Friday, January 30, 2015

Hosting Book Club

 

 

 

The day of hosting a party at your home can be stressful if you let it, but I like to take my time with my preparations and move through the day, doing one chore at a time. I usually start by doing all my cooking and prep in the kitchen, so I don't have to clean it twice. As I move to cleaning, I set up each room, as I go, with flowers and candles; almost like a reward, since that is the fun part of the process. I like to leave myself time to relax and get ready and then do all the last minute jobs, such as lighting candles and opening wine.

 

 

My book club friends are the most appreciative guests; complimenting everything. I used lots of candles in the dining room and it lent a cozy atmosphere to the night, encouraging us to linger over dinner. It was a smaller group, but that was nice too, with everyone able to join in the conversation.

Since it was a cold and snowy January night, I served a simple meal of salad, soup and rolls. When hosting, it is best to make recipes used before, so there are no surprises. My friends were very complimentary about the menu - Antipasto Salad (recipe next week), a light and delicious Turkey Meatball Spinach Soup and easy to prepare, Individual Tiramisu for dessert.

Our book discussion was about the first Louise Penny mystery and while I didn't love the book, the discussion was interesting and lively, as they always are. Since the hostess picks the the book to read next, I picked Wild by Cheryl Strayed, perhaps one my favorite books I read last year. I think it will prove to be a wonderful book for discussion. I adore my book club and hosting such a fun group of ladies.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Two Super Bowl Winners

 

 

With the Super Bowl this Sunday, you might be looking for a recipe to either take to a party or serve at your home while watching the big game. We have plans to watch the MSU versus UofM basketball game for the early part of the day, so am not real sure of our Super Bowl watching plans at this point. Both of these recipes are perfect for a cold winter day and are crowd favorites, whenever I make them.

 

Hot Creamy Sausage Dip

 

White Chicken Chili

 

It seems like January has flown by, which is quite unusual, but I think part of the reason is that tonight, I am hosting my second party in two weeks. Last week I hosted Bunco and tonight I will be hosting my book club. It is turning into a small group which will be fun, as we can all easily fit around the dining room table for the dinner I have planned. I will be cooking up a storm today, but look forward to spending the day in the kitchen. I have flowers to put in vases and candles to be lit - all the fun details of entertaining.

Happy Thursday!

 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Pomegranate Champagne Punch

 

 

 

When my Bunco group comes to my house, because it's my turn to host, I always like to make a special drink to serve. I started the tradition many years ago, to serve martinis at the first stop of our Christmas progressive and everyone enjoys it very much. Martinis were not what I had in mind for this occasion, but this punch ended up tasting like a delicious cross between a cosmopolitan and a glass of champagne. It was light, refreshing and very easy to serve. When we went though the first pitcher, it took no time to prepare a second.

For ease of serving, I mixed everything together right in a large glass pitcher and it looked very pretty. You could easily use this recipe in a punch bowl and it would be fantastic served at a bridal shower luncheon. Also, if you are having any kind of Valentine celebration, the pink, red color would be perfect for the day.

 

Pomegranate Champagne Punch

In a large glass pitcher, mix together 2 cups cranberry - pomegranate juice, 1 cup pear nectar, 1/2 cup triple sec. Slowly add 1 bottle champagne ( I used prosecco). Stir and serve over ice.


{Linking with these friends}

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm


Between Naps on the Porch

Savvy Southern Style

Gooseberry Patch

Sunny Simple Life

 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Weekend Fun

 

 

 

It was a busy weekend, starting with Friday night, when I hosted my neighborhood Bunco group at my home. I spent Friday during the day, cleaning, cooking and setting up the tables, all the while, looking forward to a fun night with friends. We decided to do a comfy robe exchange to make January a little less dreary and it was so much fun, we will make it an annual event. Everyone put their robes on right over their clothes and got cozy in front of the fire, once we were done playing Bunco.

 

 

Saturday afternoon I went with a large group of friends to see the musical Kinky Boots in downtown Detroit. It is an uplifting and fun musical and you can definately see Cyndi Lauper's influence in the songs. It has been a while since I have gone to see a musical and I have missed it very much. I will be on the lookout for more performances to attend.

 

 

After the play was over, we headed back to one of my friend's home for a potluck dinner, wine and the chance to spend the evening together. She even had a pair of Kinky Boots as part of her decor.

Happy Monday!

 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Fashion Friday - Anthropologie

 

 

I tend to dress towards the preppy side of fashion with good basics in my closet that I wear from season to season. There are times though, when I am attracted to a style of clothing for its fun and unique details. This is where I have found Anthropologie a great source for adding a few fun pieces to my wardrobe when the basics just won't do. Right now I am attracted to all the lace detail found on many of their casual tops, both for now and looking forward to the spring season. None of these are on sale presently, but I like to bookmark a few choices and keep an eye out for when Anthropologie does put them on sale.

 

Laurel Lace Tunic

 

Capriccio Lace Tunic

 

Caela Blouse

 

Laced Ruby Tank

 

I also love this dress as a great transitional piece and have had my eye on it for a while. I love the drop waist style - so cute!

 

Chevron Crest Dress

 

Have a great weekend!

 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Two Berry Freezer Jam

 

 

 

I think having a morning ritual can be a peaceful way to wake up. Because I am not working, I have the luxury of starting my days at a slower pace, but my day does always start with breakfast and more importantly, coffee. The perfect compliment to a big cup of coffee in my favorite, seasonal mug is a thick slice of whole grain bread, topped with some homemade jam.

This Two Berry Freezer Jam is from a basic recipe I have used before and can be prepared with either fresh or frozen berries. Since fresh berries are expensive in the winter, I used frozen this time and the taste is as bright and fresh as ever. To make this two berry flavored jam, I used a package of frozen strawberries and one package of frozen raspberries. You could certainly change the fruits for any kind of two berry mix you prefer.

This is so easy to prepare and when finished cooking I spoon it into two freezer containers; one to use now and one to put in the freezer for later. It really is like having a slice of summer on this cold, snowy winter day.

 

Two Berry Freezer Jam


Place 1 bag ( 1 lb) of frozen strawberries and one bag ( 1 lb) of frozen raspberries in a large heavy pan. Add 1 1/2 cups sugar (or Splenda equivalent), 2 T lemon juice and a splash of water. Stir well and bring to a boil. Boil constantly for about 40 minutes, stirring often. Liquid will be reduced and berries will be popped when jam is ready. Scoop hot mixture carefully into two freezer containers. Enjoy!

 

{Linking with these friends}


A Stroll Thru Life

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Cozy Little House

Craftberry Bush

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Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

DIY by Design

Coastal Charm

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm


Mostly Homeade Mom


Gooseberry Patch

Sunny Simple Life

 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Soft Lights

 

 

 

We have only had a few days of sunshine since the end of December. I know this for a fact, because my new sunglasses that I received for Christmas have barely been out of their case. But, that is typical for winter in Michigan. We are used to heavy, gray skies filled with snow. One of my morning rituals chases away some of that gloom and lends some cheery, soft light to the dark corners of my rooms.

A little lamp in the kitchen stays in place year round and gives a welcome bit of light even on the darkest of mornings.

 

 

This grapevine tree, wrapped with white lights, stayed put after Christmas and will give a soft glow to my fireplace throughout the winter months.

 

 

On the desk in my kitchen this glass block filled with lights and wrapped in a burlap bow, keeps the gloom away from that space. There are snowflakes on the front, visible when the light shines through. Here are directions to make this, but I have since removed the letters, changed the bow and added more of the small snowflakes. I liked the simplicity of that look better.

 

 

I have always loved the light that softly shines upward from this night light type lamp in my bedroom. It is such an unexpected and whimsical piece.

It's snowing again this morning and no sun in sight, so all these soft lights are lit and their soft glow makes this and every morning a little easier to wake up to.

Happy Tuesday!

 

{Linking with these friends}


A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Serenity Now

Between Naps on the Porch

Cozy Little House

Craftberry Bush

Live Laugh Rowe

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

DIY by Design

Stonegable

Thrifty Decor Chick

 

Monday, January 19, 2015

January Mass Mob

 

 

Our January mass mob group attended Saturday night mass at Our Lady of Lasalette church, a neighborhood parish church that was founded in the 1920's, but recently saw the sad closing of its parish school. So many of our parishes in the Detroit Archdiosese have fallen on hard times as the neighborhoods around them age. We were happy to bring our group to this iconic church.

 

After mass, we headed to Royal Oak, an area filled with trendy restaurants and bars for dinner and catching up, after the hustle and bustle of the holidays. It was nice to just sit, talk and enjoy some wonderful food and good wine with friends.

 

 

The restaurant set us up at a long, rustic table, in sight of the wood fired pizza ovens in the kitchen and it was a cozy and lively place to be on a winter night. As we sometimes do, we were seated with women at one end of the long table and men at the other, so we could easily talk. Our dinner was served family style and platters of salad, two kinds of pasta and three wonderful and tasty pizzas were brought to the table for sharing.

It was a perfect way to spend a Saturday night in January. Next month we will be visiting the new parish of our favorite priest and friend, who moved on from our home parish and who we miss very much. He will be joining us for brunch, so it should be a lovely time.

Happy Monday!

 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Winter Reading List

 

 

Source

 

There is just something special about having a good book to read on a winter day. The snow may be falling outside, but you are cozy and warm inside, next to the fire and a cup of something warm nearby. Before Kindle, I would be happy to have a stack of books from the library. Now, I am happy to have a list of books on my wish list, just waiting to be downloaded whenever I am ready. Reading is my happy place when cabin fever strikes.

 

 

An old favorite mystery series has a new offering in February and I always look forward to catching up with life in Lake Eden, Minnesota and cookie baker Hannah Swensen. There is murder, mayhem and cookie recipes; all in one book.

 

 

A new Jane Green novel, Saving Grace is out now and is next on my list to start reading. I always have enjoyed her writing style; a perfect mix of seriousness and humor. I also love her take on American life from her British perspective.

 

 

The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins is getting very good reviews and is being called the best psychological thriller of the year. It is being compared to both Gone Girl and Alfred Hichcock's Rear Window. Also, all the reviews say you will not be able to stop reading once you start - my favorite kind of book.

Happy reading!

 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Farmhouse Hamburger Soup {Pinterest Success 35}

 

 

 

These brutally cold temperatures we are experiencing have kept me at home, because being outside when it is below zero is no fun. I did make a trip to the grocery store on this past Saturday, one of the coldest days, but I wanted to get the ingredients for a hearty soup we could enjoy that night. This recipe for Farmhouse Hamburger Soup has been on my Crockpot Pinterest board for some time, but a cold winter day seemed the perfect time to try it. The original pin and recipe can be found here.

This is a quick, versatile recipe that can be prepared either on the stove or in the crockpot. Since I was getting a late start, I prepared in on the stove and after simmering for about one hour the vegetables were tender. I made a few changes that I think added to the flavor; I used Yukon Gold potatoes with the skins on, I did not use baby carrots, but regular sliced carrots instead and I added a bit of Tabasco sauce for a slight spice. Really though, you could add any kind of vegetables, fresh or canned, and the flavor would only get better. We enjoyed this soup very much and I would make it again, especially in the winter months.

Happy Thursday!

 

{Linking with these friends}

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm


Between Naps on the Porch

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Gooseberry Patch

 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Neutral Winter Mantel

 

 

 

After the Christmas reds were taken down this year, my mantel seemed the perfect spot to bring some neutrals into the winter decor. When the snow is flying outside and the light is diffused, the neutrals continue that air of winter quiet.

 

 

Some of the elements are from my Christmas mantel and I changed the look and feel, by removing greenery and lights and changing red candles for ones with a subtle stripe in cream and brown tones. The silver and gold trees, also leftover from Christmas, add a bit of sparkle on those sunshiny winter days and look as if they are dusted with shimmery snow. Of course, the star of the display is the center featured window, giving height and sporting a wooden snowflake in neutral tones.

It's fun to change a mantel for the seasons and I never know where my creativity will take me from year to year. This year I'm happy with the neutral tones - last year there was an explosion of red berries. Isn't it interesting what a new year and a new eye can bring to our decor?

Happy Tuesday!

 

{Linking with these friends}


A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Serenity Now

Between Naps on the Porch

Cozy Little House

Craftberry Bush

Live Laugh Rowe

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

DIY by Design

Stonegable

Thrifty Decor Chick

 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Party of One {Golden Globes}

 

 

I have a love/hate relationship with the Golden Globes. I love seeing all the pretty dresses, but I don't really care that much about who actually wins the awards. I love that the actors can mill about and talk to each other, but it is annoying how they have to stumble through the tables and chairs to get on stage when they win. I like the monologue and jokes, but don't care to hear the political opinions. It's a fun look at Hollywood and because I watch more television than movies, I enjoy it a little more than the Oscars which can be a little self important.

I happily watched from my bed, with a glass of wine and a softly, glowing candle ( and a few texts with my daughter to give our opinions here and there).

Here are my favorite dresses of the night.

 

 

These two dresses were my favorites (Selma Hayek and Anna Kendrick) mostly because I love the thin belts that make their waists look so tiny. Both have beautiful fabric and seem just right for the occasion.

 

 

I love a little bit of sparkle for a special occasion and I thought Reese Withersoon's dress was so pretty.

 

 

A blonde Katherine Heigl) in dark blue is so pretty and out of all the structured gowns, I thought this was the best.

 

 

And last, but not least, Kate Hudson is just stunning. I'm usually not a fan of so much skin, but she looks incredible.

Happy Monday!

 

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