Monday, November 24, 2014

Moonstruck in November (and Happy Thanksgiving!)

 Moonstruck in November!

25 years ago my husband and I spent the month of November in Italy on our honeymoon.  We spent a good amount of time in Venice, Florence, Rome and Milan.  We took our children back in April to Venice and Florence for our 20th anniversary.  This November we couldn't make that trip happen. The major reason being November isn't the best time of year to vacation in Europe because the weather is often rainy, cold and damp.  So we decided to spend a long weekend in our favorite city - New York.

Friday we had a beautiful lunch at Maialino, one of acclaimed Chef Danny Meyer's award winning restaurants.  It's located in the Gramercy Park Hotel.


That evening we took a black car to the Met to see the opera La Boheme.  I loved the movie Moonstruck and I've always wanted to feel like Cher did the night she got all dressed up to go to the opera.  Well, I did!  It was such a memorable evening I don't know if anything could ever top it!

Lincoln Center is grand and elegant. 


The story of La Boheme is beautiful and tragic.  There are screens on the back of the seats which translate the opera in English.  It makes it so much more enjoyable.

Intermission was a fabulous tall glass of cold champagne.

Midnight dinner after the opera was at Telepan Restaurant which is a few blocks away from Lincoln Center.  Chef Bill Telepan is also an award wining chef and the food was amazing.  This was the first course.

Next morning after shopping and lunch at our favorite little restaurant in Chelsea, Chris suggested we go to MarieBelle Chocolates in SoHo on Broome Street.  This little chocolate bistro is as close to Paris as you can get in New York City.

The cocoa was so delicious and sooo hot.  On a cold afternnon with a beautiful dessert is was just perfect!!

 That evening we had drinks at the Brandy Library in Tribeca.  

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After that a late dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant in Tribeca called Tamarind.

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Sunday morning we met our children at the train station and did a little shopping.  We had lunch at another favorite restaurant and then headed to the Off Broadway show called Avenue Q.  It was wonderful.  I can't wait to see what else is playing Off-Broadway.

After dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in Little Italy Il Palazzo we had pastry at Ferrara's and then headed home exhausted.   Normally after a weekend like that I would feel down because I never want to come home when I'm having a really good time away but...
we were hit smack in the face with Thanksgiving right around the corner.

I was going to post one of my Thanksgiving recipes but then I realized that everyone has their own recipes so maybe it would be more interesting to post some recipes for the left-overs.  Martha Stewart's November magazine was really good.  Now I'm looking forward to turkey sandwiches after reading these two recipes. 

I'm sorry this is a little cut off but it's the ingredients she uses in her sandwich I wanted to share with you.  I'm making hard boiled eggs because I'm eating that sandwich this weekend!

Finally, my daughter Kristen's art work appears in all different forms in her college newspaper.  The other day when I picked up the paper I said OK a mom knows her kids and I sure know Kristen created this cartoon!  I guess it says it all!!
Thank you for visiting my blog and taking another wonderful adventure with me.  I hope I've given you some ideas of different things to do in New York City.  We always wanted to see an opera but went to see Broadway plays instead.  I always wanted to see an Off-Broadway play but never did.  Now we have more options as if we need them in such an amazing city.  But it feels good to try something different and have the outcome be just perfect!

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I have some fabulous posts for Christmas so please stay tuned!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Happy Halloween 2014

Happy Halloween!

Flip's counting down to Halloween.  He'll be relaxing inside when all the neighborhood kids run from door to door getting candy.

I found this little piece of fabric at The Crafty Crow quilt shop in Boxborough, MA.  It took me a short time to quilt it up.  I worked on the red work pumpkin pillow on the plane to Alaska.  It was so relaxing I can't wait to take another trip. 

We visited Salem, MA over Labor Day weekend.   These are some of the sights we saw.  It's Salem is still fun no matter how old you are.

The closer it gets to Halloween the more stores are open but these guys hang out all year.

There weren't as many shops as I remembered from visiting other years but I managed to find things to buy.  And NO this $2 rock DID NOTHING for me!

I always research places before we visit even if we've been there before.  This year we decided to have lunch at Hawthorne Hotel in the center of Salem.  This hotel has quite a past.  It's worth reading about.  It's quaint and has a lot of character and great atmosphere.  It's also supposed to be haunted.

I was especially interested in it's history.  One of the many "recent" stories about this hotel is that in 1970 the cast of "Bewitched" filmed there.  This is a statue of Elizabeth Montgomery in the center of town.  "Bewitched" was one of my favorite TV shows so it was really fun to see this statue.

This past weekend Kristen made these wonderful brownies.  I love pumpkin.  Luke loves cheesecake and everyone loves chocolate so I hoped this would be a winner.  It was!  They are even better after a day or two because the flavors blend together more.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

Submitted by: SHAKE_IT_CALI 
Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies 

Number of Servings: 25


    3/4 cup butter, melted 
    1 cup sugar 
    1 tbsp pure vanilla extract 
    4 egg whites or 2 large eggs
    1/4 cup all purpose flour 
    1/4 cup whole wheat flour
    1/2 cup cocoa powder 
    1/4 tsp salt 
    2 tsp cinnamon
    1 T instant coffee

    Cheesecake Batter

    6 oz neufchatel cheese, softened 
    2 egg whites 
    1/3 cup sugar 
    2 tbsp flour 
    1/2 cup pumpkin puree 
    1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract 
    1/2 tsp cinnamon 
    1/4 tsp each ground nutmeg and ground cloves


Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9x9" square metal baking pan with baking spray

Beat together melted butter, sugar, and vanilla, then beat in 4 egg whites. Combine dry ingredients and then gradually stir into butter mixture. In separate bowl, beat together cheesecake batter ingredients.

Spread about 2/3 of brownie batter into pan, and spoon cheesecake batter over. Drop remaining brownie batter over cheesecake batter. Swirl the batters using the toothpick.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack and chill before cutting and serving.

Number of Servings: 25

Recipe submitted by SparkPeople user CALICAT1977.

So, we've done some stitching and quilting, visited a spooky town, ate great dessert and now it's time to just hang out and wait for Friday!

There's a fabulous 3 story Barnes & Noble in Burlington, MA right near the Burlington Mall.  They not only have loads of books on every subject (especially all kinds of art) but a great gift area.  I thought this saying was pretty neat.  When I read it I thought of our quilt/craft group.  The more we share and the more we laugh together the closer we become.

Finally, I hope you have a wonderful Halloween and eat lots of candy and can sleep after all that chocolate!!

See you soon!!  Thanks for visiting!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fall 2014

Fall 2014

I've been busy since our amazing trip to Alaska (see Part I and II in the previous two posts).  It took a few weekends to pack up all the summer treasures.  Then it took a few more weekends to get all of the Fall treasures out.  Here's the hutch all dressed up and ready for Fall.  

The hutch hold so much.  It's my favorite piece of furniture.  No matter the season it takes on everything and always makes the room feel so homey.

Leaves are everywhere in our house this time of year.

Every year I decorate differently.  Some pieces rotate rooms, others are placed in different spots.  I should have been a "stager" because I love taking my time when I place everything.

Yep, not all witches live in Salem!  My kids will verify that!

For the first time in ten years I have my whole house back.  I'm so excited now I can decorate every room. 

I've had these patchwork pumpkins for over fifteen years.  I store everything with care so I'll find them in good shape every year.

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I've wanted to distress and paint this little table for years.  My father-in-law gave it to us when we got married 25 years ago.  It was old and scratched and tired looking.  Finally, this summer it was time to give it a make-over.  First I sanded it down.  Fortunately it didn't have a finish on it so it didn't need much more than a good buff.  

Deciding on a color was easy.  I love the color I used to restore my hutch.  Benjamin Moore Jamestown blue is a neutral color and seems to go with just about everything.  I wanted to keep the feel of the dark wood so I used the same oil finish on this table that I used on the hutch but this time I didn't layer on the paint.  After a few coats I stopped and wiped off the places I wanted to highlight.  During this process I realized it didn't need to be distressed.  Instead, I wanted to give it a more elegant look. 

 Believe it or not this piece took four weeks to thoroughly dry.  I was amazed that it stayed sticky so long.  It was drying in air-conditioning so I'm not sure if doing this in the summer was the reason.  I'll find out when I refinish more pieces soon.  The finishing touch was a layer of oil wax.  That also took several weeks to dry.  Refinishing with an oil base paint and wax is time consuming and messy but the end result is a beautiful professional looking finish.  For me it's worth the extra effort. 

*  *  *  *

 Finally, I have to share this amazing recipe.  When I read it I thought it looked easy to make.  A few Sundays ago we celebrated my husband's birthday. I showed Kristen this recipe and asked if she would make it.  I'm so lucky she never says no.  This recipe turned to be the biggest pasta hit we've had in years.  It was so delicious we decided this Christmas instead of just plain cheese ravioli we'll use this pumpkin filling instead.

A few notes.  We doubled the recipe and didn't substitute fat-free ricotta.  I usually use part-skim but when I couldn't find a 48 oz. container I just went with regular ricotta.  I also made my own quick marinara sauce.

Pumpkin-Ricotta Stuffed Shells

This recipe has been tested by Country Living

By incorporating pumpkin, this stuffed pasta recipe requires less cheese than is typically used. Opt for fat-free ricotta and you’ll save a total of 168 calories, 18 grams of fat, and 67 milligrams of cholesterol per serving.

 By Cheryl Slocum
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Nutritional Information
(per serving)
Total Fat9g
Saturated Fat--
Total Carbohydrate39g
Dietary Fiber6g
pumpkin ricotta stuffed shells
Kana Okada
Serves: 8
Yields: 8 servings
Total Time: 1 hr 15 min
Prep Time: 20 min
Oven Temp: 350
U.S.MetricConversion chart
  • 24 jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 tablespoon(s) extra virgin olive oil
  • 22 ounce(s) (2 1/2 cups) fat-free ricotta
  • 1 can(s) (15-ounce) pumpkin puree
  • 2 1/2 ounce(s) pecorino Romano, grated (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 clove(s) garlic, minced
  • 1 cup(s) fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon(s) finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1 teaspoon(s) freshly ground pepper
  • 1 jar(s) (26-ounce) store-bought tomato sauce

  1. Cook pasta shells according to package instructions; drain. Transfer to a baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Set aside and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together ricotta, pumpkin, 3/4 cup pecorino Romano, and remaining ingredients, except tomato sauce.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread sauce in bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Fill each pasta shell with about 3 tablespoons ricotta-pumpkin mixture and arrange in pan. Cover pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove foil, sprinkle shells with remaining pecorino, and bake for 15 minutes more. (If desired, stuff shells the night before and refrigerate overnight in an airtight container, in between layers of plastic wrap; arrange shells on sauce right before baking.)

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This blog is a little shorter than usual.  I'm saving the best for closer to Halloween.  I'll be back soon with a really fun Halloween post.  In the meantime can you guess where this sign comes from?

There's a clue in this post...