Sunday, November 30, 2008

Insights

Michelle from Chocolate and Marmalade Tea asked me to blog 6 things about myself and she also wrote some very kind words about my blog. I enjoy reading her fun and informative blog so check it out.


I remember or sort of remember a line from the movie You've Got Mail when Meg Ryan is sitting with Tom Hanks and she says her email friend has 152 insights into her soul or something like that. Anyway, I had to think about the 6 things I'm calling insights into my soul.

So here are 6 insights into my soul. Quite the buildup isn't it?


1- I am a Starbucks addict. Since I just bought a condo, I was thinking I could save money and you know pay the mortgage by cutting out my once a day Starbucks habit. But, I think that's just wrong. This is a joy in my life. I guess it's kind of a routine and to quote my sister, "Routine keeps us sane." I might go insane without my Starbucks. Will it be a grande ice no room Americano or a no whip Cafe Mocha? I have many happy memories of times spent at Starbucks with friends. Last year, I even gave the Starbucks staff at my favorite store in Reading, lightup Christmas pins, which by the way really perked them up. Hah, no pun intended!


2- I am a total animal lover. Case in point, when I was a teenager, I came home in the afternoon to find a squirrel drowning in our swimming pool. It was Fall. The squirrel had ripped the pool liner and he was swimming but failing fast. I ran and got the net we used to clean the pool and I fished him out. I thought if he didn't drown he might freeze to death. So after I got him out of the pool, I got a towel and wrapped him up in it and brought him to my neighbor who said an eyedropper of whiskey should warm him up. Poor thing was shivering or nervous or both. She gave him the whiskey and I took him home. Yes, I brought him inside the house! Good thing my mother was not home. Once inside the house, I used the blow dryer on him to dry him off before I released him. He was still in the towel. Anyway, I got him dried off and I put him outside in the backyard. He was still wrapped in the towel. I went inside the house and later I went to check on him and he was gone. I was thrilled that he was able to move. Of course, he was probably drunk! So you see I will go to any length to save an animal.


3- I think one of my talents is.... I am an excellent gift wrapper. I always receive nice comments on my gift wrap when I give someone a present. I keep snippets of ribbon, old buttons. silk flowers, recycled cards, etc in a hatbox. When I need a package tie- on I go to the hatbox to find something interesting for the top of the present.


4- I love reading magazines. It is a form of relaxation for me. My absolute favorite is Victoria Magazine. When they went out of business in the early 2000's I was depressed. I am so thrilled they're back in business. The subject matter, the photography, the shopping resources, fabulous!! I also enjoy reading Romantic Homes, Yankee Magazine, Country Living, and Country Home. And of course, Martha Stewart Living.


5- I love to ice skate. When I was younger, I took figure skating lessons. I followed amateur skating as a spectator too. In fact, I was at the 1994 National Championships in Detroit when Nancy Kerrigan was attacked by Tonya Harding's henchmen. I also attended the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. A trip of a lifetime! My sister was my travel partner when we went to the events. I skated as recently as last year. I still love to feel the cold on my face and the wind through my hair when I skate. I have a friend who bought new skates for the season so I am hoping to do some skating this winter.


6- I collect sports memorabilia. In my new condo, I am going to have a sports room. Finally, a room to house my Boston Garden chairs, my Tom Brady autographed football, and my Olympic pins. This has been a dream for many years. I finally have my sports museum.


Wow, I really enjoyed reminiscing and making this post all about me. How self centered am I?


So, I am supposed to send this off to 6 blogging friends but I don't know who to send it to as everyone I know has already been tagged. I think I will do this instead. Leave me a comment during the week of Dec 1st and tell me something you think you do better than anyone else. Tell me about your special talent then I will draw a name at the end of the week and give away a mystery package inspired by my love of living in New England. This will be my first giveaway!


It's Sunday night. Enjoy the upcoming week and think about your special talent. Looking forward to reading your comments.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

It's Thanksgiving!


I am not cooking today so I have time to blog. My sister and I are going to the home of our "Italian Mother" today. Clara already has eight children so what's two more at the table. She is a lifesaver. Since my mother's stroke in 2004, Thanksgiving has not been the same.

Mom is in a nursing home and doing pretty well, and my dad has noontime dinner with her. The powers that be at the nursing home decided two years ago that they would institute a two guest rule for holiday dinners. That means that one of the three us would not be able to eat dinner at the nursing home on Thanskgiving. Our solution is to have dad eat with mom and my sister and I join Clara's family for their Thanskgiving celebration. After dinner, we go to the nursing home, my dad takes a break and then he spends a little time with us, then he's back to the nursing home to be with mom during the evening.

Oh well, that's the way it has to be, so we deal with it. We are very fortunate to have Clara and her family in our lives. She calls us her "Irish daughters". We love all the commotion that goes on with a big family celebration. There is an abundance of food and laughter and the noise level!
Well, you can just imagine.

Clara lives in a fabulous old home with a tin ceiling in the dining room , several stained glass windows, a walk in pantry, and a fabulous wrap around porch. The home is located in a section of town once known as Nobility Hill. It is the perfect setting for a holiday meal.

So I have much to be thankful for today. My real family and my adopted family are both doing well. I am looking forward to the meal, the company and the football.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my blogging friends!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What happened to Thanksgiving??

I pose the question what happened to Thanskgiving because I am really getting tired of all the Christmas hype so early in the season. It's still Fall. The most beautiful season of the year, at least in my opinion. Poor Thanksgiving gets merely a mention.

In the stores, it's Halloween and then immediately thereafter, it's Christmas! Thanksgiving is the best holiday of all. There's great food, time spent with family and friends and football! Can you think of anything better?

I saw on TV today that Walmart is open all day on Thursday for their Thanksgiving Sale. And
Starbucks is open 7AM-4PM on the holiday. I heard one barista say she has to work all day so her family has to delay their Thanksgiving meal until 5 o'clock.

Thanksgiving should be about savoring the gifts of the season. Feasting one's eyes on the rich autumnal colors on the table, enjoying the wonderful smells of the cooked turkey and the apple pie, hearing the voices and laughter of our loved ones, and making memories. Thanksgiving is a treat for the senses. It is unique.

I urge you to relax this Thanksgiving, enjoy every moment. The hustle and bustle of the Christmas season can wait, at least until Friday.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cooking School

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I was attending cooking school today. I signed up myself and 12 friends from my afternoon tea group for a class on Comfort Foods. The class was held at the Stonewall Kitchens Cooking School in York, Maine. Our instructor, Linda Driver, waa fabulous! She was so knowledgeable and relaxed. She interacted with us and created a cozy atmosphere on a very cold day.

The first course she made was a squash soup topped with beets and creme fraiche. Linda demonstrated how to make each course and then we all got to eat it! This soup was the perfect texture and absolutely delicious. Doesn't it look inviting?

This kitchen is too die for. Imagine having a kitchen like this one! Cooking would be such a joy!We not only learned how to make each course, we also learned some interesting tips to make cooking easier and safer.
The second course was grilled ham with fruit compote. The fruit compote consisted of pears, pineapple, apples, apricots, and honey. My taste buds were in heaven! A potato dish was also demonstrated and then served along with the ham. We ate scalloped potatoes with three cheeeses (cheddar, parmesan, and gorgonzola). I loved the potato dish. I am Irish and a potato girl.
Here's the ham and fruit bake with the potatoes before I devoured it!

For dessert, we had brownies with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and whipped cream. The perfect finale for a wonderful and delicious learning experience. I have to say the staff at Stonewall Kitchens was top notch. Each step of the process went smoothly from my first phone call in September when I first booked the class to the last phone call last week. I begged for 1 more seat because I had incorrectly counted the number of reservations I needed. The class was sold out but they still accomodated me.
The women who served us during the class were as sweet as could be. They all looked genuinely happy to be there assisting us! When is the last time your server was truly happy to wait on you?

And there was Richard who took care of us from the minute we walked in the door. He made sure we knew we could get 20% off at the cooking school and the store. He was there to answer any questions and he was as upbeat and personable as the ladies at Stonewall.

Here's the outside of the store. No matter the season, it is always gorgeous.Inside the store,there is a cafe, bakery, and an array of jams, chutneys, sauces, oils, and unique gift items like a sconce made of snowshoes. Most of the time when I visit Stonewall I buy their coffee caramel or mocha espresso sauce. Just add vanilla ice cream and you are all set. There are also many varieties of hand soaps and lotions. I picked up a bottle of White Pine hand soap for my new kitchen. I also bought a beautful basket made of birch bark.

I know you all want to check out this store's website so here it is http://www.stonewallkitchen.com/ .

If you buy one of their jams or sauces, type in the name of the item on their website and it will pop up with recipes you can make with your particular item.

I hope if you live in the area you will visit Stonewall Kitchens and if you have the time, take advantage of one of their cooking classes. My friends have already mentioned they'd like to go back to take another class perhaps next time we can learn about appetizers or desserts.

While I'm on the subject of food, I'd like to wish all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with
family, friends and great food. Blessings to you all!













Saturday, November 22, 2008

Time Out

Come Saturday, I was just plain tuckered out from working and then packing up to move.. All week I had been busy at work by day and then doing a lot of heavy lifting at night.
So I decided to take it easy this weekend. The wind chill was in the teens and it was no fun
moving boxes into and out of the car. By 11 o'clock in the morning I was ready for a break.

So, I decided to go out for breakfast. Frannie's is a neighbothood breakfast place. The staff knows all their customers and the customers all know each other. It's a great place to go for a bite to eat by oneself. I decided to catch up on some magazine reading and treat myself to a cheese omelette, a hash brown patty, and a grilled english muffin.

It was toasty warm inside Frannie's and while they were preparing my breakfast, I was diving into some of my favorite magazines. I had Romantic Homes, Country Living, and Yankee which is a New England based magazine. I got lots of ideas for Christmas decorating and for gifts.

One idea was to use ice skates in your decor. I just love decorating with ice skates especially during the winter holidays. It adds a touch of whimsy. When I was younger, I was quite the avid skater. I even took figure skating lessons. I did go skating once last year and I really enjoyed it. So I am hoping for a good skating season this year.

Tonight, I was once again boxing up my possessions. But I did not bring them out to the car yet because it was 18 degrees outside and with the wind chill it felt like 6 degrees. It can wait until
tomorrow when it should be a litttle warmer. And to think last Saturday it was almost 70 degrees here!

Tomorrow I'm going to Maine for the afternoon and then it's back to the dreaded packing.
Enjoy your Sunday!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Harvest Dinner

Last night was the night of our annual Harvest Dinner, a tradition I started with my friends and family several years ago. We've had Harvest Dinners in either late October or early November for probably ten years and it is one of my favorite events on our social calendar.

I have to admit, this photo was not taken by me. I actually brought my camera to the dinner but the memory card was still home in my laptop. Hence no photos from last evening. This photo was taken from www.countryliving.com . I think it depicts the feeling of the evening.

We had the best time last night. Five of us gathered for a dinner starting with a cup of hot spiced apple cider. We dined on turkey, stuffing, gravy, cream cheese mashed potatoes, butternut squash. mini corn muffins, and for dessert, oh my. My friend Mary's unbelievable two crust apple pie with vanilla ice cream, pumpkin bread made with Stonewall Kitchen's maple pumpkin butter, and gingerbread cake.

We had soft music in the background, and lots of good conversation and laughter. And to think, we actually thought of skipping it this year. Two of the friends had a home renovation just completed and I am in the moving process and it seemed like getting together was quite the inconvenience. But, it was so worth it!

Now really, do I care about the five pounds I packed on last night? No I don't because I have another wonderful evening to add to the memory bank. Thanks to Mary, Don, Debbi, and Sheila.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Condomonium

I hope you caught the title of this post. Condomonium not condominium. That's because this week's move has been nothing short of pandemonium. Welcome to my world.

The seller of my condo did not include the washer and dryer in the sale so I had to buy new ones. It took me 3 visits to the same store before I could complete my sale. I encountered
a rude salesman then an incompetent salesman. The incompetent salesman cost me time and a wasted trip to the store. The rude saleman was just plain rude. Finally I got what i wanted from them and the delivery date of Friday, the last day of my vacation.

Today was delivery day for the washer and dryer. First, the delivery men got lost. Then I watched them struggle to bring my new stackable washer and dryer into the unit. Once they were in and they were working a while, I heard their conversation but it was not in my language. Were they fighting , they were certainly not happy. Finally one called to me, Miss? It seems this washer and dryer will not fit. You will need to have the moulding in the closet shaved down an inch. Take care of the closet work and call this number and someone will come back. What I said? I gave the dimensions to the salesman. I told him what the previous owner had for a washer and dryer! I said take it back then. Can't do that Miss. We did a test and it works. No returns. So here I am with a washer and dryer in my hallway! Luckily, I have a carpenter friend.
Now I need another vacation day.

While the pandemonium was going on, the doorbell rang. I answered the door. A woman wanted to talk about a brochure she had in her hand. It was called The Truth. I said now was not a good time. She said I just need a minute. I opened the door wide so she could see the commotion in the hallway, two men, a washer and a dryer. She wanted to come back to which I responded please just go! She said she would not be back. Yay, someone is finally listening!

Ok, on to the fun part. Who cares if I have clean clothes, there is decorating to be done. I am deciding about the kitchen curtains, should they stay or should they go? I am not sure I'm thrilled with them, are you? They were left by the previous owner who by the way left all his food in the fridge. Yeah, he's taking it all on Sunday or it's getting dumped.

Back to the curtains. I was thinking I would like more of an ecru lace or crocheted curtain.
Opinions?


Here's a view of some of the kitchen. I love the shiny appliances.

I brought my bistro set off my apartment balcony and over to the kitchen. I love using outdoor furniture inside the house. The kitchen is so sparse right now I decided fresh flowers would perk it and me up.


Don't worry I have a cushion for the second chair. Well, if Molly (my cat) will give it back I'll have a second cushion.

Ok, I have vented sufficiently. I know what you're thinking, nobody said it would be easy.
Eventually it will all fall into place. You're right. I'm better and we can leave the condo now.
Here's the welcome sign on my back door. Since parking is in back of the building I think I should have something pretty on the back door too. The sign was made from an old lithograph and purchased in Salem, Massachusetts.

I hope you all have a great weekend. Tomorrow I am attending a pre-Thanksgiving Harvest Dinner with friends and family and all I have to make is the cream cheese mashed potatoes. Good food and drink, great company. I can handle that.













Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New Chairs

When I move to my new condo, I will have a dining room for the very first time. This is exciting to me. I've been trying to decide on decor ever since I made the offer on the place. I am realizing as I'm packing up my belongings that my taste has changed drastically in 13 years.
That's the last time I changed addresses.

I am leaning towards a French inspired look. Wouldn't it be nice to feel like you are on a European vacation every time you come home? I can't afford a new dining room set so I am taking the existing kitchen table and four chairs and putting that in my new dining room. I bought 2 new chairs from Pier One for either end of the table. I've seen chairs mixed and matched in decorating magazines so I figured I'd give it a try. I want an elegant look for the dining room. The richness of the fabric makes it the perfect chocie for the room. The studs on the back of the chairs give it a nice finish.

I just love the colors of these chairs. The dining room walls are sage green and I think the colors
in the chairs will go well with the sage. They're comfy too. I can just see my guests fighting over who gets the soft chairs! Only kidding, I hope my family and friends are more civilized than that.


A multitude of colors in the fabric will give me lots of options for coordinating other accessories
in the room. All of that is going to have to wait. I am trying to be sensible and buy a little at a time. One could go crazy with so many great stores to choose from. I live in a suburb of Boston and there are lots of options for furniture stores. But, for now I am being good.

Next, I'll tackle the kitchen!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Autumn's Golden Gown


Autumn's Golden Gown
Originally uploaded by cafechatelaine
To borrow some words from the song Forever Autumn sung by Justin Hayward, "Through autumn's golden gown we used to kick our way. You always loved this time of year."

As you all know, I love this time of year. Today was an absolutely gorgeous Autumn day. Cold, windy, and bright. The leaves are hanging on to the trees despite the winds best efforts to knock them down. Lots of golden gowns out there today. Just beautiful!

Tonight was quite cold and I was wishing I could find my gloves. The smell of a wood burning stove stung my nose. I looked up at the sky . It was so black.with just a smattering of stars . The leaves crunched under my feet. Perfect. I am in my glory. It's Autumn. .

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