Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Merry Christmas


One week and a few days before Christmas and I'm in a mad rush.  The years when Thanksgiving falls on the last Thursday in December are getting harder and harder to manage.  Adding to that I'm not sure if I'm glad or sad the temperature outside is so warm.  I'm kind of looking forward to some cold weather so I can wear my new winter coat and scarf and make hot cocoa with marshmallows!

But no matter what, the decorating has to get done.

Over Thanksgiving we visited the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA.  It was a fun, memorable day trip.  I was told to go there during the first weekend in December when the Christmas tree is lit and the holiday festivities begin. It was really crowded there when we visited as it was, so visiting the weekend before worked out well for us!

When we arrived, we caught a short library talk and tour of the museum.  It was interesting to find out that most of the people in the paintings lived in town and posed for Rockwell while he lived there.  The very famous work below is of the actual town of Stockbridge.  If you look down the street, you can still see the shops most of which still have the same names.  On the first weekend of festivities, a part of that strip is re-created to look exactly like the painting.  It must look magnificent especially if there's snow on the ground.

When I told my friend Mary Ellen from quilt group that we were going she suggested lunching at The Red Lion Inn.  It was wonderful!

After lunch, we did some shopping and took in the beautiful homes on the main street.  This is a Bed and Breakfast.

OK, back home Santa is waiting to pop down the chimney!

This is the only project I made this Christmas.  I'm sad to say life got in the way AGAIN!  It's a felt candle mat from a book I bought at Camille's store in Barrington, NH in the Fall.

...but I'm using it as a Christmas tree mat!

This dolly got a bit of a make-over for Christmas. 

 Do these two pixies look familiar?  Yes, their Maileg!  I love these dolls.  This pair was an early Christmas present to myself.

YES I got a little carried away and bought this lovely trio too!!  I haven't bought a doll in years so these beautiful treasures are a big treat for me!

So true!!

But we all hear it over and over - IN MODERATION!  Not sure if I've ever been able to moderate Christmas!  I'm always hopeful but always fall into the same old pattern of excess!

I was so happy when Jessi gave us this peppermint bark candy!  Little did we know she made it in her dorm!!  So no excuses for those of us who have kitchens!  Best of all she saw this recipe on one of my Facebook posts!  We'll be making this too Jessi because we ate all of yours already!!  It was so delicious!!

From: 12 Tomatoes


(makes one 9×13 pan of bark)
  • 1 bag chocolate chips
  • 1 bag white chocolate chips
  • 24 mini candy canes
  1. Put the candy canes in a resealable plastic bag. Use a rolling pin or tenderizing mallet to crush the candy canes. Don’t use a blender or food processor, because we want those nice uneven bits that look great right on top.
  2. Line a 9″x13″ pan with parchment paper, including the sides, leaving enough extra so you will be able to lift the peppermint bark right out of the pan.
  3. Pour the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave for 30-second increments (stirring the chips between each microwave session) until the chocolate has melted, and the mixture is smooth.
  4. Spread the chocolate evenly into the lined pan.
  5. Place the pan into the freezer for 20 minutes.
  6. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave just as you did with the previous chocolate chips. If the white chocolate chips to not melt smooth, stir in 2 tablespoons of shortening.
  7. While the white chocolate is still smooth, stir in half the crushed candy canes into the mixture.
  8. Allow the white chocolate to cool for about a minute, then remove the pan from the freezer and spread the white chocolate mixture on top of the chocolate layer, making it as smooth as possible.
  9. Top with remaining crushed candy canes, and press them in the the back of a spatula.
  10. Return the pan to the freezer for another 20 minutes.
  11. To serve, remove the parchment paper from the pan and break into pieces (or cut with a butter knife).
  12. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

 Thanks so much for visiting and always letting me know you're still there!

See you in 2016!!

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.

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

See you soon!!