Sunday, June 14, 2020


Lavender and its Benefits

The lavender in my flower beds started blooming during the spring. Anticipating the heavenly fragrance from the blooms for the veranda, I wanted to pick up new plants from my garden center for planting in containers.  Of course, I haven't been out since early March and the quarantine and I was concerned that this late date for planting here there would not be any plants left. I decided it would be safe enough if I took all the precautions and go shopping. This weekend I made a short and very early morning visit to the garden center. I was one of a few people in the outdoor center and I was wearing a mask for safety for myself and others and I practiced social distancing. If you know me you know I could spend hours here but I was in and out in lighting speed! Get what I need and leave was my motto. I found the plants, a new shipment had arrived. These plants
will be used around the sunny area of the veranda and patio
and will be enjoyed all summer long. Did you know you can use lavender to help you enjoy your outdoor space more, it is an excellent insect-repellent plant. Try strategically placing lavender plants around your outdoor space. It will not prevent mosquitos and gnats but it helps. 
We will transfer the container lavender to flower beds in the fall. I love being outside enjoying the fragrance and watching hummingbirds partake of my lavender. 

A few more ways I enjoy lavender is is for cleaning. I add a few drops of essence oil
to antibacterial soap and water for wiping down surfaces in the kitchen and baths. My counters sparkle and smell so fresh and clean. A few drops of essence oil to dryer balls is fabulous for sweet smelling laundry. I love the added fragrance of lavender soap

in the baths. Personally, I love lavender sachets, lotions and mists, they are wonderful for lulling you to sleep after your bath. 

Another way I enjoy lavender is baking. Lavender loves to be mixed with other flavors, lemon and honey are two favorites. This cupcake 
recipe is great for a shower, tea or birthday party for adults, no sprinkles here!  A few weeks ago I baked this favorite cupcake recipe. 

Lavender is blooming and I thought I would share it here with you.

Lemon Lavender Cupcakes

*Always use culinary lavender


1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
dash salt
1/2 cup butter
1cup sugar
2 eggs plus 2 egg whites, room temperature 
1 cup lavender infused milk
1 tsp lemon extract


3/4 cup butter, room temperature  
1 tsp lemon extract
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp lavender infused milk (more or less as needed)
lemon zest from 3 lemons for garnish 
lavender buds for garnish
lavender sugar for garnish


*To make lavender infused milk

Add culinary lavender buds to the amount of milk you need for recipe. Soak overnight and strain (or you can use cheese cloth).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray muffin pan with Baker's Joy or line with cupcake liners.
In a mixing bowl sift together flour, salt and baking powder and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl beat butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar a little at a time while beating until combined.
Add eggs and egg whites and continue to beat until fluffy. 
Gradually add the flour mixture, lavender milk and lemon extract mixture, alternating these to the butter and egg mixture and continue beating until incorporated.  
Spoon batter evenly into cupcake pan. Bake 16-20 minutes (depending on your oven) until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cool completely before frosting.

Pretty in MacKenzie-Childs cupcake liners


Beat butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar and lavender milk and continue to beat until combined. Add more or less milk and sugar to get the right consistency for spreading. 
Frost cupcakes and garnish with lemon zest and lavender buds.

Do you enjoy baking with lavender? If you do I would love for you to tell me. I hope you will leave a comment, it's the only way I know you were here. 

Monday, June 1, 2020


Welcome to another adventure of The Tales of the Traveling Tote. This is where my fellow Tales of the Traveling Tote friends and I share our latest travels, projects and our most current events. You will have an opportunity to visit other members at the end of this post and learn about our giveaway.

Tales in the Time of Quarantine 

Since we couldn't find masks my sweet sister-in-law made them for my entire family. She also made and donated them for doctor's offices and friends
Spring has come and gone here and it was lovely. Now it feels like summer with hot humid days. 

With time spent at home during this "Stay Home" order, we have been enjoying our own backyard. In the past we have been so fortunate to travel so I though I would set-up for a picnic and share our travel memories.

Jim and I began our weekend with hanging the flag on our side porch. 

We enjoy having our morning coffee on the veranda. 

Jim loves to cook out so ribs are on the grill for slow cooking all day to enjoy picnic style while watching the sun set in the evening

I got busy setting-up for our picnic 

We enjoyed a sandwich and lemonade for lunch and the afternoon was spent relaxing on the grass in the shade and enjoying photos and discussing our favorite destinations

Since we haven't traveled in this time of Quarantine I found a few of my favorite photos in one of many travel albums and with the help of photoshop, we have a tour today!

"Miss Courtney goes to Paris"

Here Miss Courtney is ready for the day,
Hotel Concorde Saint Lazar, a favorite 
Paris Hotel 

Jim and me in front of Notre Dame

Shakespeare and Company
We always have to stop here, a short walk from Notre Dame

I have several staircase photos from the
Louvre. It is fun to visit the gift shop in this area for souvenirs and please excuse any out of proportion

Behind me stands the Marble Statue of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Louvre

This is the walk up the Rue Steinkerque from the base of Sacred Hill to Sacre-Coeur. The street is lined with discount fabric and upholstery shops. I purchased two decorative pillows here 

Maille Mustard 
I always visit this shop to select a new mustard pot to add to my collection 

Boutique shopping on a Parisian street
where Miss Courtney is happy to hang out

Chateau De Malmaison
The home of Napoleon and Josephine is a short train ride outside of Paris. Well worth the time

And, a final rainy evening in Paris for shopping!  

Back to the picnic.....
We enjoyed our photos while sharing memories of our travels.
And, now time to enjoy dinner and the amazing ribs Jim has been smoking all day.

Before the sun goes down a Red, White and Blue dessert was enjoyed

Cream cheese pound cake with homemade whipped cream and berries.

And, just as the sun sets, a 
Peach Bellini toast
"Travel Memories"

A Paris Sunset


A backyard picnic sunset

I am grateful to have seen so many sunsets in far-away places. But now, during this time of quarantine, I am thankful to be in my own backyard!

Now for the Giveaway

Just leave a comment with Linda here for a chance to win a four piece set of Feather Canape Knives  from MacKenzie-Childs. 


Visit the Tale of the Traveling Tote friends for more fun adventures.
Tales of the Traveling Tote Friends

Debbie with Miss Aurora @ Mountain Breaths 
Emily with Miss Courtney Childs@ The French Hutch
Jenna with Miss Coquille @The Painted Apron
Linda P with Miss Lola @ Life and Linda
 Patti with Miss Kenzie @ Pandora's Box
Rita with Miss Luna C @ Panoply 
Sarah with Miss Merri Mac @ Hyacinths for the Soul
Jackie and Miss Madi K @ Purple Chocolat Home
Ricki Jill and Countess De Monet @ The Sketchy Reader
Cherry Kay and Carrie Ann Hall @ Entertaining Women


Thank you for your visit. I hope you are safe and well. I would love for you to leave a comment, it's the only way I know you 
stopped in!

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Quarantine Retail Therapy

Return of Retail

How about a little retail therapy though a favorite shop of mine! These are photos I made in early March before all of this Covid-19 nightmare began. 
Here, in my state, local and state restrictions were lifted for parks and lakes and some retail. Both shop owners and shoppers were happy to get back to normal, or should I say the new norm (whatever that is). Some businesses are requiring masks and only a certain number of shoppers allowed at any given time. I am not quite ready to get back out there so when I ran across these photos I thought it would be fun to do a little "window shopping" through photos. No words necessary, just enjoy.

How do we ever show our gratitude to all of the emergency workers, the doctors and nurses, all of the front line workers! Thinking about all of our fellow Americans who've lost jobs and have had their lives changed from this virus and to those who have lost family members and friends. Thoughts and prayers are with them and with our country. 

I hope you enjoyed a little retail therapy here, a break from quarantine. Thanks for stopping by, I hope you will leave a comment, it's the only way I know you were here.



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