Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas bunting....and a mummy's heart..

Hi there... I'm still here, just in case you were thinking I'd been dragged off into the woods by a bear...This past Sunday, we returned from the cabin having had a wonderfully relaxing Thanksgiving... being taken away from the home certainly forces you to relax; or, in my case, brush up on the old sewing skills... under my mum's tutelage, I managed to rustle up a little Christmas bunting...

Baring in mind that less than 3 weeks ago, I had not been near a sewing machine since Home Economics class (circa 1988)... I am pretty chuffed (pleased) with the results! There's no stopping me now!... I having an ongoing list in my head of things I want to make...

My next mission is to make some fabric heart decorations.... I did attempt one at the cabin, but not sewing in a straight line is proving a little tricky for this novice...

Anyhoo, my eldest daughter loved my heart attempt, and went to bed cuddling 'Mummy's heart'... I now just have to make one for my other little one... after all, they both share it...

Hoping you are all having a beautiful week! 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to All

I'll keep this brief, because a lot can be said in a few words... Wishing all a Happy Thanksgiving... 
We have a lot to be thankful for in this world... for me, I am thankful for the love and support of all my family and friends... I'm also thankful for health and happiness... If you have these covered, you pretty much want for nothing! As the hubby would say, 'the rest is gravy!'
Sorry for the lack of pictures today... packing in a hurry caused some things to be left behind, but all the important things made it to the cabin and that's all that matters! I'm off to enjoy the feast!

Not our turkey, but I did manage to find a picture of a chicken on the laptop

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A festive bird

We're quickly approaching the end of November. Any leaves that were left on the trees have been blown off by last week's gales. The trees are bare and all of the rich colours of Fall have all but gone... not quite a winter wonderland yet, but I'm sure we're only weeks away... With this in mind, I decided to update the old cloche... so, the owl, pumpkins, and leaves have been relegated to the attic and I set about creating a new nature scene to commemorate the season...

Had this been the UK, I'd have definitely popped an English robin in there... Oohh, how I miss the English robin... it's beautiful, red fat chest adorning any traditional Christmas card... I have to say, I'm quite disappointed with it's American cousin... definitely not as cheery, little, and fat!

However, there is a festive bird to rival our little robin... the stunning male red cardinal... I have to say, there is nothing more beautiful than this scarlet bird against a snowy backdrop... With this in mind, I decided to create an American winter scene, complete with my own little cardinal. I'm really pleased with how it turned out... What do you think?

If you're requiring some more Christmas inspiration, pop over to the lovely Melissa... she's hosting a little Christmas Inspiration party... After reading her beautiful blog, I'm ready to get creating...

... and I'm also linking with the Christmas blog Tinsel and Company... They host a Deck the Halls Friday, giving us all the chance to share our Christmas creativity!

... and finally head over to Hooked on Houses for an impromptu Christmas Party!

Wishing you all a great start to the week!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tea cups, cup cakes & Friday Flowers...

Hi there... November is going super fast. I can't believe it's almost Thanksgiving already... Normally, I'm super-prepared and very much in the festive spirit, but this year, I feel like I've barely packed away the Halloween decorations... My head is definitely not hearing the tinkle of jingle bells or thinking of my Christmas  decorations.
So, over the next week, I plan on kicking it up a notch and dragging myself into Christmas... I started the other day by practically raiding the library of all the children's Christmas books... I figured that if I can get them super-hyped for Christmas (hope I don't regret that move), then I'll be soon to follow... after all, I'm always told it's a holiday for the kiddies!

Anyhoo, another great way to get me in the festive mood is to start drawing up that gift list... or should I say, wish list... I started this list around December 26th, 2009... in fact, make that 2003... it's an ongoing list that just keeps on growing... In an antique store this past week, I spied something else to add to it... some divine vintage tea plates... I oohh-ed and ahh-ed, envisaging having afternoon tea served upon them (like I ever get a chance to have an afternoon tea)... given that really any spare cash should go on gift-giving, I walked away and informed the hubby of said plates later... just in case he's stuck on what to get me...

I'd like to say I left the store empty-handed, but I couldn't pass up these cute tea cups...

I got a set of four for less than the cost of two lattes... now that's something you can't sniff at!

Today, I enjoyed a nice cup of tea and a party cupcake... it wasn't quite an afternoon tea, but it's a step in the right direction... I just need those tea plates...

My Friday Flower this week is dedicated to all of you... I know I've done this before, but really, I can't thank you enough for taking the time out of your day and reading my thoughts... thank you so much for sticking with me... leaving your comments... making me smile and brightening my day... You make it all worth while!

Wishing you all a fantastic weekend.

If you would like to join in with this week's Friday Flower, there's a Linky widget below where you can add a link to your page... then pop over to miss sew and so and do the same there... it's all about sharing the love!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

An English corner shop in NYC

Today, we took a trip into NYC.. Boy, do I love this city... although when I was doing the 9-5 grind here everyday, I couldn't wait to get on the Path train and head back to NJ.

Nowadays, the visits are few and far between... largely due to the logistical challenges of mooching around with a 4-year old and 2-year old in tow... How native New Yorkers do this is beyond me...

I can tell that my eldest has been removed from this lifestyle when she asked if we could just drive around rather than walk.... memories of apartment life and trawling around parks have all but been forgotten for this little one,  and she is definitely a 'burbs girl!

Anyhoo, any visit to NYC has to involve a trip to Myers of Keswick. A little English corner shop in the center of the Village. This place gives me my fix of all things English (although the price tag lets me know that I'm definitely not in the UK). Not only does it sell all manner of English household-named goodies, but it also offers a great selection of homemade pasties, sausage rolls, and, just for the season... mince pies! Mmmm, if I close my eyes I could be in a quaint corner shop in Keswick..... except when I open the door, the bells jingle and I'm right back on Hudson Street... a few blocks from Perry Street (where the legendary Carrie lived on Sex In the City)...

I so hoped to capture more shots, but the battery ran out on my camera... lesson learned... remember camera and batteries...

I'm learning all this the hard way, though... I even joked that I could have been part of the papparazzi for the day, as we spied Ralph Fiennes sitting outside a coffee shop... Liv Tyler walking down 6th Avenue, and John Mayer looking moody near the Blue Note...

Hope you're all having a great week.
Take care.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A beach day, for a November birthday girl...

Saturday was my eldest daughter's fourth birthday... being a November baby, we always assume that we'll spend the day doing indoor activities... but, for this day, the sun had his hat on and it was unseasonably warm for New Jersey...so what better way to spend the day than at the beach?

There's nothing better than a beach out of season...

... the sky appears endless and uninterrupted...

... the beach vast and desolate...

... all the hurley burley replaced by the gentle sounds of waves breaking and gulls calling in the distance.

The boardwalk was scattered with a few people here and there... normally, we'd be holding on to the girls' hands, but today, they ran ahead... chasing the birds that were scavenging for the meagre offerings from the few stalls that were open.

From the sand, the waves were crashing with such ferocity. I tried to capture them on my camera, but they look so tame compared to the giants we actually saw...

We watched the surfers braving the icy waters... my eldest declaring that they looked like seals in their full body suits.

The day was perfect... so I figured I'd share a little of it with you...

Hoping you're all having a great start to your week... thank you so much for stopping by and spending a little time with me!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cupcakes, Birthdays & a Friday Flower

It's full steam ahead... aprons made (almost), school cupcakes baked.... just the party favors and food to sort... oh yeah, and another batch of cupcakes to whip up... Ohhh, and if I get a chance, I could do with a quick spruce up, too... busy, busy, busy..

So, my lovelies, I'll have to keep this post short and sweet today (like my hubby!)...

... anyhoo, you can tell I'm tired, as I'm starting to waffle (my old English teacher always ticked me off for this)... so, I'll get back to the Friday Flower...

I picked these today because they looked so delicate and pretty.. just like my little girls, who are celebrating their birthdays... My delicate little angels...
I'd like to dedicate this flower to a blogger who I stumbled across a few weeks ago, and I am in love with her blog Nice Day at Rosies...

I feel as though I am lucky to share a little bit of her coastal life in England. Her name is Jill and she lives the life that I dream of... and so, through her blog, I get to live vicariously... soaking up the beautiful countryside of North Devon... living in a beautiful cottage... sitting by a roaring fire, with a glass of wine. Thank you, Jill, for providing me with a window into a life that I dream of.

Take care all and have a fantastic weekend!

If you would like to join in with this week's Friday Flower, there's a Linky widget below where you can add a link to your page... then pop over to miss sew and so and do the same there... that way even more people will get to view your lovely blooms!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Making aprons, making memories...

To say I am busy this week would be a major understatement. What, with preparing for the girls' birthday party.. which includes making aprons... baking one batch of cupcakes for said party and another for her school... I'm also busy entertaining my parents, showing them the sights of New Jersey...
On Sunday, we visited a local historic house. It was bitterly cold and I forgot my camera... all in all,  I didn't get the most from the experience. Had I remembered my camera, I would have had some beautiful shots... as it is I have nothing... I was so disappointed. I really have to get into the habit of carrying it on my person at all times (something that doesn't come naturally to me). Looking on the bright side, it does give me an excuse to visit there another day (preferably a warmer one) and capture those missed shots!

Anyhoo, the week started miserably here (weather-wise)... we even had a few snow flurries... just a window into what is in store for us here in New Jersey! With the wind blowing a hooey (I picked up this turn of phrase in Blogland and have been waiting to use it), my mum and I decided to get cracking on those aprons. What do you think? The one below is the prototype (my mum didn't want me to post it... she's a perfectionist... I thought it looked perfect... well, to me they did)... she has assured me that they are getting better with each successive one. My kitchen is like a little production shop at the moment! I might even get the kiddies on the production line... second thoughts...

I have to admit, my mum did a good chunk of the sewing, but I had a hand in every step (well almost ;-)... I'm just much slower than she is!  She really is an excellent teacher, though... so patient and encouraging... (even though I knew she could see me making mistakes and taking an age to do every little bit)

It's been so long since my mum and I have had this type of relationship. By the time you hit the mid-30's, these situations become less commonplace... all in all, this whole exercise has reminded me what it was like growing up with this fabulous woman. Tutoring me through life... her kindness, patience, and just always being there to help me when I needed her... hearing her words of encouragement (when I thought I couldn't do something)...

I will hold all these memories close in my heart forever. Making these birthday favors have strengthened the image that I hold dear of my mum...  and, at the same time, we are creating new memories for my daughters, too! This truly is priceless...

Hope you are all having a fantastic week. Thank you for baring with me during these lean blog times! Hope you all understand.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Friday Flower, Sewing and Friend Love

Friday already? This week has gone so fast. I would love to slow this month down and enjoy every second with my mum and step-father. I find myself going to bed later and later, as I don't want to waste a second with them. I'm a pretty happy bunny at the moment... watching my mum with my girls... having her help in the kitchen... just living our lives as I always imagined we'd be (if it weren't for the 3000 miles between us). There's nothing like watching your mum with your children... I just feel my heart swelling and brimming over with love...

Today, we sat at the sewing machine... she patiently taught me to set it up and guide the material through, turn corners, etc. (something I imagine is easy-peasy for all you crafters out there)... had we lived down the road from each other, I'd have picked her brains along time ago, but as it is... my sewing machine (a gift from my mother-in-law) sat in the closet... waiting for my mum's arrival... waiting for her to pass down her skill to me... yes, I could have taken a class, but this is so much more special... and maybe, one day I'll pass it down to my daughters...

My Friday Flower  is a surprise bunch brought by the hubby and I'd like to dedicate it to two wonderful people in my life. The first gal is the lovely Melissa who I share Friday Flower with... her blog is beautiful... I mean really beautiful... I savour both the pictures and the words... but more than that, she is a truly lovely person. Her comments brighten my day and her e-mails fill me with cheer. Melissa is like the pen-friend I always wished I had growing up. Thank you for brightening my day!

The second gal (and by no means least) is my daily saviour, Tina. She's my English friend here in the States... she supplies tea and good company... but, most of all, she keeps me sane... without her I don't know what I would do. Really there aren't enough words for how much this tea buddy means to me. So, thank you, Tina, for being you. For being everything I could ask for in a friend! Now, get writing that blog, so that everyone else can get to experience your loveliness!

If you made it to the end of this post today, you'll have probably noticed that I'm feeling pretty sentimental...  I guess, that's what having your mum around every day does to you...

Wishing you all a fantastic weekend! Catch you next week.

If you would like to join in with this week's Friday Flower, there's a Linky widget below where you can add a link to your page... then pop over to miss sew and so and do the same there... that way even more people will get to view your lovely blooms!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cuppa tea & chocolate chip banana bread

First of all, I would like to thank everyone for their well wishes for my sister. It means a lot to me. She's been released from the hospital and is sounding chipper. She still has headaches and is very weak, but she is well and truly on the mend. Given this, I feel I can now enjoy my mum's visit... and what a busy couple of weeks I have ahead of me!!

The girls birthdays' are weeks away (days for the youngest), and so, birthday preparations are underway... namely, my mum teaching me to use a sewing machine, so that I can knock up a few pinnies (aprons) for the little party goers... I'm hoping to give these as favors, as I've planned a little baking treat for them! (The last time I was near a sewing machine, I was 13 years of age and in a Home Economics class... I think I'm going to be on a pretty steep learning curve, but who says you can't learn and old dog new tricks??)

Anyhoo, during my mum's visit, there will be a lot of tea supped... the hubby says that he can tell when we have visitors from Blighty, as the sink and/or dishwasher is full of mugs at all times... for me, it's how it should be... one of life's little pleasures is to share tea and have a chin-wag with good company... I'm always disappointed when my offer of a cup of tea is turned down... guests probably expect me to go on to offer coffee, but, honestly, I'm doing them a favour by not making them one...

Apologies for the quality of the photo's today... the hubby took my camera to work!

So, today, after drinking my umpteenth cup of tea, I decided to bake... just because I wanted to fill the house with that, 'I've been baking all day' smell... and so,  I whipped up a banana bread to munch upon with said cups of tea... and, because I didn't get my fill of chocolate on Halloween, I decided to add some chocolate chips in for good measure (you can never have too much chocolate)... it turned out to be the perfect accompaniment for a hot cuppa on a cold autumn day.

I hope you're all having a lovely week... it's starting to turn pretty chilly here... so, I'll be eating all the yummy English food my mum brought over... you know, just to add some winter insulation ;-)

Take care.

P.S. I popped the recipe on especially for my mum... she enjoyed it so much, she's going to make it when she gets home...

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 ripe bananas (mashed)
¼ cup of milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup of butter or margarine (1 stick)
1 cup of sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350F . Grease a metal loaf pan. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a bowl.

In another bowl combine the bananas, milk and vanilla extract.

In a large bowl, with the mixer on a medium setting, beat the butter and sugar, until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Reduce the mixer to a low setting and add the flour and banana mixture, a little at a time alternating between the two (scrape the bowl with a spatula to make sure it all gets incorporated).

Once the mixture is just blended, fold in the chocolate chips.  Pour the mixture into your prepared loaf pan. Bake for approximately 1 hour 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the loaf comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove and cool completely on a rack.

Taste tested, and confirmed, delicious with a cup of tea!
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