Saturday, April 21, 2018

Springtime in Virginia and everything is blooming!

Hello friends...happy to have you here.
Well, even though the mornings have been rather chilly. 
Seriously Mother Nature, 32 degrees in April???
Despite that, I am finally seeing some gorgeous Spring blooms on my flowering trees and shrubs.
I thought you might enjoy some pretty photos.

 I was going to take the Metro into Washington, DC to see the cherry blossoms at the Jefferson Tidal Basin. Then I thought...Nah, I think I will just ride over to my local dry cleaners and take pictures in the parking lot! (Bonus...no crowds to deal with).

 Just beautiful!
I love the delicate pink buds.

 Toward the end of blooming season, on breezy days it looks like it is snowing.

 The very palest of pink undertones.

 Beautiful

Sometimes I cannot tell if they are white or the very palest of pink!



The Bradford and Cleveland Pear trees are all in bloom also.
These trees line our long driveway.
I love driving up when they are all white with blooms.

 Of course, the dependable and cheerful Forsythia bushes are beautiful this year.

Makes you smile just looking at them.


 Years ago we donated to the National Arbor Society and in return, they gifted us with some lovely tree seedlings.
These Crab Apple trees are prettier this year than ever before.
Just look at that color!!

If I remember correctly, This is also a variety of apple tree.
Soft shades of pink with green and coppery leaves.


The dependable Redbud..she never disappoints. Virginia by-ways and highways are lined with this beautiful variety of tree. She blooms in the most glorious pink and her leaves are a romantic heart shape. Why isn't she called Pink Bud???? 

I love the way her flowers hug the branches so tight like a lovers embrace. 

We have two next to each other in our backyard. They just showed up one spring! No clue where they came from. 
Isn't Mother Nature generous?

One of my favorites is a Kwanzan Cherry tree I planted 15 years ago. Mine has just started to bloom.
In a few weeks, this tree will be COVERED in the romantic and large pale pink blossoms.
This tree is a real stunner every spring. I love cutting a few branches and bringing them inside to place in a vase.

The new leaves are rather coppery in the beginning, but then turn a pretty green and I love the nubbiness of the branches.

The tiny buds are a deeper pink and open to a lovely paler pink. As you look at the tree from a distance, you see so many lovely shades of pink. It's striking.

Even my grass is surprising me with the tiniest violets! They are everywhere. My hubby was a little sad about mowing last weekend because he hated to cut them.

I'll end with one of everyone's favorite old-fashioned  flowering shrubs,
Lilacs!

We have quite a few on the property. I am originally from Dutchess County, New York and during my 21 years living in Texas, Lilacs were the flower I missed the most.
They almost grow wild in NY, but in Houston.....too hot!
We had the lilac of the south, the Crepe Myrtle, which are very pretty.
However, NOTHING beats the beauty and aroma of a gorgeous old-fashioned Lilac.

Back in 2012, I wrote a blog post showcasing the beauty of my Virginia Dogwood season here in my neighborhood. It is still a good read with gorgeous photos.
You can see all that beauty plus a wonderful arched stone walkway of lilacs that are over 50 years old!!
Here.

Well, that's Spring in my neck of the woods.
What is Spring like where you live??
Do you have a favorite blooming tree or shrub?
Tell me about them in the comments, I love to hear from you.
Until next time....be kind and stay creative.
Hugs,
Janet xox

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Easy and delicious Gluten Free, Paleo, Keto, low carb and sugar free bread recipe!

Hello friends....welcome back to my little corner of the internet world.
Today I want to share an easy recipe with you.
For the past few months, my hubby and I have been trying our best to eat healthier.
We have cut out processed sugar and bad carbs.
Lots of good meats, salads, and fresh veggies.
However, what we have missed the most is
BREAD!

Well, we suffer from bread withdrawal no longer!!! 
I have been searching the internet for good bread recipes and I have found a few really tasty ones.
The website
and it's lovely blog hostess Maya, has a ton of wonderful recipes.
For my first bread recipe, I chose the Easy Paleo-Keto-Low carb-Sugar Free bread recipe.
On my first try, I followed the recipe exactly and the results were very good. My hubby and son loved it.

 This bread has a nice texture, was slightly on the eggy side and similar to a tea loaf style bread.
The bread sliced nicely and held it's shape in the toaster.
Please keep in mind, this bread is not your high carb crusty artisan-style bread.
I try to enjoy it as just a new bread recipe and accept it for what it is and not what it is a substitute for.

All in all, I was happy with the bread and baked it three more times with very consistent results.

Baking it on parchment paper makes for easy cleanup.

I mean seriously....does this look like I am suffering in my eating??

Hello Breakfast!
I did a little reading and found out that by adding 1 teaspoon, per cup of flour used, of Xanthan Gum, I could improve the texture.
Xanthan Gum is a natural product used in foods as a binding and thickening agent.
It worked like a charm!
This recipe calls for two cups of Almond flour, so I added two teaspoons of Xanthan Gum. 
I also like my bread with a very light sweetness to them, so I added one teaspoon sweetener.
Something like Truvia or Erythritol can be used.
It did the trick with no negative effect on the results.

So for all of you trying to curb your bad carbs and eat healthier...
this recipe is for you! 
Let me know if you give it a try.

RECIPE
2 cup Almond Flour
1/4 cup Psyllium Husk powder
1 tbsp Gluten Free baking powder (make sure it is fresh!)
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp Xanthan Gum (optional)
1 tsp sweetner (optional)
4 large beaten eggs
1/4 coconut oil (measure solid and melt)
1/2 cup warm water
**
preheat oven to 350 degrees F
line loaf pan with parchment paper as seen in the photo
In a large bowl, stir together almond flour, pysillium husk powder, baking powder and salt
Stir in beaten eggs and melted coconut oil, and finally warm water.
Spoon into baking dish and form a rounded top.
Bake 55-70 minutes, until toothpick tests clean.
Top should be very hard and crusty.
Cool and remove from pan.
Enjoy!

Sunday morning poached eggs with corned beef...yes, please!

Delicious!
I am so happy to know that I do not have to suffer a new eating plan without bread.
I also baked up an earthy loaf using chestnut flour and I will be sharing that recipe in another post.
I have really been enjoying testing a variety of gluten-free, Paleo and Keto recipes and with the exception of one (disastrous Chocolate Chip cookie) have been pretty happy with the taste.
Keep in mind...even though these recipes are healthier, that does NOT mean you can gorge.
Moderation...always moderation.
However, I no longer feel deprived.
That will help me stay the course.
That's it for today.


Until next time....be kind and stay creative.
Hugs,
Janet xox

Monday, April 16, 2018

Watercolor Workshop and Spring house DIY projects

Hello friends....welcome back. 
I wanted to share some photos from my very successful
 Watercolor & Wine
Workshop.

  It was held at the lovely
 Ciao Bello Celebrations Cafe.
Cafe owners Mona and Dan also served the most delicious snacks, wine, and mimosas.
I had the pleasure of sharing what I know with ten wonderfully creative ladies.


 Everyone was able to choose the color scheme that they preferred.
Some went bold and some kept the florals soft.
 However, all were beautiful!

 Almost all of my ladies were experiencing the fun of watercolor for the very first time.
That in itself is always great to witness...someone learning something new.

 Once we began, they all became VERY focused.


 One lady came because her mother was a watercolor artist and she had not followed in her artistic footsteps.
It didn't take much to bring the artist in her to the surface.
She got very creative and painted the prettiest pink dogwood wreath.
I think her Mom would have been very proud.


 I gave them instruction on florals and assorted greenery.
They all caught on so quickly.



 I love how they all painted beautiful floral wreaths, 
however, they each had their own personal style.

What a fun and creative workshop...I loved it.

 And then I did THIS!
BTW...these .99 plastic gallon paint can pour collars are
AMAZING!!!!
PS....they also will fit your quart pots such as my Annie Sloan paint cans.
They keep the rims nice and clean and are reusable.
Super easy to clean.
You are welcome!

I bought enough wall paint to repaint 3 bedrooms, a master and guest bathrooms and the whole entry, stairwell, and landing areas.
Whew...I have my work cut out for me
Hubby was out of town, so I always take advantage of these times to get home projects done.

 Here is a sneak peak of the transformations happening here.
On the left is the old dark color.
It was time to lighten things up.
On the right is the new color
Benjamin Moore Marquee
Platinum in a flat finish. 
I love how it is all is looking very clean and fresh. 
This pale grey is a beautiful backdrop for all my floral pieces in shades of pink, green and whites.

 I have plans for a vintage frame gallery going up the stairwell.
I have quite a collection of old ornate frames, vintage florals and I will mix a few of my original florals.
Maybe a pretty Limoges plate here and there.


 As you can see my home has one of those two-story entryways.
I REALLY DO NOT LIKE THIS DESIGN FEATURE!
Yes, I realize all caps means I am screaming.
I think it is such a waste of good space. They are also very difficult to paint and decorate.
There is also a hanging light fixture, that I pray the bulbs never die because I have NO idea how I will reach that thing to change them out.
Eighteen years and counting!

 
I attached a 48 in pole extension to my roller and I was amazed how much further up the walls I was able to paint.
My hubby was pleasantly surprised at my progress when he returned home.
So there you have it...what I have been up to.
Be sure to visit again, because I will be sharing all my home restyle progress with all of you.

Until next time.....be kind and stay creative.
Hugs,
Janet xox