A Quiet Easter

Easter 2020

Well, much like everyone else, we had a very quiet Easter! It wasn’t bad, though. In a way it was nice to have such a relaxed day — no one had to leave, so we could eat whenever we wanted. Of course, the Easter bunny still brought the kids baskets of candy. Usually he brings a few extras, but this year… well, candy was what he could swing, LOL…

Easter 2020

The weather was pretty nice. The sun was in and out, but it wasn’t freezing cold and it didn’t rain. We set up an egg hunt for the kids in the yard, but instead of candy in the eggs we put clues and set them on a mini treasure hunt. The prize at the end was a jumbo Reese’s egg! It was silly, but fun.

Dinner was delicious. I made a roast turkey breast, Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, gravy, salad, and cheddar-olive bread (I’ll be posting the recipe for this tomorrow). Everything was delicious and I still have turkey left over. I think I’ll make a pot of creamy turkey & rice soup.

Easter 2020
Easter 2020
Easter 2020

Laura and I had make double-chocolate cupcakes on Saturday, so we decorated a few with jelly beans and had those for dessert. They were just from an Aldi box mix, but wow — they had a delicious, rich chocolate flavor!

Easter 2020

Truly, it didn’t feel like a holiday, but it was still a nice day together! I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend.

Getting Ready For Thanksgiving

Is it just me, or does Thanksgiving seem exceptionally early this year? No matter, it is happening in a matter of days! I have an extra day to prepare to prepare this week. Laura is home sick from school today, which means – of course – I am home with her instead of at work. I’ve been taking advantage of the time to get a few things done well in advance.

This year for the first time since Drew and I have been together, we will not be with relatives — it will just be the five of us! For many years we either went to my mother-in-law’s house or my parents’ house. Several years ago I took over cooking the meal and everyone usually comes here. But this year, my mother-in-law is spending the week in N. Carolina with Drew’s brother, wife, and her family. My dad had eye surgery today so they are staying put in Massachusetts. Dare I say I am kind of looking forward to a quiet day?

I do love me some Thanksgiving, so of course I will still be preparing a traditional dinner! Here’s what my menu looks like this year: 

Appetizers:
Holiday cheeseball with crackers and salami
Crab rangoon
Sliced tomatoes with basil, fresh mozzarella, and balsamic drizzle
Stuffed mushrooms

Main & Sides:
Roast turkey with pan gravy
Sausage and cranberry stuffing
Mashed potatoes
Asparagus
Green beans, wax bean, and carrot medley
Cranberry sauce
Olive & rosemary bread

Desserts:
Apple pie with crumb topping
Magic pecan pie

This should be more than enough food for us. Unfortunately, the smallest turkey I was able to find at the sale price I wanted, was just under 14-lbs. I usually do a 12-lb turkey for seven of us, but that just means more leftovers! I’m switching up my timeline too. Usually we eat around 1 or so. But this year I think we will eat around 3:30-4:00 so we’re not totally full of appetizers.

I also fully intend to spend the entire day in my pyjamas. 

Today I made the stuffing and the cheeseball. (I’ve been meaning to share the recipe for this cheeseball for years… maybe its time has finally come!) I also cleaned out the fridge and organized it a bit. Tomorrow I will prepare the turkey with the dry brine/dry rub/whatever you choose to call it, and make the pecan pie. I am going to do the mashed potatoes in my Instant Pot (they come out perfect in there) so I may or may not do those early. And the bread I will make in my bread machine on Thanksgiving so it is super fresh and warm!

What’s on your menu this year? I hope you’ll share in the comments — I love reading about everyone’s family traditions!

I’m Not Usually A Gambler, But…

I’m one of those annoying people who generally plays things safe, especially when it comes to money. If I don’t know what exactly I’m getting, I don’t usually get it. But, as they say, there is always an exception to the rule… 

This morning Noah and I went to Michaels to get him a white t-shirt for tie-dying at camp, since they were on sale today. When we walked in, front and center, I saw these:

Michaels grab bag score

Now, in the past I’ve been able to resist the urge to try my luck at one of these grab bags. But today, something was calling me to them. I knew it would be summer stuff from the 4th of July. And maybe it’s because we were just recently at an Eagle Scout Court of Honor for my friend’s son, but I realized that now would be a great time to take a chance on some patriotic-themed decor. After all, Jake is hopefully starting his Eagle project soon, and he is well on his way as far as advancements are concerned, so I’m not being premature thinking ahead. It’s pretty standard to use red, white, and blue in the decorations and table settings.

I tried to peek inside the best I could and in two boxes I noticed things I definitely was interested in. Noah convinced me to take a change and buy both of them. After I unpacked it all, I was absolutely thrilled with the contents! Here it all is, combined into one box.

Michaels Grab Bag Score

Now, let’s do a little show & tell, shall we? Remember, I paid $8 for everything! First up, this cute basic tee-shirt. It could probably benefit from a fun saying on it, so I can make that with my Silhouette. 
(Value: $9.99)

Michaels Grab Bag Score

Next, 9 bunches of silk flowers — 4 of the daisies with stars on the petals (price tag says $3.99), and 5 bunches of red/white/blue silks (price tag says $8.99). 
(Value: $60.91) 

Michaels grab bag score

Then, there are these vases. I think these, combined with the silk flowers, are going to make perfect centerpieces! The 7 small bottles (one got cut off from the picture because I was rushing) were priced at $6.99 and the large striped bottle (which I absolutely LOVE) is $9.99.
(Value: $58.92)

Michaels grab bag score

Then there are two of these metal signs, $24.99 each . Maybe I’ll give one to my mom! 
(Value: $49.98)

Michaels grab bag score

I absolutely adore this sign! I remember seeing in in the store and thinking hard about it. It is actually burlap and very rustic looking. It will be so cute next summer!
(Value: $24.99)

Michaels grab bag score

OK, I’ve saved the best for last. It was seeing these two trays that made my heart skip a beat. I almost bought them last week, but even with a coupon couldn’t quite justify it. I love the quilt patterns painted on (I may actually crochet a throw based on the design of the smaller tray — that wouldn’t be too hard if I did squares) and Drew loves wood signs. We actually were able to have lunch with him today and so I showed him and asked what he thought. He really liked them too, and thought of covering the design with epoxy or something to preserve it in case there is a spill. The smaller tray was $19.99 and the larger one was $25.99.
(Value: $45.98)
Michaels grab bag score

So, drumroll please? …. I got over $250 worth of stuff for $8! Now, I would never pay full-price of course, that’s just not how I am. But even if it was, say, 60% off, that’s still over $100. I think I really lucked out! 

Unique, Handmade Valentine’s Day Card + A Free Printable!

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I realize than many people dislike Valentine’s Day, but I am not one of them. I’m all about the love, the chocolate, the hearts, the flowers, and especially the cards! I think one of the reasons a lot of people don’t like this holiday is because of the perceived pressure to spend, spend, spend. I totally get that, and I’m here to tell you that really, the best Valentine gift for your sweetie is one from the heart. A simple, handmade Valentine with a heartfelt sentiment will no doubt be appreciated beyond an expensive dinner in a restaurant or pricey jewelry. Read on to find out how I made this unique bouquet card for Valentine’s Day

When ProFlowers invited me to participate in their DIY challenge to create a beautiful handmade card, I was definitely up for it! I wanted to put a little bit of a twist on my card, and I have to say — I’m quite pleased with my project!

ProFlowers Valentine Card Challenge

The selection of Valentine’s Day flowers at ProFlowers is full of beautiful choices. It was not easy picking something to work with — my head was spinning with dozens of ideas! But I ultimately hose a bouquet of 18 long-stemmed red roses because I wanted something classic. Because I absolutely love roses anytime of year, but especially on Valentine’s Day, I decided to make the flowers part of my card. ProFlowers has some really cute vases to go with their Valentine bouquets, and I absolutely fell in love with the Rustic Heart vase. Not only does it fit right into my home decor, but I immediately knew how I could personalize it.

The first thing I tackled was the vase. It looks like a heart carved into a birch tree, so it seemed obvious to make sure my husband’s and my initials were on there! I cut them them out of silver vinyl using my Silhouette Cameo, but you could easily use stickers or even a paint pen!

ProFlowers Valentine Card Challenge

ProFlowers Valentine Card Challenge

ProFlowers Valentine Card Challenge

ProFlowers Valentine Card Challenge

ProFlowers Valentine Card Challenge

Next was to create the card. As I arranged the roses in the vase, Shakespeare popped into my head. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!  There was my inspiration! I made a simple folded card out of cardstock and scrapbooking paper. Then, I lettered the beginning of the sonnet. 

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The rest of the “card” is hanging off the roses themselves. I cut tags out of black cardstock and ran a silver paint marker around the edges.

ProFlowers Valentine Card Challenge

Then I wrote out one through eighteen on one side of the tag. I used my favorite oblique holder, a Zebra G nib, and Dr. P.H. Martin’s Bleedproof White ink, my favorite white!

ProFlowers Valentine Card Challenge

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On the other side I wrote down why I love my husband. I tried to include a mix of silly and sappy reasons. I knew that I would enjoy finding each hand-lettered tag and spending time reading over every one of them.

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Then I looped baker’s twine through the holes and attached each tag to one of the roses.

ProFlowers Valentine Card Challenge

ProFlowers Valentine Card Challenge

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If you’d like to recreate this bouquet card but don’t have calligraphy skills, don’t worry! You can write the numbers in cursive and then thicken the downstrokes to create “faux calligraphy.” Or, you could print out these free tags on cardstock, cut them out, and write your own messages on the back! 

Free Printable Number Tags

Download your free tags here!
Numbers one-nine and numbers ten-eighteen.

I hope you’ll give a homemade card or gift a try. If you do, please make sure to share a photo or a description of your project with me! I want to hear all about how you are going to make it a handmade Valentine’s Day this year!

In order to facilitate this post, ProFlowers provided me with a free floral bouquet and vase. I received no further compensation. All opinions are my own.

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

thanksgivingdinnerCan you believe that Thanksgiving is in just two days? Time just flies this time of year. Normally, I consider Thanksgiving my favorite holiday but due to the nature of this year I’m not quite as into it as I usually am. Nevertheless, I’m doing my best to make it a good holiday.

As usual, we will be hosting at our house. I don’t find the cooking to be a chore, and honestly we really like not having to drive anywhere on Thanksgiving. (Plus, I can have an extra glass of wine — ha!) Drew’s mom and aunt will be coming up, but that’s all so it will just be seven people.

My Thanksgiving menu doesn’t change much from year to year. I keep it pretty traditional, though I’ll try a new recipe or two sometimes. Usually one of the appetizers or desserts will be something new.

Here’s my list…

Cheese ball and crackers
Devilled eggs

Roast Turkey with sausage-cranberry stuffing
Gravy
Mashed potatoes
Roasted sweet potatoes
Asparagus (it happens to be on sale this week and Drew requested it)
Cornbread with cranberry honey butter (new recipe)
Tossed salad
Corn
Cranberry sauce

Sugar-free blueberry pie
Pecan pie or sugared pecan topped cheesecake

For wines I have a riesling, a vino verde, and a petit syrah. I also found a non-alcoholic black currant cordial that I thought might be nice either mixed with seltzer or kicked up with vodka. So we will try that, too! 

A couple weeks ago I made a 9-lb. chicken, so this 12.5-lb. turkey won’t be too far off! Of course, I will also have my Crock Pot ready with onions, celery, and carrots to make an overnight turkey stock. I look forward to the soup as much as the roast bird! And of course I also love a turkey sandwich on Thanksgiving night. I always like to have it on white bread with American cheese and lots of mayo. It’s one of those things from my childhood that still just makes me feel all happy and at home!

Today I also started a cranberry fluff, which we will be taking to the “feast” in my daughter’s class tomorrow. If it comes out good I’ll be sure to write about it.

What about you? Are you hosting Thanksgiving or travelling somewhere? Anything new and exciting on your menu or do you also keep things fairly simple and traditional?

Thanksgiving 2014

thankgiving 2014

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Here in the Northeast, it was rather eventful… the first major snowstorm of the season hit, complete with travel tie-ups and serious power outages. The snow started on Wednesday morning, and as I suspected, the library opted to close so I didn’t have to go in to work. Drew’s mom and aunt came up in the morning, as well, in order to stay ahead of the storm.

thankgiving 2014

For most of the day we watched the snow fall. (We ended up getting close to a foot!) The kids were excited and built a snow man and snow fort in the afternoon. We had all just settled in to start a movie before dinner when everything went silent. Yes, the wet, heavy snow (or an accident… or who even knows) caused the power to go out. At first we were hopeful it was temporary, but soon we realized that we wouldn’t be able to use the oven to make dinner. So while I was gathering candles and oil lamps, Drew got out the propane grill and camp stove so we could get everyone fed.

Outages were widespread and I began to get worried about what would happen for Thanksgiving. Would I be able to cook? We came up with a plan B, just in case. Luckily, the mashed potatoes and stuffing were already made. We could easily warm those on the wood stove. We figued we could cut up the turkey and cook it in the Dutch oven outside if we had to. We all went to bed, not knowing what to expect in the morning. Luckily, our power came back around 1 AM. I was incredibly thankful! Some people in the area are still without power.

Thanksgiving day was very nice. I was able to cook the traditional dinner after all — no fire pit cooking was necessary! I think everyone enjoyed the meal — we were sure full! I made roast turkey, sour cream mashed potatoes, green beans with slivered almonds, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts, cornbread, and cranberry sauce. My mother-in-law brought the cranberry-sausage stuffing. For dessert we had apple crisp — simple, and just enough!

thankgiving 2014

After the dishes we washed, and turkey bones were simmering to make stock, the kids and Drew’s mom played board games for a while. I did a bit of crochet, and Drew started to put up the Christmas tree. I think we’ll decorate it tonight.

thankgiving 2014

Today I did some more cleaning, and I’m just taking it easy. No shopping for me today! There’s nothing I really need and I just don’t have the patience to deal with the crowds. I used to always enjoy going out on Black Friday, but in recent years it has gotten way too crazy. Nope, not for me anymore. I think I’ll spend the rest of my day off working on craft projects and making some turkey soup for dinner. Some down-time in front of the fire seems pretty perfect to me!

Nine is Fine!

Happy birthday, Noah!

Yes, August is a crazy birthday month for us. There’s my mom, Drew’s mom, Drew’s brother, Jake of course, and Noah. Yesterday was Noah’s special day — he turned 9!

Our weekend was full of celebrating. Saturday evening the boys had some of their friends over for a LEGO-themed party. Drew did all the work for this one — I can’t take any credit at all. The kids played LEGO games, built LEGOs, and designed their own mini-figures.

Birthday Party

Birthday Party

For the food, I made pizzas that resembled LEGO bricks, along with hot dogs, chips, and veggies. It was simple, but the kids all liked it!

Birthday Party

Birthday Party

We ended the evening by showing “The Lego Movie” on the outdoor screen. Some of the boys’ parents and siblings also came for that — such fun!

Yesterday we had our family party and that was a great time, too. Again, the food was pretty simple, but sometimes that’s the best. I made a tray of sausage & peppers, a tray of meatballs in marinara, pasta salad with artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes, rolls, and salad. We’ve been enjoying the leftovers 🙂

Birthday Party

Today has just been getting the house back in order after a weekend of parties. Dishes, laundry, putting away gifts… My allergies have been crazy today so I took a Benedryl and that wiped me out!

Tonight I plan to watch a movie with Drew and Jake after Laura is in bed (Noah’s at his grandma’s for a couple days), and doing a little crochet. Now that I’m halfway done with my afghan I’m getting itchy to start a new project, but I won’t. I’m going to finish this one up, border and all!

Well, time to get Laura’s bedtime routine going… hope you had a great Monday!

merci Giveaway Winner

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Thanks to all who entered the merci chocolates giveaway! Using Random.org I generated the number of the winner. Drumroll, please! And the winner is….

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The 11th comment was Madeline’s! Congratulations, Madeline. I will contact you for your mailing information.

For those who didn’t win, remember that you can get a BOGO coupon when you send a friend a thank you using  merci’s Facebook app, the Thank-You-Maker

CLOSED {Review & Giveaway) Hostess Gifts and Merci Chocolates

Merci Chocolates

I received a box of Merci Chocolates and a promotional item for my honest review.
I received no monetary compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

If your December calendar looks anything like mine, you’ll be attending several holiday parties. I am always looking for great hostess gifts. What could be better than chocolate? Merci chocolates seem to be made for saying “thank you.” I think the name alone gives that away! And indulging in a piece of yummy chocolate is such a great way to wind down after a whirlwind party.

Each box of merci includes a delicious selection of rich, European chocolates in flavors like milk chocolate, hazelnut-almond, marzipan, dark mousse, and coffee and cream. I think my favorite, however, is the praline-creme. Such a delicious treat paired with a cup of dark roast coffee!

merci

As someone who enjoys entertaining in my home, I know how much goes in to party planning. I don’t think there is anything out-of-the-ordinary that makes a great hostess, though, as long as she is having a great time too. Enthusiasm is contagious! I do appreciate always being greeted at the door, and taking guests special needs into consideration is always appreciated, too. (These are things that I try to do myself.)

I’m really looking forward to our Christmas movie party in a couple weeks, so you can bet I’ll be keeping in mind what I enjoy when I attend someone else’s party. Basically three things: good friends, good food, and good fun. Sounds simple, but I think it’s true! I will also be bringing a gift of merci to my mother-in-law’s on Christmas Eve as a token of thanks for always having a lovely holiday dinner and making everyone feel welcome.

merci2

The sweet people at merci have generously offered to give away a gift pack to one of my readers so that you can also say “thank you” to someone!

Rules

  • Open to U.S. residents 18 and over only.
  • Giveaway will close at 12 PM Eastern Time on Thursday, December 19, 2013.
  • Winner will be chosen by Random.org and posted on the blog the next morning. To enter, please leave a comment telling me what qualities you think make a great hostess OR a party that you are looking forward to this holiday season.

And don’t forget to check out merci’s Facebook app, the Thank-You-Maker! You can send a friend a meaningful thank you, and in return receive a Buy One Get One Free coupon for merci chocolates! If you’re on Twitter, send a tweet about giving a meaningful ‘Thank You’ using the #merciHoliday hashtag.

You can find merci chocolates at many stores including World Market, Target, and Amazon.com. 

Thanks to you, my readers for supporting my blog. And good luck with this giveaway. Trust me, the winner will truly enjoy these scrumptious chocolates!