Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Blue Lemon Drop Martini

 

 

New Year's Eve is such a fun time to serve a signature drink and this Blue Lemon Drop Martini is such a festive color and will look so pretty in your clear martini glasses. The blue color comes from a liqueur called Blue Curaçao and can be found at most liquor stores.

I made these fun cocktails for a party we attended last New Year's Eve and they were a hit with my friends. It is our special New Year's tradition to serve a martini to start the night and as we say, it definitely gets the party going :-)

When I am making martinis for a crowd, I often make up a pitcher in advance, so I can just add individual servings to the martini shaker without having to stop and measure. Just increase the amounts, but keep the proportions consistent.

Blue Lemon Drop Martini

1 ounce citrus vodka, 1 ounce blue curaçao liqueur and 3 ounces lemonade. Add to martini shaker filled with ice, shake well and serve in a clear martini glass. Cheers!

Happy New Year's Eve!

 

{Linking with these friends}

Lil Luna

A Stroll Thru Life

House of Rose

Diana Rambles

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Serenity Now

Funky Junk Interiors

Between Naps on the Porch

Alderberry Hill

The Dedicated House

Cozy Little House

a bowl full of lemons

Kathe with an E

Life on Lakeshore Drive

Craftberry Bush

Live Laugh Rowe

A Delightsome Life

Cedar Hill Ranch

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

The Tablescaper

Jennifer Rizzo

DIY by Design

Common Ground

Coastal Charm

Stonegable

Gooseberry Patch

Sunny Simple Life (From The Farm)

Rattlebridge Farm

This Gal Cooks

Mom's Test Kitchen

Made From Pinterest

 

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Top Three DIY Projects

 

 

It is interesting to look back over the past year and see what were the most popular DIY projects that I completed. All were in keeping with my DIY philosophy - the project must be easy and it must be fast or I have no interest in attempting it. I think there are a lot of you who agree with this philosophy :-)

Number One DIY Post - DIY Bathroom Tile Cleaner

I think this is so popular because it really does work. I just made a new batch before my Christmas cleaning and my bathroom tile was nice and shiny for my guests.

Number Two DIY Post - Painting A Wrought Iron Patio Set

Another easy project with big results. It is amazing what a can of spray paint can accomplish in a short amount of time. I think we all crave a beautiful outdoor space.

Number Three DIY Post - Twine Wrapped Eggs

I wasn't surprised to see that this post was number three. All my holiday DIY decor projects seem to be very popular. We do like to decorate for the holidays and the prettiness and simplicity of this project, plus the fact that it uses those plastic eggs we all own in abundance, made it so easy to try.

 

Happy Monday - I'll be looking at the most popular recipes of 2013 later this week!

 

Linking with Savvy Southern Style, Common Ground

 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Our Christmas Week

 

 

Our Christmas week has been busy, but filled with fun times, all the better, because they have been spent together. Seeing my daughters relaxing at home, in their matching pajamas, makes me happy.

Christmas Day was my day to host the family, so it was a whirlwind of cooking, table decorating and general preparation, before everyone arrived that evening. My daughters were a big help too. I made Candy Cane martinis to start the night; a tradition that is so pretty and fun. We had a lovely dinner, before we opened presents and ended the evening with a great game called Head's Up, which used an app and my IPad. Everyone played and it got really loud, with a lot of laughter - the best type of family game :-)

The rest of the week has been filled with relaxing - football, movies and lots of time spent in pajamas. I hope each and everyone one of you had a wonderful Christmas and have been able to spend time with family. Enjoy that last view of the lights on your Christmas tree, as we all slow down a little and savor the time to relax.

Have a great weekend!

 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

White Christmas

 

 

Christmas Eve is a day filled with anticipation. The anticipation of snow on Christmas Day and the beginning of time spent with family. The shopping, wrapping and baking are done and it is time to just enjoy being together, gathered around the lights of the Christmas tree. Those special presents will be opened and the smiles will make all the preparation worthwhile.

We will begin our Christmas Eve with a family brunch and will enjoy a traditional menu and even some mimosas to begin the day. We will attend mass later tonight and then spend a quiet evening opening some gifts, relaxing and watching some Christmas movies together. It will be the best kind of night with the snow outside, sparkling in the Christmas lights, and softly falling, while inside we are cozy and warm by the fire.

Enjoy this family time and the happiest of holidays to you all!

 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Last Minute Baking - Christmas Oreo Brownies

 

 

 

It's crunch time and all the last minute details of Christmas are in our sights. What doesn't get accomplished at this point, won't matter when Christmas morning arrives. Let's all take a deep breath and enjoy a beautiful holiday week!

If you are in need of a last minute Christmas baking treat that couldn't be easier, these Christmas Oreo Brownies are perfect. In fact, they are so easy, you could keep the ingredients in your pantry and make them to serve to any unexpected company that might drop by during this holiday week. Put them on a pretty tray and you have a delicious dessert to serve.

 

Christmas Oreo Brownies

1 box brownie mix for 13x9 pan (oil, eggs and water as directed)

1 package Oreos (use red Christmas Oreos for the holidays)

Prepare mix as directed on box. Pour 1/2 of brownie mix in 13x9 pan. Place Oreos in rows, on top of brownie mix, then top Oreos with remaining mix. Bake as directed. Allow to cool and cut in squares.

*note - I line the brownie pan with non stick foil. Just lift out foil after baking and brownies won't stick to pan.


Happy Monday!

 

{Linking with these friends}


Savvy Southern Style

Jennifer Rizzo

Stonegable


Between Naps on the Porch

Gooseberry Patch

Sunny Simple Life (From The Farm)

Rattlebridge Farm

This Gal Cooks

Mom's Test Kitchen

Made From Pinterest

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Recipe for My Daughters

 

 

My daughters and I have been making these Ginger Cut Out cookies since their pre-school days and the tradition has continued through their college years. We have gone from the girls mostly playing with the dough with their plastic rolling pins to taking over the decorating of the cookies.

This recipe is from a pre-school Christmas event we attended called Hand to Hand and it was a wonderful experience with cookies to decorate, a room all in white with a multitude of angels and a real live baby in a manger. Having this recipe from those days and making it every year with my daughters brings back so many memories of those special times when they were little girls and everything about Christmas was magical.

One of the great things about this blog is that I can document this recipe for them - all its quirks and in my own voice. Much more than they can get from of recipe card. This makes a wonderful light ginger cookie, with flavors of holiday spices and a hint of orange. So this is for my daughters, but may become your favorite too.

 

Ginger Cut Out Cookies

1 cup butter flavored crisco

1 egg

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 tsp. orange rind (from the spice aisle)

2 T light corn syrup

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ginger

1/2 tsp. cloves

1/2,tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 cups flour

Cream crisco and sugar then add egg and beat until light and fluffy. Add orange rind and corn syrup; mix well. Sift dry ingredients together; stir into moist ingredients. Texture of dough should easily form a soft ball. Wrap dough in saran wrap and chill over night.

Spread a generous amount of flour on counter. Using 1/2 of dough to start, knead flour into dough until workable ( doesn't stick to counter or rolling pin) Roll 1/4 inch thick, cut out shapes and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with other 1/2 of dough.

Bake at 350 degrees for 7- 8 minutes. Remove from oven when cookies look slightly under done and allow to sit on cookie sheet for 30 seconds. Remove gently to a cooling rack. Frost and decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Makes 4 dozen.


Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Linking with Kelly's Korner, Show Us Your Life

 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Lately

 

 

Of course, the thing that has kept me busy lately has been all the Christmas preparation. I have been trying to do a little at a time, so I don't get overwhelmed and stressed. This week I have been doing some of the things I enjoy like wrapping presents with pretty ribbon and all my traditional holiday baking. Thank goodness my shopping is done and I don't have to brave the mall anymore.

What I have been watching lately on Netflix is a television show that has been on for a few years, but is one I always wanted to watch, but never started. Once Upon A Time is very good and I have been really enjoying how creative and smart the writing is. I always wondered how the story of fairy tale characters in the modern world was achieved and made sense, but it does, brilliantly. I am a little over half way through season one and can't wait for the reveal of the secret.

Lately, I have been reading a murder series that I discovered and I have enjoyed getting to know these characters. The Anna Travis mystery series, by Lynda LaPlante is set in London and tells the story of Anna Travis and her rise from an inexperienced detective to a hardworking Detective Chief Inspector. The books are heavy in police procedure, but I enjoy that aspect. This is the writer that went on to write the popular Prime Suspect series on BBC and PBS.

I am waiting for the premiere of Downton Abbey on January 5th, just like many of you. My plans to see it early at a special viewing did not work out, due to the weather, so I will be seeing the first episode of season four along with the rest of America. Something to look forward to after the holidays :-)

My girls are home for the holidays, my empty nest is full and life is busy, yet good.

Happy Thursday!

 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Shining Lights on my Walk

 

 

Lately, I have been waiting to walk until just before dark; right when the Christmas lights are scheduled to come on all around my neighborhood.

It is peaceful walking in the snow, with the lights shining and casting reflections.

The soft glow lights up the darkness and I no longer think of my many to do lists, but enjoy the calm and the beauty of the lights around every corner.

It is cold and snowy, but I bundle up and enjoy the crunch of the snow under my boots and the chilly air on my face. There is a fire and a hot cup of tea waiting for me at home and any holiday stress I may have been feeling, just melts away. Soon the magic of these Christmas lights will be gone for another year, but for now, I enjoy the peacefulness they bring.

Happy Wednesday!

 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Gift Idea - Chalkboard Serving Platter

 

 

I mentioned in a previous post that my book club gift exchange incorporates a favorite thing. Since Pinterest is one of my favorite things, I decided to paint some chalkboard serving platters to use as my book club gift, as well as some other gifts I needed for a few special people. I wrote step by step instructions here and it was just as easy this time around. The most important step is to let the first coat dry at least 24 hours, so the second coat goes on smooth.

You can customize this idea in many ways. I used two different styles of serving platters for the four that I painted. You can find many styles at Target at various prices and sizes. I included a bag with some chalk and instructions for use with the platter too. It is nice to let the recipient know that this platter can be washed with soap and water, like any other they own.

Before wrapping, you can even write a message on the platter. Wouldn't this make a great hostess gift?

Have a great day!

 

{Linking with these friends}

Lil Luna

A Stroll Thru Life

House of Rose

Diana Rambles

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Serenity Now

Funky Junk Interiors

Between Naps on the Porch

Alderberry Hill

The Dedicated House

Cozy Little House

a bowl full of lemons

Kathe with an E

Life on Lakeshore Drive

Craftberry Bush

Live Laugh Rowe

A Delightsome Life

Cedar Hill Ranch

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

The Tablescaper

Jennifer Rizzo

DIY by Design

Common Ground

Coastal Charm

Stonegable

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Merry Martini Night

 

 

Friday night, I hosted the first stop for the progressive Bunco party in my neighborhood. As is the tradition, I always serve a special holiday martini and a few light appetizers to get the evening started. We always have a wonderful time and the martinis always add a festive touch. We gather around the table in my kitchen; adding more chairs and mixing more cocktails as we talk and laugh. We will move on to two more houses up and down the street to play Bunco and do a gift exchange, but it is this first stop with our merry martinis that make the evening feel so festive. We celebrate another year of friendship :-)

To make this Merry Martini, mix 1 part vodka, 1 part apple pucker liqueur and 1 part apple juice in a martini pitcher. When ready to serve, pour in a martini shaker filled with ice, shake well and fill a martini glass with a maraschino cherry in the bottom. Cheers!

Happy Monday!

 

{Linking with these friends}


Savvy Southern Style

Jennifer Rizzo

Stonegable


Between Naps on the Porch

Gooseberry Patch

Sunny Simple Life (From The Farm)

Rattlebridge Farm

This Gal Cooks

Mom's Test Kitchen

Made From Pinterest

 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Holiday Dinner with Book Club

 

 

What a fun evening we had last night, at our holiday dinner with book club. To start, we enjoyed the festive cranberry, pear champagne cocktails I made, before moving into the beautiful, candlelit dining room. Our hostess outdid herself with sparkly trees and aqua, silver and gold decor, along with her beautiful china.

After moving to sit around her lovely Christmas tree, we began our annual gift exchange where we each bring a favorite thing, beautifully wrapped for one of our friends to open. Even though we know each other well, it is a glimpse into the personality of each giver and the gifts were each that more special with the story that they came with. I gave a chalkboard serving platter, that I painted like this one, because of course, Pinterest is one of my favorite things :-)

We ended the evening back in the dining room having a taste of this incredible cake. It was decadent and oh so delicious, with its layers of white and dark chocolate. I am incredibly blessed to have these women in my life and have the chance to celebrate the season with them :-)

Have a wonderful weekend - I will be hosting the first stop of my Bunco Progressive Holiday Party tonight, so no rest today. Also just wait until you hear my Downton Abbey news - I have been invited to see the season four premiere on Sunday, at a special event! I am excited, to say the least.

 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Champagne Cocktail

 

 

My book club meets tonight for our special holiday party and the hostess asked me to make a festive cocktail to start the evening. I decided to do something different than the martinis we typically serve and put together this easy champagne cocktail. The color is pretty for a Christmas party and it will taste light and be filled with effervescence; a perfect way to toast the start of our holiday celebration.

To make this cocktail - mix together 1 cup pear nectar and 1 cup cranberry juice in a large measuring cup. Pour 1/4 cup of this mixture in 8 champagne glasses. Top each glass with champagne or prosecco (I am using prosecco) and serve immediately. Cheers!

This would be perfect for any holiday occasion; nighttime party, lunch or brunch. Our dinner is being catered tonight, we have delayed discussing a book until January and we will be doing a gift exchange of a favorite thing. It should be a fun night :-)

Happy Thursday!

 

{Linking with these friends}


Savvy Southern Style

Jennifer Rizzo

Stonegable


Between Naps on the Porch

Gooseberry Patch

Sunny Simple Life (From The Farm)

Rattlebridge Farm

This Gal Cooks

Mom's Test Kitchen

Made From Pinterest

 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Garland on the Stairway

 

 

One of the last things I tend to decorate for the holidays, is the stairway in my foyer with its natural looking garland and bows. I keep things fairly simple and in fact had plans to do something like this, but couldn't find the wreaths I was looking for. There is always next year to try a new look :-)

The garland is a combination of two, twined and layered together. I use gold and brown stems and branches as the base and then the addition of frosted red berries adds sparkle and color. Since everything is wired, it is easily attached by twisting stems around the railings.

The gold and red pick up the same accent colors that are found in my tree. Since I have a two story foyer, the stairway is tall and requires a lot of garland along its length. It can be a tedious job to get everything placed just so and that is why I usually leave it until last. It is worth the effort though, once it is done!

To finish the look, I have used a variety of bows in the past, but this year decided to use some simple red burlap ribbon. It adds a rustic and sweet touch here and there.

The look is simple and natural, with the red berries spilling over the sides, but it makes a huge impact in the two story space and is the finishing touch next to my tree.

Happy Wednesday!

 

{Linking with these friends}

Between Naps on the Porch

Savvy Southern Style

Jennifer Rizzo

Stonegable


Funky Junk Interiors

Cozy Little House

 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mantel 2013 - Pops of Red

 

 

My 2013 Christmas mantel is similar to last year's, but there are a few changes that help make an impact. The primary focus is the predominant red that pops from the berries in the garland, to the large red star.

The red, metal star is dramatic as a focal point and by placing it in front of the old window, it stands out even more.

This large red metal house anchors the end and ties in with the metal star well.

The anchor on the other end is this sweet lighted tree in a red metal bucket. Whether wrapped in a garland or like this, on a tree, lighting on a mantel makes a lovely statement.

To fill in and create layers of height, there are candles in a variety of styles and holders as well as a few of my treasured snow globes. The candles will add even more to the overall look, when lit in the evening.

Some dramatic new changes, but the red color continues to be the focal point.

Happy decorating!

 

{Linking with these friends}

Lil Luna

A Stroll Thru Life

House of Rose

Diana Rambles

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Serenity Now

Funky Junk Interiors

Between Naps on the Porch

Alderberry Hill

The Dedicated House

Cozy Little House

a bowl full of lemons

Kathe with an E

Life on Lakeshore Drive

Craftberry Bush

Live Laugh Rowe

A Delightsome Life

Cedar Hill Ranch

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

The Tablescaper

Jennifer Rizzo

DIY by Design

Common Ground

Coastal Charm

Stonegable

Debbiedoos

 

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