February 2019

Welcome to February!  Many of us are experiencing a very wintry start to the month much like the image above, which was my yard not too long ago.  Winter can be tough and seem long, but it can also be beautiful and fun.  I always encourage getting outside.  The cold, fresh air can be invigorating and a real pick-me-up way to start the day. February allows me to pull out the Valentines Day décor which I always find pretty and cheerful.  Look at an inspired Valentine’s place setting under “Entertain”, plus links on how to create a similar look. This month I’m adding new features to the blog in an effort to enhance my readers experience.  I’ve added an email sign up, so please do!  I promise to not inundate your inbox with needless information.  Just occasional updates or special offers.  As usual don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions regarding how-to’s, products, or anything!  So, don’t let excessive snow deter you – get outside and enjoy February!

Look for this cut-out recipe for your Valentines fun.

January 2019

The whirlwind of the holiday season is officially behind us.  A time for a little nostalgia perhaps?  I like to reflect back on all the festivities, family and friends entertained and visited, memories made.  Such a wonderful and full time of year.  Then, in slips quiet January.  Personally, (I have mentioned this before) I don’t like the pressure of “New Years” resolutions.  Instead, I like to think of things I may want to accomplish sometime along the way, perhaps sign up for that cooking class I’ve often thought about.  If it happens, great! If not, no worries, I’ll attempt it another time.  I am a firm believer that everything happens in it’s appropriate time.  We just have to be open to the challenges and opportunities that come our way.  This January marks the one year mark that my blog was officially web-optimized and it has been a learning and growing process all along the way.  It was a challenge and one I welcomed.  I hope you are enjoying it.  Each new year opens new opportunity for personal growth.  Make this your year and make every day great!  Happy New Year to you all.

December 2018

Ahh, December, the month of so many holidays, traditions, festivities and celebrations.  When else do we set aside almost a full month for decorating, shopping and preparation? For many it can truly feel overwhelming at times. I say, turn down the noise.  December can be such a beautiful month, a month of reflection.  Each day getting closer to the end of the calendar year.  Thanksgiving may be behind us, but I suggest taking some time out of each day to be grateful for someone or something that has brought joy into your life.  Enter December with a calm determination to enjoy every day.  If you are hosting any holiday fetes, remember to read my tips for ease of entertaining and try some of my tried and true recipes!  I wish you all a beautiful and peaceful holiday season.

November 2018

Its hard to believe that we are already into the last two months of the year.  With Halloween just behind us, for me it feels like the unofficial start to the holiday season, that is, all the celebrations between now and New Years.  My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving.  I love planning the menu, the prepping, the cooking, and having friends and family over to share a lovely meal.  It really is such a beautiful holiday, celebrating thankfulness and gratitude – with no gifts! November also slips us into the quieter season of winter.  We spend more time indoors creating a warm and cozy home as the weather outside becomes colder and days shorter.  I have added some more of my favorite recipes – try the Cream of Roasted Cauliflower Soup, a great warm up at the end of the day.  Also, look for my tips on making Thanksgiving stress free as well as some menu suggestions.  And remember, I always advocate getting that holiday shopping done early.  Click on any of the links to bring you to Amazon and look for some special promotions I will be uploading soon.  As always, feel free to reach out to me.

October 2018

Bittersweet. I guess a good term to describe this month. I find people fall (no pun intended), into one of two categories with Autumn, they either love it or maybe, not so much.  Like the bittersweet vine pictured above, some plants come into their full beauty in the fall.  This humble vine goes pretty much undetected all summer until the leaves drop and these beautiful colors appear.  I have often said that I feel like New Years should be September.  Children go off to school/college – new grade, new school perhaps, fresh start.  So too each year as parents we re-define ourselves whether we realize it or not.  Adjusting to the new schedule, the one less plate at the dinner table, etc.  We can use this opportunity to come into our own.  Maybe a little more focus on ‘mom’.  Pick up a new project, make a vow to take more walks.  What ever you need to re-set your compass just a little, fall is the perfect time to let your beautiful colors show!  I’ve added several new recipes, especially some delicious apple desserts.  Look for this Dutch Apple Pie recipe, super easy, I promise you!!  And as always try hitting some of the great promos being offered by Amazon on my site, I often show product links that offer the same or similar products that I use!

September 2018

And once again, it is September.  The other day I stood and watched the day slowly disappear.  That subtle transition from day into night.  I noticed how the sun sets in a different location now and much earlier as well, the quiet in nature with just the sound of crickets singing their evening song.  These are the days of gathering and planning for the turn, once again, from warmth to cold, shortened days and crisp autumn air.  I anticipate putting the summer décor away and pulling out the pumpkins.  Time for apple picking and making all kinds of kitchen creations with them!  The sweet scents wafting through the house.  Saying good bye to summer is certainly bittersweet in so many ways, but embracing Autumn and all its colorful glory is exciting and rewarding!

A reflection for my son….

We just dropped off our son for college the other day.  Even though he is not the first to graduate, the emotions are just as predictable.  Regardless, I am feeling extra melancholy.  Why is this so tough for me?  The answer should be obvious.  My beautiful boy was born with congenital heart disease.  After 3 surgeries before he turned 3, he grew into a strong and busy “all boy” who loved long cargo shorts, dirty flip-flops and t-shirts over what he called “handsome clothes”. Fast forward 18 years to the present day young man who can be charmingly sweet and typically teenage moody.  I am so proud of all that he has become…….

So my dear William, I want to send you off with some sage advice.  You know I had always believed in making every day your best, set the table for dinner, use your ‘pleases’ and ‘thank you’s’ abundantly, dress properly before you leave the house, etc.  It was all about setting your standards and self discipline.  You have the power to make your choices and those choices can be life-changing.  Life isn’t about having dreams, it’s about creating them.  I had always known family was what I wanted and I was going to be the best mom and wife I knew how to be.  Life obviously threw me some curveballs but I have gotten stronger, more sympathetic, more patient and more tolerant than I’d ever thought I could be because of them.  So learn and grow from adversity that comes your way – it already has and is bound to again.  Your family will be your roots to support you as you grow in your journey and never loose your curiosity and your humor.

I’ve grown and learned so much from my children.  We like to think that we teach them, when in reality they teach us. Yes, raising children is the hardest job out there, but I’d give a kings ransom to start all over again. So as I watch you, my dear son, cross the stage, gather up your diploma and move on into the next exciting faze of your life, through blurred, teary eyes, I will silently wish for the days when I tucked you in at night in your little zip up sleeper and simultaneously look forward to all that awaits you in the future.

Love, forever,

Mom 

August 2018

It always amazes me how quickly the summer months slip by.  Do they?  Or is the old adage really true, that the older you get the faster the time flies. I remember as a child there were days that time seemed to stop altogether, and waiting for your friend to come out and play, “after they’ve finished their chores”, seemed like it might as well be tomorrow! I think it is a combination of both. As adults there is more to juggle, family, work, home and not to mention countless activities. Children don’t think about all that, they live for the moment, days end when they end and they are pros in packing as much fun into 24 hours as they can! So naturally the long days of summer are sheer joy! And here we are in August and I’m finding myself nostalgic once again. Everywhere I turn there is the constant reminder that summer will soon end, school supplies are out, talk of the NY State Fair (which ends on Labor Day), back to school commercials, etc. This August I vow to think more like a child. I will enjoy each moment fully. I won’t let the forboding of summers end loom over me. I encourage you all to do the same. There are 4 and a half weeks this August, plenty of time to fill with memories and fun! Get out there and grab it!

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July 2018

Once July hits, I am always reminded of the song “Dragonfly Summer” by Michael Franks, “let the world wait as we procrastinate, its too hot now”.  All the lyrics are just magical the way they “paint” the visions of summer into our imaginations.  July truly is deep into summer.  Plans for vacations, family reunions or just heading out to the camp are in full swing as we (especially here in the northeast) try to fill all of these wonderful sun-filled days.  I will admit, summer can seem to be a bit of a rush and I am guilty of not taking more lazy days to myself, something I am working on.  I am going to heed my own advice of slowing down just a little.  Taking a moment to flip through a magazine or read a book or try a new recipe using all the wonderful fresh produce available now.  Look for some of my favorite salad recipes in the ‘From the Kitchen’ section.  And yes, look up Michael Franks, Dragonfly Summer, I guarantee it will have a place in your summer tunes play list!

Look for the link to Michael Franks here.  Just click on the July 2018 heading.

June 2018

I originally posted this last July as my reflection for that month.  Ironically, a year is about to pass and our country is currently having communications with North Korea.  How much can happen in a year.  My own son is graduating and it once again makes me think of how one action can change the course of a life forever.  I felt it fitting to honor the memory of Otto Warmbier one more time.

Anyone who is a parent knows that there is an undisputed unifying bond that connects us all.  We feel it the day that newborn is laid into our arms, we are immediately, undeniably forever changed.  Life continues and we develop a common sympathy with other parents regarding their trials and tribulations.  How many of us remember that feeling of handing your child the car keys for the first time??  To those of us with a son, or sons, teenage or young adult – how common those ambitious, beautiful (like Otto), ‘eager to take on adventure’ and also ‘quick to accept a dare’, wrapped up with a lot of naivete and a little bit of ‘crazy’, young men.  Believe me, I’ve got one!  That said, there is another even stronger parental connection, it is the one that unites all those who have lost a child.  Our connection is deep, we instinctively know the tremendous amount of “grief work” the other has gone through or is about to embark upon.  We are connected across the physical miles by human compassion and pain.  We can physically feel the angst of other parents over and over again, each time we hear of tragedy……it never goes away.   I followed Otto’s ordeal from the very first day he was ever mentioned in the news.  I worried for him every day and wondered if anyone else did as well.  I felt as he were my son and I was another one of his parents.  So imagine my elation when that boy returned home.  And like any other parent, hope against hope, prayed for a miraculous recovery that was not to be had.  I felt the life pass from my body once again, when I heard the news that Otto was gone to us all.  To see the Warmbiers enduring such heartache and exhibiting such grace before the world was crushing.  Then the inevitable onslaught of opinions – some unfortunately, negative.  And here is my very point.  How many of us look back at our younger selves and wish we could erase some of the “less than smart” things we’ve done.  How many of us have young adults – sons or daughters, that take risks we’d rather they didn’t.  It is a parents’ duty to raise our children as strong, compassionate, respectful individuals, with a good moral compass and enough sense to make good choices.  Then slowly we sense their need for independence and we have to step back and allow them to fail, learn from their mistakes and eventually soar.  It doesn’t take a lot of insight to see that the Warmbier’s did that job with perfection.  I don’t personally know the Warmbiers, but I know them well enough as a parent that if they could change anything to avoid what happened to their dear son they would in an instant without any hesitation.  And as time will ever so slowly soften and dull the sharp ache they have now, eventually they will come to accept that ache as part of them, because oddly enough, that ache will connect them to Otto.  I strongly discourage becoming a ‘blame seeker’, it serves no purpose.  Instead look inside yourselves and imagine if these circumstances were your own.  Have human sympathy for the Warmbier family and remember Otto simply, like so many families, as their beautiful son and brother. Peace.