Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fruity ice cubes and a GIVEAWAY!

Hello Friends!  How are you all this week?  We are in the middle of a heat wave here in MA! It's hot and humid, temperatures in the high 90's!   Air conditioning is a blessing~

Saturday we spent the entire day at the beach and I had the best hot dog that I've ever had in my life!  Why do hot dogs always taste so good at the beach? I don't know if it was the salt air or the grilled bun (in butter!) but BOY was it good!  Truth be told that I ate it so fast that I didn't even have time to think about taking a picture of it.  You will just have to take my word for it. 

Anyway, I have two things that I'm excited to show you today.  First, something special for your summer drinks, and then a Giveaway!  Yahoo!

Here's a cute idea.  I saw this in a magazine and I had to try it...

Want a way to fancy-up your summer drinks? How about fruity ice cubes?!

The ones I saw were made with blackberries, but this is what I had in the fridge : ) 

You could use any fruit to do this - strawberries, oranges, or raspberries?!

Just add your favorite fruit in the ice cube tray and viola!

I'm on a blueberry kick right now so I immediately went for the blueberries!  When the ice cube eventually melts, you get a treat! 

I drink lemon water all summer, so why not in ice cube form?  Looking at this pictures I'm thinking I should do some lime ones too?  A lemon-lime water would be very refreshing! Yes, definitely!

These ice cubes are so pretty and elegant.  They even make my ice tea look fancy~

I hope you enjoy these!

And now let me tell you about my Giveaway -

A few weeks ago this blog celebrated it's 100th post!  I thought that was a great reason for another giveaway!  July is also my birthday month and I love having something to look forward to. 

Here's what I have for you:

A 12.8oz container of the most beautifully scented rose potpourri.  Perfect for a bedroom or bathroom.  

It's feminine, soft, and lovely.

I also have this vintage style LOVE tin.  Adorable.

Both items came from Michael's and are from the Ashland Collection.  I have many of their Paris/shabby chic inspired pieces.  Check out my tea bag tin (here) and my Paris luminary (here). Two of my favorite things from Ashland. 

To enter just leave me a comment on this post and I'll draw a winner next Tuesday - the 24th - which happens to be my birthday!  I'm super excited to be able to celebrate it with you  ; - )

Good luck & stay cool!!!

Danielle xo

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

It's officially Summer!  We are in the thick of it now!  The 4th of July has come and gone, my car is full of sand from the beach, and I've made my first batch of homemade ice cream.  Have you ever made your own ice cream?  If not, you don't know what you are missing. 

When I was little my mother would make us ice cream every summer.  She had one of those old fashion ice cream makers that used salt & ice and it wasn't electric so you had to hand crank it.  It literally took forever to make, but the results were SO good!  I'll never forget what it tasted like. Summer Magic!  I looked forward to Mom's ice cream every summer vacation.  Along with staying up late, watching The Price is Right everyday, and jumping through the sprinkler.  Now that's a vacation! I was a very low maintenance child. 

Luckily for me I don't have to crank a machine anymore to achieve Summer Magic.  We've come a long way since then and Cuisinart has made it very easy to make ice cream.  Yay!

Last year I chose strawberry ice cream (read about it here) to kick off the season. This year I was a bit more adventurous.  I saw this butter pecan recipe on the Food Network, courtesy of Paul Deen, and I knew I had to try it.   If you love butter pecan, you need to try it too! 

Ok, go....

1 tbsp unsalted butter
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1 (13oz) can evaporated milk
1 (3/34 oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups whole milk

Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Cook the pecans over low heat until they are lightly browned, about 3 minutes.  Place on a paper towel to drain and cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved. 

Pour the mixture into the freezer container of an ice cream maker and put in the freezer. 

After 10 minutes remove from freezer and mix in the pecans. 

Freeze overnight!

This ice cream didn't last long, let me tell you!  I kept going to the freezer with a spoon, but what goes on behind MY freezer door is My business!  : )

In case you are wondering I own a Cuisinart (this one) ice cream maker and I highly recommend it. It was a gift from my Mom who, incidentally, owns the same one now. 

It's super easy to use and everything I've ever made in it comes out perfectly!  I love making ice cream because A. we eat loads of it! B. it's fun to experiment with flavors and C. I'm hoping my son will always remember Mom's homemade ice cream every summer!

PS. It's even better eaten on the front steps at dusk while watching the sunset.  Just sayin'~

Danielle xo

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July~

Happy 4th of July to all my blog friends!  I hope you have a wonderful day!  Ours started with this breakfast of blueberry banana pancakes with red, white, & blue sprinkles!

It's just that kind of a day : )

Now it's time to fire up the grill and let the festivities begin!  Enjoy the fireworks and all the things this lovely day brings. 

Happy Birthday America, land that I love ~


PS  and Happy Happy Birthday to my MOM.  Love you  xoxox

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Strawberry Avocado & Arugula Salad

Last Saturday on our way home from the beach I took the long way home.  I love long rides home.  Especially when I have a sleeping toddler in the back seat. It was scorching hot outside (temps in the 90's!) but we were cool as cucumbers in the car.  I had Tony Bennett on the radio and a full ice coffee so why not take my time?  I also had my camera with me so I decided to take you along as well : )

Whenever I'm taking the long way home I always go the same way, down the same streets, to visit the same places.  Streets with shady sidewalks and white picket fences for miles.  I wish I lived on this street so I could walk down this sidewalk every morning. 

This street reminds me of Disney's Lady and Tramp.  Remember how cute Lady's neighborhood was?

I think this could very well be it.

Beyond this fence is a beautiful rose garden that I wish you could see.  Whenever I see something amazing like this I always wonder who lives here? Who takes care of this place?  Do they love it as much as I would? Because I really would.

I continued down the street and (dare I say) discreetly snapped a few pictures of some of my dream homes.  I love this one tucked under that big old tree.  Nice and shady with a stone wall along the front.  My son would love to walk on that wall.  I think I would too : )

I have an obsession with front porches.  Big, small, wrap around, enclosed - whatever.  I love them all! I wish I had one.  Someday, before I die, I would like to own a home with a front porch so I can have hanging plants and a rocking chair.  Maybe have a wind chime and swing as well. People with front porches are so lucky.  They have a perfect spot to sit, have ice cream, and watch the fireflies dance across the garden. 

It seems like every two years or so this house goes up for sale.  I can't imagine why anyone would not want to stay here.  It has the white picket fence and a front porch!  I think this is the cutest house on the block.  At Christmas time it looks like a gingerbread house.  I love driving by it. It makes me feel like I'm in a Doris Day movie.

This family is definitely getting ready for the holiday this week.  They have their patriotic decorations all ready!!! I wish I could have gotten a closer picture, but I didn't want to appear nosey.  Heavens No!

I'm on my way back home now.  I pulled over quickly just to show you this driveway lined with tiger lilies.  Isn't that sweet? What a nice greeting for whoever lives up there. 

Past the old cemetary.  We're almost there....  And I hear stirring in the back seat.  Someone's waking up!

Home!  Did you enjoy our ride?  I sure did.  Long drives are my favorite way to relax.  Especially when there is no talking involved.  Just my favorite music and quaint scenery (and my iced mocha!).

I'll check on the hydrangeas and stretch my legs a bit before going inside.  It's July and everything is in full bloom.   The bees are loving my yard right now!

Blue and yellow is one of my favorite color combinations.  I think that's why this is my favorite corner of the yard.  I need to find a place to put a chair in here somewhere! : )

Lunch time! 

Ok girls, I've been dying to share with you this salad.  It's perfect for a summer day.  It has strawberries, avocado, and almonds in it.  I make it with arugula, but you can certianlly use another lettuce if you want.  It's so tasty and refreshing.  It's my new favorite "go-to" salad.

Give it a try....

All you need is....
1 cup strawberries, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
6 cups arugula
3 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 tablespoon chopped basil
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 teaspoon honey
salt & pepper

In a small bowl whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, honey, and basil.

In a large bowl add the arugula, strawberries, avocado, and almonds.

Pour dressing on top and season with salt & pepper. 

Drizzle with a bit more oil if needed. 


My son definitely preferred his chicken nuggets over salad, but that's okay.  All the more for me : )  I'm not going to fight against this lion!  He can have whatever he wants! 

I hope you are all enjoying your summer so far!  It's hard to believe this week is July 4th already.  My Mother is having a special birthday (on the 4th) so we will be celebrating with family and friends at our house this year.  She's requested no fireworks, but there will be cake involved.  That much I can guarantee!  Orange cake with pineapple filling.  I know.  Who needs fireworks when you have cake? 

By the way, if you are looking for something special to bring to a barbeque this year I would like to make a suggestion.  How about Butterscotch Blonde Brownie Sundaes???

My mom made these last night and they are 2-die-for!!!!  She used this recipe from the Food Network for the blondies, added a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and drizzled with caramel sauce.  OMG! So good! 

I hope you all have a wonderful, safe week ahead! Summer is here! Let's enjoy it! 
Happy Fourth of July!

Danielle xo  

Monday, July 2, 2012

Nora Ephron

I was very saddened to hear about the passing of Nora Ephron last week.  Nora has been a woman whom I admire and have looked up to for years.  As a successful writer, director, and producer, Nora has touched my heart through her creativity in ways that I'll never forget. 

I first discovered Nora when I was in High School and saw When Harry Met Sally.  I loved the movie so much that I went out and bought the VHS tape. I would watch it over and over again until I knew the dialogue by heart.  It was smart and funny and I wanted to be just like Sally : ) Doesn't everyone order apple pie like that?

Sleepless in Seattle changed my life.  Seriously, it did.  I saw Sleepless in Seattle in the movies three times.  This was the first movie that I ever saw more than once in a theater.  I was enchanted by it.  It introduced me to so many things - Stardust by Nat King Cole, the romance of New York city, Cary Grant, and most importantly...the power of white, twinkling lights.  They are everywhere!  I viewed Sleepless in Seattle as a modern day classic.  A true love story that could easily have been seen in black and white fifty years ago. 

By the time You've Got Mail came along I finally figured out that Nora Ephron was responsible for all three of my favorite movies!  This is why they are all so similar - the white lights, the coffee shops, Harry Connick Jr. - I get it!  I had to find out more about her so I started reading her books.  After I finished Heartburn (my favorite of them all), I understood everything.  I love this woman!

{It's the same way my huband feels about Martin Scorcese movies.  I still don't understand how he can get all warm and fuzzy about them, but strangely enough he does.  It guess it's a guy thing.}



Nora Ephron has been with me through all stages of my life, from teenager, to wife, to mother.  I turn to her movies and books when I want to feel good. She makes me happy when I want to be happy and she makes me cry when I need that too.  She makes me feel like the world is full of romance and magic and there is a such a thing as destiny.  She tells us to follow our dreams because there IS a somewhere over the rainbow. What a legacy she has left for us. 

Right around the time I had begun thinking about doing a blog I saw the movie Julie & Julia - which of course is about Julia Child and a food blog - and was written and brilliantly directed by Nora.  I was inspired. Hello destiny and 100 posts later, here I am. 

Looking through videos on Youtube it's hard for me to pick just one clip to sum up Nora Ephron.  It's pretty impossible to pick a movie, let alone a scene, I love the most.  She wrote so many wonderful moments that I have seen over and over again it's like I've lived them (but I unfortunately I haven't : )

This is one of my all time favorites...gets me every time.

Thank you Nora Ephron.  You will forever be a part of my life.  xo