Monday, July 8, 2024

July blues and a big birthday coming up ♥

Hello Friends! Happy Monday! 

I hope you all had a nice 4th of July and weekend! It was very quiet around here.  I opted to stay home and cool on Thursday and it was pretty much the same for the weekend.  I did a little more cleaning and organizing of my mother's things on Sunday.  I decided to start in the basement and work my way up.  This was a good decision because our basement is very cool and it's HOT as blazes here right now. I'm talking 90's and humid. Ugh.  Anyway, it turns out that going through my mother's things is much harder than I thought and so I can only handle a little bit at a time.  My mom was a lifelong packrat and has so much STUFF I can't even begin to explain it.  Everything near and dear to her heart which makes it all the more difficult.  So...I'll do it in small doses.  There really isn't any rush per say, its just one of those things that should be done, you know?  At one point I started to feel very overwhelmed and had to just stop. I made myself an ice cream sundae and took it into my room and watched a Hallmark movie in bed.  That's how I destress : )



 

This morning (and you know how much I hate Mondays!) I wanted to start my week on a good foot so I took the clippers and went over to our hydrangea bush and clipped some blooms for my living room.  I meant to do it over the weekend but never got a chance. 

As you can see, apparently hydrangeas thrive in heat and humidity.  

We don't have that in common.  I am slowly melting : )



Bringing pretty flowers in the house made me feel happy and I really needed that pick-me-up today. 

Isn't it amazing how flowers can do that 





I like to do one big vase and then a few small ones scattered around.  

Blue is my favorite color and now I have blues in every corner of my very small cozy living room. 



 

In other news...

I have a birthday coming up in a few weeks.  It's a big one.  I can't even believe it.  I'll tell you but don't tell anyone.  I'm turning fif...fif..FIFTY.  There I said it.  I've been thinking a lot about that recently and what it really means to me.  I guess it's not so much the number (even though it's a pretty big one) it's more of the passing of time aspect of it.  I spend so much time watching John growing up I forgot about my own age! I was 17 when I graduated high school and Rob is 2 years older than me.  I'm the youngest sibling in my family and the youngest cousin (out of 24 cousins) and I've usually been the youngest in all my friend groups.  Me turning that number seems crazy. But it's happening!!  I don't know what I'll be doing for my birthday yet.  I just hope there is a lobster dinner and cake involved.  For now I'll enjoy the last precious few weeks in my 40's. And believe me, I know there are a lot of great things that go along with being Fifty.  I'll talk more about that next time.  

I have lots of thoughts on the subject 

Right now I must get back to work.  I hope you are having a nice Monday and your July is off to a sunny start. If it's hot where you are, stay cool! And if it isn't...I'm very jealous! I will be falling asleep tonight to the sweet sounds of my air conditioner 

Love you! Byeeee! xo 

Friday, July 5, 2024

Happy Birthday Mom ♥


July 4, 2023


Happy heavenly birthday to my mom.  She would have been 82 yesterday.  I spent the day cleaning and organizing some of her things here at home.  As hard as it was to part with things, it did make me feel close to her to be surrounded by things she loved. It will be 7 months tomorrow that she's been gone and I still have a hard time believing it. 

  I hope she had a big piece of blueberry pie and a cup of tea with her loved ones on her special day.


 


Love and miss you so much, Mom.  I'm thinking of you always 

Xx

Monday, July 1, 2024

Whipped Mascarpone Berry Cake ♥

Hello Friends! Happy Monday! 

Can you believe it's July 1st already?!  Time seems to be going by faster and faster every day. It's a beautiful day here today so I'm sitting out on the back porch. I've got my laptop, coffee, and I'm ready to work for the day.  There is a nice breeze out here this morning and it's actually a little on the cooler side.  It's giving me fall vibes which is nice, and very unusual for July 4th week. 




I was thinking a lot about my mom this weekend because as some of you may remember, July 4th is my mother's birthday.  She would have been 82 on Thursday.  Never have I ever celebrated a July 4th without also celebrating her birthday.  Usually with a blueberry pie and ending the evening watching the Boston Pops fireworks on TV.  It's weird without her. I've also started to go through some of her things.  It's very hard to decide what save, donate, or throw away.  You want to keep it all, but you just can't.  It's so sad to throw stuff away.  I know it's the right thing to do, but it's still hard.   

Anyway, I'm sitting out on the porch now which is actually right outside my parent's bedroom.  There are these huge windchimes that hang on the side of the porch that play the prettiest music you've ever heard.  I think my parents picked them up on vacation someplace years ago. I hear the chimes so often sometimes I don't even notice them.  Since it's breezy today (and they are litterally right in front of me) I'm really aware of the sound and I'm loving it.  It's so peaceful and soothing.  I was thinking about how my mom probably would hear these chimes all night long from her bed.  I wonder if when she was in the hospital or rehab she missed the sound?  When we visited her she always would say she wanted to go home....well she's home now and I'm sure she's hearing the chimes from heaven. 

I will think of her every time I hear wind chimes : )  





We had a very nice weekend here in the Boston area.  The weather was beautiful.  A little overcast and not terribly hot.  Saturday night we took a walk on the beach, grabbed dinner, and ate it right on the boardwalk.  It hit the spot and was a perfect summer night.  (however, I think any night that I don't have to do dishes is a perfect night....:) 




Something about fried food and salty air are a perfect combination, don't you think?:)

We got ice cream too, but I was too busy eating it and forgot to take a pic.  I got cookie dough for a change and it was yummy! 




Back at home the flowers are also loving the summer weather.  

My mom's hydrangeas and lilies are in full bloom.  







I have taken ownership of these plants and check on them daily.  What would life be without flowers in the summer?  

The colors make me smile. 





...especially these orange day lilies because the color reminds me of fall and what's to come.  
I honestly can't wait. 

So last time I hinted that I was going to try a new cake recipe.  Well, I did!  

**WHIPPED MASCARPONE BERRY CAKE **

I saw the recipe on The Food Nanny instagram page and had to try it.  This is definitely a special occasion cake that I made for absolutely no reason at all. 

I have no regrets! 

There are a few steps involved but it is well worth it.  I promise!! 


First make the filling by pureeing fruit and cooking it on the stove to thicken.  

I used blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries.  

Let it cool. 



 
Then make the cakes.  

It helps to listen to music and enjoy the process 



Three lovely layers 




The frosting is rich!  There is heavy cream and mascarpone cheese involved. 

(Just do it....don't think about it.  You're worth it!)





DREAMY! 




Assemble the layers 




It doesn't have to be perfect (mine wasn't : ) 




She's done! 




This is not diet food, but it is amazing, and we enjoyed every last bite. 

 I'll also be enjoying it again tonight! :)

Now that I think about it, every day is a special occasion and should be celebrated. Just think about all you did today.  You deserve some cake.  

I know my mom would have loved this too 

Here's the recipe in case you want to give it a try.  Be sure to check out The Food Nanny website and instagram for more recipes.  Everyone I've tried so far, I've loved! 


CAKE
2 Kamut cup or 2 1/2 all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp French salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup oil or melted butter
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup water

BERRY FILLING
1 1/2 cup mixed berries of your choice ( we used blackberries ,blueberries and raspberries )
3 tbsp water
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch

WHIPPED MASCARPONE FROSTING
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract or almond extract
16 oz mascarpone cheese

Instructions
CAKE LAYERS
1. Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare three 8 inch cake pans with non-stick baking spray and parchment paper in the bottom. 
2. Add the Kamut flour, sugar, baking powder and French salt to a large mixer bowl or our dough hook! Combine , Set aside.
3. Add the milk, oil or melted butter ,vanilla extract and eggs to the dry ingredients .
4.Slowly add the water to the batter and mix on low speed until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is well combined.
6. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and bake for 24-28 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs
7.Press down with paper towels to make the cake more dense and moist ! Push harder than you think 😜
Let the cakes then cool completely

To make the berry filling -
1- purée your berries with 3 tablespoons of water then add it to a saucepan with 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons cornstarch
2- cook on medium heat stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens ! Let it boil for about 1 minute !
3- take off heat and let cool completely ( can put in the fridge if you want )

To make the frosting -
1- add the heavy whipping cream , powder sugar and vanilla to a large bowl and whip on high speed until soft peaks form !
2-add the mascarpone cheese to the whipped cream and whip until stiff peaks form.

Layer your first cake with a little bit of frosting on the outside and berry filling in the middle , then repeat on the second layer and top layer only add the frosting.


This was beyond delicious, borderline dangerous...in the best way possible! 



Have a wonderful Monday friends and thanks for stopping by today.  

I'm always glad you do! 

Byeeee! xo 


Monday, June 24, 2024

Current Favorites! Summer Edition ♥

Good Monday morning Friends! 

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I don't know about you, but those blessed two days at the end of the week are what I live for.

On Saturday John and I saw Inside Out 2 at the movies and I LOVED it.  It was the best Pixar movie I've seen in a long time.  My heart was in my throat the entire time and that's what I want from a Pixar movie.  They really know how to do that to you, don't they? My eyes welled up so much that at the end of the movie my contact lens popped out of my right eye! Thankfully I was able to put it back in once I dried my tears. LOL

On Sunday we made an impromptu visit to my mother in-laws.  She put out coffee and cookies and we chatted a bit on her cozy 3 season porch.  Here is her tray.  It's it lovely.  So simple and elegant.  From the 25+ years I've known her, I've always admired her knack for presentation.




The candle is lemon to match the napkins.  See what I mean.  It's the little things. 

Always 



Anywhoo, this morning I've got my coffee and laptop out on the back deck.  What a relief to finally be outside. The temps have dropped and there is a beautiful breeze out here today.  Last week we had a heatwave.  It was over 100 degrees for 3 days in a row. It wasn't pretty! At least not for me it wasn't.  Even inside in the air conditioning it still felt hot and I was sluggish (i.e. cranky) all week.  This girl is not a hot weather gal.  I've been dreaming about the "ber" months obsessively lately, but I won't get into that right now.  I understand some of you may not be ready yet : ) 





John just brought me breakfast and coffee.  The perks of having a teenager home for the summer.  School is OUT and we couldn't be happier! 




Happy Summer! 

                                                


For today's post I wanted to share with you some of my current favorite things.  I guess you could call this the summer edition.  

First up is a beauty item.  I wear Supergood Glow Screen under my makeup 365 days a year.  Because it's summer and sunscreen is on everyone's mind I wanted to mention it.  It's lightweight, not pilly like some sunscreens, is odorless, and if you get the tinted one, it gives you a nice pearly glow.  

I love it.  I never leave home without it 




Speaking of makeup here's another beauty item.  I just started using this foundation a few weeks ago and I don't see myself stopping anytime soon.  Maybelline skin tint (comes under the heading "TikTok made me buy it") is wonderful!  I wanted to try a lighter foundation for summertime and this one had rave reviews online. It's light coverage and I feel like my skin can actually breathe under it.  I think it's perfect for everyday wear, even on hot days.  It's definitely as good as high-end brands. 10/10 




Philosophy body wash is a favorite of mine. It's so creamy and lux.  I never go a Fall/Winter without a big bottle of Cinnamon Buns in the shower (IYKYK).  I saw this one at Marshalls a few weeks ago and had to scoop it up.  Coconut Frosting! It smells like a day at the beach. Let's say it's part body wash, part aromatherapy. 




So my friend BJ will laugh at this next one because she heard me go on and on about this one day!  New PJs are my favorite thing in the entire world!  I purchased these two pairs recently from Kohls.  So soft, light, and cozy.  Why get dressed at all?!  





The reason it's funny is because I ordered a shopping cart full of summer clothes online and returned just about everything except the PJs.  I despise shopping because I can never find anything to fit me properly or that I even like.  But PJs, well that's a different story.  I'm pretty certain I own more pajama sets than actual clothing and at this stage of life that's quite alright with me 





On to podcasts...I understand this one may not be for everyone, but this discovery to me felt like Christmas day!  Did you know that in 1964 Lucy had a radio program? Neither did I! And I thought I knew everything about Lucy.  Apparently not.  Lucy had a daily 10 minute radio segment where she interviewed some of her famous Hollywood friends.  The best part about it is they talk about normal everyday things, like raising teenagers, fashion, home life, hobbies, vacations, ect.  Sometimes she broadcasts from Desilu Studios in Hollywood and sometimes it's right in her backyard in Beverly Hills. Lucy talks honestly about family which is a side of her that I've never heard before.  Some guests include Debbie Reynolds, Doris Day, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Jane Powell, Ann Southern, Vivian Vance, and Hal King, who was her makeup artist and friend.  He worked for Max Factor and gave "makeup application" tips which I thought was so funny as so many things have changed since 1964!  For example, he suggests that a housewife/mother applies light makeup in the morning before breakfast, so she'll look pretty for her husband as she sends him off to work.  He then suggests that she wash her face and reapply everything (a bit darker) for an afternoon of shopping and lunching with girlfriends.  And yes....we are cleansing and reapply again before hubby comes home for dinner. This time we apply even darker lipstick and eye makeup. Three times a day! Who has that kind of time?  I find this all hysterical and I love it with my whole entire heart! 




This podcast is a joy and feels like an actual time capsule.  Lucy is kind, funny, honest, and endearing. I didn't think I could love Lucy anymore that I already do, but you know what....I do! 

Plus the golden age of Hollywood fascinates me, and I wish it was still like that.  There was an elegance about it. Times have certainly changed.  



Susan Branch once said that the best part of spring and summer is getting to be your own florist.  
She's right!  I've been taking advantage of the blooming flowers to cheer up the house.  
It's been making me happy all week.  At least the flowers don't mind the weather.  




I'd also like to offer a tip I read in a book once.  On super hot days put your moisturizers, body lotions, eye creams, and body mists in the fridge. It's the best feeling after a hot shower or just being hot in general to be able to put cold cream on your face and body.  If you hate the heat like I do, this is a live saver. You're welcome! 

What are some of your current summer favorites? I'd love to know! 

I hope you are staying cool.  The summer is only just starting.  We've got a long way to go!

Have a wonderful day, friends!  I'm making a yummy cake tonight that I can't wait to share with you later this week. It has berries and marcapone cheese in it.  You're going to love it.

Talk soon! 

Also this.... it doesn't happen very often but when it does....bliss!!!

Can you relate? 



XOXO 

Monday, June 10, 2024

No-Churn Vanilla Buttermilk Ice Cream ♥


 Good Morning Friends! Hapy Monday! I have missed you! 

I have been in the middle of a huge work project that has been taking up most of my time the past few weeks.  Thankfully, I do see light at end of the tunnel and soon I'll be back to my regular schedule. Whew!

 It's been quite busy, but I am proud of myself for getting what I need to get done, done. I've spent most of the past two weeks at my desk with my head down or on zoom meetings.  I don't usually do well under pressure.  Where some people thrive on it, it's not my thing.  Unfortunately, sometimes in life we just have to go with what's thrown at us. And that's what I'm doing.  For now 




Anyway, aside from all that business, it's an exciting time around here.  The school year is winding down. John has a week and a half to go and it's jam packed with activities.  Last week he had his year end band concert.  It's was a wonderful show! Later that week there was an ice cream social for all the members of band.  On Saturday he preformed at the High School Graduation and then he was off to a fellow band member/friend's house for a "jam session".  Music is everything these days.  Tonight is the band awards night, which Rob and I are looking forward to attending.  Later this week there is an after school event to celebrate the juniors entering senior year (I know, I can't believe it either!!), he's volunteered to help the Junior high band at 2 shows during the week at the junior high school for community service, and finals start Friday! Are you tired yet? I sure am!!  Meanwhile he's trying to put the final touches on his summer work situation which looks like will be two part time jobs.  He's busting with energy and excitement! This is the one place John and I differ.  He loves to be busy.  I absolutely hate it.  Give me slow and boring any day. But this isn't about me :)





This Saturday we have a date to see Inside Out 2 and I can't wait.  

I'm bringing tissues! 

As for Rob, he's been busy working hard and on the weekends, he's doing lots of yard work around here making our yard look pretty.  When I step outside, I love to smell the fresh grass and mulch.  He likes to putter outside and that's ok with me.  Yesterday he hosed down the deck and cleaned it all off.  There was so much pollen!  Now I can bring my laptop out there and work if I want to.  I'll take advantage of that before it gets too hot.  It was a bit humid last weekend and I did catch my October loving heart complaining.... I'll try not to do that....too much. 

Lately I like to sit outside and watch the birds, bunnies, and chipmunks.  It's very peaceful and calming.  Especially on busy days.  











Despite being so busy with work last week I was determined to try this summer recipe I saw in Valerie Bertinelli's new cookbook Endulge (which was kindly gifted to me by my bestie BJ).  It's a no-churn vanilla buttermilk ice cream.  YUM!  It only took a few minutes to put together and no ice cream machine was needed! The only downside is you have to let it freeze overnight before you can try it.

That was hard! 



No Churn Vanilla Buttermilk Ice Cream, pg 296


























So easy and delicious!  I decided this will be the summer of homemade ice cream!  Last night I made a quick blueberry cobbler and we had the rest of it with that.  

My Dad really loved it! 




 And there you have it! Summer is here! : ) 

I hope you all having a nice Monday! I've got to work now, but I'll be back soon.

Byeeee!!!