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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Thanksgiving Point - Ashton Gardens

Do you love botanical gardens like I do? Half way between Salt Lake City and Provo in Utah, is an amazing complex that includes museums, restaurants and a 55 acre garden. The land was purchased and developed by the Ashton family who wished to give back to the community and express gratitude for their financial success. ( Alan Ashton  created the software company WordPerfect). The result was Thanksgiving Point and the glorious Ashton Gardens.

For my birthday last weekend I wanted to pay a visit and explore the various themed gardens within the garden. What a fabulous day it was, sunny and warm, the summer blooms at their peak.


 Monet's Garden, reminiscent of Giverny.




The Rose Garden

 Italian Garden




 There is a Secret Garden just like the one Mary Lennox  found.




 This is the Parterre Garden. It's a carousel!

Saturday was the Fairy Festival at the gardens. There were lots of activities for little girls (and boys) . 
This charming fairy let me take her picture. 



`A mermaid was sitting in the pool at the secret garden. 
And Cinderella, Prince Charming and several other princesses were strolling the grounds.



A waterfall provides a backdrop for the the amphitheater.

The Mountain Garden has lots of great views.

There was so much to see, touch and smell. Thanksgiving Point has become one of the areas most popular tourist destinations. If you have a chance, pay a visit!

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Flag Pins

It's the season to be patriotic! With Memorial Day, Flag Day, and the 4th of July all clustered together I've been getting out my red, white and blue decor. In my neighborhood folks are flying the flag and decorating their homes with swags of bunting. I recently came across a couple of rhinestone flag pins at the thrift store. What a cute way to show some patriotism.We are having a small family reunion for Independence Day so I starting searching for more pins to give to each of the girls in the family.


I've had this sweet little cross stitched pin for over 30 years.
(I'll be keeping this one!) 


I thought my 7 year old grand daughter would like the flag necklace. 

I made these safety pin flags at Girl's Camp many years ago. They are very easy to do. If you would like a tutorial there are several on Pinterest.


I found flag lapel pins for the grandsons too.



How will you be wearing your patriotism this summer?

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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Many, many years ago I volunteered with our church's girl's youth group. We had a fundraiser every year to help the girls earn money for summer camp. We sold pies. Fresh strawberry pies for Mother's Day. Dozens of pies. Actually, one year, two hundred pies!  I've fiddled with the recipe a little, but it is very easy and one to add to your summertime dessert list.

Start with a pre baked pie shell. I prefer Pillsbury, but you can use a frozen one or make your own from scratch.

Next I add a layer of sweetened cream cheese. You can omit this part, but I find it keeps the crust from getting soggy and adds a lovely creaminess to the sweet berries.



Add freshly washed, dried and hulled strawberries on top of the cream cheese mixture. I keep most of the berries whole and really pile them high! 

Here's my real secret - Danish Dessert. Have you ever used this before? It's a bit like Jello, a bit like pudding. It can be hard to find, look in your local specialty grocery store. I've also seen it online. I tend to like the raspberry flavor, it's not quite as sweet as the strawberry.

Cook according to package directions. It takes about 5 minutes.

 Then gently ladle the warm glaze over the strawberries allowing it to fill in all the nooks and crannies of the pie.

Refrigerate until well chilled, several hours. 
Then top with fresh whipped cream. 

 Fresh , cool and sweet - a perfect summer dessert!
The recipe

Fresh Strawberry Pie

One pre baked pie shell
2 pounds fresh strawberries, washed and hulls removed
one package Junket Danish Dessert
4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup heavy cream whipped

In a mixer beat cream cheese with sugar and vanilla. Fold in pre whipped cream. Spread cream cheese mixture into cooled pie shell. Add strawberries piling high. Make Danish Dessert according to package directions. While still warm ladle over berries. Chill. Serve with whipped cream.

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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Americana Dinner Party

Do you have a close group of friends? My husband and I have belonged to the same couples book club for over 15 years. We rotate choosing a book to review and hosting duties and then get together every other month.

It was our turn to host and we chose to review Garrison Keillor's book  "Lake Wobegon Days".  Keillor is retiring from his long running radio program Prairie Home Companion this summer so we thought we'd reminisce and share some of our favorite stories of his. And since it's Memorial Day weekend, I went with an Americana theme for the party. 

 I pulled out my trusty ironstone dinnerware and layered it with red or blue chargers on a burlap tablecloth.




 I've wanted to do a grilled cheese bar for awhile. It was so easy to do!
 I laid out assorted breads, 
sour dough, multi grain and marble rye

 four kinds of cheeses, 
cheddar, pepper jack, swiss and havarti

 and a variety of meats, veggies and condiments. Everyone had a great time creating their own perfect sandwich!
ham, turkey, bacon, tomato

dijon mustard, craisins, cilantro, basil, mushrooms, pickles

For the sides I served Mediterranean pasta salad, potato salad and fruit kabobs. (oops, forgot to take pictures of everything!)


 For drinks I bought an assortment of old fashioned sodas.



And to finish it off classic Tollhouse cookies and fresh strawberry pie.



 It was a fun evening with great friends, good food and a chance to remember how lucky we are to live in this free country! 
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