Blueberrying

Blueberryin’. It may be a verb unique to Maine. I’ve always said ‘blueberry picking’, but around these parts blueberryin’ is the proper term.

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So I took the cherubs and met some friends at the blueberry farm and did some blueberryin’. It was hot! Like 90+ degrees and humid, but we managed to fill our bags with a total of 3 lbs of berries.

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We ate a lot of them for the next few days and then I decided to make some muffins before they were all gone.

I found this little book with a blueberry muffin recipe. It used to be my grandmother’s and I thought the cozy cottage was a good spot for it so I brought it up months ago. I’m glad I did.
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My trusty kitchen assistant did a lot of the work.
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Ta da!
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Yum.
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Sparkling Clean

My four year old has been having a little trouble with a few sounds. She’s been to a few sessions with a speech therapist and now we no longer hear, “pliet Plinn” instead of “quiet Quinn”. And I admit I miss it.

The “sp” sound is still tripping her up a bit. So I thought I’d share this before it too goes away…

https://vimeo.com/68346633

Hangin’ at the Lake

I have so much I want to post about – like the birthdays of two cherubs that have gone by – so for now some lake musings.

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There’s mischief in them eyes.

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Avery and Mama. I’m the one with the legs and arms coming out of my head.

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Starting his second book of the day, Surviving the Applewhites.

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Getting the “boat” ready.

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Tuckered out.

Swinging in the Sun

The Burly Man bought me an iPhone 3 days ago and one of the first things I wanted to do was use Instagram. Here’s my first Instagram photo. This so captures this little Dingle. Dingle is one of those strange, who-knows-where-it-comes-from-nicknames that I have for this little Sunshine Girl.

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She loves to swing. We’re working on pumping then Mom won’t need to push all the time.

Oh The Pressure

Several Christmases ago my mom gave us (my sisters and me and our husbands) a gift certificate for a cooking class/dinner party. The only stipulation was that we all had to go together. The place provided all the ingredients, a chef and an assistant to teach/help us, and beer and wine to drink while you cooked :) We chose our menu and were split into teams of two. When everything was done we all sat down to a delicious meal that we all helped to cook. It was such a fun time. I highly recommend it, you’ll have a great time whether you love to cook or not. (That experience could be a post itself. Unfortunately I did not have a camera with me that night and I also don’t think I even knew what a blog was back then.)

We had a fabulous chef who showed us some great techniques and tips. One of the dishes was made with a pressure cooker. Hans, our chef, was a big fan of the pressure cooker and said they were making a big comeback and that they were not your grandmother’s pressure cooker from years back. Well that has stuck with me and I’ve sort of had pressure cooker thoughts in the back of my mind since.

I’m a big fan of the slow cooker. What’s not to love – a hot, delicious meal cooking all by itself while you can get other things done. My only issue with it is that I find it difficult to make healthy meals with the slow cooker. Well, it seems that is not an issue with the pressure cooker. Apparently this is actually a very healthy way of cooking because it seals in all the vitamins and cooks for such a short time. You can’t exactly walk away and let it do its thing though. However you can have a beef stew in about 20 minutes!

There are a lot of options to choose from. Here are a few:


via


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I’ve been looking into some recipes for the pressure cooker and so far these look pretty good to me.

Pressure Cooker Whole Chicken

California Chicken

Beef Bourguignon ala Pressure Cooker

Dad’s Potato Soup

Most of the pressure cooker recipes I’ve found are hot, hearty meals. I’ll have to look for some good spring and summer recipes, especially with temperatures reaching 80 degrees today – what is up with that? Last year at this time we still had about a foot of snow on the ground!

Any pressure cooker fans out there? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Have a great day!

The Makins of a Good Country Marriage

the making of a good country marriage

It was about two weeks ago when I popped into a thrift shop up near the cozy cottage. While sifting through an assortment of old picture frames, I spotted this tucked away in the corner buried under a few inches of dust. I gently peeled back the paper-backing behind the frame and discovered it was in fact needlepoint and not a print. The price was $5 and the store owner agreed to $4 – sold.

The makins of a good country marriage

In case you can’t read the image well, here’s what it says:

The Makins of a Good Country Marriage

First off, don’t be mule-headed.

Make the most of what ya got,
and the least of what ya’ve not

Give your love by the Bushel,
not the Cup.

What’s good for the goose,
is good for the gander.

Before you go to bed give your troubles to God.
He will be up all night, anyway.

I love the first line. It’s not only good advice, but it’s said in a way that makes me smile. This sweet little find currently hangs on a wall at the cozy cottage. I may bring it home, but it seems to fit there nicely.

Crock Pot Chicken and Dumplings

I wanted to share this easy and yummy recipe. Since we finally had our first snowstorm this winter in northeastern Massachusetts, I thought some good, warm comfort food would be fitting.

chicken and dumplings

I’m always on the look-out for a good slow-cooker recipe. I don’t know about you, but I find it a bit of a challenge to find a healthy meal made from the slow-cooker. Before finding this recipe I made a similar one that calls for a can of cream of chicken soup and Pillsbury Grands. It definitely tasted good, but not the healthiest meal in the world. And whenever my oldest ate it his lips would get puffy and tingly – that can’t be good.

So I set out to find a chicken & dumpling recipe for the slow-cooker that was a bit healthier and didn’t use any condensed soup. And this is what I found on food.com.

Ingredients:

1 potato , peeled and chopped
2 carrots , chopped
1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs , cut into 2 inch pieces
1 (9 ounce) package frozen baby peas
1 ½ cups baking mix
½ cup milk

Directions:

1. In a 3-4 quart crock pot, mix potato and carrots.
2. In medium bowl, combine chicken broth, flour and spices and blend well until smooth.
3. Pour over vegetables in crock pot.
4. Add chicken.
5. Cover crock pot.
6. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours until chicken is thoroughly cooked and no longer pink in center.
7. Add peas and cover again.
8. Cook on HIGH for 20 minutes until peas are hot.
9. In small bowl, combine baking mix and milk and mix just until combined.
10. Do not over mix.
11. Drop by tablespoons onto hot chicken mixture in crock pot.
12. Cover and cook on HIGH for 20-25 minutes until dumplings are cooked through, are fluffy, and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Servings: 8

Personally I think it could use a bit more liquid and will adjust for that next time I make it. Also, I used the Heart Smart Bisquick for the baking mix. Next time I think I’ll try a homemade biscuit mix instead. I also used chicken breasts instead of thighs.

Enjoy!

Normally this would make me a little nuts – paint can cover – supper cooking right next to it. However, in this situation it means stuff is getting done!

Note: This meal scored a 2 out of 3 on the cherub meter. But I must note that the one cherub dismissed it before even tasting it (not uncommon). I got her to try it and she ate 3 bites on her own free will. I do think this meal has the potential to become a 3 out of 3!

I’d love to hear about your healthy slow cooker recipes.

Yeah Baby, The Family Room Transformation has Begun!

The last time I posted about redecorating my abode I spoke of the dining room. Yet, as it turns out, we’re doing the family room! Both rooms are in dire need of some lovin’, but since the burly man and I can’t stand to look at our nasty sofa another day, the family room is gettin’ done. And I mean the whole shebang – furniture, paint, window treatments, artwork, accessories, the works baby!

Here’s some inspiration I found:

I’ve been loving the whole white walls and white slipcovers for a while now. I think what I like the most is the homey, collected-over-time, personal quality that this blank slate almost forces you to create. And although I love this look, I wasn’t so sure I could pull it off.

Well, my friends, I have taken the white on white plunge. I’m a little scared, but I’m more excited. I’m really discovering the endless possibilities for adding all kinds of character and personality into this new space.

First, here’s a before pic. Please note that this picture was taken after the walls were painted in Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee. The previous color was sort of a khaki-green.

The sofa and chairs (there’s a second club chair not in the picture) were inherited from the previous owners of our house. When we moved in we had a 7 yr. old, a 4 yr. old and a third who was about to be born in mere days. So, we decided to keep the sofa and chairs instead of buying something new to get peed on and spit-up on. (Amazingly enough I don’t think anyone has ever peed on this couch, however it has seen it’s fair share of baby spit-up.) It is now time, oh boy is it time, for a new sofa!

And here she is (our sectional will not have the chaise)…

This lovely, down-wrapped, sinkable, washable, family cuddle-couch will be delivered in two weeks. We almost bought a different sofa that was upholstered in a velvet microfiber. It was divine, but I realized the washability of slipcovers was really key to me.

With the walls painted white and a white sectional on the way I was beginning to get a little nervous about how to bring in some personality and color. For some reason I kept thinking about red panels for the windows. Not bright solid red, but something with mainly red as the color. I looked on fabric.com for some ideas and was really liking these.

I hunted the web and pinterest to see someone else's red panels with a white sofa and couldn't find anything, until at last I came across this…

Cue the singing angels. Amazing. This is pretty much the image I had in my head for my family room and here it is for me to see. That never happens. The drapes are even made using the damask fabric I spotted on fabric.com. And my lovely and talented friend Paula has kindly agreed to make help me with sewing my own panels.

As for artwork on the walls – I’m really trying to use what we have for the meantime. I also need to get some lamps and end tables, which I’m hoping to find on craigslist or a thrift shop. The accessorizing and the artwork will be more of a gradual process.

I did find this little guy at Pier One just the other day and he looks very cute sitting up on the mantel. I definitely want more owls around the house.

p.s. I’ll hopefully have some dining room changes to share soon too that “I’m psyched out of my mind about”. (what movie is that from?)

25 Things

Shaunna over at Perfectly Imperfect is hosting a “25 Things Party” and I thought this was a great way to get my blogging groove back in action. So here it goes:

1. I’ve had 2 sick kiddos at home since Mon.

2. For several years I’ve contemplated homeschooling for my kids.

3. With the 2 sick kids home the past few days we did a little homeschooling and I loved it. I think they liked it too.

4.  I took my oldest to a Boy Scout meeting last night to meet our local troop and see if he’d like to go from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts.

5. He now has his sights set on Eagle Scout.

6.  Six weeks from today the Burly Man is having bilateral knee replacements.

7.  I sent my only non-contagious child to school today with a lunch, completely forgetting it was a half day today, no lunch necessary.

8.  My kitchen is a monstrous, scary mess far more often than not.

9.  I really want to learn how to crochet.

10.  There is a beautiful mink coat in my home office right now.

11.  The coat belongs to my mother.

12.  I think I might greet the Burly Man at the door wearing nothing but the mink coat.  Just kidding Mom.

13.  I recently purchased Julia Child’s “The Art of French Cooking” from ebay.  I can’t wait to begin my “cooking lessons”.

14.  I’ve started reading “Charlotte’s Web” to the two youngest cherubs.

15.  I love having three kids.

16.  If I wasn’t so old I’d probably have four.

17.  I love ice skating on a pond or lake.

18.  I can’t wait to skate next time we’re at the cozy cottage.

19.  I don’t actually own ice skates yet, but plan to soon.

20.  I’ll be starting some seedlings indoors soon.

21. Still deciding what seeds to plant.

22.  I have not taken the Christmas lights off of the front bushes yet.

23.  We haven’t had one snowstorm all winter. This is just wrong in so many ways. I need at least one.

24.  My sweet baby girl is wrapped up in her blanky, aka the giggy, sound asleep and snoring in my arms as I write this list.

25.  I can’t bring myself to put her in her bed.

Let the Thanksgiving Traditions Begin

I love Thanksgiving. It’s my very favorite holiday and also happens to be my very favorite meal. It’s really just about truly being grateful for all our blessings, good food and being with the special people in your life. To me it’s just a whole lot of fun, hanging out in the kitchen cooking, laughing, and remembering. There’s also an excitement in the air that you can almost reach out and touch. It mostly comes from the kids, since to them, Thanksgiving means Christmas isn’t far away.

Today, Thanksgiving Eve, will start our family traditions. The kids will make the pumpkin pies with their dad while I make the stuffing. We’ll then set up our Christmas Village. I think my eleven year old cherub is the one who really enjoys this the most. From the first time he could climb up on the chair for a better look he has always just loved the little lighted village. It’s very sweet and even as a giant 5’1″ 108 lb eleven year old, he still loves it. It tugs at this mama’s heart I tell ya. If he ever stops loving the Christmas Village I may have to forbid any of my children from ever having another birthday ever again. They must slow down with this growing up business. Enough is enough. I’m not so sure how much of this my heart I can take.

Here’s a pic from a Thanksgiving of yore …

When we go to bed tonight the house will already start to have the delicious scents of the next day’s dinner floating throughout.

Tomorrow morning, Sam the Elf, will magically make the first of his daily appearances from now until Christmas Eve.

I’ll head back to the kitchen and really kick things into gear while the Macy’s day parade is on the t.v. This year I wanted to keep the menu simple and traditional, just good, straightforward, delicious food.

Soon the first guests will arrive and then more memories will be made.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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