I have horses, I can drive a truck and I wear cowboy boots!

Well, I’m not wearing the boots…YET. But I will be soon all thanks to Country Outfitter!

Yes, it’s true this yankee-turned-southern-farm-girl doesn’t own a pair of cowboy boots!  I usually just schlep around in my flip flops when I’m doing farm chores.  Sad, I know!

But here’s the REALLY cool part – I’m getting FREE boots from Country Outfitter!

You’re probably thinking, “La-ti-da, isn’t she special.”

That’s okay though. If I were on the reading end of this I probably would be too!  But I am going to let you in on a little secret! YOU might be able to get a free pair of boots too!

DID YOU HEAR ME?

I said YOU might be able to get a free pair of boots too!  Keep reading!

These are the boots that I am getting:

I decided to go with the pink because I wanted something fun and pink is always fun!  Country Outfitter has SO MANY choices it was really tough to decide.  I really wanted some tall, dressy boots but I have the huge monster calves and can’t wear tall boots.

Wait, I’m supposed to be telling you about the FREE boots aren’t I?  I digress.

I’m part of a pretty cool group called Arkansas Women Bloggers.  We get together, hang out, eat food, drink wine and occassionally learn a thing or two about blogging.  So we have this little conference coming up.  Actually, it’s more than little! It’s going to be pretty amazing! And thanks to our sponsors (such as Country Outfitter) we have some pretty amazing things planned!

So if you are a women blogger you can get not one, but TWO FREE PAIR OF BOOTS by joining us at our Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged Conference on August 24 – 26 in Mountain View, Arkansas.  And NO you do not have to live in Arkansas! (But you do have to be a lady!)  If you register and join us for the conference and follow the directions outlined in this post you can also get TWO FREE PAIR OF BOOTS, one to keep and one to give away on your blog!  You can pick ANY pair of boots that is less than $150 and is listed as “ships within 24 hours.”

Check out their amazing selection of boots!

I really hope you will join us for the conference but if you can’t there is still a chance to get a free pair of boots!  Each conference attendee, myself included, will be giving away a pair of boots on her blog!  Be watching for that giveaway because you will NOT want to miss it!

Thank you Country Outfitter!

Disclaimer: I will be provided with a free pair of boots from County Outfitter in return for my posts.  My opinions are my own!

Cherry Covers Chocolate Mousse inspired by Renuzit Tempting Indulgences

Have you ever noticed how powerful scents and smells can be?  Smells can invoke wonderful memories and be completely calming to the soul.  Today I am sharing with you my recipe for Cherry Covers Chocolate Mousse, a recipe inspired by a scent. Keep reading for the recipe!  It is so flavorful, refreshing and it’s the perfect dessert for a hot summer night!

One of my favorite scents in the world is the scent of pine.  Having grown up in Vermont, spending my summers in Maine, the smell of pine trees bathed in the soft, slightly salty sea air can calm me in an instant and bring back a host of childhood memories.  My home is full of pine scented candles and airfresheners ALL year round.

There are other scents that can invoke powerful memories too.  There is nothing that says springtime more then the scent of Honeysuckle and fresh cut grass.  Chlorine and coconut are the smells of summer.  Fall claims the earthy scent of rotting leaves and pumpkin while winter is marked by the scent of fresh baked cookies, roasted turkey and of course…pine!

A spa experience which used to be just a massage now includes an aromatherapy session as well.

The rise in popularity of 3D movies has gotten some theatres around the world implementing a 4D Movie experience which can include smells being pumped into the theatre.

And nothing is more enticing then the smell of fresh coffee and frying bacon to pull you out of bed on a lazy Saturday morning.

Taste and smell go hand in hand.  Food just tastes better because of our ability to smell it before we eat it. (Ever noticed how food just doesn’t taste as good when you have a stuffed nose?)

Renuzit, a company that offers a full line of fragrant home air fresheners, understands that smell is important to making us feel at ease when we are at home.  No one wants their home smelling like a dog, a gym locker, or the trash.

Renuzit will soon be releasing a new line of products called Tempting Indugencenes with scents such as Creme Brulee, Chocolate Covered Cherries and Red Velvet Cake.  Their hope is that these scents will help and inspire you to “Make Everyday  a Little Sweeter” and that they will #TemptYourSenses!  Renunzit, along with Collective Bias, has asked me to experience these scents and to create an original recipe based on one of the scents.

I recieved two scents in the mail, Chocolate Covered Cherries and Creme Brulee.  Let me tell you, opening the box was like walking into a bakery!  The smell of these two fragrance cones is amazing!  They truly smell like the real thing!  The scents are strong enough to fill a room but are not so strong that they are overpowering.  I will probably stick with good ol’ pine scent in my home but I can not wait to place these cones on my desk at work!  I will have the best smelling classroom in the school.

I love Chocolate covered Cherries so I let this scent be my dessert inspiration.  Today I will be making what I call Cherry Covered Chocolate Mousse.  It is an ode to the classic treat of Chocolate Covered Cherries and the Renuzit scent of the same name.

Cherries are just coming into season in the north west corner of the United States.  They are juicy, sweet and flavorful.

The concept of deconstructed food is really popular right now. Deconstructing food is when you take parts of a dish and put the components of the dish to a new use.  With my Cherry Covers Chocolate Mousse I was really trying to build on this idea of a deconstructed version of Chocolate Covered Cherries.  And since the temperature has been topping 100 degrees on a regular basis here in Arkansas I really wansn’t in the mood for baking.  I wanted a recipe that was light, refreshing and cool.  Thus, Cherry Covers Chocolate Mousse was born!

After making a list, Richie and I headed out the our local Walmart to pick up the ingredients I would need for this pretty simple dish: Cherries, whipping cream, coconut milk, cocoa powder and powdered sugar.  You can see photos and read more about our shopping experience by looking at my Google + Album.

I am using two slightly lesser known, but easy to find,  ingredients in today’s recipe:

Coconut Milk – Did you know you can whip coconut milk just like you can whipping cream?  No joke! See below for all the details!

and Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder – I haven’t used the regular cocoa powder in years! I always substitute the Special Dark!

Both ingredients add a certain depth of flavor which really takes this recipe to a whole new level.  Let’s make it!

Cherry Covers Chocolate Mousse

1 cup sweet black cherries (pits and stems removed)
5-7 Tbs. powdered sugar, divided use
2 cans of FULL FAT Coconut Milk (See prep instructions below)
2 Cups of Whipping Cream
1/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder

12-24 hours in advance, prepare the coconut milk as follows.  Without shaking, open both cans of coconut milk and pour into a medium to large sized mixing bowl.  Cover loosely, if desired, and refrigerate over night.  The coconut milk should thicken considerably.  Once it has thickened use a spoon to carefully transfer the thickened portion to the bowl of your electric mixer.  You should have about 1 to 1 1/2 cups total.  (Don’t worry if that isn’t exact.)  And don’t throw away the watery part!  You can reserve that to use in cocktails (replace the rum in my Coconut Watermelon Margarita with coconut milk for a non-alcoholic treat) or even a curry dish!

Blend the thickened coconut milk and 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar on high until it sets like whipped cream.  If it doesn’t get super thick, don’t fret as it will set more as it sits in the fridge. Store in the fridge while you complete the rest of the recipe.

In the jar of a blender combine the pitted and stemmed cherries and 1 tbs. of powdered sugar.  Pulse until well mixed and the cherries are chopped finely but not pureed.  Set aside.

Using your electric mixer, whip the two cups of cream plus two tablespoons of powdered sugar until you get a very thick whipped cream consistency.  Carefully fold the whipped coconut milk into the whipped cream and divide in half. (Again if it is not real thick, do not worry.)

Into half of the blended mixture add the cherries and fold to combine.

Into the other half of the mixture add 1/4 cup of cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar.  Mix well and give it a go-around in the mixer if you need help to incorporate the cocoa.

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop a dollop of the Chocolate Mousse into each serving dish.  Then scoop a dollop of the Cherry Mousse to cover the chocolate in each dish.  Garnish with a fresh cherry and a sprig of mint.  Place in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours before serving.  Enjoy!

Take a minute to follow Renuzit on Facebook and while your there you can follow me, Eggsandherbs!

Next time you are in Walmart or your local supermarket check out the Renuzit cones and keep watch for the Tempting Indulgences which will hit stores soon!

Which of the new Renuzit scents are you looking forward to finding in your local supermarket?

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Renuzit #CBias #SocialFabric My opinions are my own and are not influenced by the fact that I received free product and compensation.

 

How to make Cherry Clafoutis and Whiskey Cherries {In the Kitchen}

Cherries are in season! And I love cherries!

Cherries don’t typically grow here in Arkansas but I recently found some delicious ones from Washington at my local grocery store.

I have always liked cherries but grew up on the bright red Maraschino cherries in a jar.  I never really discovered my love for fresh cherries until Richie and I travelled to Montana in late July about 11 years ago.  Since then I have looked forward to fresh cherries every summer.

Cherries are awesome for snacking on or putting in salads.  Honestly, until recently, it never occured to me that you could cook with FRESH cherries.  In my mind, cherries that are used for cooking came in a jar or a can and were filled with loads of red dye!

My good friend Beth, who blogs at the Food Adventuress, wrote a post that inspired me to write this post.  Beth discusses her dislike for cherries from a jar and shares her experience making delicious looking brandy soaked cherries.

In 2009, after reading Julie & Julia by Julie Powell and My Life in France by Julia Child, I became inspired to study the art of French cooking.  I purchased a copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and aspired to cook my way through it.  It is not my goal to make every recipe but I have made many over the last three years.  One of my favorites was the Tarte Aux Poires a la Bourdaloue, although I have enjoyed every recipe I have cooked from it.

When I purchased those delicious cherries I consulted MtAoFC to see what kind of recipes made with cherries that  Julia recommended.  There were quite a few but the Clafoutis stuck out to me because it was simple and I had all of the ingredients on hand.(Julia Child informs us in her book that Clafoutis is often spelled with the s in both its singular and plural forms although it can sometimes be found as Clafouti, without the s.)

Cherry Clafoutis

Recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

3 cups pitted sweet black cherries
1 1/4 cups milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
3 eggs
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup flour
Butter
Powdered Sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the stems and pits from the cherries and set aside.  Place the following ingredients in an electric blender, in the following order.  Milk, 1/3 cup of sugar, 3 eggs, vanilla, salt and flour.  Cover and blend on high for 1 minute.

Melt enough butter in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or oven safe baking dish to lightly coat the bottom.  Pour in about 1/4 inch of the batter and cook over moderate heat for several minutes until a film of batter has set in the bottom of the dish.  Remove  from the heat and spread the cherries over the batter.  Sprinkle on 1/3 cup of sugar.  Pour on the rest of the batter and smooth over the entire surface.

Place the skillet or baking dish in the center of the oven and bake for about an hour. The Clafoutis is done when it has puffed slightly and browned on top.  A knife inserted in the center should come out clean.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.  The Clafoutis should be served warm.

Serves 6 to 8.

The Cherry Clafoutis was absolutely delicious!  Because the Clafoutis is egg based it has an almost custard like texture.  It does not have a cake like texture that is found in German Pancakes.  Clafoutis is delicious in it’s own right!

Because I had purchased a 3 pound box of cherries, I still had about a pound and a half or more remaining after making the Cherry Clafoutis.  I decided to take Beth’s advice and give some grown-up alcohol soaked cherries a try.  It also didn’t hurt that I had two bottles of Jameson Reserve Label Whiskey.  My mother-in-law had purchased them for me while in Ireland over a year ago.  The taste was smooth and slightly smokey but I am just not a straight-up whiskey drinker.  It was time to put that whiskey to good use!

Whiskey Cherries

3 – 1 Pint Mason Jars
18-24 Cherries per jar (remove pits, stem may be left on or removed.)
1/4 cup of sugar per jar
About 3/4 cups of Whiskey per jar (or your favorite alcohol)

Fill each jar with cherries.  I found I was able to fit between 18 and 24 per jar but my cherries were kind of big. I also had a few Ranier Cherries that I threw into one of the jars.  Once you have packed each jar sprinkle 1/4 cup of sugar into each jar.  Add Whiskey to fill each jar. It will be around 3/4 cups per jar.  Put the lids on each jar and shake gently to dissolve the sugar.  Store the jars in a cool, dark place for AT LEAST 3 MONTHS!  I know, that’s a long time but it will really help the flavor to develop.  Once finished you can also use the wonderful cherry liquor in recipes and drinks. (Note – If you do not want the finished product so sweet you could reduce or eliminate the sugar all together.)

Enjoy!

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Water {Drink of the Week}

So why is water so special that it is featured as my drink of the week?

Well, I think water is something we take for granted in this country.

We all expect that when we turn the tap we are at least getting clean water.  If you are lucky you may even live in a place where the water that comes out of the tap actually tastes good!

Water is vital to our survival.

We were lucky to get a brief “cool” spell and even a little rain here in Arkansas where we are in extreme drought conditions and temperatures at the end of June and early July soared over 100 for almost three weeks straight.  The heat has returned and rain chances are dwindling with each passing day.

Still, I have yet to define WHY water is my {Drink of the Week}.

Take a look at this photo.

Now look CLOSER!

Do you see that?  FREE WATER!  100% free, ICE COLD water! No strings attached!

This water cooler is located on S. Main Street in Jonesboro, Arkansas.  I  have no idea who put it there or who pays for it.  I just think it is tremendously cool!  We even saw a passing biker stop and pick up a fresh bottle of water.

Something so simple as water that we literally pour down the drain, repeatedly, on a daily basis.  We see nothing wrong with spending over $1 on a bottle of the stuff.  Businesses feel the need to charge $1 or EVEN MORE for simple water.  How many times have you been somewhere that water is in high demand (ball parks, theme parks, etc.) and that water is jacked up to $2 or ABOVE?

Yet here it is, free for the taking.  Someone saw a need and decided to fill it without asking someone else to pay for it.  It truly is a good deed.

So THAT is why WATER is my {Drink of the Week}!  Inspiring, don’t you think?

Salmon Cakes with Tzatziki Sauce and Crab and Cheese Grits

I mentioned in an earlier post that salmon is a pretty new food for me.  I have found that I love it and we have been enjoying it about once every two to three weeks.  I prefer to cook a whole side of salmon rather than fillets but a side of salmon can weigh anywhere between 2 and 3 pounds, far more than Richie and I can eat even when we have my mother-in-law, Kathy, over for dinner.  There is always leftovers.

The first few times we had salmon I took salads for lunch the next few days and topped them with the leftover salmon.  While delicious and light, I was really looking for something more substantial.  Something that could serve as the evening meal.  I was stummped.

Now I have mentioned in the past that Richie is sometimes a picky eater.  He has done AMAZINGLY better in the last few years really broadening his horizons and expanding his palette.  Still there is fear in trying new things – a trait shared by most humans, at least to some degree.  So when Richie handed me the June 20, 2012 Food Section of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette that featured a recipe for salmon cakes I thought, “Bingo!” (If you have a picky eater in your family hand them a cookbook or invite them to browse your Pinterest account.  Once I started letting Richie pick out the new meals we were trying he was much more open to trying out new things! Who would have thought!)

So salmon cakes it was!  The  recipe was super fast and simple to put together.  On Sunday afternoon we had Blackened Salmon (or you could try my Tropical Salmon) with Baked Potatoes, Roasted Summer Squash and Zucchini and my yummy Pineapple Salsa.  After dinner I took about 15 minutes to prepare the salmon cakes and the Tzatziki sauce for Monday night’s meal and stuck them in the fridge.  The next evening dinner was ready in less than 20 minutes!

Note: To make Blackened Salmon simply smear both sides of a side of salmon with softened butter and sprinkle liberally with your favorite blackening seasoning.  Heat a cast iron skillet on high and add the side of salmon.  Cook about four minutes on each side or until the salmon is no longer translucent and flakes easily with a fork.

All recipes below are adapted from Susan M. Selasky. “Stretching Salmon.” Arkansas Democrat Gazette 20 June 2012, Food: E1-8.

Tzatziki Sauce

1 Medium Cucumber, peeled and seeded
Kosher Salt
1 Cup Greek Yogurt
1/3 Cup Sour Cream
Milk (optional)
1 Tablespoon Olive oil
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 Tbs. of Lemon juice
1 small Shallot, minced (about 1 TBS.)
1 clove of garlic,  grated
2 Tbs. Fresh Dill
Salt and Pepper to taste

Peel and seed cucumber and chop into small, bite-sized bits.  Place into a strainer over a bowl and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Place in the fridge for about two hours to drain excess moisture from the cucumber.

In a bowl, mix the greek yogurt and the sour cream.  Add in the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, cucumbers, shallot and garlic.  Stir in 2 Tbs. of fresh dill and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Chill at least 30 minutes before serving.  If the sauce is too thick you can thin it out by stirring in a few tablespoons of milk just before serving.

 

Salmon Cakes (Makes about 6 Cakes)

3/4 Pound cooked, leftover Salmon
2 Tbs. Chopped, roasted red peppers
2 Tbs. red onion, minced
1/2 Tbs. Olive Oil (plus more for cooking the salmon cakes)
1 tsp. Lemon Pepper Seasoning
3 – 4 Tbs. Mayonnaise
1 Tbs. Dijon Mustard
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 Cup Panko bread crumbs (plus more for dredging)

In a small pan saute the onion in olive oil until it begins to soften.  Add the roasted red pepper and saute about 1 minute more.  Remove from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.

In a bowl, lightly crumble the salmon into pieces.  You do not want the pieces to be too small.  Add the slightly cooled onion and red pepper mixture to the salmon.  Add the lemon pepper, mayo, mustard, egg and panko.  Stir lightly.  Do not over mix.  Carefully form the mixture into patties and dredge both sides in panko bread crumbs.  Place on a plate covered with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook.  You can complete this step up to 24 hours in advance.

When ready to cook, heat 2 tbs. of olive oil in a skillet.  Add the cakes and cook about three minutes on each side until golden brown and warmed all the way through.  Serve on a bed of mixed greens and top with Tzatziki sauce (see recipe above) and Pineapple Salsa.  Serve with Crab and Cheese Grits (see recipe below).

 

Crab and Cheese Grits

1 Cup Grits (Quick Cooking or Traditional, NOT instant)
2 Cups Water
1/2 cup shredded Gouda cheese
2 – 4 oz.  lump crab meat (not imitation)
2 Tbs. Butter
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine 1 cup of grits and 2 cups of water and cook the grits according to the package directions.  While the grits cook melt 1 Tbs. of butter in a small pan and add the crab meat.  Saute just a moment to heat the crab through.  Remove from the heat.

When the grits have cooked, stir in the shredded gouda, crab meat and remaining 1 Tbs. of butter.  Mix until well combined.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve beside the crab cakes.

Note:  The crab meat in the above recipe is totally optional. If you prefer to leave it out just skip that part entirely.  Cheese grits are just as delicious on their own!

ENJOY!

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Panama City Beach 2012

Richie and I recently returned from Panama City Beach, Florida.  This was our third visit and, despite the threat of Tropical Storm Debby on Sunday and Monday, it turned out to be one of our best beach vacations yet.  Don’t let the rumors that Panama City Beach is a party town fool you! While this may be the case during “Spring Break” season, the rest of the year it is a PERFECT vacation spot.

Returning to the same place three times certainly has some advantages.

First off, we returned to one of the most fun hotels I have ever stayed at.  The Holiday Inn Resort at Panama City Beach (HIPCB) has EVERYTHING you could want and more.  It is perfect for couples but is designed as a family resort and offers some amazing amenities to families with kids.  Check out my review on Trip Advisor!  You can also find HIPCB on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Second, we learned which restaurants were legitimately good and didn’t waste our time in the tourist traps.  We also weren’t afraid to eat “on the cheap” and even got Burger King for breakfast one morning and ate Subway for lunch twice! This helped save lots of $$ so when we did eat out we could really splurge.  Our favorite spots include:

Schooners


Shuckums (No Photo)

Paradise Bar and Grille


Three Brothers Pizza (Also available on the pool deck at HIPCB!)


Pink Pelican Ice Cream Bar

Finally, we knew where everything was which saved us lots of time.  We didn’t have to spend hours wandering up and down Front Beach Road which meant more time on the beach.

 

We did add one new thing to our itinerary this year.  We took a Dolphin Cruise at Capt. Anderson’s Marina.  At only $12 per person it was a lot of fun and a great bargain!

We’re already plotting and planning our return trip for next summer!

Note: All images found in the post are Copyright 2012: Julie Kohl.  Please do not use, pin, or repost these pictures without my permission.  Pinning from this page has been disabled.

Blacklisted from the PTA by Lela Davidson {52 Books in a Year}

My goal is to read 52 books in 2012.  Good or bad, as I read, I will be reviewing the books here.  Be sure to leave a comment and tell me about your favorite books!

This weeks book is really special because it is written by my online friend and fellow Arkansas Women Blogger, Lela Davidson.  Lela blogs at After the Bubbly and will be the featured speaker at the Arkansas Women Bloggers conference(#AWBU) in August!  I am really looking forward to finally meeting her in person! If you are a interested in meeting Lela too, please sign up for #AWBU here!

July marks the one year anniversary of Blacklisted from the PTA. Each day this month, Lela is inviting a new blogger to the birthday celebration on After the Bubbly.  This give you the chance to meet a ton of new bloggers PLUS each featured blogger will be hosting a giveaway of an autographed copy of Blacklisted from the PTA!  Be sure to check out Lela’s blog every day this month!

Blacklisted from the PTA by Lela Davidson

(Book overview from Goodreads.com)

Blacklisted by the PTA is an irreverent look at motherhood and the modern family. From the high chair to a vinyl restaurant booth on date night, Lela Davidson has captured life on the cul-de-sac with a husband, two kids, and the occasional pet. Whether failing at cloth diaper origami or smug in knowledge that her children have never consumed a PopTart, Lela assures parents they are not alone, and that it’s okay to laugh-at yourself, and at your kids. These are the stories of every parent–even if we don’t always tell them out loud. Each of these 62 essays can be read in under five minutes for a quick laugh-either with or at the author.

As a CPA on the mommy track, all Lela wanted to do was sit on the driveway and drink wine out of a box with the neighbors. Luckily, she started writing down her stories instead. Whether tackling PTA meetings, neighborhood politics, or inflation-by-Tooth Fairy, Lela exposes the humor in every awkward moment and maternal meltdown. From a trendy Seattle condo, to a tidy Arkansas subdivision, Lela shares the comic side of family life. She takes you to Mexican bars, the hockey rinks of St. Louis, ski slopes near Santa Fe, shopping in Dallas, and even introduces you to a few strippers–the novices on the playgrounds of New York City, and the pros in Vegas. Lela says what the rest of us are thinking. Her hilarious observations and subtle satire are always spot on. She’s not afraid to reveal her screw-ups, along with fleeting delusional moments of wherein she honestly believes she is the best mom ever.

 

Blacklisted from the PTABlacklisted from the PTA by Lela Davidson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Being that I do not have children, I sometimes hesitate to read books in the “Mommy” genre. I often find that I can not relate to the stories being told but this was not the case with Blacklisted from the PTA.

Lela told her stories in such a way that they didn’t alienate the childless. She doesn’t assume every one agrees with her feelings or has even experienced the things she discusses.

Her humor and wit is outstanding! The book is fast paced and fairly short. I read it rather quickly.

The only real shortcoming of the book was the order of the stories being told. She seems to jump around rather than telling stories in a chronological order. I found this to be slightly confusing.


View all my reviews on Goodreads.com or click the button below to find more on Eggs and Herbs.

Sand and Seashells in a Bottle Beach Souvenir TUTORIAL {Arts and Crafts}

Every summer we head to the beach.  Every summer I collect a pail full of sand and seashells.  Every summer I don’t know what to do with the sand and shells and they end up being tossed in our driveway.  This is neat in it’s own way because every once and a while I will see a shell in the driveway and it takes me back to the days at the beach.  Still, I have always wanted to do something a little more special and a little more permanent.  I have seen hundred of “Sand and Seashells in a Bottle” type souvenir at all the little shops along the beach.  They are neat – yet impersonal and probably contain seashells from China.  So I decided to make my OWN Sand and Seashells in a Bottle Beach Souvenir.  It turned out pretty cute!

 

Sand and Seashells in a Bottle Beach Souvenir Tutorial

Supplies:
Seashells and Sand from a recent beach trip
A jar (I used a mason jar but any kind will do.)
A photo from your trip printed on regular computer paper
Mod Podge
A sponge brush
Craft Paint
A small detail brush
Printed text for your jar
Tape

Let’s get started!

1. Collect you sand and seashells.  Make sure your sand is dry and your shells have been cleaned and dry.

2.  Print off a picture from your vacation onto REGULAR computer paper – not photo paper.  You should choose a size that will fit easily on the back of your jar.  I printed my picture to 3×5 inches.

3. Carefully cut out your picture and gather the Mod Podge and a sponge brush.

4. Use the sponge brush to paint a thin even layer of Mod Podge onto the jar where you will place your picture.  I prefer to paint the glue onto the jar rather than the picture because sometimes the ink in the picture may smear.

5. Carefully press your picture onto the glued area.

6. Smooth the picture onto the glass and use the sponge brush to paint over the back of the entire picture.  Smooth out any wrinkles as you go with your fingers.  Don’t worry if you get Mod Podge on the other areas of the jar. It will clean off easily with a damp towel or baby wipe before you move on to the next step.

7.  Use your computer to type up what you would like painted on your jar. I chose “Panama City Beach 2012″.  I sized the letters to my liking and selected a font that seemed “beachy” to me.  I then printed my words, cut away the excess paper and carefully taped them in place.

8.  I selected some craft paint in a beachy color to paint on the letters. I chose the color Caribbean.

9. Very carefully use the printed words as a guide and paint the letters in place.  I used at least two coats of paint allowing the paint to dry between coats for the best coverage.  The great part is that you can just wipe it off and start over if you mess up!

10. When you have finished add your sand and shells into your jar.

The Finished Product:

Limon Sunrise {Drink of the Week}

When Richie and I visited Italy (specifically the island of Capri) several years ago, I was introduced to a wonderful Italian lemon liqueur called Limoncello.  Limoncello on its own is a wonderful drink that is traditionally served chilled, following a meal as a digestivo.  Mainly the Italians believe it would help aide in digestion.

Limoncello is made by soaking lemon zest in grain alcohol until the oils are released.  The result is a tangy, lemony, and really strong alcohol mixture which is then mixed with a simple syrup to give it its sweet flavor and almost creamy texture.  Nothing follows a heavy Italian meal quite like Limoncello.

Because it is quite strong and sweet, Limocello really is best enjoyed after a heavy meal so in this weeks cocktail I was looking to include the flavors of Limoncello but present them in a lighter way.  I wanted a drink that could be enjoyed on its own – anytime!

Limon Sunrise

2 Ounces Limoncello
4 Ounces Sparkling Water (Club Soda)
Ice
2 Lemon slices
1 Maraschino Cherry
Cherry juice or Grenadine

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.  Add one slice of lemon and muddle to release the juice. Pour in the limoncello and the sparkling water.  Shake gently to chill and strain into the cocktail glass of your choice.  Add one maraschino cherry and just a touch of cherry juice or grenadine.  Do not stir.  Allow the cherry juice to settle to the bottom.  Garnish with a slice of lemon and serve.  This makes an excellent drink on a hot day.

*Note that my Limoncello was homemade (by my friend Jenna!)  and not quite as vibrant in color as some store bought products.  Store bought Limincello may result in a more yellow drink.

 

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