Monday, November 30, 2015

My Life, A Summary......As Told By My Christmas Tree

Putting up the tree is always like a wonderful trip down memory lane. I have been collecting ornaments all my life and my tree reflects so many different occasions through the years. 

I'll let the ornaments do the talking. 

Because a girly girl can't have too much sparkle in her life
Our summer trip 2015 to celebrate my sweetie's birthday
The Sagamore 2015 - part of the birthday trip
My Happy Place - 2015
I do love my little birdie friends!
My favorite movie of all time
From my step-dancing days
Because every tree should have a glittery turquoise peacock
Our ski trip to Utah - I tore up my knee that trip - ouch!
A violin from my musical career
I always knew I was Mom's favorite!
I love to garden! I think this might be the only greenhouse I ever own, sadly. 
A tribute to my years on stage
Hello? Glittery rooster? Enough said. 
I have many Vermont ornaments on my tree from all the times I've gone up to visit my daughter in Burlington. 
From one of my many trips to Ireland
The year Lily had her puppies - this is my little Daisy (aka The Monkey)
Handmade ornaments from my girls' early school years
The year both girls went to Prom
The only ornament I have from our family tree - my younger sister has the rest for some strange reason
Foodie ornament - one of many
A tribute to my garden and all my plants

I have about a million more ornaments on the tree but figured this was enough torture for my blog friends for one day!

Thanks for taking this little stroll down memory lane with me - it was great to have you along!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Busy as a Bee

Did you know that Deborah means BEE in Hebrew? 

Via
And that I'm allergic to bees? Well, wasps and yellow jackets anyway...we haven't tested it on bees yet, thankfully!

And I have a postcard on my fridge that is covered in bees?

And my older daughter loves the symbol of the bee?

And both of my daughters love honey but I can't stomach it at all? The smell makes my stomach turn instantly. 

Are you wondering where I'm going with all this?

I'm just trying to tell you that I've been as busy as a bee all weekend.....which is really nothing unusual for me! There are always a million things to do around here!

But I've missed being here and sharing with all my blogland friends! So I wanted to come by and give you a littler recap of what's been going on in my busy bee life.

This was a rare 4 day weekend for me, which I am so very grateful for. Thanksgiving was absolutely fabulous - my sister and brother in law are the best hosts and we always have such a fun time when all 7 of the cousins get together! Such a wacky bunch they are, but my sisters and I get such a kick out of watching them all interact together. The youngest cousin is 8 and the oldest 25 (but acts like 8!) So you can just imagine the goofiness when they are all together!

Friday was HOT here on the mountain top - it was weird weather, topping out about 60 or so, probably more in the sun. 

Via
I tell you, it was tough to get motivated to start decorating for Christmas!! But we put on some nice Christmas music on Pandora and browsed around for some inspirational images online and got started. 

Via
I would love to share some photos with you but apparently my camera is away on vacation right now. Ahem. No comment. 

I'll give you just a tiny sneak peek:


Remember when I bought this? It has the prime location on the tree this year, front and center!

So, the inside of the house is nearly done....I have a bunch of boxes of Christmas decor I haven't used in years that I need to look through and figure out what to keep, what to toss. That will get started today. 

And the outside? I don't really know. I don't like ladders....not even stepstools. I have zero sense of balance. 

I remember painting the hallway in my apartment in the city a number of years back and was on the 3rd step of the stepstool and fell completely backwards with my head landing in the paint roller tray....which of course was full of paint. 

Yup. That's me. The original spazzmatazz. 

So I tend to stay on the ground whenever possible. 

Whatever I do to decorate outside will be easy peasy. And idiot proof. 

Aside from decorating the inside on Friday (which WIPED ME OUT!) it's been non stop around here. Saturday was the last farmer's market/holiday market of the year - see you in May! It was lovely - live music, beer tastings from a brand new local brewery, tons of baked goods, the last produce of the season (mushrooms, garlic, onions, potatoes) and lots of preserved goods. Also local beef, pork, and chicken from two different farms - all organic, grass fed. Wreaths, paintings and photographs from local artists, pottery, hand made soaps and jewelry - you name it! Great day! 

Some of those potatoes, mushrooms, garlic, onions and beef went into a beef stew last night - mmmmmmm - leftovers went home with my sweetie for his lunch today as well as another meal for two that I popped into the freezer. That will be a treat on a snowy mountain evening!

I used this recipe from Once Upon A Chef as a base...only with half as much wine, no water, twice as much broth. And some crushed tomatoes instead of tomato paste....about a cup....because they were already open. It was GOOD!!!!

Via
I also made turkey stock from the Thanksgiving turkey carcass that my sister sent home with me. Same general idea as the chicken broth - just obviously replacing the chicken carcass with the turkey. I only used about half the carcass - the other half is in the freezer for another batch. I started it yesterday around 4 pm and it needs to go at least 24 hours - I'll strain it sometime either this evening or tomorrow morning. 

And the final ripened batch of the giant tomato harvest is on the stove simmering right now, in my easy peasy tomato onion butter sauce. 

I have to admit - I'm kind of glad to be tackling the last of the tomatoes....after all we've been using fresh tomatoes in a million meals since about July! On the other hand, I'm kind of sad, too - supermarket tomatoes just don't compare. Not even close. 

But it's time at this point to have a little break from dealing with the garden harvest.....it was a long, busy season. 

And a long, busy weekend. 

Mountain Mama needs a nap. 

















Saturday, November 28, 2015

Guess Where I Am Today??????

NOT HERE!!!

I am very honored to have been invited by Kris from Junk Chic Cottage to be her featured blogger today for her Saturday Spotlight: Life Behind the Blogger 

Why don't you pop over and join us for a visit? Since we didn't get to catch up since Thanksgiving I would love to see you there!

Saturday Spotlight: Life Behind The Blogger

Thanks again to sweet Kris - what a lovely home she has - make sure you look around for a while while you're at Junk Chic Cottage and take your time - there are so many beautiful things to see!

Grab a cup of coffee and come join us!

Big hugs, 

Debbie

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

The big meal is near and I just wanted to wish 
each and every one of my wonderful blog readers 
a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Via

For each new morning with it's light, 
for rest and shelter of the night, 
for health and food, 
for love and friends, 
for everything Thy goodness sends.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson





Enjoy your time with your precious families and friends....I'll be back on Friday!

Debbie
xo

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Easy Peasy Entertaining - Dinner Party

I love to cook, no secret there. And I really love to share my meals with friends and family. 

But I work full time, and we seem to have a very busy social life. 

It can be hard to find the time to host a dinner party with everything else that is going on in life. 


I actually prefer to host midweek, after work. I have to cook dinner anyway so why not have a few friends over to share? Plus I don't get myself all crazy cleaning unnecessary things in the house like I would on the weekend. It is what it is.....and another bonus? I'm already showered, dressed, and have makeup on! When I host on the weekend the last thing I take care of is me....the house looks perfect but I'm answering the door with wet hair and no makeup on. 

So....what are my secrets for hosting a midweek dinner party?

K.I.S.S. 

Keep It Simple, Stupid!

That's what I tell myself. 

And sometimes I even listen to my own advice!!

Tonight I am hosting dinner for 6. The menu? 

Simple. 

Cheese Board and Cocktails to start. Easy. 

Salad with mixed greens, cranberries, sliced apple, red onion, goat cheese, and pistachios - dressed very simply with olive oil, blackberry ginger balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. 

The Very Best Veggie Lasagna Ever. Remember when I told you about that? And I made a few for the freezer? Yup, that was for dinner parties. I pulled a large one out of the freezer on Sunday and put it in the fridge to thaw. I'll cover it with foil and pop it into the oven when I get home from work. 

And some lovely soft squishy Snowflake Rolls I picked up at the market last night. Yummmmmm!!

Dessert? Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream with Sliced Strawberries. 

Easy peasy, right?

To make things even easier on myself when I get home tonight I did the prep work before I left for work. 


The cheese board is out on the counter with the knives and crackers I need....the grapes are washed and ready....I left out the mixed nuts along with a bowl....and covered the whole thing with a tea towel. 


The big wooden salad bowl and salad servers are out on the prep island along with the dried cranberries, an apple, the pistachio nuts, the olive oil, and the blackberry-ginger balsamic. I forgot the red onion...drat. I hope I don't forget to add the onion to the salad!


The bread basket has a clean napkin liner ready to go, the rolls are left out where I won't forget them, and the foil is right next to them so I remember to wrap them and pop them into the oven when I take out the lasagna. 


I even lined the baking pan in foil already - the lasagna will be put on top of here and popped into the oven - the foil makes cleanup of any bubbling over super simple. 


I trimmed the wicks of all the candles and refilled the dining room table candles that had burnt out. I even left out the candle lighter. 


I took the clean plates and silverware right from the dishwasher this morning and set the table first thing. Kill two birds and all that!

When I get home from work, I will do the following:

1. Cover the lasagna with foil and pop it into a 350 degree oven
2. Run around with the vacuum quickly
3. Put on a good Pandora station that suits my dinner guests tonight 
4. Light the candles 
5. Make sure the lighting is just right for entertaining - not too bright, not too dim
6. Wrap the rolls in foil and leave out some butter to soften
7. Make the salad - I won't dress it until the last minute before serving, however 
8. Make myself a cocktail 
9. Freshen my makeup and hair
10. Play hostess

Done. 

Easy Peasy Entertaining. 

What are your tricks for K.I.S.S. Entertaining?













Monday, November 23, 2015

The Thankful Home

A few days ago I told you about a 7 day thankfulness challenge my daughter wrote about on her blog.


Her sweet words stuck with me as reminder to look around and appreciate the little things we take for granted on any given day. 


This morning I walked out of my bedroom bright and early....the dogs were squeaking to get out and it's Monday morning and I didn't sleep well.....but the sun was shining through the front windows and the house was cozy and warm and all was well with my world. 


And I started thinking about how lucky I am. 


Although things can get a little overwhelming when I don't have enough time off work I'm thankful that I have a job that I like and a boss I adore. 

The firewood tower is almost empty which means I need to bring in wood before work....but I'm so thankful for my beautiful fireplace that keeps my house lovely and warm. 

And strong legs and arms to carry loads of wood up a flight of stairs. I'm grateful for the exercise. 

The laundry that's piled up in my master closet right now means I have plenty of warm clothes to wear. 


And the pantry that I organized yesterday means I have lots of food to prepare for the people I love. 

The linen closet I also worked on yesterday is stocked with paper goods, toiletries, table linens, and fluffy clean towels all of which make my home cozy and efficient. It's the simple everyday things such as this that make me feel at peace in my life. 


The dog hair that I'm constantly vacuuming up means I have two wonderful little furbabies that I love sharing my life and home. And my furniture, which apparently is theirs. 


What about those puppy toys that I pick up ten times a day and throw back in the toy basket? I'm so thankful for those little furry brats - they wake me up at the crack of dawn because they just want Mommy to be able to enjoy a glorious sunrise!



The mess my daughters made downstairs over the weekend reminds me how thankful I am to be able to spend quality time with my two beautiful daughters on a regular basis. Someday I'll be an empty nester and I'll miss their silliness and their busy lives and their messes. 


I won't miss them waking me up in the wee hours when they come home, though. Nope. Mommy needs her sleep!

I am so very thankful for the sweet man that came into my life when I was going through a painful divorce and kept me sane and gave me strength. His strong shoulders supported me through many challenging times over the past 5 years and although we don't live together we do have a committed relationship and I consider him my partner.


My sister will be hosting Thanksgiving once again this year and my other sister will travel from Boston with her little family to join us. The only thing missing will be my parents, who are in Florida for the winter and no longer travel back for the holidays. I am eternally grateful for my wonderful family - we are so blessed.

And I am ever so thankful for the many people who have been stopping by my humble little blog. I feel as if I have a bunch of wonderful new friends and I love reading every one of your comments! They inspire me to keep sharing my thoughts and my simple little life with the folks in Blogland.

I am a truly lucky woman. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Day of Organizing

In anticipation of the busy holiday season ahead I spent the day today organizing some 'behind the scenes' spaces in my house. 

When I moved in (back in April) there were a few areas that weren't organized properly to start with. The house was under construction for a long, LONG time so as I was unpacking I was sticking things in here and there, wherever they fit. 

Now I've been trying to re-do those spaces. To make them work more efficiently, now that I know the house better. 

However, I was NOT feeling it today. This was a busy, busy week with only 1 day off work and that doesn't sit well with me at all. I really need 2 days off in order to be able to take care of everything I need to do around here. 

I felt a little overwhelmed and didn't know where to begin. I  knew I had to spend some time on my pantry - it had gotten out of control and I needed to take everything out and start from scratch. 

So I turned to Pinterest for some inspiration! 

Via
Isn't it amazing how seeing a beautifully organized space can inspire you to get up off your butt and get busy?

This is a dream pantry. 

Mine is not. However, I'm lucky to have one so I'm not complaining!

Via
I browsed around for a while finding motivation and inspiration and then got up and opened the door to my pantry. 

Sigh. Here we go. 

This is what I started with today. 


And this. 


Pretty, right?


Yup. Real life, right there.

Maybe it's not as bad as some but it was definitely not working for me. 

I am absolutely a bit of a neat-nick as I told you here and here. Oh, and also here.  

I need to be able to open doors and drawers and see things lined up neatly and efficiently....not this jumble of bags and boxes and random stuff. 

I started with an over the door shoe organizer I found downstairs that wasn't being used anywhere else at the moment. 


And then I took just about everything out of the pantry and spread it out on the counters. Anything that was out of date got tossed, and everything else went back in....but better. 


The shoe bag was great for gathering some smaller items together where we can find them easily. 

PS - do you think we really NEED 8 containers of nut butter? 

Hmmmm. 


After about an hour or so I had things under control. 

Those little red bins with the labels were actually already in there...buried behind a pile of other bags and boxes. 

The basket on the left is full of containers that hold puppy treats. Spoiled, much?

The little set of drawers under the basket holds backup puppy treats and k-cups for my Keurig. 

Let's face it...running out of either would be a catastrophe. 

It felt so good to get that done I went on to organize the linen closet and tidy up the fridge. 

Whew! I feel much better now! 








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