Friday, February 27, 2015

Fashion Friday - Garden District Collection

 

 

We receive a lot of catalogs in the mail and I rarely give most a passing glance, before putting them in the recycle bin. But, the spring Land's End catalog cover caught my eye and I was drawn immediately to the collection featuring botanical prints. What a classic and fun way to incorporate something new for spring into your wardrobe. In the winter, I tend to wear a lot of black and grey, with maybe a touch of red for color. These subdued colors are great transition pieces between the dark colors of winter and summer brights. I already ordered the crop pants and they will be perfect for my trip to Florida next month. Hurry spring!

 

 

 

 

There are also shorts in a variety of garden prints and which come in longer lengths, that can be so difficult to find. I think any of these dresses, pants and shorts would be beautiful paired with a simple cardigan in a soft, spring color. There may be snow on the ground, but it is fun to plan a spring wardrobe and dream of the day when we can put our winter coats away for another season.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

What I Am Watching Lately

 

 

I did manage to go for a few walks this week, since temperatures finally made it to above zero wind chills. But, for the past few weeks I have been both reading and watching more television than usual, to occupy my time.

 

 

Broadchurch is a British crime drama that I had been hearing a lot about and finally decided to watch, last weekend. The first season is available on Netflix, with just eight episodes, so it's easy to catch up on. The new season will be shown on BBC America starting on March 4th. This show definitely lived up to the hype and I am very glad I watched it. A crime is committed in the first episode and each subsequent episode gives you a few more clues, as the detective team gets closer to solving the case. The lead actors are fantastic and I especially loved Ellie, the detective sergeant, who was investigating her first murder. It's a whodunit that will shock you in the end.

 

 

I have written about my love of Grey's Anatomy before and this season is a good one. The departure of Christina, has changed the dynamic, but that has helped keep things fresh. Meredith and Derek are struggling, but their relationship is always the most interesting when things are complicated. After eleven seasons, a show might get stale at times, but this one continues to surprise and move me.

 

 

Finally, I am looking forward to the perfect winter escape; the return of House of Cards on Netflix. It starts on Friday, February 27th and I look forward to the new plots and twists. Frank Underwood as President and Claire Underwood as First Lady will be so interesting to watch. They finally have achieved the pinnacle of power they so craved. Will they use it for good or evil? And, I love the dresses and suits that Claire wears and can't wait to see her First Lady style.

Happy Thursday!

 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Blueberry Croissant Puff {Pinterest Success 36}

 

 

 

A cold winter morning is always made better by something delicious baking in the oven and a hot cup of coffee in your hand. These are the long days of winter, where spring seems close, yet so far away. The snow and cold just keep coming and when you have to put your coat, boots and gloves on another time to just step outside, the frustration with winter begins to build.

 

 

So, I cheer myself up with a breakfast full of blueberries, that taste like summer. My daughter pinned this easy, but delicious recipe and I just had to repin and try it. I like to keep these kinds of recipes handy for simple brunch ideas, throughout the year and the croissants make this one something special. For the original pin and recipe click here.

 

{Linking with these friends}


A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Serenity Now

Between Naps on the Porch

Cozy Little House

Craftberry Bush

Live Laugh Rowe

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

DIY by Design

No Minimalist Here

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm


Mostly Homeade Mom


Gooseberry Patch

Sunny Simple Life

 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mass Mob {February}

 

 

 

The day we decided to join our parish, I didn't realize how much that community of people would mean to us, twenty five years after the fact. But, now I do. As we sat in the pew at church waiting for more and more friends to arrive for our February Mass Mob, I was struck with the thought that we were lucky to be part of such a group. So many old friends, willing to do this thing that was started with a simple group email and join together for worship.

 

 

Each month, we add to our group as we travel to each new church. This month we were joined by a couple that had recently moved back from Philadelphia. They had been gone for nine years, but fit back in like the nine years had been the blink of an eye. We were also joined by our former parish priest, since it was his new church we attended. He was happy to see our group and many old memories and catching up with families was part of the conversation. He started at our parish and school the year my oldest daughter started first grade and was there through all those important school years; even coming to her high school to do the baccalaureate mass. So many wonderful memories.

 

 

After mass, brunch was a wonderful treat and as you can see from the photo, our table was a long one. The restaurant prepared a set menu, complete with our group's name printed at the top. Bloody Mary's were served to start and the food was delicious. But, it was the conversation between old friends that have been through the ups and downs of life, that made the day special.

Happy Monday!

 

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Winter Book Club

 

 

 

My monthly book club met last night and had a wonderful discussion on the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I picked this book for everyone to read and hoped they would like it as much as I did. In fact, since it had been so long since I read it and I needed to lead the book discussion, I read it for a second time and enjoyed it just as much. Our discussion was great, sometimes using the discussion questions I had printed off the computer, but a lot of the time going our own way. The ladies in my group always have the most interesting things to say.

Before our discussion, we remarked on how wonderful it was to be out of the house, as cabin fever seems to be setting in for all. Our hostess prepared a delicious soup and salad menu with beef, mushroom, barley soup and a baby kale and apple salad. Her table was so creative for a book club dinner with candles on top of stacked books, many of which we have read it our book club over the years. The dessert and coffee served after our discussion was a huge hit on a cold winter night; gingerbread cake with caramel sauce. Once again, we remarked how lucky we are to have each other.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

40 Bags in 40 Days {2015}

 

 

source

 

As I reflect on the start of the Lenten season, as well as the start of my 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge, I know once again, this is the right thing for me to take on. As my priest said last year, instead of giving something up, take something on; something that can be a reflection of your faith.

This act of decluttering is good for the soul. It creates space in your home, but it also creates space in your mind. Space to think about what's important. Space for reflection. Space that helps you breath.

I will use these 40 days of Lent to perform this physical act, but it will be a spiritual act as well. I will give up those things that weigh me down, but might also help others. This is my third year doing the 40 bags in 40 Days challenge and I have learned a lot. This year I will be delving even deeper, to find those items I no longer need. Those items I may have been saving for a rainy day, but can help others more.

Some do this challenge by filling one bag each day. I do things a little different. I find an area, such as a closet or room that needs my attention and fill as many bags as I can; both trash and donation. Slowly, but surely, over the 40 days, the number of bags add up. The clutter may not be obvious, but I know it's there. And, the act of taking those bags out of your home is powerful. I can't wait to get started.

Happy Thursday!

 

Linking With Between Naps on the Porch and Savvy Southern Style

 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Best Marinated Flank Steak

 

 

 

We don't eat red meat too often these days. Especially steak. In the summer we will have steak on the grill from time to time, but invariably, healthier chicken is on our menu. As a treat for Valentine's Day, I decided to make one of my tried and true recipes that I have been making for years and years. This really is the best marinated flank steak; full of flavor, tender and juicy, as well as being easy to make. And, to make the meal healthy, I served it with plenty of vegetables on the side; spinach cooked in olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes, as well as oven roasted carrots with crushed black pepper and sea salt.

The key to tender and flavorful flank steak is to marinade it for at least four hours or longer. This marinade is thick and coats the steak with flavor. I usually use the broiler for this, but weather permitting, it would be delicious on the grill. It really is a fool proof, special occasion recipe.

 

The Best Marinated Flank Steak


2 pound flank steak

6 T ketsup

2 T vegetable oil

2 T finely chopped onion

2 tsp brown sugar

2 T Worcestershire sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp pepper


In a small bowl, mix all ingredients to make marinade. Place steak in a large ziplock bag and pour marinade on top of steak. Close bag tightly and make sure steak is completely covered by marinade. Place in refridgerator at least 4 hours. Remove meat, discarding remaining marinade. Broil (or grill) at 435 degrees until meat reaches desired doneness. Slice into thin strips across the grain to serve. Enjoy!

 

{Linking with these friends}


A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Serenity Now

Between Naps on the Porch

Cozy Little House

Craftberry Bush

Live Laugh Rowe

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

DIY by Design

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm


Mostly Homeade Mom


Gooseberry Patch

Sunny Simple Life

 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Yellow Roses and Blueberry Pancakes

 

 

 

What is a Valentine's Day without a few of your favorite things to make sure you feel loved? It was a lovely weekend (except for the frigid weather) and it is always a little more special when the holiday falls on a Saturday. My husband walked in a door on Friday with my favorite yellow roses and that gave the weekend a great start. He always remembers that I prefer yellow roses and makes and effort to find them for me, when red roses are much easier to buy on Valentine's Day. My gift to him was simple, but what he loves; a box of his favorite, homemade chocolate chip cookies. We like to keep Valentines's Day simple and sweet.

 

 

Saturday morning we braved the snowstorm, blowing through and went to our favorite breakfast spot. Because of the weather, it wasn't as crowded as I expected and we were able to linger quite awhile over coffee. I try to change up my order, but always end up going back to my favorite; blueberry pancakes. I would rather go out to breakfast than lunch or dinner, so it was a perfect Valentine's Day for me.

Happy Monday!

 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Day Breakfast

 

 

There is something special about preparing a delicious breakfast for your loved ones on Valentine's Day morning. I have plans to go our for breakfast with my husband, another favorite and special thing to do, but if you are staying home and want to surprise your family, these are recipes they will love. Strawberries are the perfect ingredient for Valentine's Day and all these recipes make use of their red deliciousness. Of course, they are out of season, but most grocery stores have them year round and are definitely worth the splurge on this special day.

 

Oven Baked Strawberry Pancake

 

Strawberry Oatmeal Muffins

 

The Perfect Strawberry

 

All of these recipes are simple to prepare and your menu choice could be as easy as serving a muffin with some hot chocolate, followed by a delicious chocolate dipped strawberry. It's about making your valentine feel special and any of these sweet treats would make for a great Valentine's morning.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Morning Yoga

 

 

 

In these long days of winter, getting my daily walk in, is not easy. Either the temperatures are too cold to face or the roads are too icy to safely walk on. Not to mention, my favorite walking paths are covered with snow too deep to navigate and I won't see them again until the spring thaw. I still get out when I can, but it's not consistent enough.

My morning yoga sessions have been a wonderful way to keep moving and give me a great attitude the rest of the day. Usually about mid morning, I spread my new, cushiony yoga mat on my floor, light a few candles for atmosphere, if the day is gloomy and get started. I use a DVD I purchased on Amazon last year and still love it. There are choices of different yoga practices; some longer than others, so there is a variety. The instructor's voice and the music in the background are very soothing. And, holding the yoga poses is a great way to get that weight bearing exercise we all need.

For me though, it's not so much about the exercise of my body, but the release of stressful thoughts. You may start a yoga routine tense, but usually by the end, you are thinking of nothing but your breathing and the act of doing the pose correctly and fluidly. It really is the best thing for mind, body and spirit.

Happy Thursday!

 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Crock Pot Sesame Chicken

 

 

 

I just love the feeling of a Saturday that stretches before you will no plans on the calendar to worry about. A day to spend at home if you wish, catching up on all the little things that need to be done or maybe even just losing yourself in a good book. Also, a perfect day for putting something in the crock pot and letting it cook while you relax.

I came up with this recipe by using a little of this and a little of that; all ingredients that I had on hand. The flavor after cooking all afternoon was really delicious and this recipe will go in my crock pot rotation. One of my tricks for making crock pot meals a little more special, is to add a fresh ingredient at the end. I especially like to use celery in an Asian flavored dish like this, because it adds both a brightness and a great crunch. Served with brown rice and oven roasted carrots this was a colorful and tasty Saturday night dinner.

 

Crock Pot Sesame Chicken


I 1/2 pounds chicken, sliced

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce

1/3 cup brown sugar

4 minced garlic cloves

3 T sesame seeds

1 cup chopped celery, divided

3 T corn starch


Place chicken in crock pot. Put sesame seeds and 1/2 cup chopped celery, garlic and brown sugar on top of chicken pieces. Add chicken broth and soy sauce. Cook on high for 4 hours. At the end of cooking, add the cornstarch ( mix cornstarch with water and shake together to avoid lumps) and let thicken. Serve over brown rice and top with remaining chopped celery. Enjoy!

 

{Linking with these friends}


A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Serenity Now

Between Naps on the Porch

Cozy Little House

Craftberry Bush

Live Laugh Rowe

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

DIY by Design

No Minimalist Here

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm


Mostly Homeade Mom


Gooseberry Patch

Sunny Simple Life

 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Being a Pom Mom

 

 

 

As Melissa's pompon career is winding down, it's hard not to reflect on the last eight years she has been involved in this sport. It's been an extremely good thing for her and she has grown up right before our eyes, into the confident college senior she is, about to conquer the grown up world. It is a sport with judge's opinions and scores, right or wrong in your eyes and ones you learn to accept with grace and sportsmanship, an experience that will serve you well in all aspects of life.

 

 

Being the mom of a daughter can bring much happiness, but there can also be drama. These eight years of Pom have had there fair share of tears, but I knew it was my job to be there to encourage and bring things back into perspective. Sitting in the stands for an all day competition can be long and tedious, but you do it for those few minutes your daughter is center stage and doing what she loves.

 

 

And that is what motivates you. That love of her sport that shines so bright, every time she performs with her team. No matter how big the crowd, she walked out with such confidence and it was always a marvel to me. She was able to see that all her hard work and practice brought her to that point. MSU Pom has been a big part of her college experience, and it has definitely helped to shape her into the confident young woman she is today. This Pom mom couldn't be more proud.

Happy Monday!

 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Two Books

 

 

Reading is getting me though these cold winter days and lately, I have read two good books. They couldn't be more different, but that is what makes reading fun. One day a psychological thriller and another a uplifting and humorous look at life. Life is never boring when there are books to be experienced.

 

 

I always read the Boo Mama blog with a smile on my face and sometimes a chuckle or two. Sophie Hudson's first book A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet, was a extension of her blog posts; humorous stories about her life in the south. Her new book, Home Is Where My People Are, surprised me a bit. The book takes you from her childhood, to present day and explores the relationships and people she meets along the way. The people who have made her who she is and what home means to her. While still funny at times, this book is very personal and deals with all aspects of her life including faith, her marriage and dealing with death. I enjoyed getting to know her life on different level than her blog.

 

 

After much hype, I decided to read The Girl on the Train and wondered if it would live up to my expectations. I did read it rather quickly, and there were times I could not put it down. But, and it's a big but, I'm not sure I really loved it. It gave me an unsettled feeling throughout and none of the characters were really likable. You wanted to know what happened, but the things that occurred were all very depressing. I would say, I definately had a love, hate relationship with this book. It's a good one to give a try and see what you think.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Early February

 

 

 

So far, the early days of February have been all about the snow. A blizzard with a foot and a half of snow kept us home early in the week and two more measurable snowfalls have added to the fun. We were getting a little complacent around here, watching the record snowfalls in the east and thinking we were lucky to be having such a mild winter, when measuring our snowfall amounts. So far, February is making a mockery of that.

 

 

There becomes a rhythm to snowy days. You wake up to fresh snow and while it can be pretty, the driveway and sidewalks need to be cleared. Your coat, boots, hat and gloves are put on and off with regularity, every time you venture outside. Your world becomes a little smaller, and the paths a little narrower, as the snow piles up around you. The light is softer and even when the sun shines, there are shadows reflected off the expanses of snow.

 

 

The amounts of snow we are experiencing make spring time seem very far away. But we are tough here in Michigan. We are used to the long days of winter and know that spring always comes and surviving a snow filled winter, will make those first warm days all the sweeter.

Happy Thursday!

 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Antipasto Salad

 

 

 

For the Italian style dinner that I served my book club last week, I started the meal with this delicious and easy Antipasto Salad. What makes this salad special, is the addition of the slightly spicy, pickled vegetables, called giardiniera. You can find it at most grocery stores, either with the pickles and olives or in the speciality Italian food section. There are usually two varieties; mild or spicy, but for this salad recipe, the mild is best.

The vegetables are unexpected and give the salad a lovely crunch. For the dressing, you can use your favorite oil and vinegar based recipe or in the interest of time, use a good quality Italian dressing from the store. I find there are many speciality dressings available now, that have great flavor and taste as good as homemade. This salad can be put together ahead of time - just pile everything on top of the lettuce and toss with the dressing right before serving.

 

Antipasto Salad


2 bags romaine lettuce

1 large jar mild giardiniera

2 cups chopped, peeled cucumbers

1 container cherry tomatoes, halved

1 can medium black olives, sliced

1 jar roasted red peppers, chopped

Italian dressing

Shredded Mozerella cheese


Place the lettuce in a large salad bowl. Layer all vegetables on top lettuce, ending with giardiniera. Just before serving, toss with dressing. Serve with Mozerella cheese on the side.

 

{Linking with these friends}


A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Serenity Now

Between Naps on the Porch

Cozy Little House

Craftberry Bush

Live Laugh Rowe

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

DIY by Design

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm


Mostly Homeade Mom


Gooseberry Patch

Sunny Simple Life

 

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Big Spartan Stage

 

 

 

We had a big day yesterday, between driving in a blizzard getting to and from East Lansing and watching Melissa's MSU Pompon team realize a ten year old dream. She was excited to say the least :-)

 

 

A few months ago, I wrote about the Spartan Strong high kick routine the team performed in tribute to Spartan fans everywhere. After their performance, the routine went viral around the MSU community, from students, to alumni, to school administrators. Because of the excitement, they were asked to perform this special routine at halftime of the sold out Michigan versus Michigan State basketball game, at the Breslin Center. They were so thrilled and it was a proud moment for the ten year old program when they took the floor and the crowd cheered them on.

 

 

To make things even more emotional, this is Melissa's senior year and this will be her last week of practice leading up to the collegiate championships this coming Sunday. Melissa and her teammate (and roommate) have been doing Pom together now for eight years; four in high school and four special years as Spartans. They have worn the MSU colors with pride and this performance, on the biggest spartan stage, will be one they will always remember.

Happy Monday!

 

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