Friday, May 31, 2013

Wildflowers

 

There is no need to go far from my home to see the lovely wildflowers growing in the woods and along the paths. My home is on a wooded lot and these gorgeous Wild Phlox in all shades of purple and white bloom each year in mid to late May.

They bloom in abundance and fill the green of the woods with their vibrant color. There are plenty of blooms to pick for a bouquet, as well as to admire from afar.

The variation in colors is amazing. These lighter purple blossoms were found along my walking path.

There are sweet white blooms mixing with the shades of purple too.

As I was walking, I spotted these dainty yellow flowers and after some research, I think they might be a wildflower called Black Mustard. They are related to the mustard we all eat on our hotdogs.

These pretty white wildflowers were hiding in some brush at the edge of the path. I love the frilly centers and the delicate leaves. They may be Dewberry flowers, a common wildflower many think of as a weed. The leaves can be used to make tea.

Whether I am enjoying the sight of these wonderful wildflowers from my patio or as I am walking on the paths in my neighborhood, I know I am fortunate to have these gifts from nature right in my backyard.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Linking with Mockingbird Hill Cottage, Favorite Thing

 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thoughts for Thursday...gardening, books, etc.

 

 

  • The planting in my yard and garden is finally finished, for the most part. Everything looks so pretty and fresh and now I can enjoy all my hard work, as things grow and bloom. I'm sure I will just have to purchase a plant here and there that I see at the nursery or farmer's market, but that is not work; that's the fun of gardening.
  • My daughters planned and prepared dinner last night and it was delicious. Melissa went to the store and bought the groceries and Megan cooked, so they were a great team. We had Lasagna Roll Ups filled with healthy spinach and delicious ricotta cheese, caesar salad and fruit. While dinner was being prepared, I finished reading my book ( The Outside Boy ) for my book club. There are many advantages to older daughters and this is definitely one of them :-)
  • I mentioned that I was reading The Last Letter from Your Lover by JoJo Moyes and that I liked it so far. It ended up being one of my favorite books that I have read so far this year. The twists and turns the story takes make it hard to put down and it is reminiscent of the old movie, An Affair to Remember. When the story moves to present day, you wonder what direction the plot is taking, but it soon becomes clear that the past and present will collide. I definitely recommend this book.
  • I am going to an art fair this weekend and look forward to it. It is so fun to visit all the booths and see the creativity of the artists and what treasure I might buy. The weather is supposed to be iffy, with the chance of thunderstorms or rain every day, but hopefully there is a nice window for us to enjoy walking around.
  • June has always been my favorite month (my birthday month) and I plan to enjoy the start of summer and spend my time outside. Our pool is open and there will be many days spent relaxing with my daughters; the promise of a whole summer spread out before us.

Happy Thursday!

 

Linking with Ramblings of a Suburban Mom, Thursday Thoughts

 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal

 

 

This Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal (for one) was the perfect breakfast for me on a day I needed a little indulgence. I woke up to a gloomy, rainy day, which always puts me in the mood to bake something. The combination of the the flavors of banana bread and oatmeal sounded so delicious, when I saw this recipe and a serving for one was the perfect treat to brighten my morning.

The recipe was quick and easy to mix together and smells wonderful baking. Before I finished my first cup of coffee, the oatmeal was finished baking and ready for me to try. It really did taste like banana bread. As you can see, there is hardly any sugar in the recipe, and I even used Splenda, so it is perfect for me. There is plenty of natural sweetness from the added banana.

The silence of the morning, my favorite coffee with lots of cream and this indulgence, all made a gloomy morning seem a little brighter.

Happy Wednesday!

 

Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal (for one)

1/3 cup oatmeal

1/4 tsp. brown sugar (splenda)

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. baking powder

Pinch of salt

1/3 cup milk ( non fat )

1 mashed banana

1 egg white

1/4 tsp. vanilla


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a small oven proof dish.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the oats, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together milk, banana, egg white and vanilla.

Pour dry ingredients into wet and stir until combined. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until oatmeal is puffed and set.


Adapted from Food.com

 

{Linking with these friends}

Gooseberry Patch

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Savvy Southern Style


 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Two Rainy Day Projects

 
 
 

Memorial Day started with the promise of nice weather to finish my perennial plantings, but by the time I headed outside, the rain began to fall and continued the rest of the day. It seemed the perfect opportunity to try a couple of planned projects that were quick and as easy as can be.

First, I had pinned a project to my Pinterest gardening board here and was inspired to add this sweet garden marker to my lavender, so it wouldn't be mistaken for a weed during the clean up process. I loved the idea of using a sharpie marker instead of paint to write on the rock. I happen to have a lot of rocks in my garden from Lake Michigan, so I found one that was the perfect size and shape. It also needed to be smooth enough to write on and the sharpie maker was the perfect tool for the project. Simple and sweet in my garden.

Second, I needed a quick update to my front door for the summer, but wanted something different than the usual wreath. I found this lovely metal container at Michaels and filled in with natural looking green berries. It is a different look and I am happy with its impact from the street.

Two rainy day projects that make a pretty statement on my front door and in my garden. Our backyard barbecue may have been rained out, but it still was a creative and productive day.

Happy Tuesday!

 

{Linking with these friends}

Lil Luna

Keep Calm and Carry On and Beautiful Mess

A Stroll Thru Life

House of Rose

Southern Lovely

Diana Rambles

Somewhat Simple

Your Home Based Mom

Six Sisters Stuff

Tutus and Tea Parties

Savvy Southern Style

Handy Man Crafty Woman

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Serenity Now

Funky Junk Interiors

I Heart Naptime

Sunny Simple Life

Between Naps on the Porch

Alderberry Hill

The Dedicated House

Cozy Little House

a bowl full of lemons

Kathe with an E

Life on Lakeshore Drive

Craftberry Bush

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Cedar Hill Ranch

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The Shabby Creek Cottage

Rooted in Thyme

The Girl Creative

The Tablescaper

Jennifer Rizzo

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Stonegable

 

 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Stars and Stripes on Memorial Day

 

 

In the midst of a weekend filled with plants, flowers and wood chips, we made sure and filled our yard with some signs of the Memorial Day holiday. We placed some touches of red, white and blue to celebrate this great country of ours and to honor those who gave their lives for our freedom.

From a small flag resting in a pretty flower pot full of petunias...

... to the American flag that we proudly fly from our house, we recognize the meaning of the holiday.

 

As we spend time with friends and family this weekend, golfing, at the pool and having a backyard barbecue, the flag helps us remember those who proudly serve our country.

Happy Memorial Day!

 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Gardening Begins

 

source

The next few days are the time of year I look forward to more than any other. There will be a lot of hard work involved, but I will be outside in the sunshine and I will be content planting in the dirt of my garden. If you are a gardener, you are happiest when you are planning your garden, buying the flowers and finally putting them in the ground and watching them grow. I don't get tired of the weeding, the dead heading or the watering. I enjoy the quiet and the serenity of a flower garden in the morning and the thrill of seeing new blooms.

A greenhouse like the one I frequent, is a wonderful place to me. Sometimes I buy something and sometimes I just wander through the rows of annuals and perennials. I visualize what I could add to my garden. I see a new flower or plant and study the name and learn if it needs sun or shade. I search for a special plant I have seen in a photo, but don't know the name. I soak in the color and the beauty.

This is a glimpse inside my car's trunk and the start of my gardening plans for the season. I am filling in my perennial garden with pink coneflowers, blue clematis and lavender pincushion flowers. Over the next few days I will make more trips to the greenhouse for geraniums, vinca, salvia and petunias. If anyone is looking for me, I will be in my garden - In the garden my soul is sunshine :-)

Have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!

 

Linking with Mockingbird Hill Cottage, Favorite Thing

 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thoughts for Thursday...puppy, books, etc.

 

 

  • My sweet puppy got a haircut this week and the groomer always puts bows in her hair. She looks so cute, but they last about five minutes, before she finds a way to remove them. A shorter, summer haircut was really needed for the summer heat that has finally arrived. When I am outside, she loves it and will even sit in a chair for a few minutes until a squirrel or people walking on the path distract her and off she goes.
  • Megan sent me this wonderful photo last night after some storms rolled through our area. The light blue sky against the orange sunset is so lovely and peaceful. Heaven seems very close when you see something like this.
  • I just finished two books by the same author and I enjoyed them both. First, I read The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers and because I liked it so much, I found her first book, The Murderer's Daughters. Both were very well written and told from the point of view of several characters. I enjoy this writing style, because you are given a more complex story and well rounded characters. Now, I am reading The Last Letter From Your Lover by JoJo Moyes, which has been recommended by several other bloggers. So far it has peaked my interest and seems to be building to an interesting mystery about the past of the main character, who has amnesia.
  • It is graduation season and even though I thought we would not be receiving too many grad party invitations, we have already received five. It is time to stock up on graduation cards and start writing those checks :-)

Happy Thursday!

 

Linking with Ramblings of a Suburban Mom, Thursday Thoughts

 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Baked Brie with Pecans

 

For my Friday night Bunco group, the dish I decided to take was from a recipe I use often when I need a quick, yet delicious appetizer. I was given this recipe by my sister in law many years ago and it has become somewhat of a signature recipe for me. Most people really love it and by serving it with apple slices, there is even a healthy twist.

The pecan, Kahlua and brown sugar (I use Splenda brown sugar) mixture melts over the brie, as it bakes. The brie becomes slightly soft and creamy and the perfect consistency for dipping the apple slices. Another serving option, is to include pear slices with the apple. This makes a pretty presentation and really couldn't be easier. You can read more about my neighborhood Bunco group here and here.

 

Baked Brie with Pecans

1 brie cheese round (15 ounce)

1/2 cup chopped pecans

2 T Kahlua

2 T Brown Sugar (or Splenda brown sugar)

 

Remove rind from brie and place in small baking dish. Mix pecans, Kahlua and brown sugar. Spread on top of brie. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Serve with apple slices for dipping.

 

{Linking with these friends}

Gooseberry Patch

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Painting a Weathered Bench

 

 

It was a beautiful day on Saturday and perfect for one of the painting projects I needed to check off my list of outdoor clean up. It looks so inviting now - perfect for its shady spot in my yard.

Before painting, the wood on the bench was weathered, but still in excellent shape. I was not looking for perfect or glossy coverage, but an aged and somewhat weathered look. My technique to achieve this look was to use white exterior paint, thinned with water. I used a light touch and a pretty dry brush while painting the slats also. Full coverage is not the goal here.

As you can see the wood still can be seen in spots, but the whole bench is brighter and lighter and really stands out in my yard. By not going for perfect coverage, this technique is very forgiving and the whole painting job took me only fifteen minutes. That left me plenty of time to enjoy a glass of tea in this quiet spot.

My thoughts go out to Oklahoma today as they take stock and begin the recovery from the tornado. So many lives changed by the power of nature. And once again, the teachers show how they are unselfish heroes towards the children under their care.

 

{Linking with these friends}

Lil Luna

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Tutus and Tea Parties

Primp

Savvy Southern Style

Handy Man Crafty Woman

The Charm of Home

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Friday Night Bunco

 

My neighborhood Bunco met on Friday night for our last time this year, besides our annual couples Bunco in June and it was a wonderful night as always. There is a special bond in this group, because we have history (I will be in my 18th year) and there is a certain comfort in that. Each time we get together, there is a different flow to the night. Sometimes we start to play Bunco right away and sometimes we can't pull ourselves away from our conversations, so we can get started. This was one of those nights and we only managed to play one very slow round. But no one really cared - it is about getting together with friends and supporting each other in conversation and advise. Bunco is the excuse to get together - the connection to each other is what has kept us coming to play all these years.

Our hostess made these delicious pomegranate martinis to start the evening. They were made with pomegranate juice, grand mariner and a splash of champagne. So good, that I enjoyed most of it before I remembered to take a photo :-)

We each bring a dish, so our hostess doesn't have to do all the work. There is always a delicious variety of food.

Everyone went home with towel on this night. We fight over these towels when we roll a Bunco, but our hostess had enough for everyone. And, our rule is no hiding your towel. You must keep it on your shoulder, so it can be stolen throughout the evening as more Buncos (three of a kind) are rolled. Part of our history and our tradition, all done in laughter and fun.

Happy Monday!

 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Grey's Anatomy and a Glass of Wine

 

I knew that the Grey's Anatomy season finale would be good and I knew there would be some kind of heartbreak, because there always is. I was on the edge of my seat the whole show, wondering who would live and who would die. So, I sipped my wine, enjoyed the suspense and tried to process the shocking series of events unfolding on the screen.

On Grey's Anatomy, you always wait for the other shoe to drop. Even in the happiest moments, there is always that expectation that someone will suddenly die or decide to leave. The season 9 finale was no exception.

This is a television show that I am invested in. My friends and I used to get together on Sunday nights to watch Desperate Housewives and in its first season, Grey's followed right after. Soon, I looked forward to and enjoyed watching it more than Desperate Housewives. From Meredith and Derek's love story to George's death and all the medical drama in between, the great writing and characters always shine. It is one show I make a point to watch and always make sure to catch up with on line if I miss an episode.

And finally, here are my thoughts on the finale (spoilers coming). I loved when Derek and Christina looked at each other and said Meredith couldn't die because she is their person. I loved April telling Jackson her feelings. I loved that the baby's name is Bailey. And, all I can think about the final shot is - no, not the Chief. We will have to wait until fall to find out what happens. If you watched, let me know your thoughts :-)

Have a great weekend!

 

Linking with Mockingbird Hill Cottage, Favorite Thing

 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thoughts for Thursday...television, twitter, etc.

 

 

  • My daily walks are getting more interesting again, as things slowly begin to bloom. I try to take a new path every day to keep things from getting boring and I always try to be aware of my surroundings and notice what is new to see. This beautiful lilac bush started blooming yesterday and it was such a pretty sight next to the path. And, I could smell the lovely scent even before reached it.

  • A strange thing happened with my twitter account over this past weekend. When I tried to sign in, my account had been suspended and I was given the option to appeal the suspension. Well, I thought that was strange since the reasons given for suspension of an account were things like offensive language, harassing tweets, following and unfollowing excessively, etc. I knew I had not engaged in any of those things, since I mainly use the account to promote my blog posts. So, I sent an appeal and miraculously, yesterday, my account was back. No word on why it was suspended, so I will assume it was in error. Technology is so much fun to deal with :-)
  • There is a television show on PBS that I am hearing a lot of good things about and think I will give it a try on the next rainy day. Call the Midwife is set in the 1950's and follows the lives of a group of midwives in the east end of London. The first season is available on Netflix and the second season is currently airing on PBS with the current shows still available. If it is anything like my other PBS favorite Downton Abbey, I will love it.
  • Tonight is the season finale of Grey's Anatomy and I am really looking forward to seeIng what the writers have in store for us this time. You can always count on this show to provide an epic conclusion to the season with mayhem and even death of beloved characters possible. I will be ready to watch, with a glass of wine in hand.

Happy Thursday!

 

Linking with Ramblings of a Suburban Mom, Thursday Thoughts

 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Crock Pot Broccoli and Cheese Soup

 

 

Another cool day here and since it might be one of the last few days when soup sounds really good, I put together this yummy Broccoli and Cheese Soup, using my crockpot. The recipe I found was a little high in fat, so I reduced things any where I could, to make it healthier. Also, I was at Panera, getting a smoothie for my lunch and noticed they still had bread bowls available. I thought that would be a perfect way to serve this creamy, cheesy soup, so I came home with some that were already sliced and ready to use.

This was the perfect meal after a day spent working in the yard. I put out a few flowers in pots I had purchased from our parish's youth group Appalacian trip fundraiser, because it has been a little too chilly since Saturday. They are just a small start to my planting, but it is nice to see the color in the yard. I am trying to do a little clean up every day, to get ready for the big planting on Memorial weekend. Lots of work still to do, but I love it :-)

Happy Wednesday!

 

Crock Pot Broccoli and Cheese Soup {lower fat}

1/4 cup butter substitute

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 clove chopped garlic

1/4 cup flour

1 cup half and half

1 cup fat free milk

2 cups chicken stock

1/2 lb. chopped broccoli

1 cup shredded carrots

12 ounces low fat velvetta

salt and pepper to taste

 

Sauté onion and garlic in butter. Place mixture in crock pot and stir in flour. Add milk, half and half, chicken stock, broccoli, carrots and salt and pepper. Cook on high for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. After 4 hours, add cheese (cubed) and cook for 30 minutes on low. Stir well and serve in bread bowls.

 

{Linking with these friends}

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Paper Cut Out Candle Holder - Pinterest Success {20}

 

 

Megan surprised me with these pretty handmade candle holders for Mother's Day, and I was thrilled to receive them. They are just the prettiest things and when lit, the candle light shines through the heart with a sweet, soft glow. And, I love the addition of the twine bow on the glass.

The original pin with directions can be found here. You can use any glass jar or candle holder. These would look really sweet using mason jars too. The directions call for the use of an old book page, but Megan was able to find similar scrapbook paper that worked well for the size of the jar she used. These would be adorable for a wedding shower and Megan and I were already talking about making more for other occasions. We both thought a cut out snowflake would be really pretty for the winter.

Even though the days are longer and the sun shines brighter, I still light candles when dusk occurs each day. These will be a beautiful addition and because they were made with love by my daughter, they will warm my heart each time I use them :-)

Have a great day today!

 

{Linking with these friends}

Lil Luna

Keep Calm and Carry On and Beautiful Mess

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Diana Rambles

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Six Sisters Stuff

Tutus and Tea Parties

Primp

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