A few new things

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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!

xo

Winter Knits

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!

Winter Essentials

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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

Baking on Mondays with Norah

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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!!!

Sunday

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Christmas was put away on Sunday morning. We then headed to the Bandywine River Museum for the afternoon and ended the day with a Downton Abbey hot chocolate party. Did you watch?