Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Poppyseed Pot Welcome!

I was taught to believe in southern hospitality. My grandmother Nellie always had a smile, goodie and gift for guests. I finally found my signature welcome gift for retreats at Nellie's Cottage! This gift is homemade with my hands and given with my heart. It reflects the baking skills handed down from Nellie and the crafty gene from my mom.
The idea began with a simple baking pan from Wilton and ended with shabby chic handmade flowers "growing" in poppyseed bread, chocolate cake, or banana bread pots. Every time I make these I have to smile at this simple way to say "I am glad you are here and will do everything in my power to make your retreat a pleasant and memorable one! Welcome to the Cottage!

Wilton pan
Chocolate cake with a glaze
Poppyseed cake
Making flowers & watching Project Runway:)

I do add one flower layer on the back so they can be seen from all sides
I hand cut and then crumpled the leaves.

Having a signature treat or gift is wonderful to have for party favors, gift giving and treat taking to friends and family. You can have everything on hand ready to go at a moments notice without agonizing over what to take "this time".
What will you create for your signature treat?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pirate Pool Party, a scrapbook pirate treasure:)

There is a saying in our small hometown, "Once a pirate, always a pirate!" I had fun incorporating our school motif into this family pool party layout. Graduation lends itself to an overload of pictures, but the ones that will be treasured most in years to come are of family. I wasn't on my best photographer game this particular day but nevertheless, this is a bit of history which deserves to be scrapbooked:)

I wish you could be impressed with the expediency of my graduation layout a few weeks after graduation, but alas this is 2010. Needless to say, I am behind a bit...especially since this is my youngest child and first graduation album to be working on!

Even though this is only a 3 page layout, I went with my One/event-One design style I like to use for multiple pages of the same event.

This was a fun distraction for a late night creative escape. 
I began with...
Hand cut wave borders (I used blue papers with gold to keep the school color theme)
Added the pictures on top of the wave,
Mounted pirate ships (Paper Dolls cricut cartidge) on pop dots,
Stamped blue, gold, and black swirls (our school colors) to add the feel of waves,
Added the metallic pirate (Jolee's) and pirate brad (Eyelet outlet) to the ships,
Hand cut banner flags over gold skinny ribbon & added circle letters for the title topped with random mini brads,
Created a swirl turquoise embroidery thread I ran though my Xyron sticker pretty good:)

*Scanned layouts will be a bit fuzzy where you have popped up embellishments...still worth scanning!

This was one of those layouts that sit on your desk for days because you love it AND because you keep thinking of fun things to add:)
Me thinks me has a pirate treasure for me lassie:)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Creating Keepsakes Houston convention

Nellie's Cottage is pleased to participate at the Creating Keepsakes scrapbooking convention in Houston this weekend. We will have a booth, crop sales table, prizes, treats, and are giving away a FREE WEEKEND at Nellie's Cottage! Hope to see you there...

The event is at the Woodlands Marriott June 27-29. 
See their website for all the details of the event.

Our favorite fajitas!

My daughter in law makes the best fajitas! And...who doesn't love fajitas? If you don't we will take the "don't ask- don't tell" approach:) We have had no complaints when fajitas are on the catering menu at Nellie's Cottage!
Visit Janene's blog for a kicking summer recipe with that "south of the border" taste we all love!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Move over brownies, blonds have more fun!

Or so they say!
These blond brownies are in the running for my favorite pan treat.
They are on our Nellie's Cottage catering menu and get rave reviews!
They are deliciously moist and chewy, and will wow your taste buds,
AND they will make you the favorite wife, mom, and friend EVER:)

Blond Brownies

1 1/3c Butter-melted
2 eggs
1 c brown sugar-packed
1 c white sugar
2 Tbs hot water
2 tsp vanilla (I always double my vanilla!)

2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp soda
1 cup toffee bits
1 cup nuts (optional)

Bake: 375 for 18-25 min.
Serve slightly warm with Bluebell homemade vanilla ice cream:)

I dare you to try and resist such golden yumminess!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Slumber party photo box crafting

My crafting motto is.."If anything can be embellished then DO IT!
I bought a plain white photo box at Hobby Lobby
which became a vintage piece of art work!

I use this box for my sales receipt books and calculators at Nellie's Cottage.
The center is a resin flower from an old child's toy!
This is super easy to do:
Cut strips of various papers (possibilities of color and pattern...unlimited!)
Beginning on the inside top of the box Mod-Podge small sections of the photo box with a brush or sponge then add the strips of paper as you please:) Repeat for lid.
Cover the entire box and lid with paper, ink if desired.
Hand cut a variety of paper circles, crumple the layers, ink the edges and glue on the lid.
Cover the entire box and lid with a generous coat of Mod-Podge.
Make sure you mod-podge each layer of the flower.
Tip...set box & lid on top of plastic cups to dry overnight.
I chose the matte finish for my project. 

*NEVER leave any project with Mod Podge in a hot car or in direct sunlight (not that I know why!)

These are great for party activities and favors... and it keeps kids busy for ages:) 
These creations are from a girls youth group slumber party
These are from a summer scrapbooking camp
This is also one of my projects I keep on hand for retreaters.
Recently, one of my retreaters needed a project and created her own after seeing mine at the cottage.

I love these types of "endless possibilities" creative projects! What colors will you choose?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Missing Nellie

I was scrolling through my pictures looking for something I uploaded but didn't label (do not recommend!) when I came upon this picture of my grandmother Nellie and my little boys.

This was summer time 1986 and she was 81. I felt a tug on my heart as I looked at the photo. Mama, (pronounced's the south!) was sitting where she always sat, in her rocker right by the kitchen. She always wore simple cotton dresses. I wonder if she ever had a "store bought" dress. By this time her varicose veins were horrific, and the rare blood disease she had kept her weak and tired. I am only beginning to understand this now because my aging body is starting to whine more and I realize she suffered in grace and silence... something I need to practice:)

Nellie never drove a car. She only had an 8th grade education. As the oldest child of five she helped raise her siblings after their dad abandoned the family. She never "went shopping", had a girls night out, a pedi-mani, massage, or escaped life on a cruise. She cooked 3 times a day until my grandfather died just a year before she left us. She wasn't fancy, famous, or wealthy, yet the legacy she left me is priceless. 

Nellie was kind, thoughtful, and gave her life to her family. She was creative in cooking, gardening, canning, sewing, crocheting, and had a magic touch with roses and flowers of all kinds.
The most significant contribution to me was her love. 
I loved her because she loved me first. Now that I have grandbabies of my own I realize how she felt about me. It is a tender, compassionate love borne from the challenges of life. 

I want to leave behind these same feelings to Cy, Seth, Josh, Annabelle, Savannah, & Scarlett. I want everyone who walks through the door of Nellie's Cottage to feel peace, to feel love emanating from the very walls of the home where Nellie spent her life. I want to leave this kind of legacy. 

Today I can't seem to tear myself away from this picture. Her wrinkled face and gentle smile are calling out to my heart once again. I feel a particular loneliness and longing to hear her say "I love you very much" just one more time as the "Itunes player in my head keeps repeating..."You'll be in my heart...always"

"You'll be in my Heart" Phil Collins

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

My daughter Brittany has been our chief chef for the last year while they have lived with us. I must admit I skipped happily out of the kitchen:) This is one of the new healthy recipes she tried and it is delicious! Yes, we should have left off the cheese...we haven't quite reached that level of healthy desire yet:) 

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers 

The texture, taste, and health benefits make Quinoa (kin-wah) the perfect grain to replace rice with. 

 Nutritional Value:
   -Protein content of 12-18%
   -Contains nine essential amino acids making it a complete protein source
   -Good source of dietary fiber
   -Good quantities of calcium, phosphorus, and iron

 How to Cook:
        -Soak the uncooked grain for a minimum of 15 min to 1 hour. 
        -Rinse for 2-3 min in a fine colander.  
        -Use less water than you would to cook rice, 1:1.75 ratio.
        -Bring to a simmer on the stove, cover, and cook for 25-35 min.
        -Remove from heat and let sit covered for an additional 5 min.
        -Fluff & serve. (Can be added to stir fry, chicken n' rice, etc.)
(Cooking on low heat, for longer, and using less liquid makes fluffy, not gummy, quinoa.) 

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

Quinoa Recipe Ingredients:
     -5 bell peppers, cleaned & halved 
     -Course salt
     -1 pound ground beef
     -1 medium onion, chopped
     -2 tsp. minced garlic
     -1 pkg. taco seasoning
     -1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
     -1 can whole kernel corn, drained
     -1 can Rotel (diced tomatoes and green chiles), drained
     -1 1/2- 2 cups quinoa, cooked (amount based on preference)
     -Cheese, shredded 
    -Place halved bell peppers face down on a baking sheet & sprinkle with course salt.
    -Roast bell peppers at 450 degrees for 10-15 min until browned & bubbled (rotating once).
    -Cook ground beef, onion, and garlic in a large skillet til' browned.
    -Add taco seasoning to browned beef according to package directions.
    -Add black beans, corn, Rotel, and quinoa to skillet.
    -Fill each bell pepper with meat mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 15 min.
    -Top with cheese and cook for an additional 5-10 min or until cheese is melted.

Let me know what you think of Quinoa?!

Team Tolman