Thursday, February 27, 2014

Photography

Growing up, I remember beautiful landscape photos in my parents family room. When you looked at them you felt like you were actually there. The inspirational talent behind the photos? My Aunt Janet; my mothers twin and my namesake. I find it amazing that my mother is a twin and she had twins, as I have a twin brother!  Side tracked again! I was always in awe of the details in the photos and how she brought them to life.





Another amazing photographer in the family is my dads mother, my Grammy.  To this day there are only 2 photographs of me as a child that I actually like, and she took them both. She has a great way of capturing the subject in a natural setting. Most of the time, she didnt have us posing, but rather took spontaneous photos. It made for a professional looking picture.



Both Grammy and Aunt Janet also used to develop their own film! In todays digital world, can you remember what film is? Grammy still, to this day, has a dark room  in her house. It seemed like hard and tedious work especially as most of it had to be done in the complete dark before you could turn the red light on, hence why they probably called it a dark room (blonde moment).

Its amazing how far cameras have come. The digital world had made pictures available immediately rather than waiting for film to be developed. I have always wanted to learn more of photography and to be able to use a manual camera.

I have recently purchased a compact system camera. I wanted to splurge on an SRL but right know that is out of reach. The compact system is great as it has the interchangeable lenses and manual settings. I cant wait to dive in and learn how to use it.  When I learn how to use it and whether I like the camera, I will share the model and my thoughts on it.


In the meantime, I would like to share the pictures I take and will be adding another weekly post to my blog. On Sundays, I will be doing my week in pictures. Hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Lego Takeover


Do you ever wonder how Legos multiply? As a mother of 2 boys, I wonder about this all the time. I am starting to think that Legos are a distant relative of rabbits. Legos are a great toy, they really do bring out creativity in children and teach them how to follow directions while while developing their fine motor skills.

However, at 10:30 at night when you step on a stray Lego in your barefeet, you tend to forget how wonderful they are!  Our cat, Smokey, likes to bat around the heads of Lego characters- nothing like hearing bing, bing, bing against the hard wood floors at 2:00 in the morning. Love how she also chooses the heads; she is a little sinister! 

A few years ago I had spent several months redoing the basement into a playroom. There is (maybe I should say was) a strict rule of “all Legos must stay downstairs.” Then it started, “Mom can I just bring up Zane (one of the Lego Ninjagos which we have at least 10 of that one character).” “Mom, Zane is lonely up here, we need to bring Kia, Cole, and Jay up.” My nice, clean, well-decorated living room now looks like a Lego store. How does that happen? I know I can’t be  only parent that experiences this, right?

The other day, as part of a school project, my kindergartener had to bring in 100 items of something for the 100th day of school. We were all sitting down at that table for diner when I suggested that he should bring in Legos as we had at least a thousand down stair. My 3rd grader look at me with disgust and said that he has 2 Lego sets that were at least 1000 pieces each so we have much more than 1000. I stared dumbfounded at my husband who just nodded. I had mentioned this to one of my friends, who suggest a great snow day project, would be to have the boys count them all. I may just do this… it could keep them busy for days. 

LegoLand in Florida has a section called Mini USA which is a series of cities recreated using 300 Million Legos. I am starting to think that we have that many hang around our house.   

I will keep you posted on the snowday activity and how many we have…


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Crushing on Coral….







As I sit here typing, I imagine hearing the birds chirping outside my bedroom window as the sun comes up. However, that is not reality I look out the window at a foot of snow and the icicles dripping down creating a hazard on my deck.

Come to think of it I haven’t even seen the typical winter birds. I think with all this dismal weather the cardinals and chickadees have flown south.  Normally, they are antagonizing my cat outside the picture window. Now this is quite entertaining to watch and I will need to try and record it next time it happens. 

Anyways I kind of went off topic (I do this quite often and it drives my husband crazy). But I think it is part of my charm, right? Let’s rein me back in. It anyone ready for spring?  I certainly am. I am really crushing on coral for the spring.  So I have added some coral lips to my makeup to try and brighten this grey winter.

On of my favorite products is Chanel Levres Scintillantes Glossimer  in Murmure. This came out in their spring collection. In the tube it looks like a deep coral, but when on the lips is sheerer and provides a nice tint to the lips. I was looking for something to go under gloss to give my lips more panache. I looked at the complementary Chanel Rouge Coco Lipstick in Triomphe, but on my typically dry lips it appeared very chalky.

I ended up purchasing the Urban Decay 24-7 Glide on Lip Pencil  in Streak to go under the gloss. Urban decays lip pencils have the most luxurious feel to them. I used to think that lip pencils were drying, but urban decay has proved me wrong. They have a very creamy texture. Streak is a bright coral that looks great alone or underneath Chanel’s Glossimer.

I also love CoverGirl Lip Perfection Jumbo Gloss Balm in coral twist. It has great pigmentation and is bright without being “in your face.”  I actually have a few of these in different colors and  love them all. Especially for the winter, they are great to throw on to add some color and they have the protection of a lip balm. I love when a product does double duty!!!

What spring colors are you looking forward to wearing?





Thursday, February 20, 2014

Knitting





I love knitting. I find it very therapeutic and when I am finished I feel a sense of accomplishment.  I just started knitting 2 years ago; so by no means am I an expert, but I figured I would share projects I have completed and the patterns I use. 

I do make a lot of scarves and cowls, as they are a great way to get a grasp in basic techniques. Every time I finish a project, my husband sighs with exasperation that I have completed yet another scarf. I just smile back and tell him, I’m not the one who will be freezing this winter. At some point, I will have to start giving them away or we will have to put on an addition on just to house them all! I figure they will start making great Christmas and birthday gifts.

Here are some photos of the cowl I just completed. I love the lace design and it was a great way to learn different stiches. YouTube is a great resource to watch how to complete a certain type of stiches. 

The pattern which is called New Bittersweet Cowl by Megan Goodarce I downloaded from Ravelry.  My boarder is a little different from the pattern. This is a great site with resources and patterns. There are so many free patterns I will be busy for years to come….

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

80’s Love



So there is not much I love about the eighties, except for the music.  I certainty do not miss all the neon and big hair, but when I think about the music I think Madonna, Cindy Lauper, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard…. I could keep going. I think everyone has some favorite 80’s artists. What’s the artist or song you miss most?

I have a place in my heart for Soft Cell’s Tainted Love… My husband and I used to joke that it was our song. Yeah we’re a little quirky, but that’s ok right?  For the longest time it was the ring tone on my phone for my husband. So when I saw Tokyomilk Dark Tainted Love Eau De Parfum, I had to have it.

Now, I know you are not supposed to purchase perfume online. Normally, I would go to the mall, spray some on and then walked around the mall to see how it translates with my body’s chemicals. Unfortunately, Sephora did not carry this in a store by me, so I held my breath and made the online purchase.

I could not be more pleased! It is the perfect warm, winter scent. The keynotes are dark vanilla bean, orchid, white tea and sandalwood. It has a very unique scent and I love the modern, simple lines of the bottle. (We all know how important packaging is.)

I’m not usually a huge fan of vanilla, and I really do try and stay away from those scents. Doesn’t matter if it is a perfume, lotion or a candle, the smell of vanilla makes me want to bake a batch of cookies and proceed to eat all of them (this can be very dangerous)!!!! Luckily, while there is a touch of vanilla, the sandalwood does a nice job of countering the sweetness.

The longevity of the perfume is great as well. I put it on in the morning, (I leave the house at 6:45 AM) and by 5:00 in the evening I can still smell it lingering on my wrists.


Tainted Love is now my signature winter scent. What’s yours?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Saturday Snow–in






Yet another snowstorm has hit New England. While I am grateful I am not on the Cape (Cape Cod)(as they are expected to get the brunt of this with 15+ inches) it looks like we are homebound for the evening.

While I am not thrilled with the prospect of shoveling out tomorrow, I figured I would take advantage of the situation. After the boys nod off, I am going to pamper myself!!! 

I have a girl’s night planned for tomorrow evening. It has been so long and I am looking forward to catching up with everyone.  So I will take this time to prep myself.

Here is the line up…

I am going to start with a nice relaxing bath, and what is more relaxing then Lavender? I received a sample of L'occitane Lavender Foaming Bath and figured I would put it to good use tonight.  I will relax in the tub, inhaling what I can only image that the lavender fields in France smell like, and sip on Teavana's White Chocolate Peppermint Rooibos Tea. I am not a huge peppermint person, but it’s not too strong. It gives the chocolate a refreshing taste and is a wonderful indulgence on a cold night. It really is magical and it is on sale now as it was limited edition for the Christmas season.

After my bath I plan on slathering myself with The Body Shop’s Cranberry Joy Body Butter. This was a Christmas scent that they no longer carry. I think I am drawn to this today as it has snowflakes on the package J. I love how rich all Body Shop Body Butters are; they keep the itchy, dry skin away.

Can’t leave out the facemask and manicure when pampering yourself. I am going to use the Fresh Rose Face Mask. It is a gel-like formula which feels refreshing. The rose moisturizes the skin while the mask has cucumber and aloe, which calms inflammations in my skin. 

Last, but not least, I am going to adorn my nails with Essie Cocktails and Coconuts. This new color is part of Essie’s Resort 2014 line. I have already tried Find Me an Oasis and Under the Twilight and love them both so I can’t wait to paint my nails with this one!!!!

How are you spending your Saturday? Are you staying in or hitting the town?



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Winter Essentials


With the up-coming snow… yup, another foot of the “glorious” white stuff expected tomorrow. And by glorious I mean obnoxious. Twelve inches of the white flakes fell last Wednesday and we are getting hit again. On top of the all the snowfall, the temperatures have been well below average. It was negative 6 driving in to work this morning. Even through my car warmed up, my toes never did. Even my boys are done this season. It’s too cold to even play in the snow and I am hoping that we all survive until spring without going stir crazy!!

So I figured with all the frigid weather I would talk some of my must haves for my dehydrated skin.

1.     Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream  - This product gets a lot of hype about being a miracle cream. I actually am not part of the hype. I find it too greasy and thick to put all over my face or hands. What I love to use this for is when the boys and I are sick (aren’t the germs that kids pick up at school great!) and we have blown our noses about a thousand times a day. I put this on the cracked red skin and it immediately soothes and softens the skin. I put it on right before bed and when I wake up in the morning my nose looks like it was never abused the day before.

2.     Lush Mint Julips Lip Scrub – I love this lip scrub. It is wonderful at sloughing off dead skin and leaves your lips soft. You can get the same results from combining 1 TBSP of Brown Sugar and 1 TBSP of honey; however, the reason I am addicted is because it smells and tastes exactly like my favorite indulgence, Starbucks Peppermint Mocha. So even after Starbucks has taken the drink off their menu for the spring and summer I still can enjoy a little slice of heaven. 

3.     Aura Cacia Argan Oil - This is a great multi-use product. There are so many different brands, but I usually purchase the Aura Cacia as they carry it in drugstores and supermarkets, which makes it assessable and it is one of the least expensive option. This is great to use on the ends of my hair when they start getting dried out. I can also use it on dry patches of my face and it doesn’t cause me to break out.

4.     Clinque Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief -My face is normally very oily. Using the wrong product and it looks like my face has collided with an oil tanker. Not very pretty.  However, during the winter, I do have some dry spots on my face, especially my cheeks and under my nose. I believe the culprits for my dry skin are the dry heat in my house and car and then the slam of cold from the outside.  I have found this moisturizer hydrates my dry spots and does not turn the rest of my face into an oil slick

5.     L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream By far the best hand cream ever!!! It does not leave your hands greasy - I can actually twist the door handle after putting it on!!! Does anyone else have the problem of your hands being so greasy that you can’t grip the door handle? On top of it, my skin feels so amazing and soft. I like to put it on at night and in the morning my hands have been replenished.

What are your favorite winter products?



Saturday, February 8, 2014

Gluten Free Gooey Mac and Cheese



If you asked me what my perfect night in is, it would be a Meg Ryan movie marathon and gorging myself on Mac and Cheese. Since I don’t know what chemicals they stick in those powdery mixes, I don’t do that boxed stuff. 

I much prefer the creamy, homemade dish. I love how versatile it is. You can take a basic recipe and throw in ham and peas, chicken and broccoli, or if you want to make it  fancy, you can add lobster. Never mind all the different cheeses that can change the texture and flavor of the meal.

When my oldest son was placed on a gluten free diet three years ago, cooking became very restrictive.  Now I look back and find the increase in variety of gluten free foods sold in stores to be amazing. Our family has tried several different gluten free pastas and have found them, well, for lack of a better word, gross. Either they were mushy or grainy or had just an odd taste. That is until we discovered Tinkyada Pasta. It’s a rice pasta, which holds its shape perfectly and tastes exactly like regular pasta.


Once I found the perfect pasta, I created the perfect basic Mac and Cheese recipe. Hope you enjoy!!!



2 TBSP of butter
2 TBSP gluten free flour (I use Cup 4 Cup)
2 ½ Cups of milk (I used 1%)
2 Cups of shredded cheddar cheese
1 Tsp of Dion Mustard (I use whole grain mustard from Trader Joes)
1 Package of Tinkyada Organic Brown Rice elbows
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to directions on package.


In a medium saucepan, on medium heat, cook butter and flour together creating a light-colored rue. Then add milk and bring to a boil. Lower heat and whisk nonstop until milk thickens. Add cheese and mustard and stir until cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Combine pasta in sauce in 9x13 inch bakeware and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day


Ok, ok, I know I am a little early on this, but for once in the span of motherhood I am already prepared for my kids’ school celebrations! I am normally THAT mother who goes out the night before and pays double for those dinky cards (you know they increase them for us last-minute-people). Then I get home and my poor children have to write out 25 cards each causing their miniature hands to cramp up.

This year I was determined that it would be different. The cards are already completed and ready to go… I am on the ball this year and am hoping that this will continue throughout the year.
I scoured the internet and then the local Michael’s store looking for simple ideas that both the children and I could create together.  Here’s the idea we came up with and I was able to purchase all the items at Michaels.

I discovered large pre-cut hearts that became a perfect time saver and the base for the cards. There were no small pre-cut paper hearts, but I found a small heart box for $0.99 that I traced on pieces of scrapbooking paper.  Then I had the boys cut the hearts out (it’s good for their fine motor skills J) and glued the two hearts together.


Then using a Sharpie, we wrote the message, “You’re Just Write” on the small heart and the “To” and “From” on the back of the card.  Once that was completed, I used a rotatory cutter to make small incisions into the top and bottom of the larger heart and inserted adorable Valentine’s Day pencils I had picked up at Michael’s, as well.





Hope this gives you some inspiration!!!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sticky Sweet



I love baking yeast breads. There is something very therapeutic about it. All that kneading and pounding - was a great way to relieve stress. J I also love the smell of yeast bread when it is baking. It brings me back to my childhood. There used to be a Nissen Bread factory right in Worcester, MA (for you non-locals it’s pronounced “Wuster”).  As you drove on I-290,  the aroma would beckon you to stop at the factory store. My mom used to take us there quite often and that fresh-bread smell inside the store was even better than from the highway above. Unlike the bread that’s been sitting on grocery store store shelvess, the baked goods there were still warm!! My brothers and I would get back in the car and break right into the loaves!!!

Since my oldest son has become gluten-free, yeast baking has seemed to become a thing of the past. Anyone who has tried gluten-free baking knows that it’slike a chemistry experiment - and 9 times out of 10 it blows up in your face. 

I have found a miracle product, Cup 4 Cup GF Flour (keep an eye out for a future review on this product); however, it is meant for quick breads and cookies, not for yeast products. I have been using this product for over a year and its worth its weight in gold- which is a good thing as it costs almost as much as a gold bar! Williams Sonoma sells it for $19.95 for 3lbs, I have found it at a regional grocery store, Wegmans, for $15.99. But believe me it is worth it!!

So even though the product is not intended for yeast baking I thought I would give it a try, and boy, I was not disappointed. I made the Cinnamon Bun Bundt Cake from Epicurious (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Cinnamon-Bun-Bundt-Cake-51196640). I followed the recipe to the tee and merely substituted the flour with the Cup 4 Cup. It was delicious.  The bread was nice and tender and the top of the cake had the sticky, sweet glaze to it.

I have found the perfect breakfast for special mornings!!! I can’t wait until Easter morning and have the boys wake up to that heavenly fragrance!!