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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ruby's Coffee Cake Muffins

Something yummy is baking here at Muse Cottage!

It is recipe time here on Ruby's Musings. This go around I have a sweet treat that though not sinless, isn't the worst for you either, and made into muffins, it helps with portion control! When I was formulating this recipe, based on a basic coffee cake recipe from the 1950's , I was having a hard time coming up with a good name for it, so hence the above title for them. These yummy coffee cake muffins have the sweet juice of oranges, chunks of semi sweet chocolate, and crushed bits of candied cinnamon almonds. It is a very dense, loaf or coffee cake texture, but it is still moist. It has a slight bit of chew from the almonds and then the creamy texture of the chocolate bits. The recipe does include shortening, but could be switched out for coconut oil, the solid variety, or even for a lighter version, sour cream...even fat free. The orange juice could be tangerine, but really any other would not go as well. The chocolate is optional, or could be substituted with dark, milk or even white varieties. The candied almonds could be substituted for any nut candied or not... I prefer candied/spiced nuts as it adds a nice flavor profile. I bought most of my ingredients, all but the flour which is King Arthur Flour, and my spices which I buy online through a spice company, at Trader Joes, but you can of course shop at your local market. This could be made into a loaf OR in an 8x8 cake pan, or a round one if that is what you have, and of course that will make baking times change, as muffins that are medium size, and make a dozen, I baked them for 25 minutes. If you made them smaller, you can of course get more and bake them for less. I chose muffins for portion control. 

Let's talk toppings. I chose to not use any, but I could see this with holes poked into them and some kind of orange glaze soaking them through, or a orange flavored powdered sugar and orange juice glaze drizzled on top. Perhaps you would like a cream cheese and chopped nut frosting on them, perhaps you want to top them with a crumble or raw sugar...all would be very tasty and kick them up a notch. So let's get onto the recipe.....

What you need...
 2 cups of sifted flour 
1/2 tsp of baking soda
*1/4 tspnutmeg
*1/4 tsp allspice
*1/4 tsp cinnamon 
( *I used a all purpose baking spice )
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup shortening 
1 cup brown sugar packed lightly
2 eggs, room temp...beaten until thick
1  tbsp grated orange rind..less if dried 
3/4 cup orange juice...with pulp 
1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks* 
1/2 cup crushed candied nuts*
( you can add up to 3/4 cup without issue if you like, or use less if you like) 

What you need to do....

Sift flour, baking soda, spices and salt together and set aside. 
cream shortening and sugar until creamy.
If you have not already beat eggs until thick and then add to shortening mixture.
And in orange rind and mix to blend. 
Add sifted ingredients and orange juice alternately, beating thoroughly after each addition.
Add nuts and chocolate and blend once again until incorporated.  

Pour into either greased or lined cupcake pan or into a greased pan of choice at 350 degrees...
bake cupcakes for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean , if baking in a cake pan it can bake upwards of 50 minutes... adjust accordingly for your oven 

Don's skip the sifting, it is important. 

Ok you caught me, I bought a selfie stick so I can take my own photos.

Make sure you add your sifted ingredients a bit at a time.....
....with juice alternately .

I used my grinder to help crush the almonds, but you could do so in a baggie and a hammer or if a soft nut with a knife. 

Using a scoop helps to assure you get even amounts in the muffin cups. 

Cool thoroughly on a baking rack

Store in an air tight container. 

Brooches available through    

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Ruby's Musings by Request ~ Meet Cherry Darling

Ms. Cherry Darling 

It was a day just before the holidays when I had decided to follow a woman with a the handle of @she_knits_in _pearls aka Cherry Darling. I spotted one of her knitted creations and I asked her if she had ever made tea cozies. A friendship was struck up and bonding happened. This lovely woman decided instead of me paying for the said tea cozy she would just send it to me, and I decided we should do a gift exchange. Our friendship was sealed from there. Seems we share a lot of health woes, though, and not to divulge too much, hers far outweigh mine, so we were pain sisters, not to mention  tea drinking, retro loving sisters too. As it would happen I had purchased a headband from her Etsy store and had not even realized it, So now we were cherry wearing sisters too! Recently, I had spotted a cute knitting pattern for a pin curl headband, and before I could even mention it to her, she was already knitting one... I of course had to have one, and thus came about a little trade. I would get a super cute pink knitted pincurl cover, and in return I would help spread the word about her Etsy shop that she shares with her was a pretty good deal! I just love Cherry, her and her mom's creations and look forward to getting to meet her in person one day! I can with confidence mark anything from her and mom's shop "Ruby's Musings Approved"!

Let me introduce you to Cherry Darling....

Tell my readers a bit about yourself?

" I'm 40 years old and currently on my last leg of college before I start a whole new career and chapter in my life.  

Previously, I was a CNA (Certified Nurse Aide) working towards becoming a RN.  Unfortunately, that path   was derailed by a back injury that has left me unemployed and in chronic pain for the last 3 years.  On the bright side, I have been able to start blogging and work on my creative side. You can check out my personal blog She Knits in Pearls. (Here)

 Have you always been into the retro culture?

"No, I haven't.  All through my younger years, you would have considered me somewhere between Goth and Punk.  In my thirty's, my style melded into a Goth/Rockabilly style and slowly that turned more towards the Rockabilly and into a retro/vintage style."

 How did you come up with the handle Cherry Darling?

"The name Cherry was given to me in my early 30's when I became friends with another friend of the same birth name.  Instead of just one of us using a nickname to help with confusion we both got nicknames.  Because I have/had multiple sets of cherries tattooed on me, Cherry became my name.  The Darling part came along a few years later when I was working, part time, in a restaurant.  My manager had the same name so again I went by Cherry (my first paycheck was made out to Cherry and I couldn't cash it).  When expo would call my name to let me know my food was ready she would yell out Cherry Darling.  It's stuck, ever since.  I've toyed with the idea of changing my on-line name for a while due to the numerous Cherry's out there, but it's been so long and it's not just my online friends who know me as Cherry, I'm afraid it would be a big confusing mess if I did." 

 How long have you been knitting ? When did you start and who taught you?
"I've knit off and on for about 15 years.  I've learned from friends and online resources.  I never thought I'd be a knitter.  I used to have 101 creative hobbies and always thought that knitting would be the one I'd never do.  Then I found a hat pattern that I just had to make but it was knit.  Once I learned, almost all other creative hobbies completely fell away.  It was knitting that actually got me into vintage and retro style.  As I was searching for patterns that fit into my "rockabilly" style, I discovered all these vintage and retro inspired patterns.  The rest has been a wonderful and creative journey into who I am today."

Myself wearing Cherry's knitted pincurl cover.

 You sew too right? When did you learn/ how.?
"Sewing was my first real creative hobby.  I think I was sewing before my feet could reach the foot peddle, sitting on my Mama's lap.  Although, I've been sewing for longer than I can really remember, I don't consider myself a seamstress.  I'm pretty good at making skirts and other crafts (like the turbans and headbands in my etsy store) but when it comes to fitting issues, it usually turns into a hot mess.  I leave the real intense sewing to my Mom.  She's amazing like that". 

 You have an etsy store, tell us about that.
"Last summer, when I went to visit my mother in Nevada we tossed around the idea of opening our own Etsy store and doing craft fairs together when I move down there this fall (currently I live in Alaska).  After a few glasses of wine one evening we got online and registered our shop.  The name Lacey Rose Creations comes from our lovely dog Lacey we had as I was growing up and Rose is my moms maiden name.  We're just starting out and building a little stock at a time but really hope to kick it into gear after I move closer to her and we can have sewing and crafting days and focus on our business together".  

What type of products do you sell?
"Currently, I am making mostly turbans and headbands and would like to start taking small knitting commissions, like the pincurl wrap I made for you.  In the future I would like to keep making and expanding the retro/vintage inspired personal accessories.  My mom makes kitchen and sewing accessories.  She homes to branch out into long-arm quilting as well.....

We hope to grow into a great little family business that my mother and I can do together.  We want the experience of working and creating together and succeeding together.  We are both creative and constantly making things. If we can earn enough money to keep us in fabric and yarn, and maybe a little bit to help with the extras in life, while enjoying working together, we will consider it a success. Currently, every penny we make through Lacey Rose is being put in a fund to help me move to be closer to her."  


Cherry and her sweet mama

You can find Cherry and Lacy Rose Creations on Instagram as well.....

@She_Knits_in_Pearls and the shop... @LaceyRoseCreations

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

In "Love" with the King

I DO love the "King", but the King in this
post is NOT Elvis!

I am sure at this point that you all know I DO love Elvis, but this blog has absolutely nothing to do with that king, far from it. This weeks blog is all about flour. YES! You read that correctly, flour, as in baking flour, King Arthur Flour to be exact. So let me back up. It is not a secret I love baking, but in the past it had always been cookies and muffins for the most part, maybe a cobbler from time to time, but had not ever baked breads...well not yeast breads at any rate. I had not had much luck with bread baking, so I had given up and had not attempted any that were not from mixes. Then I ordered my 1950's cookbook, The Fantastic Fifties Cookbook by Mary Margaret McBride off of Amazon, and while going through it ran across a cheese bread recipe that sounded easy and tasty too. I made my first attempt at making the bread, using a store brand flour, it turned out pretty good, but it did not rise as much as I would have liked it to. It tasted good, but there was a bit of density to it that should not have been there. I decided to try again, but all I had on hand was whole wheat flour, and this time I hardly got any rise and the recipe just did not work out at all.  Not too long after, I was walking through the baking isle and stocking up my other supplies and I spotted King Arthur's Flour, with the slogan "Try it once. Trust it always." , I decided it was worth a try. The description, " Bake the highest-rising yeast breads ever with a flour milled exclusively for yeast baking: our unbleached bread flours, both conventional and organic. Higher-protein bread flour helps all loaves—from soft white sandwich bread to whole-grain loaves—rise their highest.
When would you choose bread flour instead of all-purpose? When your recipe calls for it; or if you like chewier pizza crust and bagels; or when you're baking whole-grain loaves that need a lift. Bread flour is perfect for any kind of yeast baking; please reserve it for that purpose." , further the encouragement to purchase the flour.... it had been around since the 1800's, and the baking hotline...which added a safety net of sorts....just in case of course. *wink* 

I dreamed of the perfect loaf of bread.

I was eager to give the new flour a try. So recently when having a special family gathering for the Easter holiday, I made the bread again using King Arthur Flour. I could tell right off the bat that this flour was different. It was very light and fluffy, promise of a light and fluffy loaf of bread? I followed the recipe, step by step, and right away in the first raising of the dough, it was so much higher than when I previously had made the bread. I was even more impressed by the second raise of the dough!! The test is the final product right? Well that was fantastic as well!! Just like the slogan stated, I tried it once, and will trust it always!!  Now I will say a little something on the side here, it states not to use on non yeast breads, but I did... I was in a bind and had muffins to make as well as French Madeline cookies, the muffins turned out just fine, and my Madeline cookies, well, they were a little too fluffy and a bit dry, so right after,  I went out and bought their basic flour and I will not use anything else now for my other baked goods such as cookies, etc., and if I could find their other varieties (and had the room to store them) , I would love to buy and try them.  King Arthur does has a wonderful web site that I linked to above where you can actually purchase their flours and other baking products, as well as gifts and supplies. They also have a really great about section and a full history of the company page. Heck if you live in Vermont you can go visit them!! I would for sure mark this flour and this company "Ruby's Musings Approved" !!  (*** I was in no way paid or prompted by the K.A.F.  company to write this blog. ) 
The Recipe....

The Flour .....

The Results....

The Proud Baker....

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Story of a Hat Named "Ruby"

"Putting a hat on helps me create a mood, a feeling, even a
personality to an outfit; often I feel as if I am not
fully dressed without a hat." 

Sometime ago I was contacted by a lovely woman from a world away so to say. Her name was Morgana and she was from Australia, and she was a hat maker. She asked me if I would be willing to wear one of her creations and do a blog post about it.  She was so kind about her request, so humble about it, and it was as if she expected me to turn her request down....nothing could be further from the truth! I have been a hat lover since childhood, many of you know I have always loved playing dress up and it is what lead me to my current style choices.  Putting a hat on helps me create a mood, a feeling, even a personality to an outfit; often I feel as if I am not fully dressed without a hat on.  I was so excited, actually an understatement. I was even more so, when she told me that I could choose colors, and even style and that she was going to create one just for me, and thus a friendship and the creation of this post was began. 

Messages went back and forth throughout the design process as well as discussions of what she would like to see in this blog post, and her requirements were simple take pretty photos wearing the hat, and spread the word. Simple enough. I patiently waited for the hat to arrive, creating a masterpiece takes time. I had hoped that it would arrive before my trip to Las Vegas so that I might be able to share it while visiting there, and be photographed with it on, sadly the postman delivered the day we left, and after we had already done so. I thankfully had my daughter waiting to sign for it and it was awaiting me upon my return. I eagerly, but carefully opened the box and upon doing so a smile crossed my lips and my cheeks went up into cheery little apples, inside a well wrapped package was an equally carefully wrapped hat. I could not wait to try it on, and did so, even though it was already midnight once I had gotten the box open. It was BEAUTIFUL! I pranced about the house and was just giddy about the look, the craftsmanship ( or womanship) and quality. The fit was perfect, the delicate netting and tiny little flowers that were inspired by me and my tastes were beyond perfection. There was the sweetest note included and I found out that the hat will be known as the "Ruby", I was beyond flattered! Also included was a little hat brush in which to care for my new treasure. I could hardly wait to be photographed wearing this gem of a hat and creating an outfit to go along with it. One thing had to happen first... well a couple, first the weather had to clear up, and secondly I requested a short bio from Morgana and perhaps a few photos of her own....that was easier requested than received, this lovely and talented lady has a tough time talking about herself and her undeniable skills, even tougher time having photos taken....but this past week it all came ladies and gentlemen let me introduce you to the woman behind the hat....

Meet Morgana...

Morgana Creely the woman behind ...or under the hat....

Morgana, thank you so much for agreeing to share a bit about yourself and your hats...why hats?

"I’m mad about vintage style hats! 
I have always loved 1940 and 1950's vintage hats, but sourcing them can be a challenge. Even when I find that illusive style I’ve been searching for, what condition will it be in and will it even be in my size?"

So true! I have the same issues... quality, and sizing issues always seem to be a problem. So tell us more about your journey...

"When I first started making hats, I thought it would be fun; I had no idea it would be so addictive!
Here was my opportunity to create as many 1950's style vintage hats as I wanted – winter hats, delicate lace hats, sublime hats covered in feathers, or adored with flowers, veiling or crystals. The more I explored, the more I wanted to learn. Soon my studio started to fill up with feathers, lace, threads, along with the more sturdy requirements like a millinery steamer. It would be so easy to go overboard with so many beautiful millinery supplies, but I remind myself that it’s about the creating not just the stashing! "

So where do you see your path taking you? 
"There are more millinery techniques and style than I could ever hope to master, so I am concentrating on the beautiful vintages styles of the 1940's and 1950's. 
I still continue to slowly add to my vintage hat collection, but each new purchase must meet one of two criteria. It must be practical as I rarely leave the house without a hat; or it must be something I can learn from which usually means very close inspection and every now and then gently deconstruction, repair and refurbishment. As my skills and knowledge increase I am starting to understand more restoration on my own collection.
I also love wearing vintage and retro style clothing; and whilst I may not have a new outfit for every occasion, a new hat can definitely lift any outfit and really make my day."

That's fantastic and I am thrilled for one, that you have decided to share your creations with others through your shop Hats by Morgana Creely... I fully agree with that last statement, so what is your motto for your business? 
"I believe that anyone can look good in a hat – it’s all about finding one that suits your style and your personality." 

Reach Morgana through her shop on Etsy,  link just above you...and on her website HERE.

The "Ruby" in action ....
Skirt by White Rabbitt Clothing 
Above and below images shot on the grounds of Nuadair Winery outside Plymouth Ca. 

Tanis , Located just outside of Plymouth Ca. 

Shot on the grounds of Convergence Vineyards in Plymouth Ca 

In Dry Creek Ca. 

Yorba in Sutter Creek Ca. 

Close Ups....

So pretty I had to wear it two days in a row...

Not only can you always visit me here on my blog, but also on my FB page, my new YouTube Channel, Instagram Twitter and now my new Etsy shop .... All links are here on the page in the web version of my or simply by searching google for Ruby's Musings and Housewifechicbyruby