Sunday, January 31, 2016

Silent Sunday 1-31-2016

Have a great day!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Friday Favorites from Secrets of Paris, Preppy Empty Nester, You May Be Wandering, Old Seagrove Homes and More

Good morning and happy weekend! Did you have a good week? I have been very busy this week, and feel like I accomplished a lot, especially towards my "less is more" goal. I have decided to get rid of two things a day, minimum, if I feel like more great, if not I make myself put two things on the pile anyway. Oddly, I already feel lighter.

I was very excited because my post Less is More and Other Lessons Learned has been one of my most read posts. It is nice to have a "discussion" with other like minded people about these sorts of things because sometimes it seems as if you are going through it alone. 

This week I found so many "favorites" it was hard to narrow it down to just a few but here they are. 

Image Amazon

Are you a fan of the Mitford Sisters? If so the estate of Doborah, The Dutchcess of Devonshire: The Last of the Mitford Sisters is going up for auction at Sotheby's.  Check out this Link as well for a little backstory if you do not know who she is. 

Image from Old Seagrove Homes

Do you dream of a beautiful beach house? Then check out these fabulous houses from Old Sea Grove Homes

 Katie at Preppy Empty Nester is a fellow book lover and she has a great list of books to recommend. 

Are you thinking about your next vacation? Sandy at You May Be Wandering put together a month by month post of where to travel and when for the best deals!

I love Podcasts and am always looking for new ones, this week Secrets of Paris recommended a few good one for francophiles. 

Image Kristy Harvey

Have you ever wanted to write a book? And have you wondered the secret to writing?  Tara writer of the blog Tea and Cookies and three books " spills the beans" in her post this week.

Image Once Upon a Chocolate Life

This is THE BEST hot chocolate I have ever made! If you like smooth, creamy, melted chocolate than this is right up your alley because it is pretty much like drinking ganache. A little goes a long way.

I hope you found something that sparked your interest here. If you found something interesting this week I would love to hear about it, please share your book, movies, recipes and more. 

Have a safe and happy weekend. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Less is More and Other Lessons Learned

I have been thinking a lot lately about stuff and the more I think about it the more I realize that less really is more. More stuff does not really make your life richer, or more fulfilled and in fact it weighs you down and begins to be a burden especially as you age.

I have been pondering this for two reasons, the first because my husband and I have been talking about decluttering and getting rid of a lot of our "treasures" perhaps even downsizing. The thought of moving all of this stuff I currently own makes me ill. Where did all of this come from?

The second reason this is weighing on my mind is my in-laws. My in-laws are wonderful people who both grew up during the depression; they have worked hard for everything they have and what they have is ALOT more stuff than I do. 

They are nearing 89 in a few months and as their health declines the discussion often turns to what to do with all of their stuff? They are never going to leave their house, or as my father in law says he is not leaving unless he is carried out, so dispersing with their possessions at this point seems a little strange.  After all you cannot very well take their desk or table out from under them and yet they bring it up.

What will happen to their things they ask? Where will their collections go? Will anyone know their worth? Will people recognize the value of their antiques? They waffle between giving their treasured possessions to the kids and grandkids and selling them because they fear no one will want them when they are gone. The fact is, all of their kids are in their late 50's-60's, they have stuff of their own and really no where to go with more. Don't get me wrong, everyone has room for a treasured momento, but not an entire house of treasures. My mother in law frequently tells us that upon our next visit we need to bring a moving van.

The thought of more stuff actually keeps me up at night. As a result I have been cleaning closets and purging my house because I cannot even imagine what our family would do with our stuff. What I think are treasures someone else might not. Why should I burden someone else with my things when I am gone? Wouldn't I like to be remembered for more than a house full of stuff?

As I have pondered these things the last few months I realize now more than ever that things do not make you happy, things will not help you live longer or fell better or have a better life, things are just that things.

What really matters in life is love, time and experiences; a memory is priceless after all.

I have been making a point to spend more time with the people I love, to learn new things, to read more, to be more present when I am with friends and family, to be grateful for what I have, to have more experiences traveling, going to concerts, or just being with myself. 

I do not often talk about "life" but sometimes it is just nice to have people to "talk" to and share these sorts of things with. Perhaps you have been thinking along the same lines this year?

On that note, I leave you with this thought:

"The price of anything is the amount of life that you exchange for it." 
Henry David Thoreau

Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Amaretto Cheesecake with Buttery Almond Topping

Good morning! How was your weekend? For those of us on the East Coast it was a crazy weather weekend. Thankfully in my neck of the woods the snow, rain and flooding we not bad at all. The wicked wind was a little annoying at times especially as it kicked up at night and seemed as if the roof would blow off the house. For those of you that are still digging out of the 24-40 plus inches of snow hopefully today you are having a snow day to recuperate. 

We stayed in the whole weekend not only because of the weather but because of the conditions of the roads, etc. Down here in the South we do not have many plows, salt etc so the road conditions are sometimes "iffy." I did not care one wit because I read, baked and puttered around the house which is relaxing for me.

I made this FABULOUS(if I do say so myself) Amaretto Cheesecake with Buttery Almond Topping. I have never made it before and the almond flavor was light, the cake was creamy, a little tangy and the crunchy, buttery almond topping made it over the top fabulous. Honestly, I wanted to eat the entire thing!

Amaretto Cheesecake with Buttery Almond Topping

13/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
11/2 Tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup butter melted

Mix all crust ingredients together in a bowl and then press into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a 9" inch spring form pan. Place in refrigerator for 10 minutes while you make the filling

2 8oz. packages of softened cream cheese
11/2 cups granulated sugar
11/2 Tablespoons cornstarch 
1 16oz. carton of sour cream
1/3 cup amaretto
11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon of salt
4 eggs

3 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons sugar 
3/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment add cream cheese and beat until smooth, then add the cornstarch and the sugar. Beat well to combine. Add the sour cream, amaretto, vanilla and almond extract and salt. Mix until incorporated. On low speed add eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated. 

Pour the batter over the crust and bake for 60 minutes. Cheesecake should still be jiggly in the middle. Cool on a wire rack and then run a knife around the edges. While cooling make the optional topping. 

Topping: place butter in small saucepan and melt. Then add the sugar and the almonds and cook until the almonds are light brown. You must stir these constantly or the mixture will burn. Once cooked cool a bit on a silphat baking sheet. Do not put hot nuts on the the cheesecake, after they cool a little break the mixture into pieces and place on cooled cheesecake. Then refrigerate overnight. 

Are you a cheesecake fan? What is your favorite flavor? Do you have a "go to" recipe or do you use something new every time you bake. I like to try out new recipes each time I bake so I never know what I am going to end up with. Sometimes they are fabulous and sometimes not really to my taste. 

I hope that you have a great week. Be safe. 

Sharing at:
Coastal Charm
Savvy Southern Style
Flour ME with Love

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Friday Favorites from Messy Nessy Chic, Vanilla and Bean, The Nester and More

Good morning! How was your week? Mine was great and I am now bracing for the "storm of the century," my family, as well as, 73 million others. People, I think we are in for a crazy, bumpy ride this weekend, at least according to the meterologists. I'm not too worried as I have stocked up a lot of provisions, baked a few goodies, downloaded a few books and have a stack of magazines. 

What about you? Are you in the path of the impending storm? Are you ready, do you have your provisions? If you find yourself homebound this weekend perhaps one or more of my favorite things will keep you occupied.

The Nester

Are you looking for a few books to read or to add to your stack of "must reads", than check out this post from The Nester which features her favorite reads from 2015.

Image Barneys

Are you a Fornasetti fan? Would you like to know the story of the woman behind that face on the plates, cups, bowls,  the wallpaper and more? ? Check out this great post from Messy Nessy Chic, it is an interesting read!

I discovered a new artist this week, Robert Lemay. I won't show you his work as I want you to go discover him for yourself. Be sure to check out the UTube Videos of this work that his companion made as well, they are so interesting.

I wrote a post this week about Winter Comfort Foods and I think this Almond Sage Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich from Vanilla and Bean is delicious would be a perfect addition to that post. I made these last night and ate 2 they were so good. I hope that you try them as I think you will love them!

If you read my blog often that you know that I love sweets and I love to bake. This week in preparation for the storm I revisited an old post of mine for Cinnabon Pecan Rolls. This recipe cannot get any easier because you start with a roll( or two) of Rhodes Sweet Dough and just add the filling. I made a batch just in case we need a little something to boost our spirits in the middle of the 60 mile an hour winds and icy rain and snow.  If you love cinnamon rolls, pecan rolls or sweet rolls you need to try these, they are scrumptious and you will never buy another roll again!

I have a question for you, do you listen to any great podcasts? I have discovered a few recently that I enjoy and am now searching for more If you have a favorite please share. 

I hope that you have a safe and wonderful weekend. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

10 Comfort Foods for a Winter Day

Good morning! How is your week going? Another busy one here. Winter has finally arrived and with it bitter cold temps and high winds. The kind of weather that makes you want to nest after a long day with some tasty comfort food.

Here are a few of my favorite comfort foods that you might want to try. I have included a little of everything, soup, bread, appetizers, sandwiches and of course some chocolate!

Baked Camembert Cheese from Jamie Oliver

Pull Apart Garlic Bread from Gather for Bread

Spicy Black Bean Soup from Little Spice Jar

Meatballs in Mushroom Cream Sauce from Life Ambrosia

French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Garlic Parmesan Pasta from Damn Delicious

Perfect Macaroni and Cheese from A Family Feast

Steak Mushroom Pot Pie from Simply Delicious

French Onion Soup

Connie's Brownies

And one more for a bonus!

Hot Chocolate

What are your favorite comfort foods. cheese, pasta, sandwiches, meat and potatoes, or a casserole perhaps?  Share your favorite comfort food and maybe even a recipe if you have it handy!

Brace yourself for the bone chilling cold and the big snow coming barreling down on the East Coast!

Take care and have a great day!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cranberry Cake

Good morning! How was your weekend? Mine was great, relaxing and productive at the same time. Because of my lingering cold and the wild weather( high winds, monsoon rains, then snow) in my area, I decided to stay in and get some things done around the house and to relax as well. 

I even did a little baking and made this scrumptious Cranberry Cake from The Kitchen, although I baked it in a loaf pan it is a cake. It is almost like a buttery pound cake, with tart cranberries and a thin "crusty" sugar layer on the top. So if you have a few bags of cranberries laying around you didn't use at Christmas, you should try this. It is so good that you will eat the entire loaf warm from the oven. 

3 large eggs

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature for 1 hour

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon almond extract, optional

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cups cranberries 

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 10-inch springform pan or a collection of smaller pans. 

Use a stand mixer with paddle attachment or hand beaters to beat the eggs and sugar until very smooth and increased in volume. If using a stand mixer, beat on medium speed for 4 to 7 minutes. If using hand beaters, beat on high speed for 6 to 8 minutes. The egg and sugar mixture will double in volume and turn very pale yellow, leaving ribbons on top of the batter when you lift the beaters.
Then beat in the butter, vanilla, and almond extract, if using. Beat mixture for 2 minutes or until the butter is smoothly incorporated.
Using  a spatula to fold in the flour, salt, and cranberries. The batter will be quite thick. Spread gently into the prepared pan.
Bake 60 to 80 minutes for the springform. For smaller pans, start checking after 30 minutes, but expect small loaves to take at least 40 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes then run a knife around the inside edge of the pan and remove the cake. Cool for an hour before serving.

What did you do this weekend? Anything fun and exciting? Or were you a homebody like me? 
Whatever you did I hope it was enjoyable! Have a great day!

Or if you feel like a chocolate beverage head over to Once Upon a Chocolate Life for a little Sipping Chocolate.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Friday Favorites from The Everyday Girl, 1410 Oakwood Life, Rambling Renovators and More

Good morning and a very happy weekend to you! I am still plodding along a week later with a cough, sore throat and a cold so I am more that happy for the weekend to be here. Sadly I did not win the lottery but I am thrilled for the three people who did, I hope some good things come from their winnings.

Since I have been taking it easy this week I had lots of time to read blogs and peruse the internet. Here are my favorite things from this week.

Image Carlsbad Cravings

Cold, winter days call for a pot of simmering soup don't you think? I am making this delicious looking Creamy Basil Parmesan Italian Soup from Carlsbad Cravings. I will let you know how it tastes!

Image Once Upon a Chocolate Life

In case you missed this Mississippi Mud Pie Hot Chocolate from Once Upon A Chocolate Life, check it out, it is a great morning beverage or with the addition of a little bourbon a great nighttime drink.

Image from Spicy Southern Kitchen

I feel like making a cheesecake as I have not made one for awhile, but I am thinking of something a little different, not chocolate, or traditional New York cheesecake, perhaps something like this Amaretto Cheesecake from Spicy Southern Kitchen.

Of course everyone would like to go through life as a huge success but we all make mistakes and Mark & Angel Hack wrote the 5 Failures you Need to Experience to be a Success

I discovered a new blog this week and I was particularly taken by her post called Simplify, check out Rambling Renovators for that post and many others.

Is taking it easy, relaxing, turning off social media and reading more books a priority for you this year? If so check out the The Everyday Girl 2016 Reading Challenge

I know Christmas is over but I thought you might enjoy this post by Oakwood Life about Jerry's Tree, take a look I promise it will bring a smile to your face.

I was saddened to hear that my favorite actor, Alan Rickman passed away . If you have not seen the movie A Little Chaos I highly recommend it, Alan plays Luis XIV of France.

Stay safe this weekend if you are in the path of the nor'Easter( I am..oh joy).

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Lottery Fever

Good morning! How are you? I was just curious, have you got "lottery fever?" Have you been out to buy a ticket to win the biggest lottery in the world? Can you imagine spending just $3.00 to win $1.5 BILLION dollars? 

I did buy a ticket and have actually engaged in a little "what if" thinking. What would I do with the winnings? Well, I would help my FedEx lady fulfill her dream of moving to San Diego, then  would buy a new air conditioning system for my church or maybe just get a new church instead and of course give some money to family and friends. As for myself, I have always dreamed of moving to a cottage in Scotland set on a beautiful loch, I guess if I won I could upgrade to a castle on the loch instead? 

Or perhaps I would get a pied a terre in Paris so that I could visit my friends there whenever I wanted? Or maybe, I could just get a place at the newly remodeled Ritz where Coco Chanel lived?

I did realize when I was playing "what if" that I am actually pretty content with what I have and that what I would love to do with the money is spend more time with family, share many more adventures with the ones I love and share the wealth as they say with many causes that are near and dear to my heart. 

Please share, what would you do with  a windfall of money? Is there something that you have always dreamed of doing that you would do or is there someone that you would help, would you buy a plane and travel the world? Or perhaps get a seat going to the moon? 

Thanks for sharing! Good luck!

P.S. If you need a little pick me up this afternoon check out this scrumptious Mississippi Mud Pie Hot Chocolate, you can make it with or without the bourbon. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Make More Mistakes Advice from Neil Gaiman

Good morning! How was your weekend? Did you relax? Or were you out and about? My husband and I are both sick, me with a cold and he with the flu so it was a very relaxing weekend at home, lots of time to read, take naps and try to rejuvenate and recuperate. 

I found plenty of time  catch up with my blog friends this weekend and while doing so I found a  quote which I loved and think you will as well. Anita from Castles, Crowns and Cottages told me about a New Year's post at The Dutchess Blog featuring a fabulous and thought provoking quote from Neil Gaiman

"I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.
So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever."

Neil Gaiman

I read this quote two and then three times and it was as if I was being sent a message. So I promptly printed it out several times and put one in a frame next to my computer and mailed the other copies to friends and family that may need a little encouragement. 

In the past I loved to try new things, taking online classes, trying a new hobbie, making something new but as I have aged I have found myself getting complacent and settling in, almost a feeling of, "if I haven't done it at yet and I am now 49 I am not going to do it". 

After I read this quote my thought process changed to "hey, I'm 49, old enough to know better and young enough to try." "Who cares if I fail and can't paint a landscape, or knit a sweater, or earn another Master's, the fun is in the excitement of learning and trying new things." 

This year is my year to try new things and to make a few mistakes. After all I have several friends that branched out and tried new things and succeeded, like becoming yoga teachers, writing their first book, traveling somewhere new, earning a Doctorate; some a a bit younger than me and most are older. I guess if they can do it, I can too. 

So here is to learning and growing and to making mistakes! Let's make it our goal to get out there and explore, learn, cook, bake, garden, paint, write, or whatever takes our fancy, but let's just do it!

Have a great day!