Friday, August 27, 2010

Cookie of the Month - Chocomallow Cream

Ok, this month's cookie, truth be told, came right off Martha Stewart's website... only I changed the name from Surprise cookies to Chocomallow Creams.  I also changed the recipe in minor ways.  They are very good cookies - especially if you like chocolate and marshmallows.  I doubled the recipe which makes about 7 dozen two inch cookies.

3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter softened
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup milk (I actually used skim)
2 teaspoons vanilla
42 large marshmallows cut in half

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy - about two minutes.

Add egg, milk, and vanilla.

Beat until well combined... but it might not ever combine smoothly.

Add flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

Mix on low speed until combined.
It will be smooth and yummy almost like brownie dough.

The original recipe calls for dropping the dough by tablespoon or ice cream scoop, but I used a large pastry bag fitted with a big open round point because the dough was quite soft and I wanted some uniformity.  I also used parchment and was glad I did.  Bake these little kiss shaped nuggets for 8-9 minutes - longer if you make them bigger.

While the cookies are baking, cut your marshmallows in half.

Remove cookie sheets from the oven and immediately,
press a marshmallow half (cut side down) into the center
of each cookie and return to the oven for 2 1/2 minutes.

Remove cookies from the oven and slide the parchment
off the cookie sheet onto a counter to cool before frosting.

Frosting Ingredients:
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup butter softened
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all frosting ingredients until well combined.

It makes a luscious, silky smooth frosting.

Frost to cover up the marshmallow on top.

The frosting will set up a little, but stays rather soft.

A very tasty cookie.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wedding Decorations - Chanel - Part 2

Jordan - Jordie to those of us who have known her since she was a little girl - is as creative as she is beautiful.  Her idea of a decor theme for her wedding was Chanel.  As in Coco Chanel, mid-century iconic French fashion designer.   Jordie was the mastermind behind her wedding decorations assisted by her mother's (my good friend, Brenda) production skills and creativity.  All I did was sew the straight lines to put the grosgrain ribbon on the table squares (see previous post).  So, what made up the Chanel design at Jordie and Stuart's wedding?
Diamond quilted satin chair covers - very Chanel.  Add a tulle bow.

Black wrought iron, pearls...

gold, bows, damask...

tassles, glassware...

Put it all together and you have gorgeous, Chanel inspired tablescapes.

A beautiful reception...

 for a beautiful couple!
Congratulations Jordie and Stuart.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Four Corners

The great summer reunion of 2010 has officially come to an end.  No more chore chart.  No more waiting for the bathroom.  No more juggling three cars in the driveway.  Just good memories.

It was barely a week ago that all our children were under the same roof...
our roof in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.  What a difference a week makes. 

Now this one... out in Provo, Utah being a resident assistant in the dorms at BYU... 
and squeezing piano performance in on the side.

And these two...

... are living in Nanjing, China under the Flagship Program for the next year.
If you are interested, you can read their blog here.

...and this 6'-4" goof left at midnight last night and is driving straight through to BYU to continue his junior year in Asian studies with minors in Japanese and Chinese...

...and is right now heading west on lovely interstate 80 in Nebraska
just about to hit the 100 mile stretch drawn with a straight edge...

...and this one is indeed heading for the Falls...
Menomonee Falls High School in about 10 days.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wedding Decorations - Chanel

When our kids were little, my very creative friend Brenda and I
pledged that we would help each other decorate for
our children's weddings... when the time came.

The time has come.

Memories of seeing Brenda knee deep wiring flower bouquets
three years ago for my son's wedding decorations
remind me that it is now payback time for her daughter's wedding.

Jordie has chosen a "Chanel" themed wedding... hence, I, the pledged friend of the mother-of-the-bride got to sew the 16 black grosgrain ribbon trimmed damask patterned table toppers.  I think I got off easy.  Jordie is EXTREMELY creative and I can't wait to see the rest of her vision tonight at the reception.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

When Summers Sizzled

When I was about 12-13 years old, my mother made me an outfit that we referred to as a "sizzler."  It was a very short* dress with matching panties sewn from the same fabric.  When people see pictures of me wearing the thing, they say, "What the heck were you wearing?"  I respond, "A sizzler" as if everyone should know what a sizzler was.  Like, "Duh, a sizzler?"  Yet, I still get the same blank looks.  Jeesh, doesn't everyone know what a sizzler was?  My cherished sizzler was made out of a slippery, yet sort of puffy jersey knit with colorful math symbols all over it - well, +'s and x's anyway.  (*Please note the length of my mother's culottes and my sister's shorts.  I wasn't the only one wearing short stuff in those days.) 

While looking at vintage patterns the other day, I came across what I believe is the very pattern my mother used for this outfit... and lo and behold - it was infamously labeled, "the sizzler!"  Sure, there were plenty of hotpants patterns in the early 70s, but this brazen little pattern sought to take things one step further and turn the hotpants into bikini bottoms!  Imagine!  And obviously, since so few people seem to know what a sizzler is, it didn't catch on... except for a few of us brazen tweens.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

You Know You're "Up North" when...

"Up North." I grew up hearing that designation as everyone's destination for a summer getaway. Up north to the cottage. Up north to the cabin. Up north to the lake. Everyone always went "up north." And that's just where we've been --  thanks to kind friends who lent us the use of their cabins on the Paint River in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Where is "up north?" Well, I suppose it could be anywhere north of where you're standing, but I have always held that "up north" in Wisconsin doesn't begin until about 45 degrees latitude - generally any point parallel with Wausau.

That's when the landscape starts to change from rolling farmlands dotted with cow pastures and red barns to dense forests - some loaded with rows of telephone pole pines planted back in the 30s and 40s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Yep, "up north" is like going to another country... remote, beautiful, and peaceful.

But you don't need a map to know when you're officially up north.  Nosiree. You just need to know a few common sense indicators and landmarks.  Besides the nearest town having only one movie showing, how do you know when you're "up north?" 

You know you're up north when...
tree stumps are carved into decorative lawn features.

You know you're up north when...
old rusted out trucks seem picturesque.

You know you're up north when...
you see 1950s googie-style national forest signs.

You know you're up north when...
the trees look like they dipped their feet in moss.

You know you're up north when...
you see notes like this on the mouse-proof food cabinet.

You know you're up north when...
interior decor gets folksy. 

You know you're up north when...
working a puzzle is a mandatory part of your day.

You know you're up north when...
cabin architecture is whimsical...

and furnishings can become valuable collectibles...

and antiques.

You know you're up north when...
the river calls you daily.

You know you're up north when...
the fam thinks a mine tour and eating pasties
is a cool way to spend a few hours...

 ...and an old 8-bit Michael Jackson video game
is more fun than the latest Wii offering.

 You know you're up north when...
waterfalls are spectacular...

and beautiful.

And of course, last of all:  You know you're up north when...
VINTAGE FABRIC curtains are still in everyday use!
(You knew I'd get something about vintage fabric in this post, didn't you?)

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