Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Top 5 Recipe Posts of 2015

 

 

It is always interesting to take a look back at what posts were the most popular; especially when it comes to recipes. I like to try new recipes and one of the things I love the most about reading blogs and looking at Pinterest is that you can find recipes that real people have tested. You get their success stories and the tweaks that made the recipe better. I have loved sharing family recipes with you, as well as some experiments in putting together dishes that sounded good to me. The most popular recipes in 2015 were a mix of savory and sweet and some of my favorites too. The Lemon Brownies have become a summertime staple and I am making the Antipasto Salad for a dinner party I am hosting tonight. Here is the complete list.

 

'

Blueberry Croissant Puff

 

Apple Sour Cream Loaf

 

Parmesan Thyme Grilled Tomatoes

 

Lemon Brownies

 

Antipasto Salad

 

Here's to sharing many more delicious new recipes in 2016!

 

{Linking with these friends}


French Country Cottage

A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Between Naps on the Porch

Cozy Little House

Eclectic Red Barn

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

DIY by Design

Northern Nesting

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm

 

Monday, December 28, 2015

A Photo Filled Christmas

 

 

 

We had a wonderful Christmas and the last two days have been eventful too, with lots and lots of family time. It has been so great having my daughters home and the quiet times watching movies on the couch have been just as fun as the busy times spent with extended family.

 

 

 

Christmas Eve started with brunch, followed by Mass and then quickly changing into Christmas pajamas and opening presents. We hosted Christmas Day dinner at our house and were festive with prosecco cocktails to toast the occasion. We had a wonderful dinner, then opened even more presents and played some games to end the night.

 

 

 

It seemed to be a selfie stick kind of Christmas too. We got two fabulous group shots; one from our family Christmas and one from our big group outing to play whirlyball ( a bumper car/lacrosse/basketball hybrid). We had teams designated by colored bandanas and lots of friendly competition. Both parents and children (all older now) played in a tournament format and my team came out on top in the championship round. We are a competitive, athletic bunch and it was loads of fun.

Happy Monday and hope your Christmas was filled with happiness too!

 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Eve Eve

 

 

 

The presents are bought and wrapped and are all under the tree. The Christmas cookies are baked and ready to be assembled onto cookie platters. My daughters are both home and sleeping in their old bedrooms upstairs. It is Christmas Eve Eve and all of the preparations are done and we can enjoy family time surrounded by the lights and sounds of the Christmas season.

Tomorrow we will be going to Christmas Eve brunch at my brother's home in Toledo and on Christmas Day we will be hosting dinner, but it will still be a lazy morning with stockings and a special breakfast. I am especially looking forward to sitting at mass tomorrow night in the silence and quiet of church and listening to the Christmas nativity story and all the beautiful music. The peace of Christmas has arrived.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Eggnog Cookies - Pinterest Success {40}

 

 

 

I spent an enjoyable pre Christmas day yesterday in my kitchen, baking cookies and listening to Christmas music. It would have been even more perfect if there would have been snow flying around outside, but it's looking like we won't be having a white Christmas this year, with temperatures predicted in the fifties.

Eggnog seems like such an old fashioned kind of drink these days, but I always buy some and enjoy a glass or two at Christmastime. When I saw this recipe on Pinterest, it looked like a great addition to my cookie tray that I always put together at this time of year. I like to make a new cookie to add to the mix of tradional favorites and this one looked yummy and pretty too, with its eggnog flavored frosting.

It was a good choice and I will have to practice restraint to be able to eat just one. They really do taste like a glass of eggnog wrapped up in a bite of cookie. The sprinkle of nutmeg on the top is the perfect tasty garnish too.

Happy holiday baking!

 

{Linking with these friends}


French Country Cottage

A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Between Naps on the Porch

Cozy Little House

Sunny Simple Life

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

DIY by Design

No Minimalist Here

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm

Friday, December 18, 2015

Guest Bathroom Update - Holiday Reveal

 

 

 

Believe it or not, I did finish my guest bathroom update before my guests arrived for Thanksgiving. But, with the busyness of Christmas decorating and shopping, and the difficultly in getting good photographs in a small, indoor room, the reveal has not happened until today - almost in time for my next round of guests.

 

 

 

 

 

The colors I chose, a pretty deep blue accented with gray and white, really do change the whole look of the room. The darker color can be a bit of a shock going on, but when all the elements come together it feels calm and cool, just as I imagined. The mirror frame (from Mirror Mate) really is the star and gave a builders grade mirror presence and weight. The white frame and the light gray cabinets really pop against the darker color of the walls. I think the look matches my inspiration photos fairly well.

 

 

 

 

The paint for the walls, cabinet and table is Behr brand from Home Depot and all the fixtures are Pfister from Home Depot as well. I still need to find just the right art for the walls, but am so far liking a minimalist look and won't be adding too much.

This was a quick DIY project and well worth the time and expense. It looks fresh and clean, up to date and most importantly, the last bit of wallpaper is finally gone from my home.

Have a wonderful weekend.

 

{Linking with these friends}


French Country Cottage

A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Between Naps on the Porch

Cozy Little House

Sunny Simple Life

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

DIY by Design

No Minimalist Here

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm

 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Our Book Club Christmas

 

 

 

I wanted this photograph to capture the moment; a moment in time that shows my book club all around the table ready to enjoy a Christmas meal together. One of many moments with a special group of friends.

Many of the ladies were commiserating with each other about how they were tired from work, Christmas preparations and just all the little things of life that are hitting everyone so hard right now. But, we all agreed that there are things we must make an effort for and coming to book club is one of them.

It helped that when we arrived we were given a glass of champagne with a splash of limoncello. We had a delicious dinner ( chicken with artichokes, pasta with a light mushroom sauce and perfectly cooked Italian green beans) followed by a chocolate mint dessert that had us wanting more. As we ended the meal, our hostess made a heartfelt toast stressing the fact that we are so fortunate to come together each month with an amazing group of women.

Our evening ended with a little bit of serendipity that is hard to explain, but seems to happen every year with our gift exchange. We each bring a favorite thing that in a totally random way, always ends up in the hands of the person it seems would appreciate it the most. It's funny how things work out with a wink from above.

Happy Wednesday!

 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Holiday Cheer at Bunco

 

 

 

Friday night, my neighborhood Bunco group had our annual progressive party to celebrate the holiday season. We started out at my house with appetizers and festive Frost Bite Martinis, walked down the street to play Bunco (and eat more appetizers) at another house and finished the night by walking around the corner for decadent chocolate martinis, dessert (tiramisu cake) and a gift exchange.

 

 

Our Bunco group is over twenty years old and still going strong. People have moved away, lost their battle with cancer and dropped out for various other reasons. We started with preschoolers and now have weddings and grandchildren on the horizon. But, the core group is still active and we meet once a month even if it turns out to be a smaller than normal group and we talk rather than actually playing Bunco.

Our traditions remain the same year after year and the progressive holiday Bunco is a highlight that brings us many wonderful memories. Many years, we have walked through deep snow to get to our next stop, but we were definitely laughing all the way. One year, I think there were even snow angels involved. After twenty plus years, the stories are plentiful and the retelling is half the fun. It's a group of friends worth holding on to.

Happy Monday!

 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Frost Bite Martini

 

 

 

It will be a busy day of preparation as I get ready to host my neighborhood Bunco group on the first stop of our annual progressive party. I will be serving a few appetizers, but more importantly a delicious martini to give us a fun and festive start to the night.

This Frost Bite Martini is a combination of a recipe or two that I thought sounded good, but in my opinion needed a little tweaking. Yesterday, I practiced making one and tweaked and tasted until I got the ingredients just right. The whipped cream vodka and the raspberry liqueur make a delicious combination of flavors and I think my Bunco friends will love it.

In the past years I have made a few different martinis for this event including a Merry Martini that everyone enjoyed very much. It's so much fun to prepare a festive cocktail and serve it in pretty glasses. The holiday spirit will be alive and well in my neighborhood tonight.

 

Frost Bite Martini

In a martini shaker filled with ice, add 1 1/2 ounces whipped cream vodka, 1/4 ounce Chambord, 2 ounces pineapple juice, 1 ounce cranberry juice and 1 ounce club soda. Shake well and pour through strainer into a pretty martini glass.

Note: when making martinis for a crowd, I always prepare a pitcher full in advance and then pour individual amounts into my martini shaker and serve. It saves a lot of measuring small quantities when your guests are waiting for a drink.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

{Linking with these friends}


French Country Cottage

A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Between Naps on the Porch

Cozy Little House

Sunny Simple Life

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

DIY by Design

No Minimalist Here

Stonegable


Rattlebridge Farm

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Sweet and Simple Christmas Table

 

 

 

Just like my neutral Christmas mantel I showed you earlier this week, I am planning on keeping things sweet and simple on my Christmas table as well. I will be using a lot of votives for atmosphere, but when I usually use red candles, this year, everything will be white. By happenstance, I found (at Home Goods) a roll of wide burlap ribbon, painted with white snowflakes and it immediately sent me in this direction.

 

 

Spread along the burlap ribbon at the center of the table, inexpensive white pillar candles will be placed in mason jars. Pretty seasonal greenery with white flocking will be tied very simply on the jars with twine. I think it is important in all the busyness of Christmas, to sometimes take a step back and rather than elaborate plans, find the sweet and simple.

Happy Wednesday!

 

{Linking with these friends}


French Country Cottage

A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Between Naps on the Porch

Cozy Little House

Sunny Simple Life

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

DIY by Design

No Minimalist Here

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm

 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Neutral Christmas Mantel

 

 

 

My mantel at Christmastime has gone through many changes over the years. One of my favorite mantel looks was very bold, with a preponderance of red, including a large red metal star that was a dramatic focal point. But, this year I was looking for something softer, quieter and with an a sense of calm. It seemed to suit my mood for less decorations and more blank space.

 

 

 

 

I used neutral colors, greenery and white lights to achieve this calming look. My candles are either white or have touches of gold to add a little sparkle. The garland is basic and the addition of large pine cones here and there, give it interest, without being too heavy looking. The focal point remains the rustic window I keep there year round, but the neutral wooden snowflake gives it a seasonal touch. To add balance and height and also even more sparkle, the three gold and silver trees are a perfect whimsical touch to the simplicity.

It's exactly the look I envisioned and lends a pretty, yet quiet seasonal look to my great room. It doesn't scream Christmas, with bold reds, but gives the thought of quiet winter nights, with softly falling snow.

Happy Monday!

 

P.S. I would be remiss in not mentioning how excited we are that the Spartans are going to the college football playoffs and playing Alabama. As those of you who follow closely know, this season started for us with our very first tailgate in September, many ups and downs, many close and dramatic wins and we really can't believe this is where we finally are. New Years Eve will be a night to remember.

 

{Linking with these friends}


A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Between Naps on the Porch

Cozy Little House

Sunny Simple Life

Live Laugh Rowe

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

DIY by Design

No Minimalist Here

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm

 

Friday, December 4, 2015

A Thursday Night Dinner

 

 

 

It's always a treat to have dinner out on a Thursday night and get an early start to the weekend. Our club recently remodeled their conference room and it is now available for private dining. One of my friends set up a dinner in the room, with a fun group of people and it was a delightful way to spend the evening.

 

 

When we arrived, there were so many pretty holiday decorations and Christmas trees, both small and large, around every corner. Everyone gathered at the bar for a festive holiday cocktail ( a Cosmo for me) before proceeding into the private room for dinner. The conversation was fun and spirited and we enjoyed each other's company, as the many courses were served.

 

 

 

The presentation is always beautiful and the food delicious. I don't think I have ever had a bad meal when dining there and last night was no exception. I didn't photograph everything to keep from being the annoying blogger that I am, but took a shot of two of my favorite courses. The wedge salad is always so good with a rich topping of blue cheese, bacon and a balsamic reduction, over crisp romaine. My entree of Canadian salmon, with a lemony, caper sauce, was done to perfection. Dessert was a mini Hummer, their speciality drink. It is a blend of vanilla ice cream, rum and kaluha, first introduced at The Bayview Yacht Club in Detroit and adopted with perfection at our club. Good food, special drinks and great conversation made for a special night to kick off the holiday season.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Crockpot Cashew Chicken {recipe redo}

 

 

 

The crockpot can be a lifesaver during this busy time of year and I will be using mine with regularity in the coming weeks leading up to the holidays. It is such a good feeling to know that dinner is ready to go after a long day of work or Christmas shopping.

This recipe for Crockpot Cashew Chicken was an early recipe on my blog (thus the bad photo!) and really is a winner and worth a redo. The beauty of this recipe is the crunch of the cashews that are added at the very end. You can also add fresh chopped celery to give it even more of a fresh flavor. We love to order Chinese food in, but this version served over brown rice is just as good and no one needs to go out to pick it up at the Chinese restaurant. Isn't crock pot cooking the best?

Happy Wednesday!

 

{Linking with these friends}


A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Between Naps on the Porch

Cozy Little House

Sunny Simple Life

Live Laugh Rowe

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

DIY by Design

No Minimalist Here

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm

Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving Weekend

 

 

 

Once all the cooking and serving of the turkey was accomplished on Thanksgiving afternoon, it was time to relax and settle into a fun weekend with my family. My daughters and I went on a quick Black Friday shopping trip to Old Navy on Friday morning and it was less crowded than in years past. We got some fun socks, slippers and sweaters and moved on to an outdoor holiday market in our city. It was rainy, but not too cold, so it was fun to shop local for a few items. I found some lavender mint soap that smells just lovely.

Saturday was game day and we headed to East Lansing for a fun day of tailgating. It was very cold and none of us were crazy about preparing food, so we decided to go to a bar close to campus for some pre and post game fun. The game was chilly, but very exciting, as we stayed warm under our blankets and watched the Spartans win and advance to the Big Ten Championship.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday is our favorite day to go to brunch and we headed to our favorite spot in Birmingham. It was decorated for the holidays and we enjoyed our mimosas (blackberry for me), yummy food and the festive atmosphere very much. We also walked around a bit and found a few fun Christmas gifts at Anthroplogie.

Everyone heads back to work today and I'll be busy decorating for Christmas. It's sad for such a fun weekend to end, but Christmas will be here soon and I look forward to more family fun.

Happy Monday!

 

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