Sunday, September 8, 2013

Pretty Peach Muffins

If you've read the post about the salsa, you know the background on my insider advantage on the peaches, and why I can't bake a pie in August.  If not, you can read the full story here:

Next to step up to the plate was a muffin recipe that I Googled and tweaked. It was easy enough for my 5 year old to do most of the measuring and mixing on her own, while I snacked on the salsa and sipped some summer wine. 

Here's what you need to make about 16 muffins:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups peeled, pitted, and chopped peaches
  • ¼ tsp almond extract

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease or spray a muffin pan. 
In one bowl combine the dry ingredients, in a separate bowl mix the oil, eggs, sugar and extract. Stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients, and then gently fold in the peaches.  Spoon evenly into muffin tins, and bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Eat, repeat, share, enjoy! 
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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Simple Peach Salsa

I am incredibly fortunate to have awesome neighbors!  It is such a gift in life to be surrounded by interesting, caring, friendly, generous people.  But what's even better is when they have peach trees!  My next door neighbor told me last year to help myself to her peaches, and at the time, I had no idea what to do with the bounty.  So, like any warm blooded American, I baked a pie!  It was the most delicious summer time treat I had in a long time, but I finished the whole thing and then suddenly realized why pie is not popular during swim suit season!
This year, I filled my basket of peaches and decided on two recipes: salsa and muffins.  Sweet, savory, and in safe portion sizes, I could better enjoy the goods without paying the price!
The salsa was a big hit, and my only complaint was that it was such a small batch, I didn't have enough to gift back!  I will definitely be making this again!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Check Off Morning Chart Success

I have to admit, I really do have it easy most days.  There are 3 mornings a week when I am mostly off the hook on the home front.  While my husband struggles to get the girls out the door on time and off to school before the bell rings, I am long gone and likely one hour into surgery, unable to be reached by phone, and totally in the zone.  While being a mother to two wonderful girls is the best part of my life, school day mornings can be very difficult, and I would much rather stop a bleeder at 8:30AM than beg two children to please just get out the door already.
This week, I took to the computer to draw up a morning routine plan for each girl that will help keep them on track.
This was really easy to create using Microsoft Word.  I just went into the templates and typed "checklist" into the search box.  I found the one I wanted under "checklist for child's chores", but there were lots more to choose from (including a "To Do List" that I will likely re-visit in the future).  Once I clicked to download the template, I was able to click in each of the fields to customize the chart.  By inserting clip art, I was able to make things a bit easier for my pre-reading 5 year old to understand. I tested this out one morning on a clipboard with a pencil to see if she would play along.  To my surprise, she loved it!  Getting ready became a game for her instead of a struggle.  We also were able to talk about the words on the sheet, the times listed and finding them on the clock, and cheer on her success!
Once I was settled on the task list, I stopped by the dollar store and found an 8x11 frame to place this into.  The next morning, it was waiting for her with a dry erase marker, and a note on the bottom that reads, "If I have all my boxes checked off, I had a really great week!  When I've done a great job, I get to have:".  This allows her to set a goal each week.  She felt really proud to check off all those boxes, and shows me when they are complete.
I've seen chore charts on loads of sites, but this one was easy, quick, convenient, and so far a success with us.  School starts Wednesday, so we will see if that success continues.  I hope it does!
Oh, and by the way, once Maddy got to try hers out, I had to make one up for my 8 year old too!  Maybe weekday mornings are about to become double the fun!
Linking to

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Blueberry Lemonade Bread

Blueberries and lemonade!  Some of the best that nature has to offer us comes from these tasty treats in the summer.  At our last home, we planted blueberry bushes in the backyard and had our fill when ripe, ready and rinsed under the hose. This year we had an awesome time picking our own bounty at The Red Apple Farm in Phillipston, Massachusetts.  This place is one of the best pick your own farms in New England, definitely worth the trip.  When we got home, I was ready to bake up some batches of blueberry breads but found that I was out of lemons!  I did have some lemonade on hand and was really pleased with the substitution results!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Growing With A Group

Towards the end of spring, I was starting to ask myself just what the heck I was doing with this blog...
Thankfully, I found a great way to explore what had been missing all along, and find the answers to all my start-up questions.  The time was right to join a group and gain some knowledge to replace my inexperience.
For a mere $35 investment, I enrolled in a course that has helped me create and meet goals, improve blog design, make and share buttons, improve photography, edit photos with online apps, and begin to embark on the world wide social media web that has tangled my mind for so very long.  We're only half way done, and the fun has just begun.

Friday, August 2, 2013

DIY Photo ID

A little while back, we took the kids to the Mystic Aquarium.  As we were getting organized to go, I started to have that maternal worry creep up on me.  You know, the one that creates that voice in your head reminding you to check with your kids to be sure that they know their name and phone number, just in case they wander off.  Is that just in my head?  Hope not!  Anyway, I thought of sticking some form of ID on my little one, just to be crazy and sane at the same time.  Are you following me?  
When I thought quick, it came to me that a duck tape photo ID would be just right to create a wearable form of ID, fun for the kids, and easy for me!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Cabinet BBQ sauce

When I was shopping last week, chicken thighs were on sale.  I was craving BBQ chicken,but I knew that my husband would balk on the thighs. I would have to kick things up a notch to make this good.  Enter Google Search for BBQ sauce recipe...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Forever Strawberries

Earlier this year I set a goal to try and take advantage of all the local fruit and produce that I could, and get my girls to enjoy it as well.  So far, the garden has been a group effort that I've decided to enjoy rather than worry about, and we are several weeks into the CSA- eating fresh picked beans &  greens as much as possible.  The local seasonal berries are high on my list of sweets for the summer, and so I had my heart set on getting my hands on some fresh strawberries this season. Tougas Family Farm  in Northboro, MA was a great place to visit on one of the cooler late June days this year. Fresh fruit finished with wagon rides, playground, farm store, and farm animals makes a recipe for sweet memories.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Crafty Case for Scratchless Shades

I had been meaning to do this for soooooooo long!  So many pairs of sunglasses were left ruined to senseless scratches at the bottom of my purse over the past few summers, that I finally decided that something must be done.  Alas, it was the night before our vacation departure, and what better time to avoid packing than that 10-o'clock hour, when eureka- a moment of creativity came to life!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Semi-organized Date Night

What makes a date night great?  It's a little bit of everything...The struggle, the sitter, and the success, for starters.  Our sitter is so fantastic that she sacrificed her first Friday of freedom to allow us one last night out with ease.  Further, it was a Super Moon over Boston, co-workers who care enough to get me out on time, and the delights of Dawes to seal the deal...
Did I mention the beauty of the first night of summer?
Each of the captions is a link to a song by Dawes.  I'm just giddy over this band this year.  Click on the captioned links and enjoy the music! 

Dawes- "A little bit of everything"

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Carnival Party Make and Take Prizes

Carnival parties are perfect for a backyard birthday.  Try a Google or Pinterest search and you'll be surfing some eye candy forever!  I think at this point I have spent more time getting ideas ready than I actually have spent doing any real work to get the party started...Alas, the party is this Sunday, and it's time to get the ball rolling.

Monday, June 10, 2013

An Affection for Collections

A collection should be meaningful.  To have items gathered into a mass of accumulated artifacts takes away from certain appeal, and brings to mind the term "hoarders". But not all collections should be viewed as obsessive.  Last week, I found a way to display a nice collection at home:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Compost Post

The day has finally come!  We have put together the compost tumbler that we purchased 2 years ago, and it is ready for use.  We wouldn't want to rush into a project like that!  Finally, just like the picture on the box, this is what it looks like,

Lifetime Model No. 60021

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Window in the Weeds

Last month I took a long overdue trip to see an old friend in New York.  The plan was to eat, drink, and be merry together again, and it was a success.  Besides the company and conversation, my favorite part of the trip was the salvaged window pane that I scoffed up for just $20.  I knew just where it belonged:

This photo was taken about 3 weeks ago, and the surrounding unruly greenery has taken over the space and framed the pane nicely.  I hung some planters and started some seeds.  I had considered buying planters in bloom, but I'm trying to be as patient and thrifty as possible with the garden this year.  As soon as the painters are done with the house, I'll be able to string the clothes line and sit back to watch the laundry dry in a quiet place tucked behind the house, where maybe no one will find me!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Breakfast Jar

Remember when you were too busy to eat right?  It was 2007, and although you knew that breakfast was the most important meal of the day, you blazed through it with a pre-wrapped, pre-formed tasteless rectangle in hand for rapid consumption at the next red light.  So what's happened since then to break the breakfast bar trend?  It's called a recession, causing more people to reduce, reuse and recycle!  We used to have "3 R's", but we really have had "4" for some time! 
If nothing good has come from the recession, at least we have all found ways to be more resourceful in life.  So many people are putting convenience aside and saying yes to better eating, better health, and less waste in the products we choose.
We can always do more while doing less when it comes to breakfast.  If you check the facts on marketing trends and see what the breakfast bar has fallen to, the list includes yogurt and trail mix.  I am currently so hooked on why that is, and therefore I have found it a worthy topic to photograph and discuss in detail...
The Breakfast Jar

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bar Keepers Friend, my BFF

Bar Keepers Friend

At the risk of getting sentimental and poetic, I will now gush about the perfect product that polishes everything from plastic to porcelain.  Bar Keepers Friend (BKF, if you're really cool enough to abbreviate your 
cleaning products) is the supreme ruler in my cleaning cabinet. 

This product is All American, founded in 1882 in Indianapolis where it is still made today.  Using an active ingredient formulated from rhubarb by an old time chemist, BKF has been shining up rails since tavern's taps flowed without a passing thought of prohibition. 

Any product that manages to stay on grocers shelves for that long deserves merit.  With the competition claiming to outshine, BKF sits quietly on the lowest shelves for over 130 years, quietly awaiting new arrivals on the market to out-advertise and take place at eye level.  All the while, millions of people have come to know that nothing else can compare to the supreme power of the non-chlorine powder that is reliable enough to be called "friend".  I know, I get emotional sometimes;)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Trellis Tra la la la la Triangle

I've gotten myself into a bit of a love triangle with the CSA membership and the early start to the garden.  Like any affair, it's still in it's earliest exciting stage.  I can see benefits of keeping them both going for awhile. The CSA is more of a vested commitment, a little unpredictable, but less work, no mess, and guaranteed to be gone with the boys of summer (cue Don Henley, or for something completely different)...


The vegetable garden has me weary still, as some early shoots have really taken off (cucumbers are versatile, right?), and others are duds for sure.  But there is always fun in trying, and we did so enjoy the starting of the seeds...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Mess of Progress

Each time that I try and strip wallpaper, it's the same old aggravations all over again.  I exhaust myself on day one, make a little progress, and desert the mess until I can get back into the project at a better time.  This is why I didn't want to mess with the hall.  But the thing is, I need this space to do something, and it's not gonna do it on its own!  
Don't mess with me!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Succulent Experiment

These succulents were acquired as party favors from a kids birthday bash at the end of last summer.  They have been putting up with their limited space and occasional attention that we have afforded them so far, but I felt bad over the winter and wanted to finally give them more chance at survival.  Besides, we started some seeds last week, and I needed an instant fix of green to hold me over until something sprouts;) 

Head Band Round Up

A few weeks ago, we were getting together some outfits for school picture day.  In doing so, my daughter Madelyn started searching for the perfect headband for each outfit we sampled.  This led to a lot of "where is..." and "remember my..." type questions, as the collection had scattered itself throughout the house is a random fashion over time.  We did our best to hunt, gather, and organize.  This is what we came up with, and our step by step of the fun quick project that we did ourselves:
DIY Headband Stand

Monday, April 1, 2013

Beach and Bubble Bath

A few years back, my husband and I found ourselves caught up in a short sale mess.  Our house had sold while we were waiting for movement on a short sale that was simply not going anywhere too soon.  We waited and thought patiently of what we would do once the house was ours.  There was so much about that house that I loved, so much that I thought I had to have. For example and with reasons that I can't fully explain, I fell in love with the upstairs family bath. There was a beach theme that was just so much fun.  There were framed photos of the family at the beach, bright warm seashore colors, and a few too many cute themed items that I was sure to change.
Well, that house still hasn't sold and it's been 3 years since we moved into what is now our true home.  When we got here, the upstairs bath had a bright yellow floral print that I thought was classic, elegant and oh so vintage.  But the question remained in my mind: "Where's the beach?".  Turns out, it was hiding and just waiting to be found!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Little Loo Like New

When a well used space feels dark, cramped, and outdated, there are only so many times that you can say "I like it, it's cute!" before you get fed up and rip into it.  At the end of last summer, despite the unrelenting heat and humidity, we finally said good-bye to the floral wrapped first floor bath and transformed the space into this:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Easter Brunch Ideas

Time to put a spring in your step if you're planning brunch for your family bunch this upcoming Easter.  The morning should be simple, sweet, and oh so savory to welcome the longer days and warmer sunshine!

When I think of what to make for Easter Brunch, my go-to is Lemon Blueberry Bundt cake. I first found this gem on the cover of the Family Circle many moons ago.  This recipe is definitely in the book (Secret Ingredient Is Love) and has been much loved in our house by many friends and lots of family.  This is so not your grandmother's hot cross buns! 
photo source:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

CSA or seed a tray?

My mother and grandmother both loved to garden.  I grew up composting, digging (with spoons even), looking for worms, and eating rhubarb with sugar out of paper bags on a fresh cut lawn.  But for some reason, try as I might, my green thumb is rather yellow and my crops are crap!  There, I said it!  That felt good;)
I'm done with blame.  I've reasoned that the restrains on my time, the lack of sun, the dog and kids are the cause of my harvesting downfall.  But the truth is that I don't know what I'm doing-right or wrong, and what results is mediocrity at best.
Sometimes we're good at what we know, and what we don't know remains an enigma. Despite my best intentions and thorough research, my success in gardening is limited to a few crops of lettuce (success!), and some leggy tomato vines that can't quite produce.

That being said, March always finds a way to re-ignite the fielding fire within my soul. It's always this time of year that I struggle to decide if I will take on another real time relationship with mother nature, and conquer my recurrent fears of failure.  Soon it will be time to commit, but am I ready to bust out the greenhouse?  Yes, I have a greenhouse:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spring Ahead on the Mantelpiece

Last week, while the meteorologists babbled and agonized over their non-predictions of the  storm that ended up dumping more than 2 feet of fresh white snow on our doorsteps, I ignored the hype by changing out my mantelpiece for spring.  The sun before the storm was pretty and warm, and I almost believed them when they said that we might just get 4-6 inches!
Listening for signs of Spring

It's Spring!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Chill Tumblers

Is a glass just for sipping?  Of course not!  One of my favorite things to collect is glass, and I've found so many pieces that I really enjoy.  Art deco and depression glass are some of my favorite finds, especially at a bargain price.  That's why I was thrilled to find these beauties at The Goodwill Store for $0.69 each!

Perhaps the photo doesn't do justice to their elegance, but once their true (re-)purpose is shown, their allure is hard to resist...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Having Fun With "Thirty-One"

My fascination with "Thirty-One" started innocently enough, as most soon to become obsessions do. 
My neighbor and good friend puts on a vendor party every year right at the start of the holidays, allowing friends and family to come together and shop in the comfort of her home.  Items sold are either hand-made or catalog quality, and shown by some of the hardest working and stay at home mom's in town.  Last year, I had my tutu table turning profits (more on that later), and this year "Thirty-One" was well represented.  Within minutes, I found myself oohing and ah-hing, and "needing" enough to convince myself that hosting my own party would be the perfect way to get more, more, more...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Secret Ingredient Is Love

Where do you put all those recipes that you love? 

If you're someone who entertains with emphasis on food, if you love to cook, if you're someone who has to eat, or if you need to feed people daily, at some point in your life you may find that you need to corral all those carefully chosen and cherished collectible recipes.

I started jotting down recipes when I was in college.  I lost my mom when I was 19 and realized then that, although she was an excellent cook, I never got the chance to share any of her experience in the kitchen.  Since my very first  Thanksgiving turkey cleaned (ugh!  no one told me about the neck) and cooked that year, I've been asking for and writing down recipes for practically everything I've ever made in the nearly 20 years since...And I do so love to cook!

Some of my favorite recipes are written on the back of scrap envelopes that I recycled from the mail.  I can  search the print and find the date stamped on the front, and it helps bring back the memories of that time and place.

When I was getting married, my bridesmaids threw a bridal shower with a request to all attending to bring a copy of a treasured recipe for my growing collection.  I still have most of those index cards in my collection today.

Several years later, my friends and I gathered together one night to share our best recipes, and find the best way to organize them for our own use at home.  The result for me, was a 3 ring binder that I recently realized had seen better days.  Well used, and much loved, my book needed a new look:

“There are things you do because they feel right, and they make no sense, and they make no money, and it may be the real reason we are here:
To love each other and to eat each other’s cooking and say it was good.”

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bake Me A Cake As Fast As You Can!!!

If you've ever baked anything with a child, you know that time is valuable.  For in the few moments that it takes you to locate the yellow sprinkles, the entire pan of batter can be on the floor or sneezed into oblivion.  It is for this reason, as well as my own sanity, that I finally have taken hold of the baking cabinet.

This was not a spur of the moment decision.  I had been meaning to fix this confectionery mess and create some ingredient ingenuity for several months before finding that the time had come to take action.  This mixed up cabinet needed to be sifted to serenity.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Quick on the draw for this best buy bag!

Several years ago, my husband and I agreed upon the declaration of one rule: the "10 second decision" rule. If something that really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things is causing us too much grief, we have the right to declare out loud "10 second decision".  This means that we will spend no more than 10 more precious seconds of our lives trying to make the best decision possible, and move on from the trivial matter at hand.

This is a great idea for progressive couples such as ourselves, but only when the situation calls for it's appropriate application.  For instance, if I'm trying to decide between the wine glasses with the rounded stem versus the ones with the more cut glass stem, it is perfectly acceptable for a sideline call of "10 second decision rule", and in minutes we are through the check out and on our way to a more lovely engagement.  This doesn't work so well when discussing mortgage terms.  For that, we let the cat decide.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hooray for the buffet!

Here is the story of my first witnessed organasm:

It was a late night in August, 2012.  The temperature was high, and my mind was wild with a desire to find a foolproof way of organizing the kitchen in preparation for the new school year.  Weeks before, I had spotted something that caught my eye on a local website's auction: a Thomasville wooden buffet, in perfect condition, circa 1965.  There were 3 drawers.  The top drawer had solid wood dividers, and the other 2 were wide and deep enough to store an entire years worth of business- one per child.  This was getting good, and could only get better when the solid doors opened up to reveal 2 deeply set shelves and lots more storage space.  The measurements couldn't have been better for the space I intended to place it, and the color was a near match to my kitchen cabinets.  I bought the beast for less than $100, borrowed a truck, and got it home just in time for the new school year to begin.  Bring on the paper trail, I was ready!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Closet Junkie

Lately I've found myself to be hopelessly obsessed with closets. In our house, we don't have enough closets, and the ones that we do have are small and not ideally set up for good organization.  I get overwhelmed at the thought of conquering an entire closet project all at once, so instead I've started taking little bites at a time.  For example, at the end of dinner the other night, I threw open the dining room closet door and started sorting through papers, vases, miscellaneous toys  and trinkets to try to gain control over the space, all the while encouraging my little princess to take a few more bites and finish her milk.  I gained nearly 2 complete shelf spaces, and a boost of confidence that the next exploration through that door will get me another step closer to dissolving the dining room closet dilemma that has perplexed me for the past 2 years.  Little victories bring lots of sanity!