Giveaway at Sew It Or Bead It

I have met so many interesting and creative people through blogging.  Add to that concoction kind and thoughtful and you have my friend Sandy of Sew It or Bead It.

Originally from the Netherlands, Sandy lives in California with her husband and six kiddos and in her free time (ha!) she creates beautiful children's clothing and jewelry.  For no reason other than the fact that she is lovely and generous, Sandy recently sent me this beautiful package:
 and inside the prettiest decorated tin box I have ever seen....
 a necklace handmade by Sandy.
Knowing how much I love the movie Sense and Sensibility (the one with Emma Thomson, Kate Winslet  and Hugh Grant that is based on the Jane Austen book), Sandy made me a piece of jewelry that is reminiscent of that era.  I love how unique, interesting and pretty it is!

Sandy sells her one of a kind handcrafted jewelry on etsy......

and has recently started making pretty hair accessories too.  Along with my necklace, Sandy sent me two  lovely pins that Hannah keeps eyeing!

This week Sandy is giving away an assortment of pretty hair accessories like my embellished bobby pins and one of these pretty hairbands:

Check out Sandy's blog, Sew It or Bead It, to enter this giveaway and meet my sweet friend!


Mangia Mondays:: White Bean Dip

Happy Monday my lovelies!

Thanks for joining me for Mangia Mondays, the foodie blog hop I co-host with the talented Kristin of Delightfully Dowling!  If you love to talk food, we'd love to hear from you!  Link up food-related posts or share in the comments section, and be inspired by the many fabulous recipes that are linked up every week!

This week's recipe is brought to you by my friend B, who is my partner in crime for all things food-, motherhood- and just-about-everything-else-related.  Basically our relationship centers around me sitting at her counter eating yummy dips and crackers and drinking red wine while our husbands male-bond and our kids get into mischief together.  {Pretty much everything in that last sentence makes me really happy!}

After harassing her to write a guest post for the blog, I finally got one of B's recipes to share with you, and this one gets bonus points for making a dent in my parsley which is growing like crazy out on my deck.

Listen - I'll be honest and tell you that I was skeptical about this dip at first but {unfortunately} tried it, and now can't stop eating it by the bowlful while sitting on my butt pretending it's a healthy snack.  This batch was made with tender loving care by B in my kitchen, while I of course drank red wine, chitchatted and snapped some photos!  I'm a helper!


B's White Bean Dip

1 14 oz. can cannellini (kidney) beans
juice of half a lemon
1 1/2 cups packed fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
a generous dose of freshly ground pepper
olive oil (about 1/3 cup)

Drain and rinse the beans well.

Place beans, lemon juice, parsley, garlic cloves, salt and pepper in food processor and pulse until beans are smooth.

Add olive oil in steady stream until a thick but creamy consistency is achieved.  The dip should cling to a cracker.

{I made myself useful by taking pictures of B while she tried to duck the camera - and of course chit chatting, snacking, drinking wine and watching her do all the work!}

Now we Mangia!  Fresh pita, pita chips, crackers, baguette slices - all good vehicles for the dip!  

Dear friend to laugh with and ignore how much dip you are consuming, 
not required but makes this dish even more delectable!
Thanks B!  I love this dip and I love you!

Now what do you have cookin' lately?  Do share, my friends!


Before and After: One Year House Anniversary

I cannot believe it, but ONE YEAR (and two weeks) has managed to fly by since we moved to this house August 1, 2010!  We love this neighborhood and our lot, and saw great potential in this basic and boring colonial.  So far with the power of paint we've managed to brighten up the space exponentially.

Down the road we hope to take on some major projects:  finishing the basement, refinished/replacing flooring, combining the kitchen and dining rooms into one large space,  and utilizing unfinished space over our garage for a master bedroom closet and home office to name a few.  While we feel like we still have mountains to move around here, looking back at where we started is encouraging, gratifying and fun!

Here's a look at our some of our interior before-and-afters so far!

I hope to add our mudroom and laundry room to the "after" list soon!

Here's to the power of paint!

I'm happy to be joining:



Mangia Mondays:: Little Fishy Cupcakes

Welcome to the 23rd week of Mangia Mondays!  I host this weekly blog-hop with my fabulous friend and chef extraordinaire, Kristin of Delightfully Dowling and we'd love for you to join the fun!

One of the things I have realized over many years of cooking and baking is that the end result does not have to be perfect to be fabulous.  The smallest effort can give even the simplest dish a little pizzazz, whether it be laying out your cheese and crackers decoratively on a platter, skewering tomatoes and mozzarella, or adding a little fun to cupcakes.  While I greatly admire fine cake decorating and food presentation, for real life I am happy to let go of perfect and focus on making food that is delicious and aesthetically pleasing too.

I especially love baking with the kiddos who find joy in simple pleasures like sprinkles and food coloring!  Without further ado, I present to you......

We made these easy cupcakes for a cookout we went to this weekend.  That little extra effort took all of ten minutes, and was inspired by whatever we could find in the pantry.

Bake a batch of cupcakes.  (While I love to make cakes & frosting from scratch, I always keep cake mixes and frostings in my pantry for last minute baking.  I use Pillsbury cake mix because it doesn't have trace amounts of nuts like Dunkin Hines.  Might was well make baked goods completely nut-free in case there is a nut allergy in the crowd.)
Tint white frosting with blue food coloring.

When frosting the cupcakes make scallops in the same direction for the waves of the ocean.
Dip the bottom of each little ocean into graham cracker crumbs.

Add a few treasures on the sea floor with sprinkles.
Use a Goldfish cracker or better yet, a Swedish Fish for your little fishy.
Add bubbles with excess blue (or white) frosting piped out of a sandwich baggy or with writing gel.

If you want to expand upon this theme you can make a whole ocean (or aquarium) cake!  Once upon a time I made this one for my son's birthday, along with Little Fishy Cupcakes for his class at school.
The on the "sea floor" are rock candy and jelly beans, and the sea plants are made out of crystal rock candy and sliced and twisted fruit roll-ups.  I found all the candy including the gummy sharks and octopus at a local candy store.

This seven year old birthday boy for whom I made the ocean cake (with his little brother and his teddy bear!) is about to become a TEENAGER in a few short weeks!!!!!!

You are welcome to join in the Mangia Mondays fun and link up a food related post (or share in the comments section) kitchen tips, tricks, recipes - even restaurant suggestions!  


Sweet Days of Summer

Can you believe how long you look forward to summertime -
and how it seems to go by in the blink of an eye?

We had a small window of opportunity to squeeze in some vacation between our sons' summer baseball in July, football in August and the start of school right around the corner!

Before I had even fully unpacked from a wonderful week at the Cape with family, we were off again to spend last weekend with our close friends!  Here are a few glimpses into our summer fun.

Mark's sister and her family live 4 hours away in New York City, so spending a week at the Cape with them gives us priceless QT together!  The cousins on this side of the family range from 20 to 5 and it's so much fun to see them all together!  We rent a great big house that the whole family can descend upon and it's always a great time.  
1/we kicked off our week at the Cape with the seaside wedding of Mark's beautiful cousin, Kelly....2/we could ride our bikes to this beach - when the tide would go out the kids would ride the current from an inlet out into the ocean like the turtles in Finding Nemo....3/the littlest cousin gave everyone neck massages on the beach :)....4/s'mores on the beach and hanging out with dad...5/an overcast Cape day...6/Crabby Patty...7/a kidless night out!...8/we loved spending time with this little munchkin and her brother.

And the next stop on the party train....
This weekend was our ninth annual and started when our kids were just wee babes....a weekend we look forward to all year long!  We spend a few days with two other families and pretty much laugh the whole time.  As in, my face needs some quiet time when we leave because it aches from laughing.  Our kids all get along great and have a blast tubing, wakeboarding, swimming, canoeing and causing mayhem together!  The so-called adults stay up way too late, eat way too much, and always make a ton of funny memories together!
1/watching Indiana Jones outside, lakeside, at night - could it get any better?...2/a boatride to the Penny Candy shop in Wolfeboro....3/the boys....4/B and I were laughing hysterically before the tube even moved!...5/our beautiful friends and hosts...6/the dads....7/the girls.

I'm joining Amber of The Starfish Blog's Summer Snapshots - a weekly celebration of summertime!

I don't know about you, but after that long, cold {and did I mention long?} winter we had, I am enjoying every bit of sunshine and time with my family!

I hope you are having a great summer too and taking lots of pictures of your good times!

Thanks for visiting,