Quick Summer Meals

quick summer dinner

Savory BLT sandwiches, sliced cantaloupe, and crispy corn on the cob–what a great combo. I threw together this quick summer meal after a visit to the farmer’s market and it was so easy and delicious that I just have to share. I purchased everything pictured here–except the bread and mayo–at a local farmer’s market. Everything was freshly picked and organic. Even the bacon came from a local farmer. I like supporting local food producers, I like serving healthy meals to my family, and I like the friendly folks I meet at open air markets. Trips to the farmer’s markets are one of the pleasures of summer. Summertime and the livin’ is easy….

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Flea Market Adventures

antique majolica plates

Last weekend my mother, sister, niece, and I went to the DC Big Flea at the Dulles Expo Center in Centreville, Virginia. It’s the largest antique show in the mid-atlantic region, and we all found some treasures. Antiquing is one of my favorite past-times. I love browsing the booths in search of majolica pottery, enamel teapots, and other treasures. Here’s a sampling of some of the items that caught my eye.

antique nail bin

I absolutely fell in love with this antique nail bin. It has so many potential uses. Put it in your closet to store shoes, handbags, socks, or belts. Place it in your office to hold office supplies or in your studio to store art supplies. You could place it in an empty corner of your garage to hold odds and ends like baseball gloves, softballs, tools, roller skates, nuts and bolts, you name it. Or, place it in your potting shed to hold pots, seeds, seedlings, and gardening tools. The possibilities are endless with this gem. Love the idea, but don’t have room for a huge nail bin like this? No problem–you can purchase a new one online in a variety of sizes–including a one- or two-tiered rotating nail bin that would fit right on your desk.

antique record player

My mother had a record player just like this one when she was a child. This would look great as an art object in a bookcase.

vintage toy truck

So would this vintage toy truck.

antique purple hurricanes

These purple hurricanes probably rocked someone’s world in the 1980s. They still rock my world today.

antique fiestaware plates

These fiestaware plates would be a great find for food bloggers who are always looking for interesting ways to display their culinary creations. You could match–or contrast–the plates to each particular dish. Yeah, baby!

antique fiestaware pitchers

And these colorful fiestaware pitchers could serve up a bevy of refreshing beverages, like my mom’s homemade lemonade. Hey mom, you haven’t made homemade lemonade in a long time. Hint, hint….

vintage children's clothing

This vintage children’s clothing would look fabulous hung on a hanger as art in a child’s room. Add a straw hat and a vintage tea set on a child-sized table, and you’re set.  I love the black and white polka dress with pink trim.

vintage children's gladiator boots

And these vintage children’s gladiator shoes prove that everything old is truly new again. How awesome are these?

antique majolica plates

There was a good selection of antique majolica pottery. These waterlily and asparagus plates were so pretty. But I was looking for something specific–a large corn pitcher to add to my collection.

antique majolica corn pitcher

After browsing all the aisles I found several majolica corn pitchers of roughly the same size and quality but the prices varied drastically from a high of $400 to a real deal like the one pictured above at just $70.00. I did a happy dance when I stumbled upon this one and it came home with me. It’s always a good idea to view everything at the show before you make a purchase and then go back for the items (if they’re still available) that were the best price. Avoiding the urge to jump on the first item that rocked my world saved me over $300.00. Another way to get a good price is to wait until the end of the show to make a dealer an offer. Dealers are more likely to reduce their asking price at the end of the show because they don’t want to pack up all their items and lug them back home.

vintage melmac dinnerware

My sister snapped up this complete set of melmac dinnerware for just under $80.00. This set will be put to good use in her new home. I can’t wait for her to serve me up some of her awesome brownie cupcakes or pumpkin spice muffins on these babies. Hint, hint, sissy! I’ll have coffee with mine….

vintage enamel teapot

I fell in love with this vintage enamel teapot but walked away without buying it. Now, I wish I had snapped it up. It would look great on my kitchen table or on my fireplace mantel filled with fresh daisies. Drat, drat, and double drat!

My mom bought a vintage pitcher but threw her money on the table so fast that I couldn’t snap a photo! She asked my niece to stop her if she attempted to buy anything, and poor Karen did her best to intervene, but mom was determined to make her purchase. How’s that pitcher werk’in for you, mom? Karen was captivated with the vintage jewelry and picked up an adorable ring made out of a spoon.

We had a great time at the show. It was a fun family outing. The DC Big Flea is held at the Dulles Expo Center four times a year. The next show will be held on November 2-3, just in time for holiday shopping. Yeah, baby!

Dog Days of Summer

My dog, Marty, enjoys a good sniff-fest and rolling in the grass on warm summer days. Mary, who is a more dignified gal, prefers to quietly soak in the the sun and catch warm breezes. They are my constant companions and will happily keep me company as I work or relax in the garden.

I am grateful for quiet days with my canine companions.

My Summer Garden

crepe myrtle blooms

Hi everyone, how is your weekend going? My summer garden is in full bloom this week, so I grabbed my camera–and two of my pups–and headed outside to enjoy the show. I snapped some pictures to share here while the pups enjoyed a sniff-a-thon and then settled down to catch a few rays. My crepe myrtle trees are in full bloom this week. Aren’t they beautiful?

hardy hibiscus blooms

These hardy hibiscus will continue to bloom daily until early fall. I planted them outside my kitchen window so I can enjoy the show from inside the house and watch the hummingbirds drinking their nectar. Hummingbirds can’t resists these huge, red blooms. I saw one this morning while I was drinking my coffee and two others this afternoon, including one little fellow with amazing blue feathers.

calla lily blooms

I planted these calla lilies three years ago, and they get bigger and fuller each year. And the best thing about crepe myrtle, hardy hibiscus, and calla lilies–besides the fact that they bloom in tandem–is that they require almost no care. Just add water during extreme dry spells. That’s it! Easy peasy. Here are a few more pictures of my garden.

summer garden featuring crepe myrtle, hardy hibiscus, and calla lilies

summer garden

summer garden

summer garden

How pretty are these purple blooms and aqua bench? It’s a good thing I have a large stock of aqua spray paint. I see more aqua garden furniture in my future. What’s growing in your garden this week?

Purple Fairy in Watercolor

purple fairy in watercolor

Good morning, everyone. How was your weekend? Mine was busy. I spent time visiting with relatives from Ohio, went to the D.C. Big Flea antique show, visited a local farmer’s market, and did some housework, laundry, and yard work. And I managed to squeeze in one quick watercolor painting. This purple fairy is based on a tutorial in Linda Ravenscroft’s book, “How to Draw and Paint Fairies.” It’s an indispensable source of information for new watercolorists.

Normally, I paint fairy wings quite pale, so I thought I’d change things up a bit and use a more intense color. What do you think, are the wings too dark? Here’s a close up view of the fairy’s face. Thanks for visiting. Have a great day!

purple fairy in watercolor

Brownie Cupcakes

brownie cupcakes

Redemption cupcakes. Cupcakes you bake to redeem yourself after the cupcakes you brought to work last week (made from a recipe you’d never tried before) were an epic fail. That’s what my sister calls the cupcakes she brought to our family watercolor fest. Made with just five ingredients, you can whip up a batch of these decadent brownie cupcakes any time–whether you need to redeem yourself or not. These cupcakes are so moist that icing is not necessary, but if you’re an icing lover this fluffy white icing made with marshmallow cream is the perfect topping. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make my sister’s redemption cupcakes:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 4 squares semisweet baking chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Combine the melted butter and chocolate until the chocolate is melted. Add the remaining ingredients. Pour into a cupcake pan prepared with cupcake liners. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Icing Ingredients

  • 1 jar marshmallow cream
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

Combine all ingredients and beat until smooth and fluffy.

So the next time you serve a dessert that flops to friends or coworkers and you want to restore their faith in your cooking skills, redeem yourself with these babies.

 

Tulip Field in Watercolor

Tulip field in watercolor

After several starts and stops–and a holiday in between–I finally finished the painting that I started during my family watercolor fest. As per our challenge, I plan on adding ink details, but I like this painting so much as is that I wanted to share it with my readers–and save a copy for myself. Here’s a close-up view:

Tulip field close up