Monday, February 28, 2022

White Bean Tuscan Soup ♥

 Hello Friends

The weight of the world is weighing heavily on me today, as I'm sure it is on you too.  The media is devastating and everywhere I turn there seems to be bad news. (It's no wonder I've developed a terrible case of stress hives.) My everyday worries seem small in comparison to what's going on in the Ukraine.  My thoughts and prayers and with all the precious souls fighting for their country and fighting for their lives. It's horrific. On a personal level, this past weekend I lost a beloved member of my extended family.  Someone who will be dearly missed.  My heart hurts today just thinking about it.  

In times like these I always try to remember my blessings... my family, my friends, my home....I have food, clothes, a job... Nothing is to be taken for granted.  And then I go back to the little things.  Those little tiny "rays of sunshine" in my day that make it better. Even just for a minute.  Hot coffee.  Cherry Chapstick (which is heavenly if you have chapped lips in the dead of winter). Fuzzy slippers.  Twinkle lights in my kitchen.  A vanilla candle.  A Brady Bunch podcast (here) that is bringing me joy and is an excellent distraction for me today.  Hey, when you know you know! All these little things add up to a big thing, which is contentment.  I'm really trying.  

Tonight I felt like we needed a cup of comfort, so what did I do? Made soup of course.  It won't solve the worlds problems (unfortunately) but it will make you feel good and keep you warm.  

It's good for you too.  

Here's the link for White Bean Tuscan Soup (here) if you want to give it a try.  It came together in about 30 minutes and I had all the ingredients on hand. Top with parmesan cheese and have crusty bread on the side.  

I'm looking forward to leftovers for lunch tomorrow  

Have a cozy evening! Xoxo

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Hyacinths ♥


This $9 grocery store hyacinth plant is bringing me joy this week.  It sits on a stool by the window in the corner of my little kitchen and smiles at me every time I walk in the room.  After just one week in the sun her blooms started to open.  

She's singing "springtime is coming" just for me and I'm singing along with her.

After a long cold winter (and it's not over yet!), is there anything better than the first flowers of spring?  It's a sign of better days ahead.  Fingers crossed it won't be long. 

Just for fun, I googled "what does a hyacinth symbolize?"  

Here is what popped up....  

Now I love it even more : ) 
Hyacinths.  Available at grocery stores everywhere.  
Treat yourself today  

What does a hyacinth symbolize?

Symbolism. The hyacinth is the flower of the sun god Apollo and is a symbol of peace, commitment and beauty, but also of power and pride. The hyacinth is often found in Christian churches as a symbol of happiness and love.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Happy Valentine's Day ♥


Hello Friends!  

I'm a day late, but I wanted to wish you all a very happy Valentine's day! 

Our day was very low key, cozy, and special.  We got take out dinner from one of our favorite local places for a nice casual meal.  I did make us a special dessert though.  Strawberry heart pies!  They were yummy.  

It snowed again on Sunday and the weather is beyond COLD so staying in an keeping warm was perfectly fine with me.  After dinner we watched an Alfred Hitchcock film, Rear Window.  Not very "valentine-y" but it was excellent! Something about those old films....nothing like them.  

If you've never seen this one, I highly recommend it : ) 

I hope you all had a lovely day 

Sending hearts and hugs! Xx 

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Sourdough Bread ♥

Sourdough bread is a labor of love 

It's not something that can be whipped up overnight.  That is both very satisfying and frustrating at the same time. Looking at sourdough recipes they all have certain elements that are the same, and some slight variations.  For my first time at it, I thought I did pretty well. I actually got a loaf of bread out of my starter, so that's an accomplishment right there!  

Here she is. I started with 1/3 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water in a jar. I fed it these same measurements every day for seven days. You want the consistency to be like a thick pancake batter, so if you have to add a dash more flour or a little more water to make it work, that's ok.  I think back to our grandmothers and great grandmothers and they didn't seem to worry or fuss about beings so specific, so neither do I : ) 

I also read that the jar does not have to be sealed, only lightly placed on top so oxygen can still get in. 

It was slow getting started, but once I found the warmest spot in my house she began to thrive.  I learned temperature is very important and sourdough likes it warm & cozy 

Bubbly and happy, she grew and grew.  You want bubbles to know it's alive! 

I eventually had to transfer the starter out of this mason jar and into a glass canister. 

After 7 days it was time to make bread.  I used a 1/2 cup of the starter in my recipe, along with 3 cups of flour, water, and salt.  This is the dough after the first rise (overnight). 


And here is the finished product.  My first loaf of sourdough bread! 

Reviews were mixed.  It was tasty and crusty on the outside.  John and Rob loved it. I would have liked it with a bit more of a "sour" taste, which I'm not sure how to achieve.  Maybe feeding my starter longer so it can ferment more?  It was also a little dense.  I would have preferred it a bit more light and puffy, but it was still delicious! 

This is the method I used for baking. It comes from Jill at The Prairie Homestead on YouTube. It was very easy!  Jill's  recipe called for the "stretch and fold" technique only one time.  I've seen other recipes where it's done 3 or 4 times. I think my bread would have been less dense if I had taken the time to do that.  I also noticed other recipes use bread flour instead of all purpose.  I'm wondering what difference that makes. 

*mental note for next time!* 

It really is a process and I think it's going to take a few times for me to really get the hang of.  I'm excited to try different variations and see what happens. 

If you've ever made sourdough and have any tips for me, please send them my way! 

For now I stopped feeding my starter because I have so much of it. It's resting comfortably in the fridge until I'm ready to pull it out and activate it. This weekend I'm going to try my hand at sourdough English muffins and another loaf of bread.  

I'll let you how it goes! Fingers crossed! 

Here's something fun I did. Homemade croutons! 

I took a few slices of the bread, cut them into large cubes, and toasted them in a pan with olive oil, S&P, and garlic powder.  

I remember reading in one of my Susan Branch cookbooks that she does this and uses little star cut outs. I wasn't that fancy, but they were a delicious topping to our soup that night 

One thing I know for sure is that we love bread around here and I've never met a loaf I didn't love : )  

Have a great day friends!!  xoxo 

Monday, February 7, 2022

A Productive Weekend (with blueberry sweet rolls ) ♥

Good Morning Friends!  It's Monday already.

Hello from freezing Massachusetts! 

My creamy coffee and valentine hearts are making me smile on this cold and dreary start of the week.  I specifically wore pink lipstick today (even though I'm in sweats) just because it's February and I need a little cheer this morning : ) 

I'll be at my computer most of the day working. Meanwhile, I just put a load of laundry in the wash and a pot roast in the crock pot. 

 Multitasking is the greatest benefit of working from home.

Especially on a Monday 


So how was your weekend?  

We had a big ice storm on Friday that left everything covered in frozen snow and blocks of ice.  It's too cold for anything to melt, so here we a deep freeze.  We carefully ventured out on Saturday to the library and to run errands. The side streets were a bit slippery, but thankfully the main roads were ok.  We took it slow.  

Saturday night we had movie night.  We watched The Shawshank Redemption.  What an amazing movie!  I'd never seen it.  Where have I been since 1994??

Sunday is my puttering day (and my favorite day!).   

I repotted this lovely plant and gave her a valentine makeover : ) 

I had purchased a hyacinth plant at the grocery store and am excited for it to bloom.  

I almost bought one that already had flowers on it (like I usually do) but this time I decided waiting might be more fun. 

I'll be checking her everyday for signs of Spring! 

I made a little corner by the window and arranged my plants by it. 

I also got a little crafty which was fun!  

I wrote out some Valentines and decorated the envelopes.

Taking time to do these little projects is good for the soul 

  Last week I mentioned cleaning out my closet.  Well I did it! 

I didn't exactly hit my goal of a 10 piece capsule wardrobe but I did manage to fill one trash bag and four donation bags that I'll drop off this weekend.  Not bad for round one. 

That's progress! 

Remember the blueberry sweet rolls I mentioned also?  Well I made those too! 

And I'm so glad I did.  

I just had one for breakfast 

This is another Joanna Gains recipe for her Magnolia cookbook (volume 2).  

Everything I've tried out of this cookbook has been divine. 

They were so fun to make too! 

If you want to try these yummy rolls can find the recipe linked here  

They take a bit of time because the dough has to rise, but they are definitely worth it.  

Oh my goodness YES!  

Yum Yum Yum 

I'd say that was a pretty productive weekend.  I also made my first loaf of sourdough bread (finally!) which I'll tell you more about on Wednesday.  It's been a labor of love.....: ) 

And for today... I'll let the crock pot do all the work.

Thank you so much for stopping by! 

I hope you have a happy Monday and a great start to you week! 


Friday, February 4, 2022

Cast Iron Garlic Chicken Recipe and Catching Up! ♥

Hello Friends! Happy February! 

It's hard to believe January is over but it's happened.  On to a new month and a fresh calendar page. 

Time marches on.  One day closer to spring, I say! 

Today is a rainy, slushy, mess outside.  It's predicted to freeze so John has another day off from school.  I was so happy not to have to go out this morning and drive him.  We are all safe and cozy in our cocoon today.  Even Rob is home from work, so nothing for me to worry about.  I am all stocked up on food so no one will starve this weekend and I finally bought the ingredients to make blueberry sweet rolls for breakfast on Sunday.  A recipe I've been wanting to try since Christmas. 

 I'll let you know if they turn out "blog worthy"...haha :) 

This highlight of the week was on Monday we celebrated Rob's 50th birthday.  

We stayed in as he didn't want any fuss. We had an easy low key dinner of steak and potatoes, with a yummy chocolate cake for dessert. 

It was perfect. And no fancy dress required! 

Rob is very down to Earth.  He hates anything fancy and I kind of love that about him.  He lives by the motto of simplicity

For example, when choosing an appliance, he'll always go for the one with the least amount of buttons or options.  More opportunity for things to break, he'll say.  

And there.  Now you know my husband 

January was cold, snowy, and dreary.  

This was a constant view out our back window.  Somedays I would stare at the beauty of it all.  Other days, I would roll my eyes in discust. That's the rollercoaster of January.  It's pretty....but is it over yet?  Yes it is!  Hot coffee on dark mornings, Frank Sinatra playing in the kitchen while I make yet another pot of soup....January days are long and cold, but they always end with Rob's birthday cake on the 31st! 

Hello to February 

What's for dinner??? 

Anyway, I want to share with you a delicious recipe today.  I think I mentioned when I posted the skillet pear cake recipe (which is soooo yummy btw) that I've fallen in love with cooking with cast iron.  Here's another one of my favorite cast iron recipes that I've been making once a week for at least two months. If you are a garlic lover (and we are!!) then you'll love this dinner recipe.  The garlic butter sauce to T.D.F! 

2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt & pepper
4 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp dried parsley
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Salt & pepper the chicken.  Set aside. 

Heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet (or oven safe skillet) over medium heat.  When the skillet is really hot add the chicken. Sear until golden, about 2 minutes on each side.

Add the Italian seasonings, parsley, & garlic to the melted butter.  Pour the mixture over the chicken.  
Place the skillet in the oven and bake 20-30 minutes (until chicken is cooked through).

Remove from the oven and serve.  Don't forget to spoon some of the garlic butter from the pan over the chicken.  It's very garlicy and divine! 


I love this quote because cooking makes my soul smile and luckily I get to do it every day!  Don't get me wrong, some nights I'm tired...but for the most part I really love it : ) 

                                                      So what are your weekend plans? 

Mine include organizing my closet and sorting through my clothes.  I'm very interested in the concept of a 10 piece capsule wardrobe.  Have you heard of this?  It's basically getting rid of everything except 10 good, quality, mix & match, pieces.  It clears away the clutter and you utilize what you HAVE. The more I think about this, the more I like it. My dresser and closet are stuffed with things I never wear.  It's time to clean house! 

Have a wonderful weekend friends! 

Stay cozy...spring is coming