Sunday, September 25, 2011

My English Cottage

I have been dreaming about this cottage ever since I can remember.  This is my cottage.  In their heart of hearts every girl has a dream house, and this is mine.  It's not big or fancy, modern or hip.  Rather, my cottage is cozy, charming, quaint, and "idyllic".   All the things a dream house is made of.

I have imagined every detail right down to the floral cafe curtains in the kitchen.  I've drank tea by the fire, napped on the sofa, and made soup on the little stove in the kitchen.  It's a home to raise kids, have pets in the yard,  wisteria on the fence, and white twinkle lights across the fireplace. 

Care to come inside? (you can double click on any of the photos to make them larger)

This is the entryway.  Hang your sweater and leave your boots by the door. 

This is the living room.  The style is quintessential English cottage.  It's darling.

My favorite piece is the blue velvet ottoman.  How adorable is that?

The furniture is soft and squishy - with lots of pillows.  Curl up by the fire and relax.  The kettle is on. I'll have earl gray with honey and cream.  What will you have?

Welcome to the kitchen - my favorite room in the house! I love small kitchens.  They always smell of something yummy baking in the oven.  Chocolate chip cookies perhaps?  And what's a small kitchen without a small, round table.  So cute.  Do you like the acorn garland hanging from the fireplace?  How about the blue checkerboard plates on the mantel?  And don't you love how the cabinet knobs are painted the same color as the cabinets? Little touches that make the kitchen the heart of this home.  Love, love, love....

Before going upstairs I must show you the den.  This is the perfect spot to sit and read, or write in a journal.  The door leads to the backyard.  It's the same style as the front door.  I love the little windows. 

This is the master bedroom.  Because the room is small, the fire keeps it warm so it's always cozy.  It's the perfect place to be on chilly nights.  I love the style of the bed along with the mismatched pieces of furniture.  I also love all the table lamps.  Lamplight is much more romantic than the brightness of ceiling lights. 

This is the bathroom.  Bubble bath anyone? I love everything about this house right down to the teeny, tiny, little bathtub.

My dream house is in the quaint English village of Shere, in Surrey England.  Have you recognized it yet?  

A few years ago I saw the movie The Holiday and low and behold....there was my cottage.  It had come to life right before my very eyes.  Just as I had imagined it.  And it was as lovely and charming as I had dreamed. 

The Holiday quickly became one of my favorite movies.  It stars Kate Winselt and Cameron Diaz in a story about two women who, both trying to escape their lives, switch houses for the Christmas holiday.  Kate's character Iris, lives in England and Cameron's character Amanda, lives in Los Angeles.  While both living out of their element they quickly discover that anything can happen.  Anything being Jude Law and Jack Black.  I watch this movie all the time whenever I am in need of a good chick flick. 

But the real star of this movie is Iris's English cottage.  After I saw the movie I had to go online and research it. I was SHOCKED to find that this house is not real.  It was constructed in a matter of weeks (made of fiberglass) just for the movie and after shooting wrapped it was torn down.  *SIGH*.

I couldn't believe what I was reading so I checked several sources and they all said the same thing. How sad.  Yes, there were pictures but I couldn't bring myself to post them : - (

Couldn't you imagine Christmas in this cottage?  I would have an old fashioned tree with strings of popcorn and cranberries hanging from the branches.  It reminds me of a Currier & Ives photograph.

I found a wonderful website called and found some beautiful pictures of Surrey which was in fact where some of the movie was shot.  If I lived in my dream house here are some of things I would see....

Taking a stroll down the road....

Passing through the park to pick some bluebells....

throwing a coin in the fountain.  Make a wish.

Visiting neighbors on my way to the village....

for some shopping...


and eating.

A leisurely walk home....

to see the sunset....

while the church bells chime.  This is my idea of a perfect day. 

Wouldn't it be wonderful to live in a place so picturesque? 

Although I must admit there really IS no place like home, but if I had a second choice, this would be it. 

I heart England, where my English cottage awaits me.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Comfort in a Bowl

This past weekend was no-doubt Autumn weather.  It was cool and crisp, with the smell of burning leaves in the air (thanks to my neighbor up the street).  I wore a zip up sweater today and my son did not resist me when I dressed him in sweatpants rather than shorts for soccer this morning. 

To me, this officially means comfort food season has begun.  Yay!

On Saturday morning I got a pumpkin spice coffee (thanks to my Dad : ) and began planning menus for the weeks to come.  So far I've jotted down mac & cheese (the REAL kind), butternut squash soup, my hubbie's favorite chili, and pumpkin risotto.  Planning ahead works really well for me.  This way I know what to buy on grocery shopping day for what dish I plan to do for the week. The season  always seems to go by waaaay tooo fast, and I don't want to skip a beat.  There are too many yummy dishes to me made and I can't wait to share them with you. 

For this week, as promised,  I wanted to share with you my recipe for Tomato Bread Soup.  If you have been asking yourself  what can you do with the rest of your summer tomatoes, then read on.  I have the perfect idea for you.  This recipe is not only delicious, but September is the perfect time to make it. 

When there is chill in the air, the first thing most of us crave is soup.  Am I right?  You can clean up your garden and use the last of your sun ripened tomatoes and also what's left on your basil plant.  This is a thick, hearty soup that will make you so happy it's chilly out.  All you need to make it is:

1 lb tomatoes, quartered and seeded
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped basil
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 loaf crusty Italian bread
olive oil
garlic powder
salt & pepper

Put tomatoes on cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Season with garlic powder, salt & pepper.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Roast tomatoes for 20 minutes. 

{While the tomatoes were roasting I headed out to my basil plant and picked off a few leaves.

I picked off what I thought to be about a half cup chopped.  Ahhhh.....Smells so good!

Whatever is left on the plant I will make pesto with and freeze for the winter.  Nothing goes to waste around here. Love that!

How's my guess? Looks good to me : - }   Anyway, back to the soup.....

In a large saucepan heat 1 Tbs olive oil and chopped garlic.  Add basil and stir for 30 seconds. 

Add canned tomatoes (with their juice) and water.  Season to taste with salt & pepper.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. 


Tear bread into pieces (about 1/2 inch). 

Stir in bread, and then roasted tomatoes.  Simmer for another 2-3 minutes.  

Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  

It doesn't get any better than this.  It will warm you to the bone and make your heart happy.

This truly is comfort in a bowl. 

In other news....

This has been ME for the past few days.  I've been home recovering from having 4 wisdom teeth pulled on Thursday.  My week started with a mamogram, ended with oral surgery, and had lots of ups and downs in between.  It's never fun when too many things hit you at once.  Life has so many pressures, sometimes I feel like I'm spinning in circles.  As all you know, trying to juggle family, work, obligations, and time for yourself is not always easy.  To be honest, at the begining of the week I was dreading this surgery.  Come Thursday I was acutally looking forward to it because I knew it would force me to sleep and stay quiet (as much as humanly possible with a 4 yr old in the house).  It's also been the souce of a fantisic crash diet, since all I've eaten in days is jello and applesauce, although I don't recommend it.

By Sunday the swelling in my chipmunk cheeks had gone down, but I awoke to two big black and blue marks on the right side of my face.  The dct said it will take a few weeks to completely heal.  To make matters worse I've also come down with a headcold. Welcome to my pitty-party. 

It hasn't been the best week for me, but as my mother said to me this morning, it certianally hasn't been the worst either.  She's got a point.  Life is all about perspecitve. 

Anyway, I wasn't able to eat my soup today, but Hubbie and my little one loved it.  They spent the afternoon rollerblading and were quite chilled by the time they came inside.   I froze the rest of the soup and I am looking forward to having a big bowl as soon as I'm feeling better.  I will need a cup of comfort in a bowl.  Don't we all?

I wish you all a wonderful week and come back soon!  xo

PS if you are wondering what book I am reading is the picture above, it's Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks.  It came highly recommened by a friend of mine.  She was so right.  It's excellent!  : )

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Apple Pie Pockets

To celebrate my son's first day of preschool I made him a special desert.  Since we are almost half way through September I felt it was time for "something apple".  We have all been craving it, haven't we? 

I was shopping at the Christmas Tree Shop on Monday and I came upon this apple pie pocket mold for just $1.99.  I couldn't believe it!  I have two others at home that came from Williams Sonoma and I'm quite sure they weren't as inexpensive.  I think they cost around $12.  Sweet!

So last night at 10:00 I made three mini apple pies - one for each of us.  It only took a few minutes and I knew that both my boys would love them.  Here's what I did....

I used one med. size apple for each pie, peeled and chopped.

On a lightly floured surface roll out a piece of pastry (pie) dough.  The recipe for my dough is under my "blueberry pie" post if you would like to see how I make it.  Otherwise you can certainly use store bought.  One single crust will make three pocket pies. 

One side of this mold is the "cutter" edge and the other side is the pocket mold.  Once your dough is rolled out use the cutter side to cut out shape of the apple. 

Flip the mold over and take one of your pieces of dough and conform it to the mold. 

It's also a good idea to spray the mold with nonstick spray before doing this step, because the dough will me!

Fill the mold with chopped apples and...

1 tsp sugar
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
a dab of butter

Brush the edges with egg wash to help the mold to stick.

Place the second piece of dough over the filling.  Line up the edges and then.....


Brush an egg wash over the entire pie and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bake pies on a greased cookie sheet for 22-24 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.  These can be served warm, cold, or room temp.  Could also be great with ice cream or whip cream.  We had them as is, just like this.  No time for frills. The smell had gotten to us : ) 

My little preschooler had a great first day.  When I asked him how he liked it he said very much.  The teacher was very nice. They colored pictures and he even made a new friend.  They discovered they both liked Scooby-Doo fruit snacks.  It was a bonding moment.

However, when I asked him if he wanted to go back again tomorrow he hesitated.  And then he said he couldn't go back because school was going to be closed tomorrow.  Hmmm...