Outdoor Pizza Oven — Fun and Practical

An outdoor pizza oven is fun and practical. Everyone can make their own pizza the way they want and you keep your kitchen cool while enjoying the outdoors.

When it’s hot out, who wants to turn on the oven and heat up the house? I don’t have air conditioning so I know I sure don’t! But there are lots of alternatives to cooking your meals in the oven. I lived in a ghost town in Nevada for five years. When we moved there, there was a gas (propane) stove and a propane tank that hadn’t been used since who knew when. I refused to have it filled and connected to the stove. So for three years, until we got an electric stove, I got to experiment a lot with many of those alternative methods. The microwave became my friend. I used it to cook a big portion of the majority of our meals, but I also had: a small electric skillet a large electric skillet/griddle that could “bake” things like meatloaf a Farberware electric rotisserie two electric sandwich makers two…

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Lavender Crafts and Camaraderie

Jan, our gracious hostess for the July meeting of our Saucy Sisters cooking group, has a beautiful home with lots of lavender beds. She orchestrated a Day of Lavender for us that included lavender crafts and some lavender infused food. When we arrived, Jan had tea, coffee and scrumptious lavender scones waiting for us. While we enjoyed our refreshments, Jan explained the craft we were going to make — lavender wands. The finished product she showed us looked and smelled amazing. Making Our Lavender Wands We had been told via email to bring pruning shears to the meeting. Once we were finished with our coffee and scones, we headed out into the gardens with our shears to cut lavender for our wands — 11 stems. You can use more than 11 stems as long as you use an uneven number. Jan had a basket filled with satin ribbon in almost every color, including several shades…

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Home Baked Bread in 5 Minutes a Day?

I love home baked bread but I don't like the kneading part. Can you believe you can make bread in 5 minutes a day without kneading?

I love fresh, hot-out-of-the-oven, home baked bread and I bet it is a pretty safe bet that you do too. If you are like me, though, you probably aren’t very fond of the kneading part. I have some things to assist me with the kneading part like my Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough hook and my bread machine but I still didn’t make bread very often. A couple of years ago, I saw a recipe somewhere on line that sounded too good to be true. I was telling my friend Kelly’s mom about it and she said, “Oh, I have that cookbook.” Of course, I immediately asked to borrow it and devoured it from cover to cover. A Surprising New Way to Make Home Baked Bread I made my first batch, which was less than stellar, but I learned to perfect my technique. I made bread of some sort almost every…

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T.G.I.F. Summer Concert Series

Enjoy great music, picnicking and friends in a beautiful outdoor setting in gold country at a T.G.I.F. Summer Concert Series concert.

Last Friday I had one of the most fun evenings I can remember having since I moved to Amador County almost two years ago. A group of friends and I went to the concert in the park at Volcano Amphitheater, one of the concerts in the T.G.I.F. Summer Concert Series, and we had a blast. I went to one of these concerts last year and I wondered what made this one so different that it was so much more fun. It was in a beautiful outdoor setting among the trees, just like last year. The band was awesome and entertaining. Everyone brought food to share and a bottle of wine or other favorite beverage, same as last year. A lot of people turned out for the event. The amphitheater was full and there was an overflow crowd in the park next door. I think the main difference between this concert and last…

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Amador Flower Farm Daylilies

Amador Flower Farm daylilies come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and bloom cycles. They are easy to grow and are just about the perfect perennial.

I’ve said it before, but I just have to say it again. I’m discovering that plants from bulbs have the most spectacular blooms. I guess this is becoming more apparent to me as I have more time to explore places like Amador Flower Farm, where the daylily reigns supreme. Although I think irises are my favorite bulbs, daylilies are right up there at the top of my list of flowers. Did you know that there are more than 35,000 daylily cultivars? Amador Flower Farm daylilies are stunning. With over 1200 of the most popular varieties available, you are sure to find something you love. Daylilies are said to be very easy to grow. They come in a variety of colors, shapes, sizes and bloom cycles, so you can have flowers all season long. They are easy to plant, drought tolerant, relatively pest-free and deer resistant, except perhaps in some places in the fall…

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Wine Lovers Vino de Mocca Fudge

Vino de mocca is a luscious dessert wine infused with natural coffee, chocolate and orange flavors and makes this fudge recipe especially decadent.

Kelly and I were headed back up the hill after a day at Horse Expo in Sacramento. Since it was still early, we decided to stop off at Drytown Cellars. I had been wanting to get some of their Vino de Mocca ever since I first tasted it a few months ago and just kept forgetting to stop and get it. Kelly tasted it at the Divine Affair fundraising event we attended at Jackson Rancheria recently and she liked it too. It is a luscious dessert wine infused with natural coffee, chocolate and orange flavors that pairs deliciously with chocolate. Almost Local Vino de Mocca I’m going to be heading to a pet blogging conference in about a week and I thought it would be fun to take a local wine to share with some of my blogging friends that I’ll be meeting up with. Turns out, the Vino de Mocca is not as local as I…

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Tea Party with My Saucy Sisters

A tea party is a great way to gather together friends for an afternoon of conversation and good food. Learn some tea party etiquette including the proper way to eat scones.

Did you serve afternoon tea to your imaginary friends when you were a child? Although I was more of an outdoorsy kid who played with plastic horses and cowboys, I’m sure I must have had a tea party or two. But tea parties aren’t just for kids. It is a wonderful way to gather together friends for an afternoon of conversation and good food. Saucy Sisters Springtime Tea Party Every month, the Saucy Sisters, the cooking group of the Mother Lode Newcomers, get together for some sort of culinary adventure. Usually we cook at someone’s house with everyone participating in the preparation, cooking and clean up. The hostess chooses a theme and menu and does all the advance work, like shopping. Often, members team up to co-host these undertakings. We were all excited when we learned co-hostesses Lora and Debbie were planning a tea party and began thinking about our outfits…

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Bluebird Haven Iris Garden

During the height of blooming season, you can see more than 100,000 irises at Bluebird Haven Iris Garden in Somerset, CA, in southern El Dorado County.

On our way back from Toogood Estate Winery in Fairplay, the Vineyard Vixens stopped at Bluebird Haven Iris Garden. We do have other interests besides wine! Bluebird Haven Iris Garden is located on Fairplay Rd. in Somerset, CA, just a few miles down the road from Toogood in southern El Dorado County. It is open year-round but if you are able to visit the garden at the height of the blooming season, usually during May, you’ll be greeted by more than 100,000 irises showing off their vibrant colors. As you drive through the big green gate, you begin to pass by row after row of beautiful blooms. Once you park, you can walk through the rows of cultivated iris to pick your favorites. This gorgeous Victorian show garden is set on a small knoll. The rows of iris surrounding the gazebo and picnic tables make this a very inviting place to enjoy…

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