Friday, May 30, 2014

Indoor Picnic at Book Club

 

 

 

Once again, we enjoyed a delicious meal at book club and were treated to an indoor picnic, complete with a table set with colorful paper plates and plastic cups. The meal started with the most delicious soup made with a flavorful coconut broth and filled with shrimp, corn, avocado and cilantro. This was followed by a skewer of chicken and vegetables, straight from the grill and served with a salad of watermelon, feta, cucumbers and a balsamic dressing. Also served was the most amazing and fluffy rice with coconut flavor and sprinkled almonds. Dessert was a blueberry cobbler, accompanied by ice cream. It was the perfect, light summertime meal.

 

 

The book was an interesting read, with mixed reviews from our group. Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (The Blogess) is a memoir of her life and stories that seem too crazy to be true. Some of us thought it was laugh out loud funny, while others couldn't really feel a connection. That is the wonderful thing about our discussions around the table, during our book club. We may not always agree, but we learn from each other during the lively discussion, because our opinions and life experiences are very different. I always learn something new from these friends and their amazing honesty and openness.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Updating Tired Landscape

 

 

 

When I try to recall how long we have lived in our home, it always gives me a bit of a shock to realize that it has now been twenty years. What that means, is there are many things that need updating, and our landscape near the front sidewalk was one thing we needed to tackle as summer began. The reason was twofold; bushes were overgrown and we really never liked their look in all the time we have been here. Also as empty nesters, we need to start thinking about curb appeal, as the time we think about selling and moving on approaches.

 

 

Because we are not crazy about back breaking work, we did hire someone to remove the overgrown boxwood scrubs. That was the best decision ever, since I think it took the workers less than an hour to do everything including cleanup and the price was reasonable. Then, my husband and I worked together to pick out some low profile scrubs the easy way - he sent photos from the garden center, with his iPhone, for my approval! My husband planted the scrubs and added the landscaping rocks and I planted the flowers (vinca) and spread new wood chips in the area. I can't remember the last time we worked on a landscaping job together, but we defiantly had some good teamwork.

I think we achieved our goal of curb appeal by opening up the area with low profile scrubs, color from the flowers and interest from the landscaping rocks.

Happy Thursday!

 

{Linking with these friends}


A Stroll Thru Life

My 1929 Charmer

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Serenity Now

Between Naps on the Porch

The Dedicated House

Cozy Little House

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

Elizabeth and Co.


 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Last Tango in Halifax

 

 

 

Too much caffeine, along with the resultant insomnia and you will find me searching for something to watch on Netflix in the early morning hours. I always search the BBC shows, because there is usually something I will enjoy and there are usually only one or two seasons to catch up on. My friend had been telling me about her new favorite show; Last Tango in Halifax and I was happy to see that the first season had finally landed on Netflix.

This show lived up to its recommendation, as I quickly watched all six episodes in a row. It is the story of Alan and Celia, their story of love lost for 60 years and found again on Facebook and each family's reaction to this surprise romance. The acting and the writing is so beautifully done and the scenes of the English countryside are truly breathtaking to see. If you enjoy unique characters, intelligent dialogue and family drama with a definite twist, you would enjoy this show.

And the best thing, is that the new season will be shown in America on PBS starting on June 29th. I'm so glad my insomnia led me to this wonderful show.

Happy Wednesday!

 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Best Kind of Day

 

 

 

A day spent at the pool is the best kind of day. Especially when it is the first time back after the winter we had and when you can only dream of being there. And, especially when the person in the lounge chair next to you is your daughter.

I was very happy that Melissa was able to come home for Memorial Day weekend and even more happy that her work schedule will allow her to have weekends off this summer. She loves to go to the pool as much as I do, so I foresee many more days spent like this.

 

 

I had my book to read, an unlimited supply of cold iced tea from a passing waitress and for lunch, my favorite club sandwich served at a poolside table. I know how lucky I am to have such a lovely place to go to in the summer months and plan on taking full advantage of the warm sunny days. The pool was packed with people on the day we were there, but the atmosphere was fun; even celebratory, as we Michigan residents finally welcome the start of our summer. A day by the pool, beats a day shoveling snow, always!

Happy Tuesday!

 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Flags

 

 

 

On this glorious Memorial Day morning, the flags that I have placed around my home, help us remember the meaning of this holiday. A small flag placed in a pot of purple petunias takes a place of honor on the front porch, for all to see. Many of these flags will be waved by other Americans today at their hometown parades, up and down main streets, to honor the men and women of the military, both past and present.

 

In addition, up and down my street and on streets all across America, the flag will proudly wave on many homes, beautiful against the blue sky. By flying the flag, we remember our grandfathers and fathers who served in the military, doing their part to keep America free.

 

 

The stars and stripes will always stand for freedom and the brave Americans who unselfishly made so many sacrifices for all of us. We keep them in our prayers today and fly the flag today, in their honor.

Happy Memorial Day!

 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Sparkling Raspberry Margarita (Skinny Version)

 

 

 

This nice weather and the start of Memorial Day Weekend has me in the mood for some patio time and that includes a fun and refreshing cocktail, that I can easily put together all summer long. My go to cocktail last summer was a Skinny Citrus Margarita, but I wanted to find a new flavor that would be easy to prepare, refreshing and most important to me, low carb, but still delicious.

 

 

I looked to see what I had on hand and grabbed a bottle of tequila, some triple sec and the secret ingredient to making any drink skinny - club soda. My raspberries in my fridge were a little soft, but perfect to make a quick purée for this drink. (When making purée for one cocktail, I use my mini food processor instead of dragging out my blender - it works like a charm!)

This summer inspired, skinny margarita is so delicious and the raspberry flavor is wonderful. I did not add any sweetener, because I prefer the flavor of the fruit to provide the sweetness, but you could add a splash of agave nectar if you like. Summer cocktail season has arrived :-)


Sparkling Raspberry Margarita ( Skinny Version)


1/3 cup raspberries (puréed)

1 ounce tequila

1/2 ounce triple sec

1 ounce lime juice

1/2 cup club soda

Splash agave nectar if desired


Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, filled with ice and shake well to mix. Pour over ice and garnish with raspberries, if desired. Enjoy!

 

Linking with these friends

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm

This Gal Cooks

Mom's Test Kitchen

Between Naps on the Porch

Savvy Southern Style

Jennifer Rizzo

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Planting Happiness

 

 

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After the long cold winter we experienced, I still can hardly believe that flower planting season is upon us. This weekend is my traditional time for getting my yard in summer shape. I look forward to getting my hands in the dirt and making things pretty again. The sun is going to be in abundance over the next few days, so it will be the perfect weather to just be outside. There is a lot of hard, back breaking prep work to do, as well as the fun planting part, but it is a job that makes me happy and any aches and pains at the end of the day, are well worth it.

 

 

And, I get to go to one of my favorite places - the greenhouse. It is definitely my happy place and there is a smile on my face, as I wander the aisles and rows of pretty plants and flowers. I love to fill my cart with the favorite annuals that I plant each year, as well as a few new plants to fill in my perennial garden. There is no rushing this process and I love to read the tags and discover a plant or variety I have never heard of.

My list includes lots of classic red geraniums and pretty petunias for flower pots, along with mexican heather for filler. We were not able to purchase impatiens here in Michigan for a few years, due to disease, so I starting buying vinca for my flower beds and learned to love their hardiness. I also will be buying some black eyed susan to replace a patch near my front porch that didn't survive the winter.

You will find me this weekend in my yard and in my flower garden, doing what I love and what I dreamed about all throughout the winter months - planting happiness :-)

Happy Thursday!

 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Making Flavored Water

 

 

One of my Mother's Day presents and something I had wanted for a while, was a water infuser. I always drink a lot more water in the warmer months and when I saw one of these, loved the idea of making my own flavored water. This is a great way to add extra nutrients to water, make it healthy and the taste is delicious too. The water infuser that I am using can be found on Amazon here, but there are many varieties available, including water pitchers.

 

 

So far, I have made and enjoyed both strawberry and cucumber flavored water. There are many other flavors I want to make including, lemon - lime, raspberry, watermelon and cucumber mint. The possibilities are endless. To use this infuser, simply chop one or two pieces of fruit or vegetables into small pieces and place in the infuser basket. Fill the infuser with water and place in fridge overnight. Shake gently and enjoy your flavored water. I'll definately be using a lot less water bottles this summer :-)

Happy Wednesday!

 

{Linking with these friends}


A Stroll Thru Life

My 1929 Charmer

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Serenity Now

Between Naps on the Porch

The Dedicated House

Cozy Little House

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, May 19, 2014

Lemon Chicken with Spinach - Pinterest Success {30}

 

 

 

Last week I tried a new recipe that I recently pinned from a blogging friend and have found a delicious and simple go to recipe for the summer. It is healthy and looks so appetizing, with the vibrant color of the cooked spinach and is bursting with bright, lemon flavor. While I prepared this for a week day dinner, I think this would also be a lovely dish for company, served on a pretty platter. I also found the first corn on the cob of the season, at the grocery store that day and it was the perfect accompaniment.

The original pin and recipe can be found here, but I did make a change or two. First, when the chicken was almost done, I squeezed 1/2 a lemon over the top. Then, to deglaze the pan, I used about 1/2 cup of good white wine in addition to the lemon juice ( and had a glass while cooking too!). I also used the red pepper flakes, suggested in the recipe and it gave a great spicy kick to compliment the lemon flavor.

I am looking forward to bright, fresh flavors, like this dish, all summer long :-)

Happy Monday!

 

Linking with these friends

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm

This Gal Cooks

Mom's Test Kitchen

Between Naps on the Porch

Savvy Southern Style

Jennifer Rizzo

 

Friday, May 16, 2014

While I'm Waiting

 

 

The rainy days, one after another, for the past week, are getting me a little down. So, while I am waiting for sunny skies and warmer days, here are the things that are keeping me busy until I can finally get into my garden and do my summer planting next weekend (at least I hope!)

 

 

First, I braved the rain to see what might be blooming and I found that my sweet lily of the valley are looking so pretty. Soon, I will be able to gather a simple bouquet and enjoy their lovely scent. For some reason, this flower reminds me of my childhood and gathering bouquets of these for my mother. I didn't plant the ones I have, but inherited them when we bought our house and am so glad every spring, when they bloom. For many years when my girls were in parochial school, we also made a bouquet, during the month of May, for the blessed mother. So simple, but so sweet.

 

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Another way to spend the rainy days, is to spend a little time on Pinterest and dream of how I want my dining room update to look. I started a Dining Room Inspiration board to help me plan some of the details. I think the first photo is closest to what I will achieve, but am also drawn to the softness of the other looks. Right now, I am making some final decisions and placing an order for the chair fabric. To see my other inspiration pieces, you can read the blog post here.

Finally, what better way to spend a rainy day, than with a good book and a cup of tea in my favorite mug. For lack of a better book to read, I have been re-reading the last book in Diana Galbadon's Outlander series in anticipation of her new book - Written In My Own Heart's Blood. It will be published June 10th and it will be downloaded on my iPad as soon as it is available.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Call The Midwife - Season 3

 

 

 

The season finale of Call the Midwife on PBS airs this Sunday and from all the previews I have read it definitely will require a box of tissues at hand. This is a wonderful show and I must admit that I enjoy it as much, if not more than Downton Abbey. The characters are interesting and with the absence of Nurse Lee in a few episodes ( and maybe in future seasons?) the other nurses have been able to shine. And as always, the stories of the expectant mothers bring the drama and true heart to the series with their struggles in bringing new life into the poverty of London's East End.

The time period is also an interesting one. In 1959, it was a peaceful era; over 10 years removed from the war years and headed into the changes that the tumultuous 1960's would bring. The dresses are beautiful with their nipped in waists and full skirts and the music lends a romantic feel to the nurse's date nights.

I wonder sometimes why this series is not as popular as Downton Abbey and I think it doesn't have the melodrama and larger than life characters that sustain Downton. Call the Midwife is a quieter show, the stories are about women, with the men being secondary characters. It shows, through the miracle of childbirth, that it is the strength of women that hold the families together, along with the care and concern of the nurses at Nonnatus House.

Happy Thursday!

 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tea Cup Candles

 

 

 

The best gifts are those made by hand, with true thought of what the person you are giving it to really likes. My daughter Megan, surprised me with these homemade tea cup candles for my Mother's Day gift, incorporating two of my favorites; tea cups and candles. I have been lighting them to dispel some of the gloom from the rainy days we are experiencing lately and their soft glow and vanilla scent is wonderful. The best thing about making these yourself, is that you could use any variety of pretty tea cup and any scent of candle wax. I love that she used a larger tea cup, with a pretty handle, that I will enjoy using for tea, once the candle is gone.

 

Her instructions for making these pretty candles are as follows:

 

  • Clean out tea cups. Hot glue wicks to the center of the bottom of the cup. Use unopened chopsticks to hold wick upright.
 

 

  • Chop candles into smaller pieces. For 2 tea cup candles, 12 vanilla votive candles were used. Place in double boiler to melt wax.
 

 

  • Carefully pour melted wax into cups. The wax will set quickly, but any drips can be easily cleaned off cups when wax hardens.

 

 

  • Allow to set at least one hour, before removing chop sticks and trimming wick to 1/4 inch long.

 

Happy Wednesday!

 

{Linking with these friends}


A Stroll Thru Life

My 1929 Charmer

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Serenity Now

Between Naps on the Porch

The Dedicated House

Cozy Little House

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, May 13, 2014

Healthy Nutty Coleslaw - Pinterest Success {29}

 

 

 

I just love finding recipes that are a healthier version of a popular dish that you might find at every pot luck. This recipe is a low sugar and low sodium re mix of the ramen noodle coleslaw that is so yummy, but so unhealthy. All the good things are still included - the nutty sunflower seeds and the almond slices, crunchy celery and green onions, but the ramen noodles filled with sodium are missing. It is definitely the flavorful dressing that makes this coleslaw special and since I used light mayonnaise and Splenda, I lightened things up even more.

The pin for the recipe can be found here, and this was most definitely a Pinterest success and one I will be making often. Especially with cookout and picnic season right around the corner. This coleslaw will be perfect to make for impromptu summer dinners and would be good with all types of meats that you put on the grill; from simple burgers to chicken to pork tenderloin. I am so happy to have another heathy salad in my summer recipe repertoire.

Happy Tuesday!

 

Linking with these friends

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm

This Gal Cooks

Mom's Test Kitchen

Between Naps on the Porch

Savvy Southern Style

 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Busy Mother's Day

 

 

 

What a busy, but fun Mother's Day we had! We were up bright and early to get ready to go to mass and when my daughters are home that means a lot of blow dryers, straighteners and curling irons all going at once. My mornings are usually quiet, so all the activity is a fun change of pace.

 

 

After mass, we headed to our country club for a delicious brunch. Everything was beautifully presented and I was very happy to be seated next to a window, overlooking the golf course. I started with a mimosa and then filled my plate at the buffet with the breakfast selections offered, including a custom omelet that was so good. If I have the choice between breakfast or lunch items, at a brunch buffet, I always go for the breakfast choices. Eggs Benedict, blueberry pancakes, bacon and sausage, all found room on my plate. There was also a dessert table filled with all varieties of cakes, cheesecakes, cream puffs and my favorite of the day, a cake pop made with dark chocolate and covered in coconut :-)

 

 

We then headed to visit my own mother and finish the busy day by celebrating Mother's Day with my family, including my sister, brother and their families. The weather was gorgeous and sunny; almost summer like and it was definitely the perfect way to spend Mother's Day.

Happy Monday!

 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Dining Room Update - Inspiration

 

 

 

All in all, I like my dining room. I love my table and sideboard cabinet and have no desire to paint the wood finish, as is so fashionable now. The hardwood floors, crown molding and picture frame paneling are all perfect for the formal, yet relaxed look I want. The problem is that in all the years I have lived in this house, I have never pulled the look together and just used decor I already owned or added pieces here and there. It's time for an update and a refresh, just to make things a little more cohesive.

 

First, here is what is not staying. The glass shelf has always been a problem, because it is too deep and easy to bump into, as you move around the table. The boat picture, while pretty, is the wrong color. I am looking for warmer tones to accent the natural wood.

 

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Instead of the glass shelf, I want to solve the problem by using a narrow, picture frame ledge. I like the relaxed look of the frames leaning against the wall, instead of hanging them.

 

 

To replace the pastel toned picture, I want to use an oversized, somewhat rustic wall clock, similar to one of these inspiration pieces. I think any one of these would add a warmth and presence to the large wall visible from my foyer.

 

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Finally, I will recover my six dining room chairs using this neutral, floral fabric. You can get a glimpse of the neutral, striped fabric presently on the chairs in the first photo, but it is outdated and starting to fade. An update is definitely in order.

So, I'm looking to add warm tones, neutral pattern and a statement piece to pull everything together. Formal, yet with rustic pieces to make things relaxed. Almost, formal french country by definition. I have the inspiration, now comes the fun :-)

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

{Linking with these friends}


A Stroll Thru Life

My 1929 Charmer

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Serenity Now

Between Naps on the Porch

The Dedicated House

Cozy Little House

a bowl full of lemons

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

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