Visions of Spring

Marvelous handmade and vintage items brought together in a shopping guide for your perusal

Tea Time Shopping Guide

Celebrate the arrival of Spring this year with beautiful finds from our Visions of Spring Shopping Gallery.

Spring cannot arrive soon enough, and we’re here to help you off to a glorious start!


1. From Studio 3B – Perfume Spray Bottle Set filled with your Favorite Studio 3B Perfume. Many beautiful specialty perfumes to choose from to brighten up your Spring wardrobe. You’ll receive a Spray Bottle plus a Refill Bottle filled with your choice of perfume and a pipette for easy refilling. Arrives in a Black Organza Gift Bag. $31.50

2. From Forsythia Hill Vintage – Stunning vintage 1960’s tailored Floral Brocade Trench Coat. This one of a kind Women’s Formal Coat in Pink Rose and Gold is a perfect Easter Coat. From Thalhimers French Salon, Size Small 0 1 2 $160.00.

3. From Sweetiepips – A Boho Chic chain and leather necklace. With peachy pink Rhodochrosite and Cherry Quartz and Czech…

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Oldies but Goodies

While bringing up the dashboard for my two blogs I was struck with the thought that Baking for Life may have disappeared since it has been relegated to the mothball section of the internet.  No time or desire to put that direction.  No big loss in the grand scheme of things, but I had a twinge of regret now that I might  be resurrecting the blog after having abandoned it for so long. Magically it appeared, poor thing!

I was cleaning out one of our overly cluttered areas of the house the other day and came across a paper bag with some of my mother’s older cookbooks.  Some are careworn, laden with my mother’s imprints as well as mine as a kid, Aside from ironing in the afternoon after school, one of my jobs was to make dinner before my mother arrived home from her long commute at the end of her work day.   We had 3 female college students boarding with us so the dinner needed to be plentiful,  As I flipped through the pages, certain recipes caught my eye, I was transported back to the specific production of the recipes.  Some which were well used had food stains around the print.  Wonder what I was thinking while putting the ingredients together?  Wow!

But I digress.    Tonight I used one book, from 1973, to make brownies.  When one is overcome with the urge to eat chocolate sometimes it is better to give in to it.  One of the things I remember while working for a weight loss program, which rings true, is to satisfy the urge or else you’ll go through a lot more food trying to scratch that itch.

I’ll indicate at the end of the recipe how I altered it.  Yes, you can still count on me fiddling around with the ingredients!



Whole Wheat Brownies    ‘Family Favorites from Country Kitchens’ cookbook  c 1973

1/2 c butter or margarine

1 c brown sugar, firmly packed

2 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 c whole wheat flour

1/4 tsp salt

6 Tbsp cocoa

2 Tbsp melted butter or margarine

1 c chopped walnuts

Cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a tine, beat till well blended after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

Gradually stir in whole wheat flour and salt. Combine cocoa and butter or margarine, blend well. Add cocoa mixture and nuts to flour, butter, egg mixture.  Mix well, spread into greased 9″ square pan.

Bake 45 minutes @ 325°.  Cool on rack cut into 16 bars.

****   Now I substituted 1/4 c ground Kashi Go Lean Crisp cereal with 1/4 c unbleached flour because I did not have whole wheat on hand.    I also substituted 1/4 c coconut oil for 1/2 the butter / margarine.

The brownies took about 20 to bake in my convection oven so keep track of the bake time, check for doneness way in advance of 45 minutes.

I think I’ll try Pumpkin Pie Squares next from this book.  They look delightful. You’ll see!

Until next time we meet , eat… enjoy … mangia!



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I must apologize for my absence.  It was not deliberate or for lack of interest merely a series of distractions, hiccups along the road of life.   The realization that life might have been better before the invitation granted to ‘the computer’ to enter my home has become crystal clear while I set up yet a another computer.  I’ve spent the last few days installing, transferring data, software etc.  My former 9 yr old PC has become a tired decrepit tool that I was dragging out each day, rather like the albatross, while forcing it to function.  It was time to let it drift off on the iceberg for a respectful demise.

I don’t yet have photo editing on the new computer, hence I am unable to improve my photos.  Eh, the stress of it all.   And to think I actually had a small darkroom years ago where I dabbled in film developing & printing.  Fingers in the chemicals, the smells hung in the air along with the wet photo paper fresh from the fixer bath clipped onto a line stretched across the wall.   That was truly fun.

behold the bpx

behold the box

I am in the midst of finding new desktop printing software, weighing the merits of owning the ability of PDF creation, my former software is not compatible, photo editing tools, to WORD or not to WORD, a WORD by any other name be as sweet?  The transition from one OS to another on top of the computer shift.  I love wasting time in front of the screen as opposed to tapping into my creativity on my worktable or bakery counter.  Yes, I will be glad when both computers are not humming though my old computer is rather loud, I think the fan is going.   My new computer is so quiet I forget it’s there.

I did, if you notice, brighten up the blog, forced it to bloom into spring, and have given my cat, Rufus, a prominent spot.  I’ll have more to say on him and other cats in the future!

Prior to the computer interlude I was playing around with a ‘Jammie Cake’ project.  I am up-cycling materials from the bakery and should have more to reveal at a later date, as you may wonder if I have indeed spent too much time at the PC and have tossed my wits, gazing on this photo.

upcycling bakery disposables

up-cycling bakery disposables

So no food here in this post.  The snow stopped falling around 7 pm.  We gained almost 6″ of the white blanket.   Tomorrow the sun will shine down on it and it will be lost into the ground.  Good for the garden and the water supply!

So until next time we meet, maybe eat .. Mangia!  Enjoy family, life and food ….. snow and computers!  HAH!



Three Dough Night

Sunday March 9
What am I doing with the 3 odd wads of dough, I asked on the bakery Facebook page???
3 dough remnants
Blended doughs
Blended doughs
I finished up baking for a few orders today and decided to ‘play’ with some of the left over dough.  There were  small lumps of basic sugar cookie , cocoa sugar cookie and gingerbread doughs remaining from the day’s baking.  Rather than form each into disks for me to eat ( baker benefits) I began to blend the doughs then roll them out and realized a camouflage look was materializing before my eyes.   What would I do with camouflage cookie dough!  Why would I camouflage a cookie?? !!
We love to send our sweet treats in Cookie Care Packages to our deployed military members and I have wanted to make a cookie that  loosely looks military, to add to our ‘military’ collection of cookies.  Presently we offer the USA Jammie heart, it resembles a flag within the heart and features blueberry as well as strawberry jams.
I think I’m pleased.    All natural, no preservatives or food coloring, just a pure sweet treat with lots of love for our Guys and Gals far from home.

cami jams 004

cami jams 007

ready for the oven

cami jams 010In honor of George Washington this jammie has Cherry Jam between the ‘camo’ layers .  I figured I could check off the American and Military boxes with that yummy jam snuggled in.
I’ll add them into the bakery Etsy shop in the Military Care Package Section.
Warning:  Strictly for eating do not try to camouflage yourself with these sugary delights!
So did you think that was what I was doing on this  3 dough night?
Until we next eat, ah meet.  Mangia!
Sunday March 2
You all have experienced the satisfaction of eating a healthy meal, finishing up not too full, with plenty of room to breathe and happily ponder the evening ?   Yes, well I was there but then I deviated to sweet thoughts and decided to whip up a small batch of cookies.     My desire, my decision, my indulgence.   There were no cookies to pilfer from the bakery frig.     So what do I do?  I crank out a batch of cookies I know my husband will like.  Is this move to deflect or stem the tide of guilt from myself, me the one who really wanted the cookies?  Perhaps.  Then to make myself feel even better I make the cookies on the healthy side, less white flour and butter.  Nothing against either, mind you.  After all, I am the baker, the maker of all things pure, rich and refined.
Cereal: ground ready to add

Cereal: ground ready to add

chocolate chip oatmeal and basic oatmeal

chocolate chip oatmeal and basic oatmeal

I did mention I had a healthy meal, so I began by using  half the butter,  spooned in coconut oil and a splash of olive oil.  I then ground up one of our  favorite cereals, a nutritious multi grain Crisp type.  Added about 1/3 cup to the whirling cookie dough, along with oats.    Have I ruined your appetite yet?   Heh, well I have made variations of this concoction before and the results are astoundingly good.   I still use sugar!
So half the batch is plain oatmeal and half has mini chocolate chips.   Simple not exotic, quick but healthy.  I’m sure you know which 1/2 is for me!
Here’s the recipe if you dare!
Multi Grain Oatmeal Cookies chips on the side so to speak
4 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp coconut oil, 
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup ground multi grain cereal, your choice  
1/3 cup unbleached flour
1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt
1 2/3 cup oats, rolled or quick
1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 semi sweet chocolate chips

Cream butter, oils and sugars.  Add egg, vanilla, then flour, ground 
cereal, baking soda & salt, spices.  Toss in oats. You may wish to add 
dried fruit, raisins,cranberries, cherries, etc. I usually do but 
opted out this time.  You may need to add a splash or 2 of water 
depending on the dryness of your cereal choice.  Dough should be moist 
but not sticky.  Using a cookie scoop or spoon place approximately 
2 Tbsp for each cookie, as many as you'd like for plain oatmeal cookies, 
if you are splitting the dough, then throw in chocolate chips 
(nuts too, if you wish) form up the rest of the dough.

Bake @ 350º for 8 - 10 minutes.  Cool.
Yes!  Everyone is happy!           Until next time we eat, meet! Mangia.

Monday February 24

Saturday, February 22 was our first president, George Washington’s, birthday.   As a kid we celebrated the birthday of early and significant presidents on their actual birth days and also had that day off from school, so the dates stick in my mind     As a child the story about Washington cutting down a cherry tree was common, hence my immediate connection, as a baker and dessert consumer, to CHERRY PIE.    You can follow that path right?!    Cherry pie traditionally is considered a summertime dessert since cherries are in season.   I make it for Thanksgiving sometimes, supporting the idea that pumpkin and cherry pies are perfect examples of universally enjoyed pies which should be made more often.   When you have a urge for a specific item you should satisfy it, but plan ahead, keep a well stocked pantry!

Before we get to the pie,  I share with you a link to historic Washington myths http://mountvernon.patch.com/groups/editors-picks/p/did-george-washington-chop-down-a-cherry-tree, which includes that story about a cherry tree, telling a lie and teeth!

So, I freely admit I do not make cherry pie often, since I don’t have a cherry tree in my yard ( have you ever pitted cherries?) and canned cherries are expensive.  Frozen would a better choice over canned possibly.  Last time I had the urge to roll out  this spectacular pie, the stores I ran into had bare sections on the shelves rather than the cans of the delightful round red orb.  Obviously someone had cherry pie on their mind(s)!   I digress ……. I remember standing at the stove in my teens years stirring the pot waiting for the cornstarch cherry juice mixture to change from an opaque milky red liquid to the thick red clear filling.  Exciting!   I do love cherry pie, with a hint of almond extract and / or cloves and cinnamon.  YUM!   Go for it….

Recipe photo

Here is a basic tart cherry pie recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour  ( this recipe uses tapioca instead of cornstarch so you won’t be standing at the stove!):

One double pie crust
5 to 6 cups sour cherries;  3 water packed cans or individually quick frozen or bagged frozen tart cherries
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, optional … I skip this with no discernible difference

Divide the dough in half, roll one half into a 13″ circle ( I eyeball the diameter)  then fit into the 9″ pie pan, leaving edges hanging until filling and top crust are added.

Drain liquid from cans of cherries, reserve liquid from one or more to equal 2/3 cup.

Place the cherries and reserved liquid in a large mixing bowl.

Combine the sugar, cinnamon, and tapioca.   Stir into the cherries until everything is evenly combined.

Let the filling sit for 20 minutes to soften the tapioca, before using it to fill the pie shell.    Stir in the almond extract and salt.  

Pour the filling into the pastry-lined pan and dot with butter, if used.

Roll out the second crust.  Cut into 1/2″ strips and add alternating in direction and over- underlapping for a LATTICE top  OR

place it on top of the filling as 1 piece and decorate as you wish.  Cut few rounds for cherries, leaves & stems, etc into the top to vent steam   OR

vent with slits and add a few extra decorative pieces on top of crust

Squeeze to seal the top and bottom crusts together, fluting with fingers or fork.

Place the pie on a baking sheet in case the pie spills during baking and bake in preheated 425°F oven – 40 to 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling.

Remove the pie from oven,  cool on a rack before slicing, if you can wait, so the filling sets up.   Serves 6 – 10 depending on how generous your cuts are!

ENJOY!   Please think of George with the first bite!

Mangia.     Enjoy life, family and food!

Thursday   May 16, 2013

When I was a kid we spent loads of time outside, doing kid stuff!  One of the silly, innocent pastimes was picking buttercups, putting them under our chins to detect whether we loved butter!  Silly yes?    If yellow was reflected on one’s chin from the flower then said chin bearer loved butter.   But of course wouldn’t the flower / light reflect on everyone?  I don’t recall if as a kid we made note of that fact.   So I do love butter and use it as the primary fat in my baking.   You can’t beat it, for flavor, consistency and preservative qualities.   I briefly strayed to ‘oleo’, as a child, when my mother chose to use it over butter, then as an adult, I used soy margarine.  That did not last too long due to the realization of the downside to hydrogenation.  Back to butter and a long history of baking.  All you need is butter, sugar, a pinch of salt and flour basically to make a totally satisfying cookie.


buttercup hand

A slab of butter on a proud stack of pancakes, slathered on toast, a fresh from the oven scone or biscuit, you name it.  Butter tops it off for pure taste and satisfaction.   At times I take a fork full of just cooked hot brown rice & anoint it with a dab of butter for a special treat.    I will admit that I no longer spread butter ( or oleo) on bread when making a sandwich.   My mother did do that, whether she used a condiment or not.   Overkill.  Perhaps it was a holdover from her British upbringing.  Of course it was always a sandwich made with mother’s love but I have not continued that method, even for my kids.   Not where I love my butter.  Give me vanilla, sugar and flour with butter any day, all day.   I remember fondly, my German Grandmother, making butter balls and butter spritz.   Now that I do carry on! !

Butter on!  Enjoy life, family and food!


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