Thursday, April 17, 2014

The New England Gal’s lists of the ten things I have learned as a mother of boys….


I’ve seen lists like this floating around the internet and thought I’d share the things I’ve learned over the last 9 years.
 
The New England Gal’s lists of the ten things I have learned as a mother of boys….
  1.  Always, and I mean always, check jean pockets for acorns, sticks and rocks before doing the wash (luckily live animals have not made it in the house, but I’m sure that time will come.)
  2. There is no such thing as to many Legos. It doesn’t matter if you cannot cross a room without swearing up a storm from stepping on those pesky blocks.
  3. My car is the place where unwanted toys go to die. Still not sure how they get in there.
  4. It doesn’t matter what program you want to watch, if the Bruins, Red Sox, Patriots, or Tottenham Hotspur are on, you lose all rights to the TV.
  5. The dirtier your sports uniform, the better your performance, skill level does not matter.
  6. Bruises are a badge of courage, but a glimpse of blood makes the toughest boy run for a band-aide.
  7. Whether or not it is true; Daddy is always right.
  8. Washing hands consists of quickly fanning them under the faucet. Water is optional. Soap does not exist.
  9. Shoving clothes under the bed is easier than lifting the hamper lid.
  10. Because cake contains milk and eggs it is an acceptable form of breakfast. This comes from my 40 year old “child.” My husband read this and stated, “Muffins are cake, pancakes have cake in the title,  and waffles are cake-like.” I will never win this argument!



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Top of the Muffin to You




Nothing says “spring morning” like a steaming hot cup of coffee and a basket full of blueberry muffins. As a child, my Mémère had a blueberry bush in her backyard. It was always covered in cheese cloth so those pesky Grackles. My brothers and I would crawl underneath the cloth and grab a bunch of those plump juice berries oVnce they were ready to picked. We didn’t just do this with blueberries either, we would also go over to a friend’s house and pick wild black berries!

I cannot thin of anything better than fresh picked berries.  They are always sweet and juicy. Unlike the tart berries you find in the grocery store that you need to add a pound of sugar to sweeten them up.
Sometimes I like to get up on a Saturday morning before the rest of the family stirs and bake of batch of blueberry muffins. When the kids bounce down the hall they are smell that fresh-baked scent and get very excited. As you can see from the picture I didn't even have time to take a picture on the basket of muffins. Oh well, I should be grateful they left me one. 



Here is my favorite recipe for Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins


Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Ingredients
  • 1 stick Butter
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 2 cups & 1 Tablespoon Cup 4 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 cups Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 1/2 cups Blueberries (preferably fresh but frozen works)
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Lightly toss blueberries with 1 Tbsp of flour (this keeps the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the muffins)
  3. Cream butter and sugar until light in fluffy
  4. Added eggs one at a time
  5. Added baking powder and vanilla extract
  6. Added flour and milk alternating between them
  7. Gently fold in blueberries
  8. In a greased muffin tin add a large spoonful to each cup
  9. Bake for 30-40 minutes

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Photos of the Week

The weather this week has finally turned for the better and gave us the opportunity to play baseball and also gave us some beautiful sunsets.







  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

My Skin Saving Tools




While I change-up my skincare cleansers and moisturizers, there are two items that I could not live without. They have completely transformed my skin’s texture. When I had my youngest son, six years ago, the hormonal acne hit and was out of control, to the point it hurt just to talk. Isn’t pregnancy wonderful?  About two years ago, I finally got it under control, but for anyone who has suffered from acne knows, even once it is gone it has left its mark. My skin was scarred and pitted and I had to use a lot of concealer and foundation to cover it.



Someone suggested the Clarisonic to help exfoliate to smooth out the texture.  Up until a year and a half ago, I though the Clarisonic was a highly expensive toy. That was until I caved in. Sephora had a special package and I purchased it during one of their 20% off sales (Similar Here). It still cost me a pretty penny, about $120, but it was worth it. For the first few weeks I tested it out. I wanted to make sure it held up to the promises; otherwise, it was going straight back to the store. So I washed my face the old fashion way then rewashed it using the brush. I was disgusted at the amount of crud that was still left on my face. That sold it for me.  I only use it at night but, within two months, I noticed a huge transformation in my skin; it was smooth and looked radiant.  Every once and a while, as probably most people do, I have a lazy week,  where you quickly slap some soap and water on and call it a day.  The noticeable difference is shocking.  





The other product is much more affordable at $8.50. It is the Dr Sponge Konjac Sponge. Konjac sponges are a plant found in Asia and are rich in vitamins and minerals. In January, I started using the Lavender Sponge, which promises to balance stresses. It holds up to its end of the bargain. It lightly exfoliates and my skin is so soft after I’m done. When dry, the sponge is hard and to be honest kind of unimpressive.  When wet, it expands and has an almost gelatin like texture to it. I love using this in a morning. I also have the charcoal sponge that detoxifies and clears skin. I have not tried it yet. I am holding off until the summer, when my skin gets a bit oilier.


My skin has never looked better thanks to these.  What skincare can you not live without?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Local Business Love





I love shopping at small businesses. They take the time to make or carry specialized products. There is something wonderful about the thought that things haven’t been massed produced. It feels like they made it just for me. This weekend I discovered two new companies l love.

I went to the Natick Mall to shop at yet another commercial chain, and what a pleasant surprise to stumble across Westborough Wicks.  This store, out of all the chain stores in the mall, called out to me. They are a husband and wife team who make soy candles.  As I was lost in enjoying all of the wonderful scents, an extremely helpful sales associate assisted me in choosing the perfect fragrance.



I ended up picking two candles to try. The first was Emerald Pear. While it smells similar to the Victoria’s Secret Pear Glace aroma, it has an almost a beachy undertone to it. I know I am going to enjoy burning this as it reminds me of a fun trip I had in college when I went to Los Angles for a racquetball tournament. It was the first time I was introduced to the VS Pear Glace lotion.

Also, I picked up the Lemongrass and Sage candle. This candle had a nice, fresh citrus essence that will work perfectly in the kitchen. It reminds me of one of my favorite chicken dishes that I prepare with lemon grass.  I started burning this on right away and love the smell and it burns clean, no black soot. If you are interested in Westborough Wicks and do not live near the Natick Mall here is their website: https://westboroughwicks.com/ - they do online orders.



The other company I found is Library of Flowers by Margot Elena. Library of Flowers describes it self as an American small batch perfumery. I don’t know why, but that just drew me in. The store had the scents from the Paper, Cotton, & String collection. There was a full array of body products, but I decided to get the Perfume Sampler with all three scents. I know I cannot do them justice but I will try and describe them.

The first perfume is called Field Of Flowers The top note is Apricot, the middle is Honeyed Blossom, and the bottom is Wildflowers. It smells like a sundrenched field of flowers. With one whiff of this sent, I was transported, way back to my college years when I worked for a Bigelow Nurseries. I can picture us at lunchtime, spending our break laying in the sun, sharing funny stories and watching the clouds roll by in a small clearing surrounded by flowers– This is what I ‘see’ when I smell Field of Flowers.

Honeycomb, the second in the collection, is my favorite.  The notes on this one are Sugared Figs, Ambrosia Honey, and Royal Bee Blossom. If you are looking for a summer scent, you can stop looking because this is it. This is a beach in a bottle.  It reminds me of when Steve and I used to live in New Jersey. We used to go to Ocean Grove, a small beach town with amazing Victorian homes and beautiful gardens right on the water. When the ocean breeze blew, both the smell of the flowers and the ocean air would combine into the most delightful scent.

The final scent in the collection is called Linden which has the notes of Linden Blossom, Narcissus, and Clover Honey. This is a crisp and green scent reminiscent of a July afternoon out in the sun playing whiffle ball, while the smell of my mom’s flower garden drifts through the air.

I am incredibly happy with all three scents and can’t wait to start using them.  

What local businesses do you love? 



Morning Already!!!



Lately I have been struggling in the mornings… Well struggling is putting it mildly; it is agonizing getting out of bed. Anyone else have this problem? For someone who used to be a morning person, I have no idea what is going on. The snooze button has been my best friend and worst enemy!!! By the time I get up, I have 15 minutes to get ready before having to drag my kids out of bed.

Even after only a 2 minute shower, the following products have made getting ready fast and easy, so I look presentable at work.

First is my Batiste Dry Shampoo. I can spray my hair and in a few moments it looks freshly washed. I have tried a lot of other dry shampoos, but with this one it is amazing how long I can go without washing my hair. Um, maybe I shouldn’t be admitting that!  



For quick eye makeup, I have been turning to my Maybelline Color Tattoo eye shadows. No base is needed as these do not crease on me and they stay on all day. Using my fingers, I put Bad to the Bronze in the crease and top it with Barely Branded on the inside lid. Then I top it off with Cover Girl Clump Crusher Mascara.



For Foundation, I like to use the Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua foundation. It gives great coverage, and again, I can use my fingers for quick application. Even though it is not a matte finish, it leaves my skin looking radiant without looking like an oil slick - so I do not need powder. 



Then I throw on some blush; I have been alternating between Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso and Nars Blush in Sin. Both are beautiful; Sin (I love the name of the Nars blushes) is a pink/plum color and Luminoso is a beautiful coral color that has some highlighting to it.


To top off my look, I quickly dab on a lip balm or gloss. I love the Korres Lip Butter in Wild Rose. Because it is a lip butter it moisturizes and protects my lips and as a bonus it is tinted so it gives me some color which I need to brighten up my pale complexion this winter.




What products do you turn to when you’re in a rush?


Gluten-Free Chicken Pot Pie


Growing up, my family used to frequent the Post Office Pub for dinner. I used to be a creature of habit; to the point the servers didn’t even bother asking what I wanted. They already knew: Chicken Pot Pie. What’s not to love?  It’s like chicken soup in a pie crust. To me this is one of the most comforting of comfort foods, along with beef stew and mac and cheese. Can you imagine anything better on a cold winter day then one of these meals? 

Finding a decent gluten-free option has been elusive. The gluten-free pie crusts I have tried have not lived up to my expectations. That is when I decided to try doing it with a twist. Why not top it with gluten-free biscuits?  It turned out perfect! It was super-easy to throw together and my oldest sonexclaims that I outdid myself and this was the best meal ever. Even my pickiest eater ate all of it.

I am so elated by the results of this I wanted to share the recipe:





Gluten Free Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients:

2 Chicken breasts (cubed
2 Cream of Chicken Soup (Used Pacific Foods as it is gluten free)
¼ Cup of Chicken Broth
16 oz bag of frozen peas and carrots
Salt and Pepper to tastes


Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken in 2 TBSP of olive oil. Then add the vegetables, soup and broth and cook for an additional 15 minutes. While that is cooking follow direction on Bisquick box for biscuit dough.  Put Chick mixture in casserole dish and drop spoonful’s of biscuit dough on top.  Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes until biscuits are browned.

Spring has Sprung … Nails




Finally, the weather has started to get better. Anyone else ready for warmer weather?  Only a few small patches of snow remain in my yard and the crocuses are popping up. Yesterday, it was so nice out the boys and I played catch in just sweatshirts. However, Wellies were the foot attire of choice as the back yard is a mud pit.

With spring here I am finally ready to lighten up on the nail polish. These are my favorites right now.



From Essie’s spring collection, I keep grabbing Find Me an Oasis and Resort Fling. Find Me an Oasis is a beautiful pale blue. It reminds me of the color of Elsa’s dress in Frozen (my current obsession, can you tell I’m a parent of young kids?). Resort Fling is a beautiful coral, I’ve been told it is the same color as Essie’s Tart Deco, so if you have that one there’s no need to purchase Resort Fling. Coral always reminds me of Nantucket.  When you browse the shops in town, it is a reoccurring color in many of the items, especially the home décor.


Nail Inc’s Notting Hill Carnival and Haymarket always make an appearance this time of year. They are the quintessential Easter egg colors. Yellow is not normally my friend.  Being pale and blonde, yellow normally washes me out and clashes with my skin.  This yellow, while it has a pastel undertone, is bright enough that it does not wash me out.  Haymarket is described as a duck egg blue; however, I think is looks like a bright mint green.


I am in love with Sephora’s new nail policy line Formula X. My nails always come out glossy and smooth. The colors I adore right now from them are Eureka and Thrilling. Eureka is a vibrant fuchsia; perfect to brighten the April showers. Thrilling has been my go to neutral color as it is a light nude taupe.


What are your favorite color nails for the spring?

Spinach Artichoke Dip



I think everyone and every restaurant has a version of this recipe. I remember the first time I had this, my best friend and I decided to grab a burger after work and headed to Houlihan’s, which is a chain in NJ. We decided to start off with this appetizer. It was delicious and since then, I have searched for the perfect recipe. I have finally developed the perfect one a few years ago and it is a constant request from friends and family.  It is perfectly rich and creamy. Every time a put it out it is scoffed down in minutes. I have learned to make a little serving in a ramekin for myself just so I get a chance to indulge.


I was making it for a bridal shower I was attending and thought I would share. With the upcoming holidays, it is the perfect starter and it is gluten free!!!










Spinach Articoke Dip

Ingredients
  • 2 10oz bags of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 15oz can of Artichoke hearts
  • 2 Blocks of 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups Sour cream
  • 2 cups Shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 2/3 cup Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3 Roasted garlic cloves, chopped
  • Pinch Pepper
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Drain and squeeze excess liquid from spinach.
  3. Drain and chop Artichoke hearts.
  4. Combine spinach, artichokes, cream cheese, sour cream, 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese, 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese, and garlic.
  5. In a greased 9X12 casserole dish spread mixed evenly.
  6. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with corn chips or crackers.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Some of My Favorite Things


I must admit, I am not the least upset that March is over. Actually, I am jumping for joy! Even though spring started on March 21st, here in New England it is still winter. We are still averaging 10 degrees below average.  With April around the corner, hopefully, spring weather is on its way … although I can’t shake the thought of Mother Nature’s cruel April Fool’s Day blizzard of 1997 (insert shudder here.) With the end of the month here, I thought I would share some of things I have enjoyed this month.


First item that I could not have lived without this past month is a quilt my mom had made me when I was in college. I love sunflowers and this quilt definitely brightened my mood while keeping me toasty warm.  One of the best qualities of this quilt is that it is bigger than the typical lap quilt, which means my two boys and I can cuddle underneath it to watch TV or read a book.  My poor husband couldn’t fit so he had to find his own way to keep warm.


Next, are my new glasses, besides the frames being stylish, just the fact that I finally got a new prescription and have not suffered from headaches due to staring at the computer screen all day makes them my favorite purchase this month!  And I do love the frames. I was looking for brown tortoise frame. I found the perfect pair, of course they were Gucci and a little out of my price range. The sales associate then pulled out a pair of Kate Spade glasses. Even though they weren’t brown, I actually like the red/rose color better; they seem to brighten up my face.


I’m not a hoarder and I am pretty good at purging items I don’t use (not as good as my husband as he throws away everything even items we need; Steve does not like clutter) However, I always have a problem throwing  away the empty glass Bath and Body Works Candles. This month I finally figured out what to do with them! I purchased metallic glass paint and stencils to decorate them. Now they are a stylish addition to my bathroom and a practical way to hold my makeup brushes. I also brought some to work to hold paperclips and pens.


I just started purchasing MAC products again. I used to buy them all the time and then when I moved to western New Jersey there was not a store that had MAC readily available. I forgot how nice their products are and that they are reasonably priced. They are a little higher than drugstore products, but not as high as the prices for designer makeup.  I have been wearing Mac Lipstick in Peach Blossom. I love their crème sheen lipsticks. The formula is nice and moisturizing and the texture is smooth. Peach Blossom is a nice nude color on me. Because of my pasty complexion, normally nude colors wash me out. Because of the peach tone it complements me well when I want a neutral color.


Let me know some of your favorite things this past month!!  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Movie Night


I’m a homebody.  While there is the occasional inclination to go out, I prefer to sit around in my PJ’s and relax with my family. Sounds glamorous right? We have developed a family movie night as a way to spend some time unwinding from the week.  

This weekend is especially memorable because we are having my parents and my aunt over for it. It was my Mom and my Aunt’s Birthday last week; however, as I was sick, so we never had a chance to celebrate.

In case you haven’t heard, Frozen was released on DVD this week. My Mom has wanted to see it, so I figured I would incorporate her birthday celebration with movie night. For something different, I found some special salty and sweet popcorn recipes…  this way it covers all cravings and if you want salty-sweet and can mix it together.

I also served some of our favorite candy along with the popcorn.


Toffee Popcorn

2 bags of microwaveable popcorn (popped)
1 Stick of butter
1 1/8 cup of light brown sugar
1/3 cups of light corn syrup
1 Tsp of vanilla extract
½ tsp of baking soda
1 cup peanuts
Preheat oven to 250F. Mix popcorn and peanuts in a bowl and remove as many un-popped cornels as possible. In a medium saucepan melt butter. Add sugar and corn syrup and bring to a boil stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add vanilla and baking soda. Stir into popcorn and peanuts. Spread mixture onto parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour. Cool for 25 minutes and then break into pieces.


Parmesan Ranch Popcorn

1 bag of unsalted popcorn (popped)
1 package of ranch mix (Hidden valley is gluten free)
1/2 cup of canola oil
2 cups of gluten free pretzels
½ cup of grated parmesan cheese
In microwaveable bowl combine Ranch mix and oil. Add popcorn and pretzels and then microwave for 2 minutes. Added cheese and serve.



What's your favorite hanging in activity? 






Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pictures of Paris

I had a few request to post more pictures of Paris. So rather than doing my week in photos, I figured I would post some of my favorites from France. It was not easy choosing; we took upwards of 700 pictures!