Friday, November 29, 2013

Jam Packed Days

 

 

Another Thanksgiving Day is over, the leftovers are in the refridgerator, and we will continue to pack as much fun into the weekend as we can. Having both girls home, makes for fun, but busy days. We plan on seeing Catching Fire later today and maybe braving the stores and doing a little shopping.

Our Black Friday tradition of going to Old Navy in the middle of the night to catch the opening of the store, did not happen last night, since they opened at 9:00. I barely have my dishes washed and company gone at that point. For us, the fun part, was the adventure of getting up in the middle of the night - it has now become like any other shopping day. We will just go today, on our own time. The sweaters and fuzzy socks will still be there and on sale :-)

We will enjoy as much family time as we can, the rest of the weekend. Melissa came home with a pile of laundry that needs to get done and the Christmas decorating needs to begin. All this will be accomplished to my favorite sound - my daughters laughing and talking together; happy to be home.

Enjoy your weekend!

 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Morning

 

 

On this Thanksgiving morning, I am the first one up and my house is quiet. My table is ready, the turkey is defrosted and my first cup of coffee is in my favorite mug. Both of my daughters are home, sleeping upstairs and with that, all is right with the world.

My husband and I will prepare the stuffing soon, as is our tradition. The girls will wander downstairs for a little parade watching and a breakfast casserole to tide us all over until dinner is served. Our family will arrive in the early afternoon and the day of football, laughter and good food will begin.

There is much to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

BBC Dramas on Netflix

 

 

In between my Thanksgiving preparations, I have taken some time to watch a couple BBC series on Netflix and have been enjoying them so much. First, I watched the first two seasons of Call The Midwife and I put it on par with Downton Abbey. It is a fascinating and moving period drama, set at the end of the 1950's in the east end of London. The clothes of the period, and the music immerse you in the story of a group of young midwives, the nuns at the convent and the destitute people they serve. The stories are uplifting, real and there is also a little bit of romance. The characters are wonderfully written; both regular characters and guests.

My favorite character, by far, is Chummy. In fact she steals the show, in my opinion. Her awkwardness and kind heart are beautifully acted and I was drawn to her character in every scene. Her romance with a police constable is very touching and unexpected.

When the series returns for its next season, I will be watching.

After Call the Midwife, I moved on to Land Girls. This is an older BBC series, but of the same style. It is set in the English countryside, during WWII and tells the story of the city girls who do their part for the war, by working on a farm. The farm is attached to a manor house, so with the lord and lady of the manor, there are class distinctions portrayed, similar to those in Downton Abbey. It is a wonderful view of English village life during the war and the sacrifices being made by the women left behind. Though no longer in production, there are 3 seasons available on Netflix.

If you are missing Downton Abbey, both of these series are worth watching.

Busy day today for me, including an anniversary breakfast with my husband - hope yours is great!

 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Butternut Squash Spinach Lasagna Rollups

 

 

The key to successful entertaining is being able to prepare as much in advance as possible, so when your guests arrive, you are relaxed, calm and able to greet them without being trapped in the kitchen. When searching for an interesting main dish for my book club, I thought this recipe from my favorite site for delicious, healthy food (Skinnytaste) would be a perfect choice for a meal to serve twelve, in late November. It fit all my criteria; I could prepare it in advance, it would be easy to pop in the oven and serve and the butternut squash was a great seasonal ingredient.

My book club friends raved about this dish and I have to agree - it was delicious. The butternut squash that topped the lasagna rolls, with the addition of shallots, garlic and parmesan cheese had a wonderful rich flavor. I will be honest - this was a time consuming dish, but very worth the effort for any special occasion. And, you will receive compliments, as I did, for a dish your company will eat with pleasure - one of the joys of entertaining in your home.

Happy Tuesday!

 

{Linking with these friends}

Gooseberry Patch

Sunny Simple Life (From The Farm)

Rattlebridge Farm

This Gal Cooks

Mom's Test Kitchen

Made From Pinterest

Lil Luna

Made From Pinterest

A Stroll Thru Life

House of Rose

Diana Rambles

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Serenity Now

Funky Junk Interiors

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

Live Laugh Rowe

A Delightsome Life

Cedar Hill Ranch

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

The Tablescaper

Jennifer Rizzo

DIY by Design

Common Ground

Coastal Charm

Stonegable

Monday, November 25, 2013

Cranberry Almond Spinach Salad

 

 

For the past few Thanksgiving celebrations, I have made this wonderful spinach salad and just last week, I made in for my book club - who loved it and of course the biggest compliment to a cook - asked for the recipe. It would be a great last minute addition to your Thanksgiving menu preparations. What I love about this salad, is that there is very little prep work involved (no chopping) and who doesn't love the thought of that, when you are cooking up a storm for your Thanksgiving meal. The flavors go really well with either turkey or chicken too.

Cranberry Almond Spinach Salad

Makes 12 servings

1 T Butter

3/4 cup sliced almonds

1 pound spinach, torn in pieces

1 cup dried cranberries

2 T toasted sesame seeds

1 T poppy seeds

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp minced onions

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1. In a medium sauté pan, melt butter over medium heat. Cook and stir almonds in butter until lightly toasted. Let cool. This may be done in advance and you can store almonds in covered container.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, onion, paprika, vinegars and oil. This can also be made in advance and stored in the refridgerator.

3. Toss dressing with spinach, almonds and cranberries just before serving.

 

{Linking with these friends}


Savvy Southern Style

Jennifer Rizzo

Stonegable


Between Naps on the Porch

Gooseberry Patch

Sunny Simple Life (From The Farm)

Rattlebridge Farm

This Gal Cooks

Mom's Test Kitchen

Made From Pinterest

 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Hosting Book Club

 

 

I was the hostess for our November book club, held last night and it was a really fun evening. This cute photo captures the night well and makes me happy, because the laughter and fellowship of the evening is evident in this one candid spapshot. We laughed a lot and sometimes it got extremely loud - we definitely had a lot to say, both about the book and about everything else :-)

I am lucky to be part of this wonderful group of women who are so appreciative and complimentary when you are the hostess. We love to spoil each other and look forward to each and every time we meet. My dinner menu included Butternut Squash Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups and a Cranberry Almond Spinach Salad. Of course, we also enjoyed some good wine, as we sat around the table together.

After dinner, it was time to discuss the book ( Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda) and though we don't always agree, we always have respect for the differing opinions. It is interesting how the discussions can take on a life of their own - sometimes strictly about the book and sometimes going in an all together different direction. It is fun to see where the discussion will lead us.

Being the hostess can be a lot of work, but it is fun and rewarding making sure all the details of the evening are perfect for your friends. It is most definately a labor of love :-)

The recipes for the food I served will be coming in future blog posts - Happy Friday and have a wonderful weekend!

 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

No Bake Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

 

 

When I was looking for a dessert, with a fall flair, to serve to my book club, I found this recipe for No Bake Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes that looked both easy to put together and delicious. I also knew I had these pretty individual dishes that would be perfect to serve it in. They are striking with the different patterns and make a really pretty presentation. You could also use clear plastic cups, and that would be pretty too.

This recipe could not have been faster to put together. You layer the graham cracker crust on the bottom and then top it with the cheesecake filling mixture. Before serving, put on a pretty dollop of whipped cream. This would be a fantastic, make ahead dessert for your Thanksgiving table.

Happy Thursday!

 

{Linking with these friends}


Savvy Southern Style

Jennifer Rizzo

Stonegable


Between Naps on the Porch

Gooseberry Patch

Sunny Simple Life (From The Farm)

Rattlebridge Farm

This Gal Cooks

Mom's Test Kitchen

Made From Pinterest

A Stroll Thru Life ( Holiday Baking)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Kitchen Update Journal - Reveal

 

 


It is amazing what paint, light fixtures, window treatments and a fresh perspective on decor can help accomplish when doing a kitchen update. The basics were there - but the changes brought to life the cabinets, countertops and flooring. To see my inspiration post click here. There were a few different decisions along the way, but I think I achieved the look I was going for :-)

The pendant light over the island changed the look of the kitchen in a big way. I simply had the recessed light converted by an electrician. All new lighting is from Home Depot.

The new paint color (Banana Cream by Behr) is a true, soft yellow and really adds warmth. This new lighting over the table is an island light, that I used in a unique way.

You can spot my inspiration piece hanging over my desk.

I solved my sun problem with a fabric roller shade over the sliding door. It can be lowered as needed and I love the fabric and scalloped edge.

Some details include, white pottery, bold yellow accents and brushed silver hardware.

Some new, and some old wall accents like a mirror, plate rack and chalkboard add to the look and really pop against the new paint color.

 

Thanks for coming along and following my Kitchen Update Journal - I am happy to be done, just in time for the holidays.

Happy Wednesday!

 

 

{Linking with these friends}

Lil Luna

Made From Pinterest

A Stroll Thru Life

House of Rose

Diana Rambles

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Serenity Now

Funky Junk Interiors

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

Live Laugh Rowe

A Delightsome Life

Cedar Hill Ranch

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

The Tablescaper

Jennifer Rizzo

DIY by Design

Common Ground

Coastal Charm

Stonegable

 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Planting Fall Bulbs and Seeds

 

 

Sunday was a crazy, windy, rainy day here in the Midwest, but I was out planting bulbs and wildflower seeds in my raincoat. I'm sure my neighbors thought I was crazy, but it wasn't cold and I wanted to check it off my fall list :-)

Digging in the dirt is always therapeutic, and planting bulbs is no exception. You are putting an ugly bulb in the dirt, with cold weather ahead of you, for months. It is your hope for the future, that come spring, you will have beautiful flowers. It takes a little belief and more than a little patience to wait all winter for those bulbs to bloom. But, so worth it.

I planted hyacinth bulbs this fall, to add to my many blooming tulips. They make such a lovely statement, when planted in a small bunch here and there.

Also, my new experiment, was the fall planting of wildflower seeds at the back of my perennial garden, along the edge of the woods. I followed the directions, from The Vermont Wildflower Farm and waited for the killing frost, cleared an area of all weeds, tilled the ground and scattered the seeds. Their instructions say the seeds will lie dormant now and germinate in the spring. This is where the hope comes in!

I was able to pick a mix, native to my region and I can't wait to see what pretty flowers I have, come summer. I also picked a low height variety, so they will grow to one foot high. If I have flowers to cut, I will be a happy gardener.

Happy Tuesday!

 

Linking with Savvy Southern Style

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bunco and Girl's Night

 

 

It was a fun weekend, with my neighborhood Bunco group meeting Friday night and an impromptu girl's night on Saturday. My Bunco group was unable to meet in September or October, so it was really nice to finally get together with my neighbors and catch up on everything going on with their lives. I usually enjoy a glass or two of Chardonnay on Bunco nights, but our hostess made the most wonderful spiced cider, with red wine, that I couldn't resist. She was kind enough to give me the recipe to share.

 

Spiced Cider with Red Wine

2 quarts apple cider

1 1/2 quarts cranberry juice

1/4 cup brown sugar

4 cinnamon sticks

1 1/2 tsp whole cloves

Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer. Add 3/4 bottle of red wine when ready to serve. Enjoy!

 

Saturday night I went to a friend's lovely and welcoming home for a fun night of wine and conversation. She had a delicious presentation of appetizers and snacks for us to enjoy. It was one of those perfect, impromptu evenings where there is a lot of laughter and the ease good friends, seated comfortably around the kitchen table.

A great way to recharge, relax and get ready for the busy week to come where I am hosting my book club and also getting ready for Thanksgiving :-)

Happy Monday!

 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Pottery Barn Inspiration

 

 

My mail box is overflowing with catalogs lately, and my bedside table is piled high with pretty inspiration that I can't help but look through and dream about. It is too early for Christmas decorating, but not too early for some new ideas to form. The Pottery Barn catalog is one of my favorites for holiday inspiration.

I was especially drawn to the ornaments with the natural looking elements and a bit of sparkle.

Simple glass balls in red, green and gold, have always been a favorite of mine, but what inspired me about these, was that they are hanging by twine. l love the contrast of the shiny glass and the rustic twine.

I think a big, red burlap bow is going to find its way into my Christmas decor this year - it makes such a pretty, simple statement against the white fence.

Ski Lodge Christmas

Classic Christmas

Nostalgia Christmas

 

The themed trees are such a delight to look at and inspire towards. I love my tree with all its memories and keepsake ornaments, but there is something beautiful and sigh inducing about a professionally decorated, magazine worthy, themed tree.

How many days until Christmas decorating begins?

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

All photos from Pottery Barn

 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thoughts for Thursday...diabetes, reality tv, etc.

 

 

I picked up my first flowers of the fall season when I was at the grocery store the other day. It is sad to no longer be able to just go out in the yard, woods or garden and find something pretty, but I love having an inexpensive bouquet to brighten my day. There are such pretty seasonal choices to choose from and fresh flowers are my indulgence :-)

My book club meets next week and I am hosting! There is a lot to do, but the timing is great, because I am getting my home ready for Thanksgiving at the same time. I did finish the book choice for the month and thought it was a fascinating read. Secret Daughter: A Novel by Shilpi Somaya Gowda tells the story of the adoption of Asha, a Indian baby, to an American couple - an Indian father and a white mother. In alternating chapters, the author traces Asha's life in America - her struggle with being a minority, despite her seemingly charmed life, as the privileged daughter of doctors and the life of her birth parents, living in the slums of Mumbai. Her journey, as a college student, to India for the first time, shows the traditions, sights and sounds of modern day India, through her eyes.

 

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is back and finally a housewives series I am interested in again. I really think this is still the best one and truest to the intention of showing off the ladie's glamorous lives. From what I have read, there is much drama to come and the friendships change throughout the season. Bring on the drama, with a little class :-)

 

My reveal of my kitchen update should be up next week, finally. We are hanging the window treatment this weekend and that is the final piece. I love it and can't wait to show it all.

 

My diabetes is something I live with and don't talk about too much, but boy did I have a bad day yesterday. For no apparent reason, my blood sugar went low and even though I treated it and it went back to normal, I experienced something called a hypo hangover. That pretty much had me down for the count for the rest of the day and my to do list didn't get checked off. I'll be busy catching up today - no time to be sick right now.

 

Happy Thursday!

 

Linking with Ramblings of a Suburban Mom, Thursday Thoughts

 

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