Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Patriotic Bunting

 

 

 

In anticipation of our 4th of July Weekend, I have placed a few patriotic touches here and there around my house. Not too much, but just a little red, white and blue to celebrate our country and Independence Day. I made this patriotic bunting two years ago and it is still the star. It is bright, vibrant and a bit unexpected with its polka dots and stripes.

This is a project that was so easy to make and with all the scrapbook paper available, is only limited by your imagination. As long as you keep to the red, white and blue theme, any pattern can be used. It looks great on my mantel, but would look perfect strung between two trees outside or on the front of a buffet table.

To make, simply cut a template for the shape of bunting you prefer, trace on scrapbook paper, cut out then string on red and white butcher's twine by folding down and gluing the top edge. For complete step by step instructions, look here. Simple as can be - my favorite kind of craft.

Happy Tuesday!

 

{Linking with these friends}

A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Gooseberry Patch

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, June 29, 2015

Monday Morning Again

 

 

 

It's Monday morning again and it feels like it came just a little bit too soon this week. The weekend held some fun, busy days, but I am looking forward to our holiday weekend.

  • The weekend started with a fun event on Friday night. We joined a big group of friends at an outdoor car show. It was a very casual affair, where we took our own chairs and drinks, but it was nice to be outside on a beautiful summer night.
  • Saturday was a wild day with rain and extremely windy conditions. I did get a pedicure with Melissa and it felt so good to sit in that massage chair for the hour it took to make my toes look pretty. I could take or leave the pedicure, but the massage chair is worth the price.
  • The sun was back out on Sunday, but my backyard looked like a hurricane blew through. No trees were down, but I spent a good hour picking up sticks, large branches and leaves. As much as I try to keep everything picked up, it is almost impossible when you live in a house, surrounded by trees.
  • Sunday afternoon I walked down to a neighbor's house for a graduation party and spent an enjoyable few hours catching up with my neighbors over a glass of wine. Her backyard was lovely, with several tents and beautiful flowers on the tables.
  • We have plans this week for a fun 4th of July spent at a friend's lake cottage, so the week should go fast in anticipation of that. The summer seems to stretch out with endless days in June, but when July comes it seems to speed up somehow. I hope we have the beautiful weather predicted for this weekend, since we haven't had many hot summer days, as of yet. I look forward to days spent in my bathing suit with a cocktail close by my hand; either at the lake or by the pool.

Happy Monday!

 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Patience in Gardening

 

 

 

My corner perennial garden is finally coming into its own. I have not shared too many photos of this spot, because it has been a work in progress and patience has been required. But, this is the season where everything is filling in as I have envisioned it would.

 

 

It's right on the edge of the woods and the green, lush backdrop gives it a secret garden feel. I inherited the black rock from its previous use as a spot for my daughter's trampoline and have never really liked it. But, this year I added some more natural looking river rock stones, scattered here and there and I finally am happy with the softer look.

 

 

There has been a lot of trial and error too. Since it is close to the woods, there are many little critters who like to chew on the tender leaves; both bugs and animals. I think I have finally found a combination of plants that are resistant to these foragers. Instead of planting my cutting zinnias in the ground, I have put them in a pot and the bugs are leaving them alone.

 

 

 

 

This garden has required patience, as I waited for plants to grow and fill in. There is color now and more blooms to come later in the summer and fall. Every day I wander back to this corner pulling a weed here or deadheading a flower there. I have made something pretty and while it has taken a little time, the result makes me happy.

Have a wonderful weekend.

 

Linking with Between Naps on the Porch, Elizabeth and Company, No Minimalist Here and Savvy Southern Style

 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer PBS Watching

 

 

 

The return of a new adaptation of Poldark received a lot of attention in the press, but since I was in high school the first time around and not a PBS or BBC fan, I wasn't aware of the story. And, what a wonderful story it is and produced in the finest tradition of all BBC period dramas. There is sweeping scenery, melodramatic characters and the perfect love triangle. The actor who plays the title character, Ross Poldark, is enigmatic, kind and full of the kind of depth that can be compared to Mr. Darcy. There is English country life with class distinctions highlighted, similar to those in Downton Abbey. In fact, if you are a Downton Abbey fan like me, you will enjoy this series. I'm happy to be once again watching a period drama on Sunday nights.

 

 

Also returning this weekend, is perhaps my favorite BBC show, Last Tango In Halifax. The characters in this show are just so well written and the dialogue is so smart. I love a show where the dialogue carries the story and this show revolves around the conversations, rather than the events. It has a unique story, but ultimately is a show about how families work. My favorite relationship is between the two step sisters who after a period of fighting, became closer in last year's episodes. I'm looking forward to seeing their friendship develop even further. It's a very sweet and funny show, well worth catching up on and watching.

Happy Thursday!

 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Strawberry Balsamic Jam

 

 

 

The strawberries have been in abundance at my grocery store this month and I have been coming home with large containers to enjoy. I noticed the last batch in my refridgerator was only about half way gone and looking a little worse for the wear. Wanting to use them up, I found this amazing recipe for Strawberry Balsamic Jam. It's not so much a breakfast jam, as it is a savory type jam, with a slightly spicy taste from the addition of the white pepper.

There were enough strawberries to make one freezer jar which I will keep on hand for the next time I need an appetizer. The sweet and spicy flavors will be so good, spooned over some cream cheese and served with crackers and a glass of wine. It's something unexpected, similar to pepper jelly, but perfect for summer with its delicious strawberry flavor. Enjoy!

 

Strawberry Balsamic Jam

 

1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced in half

1 cup sugar

2 T lemon juice

2 T balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

 

Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down heat slightly, but continue to cook at a rolling boil for about 40 minutes, stirring often and breaking up the strawberries. Jam is ready when most of the liquid has boiled down, strawberries have dissolved and the consistency is beginning to thicken. Carefully spoon into a freezer jar if you wish to store or use immediately when cool. Serve by spooning over a block of cream cheese and spread on crackers.

 

{Linking with these friends}

A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Gooseberry Patch

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, June 22, 2015

Father's Day at My Sister's Pool

 

 

 

We had a lovely Father's Day celebration at my sister's house on Sunday afternoon. It was a day spent relaxing and talking and catching up with family. She has a lovely pool, surrounded by flowers and since the sun was shining, we found a sunny spot to sit and put our feet in the water for a time. I joined my niece and sister in law by the edge of the pool, while the dads in the group were both listening to Tigers baseball and keeping an eye on the U.S. Open.

 

 

My sister's pool is so welcoming, with its white picket fence and whimsical touches. I just love these blue and red painted chairs; such a bright splash of color next to all the plants and flowers. She definitely has a flair for making an outdoor space relaxing and fun.

 

 

Before dinner, we enjoyed some delicious appetizers on her deck and I brought an old summer standby; Skinny Buffalo Chicken Dip. This is a Skinnytaste recipe (always fabulous) and doesn't sacrifice any flavor for fewer calories. I make it in the summer for backyard barbecues and picnics, because it is very good served at room temperature or even cold, whichever suits your taste. The original pin and recipe can be found here. I use half the amount of hot sauce and it still has a kick, but adjust as you wish.

Happy Monday!

 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Two on Friday

 

 

 

 

I try to walk with my dog Cooper every day. She loves it and since I am a diabetic, the daily exercise is good for me. When asked if I go to the gym, like my husband does religiously, I always reply that walking is something I really enjoy, it's something I know I will do and that is the best kind of exercise. Plus, we have these fabulous walking trails all over my neighborhood. The trail in the photos above is actually right behind my house and in the summer and especially after all the rain we have been having, it is thick with greenery. It feels as if you are deep in a secret woods, but are really only steps from civilization. This is one of several different paths and routes I can take, so each time I walk, the scenery is a little different. I'm very lucky.

 

 

Did you watch The Astronaut's Wives Club last night? After loving the book by the same name and being completely fascinated by this era, I was very much anticipating this television series. Its focus is the space race in the early 1960's and the wives of the Mercury astronauts and their portrayal by Life magazine. They are being described as the first reality stars of their time and I think that is an interesting observation. They were regular military wives, thrust into the spotlight of television, magazine covers and meeting President Kennedy. They coped by forming a tight knit group and helped each other raise their families in Houston, while their husbands were making history. The 1960's fashions are so fabulous to see and there are an abundance of jello molds at their backyard parties. It's a fun summer series.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

If You Love Jane Austen

 

 

 

Rain, rain and more rain around here and it's got me a little down. I want to be outside in June, because it is usually such a lovely sunny month, with milder temperatures. So, my reading wish list has been looked at and a book perfect for a rainy day has been ordered to read on my iPad.

Emma, A Modern Retelling was first brought to my attention by a blogging friend Cosy Carolina and the concept of the book intrigued me. I have read some other modern retellings of Jane Austen's books and there are quite a few out there. But, they are mostly based on Pride and Prejudice. It has been a long time since I read Emma, but recently watched the movie with Gwyneth Paltrow and it is fabulous and filled with wit. I thought the story could really work in the modern world.

So far, just a few chapters in, I am liking it very much. Emma is up to her signature match making ways and life in an English village is the center of the story. Alexander McCall Smith has an elegant and old world writing style that suits the story. Jane Austen would be a fan.

 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Raspberry Vanilla Overnight Oatmeal

 

 

 

There have been some pretty warm, but definitely humid days in the midst of all the rain we are experiencing and my usual hot oatmeal has not been as appetizing. I just love making one of these overnight oatmeal recipes to enjoy on summer mornings. This recipe sounded really good with the addition of raspberry jam and vanilla to add to the flavor. I am down to the last bits of my homemade jam and need to make more soon, but I had just enough of my Two Berry Freezer Jam to use in this recipe.

Besides being so delicious, the overnight oatmeal recipes that I have tried before are as quick as can be. You are just layering a few ingredients in a mason jar, screwing on the lid and placing it in the refrigerator. Overnight, the oats become creamy and soft and the flavors come together into something special. In the morning you just mix it together with your spoon and enjoy - no cooking involved.

 

Raspberry Vanilla Overnight Oatmeal

 

1/2 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup milk ( I used low fat )

1 T raspberry jam ( I used my homemade Two Berry Freezer Jam )

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup fresh raspberries

 

In a mason jar, add oats, milk, jam and vanilla. Shake until blended. Place raspberries on top, screw on lid and place in refrigerator overnight. Stir in raspberries when ready to eat the next morning.

 

{Linking with these friends}


A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Gooseberry Patch

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, June 15, 2015

Empty Nest Changes

 

 

 

I am feeling a little nostalgic today. For the past six weeks, since graduation, Melissa has been home, a bit at loose ends, waiting for her first real job to start. We have been taking advantage of the down time by spending a lot of time together. We shopped for career type clothes for her and had a lot of fun putting together some basic outfits that will see her started. We went out to lunch at some of our favorite restaurants. We also enjoyed a few sunny days at the pool together.

But, real life is now upon us and today she starts her job. She will be busy and life for me will return to normal. Yes, she will still be living at home for a while, but it will be with one foot out the door as she works and saves towards moving into her own place. And, that is as it should be.

I have learned to enjoy what life brings. Enjoy the fact that we had those carefree weeks together. Enjoy the fact that instead of moving to a different state, she will still be close enough to visit, even after she moves out. It's just hard when a child takes that last step into becoming a grown up. And, that's why I'm feeling just a little bit nostalgic today.

Enjoy your Monday!

 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Fashion Friday Edition {Skirts for Summer}

 

 

I have been playing golf for a long time and that naturally leads to spending time at country clubs. There is an ease of style that has evolved in my summertime dressing and most days you will find me in a golf skirt whether I am golfing or not. There are so many wonderful and fun golf skirts that elevate my style from a pair of shorts and the best part is that I can dress them up or down with a change of shoes or style of top. You can always count on the length to be appropriate too. There are prints, a wide range of solid colors and all types of fabrics to be found. My favorite look is a plaid or paisley skirt with a sweater set in a bright solid color; the sweater tied around my shoulders if the weather is warm and a cute pair of sandals.

Here are some of my favorites, I have my eye on this summer. I have found a great place to find these skirts, besides your favorite golf shop, is your local Dick's Sporting Goods and their woman's golf department.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pink seersucker is calling my name, as well as the blue paisley. It's a casual, effortless and timeless way to dress.

Have a wonderful weekend.

 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Mason Jar Bouquets

 

 

 

There are many things starting to bloom in my yard and garden that I can turn into pretty and simple bouquets for the many types of mason jars in my collection. I like to take a casual bunch of flowers that are picked at random and place them in a mason jar; clear or colored, for something simple and sweet. At this time of year there is always a jar of flowers on my table in the kitchen and it makes me happy every time I enter the room.

I use branches cut from the trees and bushes that line the edges of my yard as filler and pick a variety of flowers; annuals, perennials and even wildflowers found in the woods. I have even been known to put a germanium bloom in the mixture for a perfect splash of red. If you pick just a bloom or two from different plants, it doesn't deplete the beauty, but makes a pretty and colorful bouquet.

 

Wildflowers

 

 

An assortment of perennials

 

 

Daisies with a bit of raffia tied to the jar

 

 

 

And to add to my cutting garden this year, I have added pots of zinnias and cosmos scattered here and there that will grow tall and provide even more sweet and colorful blooms.

Happy gardening!

 

{Linking with these friends}


A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Gooseberry Patch

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

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Lemon Brownies

 

 

 

With lemons in my refrigerator and a dreary day yesterday, I decided to create some summer sunshine in my kitchen. I love all things citrus and I used the lemons I had in both savory and sweet dishes. For dinner I made the simple Lemon Chicken with Spinach that has become one of my go to recipes in the past year. It's light, healthy and delicious. And, it's so quick with just a fast sauté of the chicken and an even quicker wilting of the spinach.

But, the main star of my lemon day in the kitchen are the Lemon Brownies I put together. I found a recipe on Pinterest, but changed it quite a bit. The basic idea was good, but it seemed to be missing a few ingredients and steps. It was easy to improve the recipe and the results were so good. The texture is similar to brownies, not too sweet and with a delicious, tart glaze. If you love lemon like I do, you will love these treats.

 

Lemon Brownies

 

3/4 cup flour

3/4 cup sugar ( I used Truvia equivilent )

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 stick butter, softened

2 eggs

1 T lemon juice

Zest from 1/2 lemon

Glaze: Mix together 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1 T lemon juice

Cream butter and sugar together with hand mixer until fluffy. In a small bowl, beat eggs, then add lemon juice and lemon zest. Whisk together. Add egg mixture to butter mixture. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Pour into an 8x8 baking dish lined with non stick foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool, then glaze. Cut in squares after glaze hardens. Enjoy!

 

{Linking with these friends}


A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Gooseberry Patch

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, June 8, 2015

It Feels Like Summer

 

 

 

The rythym of summer days begin to show themselves little by little and before you know it, you are feeling like those lazy days of summer have arrived. Saturday was just one of those days. Starting with an early morning walk around my garden and yard, pulling a weed here and there, deadheading a few flowers and just breathing in the cool, bright morning, with the promise of a beautiful day ahead.

Then, it was off to my first afternoon spent at my club's pool and a perfect pool day it was. Melissa and I enjoyed an afternoon in the sun with nothing more to do than decide what we were having for lunch. There was a bright and sunny sky, endless cups of iced tea brought right to our lounge chairs and my favorite club sandwich, eaten poolside.

Later that evening, my husband and I walked around the block to a neighbor's graduation party and spent an enjoyable few hours catching up with those friends in the neighborhood we only wave at in passing throughout the long, cold winter. There will be a lot of time this summer to enjoy each other's company on many a back deck and patio.

Summer has arrived.

Happy Monday!

 

Friday, June 5, 2015

A 50th Birthday Dinner

 

 

 
 

 

I had the pleasure of going out to dinner on Wednesday night to a 50th birthday celebration for a sweet friend. That is one of those milestone birthdays that it is so important for women to celebrate. She has had a tough year also, and I wanted to be there for her on this happy occasion.

 

 

We went to a wonderful Mexican restaurant I had never been to before with plenty of open air seating, on a beautiful summer night. We were a small group, but sometimes a small group is just right. We drank a margarita or two, had delicious food and talked about all manner of things. We have been friends for many years and a 50th birthday tends to bring up nostalgia of days past. We have a lot of good memories.

Any time spent with girlfriends is special, especially when the connections are years in the making. There is a shorthand to the conversation and no need for context, like with new friends. Some of the stories are old ones that have been told before, but that's part of the language of life long friends.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

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