November 24, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

A couple of weeks ago, my mother-in-law sent me a box of fresh cranberries from home. My husband and I grew up in and around the cranberry bogs of the south shore of Massachusetts, and every year she makes sure I get a big bag from the crate full my 85-year-old father-in-law picks himself. My mother-in-law makes batches and batches of cranberry bars. I don't cook with these cranberries. These are special cranberries. I fill a decorative glass apothecary jar and use them as decoration from Thanksgiving on. They make me smile every time I look at them.

For the first time in a long time, we're actually having company this Thanksgiving. Some family members are making the trek so I have lots of cooking to do, as I'm sure you all do. So I'm going to sneak out a bit early this week. The first round of college pick-ups begins this afternoon and my empty next will be full once again!

I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving with your family. Here are some links I hope you enjoy until I return. (The links even have links, so there's lots to read!) Enjoy!

My Thanksgiving menu

Quick and easy Thanksgiving centerpieces

It's not too late to make your own Thankful Tree

Norman Rockwell also puts me in the holiday spirit

You're never too old to need your parents (family memories)

Last year's Thanksgiving table.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 23, 2015

Holiday Gifts For Everyone

I've been organizing my stash of presents to see what I'm returning, what I'm keeping, and what I may be missing. It was fun to hear about all of the shopping strategies from some BL readers last week. And you all know how I feel about shopping in general. But regardless of how you do it and when, it's just plain fun to get people presents! 

I've just returned from picking up a few goodies at a local shop. That's what I love about getting the bulk of my shopping done early, I get to enjoy the atmosphere and take my time choosing just the right thing. It's also a lot of fun to poke around the internet as I did this past weekend to find these gifts that could certainly make it onto more than one person's list in my own family. 

I love this mug from Brittany Garner over on Etsy. I'll take three please.


These hand-crafted journals were also an Etsy find. Check them out at Akeidah's shop.

Pajamas are always a great gift. This vintage set is from J Crew. 

Slipper are also a great gift for anyone on your list. But these are just perfect for that little munchkin in your life. (Keep them for Halloween costumes!) From Little House in the Orchard.

All of these gifts from Fabletics are under $25!

For the chef in your life, this spice rack should do the trick. From Dean & DeLuca.

Gifts that make a difference. Hearts of Haiti supports earthquake-devastated countries. This vase can be found at Macy's.

This Belkin keyboard attaches to an iPad magnetically. The keyboard is a good size and feels solid. David loves his!

I love this company! And right now you can receive 10% off your order! A little gift from me to you.

November 20, 2015

Have a Beautiful Weekend

This will be the first weekend that David and I won't be in a car! Life has been interesting these past couple of months. And I don't need to explain that any further since life can be interesting for so many of you, especially this past week. So this weekend I made sure we could stay at home and restore ourselves. Soon enough, we'll be back in the car again picking up and dropping off the girls for Thanksgiving break. This weekend, we want more of this: Taking the dogs on a nice long walk in the woods, sipping a vanilla latte while browsing for books, and just plain relaxing. It's too bad that relaxing actually has to be scheduled, but if that's what it takes, that's what it takes.

I hope you all have a beautiful, restorative weekend as well. Here are some light-hearted video links for you to enjoy.

Wouldn't it be nice to start your day like this?

Is your a dog a picky eater too? Cute idea.

Have fun this holiday season. An oldie, but a goodie. In fact, any Ellen video should make you laugh. And I love Dennis Quaid.

Amanda loves Corgis! Do you know Ralph and his brother George? Every animal deserves a loving home.

This should put you in the holiday spirit!

And as a final note, I'd just like to acknowledge this post. Joanna has written a lovely post about her thoughts on current world events and blogging. It's never easy to know what to write sometimes, especially if you have very strong opinions about a subject. I tend to steer clear of potentially volatile subjects like politics and religion. As a lifestyle blogger, I may write about the rosy (and the sometimes not so rosy) aspects of life, but my hope is that you come here to seek comfort amidst all of the chaos life throws your way.


November 19, 2015

Holiday Shopping Strategies

My Christmas shopping is almost done! But I wanted to get a little fresh perspective on how others shop for their holiday presents this time, or any time, of year. Here is what I found from some willing readers...

I love to use holiday shopping bags like these reindeer and Santa totes I picked up at TJ Maxx last year. I figured if I use cloth bags for my groceries, why not use them for everyday shopping. I have totes of all styles and colors for year-round use too. And I use the reindeer bags all winter long! - Emma

I buy my gifts early, too, but I save the stocking stuffers and small gifts I know I can getlip balm, candy, booksuntil a week or two before Christmas. This way I feel less stressed, I haven't spent too much, and I get to participate in a time-honored tradition and watch everyone around me scurry around while I sip my hot chocolate. ;-) - Sara

I (also) buy my gifts early, BUT in years past that meant that I was over-buying and over-spending. IF I can justify buying the gift for someone and I find out that I've bought too much, I now have the willpower to save the gift until the next special occasion. - Terri

This may sound terrible, but I buy the same gift for everyone on my list! One year I bought everyone hand-made scarves (not by me), another year I bought everyone pajamas, and last year I bought everyone on my list perfume or cologne. Or is that not the same thing? - Debra

My girlfriends and I make a day and night of it. We have our lists ready to go, map out a plausible strategy for everyone, then we meet bright and early. After a quick Starbucks stop, we're off! Shopping usually takes place in a mall or an area that has everything we need. We're very serious about making sure our lists are checked off by the end of the day, which is why we split up at times, grab a bite on the go, and then meet up for a glass of wine when we're ALL done. The last one standing buys the wine! - Cameron

Well, there you have it. Plenty of ideas and plenty of time to get that holiday shopping done.

What's your strategy?

November 18, 2015

Heart Healthy Mashed Potatoes and Gravy!?

Yes! Let's talk potatoes. I realize that mashed potatoes might not be the first thing you think of when talking food and heart health, but it's really the butter and cream (and the tasty gravy you add afterwards) that's the culprit. So here is an easy way to make delicious, and yes, heart healthy, mashed potatoes AND gravy.

Mashed Potatoes

The trick to mashing potatoes starts with selecting the potato itself. It needs to be a starchy (versus waxy) potato, one that will break down easily. Russets are a good choice and the preferred variety I use every time I make mashed potatoes.
  1. Soak potatoes in cold water for at least two hours. Overnight is even better.
  2. Once potatoes are cooked through (I peel the skins, then cut them into quarters and add to boiling water), about 30-40 minutes, push them through a ricer instead of mashing with a spoon, potato masher, or blender. This will give the potato a nice consistency.
  3. Quickly add milk, about 1/4 cup for 5 lbs. of potato (I use 2% and you can even use non-fat, or you could use 1-2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock), and fold the milk or broth into the riced potatoes. Don't over mix. They may look different, but they'll melt in your mouth.
Forget the cream and butter. And if you don't like gravy, use a little fresh pepper for added flavor.


Now for the gravy. These two recipes are good for all food eatersvegans, vegetarians, and carnivores alike. Click here for recipe #1 and recipe #2. (Number two is a bit easier to prepare.)

Now go and feast on Thanksgiving dinner next week without having to count extra calories and knowing you're eating heart healthy!

Photo: Chotda

November 17, 2015

The Slipper, Reinvented

I love slippers. And truth be told, I wear my UGG slippers religiously all winter long... indoors. That's when I stumbled upon Mahabis. They've reinvented the slipper so you can wear it both indoors and out with their detachable sole. They're super chic and stylish and the perfect shoe/slipper for a light workout.

I'll take a pair of the classic gray and black please. Check them out!

November 16, 2015

When Don'ts Become Dos

Area rugs aren't really supposed to be laid on the floor willy nilly. Besides adding beauty, rugs delineate space and/or frame the architecture. However, sometimes design rules are meant to be broken.

Layering rugs is always okay. Whether you decide to place one on top of wall-to-wall carpet, or in this case, over one another to draw the eye. These Turkish runners were intentionally placed to draw your eye to the reading nook. And because this area of this home has only one purpose, you're not creating any visual chaos usually associated with random rug placement.

Pay close attention to color when you choose to do this in your own home. Clearly, these rugs are two different patterns, but they work well together because each pattern complements the other and the colors are from the same color family.

Photo: HB - Betsy Burnham Designs

November 13, 2015

Have a Lovely Weekend

It's race day tomorrow (I hope you can come out and participate) and when we're done, we'll be raking leaves, picking up and dropping off the girls, and finally collapsing in front of the TV with the dogs. I hope your weekend is productive and fun, too!

Here are some links I thought you might enjoy...

8 lessons learned from the decluttering bible.

Yummy (and healthy) baked french fries.

36 easy and elegant Thanksgiving table settings.

What do you think of electric bikes?

Kissing is actually good for your health.

27 reasons Boston will always be home.


Photo: Marco Arment

November 12, 2015

Totally Crushing Over

Stylish athletic wear... I need a little fall exercise motivation, and these beauties will do the trick. Dress for the part and you'll be good to go!

I've mentioned before how my girls are huge fans of Fabletics, and I'm about to join them. I wish I had purchased their Puffin Coat earlier so I could wear it this weekend, and their Komodo outfit (once it's back in stock!) is the perfect go-to gym gear. Check out their knee-high socks too.

I am in LOVE with this Brooklyn Bicycle! I guess my love of black extends beyond my wardrobe because I've always wanted a black bike. I think it may be time for an upgrade.

I'm not a big sneaker fan, never have been. But I do love stylish athletic shoes that work well for the type of workout I do. These Nike's are perfect for biking and walking, my two favs, and they're stylish enough to wear into town. (Style: SB Stefan Janoski in dark grey.)

And when I'm not actually working too hard, I can throw on this Anthropologie Popcorn Stitch Pullover with an Infinity scarf over my workout gear and call it a day.

I'm now ready for a productive and stylish weekend!