Saturday, December 6, 2014

Christmas decor 2014 ♥

Hello Friends!

 Welcome to my Christmas house! I thought today I would share with you some photos of  my Christmas tree and a few of my favorite decorations. 

We've all been busy decorating this past week. 
All of a sudden the holidays are here!  


This is my family room.

Here is my view from the couch. We switched from a real tree to a fake tree a few years ago.  I'm still not over it.  Rob pushed for the fake tree because it's cleaner (no messy pine needles) and we can keep it up longer. Agreed.  However, there is nothing like a real tree. That smell! A candle just isn't the same.

  I've had a love/hate relationship with my fake tree.  This year I'm finally starting to like it a bit more.  She's growing on me  : )  

Rob says our ornaments make the tree, and I think he's right.  They are memories, they tell stories, and are reminders of Christmas's past.
Three little kittens that lost their mittens! There is the mommy and three babies - aren't they adorable?! My mom made these for me and they are my favorite ornaments on the tree : )

I was lucky enough to inherit all of my Nana's vintage glass ornaments after she passed away.  She lived with us when I was little and at Christmas would decorate her own tree full of these beautiful, glass, sparkly, treasures. Every year I would help her decorate, and I thought I was SO lucky because we actually had two Christmas trees! For a nine year old, that was a pretty big deal!

 These ornaments remind me of her and some of the best Christmas's of my life. 

This pink one is my favorite.  I always put it at the very top of the tree ♥

John is only 7 and already our tree is full of his memories too.  He made this in preschool. 

Some ornaments are ones that I've picked up on a whim, here and there.  This Santa I got last year.  I thought it looked vintage.  I think I paid .99 at the Christmas Tree Shop! I love it!

The carolers are singing! I have these cuties on my side table next to the tree. My mom made these too.  She painted them years ago.  They have a little music box in the back that plays White Christmas!

Here is our kitchen table.

Last weekend I treated myself to these kissing Mr. & Mrs. Clause salt and pepper shakers! I thought they were so cute. John keeps flipping them around so they are back to back because "kissing is gross" ♥♥♥

Another treasure from my childhood is this ceramic tree.  (I bet some of you out there have one too!) I think my aunt made it in a ceramics class before I was born.  Growing up we had two and my mother put them in our front bay window.  She gave one to me and one to my sister.  I love this tree!  You knew Christmas was getting close once the ceramic trees came out! ♥

I have bits & bobs hanging everywhere! (drives my hubby crazy!)

On our side table in the kitchen I set up a little Christmas village. 

That tree in the middle looks like something out of Whoo-ville, but I kept it anyway.  John likes to get his little action figures and "play" in the snow here.  Sometimes I find a random guy sleeping in the gazebo! LOL

View of the kitchen.

I always wanted to hang lights around the kitchen window and this year I finally did it.  It makes the kitchen feel cozy, especially very early in the morning when it's still dark out.  I stand here in the wee hours and pour my coffee.  Now I don't turn the big light on, I have the warm glow of the fairy lights. 

I'm thinking about keeping these up all year! ♥

The Christmas before I got married my mom gave me a set of Christmas dishes and a box of ornaments.  I still think that was the best gift ever! I wasn't even married yet, and was all ready for our first Christmas!

I've been using the dishes ever since. They come out the day after Thanksgiving and I usually don't put them away until the end of January. 

Snow people are everywhere..... : )

And the ELF is always watching! This guy tells Santa everything ♥

Never lose HOPE.

Believe in Christmas!

Thank you for stopping by today to see my Christmas house!

I wish I could have you all over for a real life Christmas party! How do you feel about eggnog?

Personally, I love it! ♥

Already, we are a solid week into December and time is ticking.  Still so much to do, but we must not forget what's really important.....

I hope you are all doing well with your holiday preparations!

Enjoy the season!

Danielle xoxo

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving ♥

Giving thanks with a grateful heart.  Wishing all my friends, near and far, a wonderful day. 
Happy Thanksgiving!
I'm thankful for you! xo
Now let's eat pie!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Gingerbread cake with lemon sauce ♥

Good Morning and Happy Monday! It's cold and rainy here today.  I just got back from dropping John off at school.  The wind is blowing leaves through the streets and it's raining sideways. I'm planning on going out shopping after I finish this post, so hopefully I won't get soaked.  This is typical November for New England, and it's not so bad.  Believe it or not, we still have some colored leaves floating around.

In three days it will be Thanksgiving! We are going to my sister's this year and I am on PIE duty.   Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because all you need to do is EAT! There are no presents or stress.  Just family, friends. and great food.  A time to be thankful for all our blessings. Plus I love turkey and stuffing ♥

We had a nice Sunday dinner at our house last night.  It was Italian night! I had homemade sauce bubbling on the stove all afternoon.  Don't you just love that scent drifting through the house?  It reminds me of when I was little and the sweet smells of my mother's kitchen would fill the house. My hope is that subconsciously John will remember it too.  

I resisted the temptation to decorate for Christmas (I was so close), but after this week I'm going all out! I did put a Christmas CD on as I was cleaning the house. It was Keith Lockhart and The Boston Pops Orchestra.  LOVE!!!!  In fact I have it on right now in the background as I type this : )

Anyway, I'm dying to tell you about this
Gingerbread Cake I made for dessert.  I had to hold John back from stealing his because I wanted to snap this picture.  He's pointing to the one he wanted. To be honest, I think he was in it for the whip cream, but it turned out he really liked the cake too.

This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks - Autumn by Susan Branch.  I've had this book for years and this is the first time I have ever made her Gingerbread Cake. I met Susan for the first time in 2004 at a signing for this book (which is why it's my favorite : ). It was a dream come true. She was as lovely & warm as her books, and I feel that energy every time I make one of her recipes!
I was fortunate enough to meet her again earlier this year at a signing for A Fine Romance: Falling in Love with the English Countryside, exactly 10 years later. In all that time I don't know how I missed this cake - I thought I had tried them all.  It's delicious and feels old fashioned.  I served it slightly warm, swimming in the yummy lemon sauce, just the way Susan describes in her book ♥

For the cake:
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon ginger
4 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
1 egg
 2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Stir together the first 7 ingredients.

Beat in egg.  Sift flour and soda together and add alternately with buttermilk.  Your batter will be nice and fluffy! : )
**By the way, if you don't have buttermilk you can make your own.  Just add one tablespoon of lemon juice to one cup of milk.  Wait a few minutes, and voilà, you've got buttermilk! I use this method all the time and it really works**

Bake in a greased 8 inch baking dish for 35 minutes.

For the lemon sauce:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup boiling water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons butter
dash of nutmeg
In a small saucepan combine sugar & cornstarch.  Gradually stir in boiling water.  Cook & stir over medium heat until clear and thick.  Blend in rest of ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate. 
To serve, spoon a little of the sauce onto the plate.  Place a nice big piece of gingerbread on top of the sauce.  Top with whip cream and enjoy ♥ 

We ended our night with a game (or several) of Chutes and Ladders.  It started out friendly, but then it took a turn.  Some people can be so competitive..... : )

It's nights like this that we will always remember.  Family times together ♥ xo

Well,  I'm off to run errands before the day gets away from me. 
Enjoy your Monday!
Bye! ♥

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Heartfelt Home Cafe - I've missed you! ♥

Hi Friends! Welcome back to the Heartfelt Home Cafe! It's been a few weeks since we've last met here. I'm so happy to be back I've set out this lovely tea for us on the patio. Red polka dots and roses just for you : )  

Take a sip and come inside.  I've missed you! 

Here's a sign that I just could not resist!

I think I could follow this sign anywhere! : )

Come in and let's talk.  Have you seen any good movies lately? Last weekend I saw Nicholas Sparks' Best of Me.  Cried buckets! It was SOOOO Good! My hubby doesn't understand that's a good thing, but I know you get it.  It's a girl thing! 

With only a day left of October, the days have been cool and crisp.  Today I wore a new pair of boots out and about to crunch in the leaves with.  We carved our pumpkin and put the last minute touches on a certain someone's Halloween costume.  On Friday night I will be trick or treating with the cutest Count Dracula you have ever seen : )

How about a French vanilla latte to warm you up?  I promise a pretty cup and hearts in the froth.  Always! 

I'm sure you are hungry ( I always am). 

Luckily we have loads of goodies to choose from this week. 

 Can I interest you in one of these yummy crullers?  

Or how about a pumpkin Nutella muffin (could you d.i.e.???). 

 These are the muffin of my dreams!  Pumpkin & Nutella!? 

Up until only recently I discovered that people do other things with Nutella besides eating it straight from the jar like I do....and I do mean straight from the jar....

If you are still sipping on your red polka dot cup of tea, I have scones, jam, and fresh fruit!  
Whatever you are in the mood for is here. 

And remember, calories don't count in our café, that's why this place is perfect! xo 
(and that will certainly come in handy this weekend! : - )

On the tables I've placed these darling candles.  They are little bowls filled with coffee  beans and a tea light in the middle.  It smells wonderful in here! 

I think this would be a nice idea to do at home too.  Your kitchen could smell like your very own cafe!  I am definitly going to try this.  Yet another reason I love pinterest! ♥

Do  you need to write a letter? If so, help yourself to some lovely monoogramed stationary.  In a world of emails, wouldn't it be nice to receive something in the mail this pretty? Snail mail should be more than just bills, don't you agree?

If anyone wants to be pen pals, please let me know! 

Seriously : ) 

Pumpkin spice latte smoothie anyone? Feel free to take a book outside, find a patch of sun, and enjoy! 

Wouldn't that be a nice mid afternoon break?  Ah....if only. 

Speaking of books, what are you reading? I just finished The Lady in the Tower - the downfall of Anne Bolyne by Allison Weir.  It was very good. No matter how hard I try I just can't seem to get away from this subject.  I keep going back to it over and over even though I already know every detail inside and out.  I read each book like I have never heard the story before.  Does this happen to you? Is there a type of book or genera that you gravitate to?  I just started an audiobook called Innocent Traitor (by Allison Wier) .  It's a historical fiction novel about Lady Jane Gray.  I've been listening to it at work, and so far I really like it. 


I stopped in at our friendly florist next door and picked up this darling bouquet for the counter.  Fresh flowers are always a good idea, don't you agree? Especially when in a tea cup.

I know I should have chosen something more seasonal, but I couldn't resist the soft colors of these roses.   They make me happy just looking at them.  


Happy Halloween to all of you! 
It's going to be a long night filled with mini Hershey bars and Peanut Butter Cups!
Our weather forecast says it's going to be very cold so we'll have to bundle up! Little Dracula is going to have to wear something warm under his outfit (which I'm sure he will not enjoy). 
I'll bring my tea along with me to keep me warm ♥
Thank you so much for stopping by the Café today! I'm glad we took this quick moment out of our day for a visit. It means so much to me to have you here!
Have a wonderful weekend, Friends! Don't eat too much candy! ♥

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Turkey Chili ♥


Hi Friends! How are you? Are you craving comfort food yet? I sure am! Today I want to share with you this quick and easy recipe for turkey chili that I think you will love!
My hubby is always asking me to make chili.  I found a healthier version (on the back of a can of beans! : ) using ground turkey.  This was my first time using turkey instead of ground beef and I didn't quite know what to expect.  I am happy to report it came out perfectly delicious! You cannot even tell the difference. And the best part...there was literally no fat after browning the meat.  I am always happy to serve my family something good for them! ♥
Here's how I made it:
1 lb. lean ground turkey
2 cans Bush's "Chili" beans
(if you can't find Chili beans you can use Pinto Beans - undrained)
1 small onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 package Mild Chili Seasoning
(I used McCormick Mild Seasoning 1.25 oz.)
1 cup tomato sauce
2 tbsp. olive oil
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over med-high heat.  Sauté the onion, pepper, and garlic for a few minutes.  Add the turkey.  Cook 5 - 7 minutes, until browned.  Add the beans, seasoning, and tomato sauce.  Stir so all is combined. Cover and simmer on low for 10 minutes. 
Enjoy topped with shredded cheese or sour cream! ♥

 This was my first time using these "Chili Beans". They are pinto beans in a mild sauce.  I don't think they gave the chili any extra flavor, they just thickened it up a bit.  If you are using plain Pinto beans you can just add a little extra tomato sauce.
 The seasoning mix I used was McCormick. If that is not available in your area, I'm sure you could probably find something comparable. The ingredients are chili pepper, paprika, cumin, onion, salt, sugar, & garlic.  I don't like my chili too spicy so this was perfect.  For those who like it spicy I always have hot sauce on the table in case someone needs a shot or two! ♥
Not me though : )
The package comes to about 1/4 of a cup of seasoning total.
This chili was so delicious and came together very quickly.  It's a perfect weeknight meal! It's hearty and healthy!  

We had a little leftover tonight and I had it over mashed potatoes! I know, I should have taken a picture!  
I've already made this recipe twice in two weeks and my hubby is requesting more.  I can picture him having a hot bowl of this after raking leaves or (dare I say...) shoveling snow! It hits the spot on a cold day or even a warm and cozy evening on the couch ♥
Which is where I'm off to now.... : )
I hope you are all having a lovely week! Happy Wednesday to all! xo