Monday, August 26, 2013

If it took seven days to create the world...

why is it taking seven days to clean my TreeHouse & property after several months of renovation? Guess the difference is that I'm in charge...not God.

After months of using my living room as a depository for all sorts of construction materials, excess furniture & boxes of stuff from my other house...IT'S EMPTY, CLEAN & COMFORTABLE!!

And so is the kitchen & counter. My MacBook Air loves having a wide berth of 7 feet of sprawling space...& that's just downstairs.

Upstairs, my new slim desk (where I'm writing this), has so much space around to breathe that the glass block in the floor giggles with reflected light from the kitchen below.

The 10'x16' outdoor deck has been completely enclosed with clear polycarbonate (think Lexan) panels below, and acrylic sliding windows w/screens above. And no bugs!!

I want to coat the wood floor with poly before moving furniture in, but I love how it seems I can touch the outside world with the tip of my fingers. This will be a special space.

Because the Keitt mangoes on my tree decided to ripen en mass, last week I spent a lot of time jamming. The above is a shot of Mango Meyer Lemon & Lime Jam cooking. When the fruit is ripe, it's time for action. So far I've canned 8 varieties of jam, many involving mango, but also some new flavors like fresh Blueberry Lemon Lime. This season will feature a lot of new interesting combinations.

Tomorrow, we tackle cleaning up outside...left over building materials, recyclables, semi-finished project pieces, dying plants & seedlings to start for my urban garden. It never seems to end.

This the 5th home renovation I've been through...and the first without leaning on the strong shoulder of my late husband Rea. But I've been cheating, because I've asked for his help and have felt those loving arms around me, as I've sloughed through these projects. I cling to my personal philosophy, which is whatever obstacle you're facing (in my case cancer, loss & construction), address it straight on & embrace the ride. Every day makes you stronger & gets you closer to the positive conclusion. There's light at the end of every tunnel if you stop, squint & look in the right direction. My umpteen projects will be completed in a couple of weeks and I'm smiling already...and I think Rea is too.

Needless to say, I'm still on my temporary baking sabbatical for a few more weeks, but I've been experimenting with more whole grains in my baked goods. Happily, it seems nothing can keep me away from that oven for long ;-) 

Stay well & happy, thanks for your support, and I'll be back in touch shortly. Looking forward to spending some down-time with my beautiful daughter Abby this holiday weekend!!

My Executive Assistant, Twinkie-The-Brave, is all done in from the renovation & saving her strength until that damn squirrel returns to the mango tree.

Hugs from my kitchen,

Monday, August 19, 2013

Ain't someone gonna stop the rain?

Here's my solution to find cover. Actually, it's a sail shade strung up at three points that will eventually protect anyone occupying the orange hammock underneath from the sun. It's been raining all afternoon & as the water is caught in the sail, it pools, suddenly causes the shape to change and it's instant waterfall. Fun to watch & guess where it will spill off.

My Meyer lemon tree has survived transplantation to a sunnier spot and is finally leafing out. Hope as it puts down roots, it also puts some energy into fruiting. I have big plans for those luscious orbs.

We've picked all of the fruit off of my Keitt mango tree, and it's been the smallest crop yet. The mangoes are huge but there were only about 25, and the resident squirrel had first dibs. I'll be making jam this week in order to preserve the flavor of this just picked fruit.

On the other hand, a few months ago I thought my Haas avocado tree was dying. Leaves turned brown and carpeted the ground. But that was followed by a new bright green wardrobe & lots of blossoms. They'll be ready to pick in a few weeks and it's fun to watch them grow through the clear plexiglass of the newly enclosed deck.

I've gotten my privacy back by replacing the see-thru narrow reed I had covering openings in my wrought iron back gate. The solution was a 4'x8' sheet of flexible hard plastic, normally used to panel commercial kitchens. It was easy to cut and fit without serious tools, plus mold won't grow on it! At Loews for just $20/sheet, and it can be rolled & tied to fit in your car.

The driveway now has a trench on one side, filled with small rocks, so the water won't puddle. The opposite side is where loose dirt was always dragged onto the concrete because of the height of the berm. After considering lots of solutions, I found pressure treated landscape timbers at Home Depot for $1.97 each. They're held in place with pieces of rebar, look neat and are several inches higher than the dirt. Total materials under $20. This hurricane season will tell if it works as envisioned.

The final project is a solution to the annoying need to keep a grill protected from the elements, yet be easily available to use. I hate the ugly heavy cover. Now there is a simple structure made of two pressure treated "T"s, one side higher than the other. Once I cover it with a tarp to form an enclosure, I can get rid of that cover. Using the grill will just be a question of letting it heat up & cool down. And when it rains the water will drip off the lower side, where a drain is located in the dirt.

There's still a bunch of things to complete including some landscaping, topping the current gravel with a layer of larger river rock (that won't get stuck in the soles of my shoes), finishing details on the arbor, installing some pavers, power washing and some lighting. At least the big things are done.

This has all taken longer than I anticipated (when does anything take less time?) I really need to focus now on selling my personal items & finding the right tenant for the former Bonni Bakes building. In order to do that I'm taking a short vacation from baking for a few weeksPlus, my daughter is coming down for Labor Day weekend, and we both need a little fun!

I'll let you know when I'm back in the kitchen & ready to bake up a storm. You can always reach me by phone (941) 746-6647 or email

Hugs from my kitchen,

Monday, August 12, 2013

I can hum, bake & sell my stuff at the same time

I find myself constantly humming ever since I saw the Manatee Player's fabulous production of "Les Miserables", which opened last week.

Manatee Performing Arts Center entrance
I first saw this musical in London during June 1987, while on a free trip I won to England on British Airlines. As a promotion, they gave away every seat on every outbound flight from the US during a 24 period. I casually mailed in the entry form from my newspaper and a few weeks later found out I won two free plane tickets, hotel, food, etc. Unfortunately, the timing turned out to be horrible. My husband was scheduled to shoot a commercial out of town and both of my kids had NYS Regents final exams that they couldn't miss.

The TODAY SHOW covered our 9am departure with a live feed from JFK, including a dozen bagpipers in full dress, piping us aboard. Maybe that deafening sound is the reason I can't listen to bagpipe music today. I was the only passenger on the plane with an empty seat next to me, so I made the best of it & had a great adventure on my own ;-)

"Les Mis" was playing in London and had a few tickets available for a matinee. Within minutes of the lights going down in the theatre, I was transported to that era surrounding the French Revolution, then became transfixed by the story. Now, 26 years later, the thrill isn't gone. The new Manatee Performing Arts Theater is beautiful, spacious & elegant. The majesty of the chandelier in the lobby sets the tone, and the seats are sooooo comfy.

Now with a bigger stage, more complex sets, choreography & theatrical "surprises" can take place. The current cast of 48 is blessed with an incredible number of talented actors with extraordinary voices. And the score, ranging from personal musical soliloquies to bawdy English Music Hall humor, is able to showcase their talents beautifully. Rick Kerby, Artistic Director, certainly set the bar high, since this is the opener of their new season. Don't miss this timeless show! Tickets (if they haven't already sold-out) for performances through August 25 are available through their box office at

perfect reflection seen in this mirror

Things are moving right along with my POP-UP SHOP, where I'm selling personal possessions I no longer have room for, since I sold my "big" house. Here are a few choice items I've just unpacked that are available Fri & Sat from 11-4 at 930 12th St W in Bradenton. More details below.

A great 48" ROUND MIRROR that was custom made with 1/4" thick plate glass and plywood back for stability. $100

side view of 1/4" mirror & plywood back

If you do any close-up work and want to see things easily, without holding a magnifying glass in your hand, have I got the perfect item for you.

Lighted magnifying glass

Just screw the base to a table, plug it in, adjust the swinging arm to a comfortable position and turn on the florescent light., sew, fix things. LIGHTED MAGNIFYING GLASS $20

And of course, I saved the cutest for last. I fell in love with this MINI TRASH CAN & couldn't resist it. The top flips up so the galvanized container inside can easily be removed. Red all over, take it before I change my mind. $10

This week I have THREE Miracle Berries available, born on a sensitive plant that took four years to produce its first blossom. The fun of this harmless berry is that when chewed it coats the inside of your mouth with its juice, which makes everything you eat for 30 minutes incredibly sweet. Mike & I experimented with a dozen items, including sour foods & pickles, but the most fun was the resulting candy-like flavor of biting into a wedge of lemon. You can share one berry with a friend because 1/2 a berry is still enough. $2 each

Let's talk FOOD. If you were one of the lucky ones to taste those fabulous blueberry scones last week, I don't have to say anything more. 

BONNI BAKES Blueberry Lemon Scone
I'm very picky about the food I eat, and even more so about what I'm making for you. I wanted a scone that was full of fruity flavor, with a background of butter, crunchy on the surface and not boringly dry. That scone rocked!! Of course, I love change, so this week it's a CRANBERRY ORANGE SCONE $2.50/each

BONNI BAKES Almond Mandlebroyt (Jewish Biscotti)
With all of the renovation, unpacking, designing & planning I've been doing, I'm drinking a lot of coffee. Nothing tastes as delicious & complimentary as dunking an almond studded cookie into that coffee. The classic cookie I remember growing up was MANDLEBROYT, twice baked with toasted almonds in every bite. I'm sharing some this week. $2.50/pair

Onion & Poppy Seed Pletzl
Today it's very chic to order "flatbread", but when I was a kid we looked forward to my Dad bringing home PLETZL on Sunday. Jews have been baking this delicious onion board, covered in toasted poppy & sauteed onion, for ages. Break off a piece and schmear it with cream cheese, eat alongside soup, with a dip or just have it plain & you're in heaven. $4/pkg

Twinkie suddenly appeared with her muzzle covered in dirt, trying to look like an angel. I wasn't buying it and told her so.

"Who me digging in the dirt?" She quickly corrected the situation...what could I say? I love you & I need to focus.

  Order bakery by 5pm Wed for pick-up Fri or Sat
                        all items in limited supply

         POP-UP SHOP items available Fri & Sat 11 - 4

TO PLACE AN ORDER call me at (941) 746-6647   or

 email  by 5 pm WEDNESDAY 

 Pay by cash or local check made out to Bonni Brown


 in The Village of the Arts  

at former BONNI BAKES building 930 12 St W

FRIDAY or SATURDAY from 11 - 4  

 Hugs from my kitchen,

 P.S.  My building at 930 12th St W is available 

for rent as a gallery, food establishment or home 

business. Call to make an appointment for a tour.


Monday, August 5, 2013

My POP-UP SHOP is open this Fri & Sat 11-4

This looks like a year's worth of belly button lint caught in a pillow fight, but it's just a sample of the insulation blown into my attic this week, compliments of FPL. It turned out that the $300 voucher they gave me was enough to cover the entire cost of the new insulation.

On top of that, it only took an hour and the material was neatly blown through this snaking tube connecting their truck & my attic. Their free energy survey turned out to be very worthwhile!

My TreeHouse deck enclosure is almost complete, Jo-Ellen has finished the outdoor mural, most of the landscaping is done and I've even begun to organize & price the huge number of items I'm selling. The wild rumpus is about to begin this Friday & Sat 11-4 at 930 12th St W in the Village of the Arts.

Before I rent the former Bonni Bakes building, I've moved my lifetime's collection of "stuff" into it, and will operate a "POP-UP SHOP" for  several weeks until everything is sold.

Because I maintained two kitchens for 12 years & love to collect kitchen gadgets, I'm sure I have something you want. From the

practical to the collectible, including utensil holders, crockery, knives, wine chillers, snail shells, popcorn popper, salad bowls, serving spoons, whisks, food grinders, lemon squeezers, 

stoneware, pitchers, glasses (including great acrylic margarita glasses for 50 cents each), a charming dessert set of 

4 plates & cake stand, vases, framed pictures, hand blown glass, decanters, St Andrews Golf Club (NY) memorabilia, etc.

My collection of Spanish dishes & cazuelas, brought back from Minorca, are unpacked & available. Lots of unique pieces, including an espresso coffee set.

There's antique furniture ranging from an elegant birds-eye maple lady's desk to a little child's desk w/top that opens. Still many containers to unpack, so new things will keep appearing until it's all gone in the next few weeks.

Natuzzi Cream Colored Leather Sofa

In order to make room for my 8' oak dining table & chairs in the TreeHouse, I have to sell my Natuzzi leather sofa, the most comfortable piece of furniture I've ever slept on. All things are in good condition & at great prices. Cash or local check only.


Somehow, I'm going to make time to bake. Several people have asked me to make the RAISIN CINNAMON SWIRL BREAD that I did a few weeks ago. Since I only wound up with half a loaf for myself, I want some too. $5/loaf

Last week's "Taste Testers" tried my experimental Prune Danish. Based on their positive feedback, this weekend I'm going to make JEWISH CHEESE DANISH  $2.50/each

I'm compelled to take advantage of the beautiful fresh blueberries in season, so I'm making my moist, melt-in-your-mouth BLUEBERRY SCONES  $2.50/each

             Order by 5pm Wed for pick-up Fri or Sat
                            all items in limited supply

TO PLACE AN ORDER call me at (941) 746-6647   or

 email  by 5 pm WEDNESDAY 

 Pay by cash or local check made out to Bonni Brown


 in The Village of the Arts  

at former BONNI BAKES building 930 12 St W

FRIDAY or SATURDAY from 11 - 4  

 Hugs from my kitchen,

 P.S.  My building at 930 12th St W is available 

for rent as a gallery, food establishment or home 

business. Call to make an appointment for a tour.

                                      (941) 746-6647