Tuesday, December 30, 2008 | | 5 comments
Winter
With the holidays coming to completion,
I'm ready to snuggle in, and enjoy the winter season.
I'm looking forward to roaring fires,
homemade soups, and curling up with a good book.
We have some changes coming our way in the new year
I'll share more on that later.



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Monday, December 29, 2008 | | 5 comments
I had to do it ~
*This is another Nicholas original from Christmas, but it best expresses my current feeling.
Once again, I feel the need to express that this is early Christmas morning and only a couple
sips into my cup of coffee!

take the tree down.
I'm not sure what the problem was this year ~ too dry in the house, not enough water, bad year for the type of tree we cut down each year, who knows!


I just couldn't handle the feeling of clutter any longer. At 8:30pm my OCD (diagnosed by my husband) kicked in full blast and the Christmas tree bins came out. I took the tree down, tucked the Nutcrackers away, and a few Santas as well.
There are still decorations around our home, the feel is just a tad lighter

I just felt like I needed some space ~ it's rather hard to explain. I even went light on
the decorations this year.



I enjoyed the Christmas season for the most part, but I always felt like I was running to catch up. It just wasn't as relaxing as I'd hoped ~ everything felt rushed.
I realize that some years are more enjoyable than others.



With that said, I truly enjoyed having my son home from college, decorating cookies with my daughter, my annual cookie exchange that I've hosted for the past 5 years and
as always, a quiet moment with my husband.


Now that a few of our decorations are put away, I feel more relaxed. I'm really looking forward to New Years. Our dear friends are coming over for a quiet and elegant dinner. Our menu is simple but delicious. I'll lite the house with candles and my husband will build a roaring fire. Our glasses will be filled from my favorite vineyard as we toast to a healthy and prosperous new year. We are so blessed to have them in our lives. They really have become our family away from home. I hope they know how very important they are to us.


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Sunday, December 28, 2008 | | 8 comments
A Merry Christmas was had by all
*the pictures are backwards in order



We had a lovely Christmas at home this year.

There was no traveling, no visitors, just our family.

It was relaxing and very enjoyable, just what I needed.

It was so nice to just "be" with my family.


By 9:00pm I was ready for bed! If it hadn't been for the roaring fire

and board games, I might have dozed off earlier.

Santa brought my son a new camera for Christmas so we now have several "candid" shots (read less than attractive at inopportune photo times), thanks Nick! I'm not sure that these qualify as our best "sides." : )


Our rib roast was amazing. I found a very simple recipe that proved not only to be easy, but delicious. I will be using this one for many years to come!

It allowed me to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with my

family ~ always a bonus!




Bozley is modeling his new monogrammed squall jacket ~ everyone in my
family had monograms!

The culprit of our Christmas pictures. I think my son may have a future in photography ~ as in paparazzi. With that shared, I think it's best to spare you all the close~up details. After all, it was early on
Christmas morning!






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Wednesday, December 24, 2008 | | 4 comments
From our family to yours,
a very Merry Christmas filled with
joy and happiness!


May your family be blessed
during this holiday
season.
*photo taken by Fran


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Sunday, December 21, 2008 | | 6 comments



Souper Sunday


This is currently going on in our backyard ~ yes, it has started snowing again!

A perfect night for soup.


Mexican Chicken Soup

A family favorite


1 large onion, chopped

6 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup cilantro, chopped

4 tbls olive oil


1 can green chilies, chopped

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice

1 can creamed corn

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

3 tbls cumin

2 tbls chili powder

1 tsp cayenne pepper

2 bay leaves

pinch of salt

8 cups chicken stock

3 chicken breasts shredded



Garnishes

Sour cream

shredded cheese


Saute the first 3 ingredients in the olive oil. Add the chilies, tomatoes, corn, black beans, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, bay leaves, salt, chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 45 to 60 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and add chicken. Continue to simmer until chicken is heat through ~ about 10 minutes

Top with garnishes and enjoy!









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Snow Day
I so needed this day!
It's the first one of the season and was anticipated with excitement equally shared by
students and teachers alike.
It was all the talk Thursday ~
the weather checked hourly
updates shared
tentative plans of a day off made
dreams of sleeping in
snowmen being built
hot cocoa sipped
and me ....
catching up!
It Arrived As Scheduled
We awoke Friday morning with school cancellations state wide.
I got up at my normally set time, made my lists, and set my course while lingering over my coffee in front of a fire. Ahhh, a little relaxation before I hit the road.
The weatherman promised I had until 1pm before the flakes hit our area.
I was a women on a mission. If you saw a Yukon XL flying down the highway in south eastern Connecticut, that was me!
My Course of Action
*I hit the commissary first before the chicken was sold out. Let me explain ~ for some very strange reason whenever there is a storm, people buy out all the chicken at the commissary. I have no idea why. My question is ... if we lose power, how are they going to cook that chicken? Anyway, I needed some for my soup along with a few other items on my list for this weeks menu.
*Next was Target for those last minute stocking stuffer ideas,
*Home Goods for a cute basket to hold some goodies for my daughter.
*Mystic ~ something fun and unique for a good friend of mine.
*Package store ~ unlike those that need chicken for a storm, I like to be stocked with wine and chocolate (you don't need power to consume these items!)
I was home by 1:15pm and the flakes were just beginning to fly.
The weather man was true to his word ~
Mission Accomplished!

Bozley wasn't so sure of the white stuff covering the ground, this was his first snow. Nick and Shannon took him out to "play" around 6pm.
Thought I should include the small area I shoved ~ the covered entry :)

Our spiral tree looks rather decorative with its winter coating


It finally stopped snowing well into the night. Our children offered to take care of the snow removal. Nick got the snow blower out and did the drive while Shannon did the front walk way. After my initial shock of their offer, I realized it was just an excuse to have a snowball fight and sled down the driveway with the neighborhood teenagers.
I tried to get pictures of the children but it began snowing again and all I got
was snowflakes in the night sky.

A good day was had by all!







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Tuesday, December 16, 2008 | | 6 comments
Stressed!

I am beginning to get the last minute panics.
Each year I start off totally organized and even ahead of the game. This year something slipped and I'm behind about a week. I'm finding that I'm staying up later, getting up earlier and multi~tasking way too many things.
Why?
So that my family and friends have a very Merry Christmas.
I'll be asleep under the Christmas tree if you need me!
Have a GREAT day!
Jo


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Monday, December 8, 2008 | | 10 comments

My husband and I had a Christmas party to attend in Newport this weekend. We had a fabulous time with fun friends. Since all was quiet on the home front, we were able to spend the night and turned our weekend into a mini getaway ~ such fun!

Sunday morning we awoke to snowflakes dancing in the sky. It was a very gray morning but the snow made it special. After a lovely breakfast, we decided to visit the Newport mansions decorated for the Christmas season. They were simply amazing!

Below is the Vanderbilt's summer home in Newport, RI known as The Breakers.
It is clearly stated that photography is not permitted in the mansion with the exception of the main entry. I am usually very respectful of the rules but I must admit, I broke a few during our visit.
Truth be told, I needed to take pictures for decorating references when we become gazillionaires (yes, that's a word, just ask my students) and build our very own mansion : ) I'll invite you all over for a tour; no need to get your date books out just yet.
*Please keep in mind that it was a very overcast day and very gray
(no, it has nothing to do with the fact that I have a new camera and have no idea how to use it!)






This was one of many enormous fireplaces in the summer home. It was located in the main hallway that served as a sitting area of sorts. The two in the dinning room were so massive that you could literally walk into it almost standing straight up. The fine detailed work that went into the design of each fireplace is beyond words. There were two completely encased in marble.





This was the sitting area of the youngest daughters room. It was decorated in pale pinks and soft greens with very delicate touches. It actually seem small compared to all the other rooms in the "home". It was definitely a girlie girls room.


Do to the fact that I wasn't allowed to take pictures, I'm failing you on the depth and height of these rooms. I wish I could have gotten a few pictures of the ceilings. Nothing went unnoticed in the decorating eye.




I had only one opportunity to sneak a shot in the dinning room so I went for the chandeliers. They were breathtaking ~ as was the case in many of the rooms. I hope you can somewhat see the detail and decor of the ceiling. It was very impressive. The dinning table sat up to 40 people with fire places on either end of the room. The colors in here were more demanding. They were heavy in deep rich reds.





The room below is of their breakfast room. It was gorgeous and going with the theme, enormous. The walls were a pale green with gilding. It had a very calm and quiet presence about the room. The softer colors made it appear more inviting. I could certainly find myself starting my morning off enjoy this lovely room and the incredible view outdoors.






The next two pictures are of the kitchen ~ they were amazing! The stove tops and ovens were massive. I can't even begin to imagine the flurry of activity that must have taken place in this area.









It's hard to see from this picture but the copper just gleamed. The pots and lids look teeny in the large room with enormously high ceilings.







The photo I really wanted to get ,but there was a house monitor standing in the room the entire time, was of the dish, china, silver and glassware room. It was two stories high! I need something along those lines : )









I've been try to convince my husband that I "need" a larger kitchen. I think this one just might fit my requirements! Do you think a chef comes with? : )



Tomorrow I'll show you the outside ~ I fell in love with the urns!

































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Tuesday, December 2, 2008 | | 11 comments

I've been thinking of purchasing a yogurt maker. I eat plain or vanilla yogurt daily.
Some days I mix granola into it, fresh fruit, dried fruit, or just eat it on it's own. When I add up what I've spent on this daily consumption, I wonder if it wouldn't be more cost effective to make my own.
With that said, I've never owned a yogurt maker nor do I know how to make it. I don't want to purchase one just to use it a couple of times, and then add it to my ever growing collection of machines that are currently on display in our basement.
On that note, the shelves are starting to bow at all my cast off "had to haves". That's another story for another time.
Have you ever owned one? Is it worth buying one? Is it more hassle than savings?
Thoughts please.


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