A few new things






Just a few new things around the home to share with you…

Chris made me that beautiful coffee table for Christmas which now lives up on the second floor in our loft space. It’s so nice to have a place for our feet to rest upon, stacks of books, a space for board games, and our Downton hot chocolate parties!

My mama gifted me a set of those lovely iron sconces for Christmas this year. She overheard my love for them while we are away at Shehawken this summer visiting here. She’s so sneaky!

I have been on the look out for some new linens and found an amazing lot of napkins with beautiful embroidery work along with that tablecloth while thrifting last week. I will be using my antique wooden ironing board on a weekly basis!

We are off to sunny Florida in a few hours. I will be posting photos here all week.

Have a lovely weekend my friends!


Winter Knits






I have been busy knitting this winter and was thrilled to finish several projects to give as gifts this Christmas.

~Hannah had picked out the bandana cowl from The Purl Bee and it proved to be a big hit and the perfect style for my almost teen! Both Norah and Chris now want one too.

~Norah wanted a “slouchy” hat so I made this pattern and it hasn’t left her head since I gave it to her. She was actually wearing it the other night with her pajamas.

~I made this cabled hat for my sister for Christmas with a thick merino/mohair blend. This hat was hard for me to give up. It is so cozy and warm.

~Norah is modeling one fingerless mitt of a pair (that is not quite finished) from this pattern. These will be for my sister-in-law whose birthday was back in the beginning of December. She was so distraught when she lost one of the mitts I had knit for her many years ago that I had to knit her a new pair. I plan to finish the other one poolside next week as we are heading to Naples Florida for the week to visit Chris’s parents!

Black Bean Brownies






Last Monday Norah was away on a trip with friends so we didn’t get to making bagels. We are excited for the opportunity to visit our favorite bagel shop in town next week to help make a batch so we decided before we brave our way through making our own we would wait to get some tips from the professionals.

Today Norah wanted to bake brownies.
Because she really enjoys watching cooking tutorials (as do I) we skimmed the Martha Stewart site and became intrigued with a recipe made with black beans.

It was a simple recipe with a short list of ingredients all of which we had on hand.
These brownies are decadent, chewy, rich, moist and fudgey.
And taste great with a cold glass of milk.

Salad Bar Night







Last night was dinner with Izzy and it was my turn this week.
I have written before how we love salad bar night around here and it’s even more fun when we can share it with guests.

Last night I put on the works and served an array of toppings including bacon, avocado, shredded carrots, cucumber, pickled beets, hard boiled eggs, slivered almonds, dried cranberries, tuna, garbanzo beans, edamame and quinoa.
I roasted an entire cast iron skillet of sweet potatoes doused in coconut oil and made a batch of pita chips.

It’s so much fun setting the bar up but it’s just as much fun seeing everybody’s creations.

And there is always a trip back for seconds.

Following the light





Each day I notice a subtle change in the light. I like the pictures it makes in my home. Natural artwork.

What I rely upon when entertaining







Yesterday as I was preparing and setting up to host a few lady friends for a gathering I found myself in a rhythm. I truly love to entertain (maybe that’s where Norah gets it) and have found a routine that I seem to follow as I primp my home for guests.

I always rely upon a few items when entertaining. The tools I use for parties and gatherings are part of my every day decor. I don’t have to rummage through cabinets and closets each time I entertain. Because I buy things that I find beautiful and that I truly love, these items are always out on display and easily accessible.

:: My glass pedestals (all thrifted) live on the top shelf of my open pantry. I have a variety of heights and sizes and love how they look all displayed together. Pedestals look beautiful all on their own holding a cake or quiche or towered on top of one another with cookies, bars and chocolates. I find a table presenting foods at varying heights is pleasing to the eye.

:: Cutting boards, many of which were thrifted, are daily essentials in my kitchen. They live stacked up against one another on my counter top and I have a few hanging up almost as artwork around the kitchen. They are all easy to grab and I find myself reaching for them every time I entertain. They work great for anything that needs to be sliced or forked like meats, fishes and cheeses. I like to add a few bowls with olives and nuts on top. Remember this big cutting board I made! I have a variety of shapes and sizes and love the organic feel they bring to the table.

:: I adore my antique cutlery caddy (thrifted) and have it out on full display in my kitchen at all times. It’s beautiful, functional and versatile, the perfect combination. I keep my antique silverware in it which gets used on a daily basis. When it’s party time I add a few paper napkins on the other side of the silverware, grab the handle and plop it where it needs to go. In the dining room, by the stove for soup, outside on the patio. Makes for easy set up!

Beautiful messes








Sometimes I feel like all I ever do is pick up, straighten, de-clutter, organize, wash up, tidy etc. Lucky for me I do enjoy domestic work although I could live without folding laundry and cleaning the bathroom.

I have a morning housekeeping routine of making the bed, emptying the dishwasher and putting things away left out the night before. But sometimes I don’t get to those things and dishes pile up, beds are left rumpled and floors un-swept.

In a small house un-kept spaces can feel overwhelming. But with a home full of things that I absolutely love and that bring me joy I find even messes can be beautiful.

Winter Essentials










I so enjoy the holidays and there is always a little bit of sadness that creeps in when they are all over but it hit me today that I think January may be my one of my favorite months.

I love the fresh start of a new year. The deep exhale and peace after the busy holiday season. The rituals that bring us close together. Winter vegetables. A desire to bake and try new recipes. And my tried and true list of essentials to help bear the darkness and bitter cold.

:: Candles. I have a 4:30 lighting ritual when darkness sets. I budget in votives and pillars each month to scatter about. They set a warm and cheery mood.

:: Red wine. A glass of red wine (or two) when I am making dinner warms and relaxes me. I am loving Malbec these days.

:: Citrus. I cannot get enough in the winter. We have a neighbor who always sell boxes of citrus right before the holidays to fund raise for various causes. I always order one or two mixed cases of oranges and grapefruit to get us through the winter. We make fresh squeezed orange juice every Christmas morning. My new favorite breakfast/snack is grapefruit, orange, clementine, kiwi and pomegranate seeds.

:: Fire. We always have a well stocked woodpile on our back porch. We light a fire almost every night before dinner and then gather around after to read, play games and keep warm. On weekends the fireplace will sometimes be lit from morning til night.

:: Wool. I love a winter wardrobe. I love layers, boots, vests, socks and sweaters. I couldn’t live without my wool toggle coat, a 40th birthday gift from my mama.
My slippers, socks and boots are all made from wool. I am always on the look out at the thrift store for 100 percent wool sweaters. They may be a bit itchy but they truly keep me the warmest. I only knit with wool and seek out the softer wools like merino and alpaca.

:: Soup. I’ve written here before about my love of soup. It is my all time favorite winter meal. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner (no lie!) I make at least one pot of soup per week in the colder months and it’s a perfect way to enjoy the winter squashes and roots in our weekly winter CSA share.

:: Greens. I crave dark leafy greens all year long but particularly in the winter. Kale, spinach, tat soi, mache all make their way onto our plates in salads or sauteed with lots of garlic to ward off colds and flu.

:: Fresh flowers. Along with candles I also budget in fresh flowers each week in the winter time. They are worth every penny and bring me joy every time I look at them. There is always a bouquet on my dining table and one in the kitchen. I sometimes add fresh flowers into a arrangement on the mantle as well. I like to incorporate them with clippings from the yard. Right now they are mixed in with evergreens. Lately I have been drawn to ranunculus, tulips and eucalyptus.

:: Forced bulbs. You will always find pots of paperwhite and amarayliss bulbs placed throughout my home starting in December. The green growth is a hopeful reminder that spring will soon be here. I like to create little scenes within the pots of bulbs with glass mushrooms, miniature deer, pine cones and moss. In a month or two I will begin to force branches

Life learning






I have had many readers over the years ask me to share here about our homeschooling path and to be honest I have dodged those requests mainly due to the fact that I thought it may be a complicated/personal thing to write about but truly it is all very simple.

Looking back I am not sure why we chose this path but it has always felt like the right fit for our family and runs in alignment with who we are. Both Chris and I never really enjoyed nor excelled in school. We are self taught, hands-on type learners so it made sense to instill this in our own children by experimenting with the unschooling philosphy although, I prefer to call ourselves life learners. I mean we are all life learners right? Each and every one of us learns every single day in all that we do. There is just no way to avoid learning. It’s innate in humans to want to learn at all times.

It’s empowering to think how much we are capable of in teaching ourselves to do anything and everything. Hannah and Norah have both taught themselves how to do so many things on their own including how to read. We do not follow a curriculum of any sort but rather allow our girls to make their own choices about what they learn and when they learn it which in turn lets them pursue their passions and explore deeply those subjects which most interest them. We are always here of course to facilitate and support them. When we notice an interest beginning to bubble we put on our facilitator hats. For instance when Norah began talking about hosting a restaurant at our home I began to ask her questions, prompting her to come up with more ideas.I asked my cousin who owns a restaurant and catering business if we could come and help in her kitchen one day so Norah could get a feel for the restaurant world.

Now it’s not always our job to help the girls with their learning path. Sometimes it’s beyond us, which is why we like to encourage them to find what they are looking for from outside sources. We live amongst an amazing community of people with a wealth of knowledge and talent. We all learn from a diverse pool of people.

We are so lucky to live in a dynamic and vibrant town and to be so close to Open Connections, a natural learning education center, where both of my girls attend 3 days a week and where Chris also works. The girls attend there on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for programing spending days with their Papa while I work my part time job. Chris works as the property manager as well as a facilitator, teaching programs based on nature, science, woodworking, rocketry, archery, etc. It’s a dream job for him and I love that my girls can be right alongside of him in a job that he loves.

As I wrote in yesterday’s post, Hannah has taken on a internship at Open Connections on Mondays tending to the land,the animals and working on outdoor projects. Norah always has an agenda for our Mondays together which will now include baking.

Fridays have turned into our adventure day where we are off on field trips/excursions exploring new places, maybe seeing a play or visiting with friends.

Our week has a nice rhythm with just the right amount of variety. The girls partake in various classes such as sewing and dance and they like to make plenty of time for friends. They are very social beings.

Now this is all not to say we don’t have our bumps and challenges and that I am always a confident homeschooling mama who never worries or frets over whether she is making the right choices or that she may be giving them too much freedom or that she may not be providing her girls with what they need. Oh I do have those moments for sure. But for the most part we take this journey together one day at a time, learning every bit of the way.

The photos above are of Norah yesterday who wanted to paint while her cheesecake was baking.

Baking on Mondays with Norah








Hannah has taken on an internship this year so on Mondays it’s just Norah and I. Norah is a dynamic young lady full of creativity and a passion for cooking, baking, eating and food! She loves to work in the kitchen. She loves to host friends and family for meals and is always concocting up a new recipe. She excels in breaking me out of my “comfort zone” in the kitchen. The other day we were having a friend over for dinner and I was pressed for time and decided to make a vegetable fritatta. Norah insisted (she is a very persistent child) on making a quiche instead. I argued we didn’t have time to play around with a crust nor did I have much experience with quiche but I gave in and we ended up with one of the most delicious meals we have made in a while!

In the new year we thought it might be fun to make Mondays our baking day and to strive to make new things we have never made before. Yesterday we made a new york style cheesecake from this recipe. I have always thought cheesecake was an overly involved and tricky cake with a long list of ingredients but we found it was quite easy and simple really. We didn’t have enough graham crackers on hand so we substituted some homemade gingerbread men left over from the holidays for the crust. We also added a bit more lemon than called for. Santa brought Norah a citrus press for Christmas! It was rich, creamy and delicious with the perfect lemon zing. Norah and I were both beaming as we undid the spring form pan.

Next week…… bagels!!!