December 8, 2017

The Secret is in the Sauce...

A huge "Thank You" to everyone that attended our Clever Girl Open House this year.  We had record attendance, and a good time was had by all.  We love seeing our wonderful customers all year 'round, and it's lovely to have a chance to visit with you all on this special night.  Lots of you asked me to share some of our recipes from the event, and I'm happy to do so.  (I must also thank my mom, Jinny, for manning the kitchen for me during this busy evening.  Thanks Mums!)

Our Clever Candy Cane Marshmallow Dip was a hit.  Here's how to whip up this tasty treat.

Candy Cane Kiss Marshmallow Dip
1 container (7 oz.) Marshmallow Fluff
8 oz Cream Cheese
1 tsp Peppermint Extract
¼ c Peppermints, crushed
1-2 drops red food coloring (optional)

    Using a mixer on low combine Marshmallow Fluff, cream cheese, and peppermint extract.
    Sprinkle with crushed peppermints and continue to mix until they are fully incorporated into the fluff.
    Add red food coloring to create a light pink color. This is optional.
    Serve with chocolate graham crackers, or your favorite dipper.

Set your time machines back about 52 years for this next one: A classic from the swinging sixties...


  • 2 cans sliced water chestnuts not diced
  • 1 pound bacon not thick-sliced
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 brown sugar packed
  • 2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2-3 dashes Sriracha or other hot sauce or to taste (optional)
  • toothpicks soaked in water for 30 minutes before using

  • Directions:
    Preheat oven to 375F. Place a wire rack over a sheet pan and set aside.
    Mix together ketchup, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce and Sriracha in a small bowl. Set aside.
    Slice bacon into thirds crosswise. Wrap one piece of bacon around a water chestnut and secure with a toothpick. Place each wrapped water chestnut onto the wire rack. Repeat until bacon and water chestnuts are gone.
    Bake in preheated oven until bacon is starting to crisp (around 30 minutes or so). Remove from oven and, using a basting brush, generously dab sauce all over each appetizer. Return to oven and continue cooking until bacon is crisp and sauce is sticky and thick, another 10-15 minutes.
    Serve immediately. They'll go quickly!

    Next up is a standby we serve almost every year.  It couldn't be easier, or more decadent.  
    Three Cheese Hot Artichoke Dip from Paula Deen

    1 (8 ounces) block cream cheese, softened
    1 cup mayonnaise
    1 (14 ounces) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
    2 green onions, sliced thin
    1/2 cup grated Parmesan
    1 cup shredded mozzarella
    Dash hot sauce
    Dash Worcestershire sauce
    Salt and pepper
       Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand held electric mixer until smooth. Then beat in the mayonnaise until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and stir together until combined. Transfer the dip to a pie plate or shallow gratin dish. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is golden brown and the dip is bubbling. Serve hot with crackers, tortilla chips, crostini or veggies.  

        Another great dish is this warm, rich and creamy cheese and tomato spread.  

        Easy Baked Goat Cheese Marinara Dip

        • 1 300g package goat cheese
        • 1 cup marinara sauce
        • ¼ teaspoon salt
        • ¼ cup fresh basil (optional)
        • ½ teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
        • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper (optional)

        1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
        2. Remove the goat cheese from the package and break up the  log into large chunks in the center of your baking dish. Using the tips of your fingers, press the cheese slightly so that it spreads about an inch thick. Do not allow the cheese to touch the edge of the pan. Keep at least an inch of free space all the way around.
        3. Spoon the marinara around the goat cheese. Be careful to place the sauce all the way around and as evenly as possible.
        4. Sprinkle the top with salt.
        5. This is also where you could add the dried oregano and ground black pepper if you decide to do so.
        6. Place the baking dish in the preheated oven on the middle rack for 25-30 minutes - just until the sauce around the cheese begins to bubble.
        7. Once you remove the dip from the oven, swirl the cheese lightly through the sauce and top with a little fresh basil.
        8. Serve with thinly sliced baguette.

November 30, 2017

Christmas Open House...

Please join us for our 
Clever Girl Open House
Thursday, December 7th
from 4-8pm

Enjoy shopping, tasty treats and our signature 
Clever Girl Christmas Cocktail.  
Receive a free FRASIER FIR votive with every $100.oo purchase.


November 21, 2017

Meet your new best friend...

It's the latest thing in scarves--the Blanket Scarf is here, and everyone is making it their new BFF.  We've got a lovely assortment of colors; from black to rainbow bright.  

Christmas is right around the corner, and these make a thoughtful, cozy gift.  It certainly dosen't hurt that one size fits all.  Truly, they are a terrific present for anybody from a trendy teen on up to a hip grandma....  We've already sold loads of these--classic plaid never fails to please somehow.  

Wrap yourself up and keep out the cold, indoors or out, with this ultra-soft, oversized check scarf. Wear this once and you won’t know how you survived winters without it.  I'm definitely giving lots of these for Christmas this year......

October 4, 2017

Gone to the Dogs....

It's certainly no secret around here that we love dogs.  (Cats, too, but that's a matter for another day.). So you can imaging how thrilled I was to open a huge box of books fresh from the publisher with this beauty right on top. At Home with Dogs and their Designers has arrived, and you're going to LOVE it!!!!

What could be better than a peek into some of the top decorator and designers shown in the homes they share with their dogs?  Homes and rooms can be beautiful and still shared with loyal and loving best friends.  This is definitely going to be one of my go-to gifts for my like minded friends this holiday season.  Each chapter is an in-depth interview with a designer and explores what their dog(s) mean to them, where they came from, and how they fit into the household. 
Some have fine pedigrees, while others are  rescues that have a forever home that happens to be exceptionally stylish.  I love getting to see inside these wonderful spaces, and hearing the backstory on each pet.  The names are great, too! Here are Mary McDonald's pugs: Jack, Eva, Lulu, Violet and Boris. 

I'm including a shot of my own sweet Gracie-May. (That's her draped on the sofa!)She knows nothing of decorating, but LOVES the fine feeling of Ralph Lauren velvet and a fur throw when she feels it!!!

As it says in the foreword, “It is possible to be devoted not only to design at the highest levels but also to the four-legged creatures who share our beautiful home – and, if truth be told, who rule the roost.”  I certainly agree...

April 23, 2017

The Starlings of Spring...

A good friend sent me this video, and I was simply fascinated with it. Just take a look at this clip, and see what I mean. It's only about 4 minutes long, but it will stay with you in a good way. 

You have to love the British take on these Starlings, "the long distance daily commuters of the bird-world", as the narrator puts it.  These birds are so amazing...truly.  How on earth do they pull this off?  Bravo to capturing it on film for all of us to enjoy...

April 18, 2017

The Great Dixter Cookbook

New on the shelf...The Great Dixter Cookbook has arrived just in time for spring.
This cookbook features seventy simple and delicious seasonal recipes from the kitchen garden at Great Dixter, the historic house and garden located on the borders of Kent and Sussex. Dishes included range from English classics such as chicken and leek pie, apple crumble, and beetroot chutney, to contemporary recipes like crispy kale with sea salt and shakshuka. Dixter was home to the revered and highly influential gardener and writer, Christopher Lloyd, and a number of this book's recipes have been taken from the Lloyd family's personal kitchen notebooks.

As we head into the season of farmer's markets and finally begin to plant our own little garden patches, this is a perfect guide to refresh us on just how useful the bounty of the season truly is.  The beautiful photos are also a powerful enticement to get in the kitchen and start creating...

Spring rhubarb is wonderfully pink and tender, so you can dispense with the poaching step and put it straight into a pastry case (shell) with a little brown sugar before putting it in the oven. The sugar caramelizes to give an almost toffeelike flavour. Make it the day before so that the flavours have a chance to soak into the pastry, or eat it immediately. Either way, it goes well with cream, custard or ice-cream. —Aaron Bertelsen

Rhubarb Tart

  • ACTIVE: 
Gather the goods:
Butter, for greasing
1 quantity of your favorite shortcrust pastry or pie dough recipe, chilled [a recipe for Sweet Shortcrust Pastry (Basic Sweet Pie Dough) can be found in the book on page 186]
Flour, for dusting
1 kilogram/2 1/4 pounds rhubarb, chopped into 5-centimeter/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons demerara (turbinado) sugar
120 grams/4 ounces (1/2 cup) caster (superfine) sugar, plus extra for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5, placing an oven rack in the lower part of it. Butter a 25-cm/10-inch loose-bottom tart pan.

Roll out the pastry (dough) thinly on a lightly floured work surface and use to line the prepared pan.

If using spring rhubarb, arrange it in the pastry case (shell) and sprinkle with the demerara (turbinado) sugar. If not using spring rhubarb, put the caster (superfine) sugar and 200 ml/7 fl oz (3/4 cup) water into a pan and stir together over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a gentle boil, then add the chopped rhubarb and simmer for 1 minute – you don’t want it to lose its shape. Drain the rhubarb, then arrange inside the pastry case.

Place the filled case on a baking sheet and bake on a low oven rack for 40 minutes. Take the tart out of the oven and carefully slip off the outer ring, leaving the tart sitting on the base. Return to the oven on the baking sheet for another 5–10 minutes so that the sides get really crisp.

Slide the tart onto a plate and sprinkle with caster sugar, if desired. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Certainly with Mother's Day approaching this would make an excellent gift--perhaps, accompanied with a solemn pledge to make the meal of Mama's choosing!

January 27, 2017

Time for Tea...

When the weather is teasing us a bit, deciding to be cold and then colder, a definite antidote is a good cup of tea.  The British have known this for 100's of years, and endless reruns of Downton Abbey have only further engraved it upon my mind.  I don't know what's taken me so long, but I have finally discovered the joy of tea!  So, it's rather convenient, I suppose, that we are now carrying the amazing line, Tea Forté.  (If you've ever treated yourself to lunch at Neiman Marcus, this is the tea you would have been served.)  The ubiquitous "tea bag" has been replaced with the rather impressive triangle shaped tea infuser with a signature little leaf attached to the string.  However, this isn't just a case of putting lipstick on a pig--this is some seriously flavorful tea.  

I'm currently  working my way through the Tea Tasting Assortment Collection, which they describe as: "The perfect introduction to the Tea Forté experience. Beautifully packaged and always appreciated, this curated tea collections are a most welcome presentation of the world’s most extraordinary teas."

Truly, I've enjoyed every one of them so far.  I have a Keurig coffee brewing system the I generally use to have a cup of coffee while I wait for my real coffee to brew each morning.  But, if you don't put in one of the little pods, it makes hot water for the perfect quick cup of tea just as easily!
The other fun thing I've been learning about are loose teas.  Tea Forté makes the perfect packet of loose tea that you put into a little brew basket that steeps the perfect cup.  It really couldn't be easier!  

The "Warming Joy" collection is a limited edition grouping of teas that are particularly good in the colder months.  Just tear open a packet, pop it into the little mesh basket, add hot water and there you go!  Really tasty, aromatic, bone warming, life giving tea!  
For those of you battling the late-winter doldrums, desperate to feel the warmth of the sun, try some of this tea--the Brits are really on to something!

January 10, 2017

S is for SOUR...

Now that January has a firm grip on us, and the winds come howling up from the north, it's a good time of year to have few friends over for an afternoon visit, a cup of tea, and a spot of cake.  Here's one that we're looking forward to trying very soon.

Gather the Goods:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (12.5-ounce) jar Stonewall Kitchen Sour Cherry Jam
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk until lumps from the flour are eliminated and the ingredients are uniformly mixed.
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a hand mixer can be used). Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla. Mix on low speed until uniform. Scrape down sides as needed.
Add the flour mixture and mix on low until the dough comes together into a ball. Do not over mix.
Form the dough into a round flat disc. Wrap in plastic wrap, or wax paper, and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch spring form pan. Grate the dough using the large holes on a hand grater. Place half of the grated dough into the bottom of the prepared pan, pat down gently. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Top with remaining grated dough. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Remove the spring form rim and slide the cake off of the bottom of the pan onto a serving plate. Dust with confectioner’s sugar. Cut into wedges and serve.

As much as I love a tipple, this is a tea kind of cake.  Serve slightly warm from the oven with a good black tea on a chilly late-afternoon for maximum pleasure....

And, how very handy, the Sour Cherry Jam is available in our Pantry Department CLICK HERE for details...

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