Thursday, April 30, 2015

Nobody's Cuter Than You

 

 

 

This is part book review and part tribute to my girlfriends. I recently read the wonderful book, Nobody's Cuter Than You by Melanie Shankle (Big Mama Blog) and it made me think a lot about my friends and how important they are in my life. I think as we get older, friends become important in a different way. We needed friends as teenagers to go through the pains of growing up and we needed friends as young mothers to help keep us sane when our children were wearing us down. But, it is the relationships with my friends now, that I treasure the most. We are all dealing with life changes, health issues and aging parents. Having friends by your side, there to help and support when you need them and ready to drink a glass of wine with you, is priceless. There are so many years of history together and so many memories.

 

 

In Nobody's Cuter Than You, the main focus is the friendship between the author Melanie and her friend from college, Gulley. When either is having a bad day, they end a conversation with the words from the book title and that sums up their friendship. A true friend will see the good in you, no matter what and be on your side. The book is filled with sweet stories about how friendship gets us through the hard times in life, as well as a celebration of the laughter and silliness good friends can share. It is a quick read, but heartwarming and laugh out loud funny at the same time. It will make you think of friends in your past and celebrate the friends you hold close now.

Happy Thursday!

 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Vegetable Lasagna with Parmesan Cream Sauce

 

 

 

For the past several days, my home has been the gathering place for family as we came together to pay our last respects to my father in law. It was a comfort, in the face of sadness, to spend time together and share stories and memories. My wonderful and caring friends sent a meal one night, and another night we ordered pizza.

The day of the funeral, we gathered one last time for a dinner I prepared. I wanted something casual, yet comforting, so I made two lasagnas; one traditional with meat sauce and another, a creamy vegetable version. There were many compliments on the vegetable lasagna, so I wanted to share the recipe. It's a little time intensive, but is very much worth the effort. Serve with a simple salad and garlic bread to make a delicious, meatless dinner for your family.

 

Vegetable Lasagna with Parmesan Cream Sauce

 

3 T butter

2 T flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 cups milk

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 T oil

3 cups broccoli florets

1 cup shredded carrots

I medium bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup chopped onion

3 cloves chopped garlic

2 cups ricotta cheese

1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped

3 cups shredded Mozerella cheese

9 lasagna noodles, boiled and drained

 

PREHEAT oven to 375°F. Melt butter in medium saucepan on low heat. Stir in flour, salt and ground red pepper; cook 2 min. or until bubbly, stirring frequently. Gradually add milk, stirring until well blended. Cook on medium heat until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; simmer 3 min. Stir in Parmesan cheese; set aside.

HEAT oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, onions and garlic; cook and stir 4 to 5 min. or until crisp-tender; set aside. Mix ricotta cheese and basil.

SPOON 1/4 cup of the Parmesan sauce into 12x8-inch baking dish; cover with layers of 3 of the noodles, 1/2 of the ricotta cheese mixture, 1/3 of the vegetable mixture, 1 cup of the pizza shreds and 1/3 of the remaining Parmesan sauce. Repeat layers of noodles, ricotta cheese mixture, vegetable mixture, pizza shreds and Parmesan sauce. Top with remaining 3 noodles, remaining Parmesan sauce, remaining vegetable mixture and remaining 1 cup pizza shreds; cover.

BAKE 55 min. Uncover. Bake an additional 5 min. or until hot and bubbly.

 

{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

No Minimalist Here

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm


Gooseberry Patch

Sunny Simple Life

 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Family Time

 
 
 

 

Blogging is a funny thing. I try to keep my blog posts calm, senere and happy, with pretty pictures to set the tone. But sometimes real life is far from happy and it just doesn't feel right to go along as usual. My father in law passed away yesterday; a man very much loved and admired by his family and friends. I will be taking some time off from blogging to concentrate on family. I know you all will understand.

 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

 

 

 

I find this time of year; between seasons, a little challenging to always think of a blog topic, so I decided to give my blog friend Joyce's link up a try. Her questions are always fun and thought provoking and it seems like an interesting regular group of posters. If you are an empty nester like me, I think you will enjoy a visit to From This Side of the Pond. Joyce is a great writer and has a lot to share about the transition to an empty nest.




1. Speaking of April 15th...what's the most 'taxing' thing you've done recently?

I just completed my 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge and the hardest part is dropping off the donations at Goodwill. I had a trunkful this year, but it is a great feeling when it is finally done.

2. When did you last take a taxi somewhere and where was that somewhere?

Not too many taxis in my Midwestern suburb, but the last time was my trip to New York City, two summers ago. I went with my daughter Melissa and my sister and I was proud how proficient I was at finding us taxis as we traversed the city. Crazy drivers and traffic though!

3. What's something you can do today that you couldn't do a year ago?

The thing that is new to me this year is Instagram. I have found it a fun way to keep up with both family and blog friends. You can follow me @lifeinmyemptynest

4. How often is chicken (in some form or fashion) on your menu at home? Which of the following would you most like to see on your table tonight...a chicken salad sandwich, your mom's fried chicken, a Chick-fil-A meal, Cracker Barrel's chicken n' dumplings, a roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings, or 'hold the chicken, I'm a vegetarian'...?

We have chicken fairly often and with barbeque season on the horizon, will have it even more, since we love it grilled. And, even though it's not the healthiest, I do love to order chicken n' dumplings when I go to Cracker Barrel - always with green beans and fried okra as my sides.

5. What was your favorite television program when you were a kid? What characters do you remember the most?

Of course, like many, The Brady Bunch was a favorite and I wanted to dress exactly like Marcia. Another favorite, though it was a short lived series, was Here Comes the Brides, because I loved Bobby Sherman.

6. What was the last piece of 'art' you made?

I am not an artist at all. I am a little crafty though and I did recently make a no sew table runner that I love.

7. What frustrates you most about the Internet?

I know they are necessary, but keeping track of all my different passwords makes me crazy. I take it as a personal challenge to remember them all - without peeking at my list.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

On my mind lately is Melissa's graduation from MSU in a few weeks. It is so hard to believe how fast these four years have gone. Her job search is going very well and I couldn't be more proud.


 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Crock Pot Fiesta Chicken and Rice Bowls - Pinterest Success {36}

 

 

 

I love finding a recipe that I know I will prepare again and again, because it is just that good. These Crock Pot Fiesta Chicken and Rice Bowls are light, healthy and a perfect way to make use of your crock pot in the upcoming, hot summer months. I can usually look at a recipe and judge whether it will have great flavor and I knew that the addition of the fresh avocado and pico de gallo at the end would make this recipe perfection. Adding fresh ingredients can immediately brighten the flavors of a meal cooked long and slow and the pico de gallo also added just the perfect amount of spice.

The original pin and recipe can be found here. I would recommend not cooking this on high, but going with the low setting for 4 - 5 hours. Mine was perfectly cooked after just 4 hours. Enjoy this fresh take on chicken and brown rice!

 

{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

No Minimalist Here

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm


Gooseberry Patch

Sunny Simple Life

 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Coffee Talk

 

 

 

It's a cloudy Monday morning, with a chance of rain in the afternoon, but with a week ahead of sunshine and warmer temperatures, I look forward to getting out and doing some spring clean up in my yard. A little rain in the spring is not a bad thing, because I know these showers in April mean flowers in May! I was up bright and early this morning to bake some yummy cranberry orange muffins to enjoy with coffee in my new flowered mug; perfect for spring. Sometimes it's the little things that start a week right.

Coffee talk this morning is about a quiet weekend, spent reading, watching a little tv and taking a long walk. It was Master's weekend too, so this golfing household was riveted to the final rounds of beautiful Augusta National Golf Club. The blooming azaleas were a welcome sight for this northerner's flower starved eyes. I am happy to report though, my wild daffodils that I planted in the fall are coming up and will be blooming soon at the edge of the woods.

I also watched some baseball ( the Tigers are 6-0 to start the season), started a new mystery series that I love and am now halfway through ( Jane Whitefield books) and was riveted by Call The Midwife on PBS. Downton Abbey may be over for the year, but the great BBC shows keep coming and I am finding this season of Call The Midwife very good, even without Nurse Lee. The other characters have stepped up remarkably to fill the void.

Happy Monday!

 

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Good Read

 

 

 

There is a genre of books that I enjoy very much and the book I found to take on vacation, was of this style. This book, Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen, tells the story of the women behind the life of poet, Edgar Allan Poe. I find these style of books facinating and you can find my blog post about the others I have read here.

Mrs. Poe is really the story of Frances Osgood and how she becomes entangled in an affair with Edgar Allan Poe, while at the same time striking up a friendship with his wife. There is a gothic element as strange things begin to happen, with no other explanation than the possible madness of sweet and gentle Mrs. Poe. This story will leave you in suspense, until the dramatic conclusion.

The setting of New York City in 1845 is the star of this novel. The details of the literary society are remarkable, with published authors name dropped with abandon, at the glittering salons and balls the characters attend. It is those kinds of details, based in fact, that make this genre of novels so interesting to me. It is always what is going on behind the public lives that is facinating and for me, the literary world in this time period was the golden age of classic novels.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

40 Bags in 40 Days {update}

 

 

 

When I started my 40 Bags in 40 Days Lenten challenge this year, I knew that reaching the goal would be difficult. Because this was my third year in a row, my things to give away were few. My closets were organized, as well as the drawers in all the extra dressers. I had found a couple areas (under bed storage) that I wanted to concentrate on and am happy to say those goals were accomplished. But, in the midst of this challenge, where I hoped to go a little deeper, I found something out.

I'm not quite ready to let things go. I know intellectually that our time in this house is getting short and there are many things that need to go. But, it's my heart that is the problem. I discovered this when I tried to donate the Christmas tree that I put up in the basement every year. I thought I was to the point where I could let it go, since in was the one with the homemade ornaments and all the Disney princesses - everything collected over the years of my daughter's childhood. When it came down to giving all this away, I just wasn't ready. Change for me is a process; something I need to think about over time. There are many things I will need to let go of in the coming years and if I am allowed to take my time, by this time next year, I know I will be ready.

Happy Thursday!

 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Mini Key Lime Trifles

 

 

 

 

 

We had a lovely Easter and the best part was having Melissa, Megan and her boyfriend Adam here the whole weekend. We were able to spend a lot of time together; talking, laughing and catching up on life. There was a point in time, where I was finishing up the meal preparation in the kitchen and everyone else was sitting in the room next door, laughing at something and it just made me so happy to be cooking for my family and know we were about to sit down to lunch together. The empty nest life is fine, most of the time, but I do love when they come home.

These Mini Key Lime Trifles, that we enjoyed for dessert were so easy to make and the perfect light ending to a spring inspired meal.

 

Mini Key Lime Trifles


1 package cream cheese, softened (8 ounce)

1/3 cup sugar (I used Truvia equivilent)

1 container cool whip, thawed (8 ounce)

3 tablespoons key lime juice

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup butter, melted

Whipped topping


With a hand mixer, combine cream cheese, key lime juice and sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Mix in cool whip. Stir together graham crackers and melted butter. Place a heaping tablespoon of graham cracker mixture in bottom of small dish. Top with a generous amount of cream cheese mixture (about 2 T) then sprinkle more graham cracker mixture on top. Place in refrigerator at least 3 hours to chill. When ready to serve, top with whipped topping. Serves 8.



{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

No Minimalist Here

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm


Gooseberry Patch

Sunny Simple Life

 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Polish Yacht Club

 

 

 

It's a Good Friday tradition and this year was no exception. We headed to Detroit, straight to the inner city, for our traditional fish fry lunch at the Polish Yacht Club. How to describe a yacht club, with no yachts in sight, but a rich history going back many years? It is kitschy and as unique as you will find, but filled with tables of friends, all who return year after year.

 

 

We enjoy our platters of fried perch, served family style, along with bloody mary's and the manager strolling around with a big basket of brightly colored jello shots.

 

 

As always, after lunch, we head to a beautiful inner city church for the Good Friday vigil. We fill two pews and celebrate our faith together, on this most holy day.

 

 

After mass, we move on to another location to conclude our day of friends, faith and a tradition now five years strong.

Happy Monday!

 

Friday, April 3, 2015

A Trip to Sunny Florida

 

 

 

It really is lovely to get away at this time of the year, when the weather is still somewhere between winter and spring. We were long overdo for a trip to Florida and a visit with my in laws. They have a beautiful home, with a pool and it makes for a very relaxing trip. Most days you could find me either in a lounge chair, reading a book, or floating in the pool. It felt wonderful to soak up all the sun we could and to tell the truth, I couldn't even be bothered to play golf. It was all about spending time by the pool, face to the sun and cocktail in hand.

 

 

 

After a morning of rain one day, we did take a short ride to Clearwater Beach; a favorite spot whenever we visit. We had an early dinner at Frenchy's Rockaway Grill, a casual restaurant right on the beach. My margarita was perfection and I was able to put my feet in the gulf at that magic time, right before sunset, when the sun sparkles on the water.

 

 

We also took a trip to watch the Detroit Tigers play a spring training game. It was a gorgeous afternoon to be at the ballpark; especially one with palm trees at the edge of the outfield. Being there made me so excited for opening day and baseball season.

 

 

But, as I said, this trip was about pool time, sunshine and making our long, cold winter nothing more than a memory.

Have a wonderful weekend.

 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Delicious Easter

 

 

If you are like me when it comes to cooking for the holidays, the menu is often a mix of both old favorites, traditional to our family, as well as a new recipe sprinkled in for fun. I like my Easter menu to be light and fresh, with a springlike feel to match the season. I have put together some dishes for breakfast (brunch), lunch and dessert and even included a fun cocktail that will be the hit of your entertaining. My daughters will be home and we will be starting our lunch after mass with the mimosas, our family favorite.

Sugar Free Blueberry Coffee Cake

 

Three Springtime Mimosas

 

Simple Parsley Butter New Potatoes

 

Carrot Cake Cookies

 

Peeps Martini

 

Here's to fun Easter preparation with easy recipes and lots of time to enjoy your day with family.

 

Linking with Rattlebridge Farm


 

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