Monday, 30 May 2011

Inspiration Monday - Doorknobs

 I wrote this post to go along with last weeks post about inspiring doors . 

Ok , your probably thinking, doorknobs, really? How much variety can there be in  doorknobs. Well you would be surprised, I know I was. Check these out:

Hmm, the universe in your hands!

I like this handle style, this is the kind of knobs they use in Germany. I find these easier for arthritic  hands to use, also good for hands covered in massage oil!

 How about a strange face

 I love the simplicity and clean lines of this one

 I love the crystal doorknobs, I am collecting them as I find them for my interior doors.

 Ornate lions head knob

I have several like this that I will find a use for in my upstairs bathroom, love the blue colour

Purdy and yet gaudy at the same time, love them!

I seriously love the blue one, I would have these all over my house.

A wicker doorknob, who knew?

When you run out of room to display your native art collection, incorporate it into the doorknob.
 Another representation from the animal kingdom

 This is a cool looking doorknob, but I would always be scared of shattering it if I squeezed too hard.

I like this, looks like it would be at home in a castle.

This one looks like it belonged to Merlin the wizard!

This one belongs on the door to a romantic bedroom.

For those germaphobes that don't like to shake hands...let your door do it for you!

Knobs for your seaside cottage

I guess these are more handles then knobs, either way , they sure make a statement.

For the wine lover of the house.

For your dungeon

Not sure why the bird is pecking the guys brains out, but it's definitely a conversation starter

Elegant hand, probably more of a knocker than a doorknob, but I thought it was cute, so it stays

So which ones did you like? Do you have any unusual doorknobs in your home?

Did you like this post? Share it! Tweet it! "Like" The Eclectic Ark on Facebook! Thanks, your awesome,

Thursday, 26 May 2011

How to Make a Friendship Bag

These make a wonderful, whimsical gift,  appropriate for all ages


-All the items on the list below should be available at your local dollar store or from your home.

-The bags I found in the wedding decoration section.

-If you are a handy sewer, you can make your own bags with a drawstring closure.

- Fill the bag with one of each item on the list below

- Copy and paste the list of things below and what they mean into a program like Microsoft Publisher so you can choose a nice font and  an appropriate size to fit it all on a business card in portrait mode.(Go here for a detailed tutorial on making the card in Microsoft Publisher) Leave a space at the top of the card for a hole

-Print out the business card., Punch a small hole in the top of it

-Thread the drawstring ribbon through the hole in the card to attach it to the bag

- Give one to all your  friends :)

(print the following onto the business card)

Your Friendship Bag Contains:

Umbrella to shelter you from life’s storms

Rubber Band to remind you to be flexible when dealing with others

Candle to light your way when the day seems the darkest

Life Saver to remind us that sometimes our friends need our help

Cotton Ball to cushion the bumpy road ahead

Happy Face to remind you that smiling is contagious

Eraser to remind you to start each day with a clean slate

Piece of string to tie things together when everything seems to be falling apart

Penny for your thoughts

A marble in case you start to lose yours

Quarter in case you need to call on a friend

Stars to remind you to reach for the stars

Balloon because the sky is the limit

Heart so you know you are loved
Chocolate kiss from me to you



Did you like this post? Share it! Tweet it! "Like" The Eclectic Ark on Facebook! Thanks, your awesome!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Edible Flowers

Flowers aren't just for looking at and smelling. Quite a few of them are edible as well. Our massage class held a fundraiser by gathering recipes from the students and making a cookbook with them. Of course we had to have  a party to taste all the dishes. The one that stood out in my mind the most, was a gorgeous, delicate salad that was predominately flower petals. The light perfumed flavours danced across the tongue like a scented breeze. 

Now that I live in a house with a large flower garden, I thought I would do some research and see which ones were edible and what I could do with them.

 Before we go any further though, please read this list of Dos and Don'ts
Following are some simple guidelines to keep in mind before you eat any type of flower:

Eat flowers only when you are positive they are edible. If uncertain, consult a good reference book on edible flowers prior to consumption.

If pesticides are necessary, use only those products labeled for use on edible crops. No flowers is safe to eat unless it was grown organically

Wash all flowers thoroughly before you eat them.

Introduce flowers into your diet in small quantities one species at a time. Too much of a good thing may cause problems for your digestive system.

Remove pistils and stamens from flowers before eating. Separate the flower petals from the rest of the flower just prior to use to keep wilting to a minimum. Eat only the flower petals for most flowers except pansies violas, and Johnny-jump-ups (in which they add flavor).

If you have allergies, introduce edible flowers gradually, as they may aggravate some allergies.


Do not eat flowers from florists, nurseries or garden centers. In many cases these flowers have been treated with pesticides not labeled for food crops.

Do not eat flowers picked from the side of the road. Once again, possible herbicide use eliminates these flowers as a possibility for use.

Just because flowers are served with food served at a restaurant does not mean they are edible. Know your edible flowers - as some chefs do not.

It's easy and very attractive to use flowers for garnish on plates or for decoration, but avoid using non-edible flowers this way. Many people believe that anything on the plate can be eaten. They may not know if the flower is edible or not and may be afraid to ask.

Picking Edible Flowers:
Pick your flowers in the morning when their water content is at its highest.

What Part of the Flower To Eat:

The Following information is from the book, Edible Flowers - From Garden To Palate, by Cathy Wilkinson Barash:

Remove the stamens and styles from the flowers before eating. The pollen can detract from the flavor of the flower. In addition, the pollen may cause an allergic reaction in some individuals. Remove the sepals of all flowers except violas, Johnny-jump-ups, and pansies.

Only the petals of some flowers such as rose, calendula, tulip, chrysanthemum, yucca, and lavender are edible. When using just the petals, separate them from the rest of the flower just prior to use to keep wilting to a minimum. Others, including Johnny-jump-up, violet, runner bean, honeysuckle, and clover can be eaten in their entirety.

Roses, dianthus, English daisies, marigolds and chrysanthemums have a bitter white portion at the base of the petal where it was attached to the flower. Break or cut off the bitter part off the petal before using.

Cleaning Edible Flowers:

Shake each flower to dislodge insects hidden in the petal folds.

After having removed the stamen, wash the flowers under a fine jet of water or in a strainer placed in a large bowl of water.

Drain and allow to dry on absorbent paper. The flowers will retain their odor and color providing they dry quickly and that they are not exposed to direct sunlight.

Preserving Edible Flowers:

To preserve flowers, put them on moist paper and place together in a hermetically-sealed container or in plastic wrapping. This way, certain species can be preserved in the refrigerator for some 10 days.

If the flowers are limp, they can be revitalized by floating them on icy water for a few moments; don't leave too long or else they will lose some of their flavor.

You can also store the whole flower in a glass of water in the refrigerator overnight.

Some Flower Recipes

Crystallized/Candy Edible Flowers:

Candied flowers and petals can be used in a variety of imaginative ways - to decorate cakes large and small - all kinds of sweet things, such as ice cream, sherbet, crèmes and fruit salads, cocktails.


1 egg white or powdered egg whites

Superfine granulated sugar (either purchased or made in a blender or food processor - just blend regular sugar until extra-fine)

Thin paintbrush

Violets, pansies, Johnny-jump-ups, rose petals, lilac, borage, pea, pinks, scented geraniums, etc.

Wire rack covered with wax paper


Carefully clean and completely dry the flowers or petals.

Beat the egg white in the small bowl until slightly foamy, if necessary add a few drops of water to make the white easy to spread.

Paint each flower individually with beaten egg white using the small paintbrush. When thoroughly coated with egg white, sprinkle with superfine sugar.

Place the coated flowers or petals on wax paper on a wire rack. Let dry at room temperature (this could take 12 to 36 hours). To test for dryness, check the base of the bloom and the heart of the flower to make sure they have no moisture. Flowers are completely dry when stiff and brittle to the touch. NOTE: To hasten drying, you may place the candied flowers in an oven with a pilot light overnight, or in an oven set at 150 degrees to 200 degrees F with the door ajar for a few hours.

Store the flowers in layers, separated by tissue paper, in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to use.


Garnishing Cheeses with Edible Flowers

The cheese can be prepared 24 hours in advance of serving. Use flat chunks of cheese, with edible rinds, in a variety of shapes. (Cheddar, Jack, Brie, or Camembert, in round, wedge, or square shapes)

Edible flowers or herbs
2 cups dry white wine
1 envelope unflavored gelatin

Lay the flowers and herbs flat on top of the cheese in the presentation that you want to display.

Then remove the flowers and herbs, lay them aside in the pattern you want to display them.

In the medium size saucepan over medium heat, combine the white wine and gelatin. Stir until gelatin is completely dissolved and the mixture is clear. Remove from heat and put the saucepan in a larger container filled with ice. Keep stirring as it thickens, NOTE: Stir slowly so you don't create bubbles. (If it gets too thick, you can reheat and repeat.)

Place the cheese in a dish to catch the drippings from your glaze.

Spoon the glaze over the cheese and spread evenly. After a few minutes it will become tacky to the touch, then you can "paste" on your flowers in the design pattern you planned.

Refrigerate about 15 minutes; then remove from refrigerator and spoon more glaze over the flowers.

NOTE: Make as many layers of glaze as necessary to cover your decorations - can be three layers for a thick design. If the glaze thickens up too much, just reheat and replace in ice.

Serve with crackers.


Making Flower Petal Tea:
2 cups fresh fragrant rose petals (about 15 large roses)*
3 cups distilled water
Honey or granulated sugar to taste

*All roses that you intend to consume must be free of pesticides. Do not eat flowers from florists, nurseries, or garden centers. In many cases these flowers have been treated with pesticides not labeled for food crops. The tastiest roses are usually the most fragrant.

Clip and discard bitter white bases from the rose petals; rinse petals thoroughly and Pat dry

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, place the prepared rose petals. Cover with water and bring just to a simmer; let simmer for approximately 5 minutes, or until the petals become discolored (darkened).

Remove from heat and strain the hot rose petal liquid into teacups. Add honey or sugar to taste.

Makes 4 servings.

Making Blossom Ice Cubes:

Gently rinse your pesticide-free flower blossoms.

Boil water for 2 minutes for all the air trapped in the water to escape. Remove from heat and let the water cool until room temperature. NOTE: This will ensure that the ice cubes are crystal clear.

Place each blossom at the base of each individual compartment within an ice tray. Fill each compartment half full with the cooled boiled water and freeze.

After the water is frozen solid, fill each ice cube compartment the rest of the way to the top with the remaining boiled water. Freeze until ready to use.

Making Flower-Infused Syrup:
1 cup water (or rosewater)
3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 to 1 cup edible flower petals (whole or crushed)

In a saucepan over medium heat, add the water or rosewater, sugar, and edible flower petals; bring to a boil and let boil for approximately 10 minutes or until thickened into syrup. Remove from heat.

Strain through cheesecloth into a clean glass jar.

Keeps up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Can be added to sparkling water or champagne for a delicious beverage. Or, it may be poured over fruit, pound cake or pancakes.

Makes about 2 to 3 cups syrup.

How To Make Flower Butter:

1/2 to 1 cup chopped fresh or dried petals
1 pound sweet unsalted butter, room temperature

Finely chop flower petals and mix into softened butter. Allow the mixture to stand at room temperature overnight to allow the flavors to fuse.

Chill for a couple of weeks or freeze for several months.

The author, Linda Stradley, and What's Cooking America have researched all the mentioned edible flowers. However, individuals consuming the flowers, plants, or derivatives listed on this web page, do so entirely at their own risk. Neither the authors or What's Cooking America can be held responsible for any adverse reaction to the flowers.

 This site has a list of edible flowers for you to experiment with.

They also have a yummy looking recipe for Lavender Jelly, that I can't wait to try someday. Saltspring Island has a wonderful organic lavender farm. I think I will make a trip there this summer to get some good quality lavender so I can try this recipe.

These are making my mouth water.
If you have never eaten a flower, do so if you have the chance,it's a delight for the senses( just be sure to follow the guidelines above please)

Did you like this post? Share it! Tweet it! "Like" The Eclectic Ark on Facebook! Thanks, your awesome,

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Stuffed Mushrooms

One of my favorite decandant appetizers is Stuffed Mushrooms. I bought some premade ones at my local grocery store the other day and they were so good I went back for more. Then I became obsessed by them and had to have the recipe. I went back to the store several times until I got a lead on the woman that made them and the hours she worked. I finally tracked her down and like she was giving me a secret code that could cost her her life, she quickly barked out a short list of ingrediants with no instructions. When I asked her specifically which sauce was she using, she furtively looked over her shoulder and  scurried over to  the stack of seafood sauces to point out the one she used. She beelined it back behind her counter and I could tell the conversation was over. Oh well, I have the secret ingredients, I will just have to wing it from here.

Her recipe is one container of
 - Herb and Garlic cream cheese
 - 2 cans of crab meat ( drained I presume)
 - Seafood Sauce which she called hot sauce but she pointed to the regular variety so who knows?

She didn't tell me how much sauce, so I made half a container of sundried tomatoe and basil cream cheese, ''cause that's what I had in the house and one can of crab meat (drained) mixed with one tablespoon of seafood sauce, regular variety and not the same brand because again, it was what I had around the house. I added pepper to mine and sprinkled lemon pepper on a few to see what that would taste like.

The ingrediants

Just before popping them in the oven
Cooked and ready to eat. The ones that look more yellow have the lemon pepper on them

MMMM, yummy!

I wiped down 4 large mushrooms(to clean mushrooms, gently wipe them with a damp cloth or soft brush. Rinsing them in water tends to make them soggy and reduce their flavour) and cut out the stems with a knife , then went back with a spoon to clean out the holes some more. I stuffed each mushroom with the crab and cheese mixture and put them in a 375 oven for 10 minutes. Then I put the broiler on for a few more minutes until they were slightly browned. I could have done 2 more mushrooms with that amount if I had any more at the time. They turned out ok, I liked the ones with the lemon pepper, it gave them a little zing. I think next time, I might try canned baby shrimp instead of crab. I would also recommend using smaller mushrooms. These were very large and quite rich, something you could eat in a mouthful might have been tastier. I got two different pieces of advice when I asked how to cook them. The one with the recipe said 5 minutes under the broiler while someone else at the store said 10 minutes in the oven. I tried the oven method with these ones and prefer the broiler only method.

Here are a few more recipes I found online while trying to figure out what was in them.

A recipe for stuffed mushrooms with crab and mayonnaise.


•3 dozen large whole mushrooms

•1 can (7 1/2 ounces) crabmeat, drained, cartilage removed, flaked

•1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

•1 tablespoon chopped pimiento

•1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

•1/2 cup mayonnaise


Wash mushrooms well; dry and remove stems with a sharp knife. Combine crab, parsley, and pimiento. Stir together mayonnaise and dry mustard; gently stir into crab mixture. Fill each mushroom cap with about 2 tablespoons of crab mixture. Bake at 375° for 8 to 10 minutes, or until hot. Makes 36 crab stuffed mushrooms.
These stuffed mushrooms are low carb and delicious.


•2 pounds medium mushrooms

•6 tablespoons butter

•1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

•1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

•2 Tablespoons chopped green onion


Remove stems from mushrooms; chop enough stems to equal 1/2 cup. Cook 1 pound of the mushroom caps in 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat for 5 minutes; drain off fat. Repeat with remaining 1 pound of mushroom caps and 3 tablespoons butter. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and blue cheese, mixing until well blended. Stir in chopped stems and green onions; fill mushroom caps. Place on cookie sheet and broil until tops are golden brown. Makes about 40 stuffed mushrooms.

Grams per serving (2 mushrooms) carbs 2, dietary fiber 1

Calories per serving 91

Fat grams total 8

Another Crab Stuffed Mushroom Recipe
Recipe ingredients
8 large white mushroom caps
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. (15 mL) lemon butter *
1 Tbsp. (15 mL) Delicato olive oil *
3 Tbsp. (45 mL) white wine
5 ml (1 tsp.) fresh thyme
1 can crab meat,* well drained
1 lime and half of its juice
1 Tbsp. (15 mL) fresh chives, chopped
4 oz. (120 g) Camembert cheese *
Remove stems from mushroom caps by breaking them free as deep as possible.
Place mushroom caps, garlic, butter, olive oil, white wine and thyme into saucepan on high heat for 5 – 8 minutes.
Mushrooms should be tender when cooked but still a little firm.
Remove mushrooms from pan and place on baking sheet.
Reduce liquid in pan to a near glaze and add well-drained crabmeat, lime juice and chives.
Stuff mushroom caps with crabmeat and place a generous piece of Camembert on top.
Broil the caps for approximately 1 minute or until cheese slightly melts.
Garnish with fresh chive spears and lime wedges.

Pesto filled Portabello Caps

Recipe ingredients

4 portobello caps (3-4 in./7-10 cm)

1/4 cup (60 mL) basil pesto

3 1/2 oz. (100 g) mozzarella cheese, grated


Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC) and position top grill 5 in. (12 cm)from the upper element.

Place mushroom caps on a baking sheet.

Divide pesto among mushroom caps.

Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for about 10 minutes.

Enjoy and if you have a favorite stuffed mushroom recipe, send it over and I will add it to the list,

Did you like this post? Share it! Tweet it! "Like" The Eclectic Ark on Facebook! Thanks, your awesome,

Inspiration Mondays-Doors

When I was a child, I spent hours pouring over catalogues and magazines cutting out pictures of furniture and decor that I wanted in my own home. Inspiration Mondays is a digital continuation of that habit.

 Todays post is about inspiring doors.

I think doors say a lot about a house. They can be formidable barriers to keep people out or welcoming portals to that which lies within. Here are some doors that I would like to have in my home. Some because they have personality, others because they offer creative solutions to storage problems.

I have one wall that I want to put something like french doors. I need/want a lot of light in that area of the house. I like this set...
 ..or this one

I like this, I have a ton of ornaments, always looking for somewhere else to display them, why not use the door?

This is just a piece of art!

as is this one

and this one, very clever!

Hmm, this one gives me ideas, I have a whole bunch of portholes from my boat, maybe I could incorporate them into a door?

Who says a door has to be square?

I love stain glass and leaded glass in doors as well. This one is a bit different. It already rains here tons, so not sure i would want to look at this all the time, but it is rather well done as an effect.

You could recycle an old pane window door with various colours of glass to liven up your interior

More storage possibilities, I like it..... a good place to keep the cookbooks for the kitchen

Some day , I envision a cute little balcony like this off of my bedroom, love the little medieval doors

Sigh.... I just want this whole house, my favorite part of Lord of the Rings, was the interior shots of Bilbo's house in the Shire, the ultimate Hobbit house

I love these old screen doors, I definitely want one of these in my house, squeaky hinges and all.

This one looks like a bookshelf but it is actually a bifold door, how clever is that.

Another bookcase doorway

If you like these bookcase type doors but can't afford the high prices to buy one, check out this DIY site that shows you how to build your own. I love the idea of making use of  the wasted wall space that doors are.
Secret Hidden Bookcase Door Plans

Hmm... would like to have the house big enough to have this for a doorway, love all the carvings and smaller doors on the side.

 How about you, do you have any unusual doors in your home? Would you put a non-standard door on your home to express your personality?

Did you like this post? Share it! Tweet it! "Like" The Eclectic Ark on Facebook! Thanks, your awesome,

The Eclectic Ark