Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Playing tourist in your own city ♥


I really love museums. I think it comes from my love of being surrounded by old things.  Things with history and sentiment.  It's emotional for me. I know that sounds realllly nerdy - but it's true ♥  So when my husband asked me what I wanted for Mother's Day I told him I wanted a day at a museum.  Since museums aren't his thing, he offered to be my driver and babysitter for the day.  Yaaay! 

So I made my yearly (although I wish it was more) visit to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston on Sunday. It's one of my favorite places.  The amount of inspiration in this building is immeasurable.  Famous artwork and artifacts from all around the world. 




I went by myself, as I usually do, and took my time wandering from room to room.  Paintings speak thousands of words. Don't get me wrong, I am not an expert in art. Just an expert in pretty things, like Monet's Water Lillies. How lovely is this? It's even better in person! 



For $5 I rented a headset (that was like an ipod) and got a guided tour around the museum. It was very informative! People keep asking me if I mind going places alone and the truth is I don't at all.  I rather enjoy it.When I was younger I never ventured out or did anything by myself.  I got to a point where I felt like I had been missing out, so I quit wasting time and now I do what I want weather I have company or not. Turning 40 will do that to a person. It's a great feeling : )  

I can take my time and see what I want to see.  When I needed a break I got an iced cappuccino and lemon scone in the cafeteria.  It was total ME time and I loved it! 




It wasn't crowded that day and at times I found myself in hallways all by myself.  This one on the third floor had one wall of windows that treated me to a nice view of Boston! 




It's fun playing tourist in your own city.  Sometimes we take for granted places and things that are right under our nose!  




I had a lovely morning exploring the museum and the grounds.  The landscape is gorgeous! All the trees are in bloom.  It was 87 degrees and felt like a summer day! 



After my visit, I met up with my family and we took some time in the city together exploring some of our other favorite places, then home for homemade pizza and banana cream pie. 

It's nice to change it up once in a while.  Kinds of feels like being on vacation.  

Do you like being a tourist in your city? I can't be the only one ♥ 



Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Roasted parmesan broccoli ♥

 
Here is a recipe for the best broccoli you'll ever have.  I've roasted broccoli in the past before but never like this.  I've found that if you roast it on a high heat for a short amount of time (opposed to a lower heat and a longer roasting time) the broccoli becomes crispy and caramelized around the edges.  And the parmesan cheese adds the perfect touch to finish it off. 
 
Here's how to make it:
  
1 bunch fresh broccoli florets
olive oil
sea salt
black pepper
parmesan cheese
 
 

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees.  Don't be scared.
 
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread the florets on it. 
 
Drizzle with olive oil and season generously with salt.  Toss to coat and roast for 12 - 15 minutes. 
 
Toss the broccoli and turn the baking sheet halfway through to ensure even roasting. 
 
 
 
 
Remove from the oven and season with fresh ground black pepper and parmesan cheese. 
 
Serve immediately!
 
Even you non broccoli lovers (and you know who you are.... : ) will love this recipe. 
 
Give it a try!
 
♥♥♥
 
 
 
 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Brown sugar spiced baked chicken ♥

My son John made his First Holy Communion on Saturday.  We couldn't have asked for a better day.  The ceremony was beautiful and after church we had a lovely brunch with family and friends. 
 
So proud of this little guy!
 

 
It's been a busy time around here.  I've been very preoccupied with planning his big day.  Now that it's all said and done I couldn't be happier with how it all turned out.  Nothing got spilled on his white suit and the cake was delicious.  He's growing up.
 
It's all good ♥
 
 
 
 
As you know I've been in a food rut since the winter.  I have been pushing myself to try new recipes in hopes of breaking my boring routine.  I found a new chicken recipe on Pinterest and tried it out on my family last weekend.  It was so good I made it again during the week.  What I like best is that you can prep it the night before and then 20 minutes before you eat just pop it in the oven.  After a busy day at work, I really appreciate that!
 
Here's how you make it:
 
 
 
 
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon garlic power
salt & pepper
 
 
 
 
Salt and pepper the check breasts.
 
Pour the brown sugar, paprika, oregano, and garlic powder
  in a plastic bag.
 
 
 
 
Add the chicken and shake to coat. 
 
Leave the chicken in the fridge at least 3 hours  (or even overnight) to absorb the flavors. 
 
*overnight is best! the longer it marinates the better it is!
 
 
 
 
When ready to cook, arrange the chicken on a foil lined baking sheet.
 
Bake 20 - 23 minutes.
 
 
 
 
The chicken will be nice & juicy!
 
 
 
 
This recipe has definitely been added to my rotation.  It's really delicious!
 
 
 
 
 I served this (at my parents house) with roasted broccoli, rice, and rolls. 
 
It was a hit! And better yet....a change for the same old - same old. 
 
A little prep the night before is definitely worth it!
 
 
 
 
And speaking of roasted broccoli, I am going to share this recipe with you soon.
 
Broccoli has never tasted so good!
 
 
 
 
I literally just came inside from looking at the full moon tonight.  It's bright and huge and I love it!  I know some of you (and you know who you are : ) were moon gazing too.  It may sound silly but I love how we are all looking up at the same moon.  It makes the world feel just a little bit smaller. Don't you agree? ♥
 
I once wrote a post about the magic of the moon.  It's one of my favorite posts I've ever done.
 
Wishing you a happy week ahead! Spring is (finally) in full bloom! It's going to be 80 degrees tomorrow and I'm going for walk in the morning.  I want to start my week off  right!
 
 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Strawberry pineapple cobbler ♥

Well, hello Spring! What took you so long?!
 
 


Mother Nature has finally caught up with us around here.  It's almost the end of April and I can confidently say we are out of the woods (the winter woods!).  The air is changing and flowers are popping up all over the place.  We had a few days last week where we were actually able to open the windows for a bit and let in the fresh air.  It's been niiiiice!
 
 
 
 
And whenever that first burst of Spring hits me I always tend to want to bake something with fruit. So I did.  Strawberry pineapple cobbler.  Totally yummy and a lovely welcome to Spring!  
 



Last Monday was when Spring fever hit me hard.  I had the day off from work so I decided to take full advantage of the great weather.  The winter really did a number on me this year.  I felt "down" more than usual and very unmotivated.  All the snow and darkness was very depressing.  It seemed to go on forever.  I teetered between not being able to sleep at all to being tied all the time. I've never experienced that before.  Once the days started getting longer I started to feel better.  The faster the snow melted, the more my motivation came back.  Now that it's Spring, I'm not as tired, and suddenly have a surge of energy.  New ideas, recipes, projects.  I feel so much better ♥
 

 
 
 I was determined to spend some time outdoors and I found just the place.  This bench had my name written all over it.  Monday is the only day of the week that is solely mine. I work the rest of the week but Mondays are for me.  Yes, I do errands and chores around the house, but I try to take a tiny bit of time and do something special for myself.  Sometimes I meet a friend for breakfast, or go for a bike ride. This day all I wanted to do was sit outside. 
 
 
 
 
One BLT and iced latte to go...
 
 
 
 
The bench faced the ocean and was under a tree.  It doesn't get any better than this. 
 
 
 
 
All I needed was a half hour.  I ate my lunch, watched the waves, and then took a walk on the beach.  It was a bit windy, but I didn't care.  There were dog walkers, skateboarders, and some people just sitting in their car drinking coffee.  I'm sure we were all thinking the same thing...."Spring Glorious Spring!".  Within a few weeks all these trees will have flowers on them (I saw the buds).  I will be back to my bench very soon to enjoy them!
 
It's really amazing what a little sunshine and fresh air can do for your mood.  I felt so good after that. Back home to do housework and then 3:00 pick up at school. Back to work on Tuesday.  My half hour time out set the tone for the rest of my week.  I was productive and happy.  I also slept like a baby that night which is priceless : ) 
 
 
 
 
I thought you all might like this recipe for strawberry pineapple cobbler.  I made if for the first time on Sunday and brought it to my parent's house for dessert.  It was a hit all around.  The light flavors of the new season are spot on!
 
recipe adapted from Sumptuous Spoonfuls
 
3 cups fresh strawberries, diced
1 can pineapple chunks (20 oz.), drained
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick butter, melted
 
 
 
 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a 9 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. 
 
Toss the diced strawberries with 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice.  Set aside. 
 
 
 
 
In a small mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and 1/4 cup sugar.  Stir in the milk, vanilla, and melted butter until just mixed.  Your batter will have lumps and that's OK.  
 
 
 
 
Pour into the prepared baking dish. Gently spoon the strawberries on top of the batter (with all the juice).  Then drop in the pineapples. 
 
 
 
 
 Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until the cobbler is golden brown on the edges.  A knife in the center should come out completely clean. 
 
 
 
 
The best part about this dessert is that it can be eaten warm, room temperature, or cold. 
 
 
 
 
We had ours warm, topped with whipped topping. 
 
Ice cream would have been delicious too!  
 
 
 
 
I had leftovers the next day....cold...right out of the fridge! So good!
 
 
 
 
If you like this recipe, here are a few other strawberry favorites I have made:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I have left over strawberries and I am making the strawberry French toast this weekend : )
 
 
 
 
I hung my Spring garden flag which is another sign that we are in the clear.  A month ago this entire flag pole was buried in a snow bank.  I'm so glad it survived! The next step will be planting flowers, but I don't think we are quite ready yet.  I won't push my luck : )
 
I hope the sun is shining on you today and you take some time to treat yourself to something special
 
♥  
 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Love letters ♥

Love can be expressed in many different ways, but the most timeless and most treasured will always remain the love letter. Once upon a time, before Hallmark, men and women wrote from the heart.  A dying art I say.  Going down an Internet rabbit hole I found dozens of letters from famous men and women throughout the ages that I thought were simply beautiful.  The small act of writing down ones feelings in a simple letter can speak volumes and give us a tiny glimpse into what lies deep within ones heart.

From artists to writers to world leaders, everyone included in this selection of love letters had something passionate to say to their beloved.  The relationships may not have lasted, but luckily for us, the letters have. 

Love letters are the missing puzzles pieces in history. 





King Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon in 1509. After 18 years of marriage and no living male heirs Henry's royal eye began to wander. Although he originally courted Anne Boleyn’s sister Mary, it was Anne who stole his heart, though she refused to be his mistress. She wanted to be Queen. Unfortunately for Anne, the temperamental King had another change of heart and ordered her execution in 1536. Henry VIII wrote Anne this letter in 1527:

I beg to know expressly your intention touching the love between us. Necessity compels me to obtain this answer, having been more than a year wounded by the dart of love, and not yet sure whether I shall fail or find a place in your affection.”

Henry VIII went on to marry four more times (six in all).  Some men are clearly hard to please.







The ruthless French leader Napoleon Bonaparte had a sweet side for his wife Josephine. Although he divorced her when she could not have children, he continued to write to her. A few days after they were married, Napoleon left to command the French army near Italy. In the following months, he frequently wrote, expressing how much he missed her. He wrote her the following letter on July 17, 1796:

“Since I left you, I have been constantly depressed. My happiness is to be near you. Incessantly I live over in my memory your caresses, your tears, your affectionate solicitude. The charms of the incomparable Josephine kindle continually a burning and a glowing flame in my heart. When, free from all solicitude, all harassing care, shall I be able to pass all my time with you, having only to love you, and to think only of the happiness of so saying, and of proving it to you?

Hmmm....apparently even ruthless dictators have a sweet side.



 via

The identity of Ludwig van Beethoven’s “immortal beloved,” in 1812, is still a mystery, but historians believe it was Antonie Brentano, a diplomat’s daughter. Beethoven dedicated his Diabelli Variations Op. 120 to her, and in one of his letters found after his death, he famously wrote:

“Though still in bed, my thoughts go out to you, my Immortal Beloved, Be calm–love me–today–yesterday–what tearful longings for you–you–you–my life–my all–farewell. Oh continue to love me–never misjudge the most faithful heart of your beloved. Ever thine. Ever mine. Ever ours.”

And for those of you who saw the Sex and the City movie in 2008, this is the famous quote that Big whispers in Carrie's ear right after they tied the knot at city hall.  Just sayin.... : )

 
 

via
 

Auctioneer David Hunt found a note tucked in one of Joe DiMaggio's wallets. It had been written in 1954, when DiMaggio and Monroe were married for nine months. The couple's brief  but volatile marriage lasted less than a year.
Dear Joe, I know I was wrong! I acted the way I did and said the things I did because I was hurt — not because I meant them — and it was stupid of me to be hurt because actually there wasn't enough reason — in fact no reason at all. Please accept my apology and don't, don't, don't, don't be angry with your baby — she loves you. Lovingly, your wife (for life), Mrs. J.P. DiMaggio.
 
Marilyn Monroe died in August 1962.  Joe DiMaggio carried this note with him until his death in March 1999.






  
 
      Orson Wells married Rita Hayworth in September 1943. Their marriage lasted less than four years. A cache of love letters and drawings Wells wrote to Hayworth during their marriage were discovered in a secret compartment of Rita's makeup case.  They were sold in 2001 at a Christie's auction for over $25,000.  The collection included the following letter:
 
 
Dearest Angel Girl:

I suppose most of us are lonely in this big world, but we must fall tremendously in love to find it out. The cure is the discovery of our need for company — I mean company in the very special sense we've come to understand since we happened to each other — you and I. The pleasures of human experience are emptied away without that companionship — now that I've known it; without it joy is just an unendurable as sorrow. You are my life — my very life. Never imagine your hope approximates what you are to me. Beautiful, precious little baby — hurry up the sun! — make the days shorter till we meet. I love you, that's all there is to it.
Your boy,
Orson 

Rita Hayworth was married and divorced 5 times (Orson 3 times) but she is quoted saying that Orson Wells was her one true love. 
 



Johnny Cash and June Carter were married on March 1, 1968.  They remained together until she passed away 35 years later.  Now that it's all said and done (have you seen Walk the Line?) they had one of the most classic love stories of all time.  Johnny once wrote to June:

 
June 23 1994

Odense, Denmark.

Happy Birthday Princess,

We get old and get use to each other. We think alike. We read each others minds. We know what the other wants without asking. Sometimes we irritate each other a little bit. Maybe sometimes take each other for granted. 

But once in awhile, like today, I meditate on it and realize how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman I ever met. You still fascinate and inspire me. You influence me for the better. You’re the object of my desire, the #1 Earthly reason for my existence. I love you very much.

Happy Birthday Princess.

John

Johnny died just four months after June's passing.  Some say of a broken heart.






John Keats (1795 - 1821) led a short but brilliant life. At the age of 23 he met and fell in love with Fanny Brawne, literally the girl next door. Tragically, doctors had already diagnosed the tuberculosis which would eventually kill him, so their marriage became an impossibility.

Keats wrote this letter to Fanny on October 13, 1819:

I cannot exist without you - I am forgetful of every thing but seeing you again - my life seems to stop there - I see no further. You have absorb'd me.
I have a sensation at the present moment as though I were dissolving ....I have been astonished that men could die martyrs for religion - I have shudder'd at it - I shudder no more - I could be martyr'd for my religion - love is my religion - I could die for that - I could die for you. My creed is love and you are its only tenet - you have ravish'd me away by a power I cannot resist.

- John Keats
It took Fanny a month to receive the news that John had died.  She mourned for six years.  In 1833, more than 12 years past his death, she went on to marry and have three children. 


 



 
Mark Twain fell in love with a photo of Oliva Langdon in 1868.  They exchanged letters for two years and were eventually married in February 1870.
Though her father did not approve, Twain wrote this letter to Olivia in 1869:

May 12, 1869

Out of the depths of my happy heart wells a great tide of love and prayer for this priceless treasure that is confided to my life-long keeping.
You cannot see its intangible waves as they flow towards you, darling, but in these lines you will hear, as it were, the distant beating of the surf.

The couples marriage lasted 34 years, until her death in 1904.



Alexandra and Nicholas II (Romanov) were the last Tsarina and Tsar of Russia.  They married in May 1896 and had 5 children . The family lived in splendor until July 1918, when they were executed by the Bolsheviks in the basement of their home. 
In 1915 Nicholas traveled to the front line to take command of his army.  While he was away Alexandra and Nicholas corresponded in letters.

Tsarina Alexandra to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia:

December 30, 1915

Off you go again alone and its with a very heavy heart I part from you.  No more kisses and tender caresses for ever so long -- I want to bury myself in you, hold you tight in my arms, make you feel the intense love of mine.

You are my very life Sweetheart, and every separation gives such endless heartache...

Goodbye my Angel, Husband of my heart I envy my flowers that will accompany you.  I press you tightly to my breast, kiss every sweet place with tender love...

God bless and protect you, guard you from all harm, guide you safely and firmly into the new year.  May it bring glory and sure peace, and the reward for all this war has cost you.

I gently press my lips to yours and try to forget everything, gazing into your lovely eyes - I lay on your precious breast, rested my tired head upon it still.  This morning I tried to gain calm and strength for the separation.  Goodbye wee one, Lovebird, Sunshine, Huzy mine, Own!
 
Nicholas and Alexandra wrote hundreds of letters during the war (some say the letters were a distraction to Nicholas). They prove the love between this couple who met a most tragic end.  


 
Are you inspired yet? It's April, it's Spring. Why not write a love letter? You could be part of history one day ♥
 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Orange pound cake ♥

Even though it doesn't quite feel it (at least not around here anyway) Spring is here! I am itching at the bone to put away all of my woolly winter sweaters and boots and bring out something light and frilly to wear.  All the dresses at Kohl's are sleeveless and "Cinderella inspired" and I must say - I love them.  If only I were 16 again : )
 
Sadly, the temps are still very cold here, so I can't put away my winter coat just yet.  The sun is shining stronger than ever though, and everyone seems to be in a Springtime-state-of-mind.  We will just ignore outside until she decides to catch up with the rest of us.  OK.
 
How about some orange pound cake for dessert tonight?
 
 
 
♥ recipe from Shelly at Cookies and Cups
 
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup orange juice
 
 
 
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
 
Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in eggs, vanilla, and zest and mix until combined, scraping the sides as necessary.
 
Slowly incorporate flour and orange juice.  Mix until smooth.   
 
 
 
 
Line a 9x5 loaf pan with parchment paper and spray with non stick cooking spray.  Spread batter into the pan and bake for 55-60 minutes.  (I have an electric oven and it baked for 60 minutes) 
 
 
 
 
Allow cake to cool for 15 minutes and then remove from the pan before glazing.
 
 
 
 
 For the glaze:
 
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
2-3 tablespoons orange juice
 
Whisk all the ingredients together.  If you prefer the glaze to be on the thicker side use less orange juice. 
 
 

 
 Drizzle over cooled cake (as much on as you like!)
 
 
 
 
With or without the glaze this pound cake is yummy.  A perfect Springtime treat to have with your tea.  As you can see I cut my slices thick!  Just the way my Mom always cut our Sara Lee Pound cakes when I was little ♥
 
But anyway....
 
 

 
 
 Now that it's Spring I've started collecting houseplants and trying my best not to kill them.  Its nice to have color in the house again. Thanks to daylight savings we have light until almost 7 pm now.  It's glorious!
 
 
 
 
 
 
It's amazing what a little bit of sunshine can do.  Not driving home from work in the dark is awesome! Little by little we are getting there.  Warmer days are coming.
 
 
 
 
 
Outside the ground is still frozen, but look what I found yesterday....
 
 
 
hope....♥
 
Hope you are all having a lovely week! xo