Sunday, June 29, 2014

Time to sit and be ♥

Two weeks ago, this happened....

Somehow a miracle occurred and I had the opportunity to sit in my favorite coffee shop with a book and a vanilla latte. It was sheer bliss! ♥

The reason it was so blissful was because moments like this are very rare.  I seem to be always running around here, there, and EVERYWHERE! It felt so refreshing to just sit down and let the time tick away.  Just me and Shakespeare. We are good friends now.  He had me at sonnet #18 ♥
Since that day I've been dreaming about going back there.  I've decided to make time for this in my life.  Time to just sit and be.  Summer bucket list/life bucket list. 
There are always other things that we could be and should be doing.  I've found that I am much more productive after I've taken a little time for myself.  Even if it's just 1 hour in a coffee shop. I've learned to let go of the guilt and be good to myself. I'm a better wife, mother, daughter, and friend for it.  The "grind" will always be there.  I'll get back to it later.  Right now, I have a date with Bill and a chair with my name on it waiting for me.  ♥
So tell me, how do you treat yourself? 

Friday, June 20, 2014

A New Hampshire Getaway! ♥

Hello Friends!
I am just back from four days in beautiful New Hampshire! On Tuesday morning we packed up the car and drove about 3 hours to Lincoln, NH.  We stayed in a condo with my parents, right on Loon Mountain.  What a view we had!
The condo had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, kitchen, and balcony.
We cooked all our meals (except lunch) in.  It was so nice after a long day at an amusement park or the pool to just come home, shower, and relax.  Thank you MOM for taking care of us! ♥♥ And to DAD for making us a yummy breakfast on Thursday! ♥♥
We had had a Jacuzzi tub that SOMEONE took advantage of.... do you think we used a little too much bubble soap????!!!! WOW! This was very interesting!

We used the indoor and outdoor pool every day!
But for me it was all about the mountain views! This was taken from our balcony.  I can only imagine this in the Fall! The colors must be spectacular! : )

On Wednesday we took John to Santa's Village.  It's a Christmas themed amusement park in Jefferson, NH.  So much fun! I used to go when I was a little girl and not much has changed since then.  I like to imagine him riding the same rides as I used to when I was little.  One of the best parts of being a parent is seeing things through your kids eyes.  Right now I see happiness, joy, excitement, and silliness.  All the best things!
There were no crowds so we were able to ride the rides two or three times! Sweet!

They also have water slides, which are the best part! ♥

On Thursday we took a ride to North Conway Center.  It was a perfect day for browsing in and out of stores.  My favorite is Zeb's General Store.  
It's very old fashioned with wood floors and penny candy!

So much to pick from! John had money to spend and he chose a bag of licorice to take home.  It lasted about 30 seconds!

Old fashioned Coke machine!

I couldn't leave without visiting the Christmas corner.

After that we walked over to the Train Station across the street to take a peek at the trains.

Browsed the five and dime....

And had an iced coffee at my favorite coffee house and art gallery.  This is a cool place : )
Small town America. 

It was a lovely get away.  We had lots of laughs and lots of fun!  But every good thing must come to an end sometime.  This morning we packed up the car and home sweet home we came!

As we speak I'm elbow deep in laundry, laundry, laundry!  You've Got Mail is on and I'm listening to it as I settle back in to my routine.  As good as it feels to get away for a while, it's even better coming home.  I'm looking forward to sleeping in my own comfy bed tonight and having coffee in my favorite mug in the morning.  It's the little things ♥

Happy Days!!! xoxo

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Arugula & grape salad ♥

Today I would like to share with you one of my favorite summer salads.  I posted this picture on Instagram the other day.  I was surprised to hear how many people love arugula!
Arugula wasn't something that I grew up eating.  In my house we always had our salads with iceberg lettuce (which I love!).  The first time I ever had this salad I was in my 20's.  It was a hot August afternoon at my husband's grandparent's house. They were celebrating a special festival day in Italy and it was a big family affair. We were all eating outside. There was music, bocce, pasta, grilled chicken, homemade pizza, wine (oh, was there wine!) and this salad! It was a fun day! The kind you think back on and smile ♥
You know how there are just some things that stick out in your mind? Well there are two things that I distinctly remember about that day. #1 I discovered I'm a terrible bocce player and #2 I fell in love with arugula!
I also had never had grapes in a salad before. Grapes? Really? Let me tell's so good! The sweetness of the grapes balance the peppery flavor of the arugula.  It's so delicious and perfect for summertime!
Start with arugula....

Dress it with a little olive oil, salt & pepper.
Then add a handful of red grapes.

Toss together and enjoy! That's it!
The other night I served it with BBQ chicken, potatoes, and corn.  It was the perfect addition!
The next night I added a can of white beans to the salad and topped a pizza with it.  It was delicious!
Arugula also makes me feel like I'm eating something super fancy, but in fact, I'm not.  It's just good and that's all you need to know : )

I'll be back soon with my summer bucket list.  Have you made yours yet???? It's time!
Bye! xo

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Roasted cherry tomato bruschetta ♥

Hello Friends! I hope you are all having a great weekend so far!  Don't you feel like the weeks are just flying by?!  We went summer clothes shopping yesterday so I'm feeling pretty good about diving head first into June! Plus I finally painted my toe nails (a pretty sparkly pink) which means I'm  sandal ready! YAY! Tonight we had hot dogs and ice cream at the beach and ended the evening with a round of mini golf! Yup, things are feeling pretty good around here! ♥

If you follow me on IG/twitter you will know that last week I went on a roasting binge! I was roasting everything in sight, include these yummy cherry tomatoes.  I love bruschetta and it tastes even better when the tomatoes are roasted in the oven.  I saw this version on Rachel Ray's website. I thought it would be a perfect appetizer for a little casual get together we were having that night.  She adds a layer of roasted garlic spread under the tomatoes. What?! I'm in!

recipe from
extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
1 large garlic bulb
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
a handful of parsley & basil, chopped
2 baguettes, batards, or other 2-3 inch wide crusty bread, cut into slices and toasted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut off the top of a garlic bulb to expose the cloves. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Wrap tightly in foil and roast in the oven for 40-45 minutes. 
Arrange the tomatoes on a foil lined baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven 30 minutes. 

Take the garlic out of the foil and let everything cool. 

Once the garlic is cool, squeeze all the cloves out of the bulb and into a mixing bowl. (just give the bulb a pinch and they will come right out : )

With a fork, gently mash up the garlic.
In a separate bowl combine the tomatoes (and all their juices on the baking sheet), parsley, and basil.  Mash them together ♥
Toast little slices of bread and brush with olive oil.
Now, spread a thin layer of the garlic....  

and top with the tomatoes!

Your only worry is to pleeease make sure that everyone has a least one.  You do NOT want to be the only person at a party who did NOT have the roasted garlic!  ♥ 

Open a bottle of wine and you've got a gorgeous appetizer for many....
 Or just one... : )

This is a left over plate that I had for myself after our party.  I could make a meal out of these tomatoes! In fact, I think I did! ♥

Have a lovely Sunday, Friends! The weather here is so beautiful lately.  I'm hoping to go on a bike ride and plant more flowers in the back yard.  I'm also on a hunt for a succulent plant for my kitchen counter. Let's hope I find one!
Bye! xo

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Bars ♥

Hi Everyone! It's June! ♥  The heat is OFF and will stay off until October!

It's been so warm that we are sleeping with the windows open, which means that summer is on her way. She's not here yet, but everyone has "that feeling" going on.  School is out in less than two weeks, which makes for a super excited first grader/soon to be second grader in the house! I can remember "that feeling" from when I was a kid.  Aside from Christmas, nothing beats summer vacation! Am I right?!

I just made a batch of these yummy strawberry rhubarb bars that I can't wait to share with you.  But first I thought I would take you on a little tour of my yard and show you where I've been hiding this Spring....

This past weekend I planted impatiens in my flower boxes.  Over the years I've tried several types of flowers in these boxes and I always have the best luck with inpatients.  As long as I keep them watered they grown tall and full!

It's been so nice to finally be outside!  The grass has somehow come back to life after the harsh winter.  I knew it was there somewhere!

♥ I love this pretty pink azalea bush ♥

This picture reminded me how back in February the snow was so high it covered the top of my mailbox!  Craaaaazy!

All of the plants and bushes are happy to be here! They seem to be smiling up to the sun, don't they?! I see little buds on the hydrangea's and that makes me soooo happy!!!!

We spend most of our time in the backyard.  Come take a peek...

Through the rusty gate....

Along the fence we have rose bushes. The white one is my favorite.  It's a bit too soon for them to bloom, but I'll be checking daily. That long rectangle you see is a boccie court.  We have lots of fun playing this game in the summer!  Do you play? We've had some battles, let me tell you! ♥

Of course there's the swing set. John is very proud of himself because he FINALLY learned how to pump on his own! We don't have to push him anymore! Yay! He loves it out here : ) After dinner we sit on the swings and eat popsicles.  He takes all the orange ones!

Up the steps to the deck you will find.... favorite seat!  My chair is the one on the left.  This is where I drink my coffee, read, relax, and bird watch. I can see the whole yard from up here.  I just love it. 

Believe it or not, sometimes the three of us crowd around this little table and eat dinner! I suppose we really should get a bigger one but I don't want to. I love this one! We have a lot of laughs at dinner about how smushed we are.  Good memories! ♥

I keep the deck pretty with flowers.  Nothing fancy, just little touches that bring color. 

We put two of these gorgeous hanging geraniums up too.  I enjoy watering them everyday.

I also have two big green planters that I have herbs growing in - basil, chives, parsley, and mint. This year we planted strawberry plants and look what I found the other day! I have berries! So excited! They are tiny now, but as soon as they are red and fat they are mine!!!  ♥
So that's where I've been hiding out lately and enjoying every minute of Spring! The best part about living in New England is that the weather is always changing so there is always something to look forward to.  Before we know it, it will be very hot & humid and my floors will be gritty with sand from the beach. 
For now I am basking in these gentle, warm, lovely, days of Spring. ♥
Now, on to the good stuff..... Strawberry Rhubarb Bars!  I saw this recipe in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. I've never made anything other than a pie with rhubarb and I thought bars would be a nice alternative. Turns out these bars taste exactly like strawberry-rhubarb pie! I even think you could fill a pie shell with the filling and bake it as a pie! They are very tasty and go perfectly with Spring! My lesson learned here is - not to quit a good thing! Noted.
Here's what you need:
1 1/2  cups quick cooking oats 
1 cup flour
3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter (12 tablespoons)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup chopped, fresh rhubarb
2 cups chopped, fresh strawberries
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line an 8x8 baking dish with foil, allowing the foil to extend over the edges of the pan.  Coat foil with nonstick cooking spray.
In a bowl, stir oats, flour, and 3/4 cup sugar. 

Using a pastry blender ( I used a fork : ) cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Use fingers if necessary to break up the butter.  Remove 1 - 1/2 cups of oat mixture and set aside. 

Press remaining oat mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan.  Bake 20 minutes.

Rhubarb time! To make the filling wash and chop up your rhubarb.  Your fingers will turn pink, but don't worry it washes off ♥

In a medium saucepan combine rhubarb, 1/3 cup sugar, water, and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger.  Cook and stir over medium heat for 8 - 10 minutes until filling is thick and bubbly. 

Stir in 2 cups of chopped strawberries. 

Cook and stir for 3 - 5 more minutes until all the fruit is combined.  

Spoon over hot crust....

...and spread evenly.

Top with reserved oat mixture.

Bake 30 -35 minutes until top is golden and the filling is bubbly.  Set pan on a wire rack and cool completely.


Once cooled, lift from pan using foil.  Carefully pull foil away from sides.  This make cutting so much easier!

Using a serrated knife, cute into bars.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 - 4 days. 

Top with whip cream or served with ice cream on the side would be delightful.

Me, I just ate them up one by one.  No fork needed!
Happy June!!! xo