There are those who think it only rains in Oregon. It rains a lot, so when we get a beautiful spring day, we are quick to embrace it. Today was one of those days; the perfectly clear day in mid April, when the mountains were out for viewing. We took a drive to Dundee to visit a couple of our favorite wineries and enjoy the views with a glass of their finest. Growing grapes is certainly a beautiful way to farm. I’ll let my photos speak for themselves.
I was in the mood to make my favorite granola the other day so I pulled out my tried and true recipe from way back when, and was happy that I had everything I needed in the fridge and cupboard. I think I’ll add it to our Easter Brunch menu, if there’s any left by then.
There’s just something so wholesome about a big batch of nutty granola. A little goes a long way and it couldn’t be easier to make. Melting butter, sugar, honey and maple syrup, then adding that gooey, warm mixture to the oats and nuts. The only real time is waiting for it to slowly bake to its sweet goodness in the oven. In the meantime, the house smells delicious.
To follow my recipe click on this link right here.
Ahhhhh, finally. Does it feel like this every year?? The need for Spring? Even though we in the Pacific Northwest weren’t experiencing the worst winter ever, it’s what we saw on the weather report every evening, as our rain kept coming down and our 3 days of snow and ice rendered us housebound and nearly helpless. It’s time to break out with joyous screams of delight as we watch our flowers emerge from our soggy soil.
On my list of things to do in the next couple of months:
So until next time, Happy Spring!
If you need pillows I’m having a heck of a sale in my Etsy shop right now. The gray Wine Country pillow covers at $10! A great time to stock up for gifts! Many other markdowns too, including lower shipping prices! Check it out here.
Our brief fling with snow is in the past and we are left with our typical rainy days. It doesn’t slow us down much, but I always think of warm offerings for dinner. This soup fits the bill perfectly. A friend served it recently and it’s delicious. Italian Sausage and Pasta; a bit like minestrone. I think it was originally in Sunset magazine. For the link to the online recipe click here.
It’s one of those dishes where you probably have everything you need in your pantry and fridge. I made it as directed through step 2 then took about half and froze it for another time. When I’m ready to make it again I’ll just add the pasta and spinach and I’ll be all set. The link to the recipe is provided above but I’ll add the directions below for convenience.
Italian Sausage and Pasta Soup
· 2 pounds hot or mild Italian sausages (I used a pound of each and mixed them)
· 3 carrots (12 oz. total), peeled and chopped
· 1 onion (12 oz.), peeled and chopped
· 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
· 3 quarts fat-skimmed chicken broth
· 2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) diced tomatoes
· 2 cans (15 oz. each) cannellini (white) beans, rinsed and drained
· 1 tablespoon dried basil
· 2 cups dried large shell-shaped pasta
· 4 quarts spinach leaves (about 12 oz.), rinsed
· Salt and pepper
· About 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1. Squeeze sausages from casings into an 8- to 10-quart pan over high heat and stir often, breaking them apart with a spoon, until browned and crumbly, 8 to 10 minutes. Spoon out and discard all but 1 tablespoon fat from pan.
2. Add carrots, onion, and garlic; stir often until onion is limp, 5 to 7 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes (including juice), beans, and basil and bring to a boil.
3. Add pasta, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until pasta is just tender to bite, about 10 minutes. Skim and discard fat. Stir in spinach and cook just until it is wilted, about 30 seconds. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve soup from the pan, or pour into a tureen. Offer parmesan cheese to add to taste.
You can prepare soup through step 2 up to 1 day ahead, but do not bring mixture to a boil; instead, cool, cover, and chill. To reheat, lift off and discard fat; bring soup to a boil.
You may have noticed I haven’t been blogging much lately. Who knows why, perhaps I’ve run out of things to say, but anyway, I think I’ll take a break. I’m still loving Instagram and if you’d like to join me there, download the Instagram app and search: Janet Brown Studios. It’s a fun way to share pictures. I’d love to see yours too.
I'll leave you with a new favorite quote:
The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm. ~ Aldous Huxley~
I’ve been neglecting writing so have decided to play catch-up as I look outside to our little winter wonderland. Portland gets snow irregularly, but these last few days are making up for it.
Raleigh and I took a long walk this morning before it started snowing again. He’s an ‘only dog’ now that our funny little Harper has gone to live with his Mommy (my daughter) in California. My son and I drove him down in January and stayed a few days, enjoying the beautiful weather. Hard to believe that we could drive 500 miles in the middle of January and have nothing but blue skies both ways. We timed it perfectly!
I love fresh looking gardens in January. These Euphorbia have the greatest shape and color.
I’ve been catching up on my reading and cooking while holed up and a bit snowbound. This book (all 784 pages, although I’m reading it on Kindle), is the perfect book to really spend time on. Wonderful characters, set in New York City, and a small painting as a large part of the story. I’m not finished, so I’m hoping the snow stays a few more days.
So there you go, all caught up. Stay warm everyone!
I’m packin’ up and movin’ to Etsy. Yes, I’ve decided that Etsy and I need to explore our relationship and get to know one another on a more serious level. Therefore I have decided to work exclusively with the huge membership that is Etsy (yes 30 million people are Etsy members). They must know what they’re doing, right??
I’ll be offering all of my current pillow lines and will be adding new, often one of a kind pillows. Most often the pillows will be sold as covers only, but the inserts are always an option. My aim is to keep my prices very low so that if you want several pillows then that’s what you should have. You can choose to include an insert which will raise the shipping costs, or you can find a suitable insert after you receive your new pillow cover. I will always make pillows in standard sizes.
Buying pillow covers offers you more options. You can choose a down/feather fill or polyfill. You can also change your pillow covers as the season or mood sees fit. You don’t need a cupboard or closet to hold vast amounts of pillows. One shelf can afford plenty of space for stacks of bright, fun, festive, seasonal, pillow covers that you just swap in and out of your room decor.
So check out my little Etsy shop again. If you have questions or requests, don’t hesitate to ask. I still love doing custom pieces and will be happy to discuss any particulars. Join me in getting to know Etsy a little bit better. I think it could be the start of a beautiful relationship.
Click here to follow the link to Etsy (you might just be quite glad you did!)
Keep in touch via Instagram and Facebook (Janet Brown Studios). Every now and then I’ll add additional discounts or free shipping; maybe even a give-away! How about that?!!
After the holidays are over and every little decoration and treasure are put away I’m never quite ready to fill up every shelf, table and bookcase with more ‘things and stuff.’ I kind of like the minimalist look, for a little while at least. I think it reflects the cool, gray weather outside.
With everything emptied out it’s also an opportunity to change things up a bit. That’s what I did with a collection of sweet sake cups. I lined them up and filled them with things foraged from the yard. It was fun to wander with my clippers looking for a bit of life in a soggy winter garden.
The cups came to me housed in a beautiful ceramic bowl and I love how they look so tidy, ready for enjoying a glass of warm sake. Unfortunately, they seemed to get lost without a proper place to be showcased. I decided to bring them out in the open and set them on the mantle.
From the foraged bits and pieces I enjoyed picking and choosing little groupings to mix and match, for each cup. I always enjoy bringing a bit of the outside indoors. Herbs, ferns, twigs and evergreens, each tucked into their own individual little cup. It’s a fun change for the season.
Last year I was encouraged to find a word for the year. My word for 2013 was Forward, chosen for a variety of reasons that you can read about here. I loved my word choice and really truly thought about it often throughout 2013.
I found it the other day in the crossword puzzle . The answer to 43 down was Imagine. The clue: John Lennon classic. It’s funny how sometimes you just know when you’ve found exactly what you’re looking for.
Imagine has all sorts of sentiments about it and it’s the root of several other words. Imagination suggests creative ability and imaginative is defined as having a lively imagination. Imagism promises the expression of ideas and emotions through clear precise images. All intriguing.
I will keep my word close and think of it often to inspire me and encourage my mind to think of new ideas, look at things in different ways and to never be afraid of trying something new. I want my little pillow company to grow, and with imagination as my source of encouragement I feel ready to jump into the new year. Plus, what a great song, right??
I encourage everyone to consider choosing a word as inspiration for the coming year. Who knows what impact it might have on your life. Imagine the possibilities!
Happy New Year!!