Sunday, November 22, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!


This is the embroidered wall hanging that I display on the inside of my front door every November.  I look at it all the time and wonder how I had the patience and time to do this detailed work.

Thanks to certain members of my family I have beautiful seasonal bouquets of flowers in my kitchen all year long. I love the deep maroons and rusty colors of Autumn.  Now the foliage is gone and the days are getting shorter and the weather feels kind of ominous.  I love this time of year when we're waiting for Thanksgiving and Christmas to come.  

A few weeks ago Chris and I went to NYC for a long weekend to celebrate our 26th anniversary.  We had a wonderful time and I got to play Moonstruck again.  I look forward to going to the opera all year long.  This year we saw Rigoletto.   It was beautiful, especially the last scene because all of the music was so familiar.  To hear it sung live is one of the wonderful experiences I will always remember.  

I always have to have something to look forward to otherwise the week days seem too long and the weekends way too short.  Just thinking about the next time I go to the opera will get me through the long winter ahead.

We hit just about all of my favorite haunts.  We popped into City Quilter and I bought this felt candle mat pattern.  Stay tuned we'll see if I ever make it.  

The weather was beautiful and Bryant Park was hopping.  There are some wonderful unique shops by the skating rink. I bought some lovely Christmas gifts.  In the past we've walked by these shops and I wasn't impressed but this year I'm really glad we strolled by.

Sunday afternoon we saw an Off-Broadway play called Perfect Crime.  It was very good and something different.  All during the show I told Chris the actor who plays the detective looked very familiar.  I knew I had seen him many times on TV.  Later I looked at my Play Bill and saw he is Richard Shoberg.  He played Tom Cudahy on All My Children from 1977 - 1995.  No wonder he looked familiar I watched him for twenty years!  He's 70 now but you'd never know it.  He's still handsome.

After the play we strolled past Radio City while we tried to hail a taxi.

We finally got one and met Kristen and her friends in Little Italy for dinner.

As usual it was packed.  It has always been a tradition in our family to go to NYC over the Christmas break but last year and now this year we've decided to put that to rest.  As much as we love the City at Christmas time it's just too crowded.  

When we were in London several years ago we had Pimm's cocktails.  When we travel we always try to eat and drink what is native to where we are.  When we were in Paris we drank Kir Royale's.  When we were in Italy we drank Spritz's, etc.  When we got home we tried to recreate them but somehow they never tasted the same.  But when Chris made this Pimm's Cocktail it was perfect.  So if we're home for dinner on Thanksgiving and Christmas it's our tradition to sit in the living room and relax with a Pimm's cocktail before we start our feast. 

Here's the recipe and promise you'll love it.  It hits all the spice notes of the season.

Our Thanksgiving feast consists of all the traditional foods and a bit more.  We make homemade cornbread to add to the bread in the stuffing.  I buy an extra package of cranberries for cranberry bread and we always have pumpkin bread.  I've tried a lot of recipes over the years but I always go back to the tried and true.  I have no idea how old this recipe is and I have no idea which Sue owned this book.  I know and have known so many Sue's it could be anyone!  But regardless which Sue this is, this recipe is wonderful.  I don't have a photo yet because we'll make the breads Wednesday when we make our pies.  They have to taste fresh when they're warmed up Thanksgiving Day.


From my family to yours...

Have the best Thanksgiving!

Please come back and visit next month!  I've got a great Christmas blog coming!!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

October 2015

October 2015

Fall is my favorite time of the year.  So far this Fall has been beautiful.  Our marigolds stayed robust until this past week when the nights started to get really cold.

So once again everything summer disappeared.  All the shells found their way back into their different bags and out came the Fall/Halloween/Thanksgiving STUFF.  With Susan's help getting everything out wasn't as painful as it's been in the past.

A little Caramel Apple Sangria helped make the process a little easier.  My friend Sue at work came in one day and told us about this recipe.  I looked it up and made it and it's a keeper.  She had it in a restaurant with cinnamon and sugar around the rim of the glass.  It's to die for and tastes so good on a crisp evening.

Caramel Apple Sangria

Recipe type: Cocktail
Serves: 10 - 11
  • 1 750 ml bottle of pinot grigio (or your favorite mild white wine)
  • 1 cup caramel flavored vodka
  • 6 cups apple cider
  • 2 medium apples, cored and chopped
  1. Stir the wine, vodka, and apple cider together in a large pitcher.
  2. Add the chopped apples to the pitcher, or to individual glasses.
  3. Serve the sangria over ice.
Apple cider settles. If the sangria sits for a while, it will need to be stirred before serving.

*  *  *  *
Back in late September Chris and I were in Boston for a long weekend and decided to take a day trip up to through the Merrimack Valley region of New Hampshire.  We originally planned to drive the "antique route" but that didn't work out because we didn't see any antique shops anywhere along route 4.  That was fine because I had researched a few places up that way in Barrington that looked really fun to visit.  

On Calef Highway I saw a sign for a quilt shop called The Fabric Garden.  It was really tiny and in a woman's basement.  It's worth a stop because she had a few interesting Christmas panels.  I asked her where we could stop for lunch and she recommended Frank Jones.

This is a funky little family owned restaurant.  It was a beautiful hot day and we sat outside on the deck and had a fabulous lobster roll and cold beer.  

On to one of the main attractions Calef's Country Store which is right on Calef Highway right up the street from Frank Jones.

 This old country house reminded me a lot of the Vermont Country Store we visited in August.  

This store has all kinds of good food. There's a little deli in the rear of the store and a small restaurant section where you can eat.  The old fashion candy section was soooo wonderful we bought a few goodies.

I could spend every day in stores like this.  Luckily for my wallet and weight I'm not close enough to visit often.

Now for the most adorable store I've ever been in!  This is the Elfmade Home Decor Company.  I could live in this store.  

Room after room of the most adorable treasures.

I had to go through it twice just to see most of everything displayed.

All kinds of potpourri are out and bagged.  I brought home a bag of pumpkin and a bag cranberry.  My house smells so amazing.  I also bought the oils to keep the potpourri fresh smelling.

Katrina at the quilt shop told us not to miss The Christmas Dove which is diagonally across the street.  

We were the only ones in this huge shop full of every kind of Christmas item you can think of.  


There are lots of Downton Abbey ornaments and windows full of Dicken's Village.

OK not yet!  Back to Halloween and Thanksgiving!


Just as Chris thought he was going to head home we had one more quilt shop to visit.  Katrina at the Flower Garden told me Camille over at Evergreen Country Primitives Quilt Shop had the most wonderful shop.  Camille's shop used to be in the same area as Calef and Elfmade but she couldn't afford the rent so she moved her shop to her basement in Milton.  We got sketchy directions from Katrina so we had a little hard time finding it because it wasn't well marked.  But after driving up and down her street a few times we did manage to find her driveway.  While I was inside visiting with Camille and buying a few things she told Chris to sit in one of the big "man" chairs outside and enjoy the peace of her beautiful quiet backyard.  When I was done visiting with Camille I went outside to find Chris having the snooze of his life in that chair.  I felt  terrible waking him up but it was getting time to head back and get ready to go out to dinner.  This is a finished prim kit I bought from Camille.  She even had the frame to go with it.

I loved spending the day in that part of New Hampshire.  It's about an hour away from the MA border and so worth the trip.  I really want to go back around Christmas time.  I'm sure it's beautiful there and the shops must be well decorated. 

*  *  *  *

Last weekend Kristen was home and made these pumpkin cake bars.  They were delicious.  I've never gone wrong with a King Arthur recipe.  The directions are easy to follow and the left-overs freeze great.

King Arthur's

pumpkin cake bars with cream cheese frosting

star rating(48)rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield:4 dozen 2" squares, or 3 dozen 2" x 3" bars

These cake-type bars are moist and delicious, similar to carrot cake but with a fall flavor. The rich cream cheese frosting will also remind you of carrot cake — which isn't a bad thing! Do toast the walnuts before using them; toasting brings out their nutty essence.



  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice, or 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon each ginger, nutmeg, and cloves
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup golden raisins, or 1/2 cup golden raisins and 1/2 cup ginger mini-chips


  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup toasted walnut pieces

tips from our bakers

  • To toast nuts, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in a 350°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes, just until you can start to smell them; let cool before using.
  • Want to make this recipe in a 9" x 13" pan? Change the amounts of ingredients as follows: 2/3 cup vegetable oil, 2/3 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 3 large eggs, 2/3 cup pumpkin purée, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, 3/8 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, 1 1/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, 1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts, 2/3 cup golden raisins/ginger mini chips. Bake as directed in the original recipe. For the frosting, reduce ingredients as follows: 4 ounces cream cheese, 2 tablespoons softened butter, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, pinch of salt, 1/2 cup diced toasted walnuts.
*  *  *  *

Back to Fall and Halloween!!  I hope you enjoyed our visit.  I did! 

See you soon!!

Monday, September 21, 2015

September 2015


It looks like Summer is still holding on a little but not for long.  I kept this part of our summer vacation for my September blog because this is the perfect weekend getaway if you're heading north to see the foliage.  In August, after we left Quebec we stopped in VT for a night.  There are so many neat places to visit in VT it was impossible to do everything on our list of sites to see but we managed to cram a lot into a very short time.  We were surprised that Quebec had so many maple syrup products and that carried right down into Vermont.  When we got across the border we came to a little town called Derby.  This is one of those quaint picturesque towns you can only find in New England.  Imagine a town green with a bandstand and American Flag banners.  Everyone was so friendly.  We stopped and asked someone where to find the best maple products and he didn't disappoint.  If you are ever up that way you have to stop at Jed's.  It has just about everything maple including their own homemade everyday soft-serve maple ice cream.  We had some and if they put walnuts in it I don't think they ever could have gotten me out of there!

This little place is on a side street set in the wilderness surrounded by flowers and trees.  It was so serene and beautiful.  Everyone should know nature like that everyday.

I have wanted to visit the King Arthur store for as long as I've been married.  My mom introduced me to King Arthur flour and I've never used anything else. This is a must see and return kind of place.  

We arrived early and had breakfast.  It was the most delicious homemade food we've ever had. And I had a cappuchino that puts Starbucks to shame.  I wish we could have stayed for lunch but we just didn't have time.      

I had to wait for all of the little kids to leave these cut-outs to take a photo.  I only did it for blog purposes but it was kind of a good feeling to get out of my comfort zone for a minute and do something silly!

There are no words to describe this store.  I can only say I was in awe.  

And I bought A LOT!

I bought some yeast and pizza flour which I put in my freezer.  In the winter if everyone's home and there's going to be a snow storm I like to make pizza.  We make sure we have enough beer on ice and mugs in the freezer.  We put on music and get the wooden paddle and pizza accessories out and make all kinds of pizzas all night long.  

Ain't it the truth!

Next on the list was the Vermont Country Store.  I used to get their catalog in the mail but I never thought the store was as big and beautiful as it is.  I wouldn't hesitate to order anything for there now.  They sell really fine quality goods.

The weather was fabulous and it was really crowded in the store but the cashier said that was nothing compared to the Fall.  Starting in September the lines are out the door.

Yes, if you can't tell by now this was yet another eating vacation.  You could eat for a month in this store.  They have samples of everything out so you can taste them.  And of course we did and the more we tasted the more we bought!

They have rooms and rooms full of the most wonderful things.  Years ago I wanted a red checked woven tablecloth from there but it was too expensive.  I saw the very one upstairs with all the kitchenware, linens, quilts etc.  It was still too expensive to justify in front of Chris so all I could say was REMEMBER THIS FOR CHRISTMAS!  I don't think he heard me because he's never heard that phrase in the 26 years I've been saying it.

I hate coming home after vacation.  Wherever I am I always say "I could stay here and never go home."  And while I'm away I really mean it!

Back to reality.  I wanted to share how proud I am of actually making something that turned out to look the way it's supposed to!  It's so rare! I'm really proud of this little quilt.  I will share more of my little  book of little quilts because it has adorable projects.

Never ever would I leave a post without some type of recipe to share!  This cake was the highlight of the summer.  It was so easy, fabulous and again looked and tasted picture perfect! I promised everyone I would make it over and over with every fruit that came my way.  Sadly, time and my waistline are my enemy so I haven't been able to make it again BUT I will! Those prune plums up top are calling my name and they're telling me to make this cake with them.  Stay tuned!

Peach and Blueberry Greek Yogurt Cake
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Yield: 1 cake, using 9x3-inch springform pan
Peach and Blueberry Greek Yogurt Cake
  • Follow Julia on Pinterest and Facebook to get more recipes for your weekly meal planning!
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 peaches, sliced into wedges
  • 6 oz blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Grease the side and the bottom of the pan with butter or cooking spray. Line the bottom of a 9x3-inch springform pan (or 9 inch round cake pan) with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper too.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, together into a medium bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat butter, sugar, and 2 eggs until very light in color and fluffy, 2-3 minutes on high speed. Add vanilla and Greek yogurt and continue beating until very creamy and light in color, for about 1 more minute.
  4. Keeping the mixer speed low, mix in the flour mix until combined. Do not overmix.
  5. Transfer the cake batter to the springform pan. Top with sliced peaches, and scatter blueberries evenly on top in the spaces between the peach slices. Sprinkle the fruit with 1 teaspoon granulated sugar.
  6. Bake until cake turns golden, and the tester comes out clean in the center, about 1 hour, depending on your oven. Midway through baking, I like to put some extra peach slices and extra blueberries on top of the cake for prettiness, and return cake to baking.
  7. When the cake is done baking, let it cool (still in the baking pan) on a wire rack. After cake has cooled for about 40 minutes, release the cake from the springform pan. At this point, if the cake is cool enough, you can slide your hand under the cake, between the parchment paper and the bottom portion of the springform pan and move the cake with the parchment paper attached to its bottom onto a cake plate easily.

Finally, in Derby VT we drove past a prim shop.  And we turned around and went back and actually went inside.  It's called Primitive Place.  It's in an old white house and when you walk in you're transported back to the long lost place we all dream of.  I love everything primitive so I did buy some wonderful things.  I couldn't resist this house.  All I could picture when I was looking at it is how I'm going to love to see it lit up when the snow is falling outside my window.

And I fell in love with this pillow.  So I brought it home and it sits on my bed and when I go to sleep at night...

I will dream this...

Thanks for visiting and see you in October!!!