Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thoughts for Thursday...crazy weather, downton abbey, etc.

 

Things I am thinking about today...

We are having some seriously crazy weather this week. Snow, freezing rain, pouring rain and temperatures in the fifties. Now, it is going to go back into the teens for the rest of the week and the weekend. Climate change? I even opened the window in my bedroom yesterday, to let some fresh air in. Cooper loved it :-)

For me, Downton Abbey was all about Maggie Smith this week. She deserves all the accolades she receives, for her acting. When she walked across the foyer, with her back to the camera and you could feel her grief, it was breathtaking. This is an episode that stayed with me.

Our plans this weekend include a Super Bowl party and I am looking forward to it, so much. We have been doing a little bit of hibernating this month and it will be nice to see some friends. I am searching for some healthy (sort of) appetizer recipes, but want something that tastes good too. That is always the trade off, but you should be able to have both.

I enjoyed the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills this week. It was nice to see them enjoy a dinner together, with a wide range of topics discussed. That is what I like to see - it seems real and relatable, without the fake drama.

Did you know that the Bachelor's sister is a blogger? It is kind of interesting to read her point of view about the show. You can find her blog here.

Happy Thursday!

 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Valentine's Bunting

 

I saw these pretty Valentine's buttons at Michael's, when I was searching for inspiration to make bunting with some leftover burlap. The best Valentines's Day decorations have a vintage feel and I loved the look of these buttons, paired with the natural feel of the burlap. Each one has a unique design; some heart shaped, some flower shaped and some simple circles.

This was easy to make, by using a template from the Internet, for a small bunting. I simply used it as a pattern on the burlap and then glued seven buttons on the four fabric pieces. Make sure to arrange the buttons first, in the pattern you like, because once they are glued on the burlap, they are there for good.

Measure some twine to the desired length. Attach burlap pieces by folding over and gluing the top edge around the twine. I will be hanging this sweet bunting on a mirror in my great room when I decorate for Valentine's Day, later this week.

Happy Wednesday!

 

{Linking with these friends}

Stonegable

Our Fifth House

Tutus and Tea Parties

Primp

Savvy Southern Style

Handy Man Crafty Woman

The DIY Dreamer

The Charm of Home

Simple Home Life

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

Salt Tree

The Dedicated House

Cozy Little House

a bowl full of lemons

Love and Laundry

Kathe with an E

Life on Lakeshore Drive

My Repurposed Life

Craftberry Bush

Live Laugh Rowe

A Delightsome Life

Cedar Hill Ranch

Skip To My Lou

The Shabby Creek Cottage

Rooted in Thyme

The Girl Creative

The Thrifty Groove

The Tablescaper

Jennifer Rizzo

DIY by Design

Full Circle Creations

Common Ground

Coastal Charm

 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Freezing Rain

 

We experienced a quick change in the temperature yesterday morning, as the snow changed to freezing rain and coated the branches of the trees. It was a fleeting beauty, with fog in the background, creating a softness all around.

There was a moment in time, between the snowfall and the rain, in which I was able to capture the ice forming on the branches.

Everything had a silver hue; not the crystal beauty when the sun comes out after an ice storm, but quieter. There was a weight on the branches, bringing everything close.

I love the constant changes when I look out the window in the morning, during the winter months. Whether it is the beauty of fresh snow or the surprise of the woods coated in ice, there is always something new to appreciate. There may not be flowers or leaves, but there is beauty, nonetheless.

Enjoy your day today!

 

Linking with Mockingbird Hill Cottage, Favorite Things and No Winter Whining

 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Heart Cookies - Pinterest Success #13

 

When I saw this idea on Pinterest, it was one of those moments when you think, why did I not think of this before? How genius, and how simple, to replace the kisses, I would normally use for these Peanut Blossom cookies, with Dove chocolate hearts. Now, they are perfect for Valentine's Day, but still have the same great peanut butter and chocolate flavor. I think they look really pretty and festive too. The original pin can be found here, and the recipe I used is included below.

We had a really nice weekend. Melissa came home and Megan joined us for dinner on Saturday night. I sent Melissa back to school with most of these cookies, to share with her roommate and friends. I have always loved baking something special like this to send with my college students - it is like a little piece of home, when they are studying in their room.

Happy Monday!

 

Peanut Blossoms

1 3/4 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter flavored crisco

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 egg

2 T Milk

1 tsp vanilla

36 dove chocolate hearts

Cream together crisco and sugars. Mix in peanut butter. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla. Add combined dry ingredients and mix well. Shape into ball, roll in sugar and place on baking sheet, sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 - 12 minutes. Top each cookie with a candy heart immediately after baking. Press down firmly so cookie cracks around the edge.

 

{Linking with these friends}

Gooseberry Patch

Serenity Now

live laugh rowe

Primp

Savvy Southern Style

I Love You More Than Carrots

Keep Calm and Carry On

Rattlebridge Farm

This Gal Cooks

Back For Seconds

Mom's Test Kitchen

Semi Homemade Mom

Simple Living and Eating

Barns and Noodles


 

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Benefits of Walking

 

My favorite part of my day is my daily walk with Cooper and I don't let the cold weather stop me. If the temperature is at least in the teens, I bundle up, with my boots, earmuffs, scarf and warm layers to face the elements. If you have made a commitment to exercise this year, walking is the perfect way to start.

When I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, I knew that exercise would play a big role in taking back my health. I don't enjoy the gym, so that wasn't the answer for me. My doctor recommended walking for 30 minutes, at least 5 days per week. I have always enjoyed walking, but never consistently, so this was a change and a commitment. The more I walked, the benefits became clear. I felt healthy, my mood became lighter after walking and I slowly and steadily began to lose weight.

To control my blood sugar at night, it is recommended that I walk later in the day, so I usually walk in the late afternoon. Cooper knows when it is time to go and she is my motivator and keeps me walking at a brisk pace with her boundless energy.

After two years of consistent walking, along with healthy eating, I have lost 30 pounds and have never felt healthier. I feel like I took my health back. Walking makes me happy - and that is a good thing :-)

To read other blog posts about my daily walks, go here.

Enjoy a healthy weekend!

 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thoughts for Thursday...pinterest, books, etc.

 

Things I am thinking about today...

I love trying new recipes and projects on Pinterest and one of my favorite places to show them off is at Saw It, Pinned It, Did It, every Thursday at Keep Calm and Carry On and Beautiful Mess. It is fun to see the pins, the success stories and even some failures. Yesterday, I tried this pin for Yogurt Covered Frozen Blueberries. Since there were no instructions on the pin, I figured it out as I went. I would call this a success in the taste (yummy), but a failure in the process. It is too time consuming to dip enough blueberries to make it worthwhile to me. Also, it was not easy to cover each blueberry with the yogurt, unless you used a really thick coat. I would call this a partial success :-)

I am looking forward to my book club tonight. We are reading Lottery by Patricia Wood and it is reminiscent of Forest Gump - where a sweet, cognitively impaired man makes his way in the world, after the death of the grandmother who cared for him and his amazing win of 12 million dollars, in the Washington State Lottery. There are good and kind people in his life, as well as evil and grasping. Our discussion should be interesting and a glass of wine, with good friends, sounds perfect.

Grey's Anatomy has always been one of my favorite television shows and I have been catching up with the last season, on Netflix. It had gotten a little off track in recent years, but I found that I liked last season's episodes a lot and am also enjoying the current season and how the characters are dealing with the plane crash. You can always count on this show for a spectacular season ending. And, I have always found the relationship between Derek and Meredith interesting and complex. Is anyone still watching Season 9?

Happy Thursday and stay warm!

 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Create Your Own Sunshine

 

source

When it is too cold to go outside, with below zero wind chill and the skies are a gloomy gray, you have to find ways to pick up your mood and create your own sunshine. For me, it is the little things in my day that make me happy and help get me through the winter months. Here are the little pieces of my day, that help me stay positive.

  • A cup of coffee with lots of cream, in the morning
  • My favorite mug
  • Fresh snow
  • Text messages from my daughters
  • My puppy sleeping nearby
  • A conversation with my husband
  • A fire in the fireplace
  • A cozy fleece and fuzzy socks
  • Finding a book I like, when I wasn't expecting it
  • Walking in the falling snow, bundled up from the cold
  • A cup of tea in the afternoon
  • Going out for breakfast with friends
  • Turning on the lamps at dusk
  • The scent of something baking in the kitchen
  • The glow of candles at night
  • The peacefulness of morning mass
  • Thoughts of spring
  • Fresh flowers from the grocery store

How do you create your own sunshine?

Happy Wednesday!

 

Linking with Mockingbird Hill Cottage, Favorite Thing, Art @ Home

 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Repurpose a Wreath

 

One day after the holidays, I spotted this wreath with berries, just sitting on the floor at T. J. Maxx. It was a sad remnant from Christmas, marked 90% off and just waiting for the right person to see its potential. It had some little wooden Santas on it, but it was the red and white berries that caught my eye. My white front door needed some color and this wreath was the perfect winter accent.

So, the wooden Santas were removed and stored away until next year. I found this cute heart, with a bird; perfect for Valentines Day. It was also 90% off, since it was a Christmas ornament. I hung the heart in the center of the wreath and for very little money, I have a beautiful, welcoming winter and Valentine's decoration, for my door. Sometimes, you have to take the time to rethink an item's purpose when you spot it at the store - it might end up being better than the original :-)

We had a great MLK day yesterday, that included a trip to take Melissa to lunch. We braved the frigid temperature of 8 degrees and enjoyed catching up with her about school, work and Pom. Today, it is going to be 4 degrees - winter is back with a vengeance.

Enjoy your Tuesday!

 

{Linking with these friends}

Stonegable

Tutus and Tea Parties

Primp

Savvy Southern Style

Handy Man Crafty Woman

The DIY Dreamer

The Charm of Home

Simple Home Life

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

Salt Tree

The Dedicated House

Cozy Little House

a bowl full of lemons

Love and Laundry

Kathe with an E

Life on Lakeshore Drive

My Repurposed Life

Craftberry Bush

Live Laugh Rowe

A Delightsome Life

Cedar Hill Ranch

Skip To My Lou

The Shabby Creek Cottage

Rooted in Thyme

The Girl Creative

The Thrifty Groove

The Tablescaper

Jennifer Rizzo

DIY by Design

Full Circle Creations

Common Ground

Coastal Charm

 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sugar Free Blueberry Coffee Cake

 

In January, on a cold, Sunday morning, the scent of a delicious coffee cake baking in the oven, is the perfect way to start the day. Since I am trying to get back on track by eating healthier, a sugar free, coffee cake recipe was the best choice. Also, blueberries are a wonderful and delicious fruit to use for baking in the winter. When fresh blueberries are too expensive or unavailable, frozen are a great alternative.

The Splenda sugar and brown sugar, made specifically for baking, work beautifully in this type of recipe. The taste and texture are still great, and the blueberries add even more natural sweetness. I was able to enjoy a regular size piece of cake, with my morning coffee and no resulting blood sugar spike. For diabetics or anyone looking to cut down on sugar, yet still enjoy a sweet treat in the morning, this is a recipe you will love.

Sugar Free Blueberry Coffee Cake Recipe

Batter

3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled

1 cup milk

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup Splenda sugar for baking

2 tsp baking powder

3 cups flour (I used equal parts white and whole wheat)

11/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (I used fresh)

Topping

1 Cup Splenda brown sugar

3/4 cup flour

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9x13 pan.

For batter - in a large bowl stir together the melted butter, milk, eggs, vanilla and sugar. Combine flour and baking soda; stir into wet ingredients and mix until just blended. Fold in blueberries. Spread evenly in prepared pan.

For topping - in a small bowl stir together brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Stir in softened butter with a fork until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over top of cake.

Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Enjoy your Monday!

 

{Linking with these friends}

Gooseberry Patch

Rattlebridge Farm

This Gal Cooks

Back For Seconds

Mom's Test Kitchen

Semi Homemade Mom

Simple Living and Eating

Barns and Noodles

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Walk in the Park

 

Just for a change of scenery, I took Cooper to a park that is fairly close to my house and has a pretty river that runs through it. Even though the snow has melted for the time being, and there is not much green to speak of, the river still looked pretty and we enjoyed walking along its banks.

There were plenty of friendly ducks for Cooper to notice. She doesn't bark at or try to bother them, but is enthralled by their quacking.

It was a sunny, but cold day and I love this photo of the rays of the sun breaking through the shadows.

We were able to get very near the water's edge in some areas and see the ducks up close and personal. The water looked clear, but cold, with traces of ice along the edges.

Cooper loved all the new sights and when I tried to take her photo, she was keeping her eyes on the ducks, rather than posing for the camera :-)

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Linking with No Winter Whining

 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thoughts for Thursday...nature, tea, reality tv, etc.

 

Things I am thinking about today...

  • This pretty deer decided to pay us a visit, early one morning. This is very close to the patio door, but we were able to get a photo through the screen. They do roam around through the woods and in the yard, but to see one this close, is a real treat. I love living so close to the woods and nature :-)
  • My new favorite way to have a cup of tea after I finish walking and come in from the cold, is with a splash of this Tazo Chai Latte and a little half and half. Melissa bought this at Target, left it for me to use and I love it. The directions say to mix it with equal parts milk, but that is way too many carbs for me. There are 17 carbs per 1/2 cup, so the little bit I use for flavor, along with the half and half, make the perfect, creamy cup of chai latte tea.
  • White flowers and winter greens are so pretty on my table this time of year. I have been stretching this pretty bouquet since Christmas, by pulling out anything that dies and changing the water a lot. Soon, I will be left with only the greens, but they will still look pretty in a pitcher on their own.
  • One comment about The Bachelor - so far, so boring. I guess I'm not a Sean fan. What am I missing?
  • One comment about The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills - Mauricio should not have been judging and badgering Brandi. The husbands should stay out of the drama.
Happy Thursday!

 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Yarn Wrapped Valentine's Tree - Pinterest Success #12


One of the projects I was looking forward to making for the holidays was a yarn wrapped Christmas tree. I decided at a certain point, that my decorations were complete and would just keep it in mind for next year.

As I was going through my Pinterest boards, looking for Valentine's inspiration, it occurred to me that I could change the tree on this pin, from a Christmas tree into a Valentine's tree. While at Michaels, I found some thick yarn in a pretty pink shade, as well as some felt flowers, in shades of red and some pretty patterned hearts. ( If desired, this project could be adapted, using items found at the dollar store, for a lower cost )

This project was very easy and I was able to complete it in less than an hour. The steps are as follows:

{Step 1 - place a small drop of glue at bottom of styrofoam tree form and attach beginning of yarn strand}. {Step 2 - start to wrap yarn tightly around tree form making sure to keep rows close together as possible}. {Step 3 - finish wrapping at the top and add drop of glue to hold yarn, as you cleanly finish the top of tree}. {Step 4 - add decorations, such as hearts and flowers, with glue or pins}. {Step 5 - tie an additional strand of yarn around the top of tree, if desired}.

The yarn gives it the natural feel, that I like, and I have just the spot in mind for this simple, yet sweet, Valentine's tree.

Happy Wednesday!

 

{Linking with these friends}

Stonegable

I Love You More Than Carrots

Keep Calm and Carry On

Tutus and Tea Parties

Savvy Southern Style

Handy Man Crafty Woman

The DIY Dreamer

The Charm of Home

Simple Home Life

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

Salt Tree

The Dedicated House

Cozy Little House

a bowl full of lemons

Love and Laundry

Kathe with an E

Life on Lakeshore Drive

Katherine's Corner

My Repurposed Life

Craftberry Bush

Live Laugh Rowe

A Delightsome Life

Cedar Hill Ranch

Skip To My Lou

The Shabby Creek Cottage

Rooted in Thyme

The Girl Creative

Debbiedoo's

The Thrifty Groove

The Tablescaper

Jennifer Rizzo

DIY by Design

Full Circle Creations

Common Ground

Coastal Charm

 

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