Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Yoga in Market Square








When Megan told me that one of the things she had planned for our weekend in Pittsburgh was attending an outdoor yoga practice on Sunday morning, I couldn't have been more pleased. It has been on my bucket list for awhile to do this and while I practice a fairly gentle form of yoga, I still felt like I could keep up.
When we arrived at Market Sqaure, the sky was bright blue, without a cloud to be seen and it promised to be another hot day. But, the heat didn't keep anyone away and every available inch of the square soon filled with yoga mats.
The instructor was very good and for a novice like me, was clear in her instructions and explanations of the different yoga poses. It was a little faster in transitions than I am used to, but I was able to work up a good sweat and enjoy the sun and sky as I moved through the practice. The hour went faster than I anticipated and before I knew it we were relaxing in Shavanasa pose and I felt a real sense of accomplishment and peace.
I started yoga for the health benefits and always come away feeling flexible, strong and even somewhat younger than when I started. But, a benefit I didn't plan was being able to practice with my daughters and perhaps, that is the best of all.
Happy Wednesday!

{Linking with these friends}
French Country Cottage
A Stroll Thru Life
Savvy Southern Style
The Charm of Home
Art and Sand
Between Naps on the Porch
Cozy Little House
Eclectic Red Barn
Skip To My Lou
Rooted in Thyme
Craftberry Bush
21 Rosemary Lane
Stonegable
Rattlebridge Farm

Monday, June 27, 2016

Weekend in Pittsburgh

 

 

 

What a fun weekend my daughters and I just experienced in Pittsburgh! Melissa and I headed there on Friday afternoon to visit Megan and she was a great hostess from the minute we arrived until we left on Sunday afternoon. We did a lot of walking, had a lot of good food, wine and cocktails and even did an early morning yoga practice in a downtown square that was a fabulous way to start the day.

 

 

 

 

 

When we arrived, Megan and her boyfriend greeted us with sangria and snacks which was most welcome after our road trip there. We went to dinner at a boathouse on a pretty lake near her apartment and it was a relaxing way to start the weekend. We stopped at a fun, outdoor bar with sand and lighted palm trees after dinner and caught up with each other's news around a fire pit.

Before heading to downtown Pittsburgh for the gir's portion of our trip, we woke up Saturday had a delicious breakfast, made by Megan, spent a couple relaxing hours at her pool and stopped nearby at a cidery for a refreshing glass of artisanal hard cider. My daughters had a blackberry flavored variety and I tried a very dry apple variety that tasted just like champagne - yummy!

 

 

 

Once we checked into our hotel downtown, we walked around a park on the riverfront, walked across one of the many bridges and stopped for our first cocktail at a favorite bar called Olive or Twist. We rested a bit before dinner, then walked to a fabulous Italian restaurant in the cultural district called Mezzo. We shared a bottle of wine, an appetizer and some pizza and pasta, in a wonderful atmosphere in front of an upstairs window overlooking the city street.

 

 

After dinner we found a cute patio, with flickering candles, for dessert and an after dinner drink to end our night. We headed back to the hotel, happy to have spent the day together and looking forward to an outdoor yoga practice in Market Square the next morning - more on that later.

Happy Monday!

 

{Linking with these friends}

Savvy Southern Style

Between Naps on the Porch

21 Rosemary Lane

Stonegable

Calypso In The Country

 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday on the Patio - Classic Gin Fizz

 

 

 

 

 

 

My view on most Friday afternoons during happy hour is just like these photos I took last Friday. It's very green and sun dappeled since we are surrounded by trees. The flowers in the pots are looking pretty and add a bright splash of color in the midst of all that foliage. This time of summer is the payoff for all that work, spreading wood chips and planting, that I did a few weeks ago. Now is the time to sit and enjoy that peace and quiet with a cocktail and my iPad.

Sometimes I like my cocktail to be simple and classic and I am a big fan of a tall, cool gin and tonic in the summer. I recently finished reading a book set in the roaring twenties and there were a lot of references to drinks made with bathtub gin. After a little research, I found a mention of a classic Gin Fizz and it sounded light, refreshing and perfect for patio sipping.

To make: Add 2 ounces gin, 1/2,ounce lemon juice, 1 tsp powdered sugar and 4 ounces club soda to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake (it will fizz) and strain into a glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with lemon slice.

Note: The book I got my gin inspiration from is The Other Typist and if you loved Gone Girl you will love this book too. However, the ending is crazy and there are many sites with opinions about what actually might have happened. If you read this book, can we please discuss :-)

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

{Linking with these friends}

French Country Cottage

A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Art and Sand

Between Naps on the Porch

Cozy Little House

Eclectic Red Barn

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

Craftberry Bush

21 Rosemary Lane

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm


 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Two Books I Loved

 

 

 

 

There is a genre of books; sometimes a memoir, sometimes a novel, that include recipes as part of the story. I have always been drawn to this style of book, because I think every great recipe usually has a good story or memory that goes along with it. The stories of dinners around a table, celebration meals, holidays and delicious food cooked with love.

These two books; Lunch In Paris and Picnic in Provence are beautifully written memoirs about an American girl who falls in love with a man, a country and its food all at the same time. She seamlessly weaves stories about Paris, Provence and the French culture and people, with her love of cooking and eating good food. The books are about her life, her marriage and her struggle to fit in as an American living in France. Cooking, shopping in the daily markets and family recipes are what ultimately help her come to grips with her new life.

At the end of every chapter are recipes; some classic French, some from her American roots. This is not five star French cuisine, but rather simple, hearty recipes, where the fresh ingredients are the star. But, more than anything, it's the stories that go along with the recipes that will tug at your heart strings and make you long to be in Paris or Provence, sitting around the author's table.

Happy Wednesday!

 

Monday, June 20, 2016

7 Layer Greek Dip - Pinterest Success {43}

 

 

 

We had a lovely Father's Day celebrating all the wonderful dads in our family; my husband, my dad, my brother and my brother in law. We spent the day outside and even though it was a hot day, it was pleasant under the shade and next to my sister's pool.

We like to keep things simple for these summertime family parties and the easiest way to do that is a potluck, where everyone brings a dish to go with whatever my brother in law decides to grill. I took two things - Healthy Nutty Coleslaw that I have made before and is similar to a ramen noodle salad, but better for you and I also tried a new appetizer recipe that seemed perfect for a hot summer day.

The 7 Layer Greek Dip I made is a Skinnytaste recipe and the original pin can be found here. It is light, refreshing and delicious served with pita chips. The use of plain yogurt as a healthier creamy layer is so smart and the addition of fresh dill, garlic and lemon juice makes for a bright flavor that compliments the hummus and veggies. It's a fresh new appetizer to add to my go to list.

Happy Monday!

 

{Linking with these friends}

French Country Cottage

A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Art and Sand

Between Naps on the Porch

Cozy Little House

Eclectic Red Barn

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

Craftberry Bush

21 Rosemary Lane

New House New Home

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm

 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Empty Nest Changes - Again

 

 

You know that saying "A lot can happen in a year"? Well, that is what we are living right now. In the past year, Melissa has graduated from college, started working and just recently we helped her move into a really cute apartment. She's fairly close, but she's not here, so it's a little sad and a little different. My empty nest is empty again.

There are also other big changes in the works and I am still trying to wrap my mind around them and find the words to write about all that is happening. Here's what is going on in a nutshell. My husband took early retirement in the spring, went back to work for the summer in a consultant role and once that is done we have some big decisions to make. Right now, we are getting our house ready to put on the market at the right time ( I have a list I'm working through) and continuing to downsize and make decisions about what will stay and what will go.

Tentatively, our plan is to begin to look for a home in Florida in a golf course community. We want low maintenance and something smaller, so we can enjoy life. We will be young retirees and plan on being active and playing a lot of golf. Megan will be in Pittsburgh and Melissa will be here in Michigan, so we will all have to get used to a new normal and figure out the best way to see each other, as much as possible. I'm sure we will plan on being back in Michigan during some of those hot Florida summer months and even attend a few MSU football games in the fall.

It's equal parts of scary and exciting all wrapped up together, but more than anything, it's an adventure that we can't wait to begin. Come along on the adventure with me :-)

Happy Thursday!

 

{Linking with these friends}

Savvy Southern Style

Between Naps on the Porch

21 Rosemary Lane

Stonegable

Monday, June 13, 2016

Blueberry Lemon Yogurt Muffins

 

 

 

Since I was going to visit my parents and wanted to bake them something for a special treat, I decided to try a new muffin recipe using yogurt. I like to keep things as healthy as possible when I bake a treat, and by using Truvia instead of sugar and adding Greek yogurt, these muffins can be enjoyed with little guilt.

I love the combination of flavors and the subtle lemon flavor from the yogurt is just right. I used fresh, rather than frozen blueberries and by layering them on top of the batter, rather than mixing them in, these muffins were bursting with their fresh fruit goodness in every bite.

 

Blueberry Lemon Yogurt Muffins

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 3/4 cup flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup sugar (I used Truvia)

1 egg, beaten

3/4 cup lowfat milk

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup Greek lemon yogurt

For struesel topping: 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar (I used Truvia), 1/4 cup cold butter, cubed

 

Line a 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients; flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. In another mixing bowl combine the beaten egg, milk and melted butter. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and stir well. Add the yogurt. The mixture should be thick and slightly lumpy.

For struesel, combine the flour and sugar, then cut in butter cubes until mixture is crumbly.

Put 1/4 cup of batter in each muffin cup. Top with blueberries and then sprinkle with struesel. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until tops begin to turn golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

 

 

 

My care package for my parents included a few meals for their freezer, as well as these muffins, full of summertime deliciousness. We had a nice afternoon, with a picnic by a lake, a short walk through the woods and the enjoyment of a summer day outside in the sunshine.

Happy Monday!

 

{Linking with these friends}

French Country Cottage

A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Art and Sand

Between Naps on the Porch

Cozy Little House

Eclectic Red Barn

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

Craftberry Bush

21 Rosemary Lane

New House New Home

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm

Friday, June 10, 2016

Our Last Book Club Before Summer

 

 

 

 

 

We don't always have our book club meet in June, but this year we decided to get together one last time. It was a small group, since it is a busy time of year, but sometimes a smaller group can be nice and helps the discussion feel a little more intimate.

We started with a lovely and light dinner of lemon pepper pasta with shrimp. While discussing the book, we enjoyed a pretty and delicious dessert - a peach and goat cheese filled puff pastry with raspberry sorbet. And, to make things even more fun, our hostess served us a unique and decadant after dinner drink made with cream of coconut, pineapple juice and Mackinac Island Fudge liqueur.

 

 

We like to read a wide variety of books and enjoyed very much the American classic, My Antonia by Willa Cather. It's a beautifully written book ( also free on Kindle) and the use of imagery to describe the prairies of the Midwest is simply breathtaking. I really enjoy the opportunity to read a book I would not normally pick up at this stage in my life and love my book club for that reason. There are so many wonderful classic novels that deserve to be revisited outside of college literature classes.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

{Linking with these friends}

Savvy Southern Style

Between Naps on the Porch

21 Rosemary Lane

Stonegable

Monday, June 6, 2016

Crock Pot Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

 

 

 

One of the best things about summer is how easy it is to throw something on the grill on the weekends and make the simpilest of dinners more fun. Of course, the weather needs to cooperate and when rain is falling, barbeque plans must change.

This easy and delicious recipe for Crock Pot Barbeque Chicken Sandwiches saved my dinner menu on a rainy Saturday and gave me a great way to acheive that barbeque taste without even lighting the grill. All the ingredients were things right from my pantry and the tangy, sweet flavor was nothing short of amazing. A few extras added to your favorite brand of barbeque sauce, along with the magic of a slow cooker become a great dinner option. Along with whole wheat buns and simple homemade coleslaw, a light, summertime main dish can be on your table, whatever the weather brings.

 

Crock Pot Barbeque Chicken Sandwiches


6 pieces skinless and boneless chicken breasts

1 bottle barbeque sauce

1/2 cup zesty Italian dressing

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 T Worcestershire sauce


Place chicken in crock pot. Mix other ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours. Remove chicken and shred. Remove sauce from crock pot. Put shredded chicken and as much sauce as desired back into crock pot to keep warm. Serve on buns.

 

{Linking with these friends}

French Country Cottage

A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Art and Sand

Between Naps on the Porch

Cozy Little House

Eclectic Red Barn

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

Craftberry Bush

21 Rosemary Lane

New House New Home

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Summertime Bunco

 

 

 

 

We usually hold Bunco on Friday nights, but everyone's schedule seems to be busy lately and two of my neighbors had the idea for us to get together on a Wednesday night, start a little earlier and bring in food, so no one had prepare anything. It turned out to be a fabulous and fun idea with margaritas, yummy Mexican food and very good company. We got caught up on all the neighborhood news; news of possible moves, retirements and grandchildren. For the most part, we all have college age and young adult children, who live all over the country, so learning how they all are doing takes prominence.

Since this group has been together for so long and been through a lot together, like neighbors do, we know each other and each other's families very well. There is a shorthand to that over the years and we genuinely care about each other's lives. We may miss a few months of Bunco here and there, but we always pick back up, right where we left off, as if no time has passed and we see each other every day like we used to when our children were small. It's a nice group to be a part of and I never take these ladies for granted. There is something to be said for the history of long friendships.

Happy Thursday!

 

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