Chocolate. Coffee. Whiskey.

March 28, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Posted in art, country life, country living, faith, family, gifts, inspiration, knitting, Life, love, recipes, shopping, women | 7 Comments
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Remember seeing photos of the cookies I make with chocolate, coffee, and whiskey (among other things) in the ingredients? I love making those cookies at the holidays and sending a dozen each to various family members and some friends. I love photographing them also, because they look so scrumptious and photograph so beautifully. Sometimes I make a second round of them at Valentine’s Day, adding a drop or two of red food coloring to make the icing pink and again, send them out a dozen apiece to family who I sorely miss.

What makes me sad, however, is that I had to promise my friend not to share the recipe. I can use the recipe, which I acquired while filling in for her baking talent in fund raising event for our church. She entrusted me with the “secret” recipe, and I had to promise not to pass it around because she likes to keep it reserved for fund raising efforts.

Before my son came back to the farm for the holidays, I was searching for some things online and I came across a cake recipe that also featured chocolate, coffee, and whiskey and thought it would be awesome to give that a try while my son was out. I tweaked the recipe a bit to suit my particular tastes and baking preferences, and … oh, my goodness!

The cake baked up beautifully, oh so beautifully. It was so dark it was almost black inside. I made it with super strong coffee and dark cocoa powder and lots of love. I think the “love” factor gave the cake an incredible crust, and we are big time crust lovers on this farm.

The good news is, this is a recipe I can share … go get out your grocery list and start writing down ingredients. Well, ah, that is after I say a thing or two about some business matters.

Both my son and I are having sales this week in our Etsy stores. He is offering free shipping on his wonderful authentic-looking, vintage inspired subway signs and bus scrolls. And remember, he can personalize them or make them totally custom from scratch to help commemorate a special time, place, or event in your life or the life of someone you want to give a completely awesome gift to. If you ever treat yourself (or someone else) to one of his custom signs you will be delighted, I can promise it.

There is something very touching about walking through a room and glancing at one of these signs hanging on the wall with the names of places you’ve been or lived in, happy places and times. It is like having a sign post there that tells you each time you glance at it, “Hi there, you were there, and there, and there, and there. And you were happy and it was great. Remember?” Pleasure moments get stirred up and continue walking, with a little bit of an extra smile playing on your lips and good feelings stirred up inside you.

I know this because he made one for me for my birthday last year that lists my favorite streets and neighborhoods where I lived, where he and his sister were born, where we lived together last in California, and now where we have landed in New York on this heavenly farm. That sign tells a certain story, very briefly just by calling out the street names or other identifying words.

So, treat yourself or someone you love to a set of signs from a city you love, or to a custom sign to commemorate a special time in their lives … and do it now so you get free shipping as well as a high quality product, thoughtful and artistic packaging, and a great customer service experience. He is, after all, my son. :)

If you want to take him up on this offer, use the word “POSTAGE” at checkout in his Etsy store here –> Flying Junction at Etsy.

By the way, my Knitter’s Eye Charts and Crocheter’s Eye Chart caught the attention of yet another magazine editor, this time it was Molly Makes, a UK based fiber crafter’s magazine that published thirteen times per year. If you haven’t ever seen their magazines, you really should treat yourself. You can subscribe, even if you are in the U.S. and I recommend doing so if you want a wonderful new source of inspiration on a regular basis.

Speaking of my various Eye Charts, now through this Friday at midnight I am offering BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE on my Knitter’s Eye Charts (or Crocheter’s Eye Charts) in my Etsy store. This applies to the 11×17 size (printed on 12″ x 18″ sheets), the 8″ x 10″ size (printed on 9″ x 12″ sheets), and even the sets of three. You can also apply this offer to the prints that read “If You Can Read This You Are Standing Too Close to My Stash”. Mix and match, it is all okay.

To take advantage of my BOGO, order your first prints or set of three then in the “Comments” section of the order form at Etsy, type the letters “BOGO” and tell what you want as your free print. The free print must be of equal or greater value to the one you pay for, of course. If you miss getting this into the Comments section of the order form, just send me a Convo through Etsy and take care of it there instead.

Remember, this offer is good from now until midnight (Easter Standard Time) this Friday, March 30, 2012. This is a private sale, so only people who read my blog or who are on my email list will find out about it.

Okay, now are you ready for that wonderful recipe? Here goes …

Dark. Chocolate. Coffee. Whiskey. Cake.

1 cup unsweetened, dark cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups strong brewed coffee
1/2 cup whiskey
1 1/2 sticks butter, cut into pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup mini dark chocolate or semi dark chocolate chips
2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp ground cloves
3 large eggs plus one egg white
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 10-inch springform pan, dust with 2 Tbsp cocoa powder.

Whisk coffee, whiskey, butter, and 3/4 cup cocoa powder together in a saucepan over low heat.  Whisk in sugars, then set aside to let cool.

In small bowl, toss chocolate chips with 1 Tbsp cocoa powder.

Mix together flour, baking soda, salt, pepper, and cloves in a mixing bowl.  Whisk eggs, egg white, and vanilla into cooled coffee-chocolate mixture, then whisk in flour mixture. Fold cocoa dusted chocolate chips into batter.

(This cake batter is not thick like other cake batters, so don’t become alarmed about that.  It will cook up just fine.)

Pour batter into springform pan. Bake until toothpick comes out just slightly moist, about one hour.

Let cool, then dust with remaining 1 Tbsp cocoa powder before serving.  (You might want to dust some extra cocoa powder on top, that’s what I did — just suit your own taste.)

The cake has a wonderful crust the first day it is baked.  Sad to say, that crust goes away after it is covered and stored overnight.  But, not to worry … it tastes wonderful with or without the crust.  I think it would be devine to serve this cake in spring or summer with fresh strawberries on the side.

Well, my friend … I hope you have a great day.

~firefly

Today in our life …

March 27, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Posted in art, family, gifts, Life, Mother's Day, NYC, recipes, shopping, women | Leave a comment
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I’ll be writing more a little later, and posting a blog in the morning. In the meantime, I wanted to share this with all of my readers. My son’s Etsy Shop (FlyingJunction.Etsy.com) is offering free shipping this week.

If you haven’t seen his work before, he painstakingly designs authentic looking, vintage inspired subway signs and bus scrolls featuring neighborhoods in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, London, Paris, Seattle and more. He can personalize any of his offerings, or make a custom sign to your own specifications celebrating important places and “subway or bus stops” from your own life. They are a great gift idea to commemorate Mother’s Day, birth announcements, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, graduation, retirement parties … or just living.

From a decor viewpoint, these signs are eyecatching and look great displayed at home, the office, even in a cottage or on a farm!

Many of his signs have a very awesome distressed finish to them, and they are all printed on high quality heavy weight paper. His shipping is impeccable and each tube is a deligth to receive.

Check him out, see what he’s been up to over the past few months.

Have a great day, and I’ll meet you back here tomorrow with a recipe for that incredible looking chocolate cake you saw in last week’s post … mmmm, yummy!

~firefly

Soon

March 21, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Posted in art, blogging, country life, faith, family, inspiration, knitting, Life, photography, shopping, women | 6 Comments
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To my regular readers … I have been away for quite some time, as you have seen.  The year got off to a bit of a bumpy start, and then I needed to take some time off and clear my mind.  Wanted to be sure that as I move forward I do so with a clear vision of the path before me in mind, rather than just continuing to do what I was doing before out of assumption that I my course was still correct.  Refreshed, I am here for you today ready to rock and roll.

On with Today’s Blog …

On my Facebook page yesterday I shared a photo of the first day of spring on our farm; quite a lovely day.  It felt great to be walking around, feeling the warmth of sunshine on my back and shoulders, my face…hearing the voices of hundreds and hundreds of birds, the peeping of peepers…seeing the river out front glistening brightly under open sunshine with a beautiful flow of water easing its way along downstream.

During my nearly 3-month long break from blog writing, I have been exercising my creativity in a variety of ways.  Something I don’t have much time for at this point in my life is fiction writing, although that is the writing I move love to engage in.    It used to be that I had to be prepared to “catch” my fiction as it poured forth from my mind, otherwise it would dissolve into the ether.  Often I found myself concocting a story during the middle of the night as I lay awake in bed, needing to get some sleep.  The clarity of those thoughts, the exact wording that flowed out of me so eloquently were gone nearly as quickly as they appeared.

As I have attended to some non-writing, non-business matters over the past three months, I have had quite a lot of time to reflect on various things and what has happened is that one story out of a few I have been loosely thinking of over the past few years, began materializing.  The five central characters began to step forward in my mind and tell me more about themselves, their thoughts, and struggles.  The setting has taken shape, the plot line has formed itself up … and I am retaining it all even though I have written little of it down.

Over the course of the past ten years, my writing process has evolved into a routine of living life, thinking of whatever my current writing project is (for clients or for my blog), retaining the ideas in my mind then writing them down later when I can I get some quiet time to myself.  The discipline of writing that way over a period of years has now segued into the process I now discover I can use to write my fiction stories.  This wonderful new thing of not losing the ideas that have formed so clearly in my mind is very liberating.  It will still take time to do the business of writing the entire story in typewritten words as opposed to thoughts of words, but I feel a deep a great sense of creative satisfaction at the development of this story in my mind.

I have also been needle felting, and this little fellow is one result of that creativity.  He is a pretty goofy looking rabbit, but sweet and someone I know who has tiny hands enjoys playing with him very much.  A number of readers over time have asked if I will publish and sell instructions for making needle felting items and I have decided I would like to do that (in addition to publishing more knitting patterns).  I am finishing up one more bunny rabbit and when he is finished I will start preparing written instructions for needle felting in general, then get into the specifics of how to make the characters I have designed.

I am also working on a series of paintings (some watercolor, some oil) depicting various scenes and settings along our river; currently I am working on swans but I have some beautiful photos I have shot of turtles sunbathing on fallen logs, heron about to pounce into the water while fishing, and other lovely river scenes I plan to paint.  As the paintings are finished, I will share them here with you.

My son continues to create his beautiful prints, maps, and photography.  He and my husband and I have made plans for some prints and maps related to New York history, and as we get those items ready for the public I will let you know.

In closing for today, I will share a few more photos reflecting some of what I have done and seen over the past few months.

See you here again soon.

Warmly,

~firefly

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