Friday, March 29, 2013

A Little Help Please

I would love to be writing a witty and fun post yet all of my blog-time has been put towards fixing some issues.  I tried to fix the spacing on my header since "Lobster Meets Peach" was longer than the cute little banner.  I thought I had fixed the issue but no I made it worse.  Now the header is gone and the font for my posts has totally changed.

I don't feel that I am ready for a "custom blog" yet but things needed to look better than they do today!  Any and all advice is more than welcomed!!!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I Googled It

Do you ever Google a recipe based on what you have on hand?  I do all the time and it has lead me to some great recipes that did not included a trip to the grocery store.  Win-win in my book!

I had a ton of frozen blueberries and some buttermilk which lead me to this Google discovery.... (Hubby's note- While I still don't think anything can touch the previously blogged about banana bread these muffins are  incredible.) 

Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of one orange or lemon* (I did not have any oranges or lemons on hand so I omitted this step)
1 extra large egg*, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups  buttermilk*
1/2 cup (120 ml) safflower or canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1 1/2 to 2 cups blueberries* (I used 2 cups of frozen blueberries)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line 18 muffin/cupcake tins.  

In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients.  Start with the flour and end with salt.

In another smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, vanilla and oil.

Just before combining the dry and wet ingredients together, add the frozen blueberries to the dry mixture and quickly mix until all the berries are coated in the mixture.

With a spatula gentle combine the wet and dry ingredients.  Be careful to not over mix since that could make the muffins tough.

Fill each muffin tin with a ice cream scoop.  Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes.  (If you are using fresh berries it should take less time.)  

*These are changes that I made from the original recipe.*

I hope that you enjoy these muffins as much as I did!  And I would love to know if you have had any luck with Googling a recipe based solely on what you had at home.....


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Cousins

Growing up I was blessed to have a ton of cousins that lived close enough that we saw them a lot while we were growing up. I always looked forward to seeing them when I was young and I still love to see them. In fact I might have been a little sad this past weekend when none of them were home in Avon. I felt like I was missing a chance to see a friend in their hometown.

So I was more than happy to host all of my kiddos' cousins yesterday for a little play date. I just love how happy my kids are to have them over.  In fact they even cleaned the toy pit (read basement) without complaining. Note to self, have the cousins over more!!!

After a long 'photo shoot" there was not really a perfect pic but somehow that works for this group. While at times they might be a motley crew they just melt my heart!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Duct Tape Does It Again!

Yesterday was the first day of our Spring Break but it did not feel like Spring at all.  We woke up to more snow than I ever want to see on Spring Break ever again!  It was not an "outside" day so we spent the time working on crafts.

B was kind enough to let me take a ton of pictures of her while she worked on some duct tape coin purses today.  Secretly, I think she loves being a regular feature on the blog!

First B started by cutting four pieces of duct tape about the same size.  Then she cut a fifth piece which she then cut into thirds lengthwise.

B started making "duct tape fabric" just like she did when she made the duct tape bows.  Carefully laying one piece of tape on top of the other piece to make a seam.

Then B takes the last two big pieces and carefully lines them up.  Sticky side is placed onto sticky side in order to create the "fabric".  

Once B has smoothed out her fabric, she folds the bottom up about 3/4 of the way.

Next B takes one of the smaller strips of duct tape and trims it to size.  B uses this piece to wrap the side of the pouch.  She repeats this process on the other side of the pouch.

Then B holds down the top of the duct tape fabric and holds it in place with a left-over piece of duct tape.  (B wanted to let you know that you could also use velcro with a sticky backing too.)  The duct tape clasp can be open and closed many times.  Duct really is a wonder product!!!

Finally, B raided her father's change tray and filled her new coin purse with her Daddy's spare change (Hubby's note- This was news to me as I edited this).  Maybe if I smile as sweet as she does, I could raid Hubby's wallet and start some re-decorating projects.  Dare to dream right!?!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Jersey Shore

This past weekend B and I took a trip up to Jersey to visit with my family. Before we knew it we were at the Shore since there was no traffic at all.  For all those not from Jersey, we call all of our beach towns "the Shore". Once you at the Shore you might take a walk to the beach like B and I did with my father.

I have to be honest and say that I could not believe all the damage still left from Sandy this past October.  My uncle sent us all updates and photos. My Gram had to abandon her home until right before Christmas.  My mother told me that it was unlike anything she had ever seen at the Shore. With all that info I was still not prepared for what I saw.  

There was none of the old boardwalk left in Avon. None at all! I have walked the boards in Avon for my whole life and it was truly heartbreaking to see that there was nothing left. But in true Jersey Spirit, the beach was louder than normal. All of the cranes were working and the beach had a bunch of construction workers.  

I could have been sad that I didn't get to walk the boards or feel the sand but I was not. The Avon beach front might not be at its best and many small business have a very long road ahead but so many people are working to make the Shore even better than it was before Sandy. We call that being "Jersey Strong". We might get knocked down but we always come back stronger than ever!!!! 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Easter Pretties

Slowly but surely this home is getting ready for Easter.  I was able to brighten up the front table with some pretty pink tulips.  And unlike last time, I did double and triple check to make sure no decorations from St Patrick's Day were still out.  But I do have to admit that while moving the living room carpet around I did find some pine needles from Christmas - oh well!

I also put out some colorful Easter candy in jars and a cupcake cloche that I got from Home Goods.  Is it just me or has Home Goods had some great finds some lately?  I feel like I should be going once a week so I don't miss anything.  But I am sure Hubby disagrees!

Hopefully it will warm up a bit for Easter!!!

You can also find me at From My Front Porch and No Minimalist Here

Thursday, March 21, 2013

S'mores Bars

This week my in-laws came over for dinner - they were in need of a "grandbaby fix".  (I have been told that being a grandparent is the best.)  Since I knew that we would be getting take-out for dinner I felt that dessert should be homemade.  I decided to go with Ex-Blogger A's recipe for S'mores Bars.  I have made this recipe both the original way and gluten free.  Either way it is a easy yet super awesome dessert!

S'mores Bars

1/2 cup butter (one whole stick)
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs ***if you are making this with gluten free graham crackers I feel like you will need 2 cups.***
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (L and I were in a chocolate kind of a mood today, so we used 1 1/2 cups)
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  While oven is preheating, cut butter into chunks and place them in 9x13" baking pan.  Place pan into oven until butter is melted.

Once butter is melted, take pan out of oven and sprinkle graham cracker crumbs evenly over the melted butter. Evenly sprinkle chocolate chips over crumbs.  Then evenly pour sweetened condensed milk over the chips and crumbs.  And place in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.  (The condensed milk will get all bubbly on the sides of the pan but have no fear.)

Remove pan from oven and evenly sprinkle marshmallows   Return to oven for 2-5 more minutes.  ***At this point I turn my broiler on and carefully let the marshmallows brown.  But that is just our personal preference***

Allow bars to completely cool before you cut them with a sharp knife.  (I know that is a hard step but they will not cut right unless the bars are totally cooled.)  Then enjoy the gooey chocolaty,  marshmellow-y, carmel-y goodness!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

B Made It!

Yesterday day was a very big day for B.  Not only was it was it the school science fair but she was also expecting big news.  For the past two weekends B has been playing her heart out in the hopes of making her field hockey club's travel team.

I have to be honest and let you know that I had mixed emotions about my ten year old trying out for a travel team.  On one hand I would love for B to play with girls that care as much about field hockey as she does but on the other hand she is only ten!  I fear that my children will not be able to be kids for as long as I was able to and that is heartbreaking.  But after much discussion with B and Hubby we decided to let her try out.  And man did she give it her all!!!

After the last evaluation on Sunday the coaches told the girls that they would hear on Tuesday whether they made the team or not.  Well I am happy to let y'all know that B made the team!  And she is just giddy!!!

Since the "big news" came on a Tuesday and we had to have a quick dinner due to the science fair, I decided to make on of B's most favorite sandwiches: bacon, lettuce and advocado on gluten free bread.  B calls them "BLA" (pronounced "blah") sandwiches which always gets a laugh from her brothers.

Nothing wrong with celebrating with a little bacon in my book!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

This is How I Feel About Winter Right Now

This picture of L totally sums up how I feel about yesterday's snow!  While I love each and every one of the four seasons, I hate it when one comes early or stays too long.  If you ask me it has been too cold for too long. Winter might not officially be over until March 20th but really I am so over it!  

And the worst part was that we did not ever get a delayed opening!!!  Yes it might not have been a ton of snow and ice but still.  All this mom wanted was a little extra time with her kiddos in the morning.  I did not think that was too much to ask for but the school board disagreed with me.  

Coffee and hot cocoa are some much better when you don't have to rush.  Don't you agree?

Monday, March 18, 2013


Growing up there was only one beer that my father would pour on St. Patrick's Day for as long as I can remember - Guinness Stout.  Guinness is also the same beer that Hubby pours for us on St. Pat's year after year.  For the record, where I come from drinking light beer colored green is a sin! (Hubby's note- Outside of Sam Adams Light, light beer in general is a sin.)

The way I look at it you either love Guinness or you don't.  When asked what it taste like I always say that Guinness is like a beer milkshake.  It is so rich and creamy!  But I am sure that my beer snob Hubby and youngest brother might disagree with my description (Hubby's note- I wouldn't disagree and I am a beer snob. Tonight I just wish I had had some Harp to make a half-and-half.) 

No matter what you poured last night I hope you enjoyed your St. Patrick's day.  Slainte!!!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Forcing Spring

Yesterday the sun was shining and there was not a cloud in the sky. Unfortunately it was cold and super windy! Poor L, my great outdoorsman, could not handle the cold wind. So inside we went to take care of some boring chores but atleast we could feel our toes!

After some "boring" cleaning, L and I went to the basement and got our Easter bin out of storage. L got so excited when he saw he Easter basket and I fear he still does not understand how long he has to wait to see if the Easter Bunny leaves him some candy.

We cleaned off the mantel and got to work. First I placed my crystal candle stick-holders on the mantel with white and pink candles. I love the way they catch the sunlight and brighten up the whole room. I added one of my antique mint julip cups with some greens. Finally, L and I placed some of my ceramic bunnies.

There may have been more productive ways to spend the day but after coming home from M's freezing lacrosse practice I was happy to have a bit of Spring in the home!

You can find also find me at Savvy Southern Style and No Minimalist Here

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Birthday Dinner

I love that our children love to play sports and run around outside but I was so grateful that M's lacrosse practice was cancelled on Tuesday night.  Since there was no practice we were all able to sit down and enjoy M's birthday dinner without being super rushed.  Sports have their time and place but a boy does deserve a special birthday dinner if you ask this mom!

We let our children pick what they would like to have for their birthday dinner and I believe that M has picked Moe's for the last four birthdays.  I can't complain - it meant a night "off" from the kitchen!

I am getting worried about how much food we will go through in a week once my two boys are in high school.  I remember how much my younger brothers use to eat and I fear I might need to get a part-time job to cover my boys' food bill!

After dinner, M enthusiastically unwrapped all of his presents.  The picture above clearly shows M's excitement for his new Star Wars Lego set but what the picture does not show is that Hubby is equally excited!  Hubby and M have plans to build this weekend. (Hubby's note- It's a TIE fighter, who wouldn't be excited to build it?)

After presents it was time for dessert.  M had requested root beer floats which was easy enough.  However it was tricky getting a candle to stay straight in the float.  What I learned was that you needed an extra long candle which luckily are easy to come by nowadays.

It was a great dinner for all of us.  Much like Christmas, I so enjoy my children's birthdays.  How wonderful is it to re-live a bit of your own childhood through their eyes?

*I was not sure about not having a formal rug in the dining room but I got over it.  Clean up was so much easier without a rug!*

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Eight Is Great

Yesterday was M's eight birthday and I just can't believe it.  I know that everyone says this but truly time is going by way too fast!  I cannot tell you how blessed Hubby and I are to have him as our son.  He keeps all of us laughing.  M is such a witty boy.  He is also such a caring brother; he always wants his big sister and little brother to be happy.  M always tries his best to make them laugh all through dinner.  (Hubby's note: No one, and I mean no one, can make L laugh the way M does.)

Here are some thoughts from M on his big day:

What would you like for dinner: Take-out from Moe's (Southwest Grill)
Dessert: Root-beer Floats (bless his heart! I did not have to do a thing for M's B-day dinner.  Win-win!)
What is your favorite color: Brown (Who knew? Not this Mom!)
What is your favorite sports team: Orleans Firebirds
What is the best thing about being eight:  "Today feels like Christmas.  I am starting all over.  It feels great!"

*So today when M got off the bus I asked if I could take some birthday photos of him and he said sure.  Then I asked if he would change into a "church shirt" and he said no way.  Since it was his birthday and not mine I said I was ok with it.  But it was not until I started this post that I realized that M is wearing the same shirt in his last "feature".  See, if I was from the South I would never have let that happen!  I promise to do better ladies!*

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Corned Beef and Cabbage

I know that it is not for everyone but I simply love corned beef and cabbage.  Growing up I was sad that my birthday was in the summer and not in March.  I would have loved to have corned beef for my birthday dinner year after year after year.  Oh well!

This past Saturday I knew that we would be home for most of the day so I decided to make corned beef but no cabbage.  I am the only one out of the five of us that enjoyed cooked cabbage so instead of wasting a whole head of cabbage I have been using brussels sprouts instead.  I find that they make a good substitute and I can cook just enough for me.

Corned Beef and Cabbage (Adopted from Betty Crocker Cookbook)

2 1/2 to 3 lbs trimmed corned beef brisket, undrained
2 to 4 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
spice pack from the package of corned-beef
baby carrots
red bliss potatoes
head of cabbage or brussels sprouts (optional)

Place beef in a large covered pot; add juices and spices from the package of corned-beef.  Add enough cold water to cover the beef then add peppercorns and garlic.

Heat to a boil then reduce the heat to low.  Cover and simmer 3 hours or until the beef is tender.

Remove beef and cover with tin foil.  Skim the fat from the broth.  Add potatoes and carrots to broth.  Cover and cook for 20 minutes.  Add cabbage (or sprouts) to the broth.  Cover and cook until all the vegetables are tender.

Erin Go Bragh!

You can also find me at The Girl In The Red Shoes

Monday, March 11, 2013

Busy In A Good Way

We had such a nice weekend!  It was great to see my parents even if it was for such a short visit.  As always, Mom and I started a bunch of projects around the house.  (I don't think that my mom knows how to sit still for more than 2 minutes.)  We moved furniture to make room for my Great Aunt Peggy's Hope Chest.  We looked at fabric for my "new to me" cane backed chair.  Mom also fixed a cracked lamp that I hope to paint this week.  We did so much and I do not have many photos to share.  What can I say, my mom just doesn't understand the need for blog photos!

I plan to store my table linens in the Hope Chest so I don't want to put too much on top of the chest.  Maybe one lamp and some seasonal pieces? And I have a feeling I will have to move some artwork around.  Fun things to think about!

And hopefully this lamp will look good as new after a couple of coats of spray paint.  I plan to use spray paint but I am nervous since I have never used spray paint before.  Does any body have any spray painting tips to share?

I hope you all had a nice productive weekend too!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Gifts from the Homeland

I am a giddy gal!  My parents are coming for a long over due visit and they are bringing gifts!!!  My father graciously went and got a dozen bagels for Hubby, M and myself.  Hubby will simply cut his bagel and put cream cheese on it.  M and I believe in toasting our bagel before we coat it in cream cheese.  And if it was not for Lent we would all be enjoying Taylor Ham and cheese on our bagels. 

As if bagels from Jersey were not gifts enough, my mother is gifting me with my Great Aunt Peggy's Hope Chest.  Can't wait to show you how we style it in its new home!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hippos and Spys

This past Valentines Day Hubby and I gave the kiddos books for their Valentines day treats. All of the kids were super excited for their new books and everyone started reading that night.  B decided to start with Stuart Gibbs' "Belly Up" which I happily read out loud to her when she was so sick to her tummy.  I really got it to the book and was so happy when B finished the book and lent it to me.  For being a "young adult book" it really impressed me!

From Booklist: 

"Henry the hippo is dead. Yes, the signature denizen of America’s newest and largest zoo has been found belly up in his highly, uh, unsanitary habitat (hippos are extraordinarily regular in their habits, so to speak). But there’s worse to come when 12-year-old Teddy begins to suspect it’s murder most foul and—in the fine tradition of mysteries for youth—sets out to solve the crime by himself. Well, he does have some help from beautiful Summer, the 13-year-old daughter of the zoo’s fantastically wealthy owner. Who could have dunnit? Large Marge, the surly security guard who has a cold spot in her heart for Teddy? Charlie Connor, the midget clown who’s hated Henry ever since the testy hippo took a bite out of him? Or could it be a guerrilla act perpetrated by the anti-zoo Animal Liberation Front? First-novelist Gibbs offers no shortage of suspects in his fast-paced story, which deftly mixes humor and suspense. Cleverly plotted—aside from one hippo-sized deus ex machina moment—this book is an auspicious debut that will leave readers clamoring for more. Grades 5-7." 

Belly Up

B and I both loved the book so much we quickly downloaded Stuart Gibb's book "Spy School".  And we both enjoyed that book as well!

Now I need you friends to suggests some "grown-up" books for me!  Can't wait to hear what you suggest....

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Lace Curtain Soda Bread

I grew up in a neighborhood filled with families of Irish decent and they were all proud of that fact.  It was as if the whole neighborhood lived for the month of March.  Corned beef, Irish coffees (for the adults) and Irish soda bread.  Each family had their own recipe for soda bread.  I have to admit that my favorite was not my mother's, it was Mrs. O's recipe from two doors up the street and I must not have been the only one since my mother now only makes Mrs O's recipe each March.

Whenever my mother would bake this recipe for us she would point out how lucky we were since this recipe calls for butter, sugar and extra buttermilk, things that only a "Lace Curtain" family could afford back in the day.

Lace Curtain Irish Soda Bread

4 1/4 cups flour
3 tablespoons white granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoon butter (chilled and cut into small pieces)
1 1/2 cups raisins
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk *I always use whole buttermilk.  If you must, you can use low fat but NEVER use fat-free*

1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and grease two 9 inch cake pans.
2. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. *I use my Kitchen Aid Mixer*
3.  Cut the chilled butter pieces into the dry ingredients.
4. In a separate bowl mix the buttermilk and eggs until combined.
5. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together.  It will be a wet and sticky dough.
6.  Slowly add the raisins to the dough until just combined.
7. Evenly divide the dough between the two cake pans. *I never try to go to the edges of the pan. I just try to make two even mounts in each pan*
8. Bake for one hour.

Since I never try to go to the edges of the pan my loafs of soda bread are uneven but I think that gives it a more home-made feel.  This recipe will stay fresh for a couple of days as long you don't slice it.  For whatever reason, as soon as you slice a loaf it starts to dry out. 

And since Hubby gave up sweets for Lent and it looks like we will be snowed in for a day or two, I quickly sliced up the bread and brought it up to the kiddos' school.  There was no way I was going to be snowed-in with two loaves for soda bread calling my name!!!!

You can also find me at The Girl In The Red Shoes

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Wizard's Brew

The boys and I had the pleasure of going to an awesome science themed birthday party this week for a sweet family friend.  The birthday boy's mother is also a former PC Friar.  I have no idea why we never really got to know each other in college, we had to both move below the Mason Dixion line to become close friends. Crazy right!?!

While I cannot claim to have had anything to do with this party, I had to share some of the details with all of you.  Former Friar S really put a ton of thought and love it this birthday bash.  When we got to the party each child was given a lab coat, name tag, gloves and lab goggles.  All the kids looked so cute!  There was even a little "photo booth" area to capture their smiling faces.

The kiddos all participated in several science experience.  But my boys loved making the "Wizard's Brew" the best.  It was a fun experiment that showed the kids what happens when vinegar and baking soda mix.

Wizard's Brew

Mixing vinegar and baking soda creates lots of tiny gas bubbles.  The bubbles then churn up the dish-washing liquid soap, making even more super fun and messy foam!

Here's what you need:
Baking Soda
Liquid Dish-soap
Glass jar
Food Coloring

Here's what you do:
1. Place the jar on the tray or cookie sheet.
2. Fill the jar halfway with vinegar.
3. Add a couple of drops of food coloring and some glitter.
4. Stir in a good squirt of dish-soap.
5. Add a rather large heaping tablespoon of baking soda, then sit back and let the foaming begin!

Every child at the party just loved this experiment, boys and girls.  I mean what kids does not love to make a mess?  Especially a colorful foaming and overflowing mess!  (By the way, I loved how we used Mason jars.  I stand by my statement that there is nothing that you can't do with a Mason jar!)

And if the Wizard's brew was not cool enough, all of the kids got to watch as the birthday boy's father dropped some Mentos into a bottle of Coke.  M thought it was "cooler than fireworks!"  Both boys were over the moon when they saw that their goodie bags had a stick of Mentos and all of the experiments from the party.  

I have a feeling that as soon as the weather gets warmer we might be doing some Mentos experiments in our backyard!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Jail Break

I think poor Hubby thought I was going to lose it after being stuck home with three sick kids for a full week. (Hubby's note- True.)  So he did not mind at all when I asked if I could not only make a much needed run to the stores this weekend but also stop at a local antique shop that was having an event this weekend.  The poor man might have asked if I was ever coming back as I walked to my car and I might have said "no promises".  What can I say, it was a very long week!

If you live in the greater DC area you must try to make it to the Old Lucketts Store and you really have to make the time to stop by if it is a Design House Weekend.  I could not even begin to guess how many vendors they had this weekend but it was just like a candy shop to me!  There were tents with all sort of finds like the gas station china pictured above to the Design House which was like walking through rooms straight off of Pinterest.  Pretty things to see everywhere and they had something for everyone's different tastes.

As I was leaving the Design House all I could think was that I need a cell number for Balki Bartokomous!  If you have ever seen the "Bronson Pinchot Project" on the DIY network the you totally know what I mean.  That over-sized bust would be perfect for his ever-evolving house, right!?! 

And the best part of my "jail break" was that I found this chair!  Yes it needs a little TLC but for $39 it was just what I was looking for.  Promise to let you know how I fancy this gal up....

You can also find me at Savvy Southern StyleCoastal CharmNo Minimalist Here and From My Front Porch
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