Tea by the Sea

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She’s six now. Last year she carried a ship to the beach. This year she carried a picnic basket.
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The delicious treats filled the tray.
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6 Tea by the Sea
The blooming tea was still warm.
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8 Tea by the Sea
Coconut Cream glaze dripped down the blueberry pomegranate jam-filled cakes. Some were topped with toasted coconut and macadamias, others were topped with sugared rose and lilac petals. Vanilla pearls were sprinkled on top of shell-shaped spice Madeleines. Tiny oranges looked like blooming lotus blossoms and green and Concorde grapes filled the bowl. Crumbly Lavender Lemon Shortbread squares and tea cups were piled on the picnic basket top.

On the top tray: Vanilla Bean cakes filled with Blueberry Pomegranate Jam and topped with Coconut Cream Glaze, toasted coconut & macadamias, sugared lavender and rose petals. On the bottom tray, Spice Madeleines sprinkled with vanilla pearls. On the dessert plates under the tea cups: Lavender Lemon Shortbread.

On the top tray: Vanilla Bean cakes filled with Blueberry Pomegranate Jam and topped with Coconut Cream Glaze, toasted coconut & macadamias, sugared lavender and rose petals. On the bottom tray, Spice Madeleines sprinkled with vanilla pearls. On the dessert plates under the tea cups: Lavender Lemon Shortbread.


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She poured a cup of tea and waited by the sea.
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The sunset was soft and dreamy.
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The breeze was warm and welcome.
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The colors were slipping away and still she waited.
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She didn’t stop hoping
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And finally her mom sat down. Even when the sunset is gone, Tea by the Sea is best with mom.
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[We had a wonderful time making the treats for this, setting up the table and photographing it all. Thank you, Gabriel Monroe, for being second shooter and lighting expert. Thank you, Uncle Butch and Aunt Dilly, for the use of your beautiful chair! We had a splendid time and it was perfect.
The lovely lace-embossed Filigree appetizer plates, bowl and infinity tray are by Rosanna, Inc.]

Psalm 89 8-9

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photo card Ps 89 8-9 p

Please feel free to print this 4″x6″ inspirational card. Click on the photo to access a larger image.

This photo was taken yesterday at Sunset Beach, NC. I still remember the sound of the waves and the warm moist breeze on my skin. Shh… breathe…

God is good.

I’m glad it’s still summer

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It’s September 4th but I’m rejoicing in the summer cicadas, the sun’s heat on my skin, the tomatoes that are still trying.
1 late summer 14

Dragon Wing Begonia

Dragon Wing Begonia


Trailing Vinca

Trailing Vinca


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Out of four vigourously growing Heirloom tomatoes, only one bore fruit, much to our dismay. But the flavor was so spectacular that we will try again next year.

Out of four vigourously growing Heirloom tomatoes, only one bore fruit, much to our dismay. But the flavor was so spectacular that we will try again next year.


New growth is appearing at the base of one of the Heirloom tomatoes.

New growth is appearing at the base of one of the Heirloom tomatoes.

Table centerpiece using four mugs and a vintage cake pedestal

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That was a long subject. Ha! I had a dessert tea a couple months ago and this was the centerpiece. I used four beautiful mugs from Rosanna, Inc and placed them on a vintage dessert pedestal that was my mom’s. It was so easy to arrange the flowers in the mugs! I’ll be doing this again. After the event, I put away the pedestal but kept the flowers on the table a while. They were so pretty with the elegant gold china designs.

Rosanna's Luxe Moderne Mugs make the perfect "vase" for the flower arrangement.

Rosanna’s Luxe Moderne Mugs make the perfect “vase” for the flower arrangement.

Sugar Bonnets

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1 Sugar Bonnets

Sugar Bonnets, made with just sugar and water and a tiny bit of food color for the decoration. Each one is about 1 teaspoon of sugar.

I’ve been making these Sugar Bonnets for many years and used to sell them to a local tea room. Now I just make them to keep on hand for guests. They can be used for cake decorations but I just use them as sugar cubes to sweeten tea. Recently I made a batch for a Dessert Tea.

The Dessert Tea was so much fun! The tablescape was actually my entry for a Dessert Tablescape Contest by Rosanna Inc, which I will post about soon. Every year Rosanna has a terrific tablescape contest and the entries are beautiful. I seriously adore Rosanna’s style and look forward to seeing the entries every year. This is the first time I’ve entered and I’ll definitely be doing this again.

Oh my goodness, I had so much fun setting the table and baking all the treats! I’m looking forward to sharing photos with you soon.

I didn’t have a smaller table for my entry so there was a lot of table space to fill. I spread things out a bit and placed all the desserts on the front of the table but the back of the table had tea items, including a dish of Sugar Bonnets for the tea.

The back of the Dessert Table had items for tea, including a dish of Sugar Bonnets.

The back of the Dessert Table had items for tea, including a dish of Sugar Bonnets.

This is the recipe I wrote a long time ago for making Sugar Bonnets.

This is my recipe for Sugar Bonnets, written over 15 years ago.

This is my recipe for Sugar Bonnets, written well over a decade ago. I can’t even remember!

Each bonnet is about 1 teaspoon of sugar. The ingredients are just sugar and water. Perhaps with a little food coloring if you want other colors. They dissolve quickly in a cup of hot tea.

I do confess it takes dexterity and patience to make these but the effort is well worth it. And they keep for several years in an airtight container between layers of wax paper, perfect for on the tea tray.

I created the hat form from a cake decorating lily nail set, matte board and packing tape. There is a piece of packing-tape-wrapped matte board wrapped around the nail to form a small smooth edge, which becomes the hat brim. I’ve replaced the matte board and tape only once and it has held up amazingly well, even with a quick wash and air dry. Some day I’ll cut a piece of PVC pipe to replace the matte board piece.

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The tools I use to make the Sugar Bonnets include a Lily Nail that I’ve adapted with tape and matte board.

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The bottom of the lily nail, showing how the matte board has been secured to the nail.

I use a small baby spoon to spoon damp sugar into the lily nail. This is how I hold the nail while spooning in the sugar and making the initial “press” with the top of the lily nail. Holding the nail this way helps the sugar stick together around the “brim” of the hat.

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Holding the custom lily nail before spooning in the damp sugar.

After spooning the damp sugar in the mold, the top of the lily nail is pressed down on the damp sugar and then the excess sugar is scraped off around the edge.

I’m sorry that I don’t have actual action photos since I didn’t have time to set up a tripod and remote. Holding a heavy camera with one hand to take a photo of your other hand sure isn’t easy! So I’ve reenacted a couple of the important steps. Here I’ve placed a dry sugar bonnet back in the mold. If the sugar were freshly pressed, it would fit tightly in the mold and the lily nail would be a tight fit on top of sugar.

The top of the lily nail is removed. Note: if the sugar sticks too much to either piece of the lily nail, wipe them clean with a damp cloth, dry them and then brush on a little bit of cornstarch with a clean paint brush. The amount is so small that you can’t even see it but it makes a difference.

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The lily nail set with a sugar bonnet pressed in between.

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The top of the lily nail is removed to show the shaped sugar piece.

The hardest part of making these is tapping out the fragile, freshly pressed sugar bonnet on the wax-paper lined cookie sheet. The sugar usually sticks a little in the mold so I hold the lily nail right above the cookie sheet and tap on the handle of the nail with the spatula and the hat drops right out.

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The bonnets can not be moved for at least 15 minutes. Then I’ll carefully slide the barely dried ones in neat rows to dry further as I make more. They must be dried overnight to be strong enough to be handled.

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If the sugar breaks as it’s tapped out of the mold, I just push the broken pieces aside.

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There will be broken pieces. Even with a very light dusting of corn starch, the sugar still sticks a little in the mold.

Some broken pieces are inevitable. They can be reused if you mix the sugar immediately back in with the damp sugar. If they are even the tiniest dry on the edges, they can not be reused.

Some broken pieces are inevitable. They can be reused if you mix the sugar immediately back in with the damp sugar. If they are even the tiniest dry on the edges, they can not be reused.

When the bonnets are dry, they are surprisingly sturdy. Once all the bonnets are drying, I make the sugar decorations.

Royal icing doesn’t melt in tea so the decorations are made like the bonnets, just sugar and water, perhaps colored with a little food coloring, then pressed into flower and leaf molds.

Sugar Bonnet decorations made of sugar, water and a little food coloring.

Sugar Bonnet decorations made of sugar, water and a little food coloring.

To make the decorating process more efficient, I line up all the decorations as they will be used on each sugar bonnet.
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The bonnet decorations are attached using a drop or two of “sugar paste” which is simply sugar and water mixed together. I crush a bit of the sugar grains up with the back of the spoon while stirring in the water. The consistency is thick, but not dry.

Sugar and water are mixed to make the gritty "sugar paste" to attach the sugar decorations.

Sugar and water are mixed to make the gritty “sugar paste” to attach the sugar decorations.

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Small imperfections and cracks in the side of the hats aren’t a problem since decorations can be glued over the holes.

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A small bit of sticky “sugar paste” covers a crack in the side.

Even a large hole can be covered using a decoration.
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It’s so satisfying to see an entire cookie sheet covered with drying Sugar Bonnets.

The Sugar Bonnets are decorated and drying.

The Sugar Bonnets are decorated and drying.

The only sweetener better than a sugar cube is a Sugar Bonnet.

The birthday girl drops a little Sugar Bonnet in her cup of tea.

The birthday girl drops a little Sugar Bonnet in her cup of tea.

It quickly dissolved.

The Sugar Bonnet quickly and completely dissolves in the cup of hot tea.

The Sugar Bonnet quickly and completely dissolves in the cup of hot tea.

If you want less than one teaspoon of sugar in your tea, simply break a Sugar Bonnet into pieces.

Aren’t Sugar Bonnets sweet? Please let me know if you make them!

My granddaughter hold a little Sugar Bonnet before dropping it in her tea.

My granddaughter holds a little Sugar Bonnet before dropping it in her tea.

Meringue Breakfast Buns

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So much has happened since I last posted. I’m sorry for the long delay. Please accept my apologies. Some bloggers have trouble coming up with topics to write about but my problem is I’ve got too much.

One thing I’ve been busy with is cooking and baking. I didn’t cook or bake much for almost three years so I’m thrilled to be back in the kitchen again!

My mom was visiting and I didn’t have anything special for breakfast except for day old buns and eggs. So I whipped up these Meringue Breakfast Buns. They were delicious and perfect for guests.

Meringue Breakfast Buns - an egg yolk in a bun topped with cheesy meringue, served with Balsamic Cucumber Raspberry relish and sour cream.

Meringue Breakfast Buns – an egg yolk in a bun topped with cheesy meringue, served with Balsamic Cucumber Raspberry relish and sour cream.

You can make any quantity you want, but I like to make a dozen at a time and refrigerate the leftovers to eat cold for lunch the next day. The cheese won’t be crisp anymore but they are still delicious. They’re great for breakfast on the run too.

MERINGUE BREAKFAST BUNS

Ingredients:

~ 12 small rolls, about the size of a small muffin or cupcake. This is a good time to use day-old rolls too.
~ 12 egg yolks
~ 3 or 4 egg whites (reserve the remaining egg whites for some other recipe)
~ 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
~ Olive oil (optional)
~ About 1 cup grated cheese, any kind
~ Salt and pepper
~ Dried or fresh herbs of your choice
~ Herb dipping oil (optional)

Start by preparing the rolls. This can be done the night before if you want to save time in the morning. Use a small paring knife to cut a piece out of the bottom of the rolls or buns. The portion I cut out looks like a shallow little cone. You don’t need to cut much out, just enough for an egg yolk with a little cheese. Place the rolls cut side up in a muffin tin. Brush the inside with olive oil if you want. I’ve used olive oil or softened butter or nothing and they’re all good.

Slip one egg yolk in each bun.

Sprinkle the egg yolk with a little grated cheese and herbs of your choice.

Sprinkle the egg yolk with a little grated cheese and herbs of your choice.

To make a dozen Meringue Breakfast Buns, you’ll need a dozen egg yolks but only 3 or 4 egg whites. [Note: Save the rest of the egg whites for another recipe or cook them in a skillet to make Roulades, shown further down this post.]
Beat 3 or 4 egg whites with 1/8 tsp cream of tartar until fluffy. The meringue won’t look the same or peak the same as a dessert meringue that has added sugar. Don’t worry, it will still bake nicely on top of the buns.

Sprinkle grated cheese on top of the meringues.

Sprinkle grated cheese on top of the meringues.

Sprinkle a little grated cheese on top of each egg yolk. Add a little sprinkle of herbs over each yolk.

Use a spoon to spread meringue over each egg yolk. Cover the top completely.

Sprinkle more cheese and salt and pepper over the top of each meringue.

Sprinkle grated cheese on top of the meringues.

Sprinkle grated cheese on top of the meringues.

Here you can see I left some meringues without cheese.
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Cheddar cheese is great but I’m partial to asiago.

Grated asiago and dried herbs sprinkled over the egg yolk in the bun.

Grated asiago and dried herbs sprinkled over the egg yolk in the bun.

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Look at all that fluffy meringue!

Look at all that fluffy meringue!

Brush the leftover cutouts from the rolls with herb dipping oil and place them on a cookie sheet to bake at the same time as the Meringue Buns.

The little cutouts from the rolls are brushed with herb dipping oil and baked in on a separate pan.

The little cutouts from the rolls are brushed with herb dipping oil and baked in on a separate pan.

When picking buns to use, make sure they are small enough to be placed in the muffin tin. For this batch, the buns were bigger so they touched and barely fit in the pan.
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If the buns are a tight squeeze, try not to let the meringues touch when you spread the tops.

Try not to let the meringues touch so they can be separated easy after baking.

Try not to let the meringues touch so they can be separated easy after baking.

Both Meringue topped buns and the small roll cutouts are baked at the same time at 375 degrees. The cutouts will be done after about 10 minutes but the buns stay in longer. (In this photo, I baked the cutouts and slices of leftover buns to make croutons for a future use.)
All ovens are different. In my oven, a LIQUID center egg yolk takes 15 minutes, a SOFT BOILED egg yolk takes 16 minutes, and a HARD BOILED egg yolk takes 17 minutes. If you’re going to eat these cold the next day, bake 16 or 17 minutes.

Bake brushed roll pieces for 10 minutes at 375. Bake Meringue Buns for 15 minutes for a liquid center yolk, 16 minutes for a soft-boiled yolk and 17 minutes for a hard-boiled yolk.

Bake brushed roll pieces for 10 minutes at 375. Bake Meringue Buns for 15 minutes for a liquid center yolk, 16 minutes for a soft-boiled yolk and 17 minutes for a hard-boiled yolk.

The cheesy topping on these is amazing! It forms a delicious crispy shell on top of the meringue!
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Fun to eat and Yummy!

Fun to eat and Yummy!

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Egg White Roulade
I spread the leftover, fluffy beaten egg whites in a medium hot skillet, lightly greased with olive oil, about 1″ thick and sprinkled herbs and pepper over the surface. When the bottom was golden, I flipped the egg white over till it was golden brown. The hot baked egg white was sprinkled with cheese and rolled up.

The cooked egg white rolled up.

The cooked egg white rolled up.

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20 Meringue Breakfast Buns

Meringue Breakfast Buns, with crisp cheese-topped meringue and hot, liquid egg yolk inside.

To make the Cucumber Raspberry Relish, I simply diced a cucumber with raspberries and tossed the mixture with balsamic vinegar, boiled apple cider and a little salt and pepper. It was so good with the eggs!

Meringue Breakfast Buns, hot from the oven, served with Cucumber Raspberry Relish and Sour Cream.

Meringue Breakfast Buns, hot from the oven, served with Cucumber Raspberry Relish and Sour Cream.

On my worktable – Dress Cookies

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Today I have cookies on my worktable. This is the second time I’ve topped a cookie with flow icing. It’s not too hard if you get the Royal Icing consistency right. Fortunately, we were glad some cookies didn’t turn out so we could eat them. This is the first time painting on a cookie. Easier than I thought and quite fun.
In the little dish – kirsch mixed with edible gold dust. In the shot glass – more kirsch that needed stirring into the mixture as it evaporated.

Painting the cookie with gold dust mixed with kirsch.

Painting the cookie with gold dust mixed with kirsch.

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Dessert Tea-3

The designs were inspired by Rosanna’s beautiful white and gold Luxe Moderne mugs.

Bears in the Sand Box

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This is what happens when Grandma plays in the sand box.

Pink Bear and Spotted Bear in the sand box, thinking of the beach!

Pink Bear and Spotted Bear in the sand box, thinking of the beach!


When was the last time you played in sand? We keep a bin of sand on a side table on the deck for the grandchildren to play with. It keeps them busy and happy for hours!
Now I know why – Sand is summer’s velvet!