Lemon Thyme Shortbread

For Fourth of July this year I made lemon thyme shortbread cookies to go along with our fresh berry salad and homemade whipped cream. For more on this see:



I’ve wanted to learn to make shortbread for a long time and lemon is one of my favorite summer ingredients for baking.

I found a recipe from: twopeasandtheirpod: lemon-rosemary-shortbread that I adapted to make these star shaped light summer cookies.


These are not high in sugar, although they are very buttery. People commented they would go well with tea, and were more like British biscuits. Yes I would agree they are more European in style as compared to most of my other sugar filled crunchy or gooey cookies.


But I think in the spring and summer sometimes you need something light that pairs well with iced tea or fresh berries. What I love about these cookies is that the texture is light but still more moist then a cracker and they have a perfect burst of lemon.


2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 TBS lemon zest

1 1/2 teaspoons minced thyme

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 C lemon juice.



  1. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, salt, lemon zest, and thyme together.
  2. In a separate bowl beat the butter and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy.
  3. Then beat in the vanilla extract and lemon juice.


Note: add more lemon juice or zest for a stronger lemon burst or more vanilla for a more mild smooth flavor

4. Chill the dough for at least 1 hour or until firm.

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Put parchment paper, a Silpat, or grease your cookie sheet and put aside.

IMG_65976. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 1/4 inch thick square. Cut into shape of your choosing using a lightly floured cookie cutter.

IMG_65967. Place shortbread cookies on the cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are a light brown around the edges

8. Remove cookies from baking sheet and cool completely on a wire rack.


Then Enjoy!

Luke thought they were good but a little heavy on the thyme. If your not a fan or herbs in your cookies you can always take them out of the recipe or substitute them for some fresh vanilla bean.

Pupsicles for Kira

It’s a hot summer; a very hot summer for the northeast. Everyday is in the high 80’s to 90’s with humility, weather we don’t normally see until the end of August if at all.

In-spite of the heat, Kira loves being outside even if that means she’s panting and over heated when I finally call her in.

So how to keep Kira cool?

I’ve been pursuing pintrest and found an easy solution: pup-sciles .


You can buy puppy ice-cream and pup-sciles these days in high end stores. Although I did see one even at Walmart the other day. But they can get expensive. Why not make something cheaper at home?


Besides, I already make our own popsicles and fudgesicles at home during the summer. For more on this see:

So for pup-sicles, I started with little plastic used lemon ice cups that can be used once or twice then thrown away. Kira loves to chew through anything, especially if it’s had food in it, so I didn’t want to use my tupperware.


Then I took a batch of frozen bananas, about 5 or six, and defrosted them in a bowl.

Hint: If you have bananas that are getting brown throw them in the freezer, they are great for smoothies and to replace eggs in baked goods.


When bananas get really ripe, frozen, then defrosted you can cut open one side of the banana and then use the peel to slide the banana goo into a bowl. I know it sounds gross but that is pure natural sugary goodness.


Then I spooned in about 1 Cup of natural peanut butter. I’ve learned to use low or no sugar natural peanut butter because Kira will get hyper off of the sugary stuff, and it’s healthier for us too.


Next I scooped out about 1 Cup of coconut oil. With how dry and hot this summer has been Kira’s coat is getting dry and she’s scratching herself often. Coconut oil is great stuff for lots of reasons but for dogs the oil helps to keep their skin moist and hair shiny.

A little vanilla extract and cinnamon and I blend it all together until smooth like peanut butter or cookie dough.

Then I spooned these evenly into the rinsed out and clean lemon ice containers. It gave me about 6 of these cups 3/4 full.


So now we have a healthy dog treat that will keep Kira cool and help heal her dry itchy skin that she actually LOVES to eat!


For those who like easier to read instructions here you go:


1 C natural or low sugar peanut butter

1 C coconut oil

1 bunch 5-6 large banana either over ripe or frozen and defrosted

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

6 cup size containers (or more depending on serving size you want to give)




Mix all ingredients on high with a blender or electric mixer until smooth

spoon out mixture evenly among the containers

place filled containers into one larger tupperware bin or tray

move tray to freezer for at least 2 hours or until ready to give to your puppy!




This is also a great mixture to use to fill Kongs or other treat dog toys.

Even better fill those toys with this mixture then stick them in the freezer. When it’s a hot day or you will be gone for most of the day take it out of the freezer and your dog will be happy for quite awhile.




Summer Pickling

So I’m experimenting with a new food art: pickling. Right now I’m trying out fridge pickles, that don’t require a pressure cooker, but if I get this down who knows?

I thought it would be a skill to learn before our summer garden produces more than we can handle at one time. More on our garden progress to come.


I started with a batch of pickled red cabbage also know as red cabbage slaw. I’ve made this several times since February’s Super Bowl. For more on this see:


But this time I decided to use mason jars instead of a bowl. It saves space in the fridge and because of the glass we can easily see when it is ready to eat.

Then I had some leftover carrots from when my mother-in-law was here visiting a few weeks ago. Since we are growing carrots right now in the garden I thought: why not try pickling a few.


I ended up trying two different recipes. One a asian spicy carrot.These carrots were julienne placed in the jars then covered in a pickling brine of: rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt, sesame oil, fresh ginger, red pepper flakes, garlic and a little star anise. For the original recipe for this see: foodiewithfamily.com : spicy asian pickled carrots.

After taste-testing our progress this past week, these carrots seemed a little heavy on the  anise so we cut back and added more ginger and garlic.


The second recipe was a Mexican carrot mix. It is based on the pickled vegetables you would see in a taco place in central Mexico. For these pickles I used baby carrots cut longways, although next time I might do them as medallions, and combined the carrots with jalepenos, and red onion. Now I took most of the seed out of the peppers so you would get the flavor or the pepper with out too much kick. For the brine: apple cider vinegar, cumin seed, salt, garlic, bay leaf, and oregano. If I have enough cilantro from my garden I think I may add that to the mixture at some point as well. For the original recipe for this see:mexican pickled carrots

After taste-testing these carrots I’d say they are well on their way to being very yummy.

So the next question is: other than snacking: how to use these pickles to add to our meals? Well more on that to come.


Birthday Outing 2016

This year my birthday happened to fall on a Saturday. So to celebrate Luke,  his parents, and I took a very long day trip.


We picked up the ornaments made earlier in the week from the glass studio in Corning. For more on this see:


Then we headed to Watkins Glen State Park to hike the George Trail.


Being a very warm Saturday, the trail was crowded but as always worth it. We have had a very dry summer so far, and light winter, so the falls were not as full as normal, but still it is a beautiful place.



After our morning hike we drove up to Ithaca to the farmer’s market for a late lunch. Diana was happy to find more than 6 stalls selling organic produce and was surprised to find a pre-made completely organic lunch of samosas and salad. For more on the Farmer’s Market see:



We picked up a few groceries, then roamed to see what options were available for lunch. At the table was a variety of food from a Sri Lankan curry to Momos all with local organic strawberries for dessert. We went back through one last time after lunch to pick up some goodies. Diana and John picked up some local maple syrup, cheese, and wine.


With full stomaches we got back in the car and headed to Cornell university. There we stopped at the botanical gardens welcome center and explored the gardens. After a nice walk through the rohdi’s and sitting in the shade we decided we were ready for dessert. We climbed up the hill from the garden parking lot and over to Cornell’s dairy bar. We discovered all of this on our camping trip in Ithaca a few years ago for more on this see:



The ice cream was just as good as ever, creamy, and just enough flavor and sugar. After enjoying our afternoon treat, we got back in the car and drove the Corning Plantations Arboretum drive passing ponds, orchards, and the student farm. Taking a break to look out over the plantations, we decided to take a short walk to a suspension bridge over looking some of the falls on campus. When we did we discovered even in the low water many people were out swimming in the heat.


Getting back in the car we headed down to greenstar a local natural and organic food store to get Diana dinner and a few groceries for their trip ahead. We then went to get Chinese food for the rest of us to go.


With our to-go meals in hand we drove to Buttermilk falls on the outskirts of town. We found a picnic bench to sit and enjoy our dinner at while watching the falls. With how dry the year has been there was little to  water flowing over the rock but it was still a pleasant view. For more on buttermilk falls see:


A long last outing of our touring behind us, we drove back toward home. It was great day and I was happy to be able to spend it with family.

Corning Glass Museum 2016

On Thursday after getting work done and resting, we were ready for a full day of fun.

We took the parents down to our old stopping ground: Corning. We showed them where we used to live then pulled into the Corning Glass Museum parking lot.


Over the past four years we have taken all of our family who has visited us to the museum. We have found there is something for everyone to enjoy. After getting our tickets we watched the live glass blowing demonstration in the Hot Glass studio.


We then had open time to take the parents through some of the exhibits. We started in the modern glass studio then moved on to the history of glass. Well, we only got about a third of the way through the history of glass before it was lunch time.


We found a nice shaded picnic bench outside and Luke and John went across the street to get us a large lunch. Our favorite BBQ place is not in Rochester, it’s in Corning. I am telling you the place to go for BBQ is Slammin’ Jamming Bar B Q . The meat is moist and well seasoned and their BBQ sauce is tangy, smokey and spicy. Since we left Corning their hole-in-the wall has become well established, and now they also have a restaurant downtown!


After a finger licking lunch we headed into the make your own glass studio. Here John and Diana had tickets to make their own ornaments, another tradition we have done with all family members who have visited. We advised them to choose bright colors that would show up on the tree, and they did. They both had a great time.


We then headed back to the museum to finish the history of glass. Since Luke and I have seen this exhibit several times, we instead enjoyed their rotating exhibit. This season they had glass work done by Blaschka family of sea life and creatures, a collection mostly form Cornell. The work was amazing, it looked like plastic, or fabric, but was all glass. This glass work was done as a means to study sea-creatures that normally when taken out of the water would disintegrate and die quickly. It was like being in a still life aquarium.


Last on our tour was the new wing of the museum: the modern exhibit (2000 and forward). This wing is new to Luke and I. Flooded with light, it highlights very modern and large scale glass pieces most of which have a social statement attached to them.


To round out our day at the museum we went to another hot glass show, in one of the new larger studios attached to the modern exhibit wing. In this show they made a vase but included a sea life theme in honor of the Blaschka exhibit and their work.


It was a full day, but well worth the trip, as always.

Work before Play

Luke’s parents came to visit us for a week at the end of June. We were very excited to have them stay with us as this was their first time to upstate New York while we have lived here.


Since we only had a week we were busy fitting in both work and play. We decided to get work out of the way. At the beginning of the week Luke and John repaired and replaced the roof of our porch. They  got it done in less than two days in-spite of the very warm weather (91 which is HOT for June here).

Diana and I spent part of that time working on editing and making changes to her most recent work: Undivided Heart Leader’s Manual and Guide for Book One. We also hosted an author’s reading/discussion for Diana and her books at my church.  For more on this check out:Diana Greene Ministries website

The two of us also went to Rochester where we did some shopping Diana needed for the rest of their vacation,  some birthday shopping for me, but we also grocery shopping for the week because there are more natural and organic options there.


By Wednesday we were done with our projects  and to rest. We decided to stay local and went to Stony Brook Park. Kira loved getting some attention and out of the house and the parents enjoyed the walk. Even though it was warm in the gorge near the water we stayed cool.


More on the rest of our week touring or “play time” coming next.

Happy Birthday Kira!

Kira our hound/terrier mix puppy is a year old! I say puppy because she may now have a mostly adult body but she still has the energy of a puppy.


We don’t know her actual day of birth, but we estimated based on paperwork and guessed she was born around the first week of July.


To make it easy to remember we decided to give her the birthday of 4th of July. When I told my family this, my grandmother said she is a firecracker puppy! My mom agreed saying she is definitely a firecracker.

Kira at 8-10 weeks old
Kira a few weeks before her birthday

Kira is very curious and full of spunk. Mostly obedient now, she still will test the boundaries. We are now working on teaching her to settle, to calm down and sit when she sees a cat, person, etc. outside and wants to hunt or to guard us. We are also hoping to teach her roll over very soon.


For her birthday treat she got homemade whipped cream with blueberries and a homemade banana, oatmeal, and peanut butter treat. I know a little spoiled.

trying very hard to be obedient as I take a picture


She also has some new toys coming in the mail. We are trying out a few new toy brands for our super chewer, more on that to come.