Saturday, January 31, 2015

More snow on the way and a winner to my giveaway! (hey, that rhymes! : )

Good Morning and Happy February 1st!
That is why I am so very happy to start the month spreading some ♥♥♥...
First off, I would like to say Thank You to everyone that entered my giveaway! I truly appreciated your comments! Some from familiar friends and some from new ones!
It was a pleasure to meet you : )
I wish I had something for everyone!
You girls rock! ♥

Yesterday morning my little helper and I wrote down all your names on pieces of paper, folded them up, and put them in a pink bowl.  I gave them a little mix, then let my assistant pick a name.

He picked Heather from Blessed and Busy !
Heather, you are the winner of the Susan Branch recipe binder! Yaaaaay!
I have contacted you through instagram to let you know!
Since we were having so much fun I asked my helper to go ahead and pick one more name....I thought a little something for the second place winner would be nice.....drumroll please....
He picked  Gina from Random Thoughts From an Incoherent Mind! Gina, I will be sending you a little surprise as well!
Heather & Gina: If you could email me your mailing information at I will send your gifts out to you!
Thanks again to ALL of you who left me comments! ♥♥♥
After all that excitement I had to get busy.  Yesterday was also my hubby's birthday and I had a cake to make.  It was nice to put the oven on and warm the kitchen.  It's been freeeeezing here!  My son walks around barefoot all the time.  I don't know how he does it.  I have thick socks AND slippers on and I'm still cold!
Maybe it's a boy thing? Or maybe a seven year old thing? I don't know.
I made a simple vanilla layer cake with strawberry jam for the filling and buttercream frosting. 
It came out pretty. 
We aren't fancy!
We celebrated with a birthday dinner at my parents house.  It was lovely!
I hope all his birthday wishes come true!!!  xx

This is walkway from my parent's front door.  Do you see how high the snow is? It's ridiculous! And we are expected to get 6 -12 more inches tomorrow night! Eeeeek!  
Which means more of this.....

and this..... 

Tea for me....snow fun for him : )

From my view the world looks like it has been dipped in marshmallow fluff. 

The snow banks are frozen solid and they almost seem to sparkle. 
The rising sun reflects on them and it looks like glitter dancing across the yard. 
Inside we keep cozy with candles and little corners of peace. 
This is winter, alright.

The Superbowl is on Sunday.  I will be hibernating in my room watching Downton Abbey if anyone needs me. 

Happy Sunday!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Susan Branch give-a-way! ♥

We are having a snow day today in Massachusetts!  What better time for cleaning out the closet.  And look what I found! I forgot that I had picked up this binder at Barnes & Nobles last year on a clearance table! I have several recipe binders already and didn't really need it, but I can never pass up a Susan Branch item, especially if it's on clearance!
It's just been sitting in the closet (no place for such a pretty book) so I decided I would like to give it to one of you! ♥
There are places to write your own recipes or paste recipe cards on.
In the back there are pages of helpful tips on herbs & spices, cookies, sauces, and more!
Susan Branch is a master at kitchen tips! ♥♥♥
If you would like this binder just leave me a comment below.  I will pick a winner on Friday!
This give-a-way is open to EVERYONE so please spread the word and enter!
I hope you are staying warm & cozy on this snowy Tuesday : )
Time to put a movie on and wrap up in a blanket.
How we LOVE snow days! xo

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Morning Glory Muffins

Hello Friends!
Life is full of simple pleasures, isn't it? Right now I am in the throws of a Nora Roberts novel that I cannot put down.  It's called The Three Fates and it's got it all: mystery, romance, suspense, and a dreamy (well, in my mind he's dreamy) leading man.  I am worried about the characters and what will become of them and I know I'll be sad when it's over.  I think subconsciously I'm reading extra slow so it will last longer.  Geez, I love a good book! Between that and Downton Abby I'm happy as can be! It's so good this season, isn't it? Every time I watch an episode I wonder what it would be like to live in an English manor and wear gorgeous dresses and hats everyday. 
Simple pleasure? Yes, definitely!
As I type this blog post I am wrapped up in a black and white polka dot bathrobe (something I would NOT be wearing in my imaginary English manor) and have a cup of Sleepytime by my side.  It's night and everyone in the house is asleep. I took a break from my book tonight because I wanted to share with you a recipe that is so goooood!  
And there is a story that goes with it...
A few years ago (yes, years!) I ripped this recipe out of the newspaper and tucked it away for safe keeping.  It reminded me of a muffin that I used to get at an office building I worked at back in the 90's.  The baker in the cafeteria would make a batch of morning glory muffins every day at 9 am.  I would be in line at 9:01 to get a coffee and MY muffin.  This ritual made going to work everyday much more enjoyable, let me tell you.  The job was stressful and I looked to the little things to brighten my day.  This was one of them. 

At first I couldn't place the taste, I just knew I liked it.  Then I finally realized what it was. Carrot! Carrot cake, only better.  And perfectly acceptable to eat for breakfast!
The recipe simple. 
The most time consuming part is grating the carrots. I had every ingredient on hand which is also a winner in my book.    
The recipe says it makes 15 but I kept it at 12.  Not only did they come out nice and big, I only had to use one muffin tin : )
You could easily frost these up with cream cheese frosting and serve for dessert.  I prefer to just sprinkle them with coconut and have for breakfast or a snack.  John loved them too.  I laughed sneakily because he had no idea they have a vegetable in them.  One point for Mom!
Warm with a little butter is my favorite!
I really love these muffins and I hope you will too ♥
Here's how to make them:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (mixture of ground cloves, cinnamon, allspice, & nutmeg)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
1/2 cup raisons
1 cup shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugar, oil, and eggs.  Beat at med-high speed until smooth and creamy.
Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, pie spice or spice mixture, and salt into a bowl.  Add egg mixture and combine at med-low speed. 
Add the vanilla, carrots, nuts, raisins, and coconut.  Beat at low speed for 30 seconds. Remove the bowl for stand mixer.  Use a rubber spatula to finish mixing the dough, which will be quite thick. 
Spoon the batter into a greased (12 cup) muffin tin.  Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with extra coconut : )
Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until muffins are firm to the touch and lightly browned.  Let them cool slightly in the pan and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


Before I go I wanted to share with you a few snapshots from last week. 
One of my intentions for the new year was to spend more time outside. 
I've been doing that...

I've been taking drives to the ocean.  Although it's freezing here, the beach is really a spectacular place in the winter.  It's quiet and peaceful and I feel like I have the entire ocean to myself. I walk and breathe the fresh air into my lungs, staring out into the horizon wondering what is beyond what I can't see. It's been a perfect spot for me to reflect and be alone with my thoughts.  Almost therapeutic.
One day I actually saw the sunrise and the sunset in the same day.  This is not a normal occurrence for me and I couldn't get over the beauty of it. 

The universe is really an amazing place if you look closely enough.
There is magic around every corner ♥
I hope you find happiness in the little things today. 
And also enjoy a yummy muffin! It me! : )

Monday, January 5, 2015

Tuscan Vegatable Soup ♥

Hello Friends!
How is January treating you so far?
Today was the first day that I actually felt myself falling back into a regular routine. The house is back to normal and my little one is back to school.  All the Christmas décor is down and I must say things look a bit bare.  However, it is nice to have my family room back. We can see the TV again without any obstructions! : )
Time to start making lists and getting my act together for 2015. 
So, five days into the month I held true to one of my intentions (yay!) and made a healthy soup for dinner. Since it's absolutely freezing I thought soup would be perfect for tonight! I wanted a recipe that had lots of veggies since we are really trying to start the year off right. 
I found this recipe for Tuscan Vegetable Soup thanks to Pinterest

It's from this blog: (She's got tons of other soups that look delicious too! : )
This soup took under 30 minutes to make and came out SO GOOD! Is there anything better than a hot bowl of soup on a cold January day?
I can't think of a thing..... ♥

1 (15.5) can cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced onion (about 1 medium sized onion)
1 cup diced carrots (about 1 large carrot)
1 cup diced celery (about 2 large stalks)
1 cup diced zucchini (about 1 medium sized zucchini)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
4 cups low-sodium, fat free chicken (or vegetable) broth
1 (14.5) can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 handfuls baby spinach leaves (about 2 cups packed)
Parmesan cheese 

In a small bowl, mash half of the beans with the back of a spoon.  Set aside.

Heat oil in a medium sized soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add veggies & seasonings and cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are tender - about 5 minutes.

Add the broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Add the mashed and whole beans, and the spinach leaves.  Cook until the spinach is wilted, about 3 - 5 more minutes. 

Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.

And there you have it!
Serve with some crusty bread and butter to dunk and a glass of red wine to warm the bones ♥
Enjoy! ♥  

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Heartfelt Home Cafe: Christmas Edition ♥


Hello Friends! Welcome back to the Heartfelt Home Cafe.  Today is December 30th.  Christmas is over and we are in that hazy space between Christmas and New Years.  I don't know about you, but I am wiped out! Our Christmas was wonderful, but exhausting.  I've eaten too much and feel like I could sleep for a week!  My house is a mess so I thought this would be a perfect time for a little escape....

Care to join me?


Here in the North East we had a wet Christmas.  No snow, just rain... Boo! But here at the Heartfelt Home Café there is a beautiful blanket of white that makes our view look just like your favorite Christmas card ♥

It's a marshmallow world just outside our window.  Everything sprinkled with sparkling white as far as your eyes can see.  You don't have to drive it in, just open your eyes and enjoy.
It's cold though, so please step inside, won't you?
I have a hot cup waiting just for you...

I know you've eaten far too many cookies this week (I know I have) but here in our café calories don't count. 
Don't you just love it here? : )

I've decorated with candles, greens, and holly berries.  It's warm & rustic and looks very beautiful. 
Come in and take a seat.  I'll be right over with some yummy goodies I've prepared just for you...

By the way, do you like how I decorated the windows with candy canes?

(real talk: I might really do this at home next year! I think it's adorable : )
Don't forget we have our friendly florist right next door.  This morning he brought us over this bucket of cut greens to place by the front door.  Simple and elegant. The smell of the fresh pine will greet you and you enter the café.

It's chilly, so how about some hot coco to warm you while we talk? This one has whipped cream and marshmallows.  Oh yes!
How was your holiday?
My son woke up at 4:30 am on Christmas morning.  This is truth! He said he was too excited to sleep.  I told him it was still the middle of the night and urged him to go back to sleep.  He did not.  Remembering what it was like to be seven I finally gave up at 5:30.  Our day started early.  I told Rob to make the coffee and we went into the family room to see what Santa had brought.  He was SO happy! All my stressing over the past two months paid off just to see the expression on his face. 
♥♥♥ Priceless! ♥♥♥

The expectations of Christmas are always so high and I feel the pressure.  Nothing ever goes the way you plan it in your head.  Once the day comes its such a relief to me.  Do you ever feel that way?
 A happy boy is all I care about.  Everything else will work itself out.

A festive latte just for you.....xo

After a holiday I need time to myself to recharge my batteries.  I love being around people, but after so many hours of talking I feel the need to be still.  Silent.  I gain energy from quiet.  A nice book always does the trick. 
Did I mention my son got a drum set for Christmas? I'm going to need lots of books! LOL

Speaking of books, I'm looking for some recommendations for the new year.  Right now I'm not reading anything.  I just finished (yet another) historical fiction phase and I'm looking for a change. 
Any suggestions?
What have been your favorite books of the year?

I've been thinking a lot about the new year and what my intentions will be. I don't really care for the term "resolutions" because I'm not really trying to resolve anything.
It's more like I have the best intentions of accomplishing things.   

I would like to spend more time outside in 2015.  Walking, riding my bike, gardening.  I realized in 2014 that being outside really elevates my mood.  The is something to the power of fresh air in the lungs - even if it's just for 10 minutes a day.

I would also like to concentrate on more healthy eating for my family.  I've been researching healthy recipes to make and would like to come up with some sort of meal plan for my week.  Lately I've felt a bit lost in the kitchen (hence my lack of recipe posts) and I would really like to get my groove back.
If you know of any health meal sources (blogs, websites, cookbooks, or your own recipes) please let me know.  I am in a cooking rut that I need to get out of. 

I have blogging intentions too.  I would like to try to do more frequent posts and I mentioned the healthy recipes so stay tuned for that.  I would also like to visit our café at least once month because I think we all really like it here ♥
And I know I spend way too much time on Pinterest anyway, so why not put it to good use : )

I've been thinking about doing a photo challenge.  The other day I was scrolling through my camera roll and I discovered I have more photos of food than I do people! Is that right? I am going to challenge myself to take more photos this year and capture moments of my day that aren't just my salad - even though I still will be photoing my salad!
I will try to compile them and post "my week in pictures " or something like that at the end of every week.  If I give myself an incentive, then I will do it. 
What about you?
Do you have any intentions/resolutions for the new year?

We had all of Christmas week off and it was wonderful having everyone home.  Especially this past weekend.  After all the hype, it was nice to be lazy.  I did manage to see two movies last week. I saw Into the Woods and Annie. 
I liked them both.  I did not know that Into the Woods was a full on musical! That surprised me. I enjoyed it even though the singing was a bit awkward at times.  I thought Meryl Streep as the wicked witch was awesome! She made the movie for me. 
I had low expectations of Annie because I loved the 80's version with Carol Burnett so much! That movie was a part of my childhood and I'm not a big fan of change.  I'm happy to say I loved the new version.  I thought they did a great job modernizing the plot and the cast all did great.  My son loved it and has been singing Annie songs ever since.
Did you see either of these movies? What did you think?

Well, we had a lovely chat, didn't we? I'm so glad you stopped by today!
The coffee and the goodies were delicious, but I especially loved your company.
I would just like tell you how grateful I am to this community we have built together this year.  Thank you for taking the time to be a part of it.
I have made very special friendships that I cherish and look forward to talking to all of you soon!

Cheers to a Happy and Healthy New Year!