Thursday, April 21, 2016

April days & mango salsa ♥

It’s Spring vacation for John this week and we’ve been lucky because the weather in Massachusetts has been glorious!  Warm and sunny with just a hint of a cool breeze.  Yesterday I think we hit 70 degrees! We haven’t turned the heat on in three days! Yesterday morning I went peeking around the yard to see if I had enough forsythia to cut a bunch to bring inside and I saw my tulips are about ready to pop.  I don’t want to miss it because unfortunately they don’t last very long.  One quick wind and they are gone so I’ll be checking on them every day.  I don’t want to walk out there to a sea of stems…..that’s happened to me before.




There are pink, white, and yellow buds everywhere and my Mom & Dad’s pear tree already has flowers.  They call this John’s Tree because my Dad planted it when John was born.  It was tiny when they first planted it and now eight years later its big and strong…just like him ♥




My neighbor has similar trees in his yard facing directly across from my living room window which means I get a picture perfect view while I have my coffee in the morning. The birds have arrived as well.  I must remember to get birdseed for the feeders.  I can hear them chirping away every morning.  It’s a nice way to start the day.  Speaking of mornings, lately I’ve taken to writing in my journal first thing in the morning. Actually second thing. 

First thing is coffee, then journal>>>priorities~ 




I  jot down a few thoughts for the day, words of encouragement (wishing myself luck with whatever is in store for me) and then I jump in the shower and get ready to face the world.  My new ritual is helping me gain a better attitude and I find myself in a happier mood than when I watch the news which is almost always bad, sad, and depressing. I walk away feeling anxious and that is no way to start the day. Rob always has it on in the kitchen and I only poke my head in to see the weather and then I leave the room.


This is much better for my heart


On Monday we dug our bikes out of the shed and went for our first ride. (Check that off the bucket list)  I was happy to see my bike and its cute basket I got last year are still in one piece! John is still learning, and getting better every day.  All these years he’s never had much interest in biking – he would much rather roller blade, which I couldn’t do to save my life! Now that he’s interested we aren’t hesitating on the chance to get him going.  It’s great exercise and just in time for summer! ♥


I'm in it just for the basket


I made sure we had a hearty breakfast of blueberry corn cakes with warm maple syrup, crispy bacon, and orange juice before our ride.  It was my first time making these corncakes and they were delicious!  You use 1 box of Jiffy Corn Muffin mix with an egg, 1/2 cup of milk, and 1 cup of blueberries.  Grill them up like pancakes and enjoy!

YUM!




I got the recipe out of Susan Branch’s new book: Martha’s Vineyard: Island of Dreams which I am somewhat obsessed with.  I’m on my second read of it and cannot put it down.  It’s inspiring me to do so many things I have been putting off for ages.  In her book she talks about her hero’s and I think she would be happy to hear that she’s certainly one of mine! More on that later, but I thought you would like to know that I’m going to be attending her book signing here at the end of the month! I can’t wait!

♥ ♥ ♥

...In the past I may have mentioned that John is really into ART.  He loves drawing and sketching and now… painting!  I would call his creations “abstract” and the surprising thing (even to him)  is that sometimes what seems like a total mess ends up looking like a masterpiece! Now that the warm weather is here he can take his painting outside and that makes me and my basement carpet very happy :)  He painted this the other day while I was cleaning off the bikes.  I leaned it up against the shed to dry and thought how pretty it looks out here.  Blue and green is such a nice combination, don’t you think?  Later that day he painted a smaller version with a tree and clouds in it and I hung it in my bedroom. ♥




So that’s April so far except I saved the best for last because today my friend Donna surprised me with the most delicious lunch. She sits next to me in the office and this morning told me that she brought in enough lunch for two. She made a huge batch of MANGO SALSA that was so refreshing and out of this world that I knew right away it was blog-worthy!  Donna is a great cook and a total foodie!  If you love salsa, then please try this!

5 big tomatoes – diced (drain juice)
3 big mangos – diced
1 bunch cilantro – chopped
2 jalapenos (fresh)
1 red pepper – diced
1 medium onion – chopped
Juice of 2 limes
Juice of 2 lemons
(add strawberries if you like)

Mix together in a big bowl and enjoy!

Donna served it to me with grilled chicken breast and brown rice.  It was delicious! This was the only photo I took before I scoffed the whole plate down.  And I apologize for the quality of the picture – the florescent lights in my office do nothing for this beautiful plate of food! ♥




I told her we should be eating it outside somewhere with guacamole, corn chips, and margaritas!  Such a treat! It reminded me of the fruit salsa I made last year with cinnamon sugar pita chips

I hope you are enjoying these lovely April days. Life for me hasn't been the same since Downton ended but I'm carrying on.  What are you watching now? If you have any suggestions on how to fill the Downton void I would love to hear them. I read there are plans for a movie but I don't know if it's just a rumor.  Fingers crossed it will happen ♥

See you soon! xo

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Spring Bucket List ♥




Hello Friends! Happy April! I hope you all had a nice Easter last weekend.  We hosted a brunch at our house in the morning for Rob's family and then went to my parents house later in the day for dinner with my family.  It was quite busy, but great seeing everyone!

John had fun looking for eggs.  Here he is on Good Friday coloring them at my parents house.  We did four dozen and only had 3 causalities.  That's pretty good!  My Day hid the eggs and can you believe 12 adults (and one John) still could not find 3 eggs?  By the end of the night we all  gave up.  The Easter Bunny got us again! LOL




The other day my friend Patricia mentioned on Instagram that she was Spring cleaning.  It got me thinking of all the things that I would like to do this Spring – specifically all the things I need to clean! When I was little I used to help my mom clean Spring clean.  I loved taking china out of the curio cabinets and washing the figurines by hand. I would Windex the glass and take all the crystal pieces off the chandelier and soak them in the sink. 
 
{Sometimes I would hold them up to my ears and pretend they were earrings}
 
I loved dusting  the furniture with Lemon Pledge until it was slippery….remember that smell – soooo good!
 
 




We used to have a shadow box built into the wall along the stairs. It had a mirror as the back and several little shelves in it. It was my job to make sure it sparkled. Actually I think I gave myself that job just because I loved it so much.  Even now I can remember every little milk glass bottle and porcelain dish on that shadow box because I took care of it.

If only I still had all that energy!
 
The thought of Spring cleaning brought back those memories and suddenly motivated me to make a Spring Bucket List.  Last night I walked around my house with a pad of paper and wrote down all the things that I would like to accomplish over the next two months.  Don’t worry, I also listed some “outside of the house” stuff too. 




 
 
 
We had an Easter brunch at our house last Sunday.  It was a nice opportunity for me to set the table pretty and use my fancy dishes.  I love my China but sadly don’t use it as much as I would like to. When I was putting the dishes away I noticed the inside is quite dusty. 
How does dust get inside the china cabinet is what I want to know. 
But it’s there, along with tons of finger prints.  First on my list is take all the dishes out and clean the mirror and glass.  While I’m doing that I can soak the china in the sink.  This is a Saturday morning project just waiting to happen.
I’ll light a candle, make myself some tea and put an old movie on in the background. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
How does the dust get in there???
 
 
 
 
 
Don’t look too closely at this picture or you will see the thick layer of dust covering this beautiful chandelier.  I’m sure I’ve talked about my love for this fixture before.  It came from my parent’s house (given to them as a wedding present) and used to hang in our dining room.  Now it hangs in my foyer.  The problem is I need a ladder to get up to it which makes cleaning it an ordeal.  I have to lay towels on the floor of the foyer just in case if I drop something it won’t shatter (which has happened before).  I have to plan on a few hours (alone) for this.  It’s a big undertaking but definitely worth the sparkle. 
I'll definitely need coffee and some Frank Sinatra for this….
 
 
 



I'm glad you can't see the cobwebs :)
 
 

 
 
 
I also have cabinets, a closet of death, and a spice rack that needs to be organized. 

 
 
 
 
 
Do you ever find yourself looking for a spice and you either have three of them or none at all? That’s what happens when you have a spice rack that looks like this.
 
It drives me crazy!
 
 



Here’s another shelf that also needs some lovin’. Each cup has to be taken down and hand washed.  The winter heat has created a thick layer of dust on this shelf too.
  Where is Hazel when I need her?
 
 
 
 
 
~Dusty Minnie ~


 Well, after all that work I don’t intend to spend my whole spring cleaning the house.  I’m anxious for the nice weather so I can get outside and start riding my bike again.  I had an offer go riding a few weeks ago with a friends but it ended up being too cold. There is a park close to my house that I have never biked in but have heard great things about.  I’m excited to see what this one is all about.  Exploring new places in your own town is fun!  This could also be a good place to go walking if I don’t feel like going to the beach. 
 

 
 
I have a stockpile of recipes that I’m excited to make this Spring.  I want to try some new smoothie recipes and make an asparagus tart for my Dad.  I owe a few friends letters (I haven’t forgotten about you : )  and I promised John that over his Spring vacation we could go for a picnic. 

So in a nutshell, here’s my

2016 Spring Bucket List:
 


 
 
 
Cleaning and organizing: china cabinet, chandelier, tea cup shelf, spice rack, pantry, linen closet, fill bags of clothes that don’t fit to be donated (ours and John’s).

 



 "The closet of death"

Cooking: make smoothies, make an asparagus tart, make cinnamon rolls, use my bread machine, experiment with new dinner recipes, have a brunch (with mimosas!)


 

 
 
Fun: Explore Bear Cove Park, start bike riding, walking, write letters, go on picnic with John, walk through the Boston Public Garden with Rob, bring back family game night once a week (been meaning to do that for a while), plan for our Disney trip in June, read Susan Branch’s new book: Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams which I preordered and will hopefully be in my pretty little hands by the second week in April! Cannot wait for that!!!!
 
 


Wow, I have a lot to do.  Reading it back I have a nice balance of work and fun!  What’s on your Spring bucket list?

I would love to hear it. 

 
♥♥♥
 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Easy apple cake ♥

 
 
Hello~  
 
I’ve had a recipe for lemon scones that I’ve wanted to post for weeks, but yesterday I made a yummy apple cake that I’m a little obsessed with. I had a few extra apples left over from a pie that I made for my dad (payment for installing a new water heater… I got off cheap :) so I went searching for a quick recipe and I found this one on www.bettercrocker.com. I made it the other night after dinner and could hardly wait to try a piece when it came out of the oven.  This is the kind of cake you eat standing at the counter at 8:30 at night….not that I did that on anything : )  The edges are both chewy & crispy and  It’s so good!

I will share the lemon scone recipe soon, but first this…..   
 

 
Easy Apple Cake
 
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
¼ tsp vanilla
1 ¼ cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ cups peeled, chopped apples

 

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9 inch round baking pan.
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Blend in eggs, one at a time.  Stir in (on low speed) vanilla, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in apples. Spoon the batter into pan.
Bake 40-45 minutes or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on cooling rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.  
 

 
Enjoy! 
 

♥ 
In other news...
 
I’ve been really bad about posting my daily pictures here, so here is a little recap of my IG photo challenge this week:

 ♥
 
 
Day 11 Indulgence: The mother of all cheesecakes! My favorite dessert from my favorite restaurant! I totally ate it all!

 
 



Day 12 Collections:  Much to my husband’s horror I collect many things like postcards, blue & white dishes, vintage linens, just to name a few.  It’s a sickness I know many of you also suffer from.  My first and most favorite collection is tea cups.  I’ve been adding to my collection of cups for years.  No two are alike.  This is one of my favorites...


 
 
 
Day 13 Gold:  To be honest, I’m not really a gold person.  I used to be and somewhere along the road I switched to silver.  However, some gold holds a special place in my heart.  My mother gave me this watch a few years ago.  It used to be her everyday watch when I was growing up.  It was a gift from Dad one Christmas before I was born.  Whenever I wear it I see my mother’s hand. 
 
 


Here is the engraving on the back.



 
Day 15 Current Favorite: Trader Joe’s Lavender Hand & Body Lotion.  Smells divine! Just another reason to love Trader Joe’s.  



 

Day 16 Lucky: I carry stones in my pocket every day for luck.  Each one special with a different meaning.  Some think its nonsense.  I say go with whatever works for you. 
 
 
 
 
Day 17 Holiday:  Happy St. Patrick’s Day! We are celebrating on Sunday at my parent’s house with a traditional boiled dinner.  I’m bringing the Irish bread. 
 
 
Day 18 Colorful: Another one of John’s creations.  I love his color choices here.  We hung this one in the family room. 
 


I'm so glad the weekend is finally here! Except I heard we may be getting snow on Sunday.....I know! Just as I thought we were in the clear....oh please let it be a joke.  I guess we'll just have to wait and see.  I hope you all have a cozy weekend! xo



 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Another round of photos...♥

 Is it just me or is March whizzing by?
 
We've already come in like a lion...let's hope it goes out like a lamb. 
 
Spring fever is in the air and everyone has it.  But first, a little green for St. Patrick's Day  ♥
 
 
 
 
 
Here are a few more days of photos for my challenge. 
 
 
 


Day 8 Silly: I asked him to make a silly face.  Instead he gave me his "thinking" face....which I think is pretty silly.




Day 9 Fuzzy: Nothing better than my fuzzy velour polka dot bathrobe. 
The most cozy one I've ever had!





Day 10 Baby Picture: This is my all time favorite, taken in the fall of 2007 when he was just a few months old.  I remember how cute that outfit was!  Seems like only yesterday. 
Stop growing already!
 
 
 
 
I stopped the car to take this photo on my way home from work yesterday.  Sunsets lately have been stunning.  Or maybe it's just because it's staying lighter longer now I'm actually out of work in time to see them.  Either way, I'm glad I didn't miss this ♥

Happy Weekend Friends!
 
I'll be back this weekend with more photos and a yummy recipe that I've been meaning to share. 
 
~ Spring is just around the corner ~


 
 Yes, yes, yes!
 

Monday, March 7, 2016

A few days of photos.... ♥

 
Hi Everyone!
 
 Here are a few photos from the weekend and the ones for my photo challenge....♥
 
 
 
 
Day 4 is Clock: I think I've posted this before but this is the clock that hangs in my bedroom.  I got it a few years ago at The Christmas Tree Shop and paid under $10 for it.  It's so pretty and I'm in love with the ticking sounds...tick, tick, tick.... 
 
 
 
 
Day 5 is Flowers: Ah, flowers! When I took this picture yesterday morning I was sitting on the couch having coffee admiring this lovely African Violet that I have managed not to kill.  It's so nice to have some color in the house.  This time of year is so drab.  These blooms are a promise of Spring~
 
 
 
 
Day 6 is Clouds although I took this photo a day late because there were NO clouds in the sky that day.  Not a one.  I was able to snap this picture of today's wispy clouds this morning on our way out the door. 
 
 
 
 
Day 7 is Outfit of the Day.  It's a shame day 7 wasn't on a better day for me because today was not a cute day.  Monday is my day off which means its my cooking, cleaning, errand running day.  This is my typical Monday outfit (unless I'm home all day in my pj's :). 
 
Not that I'm complaining.  Monday is also my most comfortable day.
 
 I ♥ it!
 
 
 
 
 
In other news.... It snowed Friday.  Just a dusting, but very, very cold here.  At this point I'm so baffled.  Wasn't it only last Monday I was walking on the beach in a light jacket?  Mother Nature is clearly as confused.  I heard we might reach 70 degrees on Wednesday.  Um...Ok.
That's New England weather for you!
 
 
 
 
My little guy has been busy drawing.  Saturday morning he spread out all these pictures on the floor so I could pick out my favorites.  Too many to pick from!
Do you see any familiar faces??? 
 
Yes, that is Charlie Brown on the left. He's one of his favorites to draw.  Darth Vader is next to him.
 I think he's copied probably every cartoon character ever drawn!
 
 
 
 
After that we went to music.  While John was having his drum lesson I took a walk around to kill some time.  Music shops are cool places.  I am always amazed at peoples talents...mostly because I can't carry a tune in a paper bag. Sad but true!
 
 
 
 
Since it's March I made Irish Bread today!!!  I always make my friend Eileen's recipe. It's the best one I've ever had.  I posted the recipe for it last year.  It has a cup of sour cream in it which makes it super moist. You bake it in a 10 inch round baking pan.  I split it and took half to my parent's house this afternoon.  I have a feeling I'll be making another one by week's end. 
 
  
 
 
I decorate all my letters with Susan Branch stickers.  I've had a stockpile of them since the late 90's! 
I very rarely send anything through the mail without one.  Friday was my day to catch up on letter writing. So much better than emails ~
 
 
 
 
Did you all watch the Downton finale last night? It was Ah-mazing!!!!!  I am so sad to see this show end, however I don't think I've even been as satisfied with a series ending EVER than I was with the Downton finale.  It was so well done and I cried tears of joy.  It will take a while to get over this one. I still can't believe it's really over (I know Dad....it's only a show....:).  
 
And that's my week so far.  What have you been up to?