Friday, November 30, 2012

If You Really Knew Me

 If you had ever walked in my front door there would be no doubt in your mind about my love of blue and white china. Growing up, Royal Copenhagen's "Christmas Plates" surrounded my mother's dining room. I always thought they were so pretty and loved that my father gave mom a new one each Christmas. As a result, when it was time for me to register for my fine china I was completely drawn to Royal Copenhagen's "Blue Fluted Plain".

Over the years I have added to my "blue and white" collection from Churchill to Target and everything in-between. One of my cheapest "blue and white" finds is by far my favorite and just perfect for holiday decor. Two years ago in a super cute NoVA shop, Everyday Elegance, B and I found a stack of Royal Copenhagen's "Christmas Plates" from random years for only $10 a plate.  B and I picked up four plates that had an outdoor theme.  (Winner winner turkey dinner!!!)

While getting the house ready for this weekend's neighborhood party I thought that the train plate was perfect for our front table. The plate reminds me of the "Polar Express".  A simple yet cheery table for the holidays!

To me "blue and white" is a classic.  And it does not matter where you live, North or South, a classic is forever!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Four Year Old Baby

When I look at L, I see the tiny baby that came five weeks too early.  I look at his face and I see how far he has come in four short years.  Despite having to work with his food "issues" he really is a very bright, healthy and energetic (very energetic) four year old boy.  So really when I look at his sweet face I should see a four year old but I can't help it I still see my baby.

So today when we were finally done with school, play-dates, a walk to the bus and after-school activity pick-up L totally fell apart. Big real tears. The poor boy was just plain old wiped out!  L asked me to sit down with him and watch a show with him.  How could I not? I did not even bother to take off my coat.

What a great way to spend half an hour!  Feet up, watching the "Grinch" with my baby!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Something Old Is New Again

In 2005 we moved from a cute but very small townhouse to a brand new single family house.  The increase in space was great but the downside is white walls from here to there and a need to furnish a much bigger space!  Have I mentioned how much white walls remind me of the NICU - can't stand them!!!!  So I am sure you understand why I am overjoyed that my mother comes down to NoVa year after year to help me clip away at my "to do" list.

This summer we had to make new curtains for the dining room which was unfortunate.  See last year we made perfectly good curtains but the fabric had a light background and we did not use a blackout liner.  Lesson learned!!!

So yesterday I took those "bad" curtains and turned them "good".  I used them to recover Hubby's
Grandmother's dining-room chairs.  This past Sunday Hubby was kind enough to take all the seat
bottoms off the chairs and uncover them.

Before I started cutting I took the time to press the curtains.  I have to admit that things went smoother than I thought they might.  I laid two seats side by side and then cut the old curtains.  At times it was hard to cut my mother's fine hand sewing.

In high school AP Art they made us stretch our own canvas and so I used that same technique with Granny's chairs.  I am sure that I could have made it look better given more time and practice but there are only two little boys who will see the underside of these chairs on a weekly basis.  I hope I am not the only mom with boys who think a dining room table is the world's most perfect fort!

As soon as I saw Granny's chairs re-covered next to my mom's brand new curtains I started to rethink our dining room rug, which I dislike with a passion. Questions, comments, concerns?

I am linking up with Savvy Southern Style and No Minimalist Here

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bad Spellers Of The World Untie!

I will let you in on a little secret - I am the worst speller in the world! (Note from Hubby- She tries but this is close to true. It makes reading the grocery list a challenge.) As a dyslexic writing has never come easy.  I fear writing anything and everything, from thank you notes to quick emails.  I think that is a big part of why it took me so long to start posting.  I did not want all my misspellings and poor word choices to be for all to see.  I hate being judged by my shortcomings. Don't we all?  That is why I am beyond grateful for my editor - Hubby!  Each night he reads my post for the next day and fixes all my mistakes.

So today while all the kiddos were at school I baked a pumpkin pie for my editor.  Boring, tried and true Libby's pumpkin pie.  The recipe has been printed on Libby's canned pumpkin since the 1950's and I know that there are a ton of other desserts I could have made but it was not for me!  As always I did put my spin on Libby's classic.  Instead of white granulated sugar I use dark brown sugar.  I feel like it gives the pie a richer flavor.

Oh and just so you know, Hubby does have a day job and it is not free to proofread all my comments and emails.  I thank you in advance for understanding!

Monday, November 26, 2012

What To Do?

Growing up, my mother never decorated for Christmas before Advent started.  I have done the same thing now that I have a family of my own.  I know that a lot of people like to get to decorating quickly but this plan has worked well for me since it gives me time to unpack from our yearly Thanksgiving trip to my parents and put away our Thanksgiving decorations without feeling rushed. 

But it is not that simple this year.  Advent will start on December 2nd this year and we will be hosting dinner on December 1st for our neighborhood progressive holiday party.  So what is a gal to do?  I did what any crazy lady would do; I simply asked Hubby to take the kiddos to Wegmans (we really had no food) and I decorated our living-room in record time!

I dusted, vacuumed and rearranged the furniture then dusted and vacuumed again.  Dust-bunnies can be so crafty and hide in all sorts of places!  Nothing like moving furniture to make you feel like a failure as a housewife!!!

After an hour of panic I did find the middle section of our fake tree and started to put it together. This is our second year with a fake.  I went back and forth on this one for some time.  I have always wanted two trees: a "formal" tree and a "kiddie" tree.  Hubby did not want to buy two tree each year so our compromise was to buy a fake tree for the "formal" tree and to keep getting a fresh tree for the "kiddie" tree each year.  So glad we had a fake this year since getting a fresh tree this early would have left me with nothing but pine needles on the floor by the 25th!!! 


I also place our wedding Nativity on our sideboard.  This is Christmas piece that means the world to me!  It was a gift to Hubby and me by BK, who was the moderator of a club we were members of in college.  BK was kind enough to assist with our wedding Mass and say grace for our wedding dinner.  BK has since passed away and our Nativity is a special reminder of him during the Christmas season.

This week is shaping up to be non-stop!  Hopefully the pretty lights and Nativity will remind me to calm down.  Best to slow down and enjoy this wonderful time of year!!!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

She Shopped Until She Dropped

I love Black Friday!  For as long as I can remember I have just adored it.  While there are many great malls in NoVa, there is a mall in Jersey that I just love.  The Mall at Short Hills will always have my shopping heart!!!  I can not tell you how overjoyed I am that my daughter has joined me and my mother the last couple of years.  

Being expert shoppers Mom and I knew not to try and park at the mall.  On Black Friday we always park off of Canoe Brook Road in the office parking.  Trust us!!!  

B was a little lady on a mission!  We have been looking for colored denim jeans for B since August and today we finally found a pair at J. Crew that looked too cute to pass up.  And a cute top with some "bling".  I tried on the J. Crew Cafe Capri in red tartan which has been all over the blog-world.  I loved them but B told me that they looked like pj bottoms.  So I walked out empty handed:(

While the shopping trip might have worn B out, my mom and I were over the moon that B inherited our "shopping for a deal" gene!  Happy Holiday Shopping Y'all!!!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Different But The Same

Is your Thanksgiving like mine?  Filled with traditions that have been followed more years than I have been alive.  Every year Gram cooks the turkey, stuffing and makes the soup for Thanksgiving dinner at her Shore house.  All of her children and grandchildren fill out the meal with sides and dessert.  For at least the last four years I have made the same dishes: pimento cheese as an appetizer,  sweet potato casserole for a side and pumpkin pie for the dessert table.

Some might find it boring that we don't really mess around with the menu or venue, but that is the way my Pop liked it. And if it was good enough for Pop it was more than good enough for the rest of us since he was so loved and adored by my family. So even though Pop said his last Thanksgiving grace in 2009 we keep the traditions going as a way to remember him.

Due to Sandy we had to break with some of the traditions this year.  Gram and Pop's house was damaged during the storm and still is without power.  So my Uncle C gather as many Thanksgiving supplies as he could from Gram's home and brought them to my Aunt E's house.  The show must go on!

So just like every year I tried to take a family photo worthy of our Christmas card.  And per usual my kiddos did not work with me!

My Aunt's wedding china and silver looked beautiful laid out on Gram's Thanksgiving table cloths.  In fact this year there was more room so the "head table" and "weenie table" could even chat!

Being the competitive group that we are we still played "Hang By Your Nose".  Not sure at all how to explain this game in a blog post. Simply put it is a game that my Pop came up with using an old vacuum head and green tarp.  Sounds weird but trust me it is a good time!

So even though things did not go according to plan we had a great time.  I was surrounded by my family and felt my Pop's presence.  He would have been so proud that we did not have tears for things lost by the storm but rather we rejoiced in the fact that we were still all together on Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

My sweet Mil (mother-in-law) every Thanksgiving cuts Patrick McDonnell's "Mutts" cartoon out of the Washington Post and keeps it on her fridge all year long.  It is a simple message that sums up the day!

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

When Life Gives You Lemons

Things did not go as planned last night.  Hubby got caught up at work and by the time he got home it was too late to make the long drive up to the Homeland, aka New Jersey.  So after the kids were fed and put to bed I did what any woman would do... I started to put together my new bar cart!

I have wanted a bar cart for a while now but I had no desire to pay unreal amounts for one!  So I looked on Ebay and Craigslist like it was my job.  But in the end, Ballard Designs was the winner.  A site-wide sale plus a coupon from Southern Living magazine made this one of my best buys of 2012!

We have two big parties coming up in December so I think this little cart will get a lot of good use!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Worlds Collide

All the years I watched the Oprah Winfrey Show I remembered hearing Oprah's little plug for "Chicago's Magnificent Mile".  So of course I made Hubby go shopping on Michigan Ave this past Saturday afternoon.  As we were enjoying our shopping and people watching, I could not help but notice the beautiful way the city's trees where dressed up for the holidays.  I was pleasantly surprised to see magnolia leaves in Chicago.  So pretty!  I can't wait to mix my magnolia leaves with evergreen branches next week.

Saturday night at my cousin's wedding there continued to be Southern touches.  There were many candle lit lanterns used as wedding decor.  To me they had a Charleston feel to them, but then again I have not been back to Charleston in six years.  Regardless, they gave off such a pretty glow!

And the menu also had some Southern dishes.  I might have indulged in more than one deviled eggs.  And Hubby enjoyed the "Georgia Pork" that was accompanied with "cheesy polenta".  You say polenta, I say grits!

While there were many "Southern Living" touches to my cousin's wedding, the best part for me was being with my Jersey cousins.  You should have seen us on the dance floor!

No matter where you live, having cousins that you truly love hanging out with is an awesome blessing!!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Time Away

This past weekend Hubby and I had the pleasure of going to my cousin's wedding in Chicago.  The last time I was in Chicago was in another life when I was a trade show manager.  While I loved my job, I rarely was able to leave the convention centers where our booth was set up.  It was such a pleasure to have free time in Chicago this time around.

Friday before dinner we walked all over downtown.  I can not tell you how much I love people watching.  And what better place than a city!?!  

We walked around Grant Park and had fun taking photos of the "Silver Bean".  The kiddos enjoyed the pics we texted back to NoVa. 

I had a great time seeing Chicago and watching the joy in my cousin's face on her big day.  And it would be a lie if I didn't tell you that I loved time alone with the best boyfriend ever - Hubby!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Leaving On A Jet Plane

Some might say I over-pack.  I like to think that I will be ready for anything!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

No Need To Be Smug

I should have know better!  I walking around yesterday feeling all smug.  After L and I had taken down all of the Halloween decoration down I placed them on our dining room table.  I looked over everything with a keen eye.  For many items it was their last year of "service".  It felt so good to get rid of pieces that where not used or past their prime!  Then I reorganized the way they were stored.  After Hubby kindly placed all of the tupperware back in the basement I was feeling good.

Fast forward to this week.  I thought I might take some photos of how I used the magnolia leaves that I purchased at the town farmers market.  Nothing too fancy.

But I noticed a problem when I stepped back....

Every time a holiday is over and I really think that I have gotten everything packed away - that is when I find one rouge item.  Like clock work!!!

And of course the tupperware bin I needed was on the very bottom of a brunch of bins.  Oh well!  It was a good reminder that to get too smug.  No one is perfect...

But Old Bay and sweet potato fries are perfect! Then again, you would be hard pressed to find ANYTHING Old Bay doesn't make perfect!

Awesome Stuffing

Today was a great day!  It is a day I look forward to year after year.  And no I am not talking about my Gram's Thanksgiving stuffing.  Today about 40 ladies and myself stuffed over a thousand invitations before noon. All for the Catholic Charities Balls 2013.  I love working with women that get the job done!

As a Co-chair, it was awesome to walk in with all these empty tray and leave knowing that they were filled!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

We Have Issues

One of the biggest "issues" I have had to deal with has been my children's food issues.  B can not eat gluten, fish or shellfish.  L cannot eat peanuts (and we also avoid tree nuts as a result) or eggs.  And to top it all off, M is the world's pickiest eater.  So the way I look at it I could either give up and cook chicken and rice every night or I could come up with "recipe tweaks".  Since I love to cook and would be bored to death eating the same thing night after night, I happily choose the latter of the two.

Take dinner last night. I was in the mood for beef stroganoff.  Great comfort food!  The problem was  from North to South, Martha Stewart to Paula Deen, all of the recipe called for flour or Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup.  Both would have made B sick, so I came up with a recipe that used safe ingredients but had the same flavoring as Martha and Paula's recipes.

Beef Stroganoff Tweaked

1.5 pounds beef, cubed
8 oz baby bella mushrooms
1/2 yellow onion
1 can Progresso Creamy Mushroom Soup
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and paper to taste 

1.  Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or other heavy pot.  Add cubed beef and brown on all sides.  Salt and pepper to taste.

2.  While beef is browning, blend Progresso Creamy Mushroom Soup in the blender until smooth.  (Progresso CMS is gluten free and is a great substitute for Campbell's in many recipes.)

3.  Take browned beef out of dutch oven and place aside.  Turn heat down and add the onions to the pot.  After about two minutes add the baby bellas.  Once mushrooms and onions are soft stir in the sherry.  Bring to a boil.  

4.  Finally add the browned beef and blended soup.  Simmer until you are ready to eat.  Can be served over egg-noodles (for Hubby, M and myself) or gluten free noodles (for B and L).

Yes I created more work for myself.  And yes I had to clean extra dishes.  But it was so worth it!!!

Happy Tweaking! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Girl Power

I suggested  B try field hockey for her fall sport last year.  She had been playing soccer every fall and spring since she could run.  It was time to try something new.  It had nothing to do with the fact that I played field hockey in high school at all!!!

The only thing I love more than playing field hockey is watching my daughter play! As a result, this weekend was a bittersweet.  B played in two great games - one even ended in a shoot-out.  I was so nervous that you would have thought that I was on the team too!

Not my best photography work but B scored!  There really is nothing like watching your child play a sport they love and work so hard at.  Saturday was a great end to a great season - so sad it had to end.

So proud of this girl!!!


...This is what happens when you give a four year old the camera in between games.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Crazy Busy

We had a super busy weekend but it was filled with so much fun!  We were able to get more fun out of this weekend than one can get out of a week!

Friday night was pizza night.  Homemade cheese, sausage and gluten free pizza.  Some might find that boring but it works for us.  The next day we went to a local farmers market.

Not going to lie to you, these gluten free brownies are unreal!!!!  I keep trying to get the recipe but I fear it will never happen.  Next we got some magnolia branches for me to use around the house.  Is it weird that I have been in love with magnolia leaves since I first saw "Steel Magnolias" in NJ?  I can't wait to use them around the house.

B had her last two field hockey games early Saturday evening then Hubby ran in a Turkey Trot early Sunday morning.  Plus we had CCD!  So glad we were able to finally relax with friends at a local vineyard later.

While we adults chatted and sipped wine, the kids had a great time playing. A beautiful view and great family friend - it does not get much better than that!

It was such a perfect end to a busy yet fun weekend!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Great Day For A Race

Our town has held a Turkey Trot on Veterans Day for the past eight years.  It has always been a super fun race for two great causes   Today's race benefited Sweats 4 Vets and our local community center.

After we watched Hubby start his race we looked for the Sweats 4 Vets donation box.  The we got great seats at the finish line.  I knew that Hubby was going to have a fast race and I did not want to miss his finish.

As we waited for Hubby the boys turned their cow bells into "light sabers".  What is it with boys and turning everything into a light saber!?!

Hubby had a strong finish (second place) and a PR.  What more could one man ask for?  And his biggest fan was so proud of his dad.  It was a melt your heart kind of a moment.

If your town is not holding a Sweats 4 Vets there are still many ways that you can give to those who have given us so much.  If you have leftover Halloween candy you could donate it to our troops through  And who does not love to get a letter in the mail!?! You can write to our troops through and  Plus there are a ton of other great ways to reach out to our troops; past, present and future 

Happy Veterans Day!
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