Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankfulness - Heart Medicine

As Thanksgiving approaches it is a time to remember our loved ones and all that we are thankful for.  Today, it's easy to be wrapped up in the neurosis of being everything; mother, daughter, friend, spouse, sister, employee, baker, maid....etc.  All of the things that we try to be in one day, everyday.  It's enough to make us anxious and fearful all the time.

Did you know... you cannot be in a state of appreciation and a state of fear at the same time? In the book "What Happy People Know" author Dan Baker writes "During active appreciation, the threatening messages from your amygdala (fear center of the brain) and the anxious instincts of your brainstem are cut off, suddenly and surely, from access to your brain's neocortex, where they can fester, replicate themselves and turn your stream of thoughts into a cold river of dread.  It is a fact of neurology that the brain cannot be in a state of appreciation and a state of fear at the same time. The two states may alternate, but are mutually exclusive."

This means that being in a practice of mindful gratitude is heart medicine for all of us.  The more we count our blessings and stay in a state of thankfulness, we cut off fear and anxiety and teach our bodies to remain in a state of grace.  So when you are fearful or anxious, turn your mind immediately to your blessings and what is good in your life.  Teach your mind to choose joy, and that is what you will feel.

"This, then is the full satisfaction of souls, this is the happy life: to recognize piously and completely the one through whom you are led into the truth, the nature of the truth you enjoy and the bond that connects you with the supreme measure."
                                                                                          ~St. Augustine

Happy Thanksgiving.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cranberry Sauce

I think it takes time to acquire a taste for cranberry sauce. As a child, I saw that congealed jelly on the plate and let that one pass on by. :)  But now that I'm older, I love cranberries and I look forward to making cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Did you know that cranberries not only have vitamin C and fiber.... but in disease-fighting antioxidants cranberries outrank almost every fruit and vegetable - including strawberries, spinach, broccoli, red grapes, apples, cherries and raspberries.  They are outranked only by the blueberry as a superfood in antioxidants.

There is a host of health benefits from cranberries that includes encouraging a positive cardiovascular system, autoimmune and cancer fighting properties as well as kidney and urinary support.  We would all do better to get cranberries into our diet all year long. husband likes the good ole jellied sauce from Ocean Spray.  But don't do it!

Cranberry sauce is so easy to make and tastes way better than what's in the can.  I've been trying different cranberry sauce recipes and this one below is really good and super easy.
Cranberry Cinnamon Sauce:

1 bag (12 oz) of fresh cranberries
1/2 cup of fresh orange juice
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 tsp of cinnamon

Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Stir until the cranberries pop.  You can softly mash them against the side of the pan and encourage them along.  Once most of them are popped and they are soft, turn off the heat and cool.  Put into a container and store in the fridge.  The jelly will thicken as it cools down.  

So good and easy!  Way better than what's in the can.  :)



Monday, November 24, 2014

Little Girl Desk All Grown Up

As young girls, many of us had a little desk that belonged to a set of little girl furniture.  You know, the white furniture with little flowers?  If you have one of these desks, don't get rid of it.  You can take the little girl and allow her to grow up!  See the little desk below?  You remember her right?  If you didn't have one of these I bet your friend down the street did.
I stripped her down to see what was underneath and needed to fix a few dings and dents. I painted her with a high gloss black paint.  I used a new paint, which I will blog about in another post.
I touched up the knobs and accented with gold paint.

 And spray painted the drawers so there is a pop of color when they open.

Isn't she pretty all grown up?

If you have an old desk like this, don't get rid of it.  Just re-do it.  You'll be glad you did.


Linking with:

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Obsessions......

Getting excited for the holidays but loving these things....

Beautiful red dresser.

Gorgeous old frame repainted.
Black, white and gold.
Plaid scarves (old navy on sale now)
Garlic chicken and spinach.

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hot Chocolate

As the evenings get colder, I find myself reaching for something sweet and something to warm me up.  I've been making some hot cocoa and wondering why I don't make the really good kind.  You know.....dessert in a warm cup. Here are some that sound like they will warm me up.

Cookies and Cream Hot Chocolate With Oreos recipe

2 cups milk (I have also used 1 cup milk and 1 cup heavy cream)
1/2 cup hot chocolate powder
4-5 Oreos
Whipping cream
Crushed Oreos for topping

1. Warm up milk and on the stove over medium-low heat. Be careful not to let it boil.
2. Add the hot chocolate powder.
2. Grind the Oreos up very finely in a food processor or blender.
3. Add the Oreos to the warm milk.
4. Serve with whipped cream topping and Oreos crushed on the top.

White Hot Chocolate recipe

1 cup whole or reduced-fat milk (or half and half, if you want to be really indulgent)
2 oz good quality white chocolate
Pinch sea salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Whipped cream (optional; for garnish)
Dark chocolate shavings (optional; for garnish)

Combine the milk, white chocolate, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring up to a simmer, then turn heat down, and simmer gently 2 minutes, whisking frequently. Turn heat off and stir in the vanilla. Serve hot, garnished with whipped cream and dark chocolate shavings, if desired.

Pumpkin Hot Chocolate recipe


3 cups milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp cinnamoon
1/8 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
4 ounces white chocolate chopped

Heat the milk, pumpkin spices and vanilla in a saucepan. Add the Chocolate and stir until meltedPour into mugs and top with whipped cream and garnish with cinnamon.

I'm going to stock up on some these ingredients so when I'm looking for something warm and sweet I'm good to go.  How about you?


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Whats Decorating Your Thanksgiving Table?

It's a busy week.  I'm working on lots of new projects this week so I'm turning to some pretty pictures from the internet.  As we get ready for the big holiday weekend, what's decorating your table?

No matter what you put on the table, make it festive and pretty.  


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thanksgiving Dinner

One of my readers from Australia asked me what I served for Thanksgiving....aside from the turkey. :)  With Pinterest, the internet and the checkout line at the grocery store, it is easy to find new and yummy things to serve at holiday time.  Since I don't have pictures of last years dinner, I turned to Pinterest to show you what's on my table.

I serve a very traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  I've learned that when I try to get creative....the
"holiday wolves" get upset and just want the good ole fashion regular items. So, I keep it simple, traditional, homemade and everyone is happy.

Turkey.  There always seems to be a lot of fuss over the bird.  Not in my house.  It is what it is...a turkey.  It's not a wonderful delicious piece of meat or else we'd be eating it more than twice a year :)  But it feeds a lot of people and makes the house smell amazing.  I have learned to pay for the extra money and buy a fresh turkey.  The meat is much more tender and flavorful.  I clean it out, slather some butter, salt and pepper over it, tent it with some foil for a couple of hours and then brown it and pop it out.  No complaints over here.
Homemade stuffing.  Nothing like it.  I boil the inner things (let's not focus too much on them) with the turkey neck, celery, onion and water the night before. I pour this over bread cubes right before I'm ready to stuff.  I stuff what I can into the bird and always make another pan for extras.
Cranberry sauce.  I'm going to try fresh cranberries this year.  A recipe might be coming your way...

Fresh mashed potatoes.  I use regular russet potatoes with butter, salt, half and half and whip'em up. I've tried the gold potatoes and no one seems to like em.
Sweet potatoes.  We have a dual that goes on every year here. We have a favorite from our Aunt Julie that uses marsh mellows, cranberries and oatmeal and we have one that is a more traditional sweet potato casserole. Not sure which direction we are headed this year.  I might have to make both.
Green beans.  I like mine with mushrooms but hubby and the kids like bacon.  You can guess who wins.
Pie.   I make a sweet potato pie and a pumpkin apple pie. 

And, fresh whipped cream.  I don't get the cool whip thing....other than it's easy.  There isn't anything better than fresh whipped cream.  Put it in your after dinner coffee too!

Don't make it complicated.  The best dinners are with homemade ingredients and family at the table.

Happy Tuesday.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Old Cherry Tiered Table

Do you all remember seeing these tables growing up?  I think most of our grandmother's may have had one in their living or dining room.  They are cute and decorative, but the old cherry finish doesn't fit for most of us today.. 
I've seen quite a few of these lately and didn't give them much thought until a friend brought me one to re-do for her.  With a little bit of paint, the cute moldings and edges just pop right on out. 
You can add a little embellishment if you want...or keep it simple.    

In the end, the table comes to life with a little bit of paint.  Simple and easy to do.  Give it a try if you have one.  

Happy Monday!


Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Obsessions....

Loving colors...

 boots, flannel and vests...
 pretty bedrooms....
 tiled kitchens...
 homemade cranberry sauce....
Have a great weekend!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Importance Of Being Still

I was out running around yesterday and have to say that I am a bit overwhelmed with all of the holiday items and decorations.  I know it's that time of year, but it seems like the stores are screaming holiday time...look at me!  Holidays can be stressful.  Presents, decorations, food, can be a lot. Not to mention everything else that is going on in our lives. If you don't eat right and you are jacked up on caffeine then the anxiety and stress only multiplies.

So how do we keep balance in our lives at such a crazy time?  The best way to find balance and keep everything in perspective is to take 5-10 minutes everyday and quiet the mind and be still. I know you are thinking great in practice but it will never happen.  It will if you take the time to do it.  Break your old habits and introduce a new one.  See what happens.

There are wonderful teas on the market that can help promote a sense of "calm" over you and help with anxiety and stress.  The act of making tea will help introduce a special "time out" for you and encourage you to get into a quiet daily practice.  Shut down your thoughts...which are not always positive. Give yourself time to turn off and just focus on your breath. The benefits of being still - even for 5 minutes will allow you to:

  • become more calm and patient with others
  • handle situations more focused and less reactionary
  • think more clearly
  • redirect your efforts to what is really important
  • lower your blood pressure
  • feel better 

I like to take 5 minutes right in the middle of the afternoon.  It helps you focus on the rest of the day and not be so frantic to get everything done before you get home or before the kids get off the bus.  Just try it.  Get out of your head, close your eyes, quiet your thoughts and be still.  I like Yogi teas and I like their message below.
About Yogi Tea / Serving Your Spirit:
The story of tea has a wonderful mythology thousands of years old, and it is deeply entwined with the ancient traditions and spiritual practices of the East.  Along the banks of the sacred rivers of India, yogis created mysterious herbal recipes with exquisite flavors.  This knowledge of yoga and herbs is brought to life through the formulation of Yogi Tea; carefully blended to uplift, body and soul.  The exotic spices and herbs gathered from all over the world create memorable aromas and tastes that are truly a bridge between past and present. Our teas are made with certified organic ingredients, without genetic modification.

Go get some tea and take 5.  Try it.  It will make such a difference in your life.  


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Black and White Checks

You just can't go wrong with checks.  Check out this fabulous foyer. :)
 Even a small touch of checks gives any room a classic touch.
I was on a checkered pumpkin roll before Halloween, but now I'm painting some checks for when the pumpkins get tucked away. 

 Once you get your technique down, you can pretty much "check" anything.  Like this big board...
And I just started on this little stool.
Checks for clothes are more popular than ever.  If you don't have a gingham checked shirt, you should think about getting one.  It goes with anything and always looks great.

Pair it up with a black sweater and a statement necklace and you are all set for the holidays.

Have a happy day!  Thanks for stopping by.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Getting The Right Paint Color Isn't Always Easy

Picking paint colors isn't always easy.  Experts tell you to get a small sample or several different shades and try them out first.  But who wants to do that?  If you are like me, you want to get your paint and get on with your project.

The other day I went out to get a high gloss black. I researched my options, new the paint I wanted and headed out to the paint store.  Not a hardware store, but an actual paint store - that specializes in paint. I just wanted black. Easy enough right?

Well, it would have been easy, but the store didn't have the pre-mixed in black. Hmmm....what are my options?  The two men working at the counter looked at me like I had asked for something out of the ordinary. After staring at their paints for a minute, struggling to give me an option, one of the men said he could mix the paint I wanted and make it black. Genius....for a paint store right?  Just so we were on the same page,  I let him know that I was painting a desk and needed the paint to be jet black (confirming it's darkness) in a high gloss.  This is what I'm going to have right? He looked annoyed that I asked him this and he simply said "yes."

He mixed the paint and I was out the door.  Now, in the car, I was thinking that he didn't show me the shade before he put the lid on. But I figured this was a legitimate paint store so I should be good.

Well I got home, opened the can and you got it.... not even close.

I went back to the man who mixed my paint and very nicely told him that I asked for black and got grey.  He opened the can and asked if I wanted to make it darker?  Yes, that would be great.  He gave it a few shots of something, mixed it up and looked at it again.  This time even he agreed, it still wasn't black.  Moving at a snails pace, he went back to his paint shelf and said he could give me an oil in black?  (Omg....I'm thinking to myself) I want the paint you gave me but in black.  Is this possible?

It looked like a light bulb went off in his head.  He pulled another can of the same paint and went back to mix it.  This time, without saying a word, he handed me a a swatch of the new black. Bingo! This will work I said and left the store.

Now, it would have been nice to have heard, "I'm so sorry you had to come back", or "Sorry we didn't get that right the first time," but that wasn't happening.  Happy to have black, I went home to paint.

Can you see the difference?  The "first try" is after they tried to darken it. I'm still a little baffled that this behavior actually came from a specialty paint store. I wasn't asking for anything unusual.

Lessons learned: Don't leave the paint store without checking the color first and if you don't like the color you have, go back.  Don't let the paint stores intimidate you. It's your project and you have to live with it.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday Obsessions.....

Chippy white dresser....
Donuts....uh yeah.
Camel and black....
Painted Drawers.....
Hound and a Ford cute is this?
Have a great weekend!!