Monday, February 28, 2011

Daily quote...

"The best mirror is a friend's eye"
                           ~Gaelic Proverb


J'adore le Chocolat!

So, here's the thing... I'm an addict! To chocolate that is! Second on the list to coffee, gotta have my coffee! If you love chocolate as much as I do... you can't get anymore "chocolate" than a flourless chocolate cake! I didn't mess with this recipe that I found on foodnetwork, because like the sayin' goes..."If it ain't broke don't fix it!" Well, it definitely AIN'T broke!!! But, who knows... I may once again get creative in my baking skills...

Let's begin with the ingrediants!

-Non-stick butter spray
-4oz bittersweet chocolate chopped
-1 stick cold butter
-1tsp vanilla extract
-2oz Frangelico
-3/4c sugar
-1/2c cocoa powder, sifted
-3 eggs beaten
-4oz semi-sweet chocolate choped
-1/2c heavy cream

-Preheat oven to 375*
-spray 8" round pan
-combine chocolate, butter, vanilla, and frangelico in a bowl over a double boiler
-Stirring frequently until smooth

-Remove from heat
-Place bowl in ice bath
-Mix in sugar and cocoa powder
-stir in eggs
-pour batter into pan

-make ganache while baking
    -put chocolate inot large bowl
    -heat cream until hot to touch
    -stir into chocolate
-remove cake from oven
-invert onto sheetpan lined with parchment paper
-pour ganache over cake
-garnish berries (optional)

Can't wait to daintily dig in...


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Goose formation!

"As geese flap their wings, they create an uplift for the bird following. By flying together in a V formation, the flock's flying range is 71% greater than that of any bird flying alone!
When we share a common direction and sense of community we can get where we are going more quickly and easily because we are traveling on the energy of another.
When a goose falls out of formation; it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to fly alone, and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the birds in front.
When we have as much sense as geese, we will stay in formation with those that are headed where we want to go; we will be willing to accept their help as well as giving theirs to others.
The geese in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. When the lead goose gets tired it rotates back into formation and another goose flies out to the point position.
When we take turns doing hard tasks, when we encourage others, we become stronger through shared leadership.
When a goose gets sick or wounded, two geese drop out of formation and follow it to help and protect it. They stay with it until it is able to fly again or dies. They then launch out on their own to find another formation or to catch up with the flock.
When we have learned the value of teamwork, we too will stand by each other and remember to drop back to help those who need it."

-Author unknown

Friday, February 25, 2011

Basement Find!!

So I've been browsing alot lately....looking for unique and/or vintage item and ideas to spruce up my home. I've been wanting some old glass bottles....some of various sizes, to use as decoration as well as for vases for all those pretty spring and summer blooms I've been daydreaming about picking from my garden. I had come to the conclusion that, because I really did not want to spend much money on them, I'd have lots of yardsales to look forward to come spring. Well, the reality of a New England winter became clear when I had to go check to make sure our sump pump was doing it's job between the rain and the snow melting. While in the basement, thinking about how much I'd love to not be, something caught my eye.....
Behind all of my husband's various tools and odds and ends, were 4 very....very old glass bottles sitting side by side on a ceramic tray. I have NEVER seen them on my many trips to the basement in the past 7 years of living here. I can only assume, by the amount of dust and dirt on them, that they had been there long before we moved in and then became buried by our belongings. I was so excited that I didn't need to go far to find something I've been searching for.... expand on one of Ashley's previous posts, to find simple treasures you can ALSO look to what you already own, and perhaps have forgotten about....or look around in spaces such as the basement or attic for items that may have been left behind by previous owners.

a bit dirty still...but with a little scrubbing, they will be nice a shiney

love the contrast in sizes and shapes! they sparkle in the sunlight

they will make perfect vases for those random small flowers that don't quite fit in a bouquet

Happy Hunting!!!

P.S. When I figure out where exactly I'm going to put them...and what I will use them for, I'll post an updated picture! In the meantime, I just HAD to share. stay tuned.


Rainy Day Blues?

Yuck! It's no wonder why I didn't want to get out of bed today...with all the snow melting from this rain, it just looks plain ugly outside! But what can be more fun than staying inside, cuddled up on the couch with my babies (in our PJ's) all day?! are some rainy day ideas for all those mommas out there:
Perhaps some board game fun? Depends on how old your chicks are... it may be a stretch for Candyland to compete with a 360!

 Creating their own playdough from scratch is a project that will surely capture their minds (at least for a little while). Not only is it something different to do, but it doesn't involve packing everyone up for a trip to the store to needlessly spend money.The ingredients can be found right inside your own pantry, making this project 100% kids safe. Boys or girls? It doesn't matter. You can just add a little food coloring to dye the playdough to whatever their preference.
 What kid doesn't like to get a little messy and have some fun once in a while?

Homemade playdough recipe:
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup salt
1 teaspoon oil
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
*Add food coloring of your choice.

Turn off the T.V. and turn up the tunes. Plug in your ipod for a dance party right in your very own living room!

Here's an activity for the older kiddos. Make your own little figurines using a bar of soap. I find that Ivory soap works best for this (and I just love the fresh scent), but you can use any soap bar you have in your linen closet. Monitor your children while they use butterknives to create their own figurines of their choice (animals, army men, dolls, etc.)
Lunch Time! For a yummy meal, have your little ones make their own personal pizzas using english muffins, tomato sauce and mozzerella cheese.

After a messy lunch, it's bath time..bubble bath that is. Dump some toys (that need to be cleaned) in the tub with your kids, give 'em a sponge and let them do the dirty work. Voila...Clean toys!


Daily quote...

"It is not length of life, but depth of life."

 -Ralph Waldo Emerson


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Daily quote...

" Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in highheels"
                                                                                          ~Faith Whittlesey


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Make it your own... Embroidery!

        This is a craft that you can make for under $10! Not only is it cheap to create, it's relaxing, and most importantly, adorable!
        I like to keep it in the embroidery hoop, but you can frame them as well! The fun part about it is that you can do absolutely anything! I love to make funky looking flowers, but you could make animals, teacups, trees, or just a pretty design... the great thing about do it yourself decorations, is that each creation is a reflection of each person's unique style!

        To start, you will need to purchase your supplies at your local craft store: 
1.) emroidery hoop
2.) fabric
3.) embroidery floss
4.)sewing needle
5.) scissors
6.) glue

Start by placing the fabric in the hoop, and secure it nice and taut! You can draw the design lightly with a pencil or with a dissapearing ink pen. There are also patterns, but I prefer to make a creation uniquely my own. Next, Thread the needle, and begin sewing your design. You can do a basic stitch, or if you want to learn a fancier stitch, you can learn by typing how to's on! Some of the fancier are the french knot, chain stitch, fly stitch, and many more...
After your creation is finished cut the excess fabric around the hoop, leaving about a half inch of fabric!
Then glue the fabric to the inside of the hoop!
Let it dry and... Voila!
Beautiful wall art!

Have fun creating! Here is a sneak peek of the next fun creation...
Can you guess what it will be? Well I'm not telling, be sure to come back and find out!!!


Monday, February 21, 2011

Rockaby Baby

One of my biggest challenges this year was to create a unisex bedroom for my two kiddos. Composing an arrangement of decor that captures a little boy's heart, but also being angelic enough for a baby girl can be daunting. To solve this problem, I broke the process down into three simple steps: Paint color, furniture, and decor.
With the room empty, I was able to concentrate on what feel I wanted this room needed to have and begin my color search. After much thought (and countless hours scavenging through numerous paint swatches), I opted for a neutral color scheme with plans to incorporate bright bursts of color.

I felt bright white furniture was the best path to choose because it contrasted well with the wall color, (Benjamin Moore, Alexandria Beige). Another good reason I went with white is that if you are painting some pieces of the furniture yourself, it is not hard to change it to another color (white can be colored over easily as opposed to...say MAGENTA!).

Finally, my favorite part of the project...the decor! Most people feel a greater appreciation for any project when they have worked hard on it and have, in some way, made it their own. I am one of those people. I would call my style an interpretation of shabby chic and eclectic: Ashley Chiclectic haha, jk. I like to use an assortment of items that may not all be parts of matching sets, but somehow find ways to work together in a room. Half of this is due to my personality, and the other is due to my finances. Most times, exactly what you are looking for is in an expensive magazine and gives you the fuel to search for it at a more affordable price (everyone has their own definition of affordable). While I love the Pottery Barn's and Williams-Sonomas of the world, I can't always afford to shop them. Resources I have found to become valuable are The Christmas Tree Shop, Homegoods, A.C. Moore, yard sales, or even a parent's attic. It takes a little more time to shop this way, but you will see the savings in the end.
I love to incorporate meaningful items into my decorating (I smell a new post idea brewing in my head!). The white bookshelf below that displays Ella's pretty hats and Christopher's books, once held my own girly treasures when I was young.
Sadly, my grandmother passed away in 2005, before both of my children were even conceived. I like to imagine that she is in heaven looking over my family, espicially my children. One of the only items I have of my grandmother's is a journal of her poems and letters, which I cherish. Copying and framing a poem of hers about the joys of having granddaughters incorporates a bit of her beauty into the nursery.
When my husband was young, his grandmother created this piece of art for him. 28 years later, it now sits on our son's (Christopher Matthew, Jr.) dresser. I love the story behind it as well as the uniqueness of it.
The result? A cozy and playful nursery for the loves of my life! Well, at least I hope...What do you think?


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Daily Quote...

"I am woman! I am invincible! I am pooped!"

                                ~Author Unknown


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Daily quote...

"Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn." -Gore Vidal


Friday, February 18, 2011

Simple Joys

The baby is FINALLY down for her afternoon nap. Now to start pondering what I'm going to shove in my face for lunch. (Not very ladylike....but very honest) Of course I want to eat healthy....but what can I make quickly? hmmm? SALAD, perhaps?!?! A smile comes over my face as I start rummaging through my refridgerator for ingredients. I am realizing that my creativity can seriously come into play in the making of this salad....the colors, the flavors, the combinations, the balance. I am in heaven!! This may seem strange to some, but I have come accustom to really thinking about the effects of what I eat.  3 pregnancies and 3 nursing babies....enough said. But, in turn,  I have really come to enjoy making and eating healthy meals for the pure benefit of others......just so we're clear! LOL!!

Organic baby spinach is a staple in our house. We use it for most every salad, in tomato sauce...and even in omelets.

Add a little color....a red, yellow or orange pepper. Avocados are a must in my house. All 3 of my daughters love them!! A good fat, who knew.

The little critters who also share our home, our pets, also benefit from my salad making....with the exception of the dog.

Add some crunch...some nuts, some dried fruit.....and something salty, like crumbly cheese. I prefer an olive oil based dressing....The possibilities are endless!! Savor the simple joys of life.....and be sure to follow your big healthy salad with a big piece of chocolate. Life is all about balance.


P.S. Marli woke just in time to share!!

Daily quote...

"If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking."  ~Buddhist Saying

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Forgot Breakfast? Brunch Anyone?

How many mothers out there wonder where there morning goes? We rush around to get the older kids dressed, fed, lunches made and off to school. Then hurry around to do what can't be done once the baby wakes for the day. We may have similar mornings.....where some aren't so blessed with babies who sleep in. But all the same, the clock strikes 11:00 AM and we hear the belly grumble realizing that breakfast time has come...and gone. Brunch it is!! In this case, I become creative, a bit jittery from too much coffee, yet still creative. This is what I came up with on one of many mornings where, well, the morning slipped through my fingers...
Everyone has a half a loaf of crusty bread hangin out from lastnight's dinner of stew or pasta right? Well, cut a few slices...

We always have a bowl of fresh fruit out on the counter for our girls to grab for a quick, healthy snack. Grab one too.....I suggest red or green apples or pears are also delicious!

I always have a little crumbly cheese leftover from a salad I've made....usually gorgonzola, bleu cheese, or feta....but you can use cheddar too. One suggestion, maybe save the wine until the clock hits noon.

thinly slice the apple....or pear and place on bread

layer with your favorite little or as much as you'd like

Put under the broiler for 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melty and bread is as toasted as desired...and PRESTO...Brunch is served!!! And it's a balanced breakfast, ahhh, I mean brunch, too! Use your imaginiation and you can make the amazing and delicious creations. Enjoy!!



Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"Practice" dress

I just HAVE to share my "practice" dress with everyone! I am super proud of it, because like many I'm sure... sewing is a scary project to take on when you have very little knowledge to begin with! I took my time, did everything step by step, and I'm very happy with the finished product! I will be making another shortly and will be posting pictures of each step, to help those as intimidated of a sewing machine as I once was...
Here is my creation a few steps before the finished product!

Finished product!

I think she is happy with it!

Yes, I'd say so...

More to come, so stay tuned...