Sunday, November 19, 2017

Weekly to do list ♥

Hello Friends!

Another week gone by.  Where does the time go?  Thanksgiving is this Thursday!!!!  I'm so excited because Thanksgiving is for real, my favorite meal of the year.  I love the turkey and stuffing, sweet potatoes, squash, cranberry sauce....the whole nine yards! I wait all year for it.  This holiday is all about family and eating.  What could be better? 

This past week was a good one.  On Friday night I took John to see Wonder. Have you seen it yet? If you haven't, pleeeeeease go see it.  It was absolutely wonderful! John and I read the book over the summer as part of his summer reading.  We loved the book and were looking forward to the movie adaption.  It did not disappoint us. It's such a heartwarming story. I cried happy/sad tears the whole way through.

This was our pre movie treat..... 

It's hot chocolate season! Yaaaaay! 

Looking over last week's to-do list, I think I did pretty well.  It brings me so much satisfaction checking things off a list. Even if it's something as simple as laundry (which, let's face it, is never done!). 

One thing I haven't done yet is decorate for Christmas!  Last year at this time I already had my tree up.  Time has gotten away from me this season. However, I've been swooning over my favorite blogs/twitter/and Instagram at all my friends who are sharing their holiday décor. Some of my neighbors have lights up outside their homes and my favorite radio station is now Christmas music central.  I love it!!!! Saturday will be THE day.   I did do a little more Christmas shopping this weekend though and I'm feeling good about that.  Behind the scenes Santa's elves have already started working their magic.  The most wonderful time of year is upon us! : ) 

So here is last week's to-do's.  Let's see how I did!

*Rewrite/organize my Christmas list/think about online orders - So happy this is done! I feel organized now. 
*Decide on a Christmas card picture. Walgreens is having a 50% off sale if I order this week.
This is half done.  I decided on the picture but Walgreens extended their sale.  I'll order this week.  See what a procrastinator I am!
*Pick out an outfit for Saturday night. 
  We are going out to dinner in Boston for my mother in laws birthday (wrap gift too) 
*Get outside for 10 minutes each day.  Bundle up, it's freezing! I went out every chance I could.  Unfortunately we had a lot of rain this week.  I tried ♥
*Help John study for a big science test mid week  He did awesome! Got an 83!
*Bake a gingerbread cake (I'm craving it! I might make it for Thanksgiving!) Yum! See previous post for recipe : )
*Bills/file paperwork
*Return library books before Friday
*Start each day with hot water & lemon - This is making me feel so good! Keep it up! 
*Change light bulb in John's closet
*Take John shopping for Operation Christmas Child. 
  Shoe boxes are due at school by next Monday. Definitely the best thing I did this week
*Start decorating for Christmas - Not yet!  Looks like Saturday is the day!
*Confirm 2 dental appointments for next week
*Paint nails - don't bite them!!!  My struggle is real.... 

Our box for Operation Christmas Child!  

I hope some little boy will be happy with the goodies inside!  

Here is my new list for the week.  Holiday weeks are always choppy.  Everything revolves around Thursday. I don't have too many expectations for the rest of the week.... especially Friday : ) 

*Dismiss John early on Monday for a dental appointment
*Work Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday
*Bake dessert and appetizer to bring to Thanksgiving at Rob's cousins house
*Order Christmas cards
*Distribute John's school picture to family on Thanksgiving
*Watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade over breakfast on Thursday morning
*Put my tree up and decorate
*Get outside and walk
*Hot water and lemon each morning

Happy new week dear friends! Wishing you crunchy leaves under your feet and pumpkin pie for breakfast!

Sounds good to me! xo 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting ♥

Hello Friends! 

One of things I had on my to do list this week was to make a gingerbread cake. The good news is that I did it!  The bad news is that I still haven't changed the lightbulb in John's closet.  But hey, technically the week isn't over yet.  I'll be posting an update on Sunday and a new weekly list.  It's really helped motivate me to get things done.  And what a crazy week it was.  This cake is one big giant hug and I needed it.  

When I was growing up my grandmother had a good friend name Dottie.  I called her Auntie Dottie.  I thought her name was Dottie because she had dots on her legs. To my 7 year old mind, that made total sense.  It turned out those were just liver spots and it was all just a coincidence., but she never burst my bubble.  That's just how she was : ) 

After my grandmother passed away she would visit with us, and sometimes in the summer she would watch me while my mother worked.  I would go to her house and spend the day. She was so funny and when we were together all we did was laugh! I have such fond memories of us, just being together, talking and laughing for hours.  She loved soap operas (her "stories" as she called them), Bing Crosby movies, and westerns. She loved to tell jokes, read books, do puzzles, and play games. When I would visit her on Saturdays we would have movie marathons. She would make us ice teas and call them "high balls" and for dessert she would always make gingerbread.  She was a diabetic and not allowed many sweets, so a simple slice of gingerbread was heaven for her.  She always gave it to me with a single dollop of cool whip on it.  It was so delicious.  This gingerbread cake reminds me of her.  I think she would have loved the cream cheese frosting!

I was thinking about those times when I was baking this cake.

Remember when you were a kid and your stomach hurt from laughing?

That's how I felt every time I left her.  She was the best. 

Food is memories. 

Food is love.

That night I told John all about her.  I told him how we used to walk to the grocery store because she didn't drive and I never minded one bit because we talked the whole time.  
I told him how I would help her decorate her Christmas tree and we would string popcorn for the garland.  It was the first time I ever did that.  I told him how she lived her whole life without a computer, a cell phone, and cable TV.  I told him how much I enjoyed her company and how happy she made me.  That made him happy.  

I hope he has an Auntie Dottie in his life someday. 

Everybody needs one. 

She passed away when I was in high school.  I still miss her and think of her all the time. 

I hope she knows that :)


 For the cake:
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon all spice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup brewed coffee
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
3 eggs + 2 egg yolks, at room temperature

For the icing:
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups powered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 10 cup bunt pan.

In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.  
In a small bowl whisk together the molasses and coffee.
In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.  Add the brown sugar and beat until light & fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Beat in the eggs, adding them one at a time.  Don't forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour and coffee mixture alternately until everything is well combined.  
Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  
Let cake cool for 10 minutes and then turn on to a wire rack to cool completely

For the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter on medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar.  Beat in vanilla and then slowly add milk. 
Frost cake evenly and allow to set at room temperature, about 30 minutes.


Happy Friday to you!  Tonight John and I are going to see Wonder!  We are so excited because we read the book over the summer and loved it.  When we come home from the movie I'm planning hot chocolate (because it's freezing!) and a nice slice of gingerbread cake before bed.  Sound good?

Have a beautiful weekend peeps! I hope it's full of food, memories, and laughs so hard your stomach hurts! xoxo 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Weekly to do list ♥

Happy Monday!

Can you believe how quickly the weekend slipped by?  It went by extra quickly for us because we had a good one. For no real particular reason, it just felt good.  Hallmark officially sucked me in with their Christmas movies.  My mother and I laugh at how predictable they are, yet it doesn't stop us from watching them...again & again. They never end.  And thank goodness for that! I would watch for the scenery alone - all the snow and twinkling's just so good!  For those of you who have The Hallmark Channel you know exactly what I'm talking about ♥

On Saturday morning I vacuumed, dusted, and cleaned the bathrooms.  I was sooooo close to bringing out the Christmas decorations.  I decided to wait one more week, only because I was tired after all that cleaning.  I have replaced my pumpkin spice coffee creamer with peppermint mocha, which is my hearts way of telling me it's time to get into Christmas mode!  I put a little in hot chocolate today.  It's divine!

I am by no means trying to bypass Thanksgiving.  It's quite possibly my favorite holiday.  We will be going to Rob's cousin's house again this year and celebrating with all of his family.  The Sunday after Thanksgiving my parents host my family get together.  Two families, two turkeys, two dessert's a lot of eating.  It's fabulous!  And then.....the leftovers! Gobble, gobble : ) 

I have a busy week ahead.  I had to adjust my work hours a little bit this week and it's throwing me all out of whack.  Also, its dark by 4:30 now.  As soon as I get home each night I get into my cozy sweats and slippers, and light some candles, and make a cup of tea before dinner.  I really look forward to that part of my day ♥

Yesterday I was thinking about all the little things I have on my to-do list for the week, and I decided that if I blog about them, then somehow I will be accountable and hopefully check them all off the list! Some are little mundane things like laundry and bills, and some are bigger - like list making and organizing.  Let's see how I do this week! If this helps me stay on track then I will make it a regular post : ) 

*Rewrite/organize my Christmas list/think about online orders 
*Decide on a Christmas card picture. Walgreens is having a 50% off sale if I order this week.
*Pick out an outfit for Saturday night. 
  We are going out to dinner in Boston for my mother in laws birthday (wrap gift too) 
*Get outside for 10 minutes each day.  Bundle up, it's freezing!
*Help John study for a big science test mid week
*Bake a gingerbread cake (I'm craving it! I might make it for Thanksgiving!)
*Bills/file paperwork
*Return library books before Friday
*Start each day with hot water & lemon
*Change light bulb in John's closet
*Take John shopping for Operation Christmas Child
  Shoe boxes are due at school by next Monday. 
*Start decorating for Christmas
*Confirm 2 dental appointments for next week
*Paint nails - don't bite them!!!  

I'm hoping by Friday I can check some of these things off my list.  Either that or......

We'll see how it goes! Happy Monday all! Have a great week. 

I hope it's a productive one. 

Or not! ♥

(wink...wink...: ) 


Friday, November 10, 2017

Weekly wrap up ♥

Good morning everyone! Happy Friday!  We've made it to the end of the first week in November. The weather here in Massachusetts has turned from chilly to downright cold!  And I know that I'll eat these words come January, but I have to say I don't mind it.  It's a welcome change and it's getting me in the mood for the holiday season ♥
This is me walking around town on Tuesday morning doing some window shopping.  It was windy and absolutely freezing. I had a warm scarf on so it didn't bother me too much.  I had taken the day off because of various errands, a doctor's appointment, and a Veterans Day mass at John's school.  It was a busy day. 
I treated myself with hot chocolate and a croissant sandwich! : )

This is the time of year when things start to get hectic.  My mind is going bonkers thinking about the holidays and all the things I have to do.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who starts to feel this way come November.  How do you keep organized?  If you have any tips, please let me know. 
I was at Target on Monday and brought my first three Christmas presents! I was so happy to have officially started my shopping!  (I'm sure all of you who are completely done with their shopping are laughing at me right now.  Trust me, this is good for me : )  I'm excited for the holidays.  I love Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I'm excited to decorate my new home.  John has already asked if we could put our tree up early.  I can't wait! ♥
Something I've been doing for the past few months is making time for myself.  I like to get outside for 10 minutes a day, no matter what.  Even on the days I work, I take a 10 minute break and take a walk around the building.  Breathing in the fresh air and stretching my legs does wonders for my day.  Yesterday while walking, I spotted this lovely bittersweet growing in the woods near my office.  If only I had my clippers!  I need to take some of this home.  It's so pretty!  
If I'm home I'll take a walk around the block (no, not with the 5am dog walkers! ) And sometimes I take a walk downtown and stroll the square.  I love seeing decorated store windows.  I love hearing church bells in the distance.  And I love the smell of the coffee shop on the corner. All these things, as mundane as they are, make me happy.  In the picture above I was peeking into the window of a little French shop that I am completely obsessed with.  It's the one with the fancy hand cream that I tested a few weeks ago.  Someday I'm going to treat myself to something from this store. 
It's a promise. 
 My skin has been going crazy lately.  I'm blaming lack of sleep and too much Halloween candy!  My skin is always the first one to tell me to slow down on the sugar.  I'm trying to drink more water to keep hydrated and I've gone back to starting my day with hot water and lemon, before coffee.  It's so good for you, so many benefits. When I keep up with this daily, I can really notice a difference.  Plus it tastes good too ♥
I'm excited to get a haircut on Saturday. I'm in desperate need! On Sunday we are going winter coat shopping.  John needs a new one.  He's at an age now where he wants to come with me so he can pick it out.  Apparently, all the coats I pick out are "too puffy".  Hmmm....  In my mom brain, puffy equals warm.  Not to him.  He's very particular about his clothes.  I'm so happy he wears a uniform to school, let me tell you!  So many morning disputes are avoided.  Whew!
Here's John's 5th grade class during the mass on Tuesday, paying tribute to all members of the armed forces. John was "air force".  Can you spot him?  The all did a wonderful job!
It was raining and dreary most of the week.  The gray skies seemed to make the red and orange leaves pop.  They look so bright! Most have fallen now and it's time rake.  It seems like leaves are floating through the air at all times.  Last weekend John had to do a science project on leaves.  We had fun collecting and comparing them.  I swear, I learn something new everyday! It's great!
Well, there you have it.  If you are looking for me I'll either be on my walk or curled up on the couch binging on Food Networks Holiday Baking Challenge. 
Have a wonderful weekend, friends! Stay cozy!  xo

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

November ♥

Hello Friends!

And just like that it's November.....

When I woke up November 1st, in my chocolate-candy-coated sugar haze, I realized that it feels like November.

The leaves are crunchy and the air is brisk.  The birds and squirrels are busy getting ready for winter. And now that we've turned our clocks back for daylight savings it's dark by dinner time.  It's time to bring out the extra blankets and prepare for the long cold nights. I've got a stack of books on my nightstand and a list of Netflix shows that I want to catch up on.  

Cozy time is here! 

The birds are taking refuge from the wind and rain in their homes.  I guess they like it cozy too : ) 

I have a feeling we will be living with this candy bowl for months.  Because of John's nut allergy I have to separate his Halloween candy into two bowls.  This is everything he CAN'T eat.  So where does it all go you ask?  Yours truly (and everyone else in the house : )  That is until we are all completely sick of it and then I'll take it work.  We aren't at that point yet.  

And please don't worry about John.  What he can't eat from here he more than makes up for in Skittles and Mike & Ikes! Although the other night he asked me to open a Kit Kat just so he could smell it.  He remembers what it tastes like and says he missed them the most : (   

This has been my typical breakfast for the past week.  Please tell me I'm not alone.....

And just because we don't have enough treats in the house (she said sarcastically) John and  I made cookies after school today.  It was gray and dreary today and it just felt like one of those perfect cooking baking days.... You know the ones.  

So we jumped into our jammies, I made tea, and we got baking. 

I love these box mixes by Cherrybrook Kitchen.  They are allergy friendly.  Nut free!!!  (also dairy, gluten, and egg free : )  You just add butter and water to the mix.

And who doesn't love Arthur? I mean, come on : ) 

They are really delicious! Trust me!

And speaking of baking, are you watching the Holiday Baking Championship on the Food Network?

I just finished Halloween Wars and now I'm on to this.  I LOVE this show!!! Although it makes me very hungry.  Thank goodness we have cookies in the house! lol

So yes, November.  It's feeling like a holiday month.  Today I went to Target to run some errands and I bought my first 3 Christmas presents!  Oh, the joy of that first check mark off my list!  I know a lot of you have already finished your shopping and if you are reading this let me just say...I'm jealous!  But now I can say I've started and that's an accomplishment!  A little at a time is how I roll.

I celebrated by treating myself to a hot chocolate and a croissant sandwich at my favorite coffee shop.  It was delightful~

Counting Our Blessings by my favorite Susan Branch ♥

I love you November.  You are the month of my favorite Holiday,  I can almost smell the turkey roasting.  You are the month of burning leaves and pumpkin pies.  You are the month of family gatherings and plaid flannel shirts. 

Happy November my friends.  I'm so thankful for you! 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween!

Good Afternoon!  Tonight is Halloween night and we couldn't be more excited!  Trick or treat begins at 5:30 and John has already asked me to bring an  extra bag in case his pumpkin fills up.  He has high expectations!!!  Yesterday I made a big pot of minestrone soup that we can have before heading out.  It will warm our bones (it's very cold out!) and fill us with veggies...that way I won't feel so bad about feeding my face with candy all evening! 

This past weekend we carved our pumpkins and roasted the seeds.  We are all ready for the festivities.  I hope you are too! 

My starry nights pumpkin ♥ 

Carving his design with the help of Grampy : ) 

A tradition! 

Comfort food ♥ 

Last night's moon....very spooky....

 I hope you all have a happy and safe Halloween! If you happen to see a 10 year old BANANA walking around, that's John.  He loves chocolate Hershey bars! ♥ 


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Pumpkin spice caramel corn ♥

October never disappoints me. 

That's why YOU are my favorite ♥  

Yesterday was one of those perfect October days where the sun is out, but there is still slight chill in the air, and it’s just windy enough to toss the leaves around your feet as you walk.  I had the day off from work and I couldn’t wait to get outside for just a little while and enjoy it.  It’s supposed to rain the rest of the week and I figured it would be my only chance.  

So off I went to explore Hingham square… it was a good decision.  

Coffee in hand I wandered about looking in shop windows.  It got me thinking about the holidays.  I got excited.   I suddenly want to bake gingerbread cookies and hang twinkle lights around my windows.  It won’t be long now.  I heard church bells at 1 o’clock and it made my heart sing.  I normally don’t get to hear them, but yesterday I did.  Is there any prettier sound? 

Not likely. 

This store has all French things inside.  I tested some very expensive hand lotion.  It was nice.  I promised I would go back and treat myself for Christmas ♥ 

I think you call what I did meandering…. Sounds about right

 I admired cobblestone walkways and autumn floral arrangements. It was nice to see that it’s still mild enough to see blooming roses as well.    

So pretty! I could have stayed all day

How I love this time of year.  

On my way home I stopped at this old cemetery that dates back to the 1800’s.  

 I admired the foliage and said a prayer for all the souls buried here. 

Some of stones are so old you can’t even read them, which made me sad.  

  It makes me wonder who walked these paths long ago.

What were their names? Where did they come from? (what were they wearing???) 

It looks so very New England, don’t you think? 

After my "date with myself" which I highly recommend,  I headed home to make John and after school treat.  

And since we are in full "October/Fall mode" I give you the amazing....Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn ♥ 

Adding another layer to the pumpkin spice madness!  I just can't get enough! :) 

Adapted from a Jessica Seinfeld recipe  I saw this recipe on her Instagram.  The only change I made was she called for coconut oil.  I didn’t have any so I used canola oil.  I don’t think it made any difference. 

2 tablespoons canola oil
2/3 cup popcorn kernels, popped
½ cup honey
½ cup canned pumpkin puree
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Divide the popped popcorn evenly into two large bowls. 

In a medium skillet heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the honey, pumpkin, and brown sugar.  Whisk together.  Let simmer, whisking often until the mixture is thick like caramel, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the cinnamon & nutmeg.  Dividing evenly, pour over each bowl of popcorn and toss to combine.

Divide the popcorn among the two lined baking sheets and sprinkle with salt.  Bake 10 -15 minutes or until just set.  Let cool.  It will crisp up as it cools.  I put mine in the freezer to speed up the cooling because I couldn’t wait!  When completely cooked, break it up into pieces and enjoy! 

 Easy and delicious!  John loved it and so did everyone else....especially me!  Make a big bowl of this while you are waiting for trick or treaters or watching your favorite Halloween special.  Add a cup of hot cider and we can be best friends! 

Have a lovely October day, my friends!  Don't forget to appreciate the little things in life, like a big bowl of popcorn, a blustery October day full of window shopping, and the sound of church bells.  

Thank you for visiting me today!  xoxox