Tuesday, December 30, 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!


Sunday, December 7, 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

Thursday, November 27, 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! ♥