Sunday, June 23, 2013

Life Lately: Summer is here!

Hello Friends and welcome to summer! It's official. And not just because of what the calendar says, but because we had our first proper beach day.  We are talking sand sticking to our backs, riding the waves, the smell of coco butter in the air, and hot dogs on the beach, kind of day.  It was awesome!

My son could swim for hours, but one of my favorite things to do on the beach is walk the shoreline and look for sea glass.  With just my feet in the water I could walk for miles.  In fact, I think I might have.  I only found one piece of glass to add to my collection, but that's OK.  We have many more beach days ahead of us. 

We stayed all day, and then at dusk we had our dinner right there on the sand.  Late afternoon is my favorite time at the beach.  The crowds are gone and it's not as hot.  There is a peacefulness to breathing in the salt air and listening to the waves crashing in. I just know we are all going to sleep like babies tonight! Can't wait to do it all again next week. ♥

Another thing I love about Summer are the Farmer's Markets. You never know what you are going to find. We went to this one in Hingham a few days ago.  Not only did they have fresh produce, fish, plants, and herbs, there were also cupcakes (yes!) crafts, ice cream, jewelry, popcorn, and my son's favorite - cider donuts!

I hit the jackpot and found a Lemon Thyme plant.  I've heard so much about this herb but have never been able to find one.  The smell and taste are more lemon than thyme, and I actually prefer it that way.  It's just the right balance : )

I made a marinade for fish (haddock) that night using this herb.  I mixed olive oil, white wine, the juice of a lemon, fresh dill, and a few sprigs of lemon thyme.  I poured it over the fish, topped with panko bread crumbs and baked it.  OMG.  Delicious!

Next I'm going to try it on roast chicken.  I'll let you know how it comes out!

The yard is also blooming right now. Every night I take a little stroll around outside, deadhead my geraniums, water the inpatients, and check to see what's come back from last year.  There are little buds popping open every day.  We've also discovered a birds nest inside our holly bush! If you carefully peek through the leaves you can see (and hear) the baby birds in the next.  And if you wait long enough you'll see the mommy bird going back and forth with food.  It's the cutest thing!

These yellow roses were a mother's day gift to me two years ago.  I think of that every time they bloom ♥

So nice to see these colors!

This time next week I'll be cutting some of these Hydrangeas to bring inside.  Can't wait!

Do you like my garden flag?  I love it, but since I am a family of three, I wish it said "tea for three".  However, I really don't think anyone is offended by this.  They probably didn't even notice.  They're boys. *sigh*

On my agenda this weekend? Blueberry Pie and maybe these Strawberry Coconut Popsicles...

Happy Sunday Everyone! I hope you are enjoying this first weekend of Summer..... xo

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Making time for tea

Hello Friends! As I write this post I am sitting in my computer room, jammies on, feet in slippers, tea at my side.  My body is telling me to go to bed, but my head is still running in circles.  I am exhausted. Today was a big day. I hope this tea is decaf???

Today was my son's Kindergarten graduation! It was an exciting and emotional day! I'm so proud of him! I can't believe the year is over already. It went by too fast! I remember his first day as if it were yesterday. He's learned so much since then.

All the kids did excellent at the ceremony. They paraded in the auditorium, took the stage, and gave us a concert of a lifetime! After that, each one was presented with their diploma. It was the cutest thing ever!  There is nothing like a group of 5 and 6 year olds dressed up and singing "This Land is Your Land" and "You're a Grand Old Flag" to make your day! Truly. Nothing. Better.

But as excited as they were, there was also a bit of sadness in the air too - sadness to saying goodbye to Kindergarten, goodbye to their teacher (who we loved!) and also to each other.  The summer can be a long 3 months to a 5 year old.  John is already asking me when can he see his friends again.  We have lots of playdates to set up! : )

For over a week now I've been wanting to share with you a place that my Mom, cousin, and I went for tea.  Now is a good time.  I'm trying to decompress... This will help...

Let me show around....

Last Sunday we had afternoon tea at the cutest place called Fancy That.  And we certainly did!

Here is a picture of what the front room looks like.  Everything you see is for sale!

Every detail from the curtains to the chandelier was darling. 

This is what I called the Christmas corner!

Don't you love this adorable pink tree? The owner said she put it up at Christmas time and everyone loved it so much she decided to leave it up all year! I'm glad she did. 


I heart all these cups!

This is a vintage Lenox tea set retailing for $1200! After I read that I slowly backed away from the shelf....

The Pink Room

Ring bell for service ♥

When we were finished browsing the front room it was time for tea.  The owner escorted us to our table.  We passed this mantle and I couldn't resist snapping a picture of the bunting.  I sense a DIY in my future. 

Each setting was a different china pattern with an embroidered napkin and a jar of strawberry jam and clotted cream.

We selected a tea from the "tea menu".  The one I chose was called Paris. Obviously.

It was delicious (so much in fact I bought a tin of it to take home: ) This was the teapot it came in.  So cute, right?! I felt like I was at a little girls tea party and loving every minute of it.


After tea was served we were presented with a selection of breads, scones, finger sandwiches, and deserts. YUM!

There was so much to look at, even in the tea room.  Everything was for sale except the tea set inside this china cabinet.

There was a small note on the glass that said "mum's china - not for sale".  That made me happy.

Vintage hats


Our tea time at Fancy That was wonderful. I'm always excited to find places like this that I didn't even know existed, practically in my own backyard. Thanks to my cousin Helen for telling us about it. ♥
It was also a pleasant reminder of how nice it is to slow things down a bit and just enjoy the moment.  Weather it be a simple cup of tea or something bigger.  There is no rush.  I needed that this week.  We spend so much of our time rushing around from here to there and then suddenly time has passed - right when we least expected it.  I must do something about this.  I'm working on it. 

Ok, feeling a bit better now.  Off to bed I go.  Have a wonderful Saturday!

PS - Make time for tea... xo

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Best Ever Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

This weeks cupcake recipe is brought to you by my relentless urge to make something with buttercream frosting.  I can't resist it.  It's not my birthday or a special occasion of any kind.  The truth is sometimes a girl just needs a cupcake.  And a pretty one at that.  Don't you agree?

One night while perusing Pinterest I found this recipe for the Best Ever Vanilla Cupcakes from The Brown Eyed Baker.  She wasn't kidding! If you are a vanilla girl like I am, you will be over the moon for these!  The only change I made to her recipe was I added a little strawberry jam to the vanilla frosting.  To me it tastes just like strawberry ice cream....

Vanilla Cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 tbsp (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/2 sour cream
1 egg
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1/4 cup strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper or foil liners.

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and vanilla with an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Add the sour cream, egg, yolks, and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, just a minute or two. Don't forget to stop and scrape down the sides. 

Divide batter evenly among the lined cups of the muffin tin.  Bake 20 - 24 minutes, until the cupcakes are a pale golden color and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Set on a rack to cool. 


For the frosting: Use a wire whisk attachment on your mixer and whip the butter on high speed for about 5 minutes.  Reduce speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar and vanilla.  Slowly blend in the jam. When all is incorporated, adjust the speed to high and whip an additional 2 minutes.  The frosting will become pale pink, light and fluffy.  Frost cupcakes as desired. 

The weather has been so nice lately that I set a little place up for myself on the deck and had a little party for one! The one being me! ♥  Who says you need a special occasion for cupcakes? I'm a rule breaker all the way.

Ok, so I can't do this everyday.  And after my cupcake binge I will go back to eating like a regular human being again (did I mention my party was at 10am?).  It was fun while it lasted though. Downright sinful....xo