Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Favorites from Privet and Holly, Pigtown Design and More

Good morning! I hope that you have had a fabulous week! Are you getting ready for a last "hurrah" before the unofficial end of summer? A barbecue, one last trip to the beach or perhaps a weekend away for the Labor Day holiday?

Image Pine Cones and Acorns

I have no plans and I am very content with that; I have a great book to read, a movie to watch and lots of leisurely time with my husband and pup. In my down time I will be further exploring some of my Friday Favorites!

Image Ralph Lauren Via Here

Brion from Bastion & Lark featured the 2013 Apartment One collection from Ralph Lauren. I love every piece and you will too if you like classic, timeless design. 

I am a sucker for a food blog and even more so when the photography is beautiful. Have Cake Will Travel does not disappoint on either front and is my favorite new blog find this week!

Gracie Image from Privet and Holly

This week there were many blogger's sending their kids off to begin the next chapter of their lives...college. Suzanne at Privet and Holly wrote a beautiful post about the family pup, Gracie and how she is holding up now that her "sister" Elizabeth left to college. You will need a box of Kleenex for this post!!


Image Pigtown Design

Meg at Pigtown Design made these personalized pillows for her friends, using fabric that she designed and had printed. What a great idea for a special gift. 

Heirloom Philosophy featured a stunning property that is for sale in Charlotte. They do not make them like this anymore. 

Image Here


Congratulations to Tish at A Femme de Certain Age for making her dream become a reality. 



I hope that you found something new here today or rediscovered a favorite of your own. If you found something that you think we would enjoy please share it, I enjoy learning about new movies, books, recipes and travel. 

 Have a great Labor Day weekend and be safe!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

New Neighbors



Good morning! Another bright, hot, sunny day in store for my area.  Fall came and went but that is OK because it brought a little rain and then my new "neighbors" showed up.

I am fascinated with toad stools and mushrooms, I love to awake to find new "villages" and "neighbors" in my garden. 


Each one different, with a soft sued like exterior and delicate ruffled interior and sculptural quality. Others clustered like little villages with a town center and then a few further afield as if in the country. They are pieces of art left by Mother Nature. 


 I know that you too have heard the tales about pixies and fairies, so when I see these delicate structures pop up overnight I cannot help but wonder if I have new neighbors; even if only for a few days before these little structures wither away with the heat. 


Whatever the case it is nice to stop and "smell the roses" as they say in the waning days of Summer, or in this case fungi and mushrooms. 


In addition to all of my mushrooms I have seen more wildlife in my garden in the last week than I have seen in years, raccoon's, a fox, opossum and of course my squirrel and his companions.  I am sure they were always there I was just not awake when they were. 


Have you noticed anything interesting in your garden lately? New birds, animals or plants? Or are you busy harvesting the last of your garden's bounty? 



"As the seasons come and go, here's something that you might like to know. There are fairies everywhere; under bushes, in the air, playing games just like you play, singing through their busy day. So listen, touch and look around-in the air and on the ground. And if you watch all nature's things you may just see a fairy's wing."
~Author Unknown~


I hope that you have a great day!



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Movies on My Mind

Good morning. I am curious, have you ever watched a movie or read a book that you simply cannot get out of your mind? Days and weeks later you are still thinking about it.

In the last few weeks I watched two movies that I simply cannot forget. I can still see the faces of the people and their stories are still rattling in my brain. 

Image HERE

The first movie was The Last Train Home on POV. The documentary tells the story of the Zhang's, a couple who left their children in the countryside of China to be raised by their grandmother while they work and live in a factory in the city. The Zhang's are trying to earn a living so that their children can go to college and have a better life. 

In addition to how hard the Zhangs work to eek out a meager living sewing clothes what I cannot forget is how hard they struggle to get back to see their children once a year. Every Spring, along with 130 million migrant workers they fight for tickets, and space on trains going back to their home village. When I say fight, I mean sometimes waiting for days on end in a mob just to squeeze on a train that they ride for days. I have never seen anything like it and pray that I never have to experience it myself. 

You can watch this movie from September 2- October 3, 2013 online. HERE

Image HERE

The second movie, Oranges and Sunshine is a true story and stars Emily Watson as Margaret Humphreys, a social worker who discovers that roughly 130,000 children were deported to Australia from Britain between 1940-1967. The children were taken from poor families and single mothers who were promised that the kids would go to loving homes. Sadly many, many of these kids were used as child labor and suffered years of mental, sexual and physical abuse. It took death threats and over twenty-five years but Margaret reunited thousands of children with their families.  

After watching both of these movies my first thought was how blessed I have been in my life. The second was that no matter how bad you think your problems are someone has it much worse. 

Neither of these movies is an upbeat or "feel-good" movies" but they are excellent and they will leave you thinking.

Tell me, what movies or books are you still thinking about days or weeks later?

Have a great day!




Monday, August 26, 2013

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Bars with Sea Salt

Good morning! How was your weekend? Is it starting to feel a little like Fall in your area? Leaves are falling here, the squirrels are working overtime collecting nuts, and it is getting dark before nine.


I am breaking out my cashmere robe and sweaters and assembling my lists of Fall wardrobe "must haves".  I cannot wait for the "nesting" to begin. Yes it is a wee bit premature as today was in the 80's again but I can feel the change coming.



I know that there are many of you who feel exactly as I do so and my guess it that you are doing the same that I am, not to mention thinking about the holidays too. I laugh to myself each time I am on Pinterest because the majority of the pins are for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas decorating and treats. Summer seems to be a distant memory for some. Does returning to school signal the end of summer?



Speaking of treats, I made some traditional treats with a twist this weekend. Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Bars Sprinkled with Sea Salt are similar to "Blondie's" and Congo Bars but different. They are filled with dark chocolate chunks, taste sweet and buttery, and are moist and chewy. Frankly they are almost too sweet without the salt sprinkled on top. I recommend eating them warm from the oven. 



Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Bars Sprinkled with Sea Salt

Recipe from Week Of Menu's

Ingredients:

1 cup of unsalted butter, cut into pieces
21/2 cups of brown sugar
2 large eggs
21/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup 60% Dark chocolate chips
1 cup of semi-sweet chips

1 tablespoon sea salt

Directions:

Place butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Melt butter, after a few minutes the butter will start to foam. WATCH the butter and stir with a whisk to keep from burning. You want brown bits to form on the bottom of the pan. Once butter is browned, and smells nutty remove from heat. Be careful not to burn the butter, it is easy to do. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 375, and prepare a 13x8 half sheet cake pan with cooking spray, set aside. In a medium bowl beat brown sugar and butter until mixed well, add eggs and beat until creamy. In a separate bowl combine flower and baking soda. Then pour flour mixture into sugar mixture and beat until combines. Add chocolate chips and stir by hand. Pour mixture into the prepared pan, mixture will be thick so use a spatula or hands to spread around in the pan. 
Sprinkle the entire pan lightly with the sea salt.

Bake for 18-25 minutes or until light brown. 

Remove from oven, cool on a rack, then cut and serve. 



What did you do this weekend? Have you read any new books? Any movies to recommend? Let me know, I am always looking for something new.

I hope that you have a fabulous week!

Linking to:
Savvy Southern Style
I Should Be Mopping the Floors

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Friday Favorites from Henhurst Interiors, Gimme Some Oven, Many Kitchens and More


Good morning! I hope that you have had a great week! I was busy doing all of the things I shouldn't do so that I did not have to do the things I should. I spent too much time on the Internet looking at new blogs, art, online courses and all sorts of things that made it to my Friday Favorites, baking and reading. 



I began my week with a  lovely walk with Monica at A Nantucket State of Mind in her garden; I wish I had a green thumb and a garden like this!

Image Henhurst Interiors

Then moved on with Phyllis of Henhurst Interiors to visit the lovely North Hill Garden in Vermont. North Hill is the home and garden of horticulturalists and authors, Joe Eck and the late Wayne Winterrowd. 

While visiting  Sandy at You May Be Wandering this week I traveled to 36 cities, in 21 countries. The video she posted by photographer Luke Sheperd of European landmarks is a work of art. Make sure to take a peek.

Image from Style Saint

I discovered a few new blogs, the first, Biiro 24/7 is a Russian blog that features fashion, movies, music, books, beauty and lifestyle. Written by former Harper's Baazar editor Miroslava Duma there is something for everyone. 




Image from Many Kitchens

The second blog is chalk full of beautiful images and recipes of artisanal food. Written by Valentina, Many Kitchens is a feast for the eyes. I cannot wait to explore this blog further and try out some of the recipes and the products. 


Image Gimme Some Oven

I did manage to "eat" my way around the Internet this week and I will be trying out this 1 Hour Cinnamon Roll recipe  from Gimme Some Oven. I have never heard of a 1 hour cinnamon roll, I will let you know how they taste as they will be in the oven Saturday morning. 

What did you do this week? Did you find a new blog or two? Did you read or bake something interesting that we should know about? I would be interested to hear what you found as I am always looking for a new book or recipe. 

I hope that you have a great day and a wonderful weekend!



Thursday, August 22, 2013

School Lunches-Healthy Lunches

After I wrote my post yesterday about going back to school my sister and I started to reminisce about school lunches.

Lunch Bag via Caos Magazine via Pinterest


I am a very quirky eater, and to be honest I like to eat pretty much the same food all of the time, always have. In fact from the time I started grade school until I went off to high school I either ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a tuna sandwich every day.  I must have gotten burned out on the tuna because I have not eaten another one since then. What is odd is that I never liked any other seafood and still do not. I must have been enamoured with Charlie the Tuna. Does anyone else remember him?


Charlie the Tuna Via The Daily Finance

I was lucky because we moved around a lot for my dads work and we went to some great schools. One grade school that we attended had a candy room, yes you read that correctly, a room of candy and junk food that was set up by the nuns to supplement their convent income. The room was only open twice a week and in those days you could get some tasty treats for fifty cents! My siblings and I loved that school. Honestly I cannot remember what I would get but my sister always had either cheese corn or Cheetos's to accompany her chocolate milk.

Chocolate Cake via Once Upon a Chocolate Life

When went to high school the food was equally delicious, the nuns made cakes, cookies, and the most delicious frosted brownies. In four years I know that I consumed at least 4 of those brownies a week. I would attempt to add that up but as I said yesterday I hate math and frankly I am tired. Let me just say it is a lot of brownies. They were so good that I still think about them and I graduated in the 80's so they obviously made an impression. I am sure that if my parents knew what we were eating they would not have been happy. 

These days things have changed and kids are getting healthier meals at school and parents are looking for better alternatives to feed their kids and themselves. I found some great lunch ideas on Pinterest,  sandwiches, salads, pastas and even eggs. 

Humus-Veggie Sandwich from Be Nutritious
Fritatta from Family Fresh Cooking

Pasta, Salad, Watermelon from Parents.com

Chicken Pita via Cooking Light

Vegetable Salad via Cooking Light

Healthy lunches for kids and adults should always include some protein, fruits and vegetables and of course a little snack. After all we are what are what we eat! Not to mention that eating better and healthier food makes both our minds and bones stronger. 

What was your favorite lunch when you were in school? Has it changed since you grew up? 

Do you have any healthy lunch ideas to share? If you need a few ideas look on Pinterest, there are so many great ideas for kids lunches.

I hope that you have a great day!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Back to School Musings and Udacity, Coursera, Edx


Good morning! I do not know about your area but in mine the kids are slowly starting back to school, this morning I noticed many new and eager faces waiting at the bus stop.


I have to be honest I hated going back to school after a nice long summer holiday. Not because I did not like my tartan wool uniform on still 80 degree days, or because I did not want to see my friends but simply because now my time was no longer my own. There would be no more waking up after 8:00, or spending long, lazy days at the library or frolicking at the lake or staying up to the wee hours of the morning with a good book. 


Typically though once I was back in my routine I did enjoy it. I have fond memories of my time at both Catholic grade school and high school and feel as if I was given a strong foundation to go out into the world. I am not so sure however if my strict Catholic schooling prepared me socially but that is a story for another day. 



What was your favorite subject(s)? I loved history, literature and social studies. Math, logic and science were not too high on my list though. I simply did not get the same enjoyment from dissecting a piglet or a cat as I did from reading Shakespeare or learning about the romance and beauty of Marie Antoinette. 




Are you preparing your kids or yourself to go back to school? Are you looking forward to it? Or could you uses a few more carefree weeks of summer?

If you would like to go back to school you could take a few free classes from leading professors and Universities around the world at: UdacityCoursera or Edx. Each offers an array of interesting classes from The History of Chinese Architecture, to Poetry of New England, to Introduction to Solid State Chemistry and more. The list of classes are diverse, interesting and endless. 

I already signed up for a few classes myself. After all one is never to old to learn something new.

I hope that you have a great day!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Blueberry Cheesecake Bars


Good Monday morning! I hope that you had a great weekend! Mine was a mixture of a little work, a little fun and a lot of grey weather. Thankfully not the rain that they predicted. Between the rain, the fires and the flooding and the scorching heat this has been a crazy summer for many weather wise. 



As I typically do on the weekend, I test out new recipes and this weekend was no exception. In fact I made one of the most delicious desserts and now my current new favorite. I personally love cheesecakes but sometimes do not want the hassle of a spring-form pan, a water bath and all of the rest. This was one of those times, so  I decided to make a bar recipe as they are quick and easy. In addition I wanted to use up a batch of blueberries and some leftover crumbled topping from a coffeecake that I will share with you later. The combination of all three is so good. The buttery topping compliments the creamy cheesecake and the tart berries and lemon are refreshing, especially on a summer day. 



Blueberry Cheesecake Bars with Crumb Topping
Recipe Adapted from Tyler Florence Food Network

Filling:
16 oz. cream cheese, ROOM TEMPERATURE
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, ROOM TEMPERATURE
2 lemons zested and juiced
1 tablespoon Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract


Blueberries:

2 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 cup fresh blueberries



Graham cracker/Cookie crust:


2 tablespoons of sugar
dash of cinnamon
10 graham crackers
1/2 stick butter melted


Topping:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

7 tablespoons of cold butter



DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 9 X 9 square baking pan with parchment paper, this will allow for easy removal and cutting.

2. In a medium size mixing bowl combine crust ingredients, then spread into the pan. Use the back of a cup to press crumbs evenly. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

3. In a small mixing bowl, combine all blueberry ingredients, mix gently and set aside. 
4. In a medium size mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for topping. Cut the butter in with a pastry blender, fork or hands until the mixture resembles small crumbs. Set this aside. 
5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together ROOM TEMPERATURE cream cheese, and sugar until smooth.  Then add vanilla and eggs one at a time. Mix until incorporated.
6. Pour the cheesecake batter over the baked and cooled crust. Spread evenly with a spatula. Spread blueberry mixture over top, evenly covering the cheesecake. Add crumb topping and spread so mixture is even. 
6. Bake for 435-40 minutes or until the cheesecake is slightly jiggly and the crumble is golden brown. Cool to room temperature then refrigerator at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.  Remove bars from pan then cut, serve and enjoy!

NOTE: I used a combination of sugar cookies and graham crackers for my crust. Also for this recipe I made a half a batch in a smaller pan. That is why my bars seem thin. Also, I made two cheesecakes, the first using this recipe, the second one I used my Blueberry Compote Recipe and it was excellent too!



Do tell, what did you make, read, bake or cook this weekend? I am all ears and would love to hear!

I hope that you have a fabulous day!

Linking to:
Savvy Southern Style
I Should be Mopping Up the Floors

Friday, August 16, 2013

Favorites on Friday from A Bloomsbury Life, Ben Pentreath, Herriott Grace, and More!

Good morning! How is your week? Are you ready for the weekend? OK, that is obviously a silly/stupid question because I have never heard anyone answer no. I too am ready to relax as I have had a busy week.



I have found some recipes, entertainment, helpful hints and blogs to help you while away a few relaxing hours this weekend. I hope that you enjoy them and your weekend. 



I love British television, there are so many great shows that in the past were available on BBC America or other cable channels but I have not been able to find them as readily recently. Luckily you can now watch all of your favorite British TV shows on My Expat Network.  Thank you to Lisa from A Bloomsbury Life for sharing this tid bit! I was not familiar with My Expat Network and I am now addicted

I discovered two new blog this week and I know that I will be sitting down with a cup of cocoa to peruse back posts tomorrow morning.

Image Ben Pentreath

The first,  Ben Pentreath is a beautiful blog; his work, adventures, writing and photos will have you day dreaming about picking up stakes and moving to England.

Handmade cutting boards. Image from Harroitt Grace via Forty-Sixth at Grace

The second, Forty-Sixth at Grace is blog perfection, a beautifully written blog with magazine quality photographs, recipes and writing. Not to mention that the story behind the blog and the store Herriott Grace, an endeavor of hand crafted items made by dad in Canada and sold by his loving daughter, is sweet and endearing. 


Dorm Inspiration image via Apartment Therapy

School will soon be starting and I know many of you are getting ready to send your kids off to college, Leslie at Gwen Moss has some great ideas for decorating dorms.



Image from Sauveur Magazine via Rustic Rooster Blog Photo Credit Todd Coleman

For those of you who are looking for something light and healthy after too many summer treats, The Rustic Rooster featured a delicious salad nicoise.

Image from Alexandra's Kitchen via Pinterest

Or if you are like me and prefer something a little more substantial than visit Alexandra's Kitchen where the photos look good enough to eat.  This pizza is calling my name!

If you are looking for some ideas while traveling in France that include food check out this post,  A Foodie Tour in St. Remy by The Provence Post.

Image The Grass Skirt Blog

I have seen coconut oil everywhere but I think I may be the last person in blogland to actually try it, this week armed with these helpful tips from  The Grass Skirt Blog I am going to.

I bid you adieu and hope that you have a beautiful weekend. I will be off to the farmers market, perhaps take a walk on the beach and spend some nice relaxing time with my husband and pup. 
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