals.  
Richard's father is a retired veterinarian specializing in large animals and used to teach at the local agricultural college.  
These days, Chris and Richard live far from the "rural' life of their childhoods.  Instead they live in busy and bustling  Toronto where they both have successful classical music careers.  

To pay hommage to their past, I decided to make a "Down on the Farm" quilt for their upcoming bundle of  joy. I fell in love with this fabric right away and knew it was perfect!

I mixed the animal squares in with a mustard yellow for balance.  

Once complete, my own "baby" and blanket-fiend, Camden, fell in love with the mini-sized quilt.  

"The piggy is my favourite, Mommy."

I finally met baby Malcolm the other night.  Boy is he a cutie!
Born 6lbs 5 oz, this little eater has already grown to 7 lbs 8 oz and is alert as can be!
Chris and Richard are relishing every moment with this bundle of blue and I am looking forward to seeing him grow and change, too. 

 Now-- I get to be  Malcolm's "pseudo-aunt!"

Love and sunshine to all,


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Our Master Bathroom

I have been blogging about my home for abut 2 years.  I realized, in all that time, I never shared our master bedroom or master bedroom.  

Since I have been tweaking the bathroom lately, I finally feel like it is ready for blog-consumption. 
Of course there are a few more things that I would like to change,  but time and $$ are always an issue.  

So here is our Master Bathroom as it stands.

Enjoy the tour....

The walls in our bath are Behr's Cozy Cottage (740C-2).  I love this light coffee colour.  Not too yellow, not too brown and  no pinky undertone.  I have used it in three rooms in our house because of its neutrality and warmth. 

I recently bought these prints from an online auction.  Love the picture, hated the frames
Quick re-paint and up they went in our bath.  

The shower curtain we hung when we first moved in 5 years ago was stained and faded so I grabbed this new one while on a recent trip to Florida.   Love it's soft blue colour and the brown twigs matched up perfectly with our dark-wood cabinetry.  

The chair?  A thrift store find that also received a new paint colour.  

Do you see my new shower curtain rings?  I love how "vintage" they look.  Almost like jewelry.  

I made this sign using my Cricut for my hubby. It was his Valentine's Day gift this year.  
The words are from the "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys.  Love that song - love its sentiment!!

The shelf was an online score too.  Once pine, now creamy white.  

I've been collecting these cute little glass bottles for the last year.  
I like their sculptural appearance, but the see-through glass leaves them light and airy.  

So what do you think?

Have I achieved a "freshness" in our Master Bath?

I think so...

Next big project in this room?  Custom-fitted wooden shutters.  
The master Bedroom needs them , too. 

So - the next time I have $2000 lying around, I get some of those!!

Thanks for popping by!



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Wall Behind Afton's Bed

Remember, way back HERE, when I showed you all of the inspiration pictures I had collected for the re-design of my daughter's bedroom? 
Well, I am glad to say that, nearly a month and a half later, some of those ideas have come into fruition.

I showed you her new paint colour HERE, along with an art piece I made for her room, too.

Now here is Part Two of the room re-make completed over the last few weekends.

My mother came over and helped me the gorgeous cabbage rose wallpaper on the wall behind my daughter's bed.

All three of us are very happy with how it turned out!

It's very Cath Kidston without the huge cost

(I paid $14.99 a roll from HERE.)

Once the paper was hung, the wall looked great, but I knew something pretty needed to go above her low headboard.

Luckily I keep a crap-load of stuff in my basement that I know one day I'll use.

Down there I found 3 of these brown tin ceiling tiles that I thrifted back in the spring.  The brown was way too dark, but that was easily fixed with some dry-brushing in a antique-y white paint.

I needed a fourth item to fulfil my vision of a grid of squares hanging above the bed.  
I couldn't find something else perfectly square in a similar size to my tiles, but I did find this:

It's a pine frame used for calendar pictures. 

 Good-bye ugly pine - - hello white paint and old sheet music.

To add some colour to all of the "white-ness," I pulled some fabric out of my stash and glued together a few strings of pastel pennants.  

My trusty glue gun helped to apply those onto the frame, too.

To finish off the bare space at the top of the frame, I grabbed this "A" from Michaels and personalized the frame for my Afton.  

And how does everything look all-together on Afton's newly papered wall?


Not too shabby, eh?

Just the right amount of texture and detail above her little twin bed.

Whew! One area of this little makeover done!

The picture about has a little sneak peak of another project I finished, too.  But I'll share it in more detail another day.

Please leave a comment.  I'd love to know what you think!!

Sunshine and happiness to everyone out there.



Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mother's Day and My Garden in May

Middle of May already!!  Mother's Day has come and gone, but my hubby and kids made it a wonderful weekend all 'round.

Because Kevin had to attend a conference on Friday and Saturday of the Mother's Day weekend, I took all three of the kids to my mother's home 2 hours down the road.  

My mother always finds these "special" days  on the calendar much more difficult since my father past away.  So, I try, as often as I can, to come home so that she is busy and focused on her grandkids instead of feeling sad.  

The kids surprised her with some driveway chalk art.
She adored it!

On Mother's Day I slept in until 9am (!!) and then enjoyed a delicious breakfast prepared by my hubby and the kids (Apparently, my oldest buttered my toast!)

Then the parade of homemade gifts began.  
My daughter made me an adorable clay pot filled with clay flowers on a recent school field trip. Her card featured her own hand print as the cutest stems on a pot of tissue flowers.  

My oldest son made me a folded paper butterfly out of a magazine and he drew me the sweetest card.  

And my youngest son's teachers helped him write out a recipe card for his favourite food that I prepare.  Then he mod-podged some tissue paper onto a wooden spoon so that I could hang it on my kitchen wall as a decoration.  

So many marvelous keepsakes.  They made my heart glow and will bring tears to my eyes again in the future.
Oh! Why can't they stay little forever??

Speaking of things that make me happy. . . .

How about a little look around my garden??

Come on in. . . .

And don't forget to close the gate!

My mother gave me a clump of her Lily of the Valley early last year and they barely grew, let alone flowered during the summer of 2012.  Luckily, this year, after a year in my garden, they are covered in flower buds that should burst forth within days.  I can't wait to smell their intoxicating fragrance!!

These tulips are from new bulbs my children and I planted last fall.  I love their magenta colour and ruffly petals.

As bright as the tulips above are, these ones are pale. Do you see the touch of the prettiest pink along the edges??

Hello Purple Pansies!
Don't they look like they have faces smiling up at you??

This my youngest son's favourite thing in my garden.  He believes everything should be yellow.  After all, it is, in his words, "very sunshiney" - - and his favourite colour!!

These grape hyacinths hitched a ride when my Aunt Betty gave me some chives from her garden.  They were a nice surprise and cute as a button!

These daffodils sprung from newly planted bulbs, too.  I love the peachy cups in the centre of the frilly white wings.  

I am just in awe of my garden these days.  I love how it is gradually filling with green, blocking out the lumber fence and turning into our own little sanctuary.  
Trust me - I have a long way to go and lots to learn as a amateur gardener, but I am enjoying every leaf, bud and flower along the way.  

Much love to you and yours!!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Sweater for Sally...I Mean, Grace!

Last summer, for our tenth anniversary, my husband Kevin and I returned to the UK for a 10-day vacation.  We had originally been here on our honeymoon 10 years previous.

We visited many beautiful and historic cities such as Glasgow, Belfast, Salisbury and Cardiff.  

One of my favourite cities was York. What a place!
The most breathtaking attraction we visited in the city was the Minster. It was begun in 1220 and was still under construction in the 1500s.  It grew and grew until it was the biggest cathedral in northern Europe.  

Not far from the Minster is the "Shambles," a 14th century street with many old timber-framed shops that used to be butcher's shops in past centuries. Now these buildings have been turned into modern storefronts that sell anything from clothing to cards.  

My favourite shop was this itty-bitty yarn store tucked in behind a few souvenir shops.  The owner had walls and walls of pretty wool and yarn and she let me take a few pictures of displays. Her only request - that I buy a few things before I go.

No problem!!

Because I was travelling and living out of a suitcase I had to keep my purchases small, so I narrowed my purchase down  to 3 balls of the prettiest peach yarn I had ever seen.  It reminded me of ice cream.  Threaded through it was a crystal accent that caught the light perfectly and I knew exactly what I would do with it.

My friend Julie was about to give birth to her third child and we knew she was going to be a girl.  
Throughout her pregnancy she had joked with her other two children that they would name the baby "Sally" after the little girl in the "Cat in the Hat" TV show.  

Julie's hair has a slight tinge of gingery red.  Neither of her previous children were "red" at all, so maybe THIS time baby "Sally" would arrive with a tinge of ginge.
This peachy yarn would be perfect on a little red-head!

Well - Baby "Sally" arrived in October and her real name became Grace.  Julie's older children adored their new baby sister but were truly disappointed that her name wasn't "Sally!"

And isn't she adorable? 
And yes - she has a tinge of ginge.

And the pretty peach yarn knitted into the perfect little sweater for such a sweet little lady.

Enjoy these sunshiney days, everyone!