April 07, 2016


Michael Devine Ltd. strives to create beautiful products that are unique and always handmade. Using the best artisans in both the USA and France, every yard of fabric or piece of china is carefully crafted and made to order.

Splendor in the Grass

Under the old Willow Tree on a summer day is the perfect setting for a picnic.
There's a wonderful farm down the road from us in the country that's surrounded by an old orchard. This idyllic spot boosts not only a beautiful rippling pond but also a magnificent old weeping willow tree that was made to picnic under. After coveting this little oasis for years I finally approached the farmer and asked if we could have a little picnic under her willow tree. He quickly agreed and off we went. 

A relaxing setting for picnic.

I think simplicity is the name of the game with this type of picnic. I opted to use a vintage patchwork quilt to compliment the rural setting and blue willow china. Each guest received a tray to hold everything to make eating easier. 

Daisies made a great country style centerpiece for the afternoon. 
An assortment of easy food made it a snap to prepare. Classic picnic fare: fried chicken, biscuits and Alsatian potato salad were the components of the main course. A vintage wicker basket held the beverages steady and made a convenient container for the flowers.

Lunch is served. 
Dessert was a chocolate sheet cake that I made from my grandmother's recipe. It was given to her by her good friend and neighbor. I have updated it slightly to make it easier to follow. It is great for a crowd. 

A crowd pleaser chocolate sheet cake with chocolate nut frosting. 

Chocolate Sheet Cake
This recipe is made in a 11"x13" sheet cake pan. 
Serves 10-12

2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 stick butter
1/2 cup oil
4 tbsps cocoa
1 cup water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 400 and grease pan. Mix together sugar and flour in a large bowl and set aside. In a large saucepan combine butter, oil, cocoa and water and bring to a boil over medium heat and mix well. Pour this mixture over the flour and sugar. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into prepared pan and bake 20 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool.

Chocolate Nut Frosting
1 stick butter
4 tbsps cocoa
6 tbsps buttermilk
1 1lb box powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts 

Combine first three ingredients in a large sauce pan and bring to rolling boil and remove from heat. Add remaining ingredients and mix. Pour over cake and spread evenly. Serve on its own or with ice cream.

A bucolic farm scene made the landscape complete.