Friday, February 28, 2014

Cabin Fever

 

 

 

The last day in February and another day with below zero temperatures and snow in the forecast. This is when the cabin fever begins to set in. I don't mind being home, in fact, winter can be cozy, sitting in front of the fire with a hot drink or a glass of wine, while the elements rage outside. It's just that we have had too many of those days for it to be fun anymore. I at least need to be able to get out and walk my dog and there have been too many days this winter where that wasn't even possible. Too much ice and just too cold.

So what's a girl to do? Besides being extremely patient that in March we will see some temperatures that will finally melt our deep snow cover, there are a few things I can do to keep my cabin fever at bay.

First even though we still have snow in the forecast, my snowmen and let it snow decor will be put away today, for a more springlike feel. I made a trip to Homegoods recently, used a gift card I had from Christmas and bought some things to change my mantel decor. All the items that have been packed away since the fall will make a reappearance. I think of it as my regular decor and it just feels less cluttered.

Speaking of clutter, it is time to start moving out the clutter that has accumulated over the year. Lent starts next week and I will be doing the 40 bags in 40 days challenge again. After last year's challenge I know how this clears my home, as well as my mind.

Finally, if I can't be in the warm weather, I can still dream about it. I'll keep making my gardening plans, keep following my Detroit Tigers photos of palm trees at spring training and enjoy all the signs of spring in other blog posts. Your pictures of daffodils already blooming, give me hope that under all this snow, spring really does await.

Have a wonderful weekend.

 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Lately

 

 

 

Lately, my favorite breakfast has been something with fruit. When you are diabetic the natural sweetness of fruit can satisfy that craving for a treat. I replace syrup with fresh fruit on top of pancakes or waffles and it is a delicious and healthy start to my day. This morning I made an old favorite, Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal, that will warm me up on this cold, cold morning. This is a recipe I make when I have time, keep in my fridge and warm up in the mornings - it is so much better than instant oatmeal!

 

I have been reading the twitter feed for spring training at the Detroit Tigers camp in Florida and dreaming of warm weather. The grass is green, the sun is shining and the palm trees circle the field. A couple of years ago, we went to a spring training game, sat on the grass behind the outfield and just soaked up the sun. Perfection.

 

Lately, I have become a fan of herbal tea, especially the Sleepytime Tea K Cups I have started buying for my Keurig. Caffeine doesn't affect me too much late at night, so I've always been a late night tea drinker. This herbal tea actually relaxes me and helps me fall asleep.

 

My reading lately has been a little disappointing. There doesn't seem to be a good selection of books out right now, there is nothing new from my favorite authors and everything I've read lately has just been ok. I need a good book that will grab me and make me not want to put it down. Has anyone read anything amazing recently?

 


Lately, the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills has been hard to watch, with a mean girl's plot to shut out my favorite housewife, Lisa Vanderpump. She is what these type of shows should be about. I want to see her fabulous life, her fabulous home and her fabulous clothes. This show in particular needs a new cast. I want to see some fancy parties, gorgeous locations, real friendships and much less mean girl drama.

 

Happy Thursday!

 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hair Remedy

 

 

 

This winter's cold, with the constant dry heat coming out of the furnace vents, has really done a number on my hair. It's dry and filled with static, especially right after I wash and dry it. After begging my stylist for help at my last hair appointment, I discovered two products that have made a dramatic improvement for me.

First, my stylist recommended Aveda Dry Remedy Shampoo. It really makes a difference in the texture of my hair and the shine was back within the first week of use. There is no lather, because of its natural, no sulfate blend and that took some getting used to, but my hair was loving it. And, it has that Aveda scent of lavender and chamomile that I love.

The second step to less dry hair, has been to wash it every other day and use a dry shampoo to help give it volume on the second day. This is where I have found an inexpensive product (less than $5) works just as well. Suave Dry Shampoo is non drying, gives tremendous lift to the roots and sprays both light and invisible. The reviews for this product are great and probably the best review is that sometimes it is hard to find in stock at the drugstore.

As I get older, my hair has gotten dryer and this winter forced me to find a solution. These two products have made the difference and my hair is shiny and full of life once again.

Happy Wednesday!

 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Downton Abbey Thoughts

 

 

 

As the season four finale ended on Sunday evening, I was sad to think how long of a wait it would be until it was back on my television screen, but also happy with the way the story lines played out. There is much to look forward to and anticipate, as many plots were left open. This was a quieter season of Downton and I read many complaints in the on line recaps, saying that nothing much of importance happened. But, I think they are missing the point. Downton has always been a show of small happenings and daily life, all with a healthy dose of behind the scenes intrigue. It is about overheard conversations and secrets. And, how secrets are always found out in the end.

It is also a show about romance. Mary is the central figure and many complain that she is too arrogant and self centered. I see her as a women not willing to settle, as many did in that era. She is allowed her grief for the life she imagined with Matthew and in the finale we see her realize bringing Downton into prosperity rests on her shoulders. Who will be the right man to be her partner in this - Lord Gillingham or Charles Blake?

Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson are the heart of Downton and that was never shown more clearly than in the finale. Lord and Lady Grantham may be the head of the household, but Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson are the moral compass for so much of what happens both above and below the stairs. The ending showed a partnership and a bond that was touching, in its quiet strength.

Finally, the season gave us a glimpse into moments in time we would otherwise not have the privilege of seeing. It was truly facinating to see the pomp and circumstance of Rose's presentation at court. This was especially true, knowing how things played out for the royal family a short ten years later.

Downton Abbey for me is about the immersion into a world in the beautiful English countryside - the homes, clothes and traditions. I like to see what Daisy and Mrs. Patmore are preparing for dinner and the nuances of society at that time in history. The critics can hope for more drama, but for me, the daily life at Downton is my cup of tea :-)

 

Linking with Between Naps on the Porch

 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Barbeque Chicken Pizza

 

 

 

Dinner on Saturday night, is something I rarely cook. We either get take out of some kind or have dinner plans. This past Saturday night, we were home for a change and instead of ordering the pizza I was craving. I decided to try this unique Barbeque Chicken Pizza, using a whole wheat crust.

It was the perfect Saturday night meal, paired with my Simple Caesar Salad and was quick to put together. I had cooked the chicken breast earlier in the day, so I just had to layer the ingredients on the pre made pizza crust and pop it in the oven. It smelled so good while baking and definitely didn't smell like the usual pizza, with the scent of barbeque sauce filling the kitchen.

I loved its combination of flavors - spicy barbeque sauce, chicken, banana peppers, onion and melted cheese. This would also make a great appetizer, using individual size pizza crusts and cutting it into small pieces for serving. Homemade pizza on a Saturday night - the perfect choice for dinner.

 

Barbeque Chicken Pizza

 

1 pre made 12 inch pizza crust ( I used whole wheat)

1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded

1/2 cup barbeque sauce ( I used Sweet Baby Rays, with a little bit of a kick)

1/2 jar mild banana peppers

1/2 red onion, cut into thin slices

1 package Colby and Monterey Jack shredded cheese ( use as much or as little as you like)

 

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place pizza crust on pizza stone or pan and brush with olive oil. Spread barbeque sauce on the center of the crust. Layer toppings in this order - chicken, banana peppers, onion and cheese. Bake for 18 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Enjoy!

 

Happy Monday!

 

{Linking with these friends}


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

Between Naps on the Porch

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

Sunny Simple Life (From The Farm)

Rattlebridge Farm

This Gal Cooks

Mom's Test Kitchen

 

Friday, February 21, 2014

February Book Club

 

 

 

It was the worst kind of night to go out; rainy, slushy and all around sloppy. But, we all braved the elements to attend our February book club and it was well worth it. We always have such fun together and the evening was just what everyone needed after a long work week.

 

 

We always bring wine to help our hostess, so we had a variety to try and discover a new favorite. That first glass always is so relaxing after a long day.

 

 

Our dinner was just lovely; both pretty to look at and delicious. There was three kinds of beans and rice, mexican, curry and mediterranean. I couldn't decide which was my favorite. And, this fresh, grilled shrimp was the perfect accompaniment.

 

 

This salad was so amazing! Avocado, grilled pineapple, and blueberries on a bed of lettuce. There was a light citrus dressing that was a beautiful touch and brought out the freshness. I'm not ashamed to say I had seconds of this wonderful dish.

 

 

Aren't these so pretty! Green beans served any way at all are one of my favorites and these, with a squash wrapping were as delicious as they were pretty.

 

 

After that wonderful dinner, we had a lively discussion about The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. The questions were interesting and brought up comparisons to classic gothic novels, such as Jane Eyre.

 

Another book club and another night, well spent with friends.

 

Have a great weekend!

 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

What I Am Reading

 

 

With winter weather in full force, there has been plenty of opportunity to curl up with a good book. I have found some interesting reads lately; both by well known authors and one I found by chance.

 


The Chaperone, by Laura Moriarty Is an interesting period piece of the 1920's in America, dealing with prohibition, women's rights and the vast differences between living in Kansas and New York. After I read this book, I found that the characters were based on real people; silent film star Louise Brooks and Clara, her thirty six year old chaperone. I especially enjoyed their train trip from Kansas to New York and all the wonder of seeing the big city for the first time.

 

 

I am an Anna Quindlen fan and was excited to read her new novel. This is the sorry of a sixty year old professional photographer who takes advantage of an opportunity to assess her life and stumbles on a new way of being. She moves to a cabin in a rural area and learns to be comfortable with both herself, nature and a quieter life. This is the story of a woman, who once famous, wonders who she is and what her life will look like moving forward. To me, this was a thought provoking novel, that stayed with me, long after I finished. It was a departure for Anna Quindlen - no huge catalyst that evokes change, but a quiet, steady introspection that comes with middle age.


 

I am currently reading Amy Tan's, The Valley of Amazement and am caught up in the world of Shanghi and the lavish lives of its famous courtesans. As always, women both strong willed and deeply flawed play a central role in this story of Violet, a girl abandoned by her mother and the life she is forced to endure. It reminds me of The Joy Luck Club, another favorite by this author.

Happy Reading!

 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Berry Smoothie {hidden spinach}

 

 

 

Smoothies are such a great way to eat a healthy snack or even a meal and I have found my love of them returning this week. My usual smoothie includes fruit, greek greek yogurt, crushed ice and lowfat milk in varying flavors. It's simple and I always have the ingredients on hand.

Looking for a little more of a healthy punch, I have been going through recipes for green smoothies, but was still not convinced that I would like spinach in my smoothie. Then, I saw this recipe for a Super Berry Green Smoothie. Perfect to try because it was green in name only - the spinach was hidden.

This will be a smoothie I make often, because it was so delicious. The spinach flavor really was hidden, because the taste of the cranberry juice and the fruit were the predominant flavors. What a great way to get a serving of leafy green vegetables into your diet. I may even be willing to try an actual green smoothie, without fearing it will taste like raw vegetables :-)

Happy Wednesday!

 

{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

Coffee With Us Three

 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Garden Dreams and Plans

 

 

source

 

My garden is buried under a mound of snow, including the fresh six inches we received overnight. It seems a perfectly fitting day to be dreaming and planning for the additions that I would like to make to my perennial garden. Spring seems very far away on a day like today, where I need to bundle up and shovel my driveway once again, but in reality, it is getting closer and closer. I can dream of green shoots breaking through the ground and plan for those mornings I can wander with my garden scissors and cut a fresh bouquet.

 

Dahlias

Zinnias

 

My number one dream and plan is to add colorful flowers that will bloom freely and that I can cut for sweet and simple bouquets, all summer long. I plan to add both dahlias and zinnias in profusion. I had a problem with zinnias and bugs last year, but like any gardener will try again and hope things will be better in this new season of planting.

 

 

Sweet Peas

 

These sweet flowers would be perfect for cutting and I love the idea of building a willow stand for them to wind around. This would also help with another goal - adding height and interest amongst the flowers.

 

Herb Garden

 

Another plan is to add a herb garden, without taking a lot of space. I love this idea of using a small ladder and upcycled containers and placing it at the back of my flowers. Pretty and practical.

 

Chair Plant Stand

 

Wouldn't an old chair like this look lovely at the edge of my garden, doing double duty as a plant stand? I am drawn to this one because of the addition of the word "grow" painted at the top of the chair. It's the details that always speak to me.

These dreams and plans will get me through the next few weeks of winter and give me a focus for the spring planting to come.

Happy Tuesday!

 

{Linking with these friends}


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

Between Naps on the Porch

The Dedicated House

Cozy Little House

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, February 17, 2014

Valentine Favorites

 

 

 

How wonderful to see your husband walking in the door with roses on Valentine's Day. And, they were my favorite yellow roses too. After all these years, my husband knows it is the little things that make me the happiest. I don't need any extravagance and pretty flowers, especially when remembering my favorite kind, mean more to me than anything.

 

 

Instead of going out to dinner on Valentine's night, we spent a quiet evening watching the Olympics. We decided to mark the occasion by going out for breakfast Saturday morning - my favorite thing to do. We dropped my puppy off at the groomers for a much needed haircut and were at my favorite breakfast spot bright and early. I enjoyed my whole wheat blueberry pancakes, with maple butter, as well as the time to linger over coffee, talking and catching up on our week.

 

 

To round out my weekend of favorites, I received a surprise package from my mother in law! She sent me more white dishes for my growing collection and I love them. I now have 12 appetizer plates that will be so perfect for entertaining and that I can mix and match effortlessly. It is so nice to receive a surprise and know that someone was thinking of you :-)

Happy Monday!

 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Fashion Friday




Most days, you will find me in yoga pants, cute and comfortable tennis shoes and a long sleeve, 1/2 zip top in a pretty color or pattern. I am comfortable and can transition from errands to my daily walk.
My favorite tops are from lululemon, but sometimes they can be a little expensive. I have found a great alternative in Old Navy active wear and most options can be a third of the price for the same style as lululemon.
I found some adorable options at both Old Navy and lululemon that are definitely on my wish list for the future. Mixing purchases up with the less expensive, but good quality Old Navy active wear, just makes sense.











Many are snowed in or it is just too cold to get out and shop, so online shopping is the perfect activity for today :-)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thoughts for Thursday...winter olympics, etc.

 

 

 

 

What to do for Valentine's Day? Since it is a Friday night, I'm sure the restsurants will be packed and that doesn't sound like much fun. I am leaning towards going for breakfast on Saturday morning since that is one of our favorite things to do. Whole grain waffles, with blueberries from my favorite breakfast place sound really good right now :-)

 

 

I am enjoying the Winter Olympics and I think the most exciting sport to watch is the snowboarding. I find it really interesting that while I do remember when snowboarding first started as an Olympic sport, now I can't imagine the winter games without it. And, it is interesting to see the pioneers of the sport still competing, but another generation coming on strong. The women were so fun to watch last night and they seemed to be genuinely happy for each other.

 

 

Over the weekend, I read Melanie Shankle's (Big Mama Blog) new book, The Antelope in the Living Room. It is a quick read and very funny. It looks at how two people with very different personalities can make marriage work. You will find yourself relating to many of the stories and laughing along, as well as being moved to tears.

 

Downton Abbey had my heart breaking for Lady Edith this week. I thought her quiet sadness was wonderfully acted and it will be interesting to see who supports her decision. I am not sure about Lady Mary's reaction to the news - it could go either way, but I hope we see her softer side.

 

Happy Thursday!

 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Strawberry Oatmeal Muffins

 

 

 

These Strawberry Oatmeal muffins would make a healthy, as well as pretty, breakfast for any day, but especially for Valentine's morning. I was intrigued that the recipe did not use any flour, but that the oats were processed into a smooth texture. Since I am always looking for healthy options that give me the illusion I am having a treat, I was looking forward to trying this unique muffin recipe.

Fresh strawberries tend to be inconsistent in their quality and freshness this time of year, so this was a perfect way to use the ones I had on hand, that had been in my fridge for a few days. The chopped berries sprinkled on top of each muffin make such a pretty presentation and taste so fresh. Also, since I like the texture of oatmeal, I left my oats a little course, but you could process them smoother, if you choose.

Since these are only 23 carbs per muffin, I could indulge in this sweet Valentine's treat and skip the candy hearts that were tempting me :-)

Happy Wednesday!

 

 

Recipe for Strawberry Oatmeal Muffins

 

2 1/2 cups oatmeal

1 cup plain yogurt

2 eggs

1/2 cup splenda baking sugar

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 cups chopped strawberries

1 tsp. lemon juice

Put oatmeal in food processor and process until smooth. Chop strawberries in small pieces; dry well and put aside 1/2 cup for topping.

Mix together oats, eggs, yogurt, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and lemon juice. Fold in 1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries. Fill muffin cups with batter, then sprinkle reserved strawberries on top of each muffin. Bake for 25 minutes at 400 degrees. Makes 1 dozen muffins. Enjoy!

 

{Linking with these friends}

Lil Luna

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

Between Naps on the Porch

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

Sunny Simple Life (From The Farm)

Rattlebridge Farm

This Gal Cooks

Mom's Test Kitchen

 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

White on White

 

 

 

When I did my kitchen update in the fall, one of the things I wanted to add to the decor was a preponderance of white pottery, both on the shelves for display and for everyday use. The use of white in a reoccurring way would add a crisp, clean element to the kitchen. I wanted to simplify and bring in elements that are soothing to the eye - no busy patterns.

 

 

Slowly, but surely as I put away my seasonal decor, I am adding white pieces to the shelves. There are so many interesting bowls and platters to be found, that white doesn't have to be boring.

 

 

I love the contrast of the different patterns, from raised dots, to lines, to swirls and flowers. All add interest, while the white color ties them together.

 

 

Both pretty and functional, this pitcher holds my every day utensils. Sitting on my counter, the white is a wonderful contrast with my stone countertops and newly painted, creamy yellow walls.

There are a few more pieces I am looking for, but will have fun finding just the right thing to add to the collection. Many of these pieces were found at Home Goods - in fact, there is an aisle completely filled with only white serving dishes. I plan on taking my time and finding pottery with interesting patterns or shapes. All will be functional, but also become part of a new, simple style of decor.

Linking with

Savvy Southern Style

Between Naps on the Porch

Jennifer Rizzo

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