Mangia Mondays:: July Features

Mangia Mondays is heading into it's 15th month and each week my co-host, Kristin of Delightfully Dowling, and I are just blown away by the creativity and deliciousness of the recipes shared at this blog hop.  Check out some of these great recipes linked up in July!

Jazzy's Simple and Delicious Doughnuts are egg free, dairy free and nut free and look so good!  Even if you don't have anyone with food allergies in your house, these are so fun to make at home with your kiddos!!  Check them out at Jazzy Allergy Recipes.

Peanut Butter, Passports and Epinephrine shared Spiced Peach Clafoutis that not only sounds delicious, but also looks so pretty!

High Heels and Grills shared a recipe for Skinny Alfredo which I am definitely trying this week!  My boys have a love affair with alfredo, which is unfortunate since cholesterol has a love affair with our family, so I'm always looking for delicious lower fat dishes.  Can't wait to try this!

I love the presentation of these Crispy Garlic Potatoes from Melissa's Cuisine that are drizzled with garlic infused oil.  If you have a mandoline or a food processer this would be a snap to prepare for a crowd.

Lemons for Lulu posted this recipe for Low Country Shrimp Boil that sounds so fun for summertime dining, doesn't it?  How delicious all these flavors must be together - yum!

Amazing chef Tracey from The Kitchen Is My Playground links up fabulous recipes week after week that I find irresistible.  Remember making Dixie cup popsicles as a kid?  Tracey kicks the popsicle up a notch with her Kiwi Sangria Popsicles!! How fun for a summer party!

Last but not least, what summer would be complete without a little ice cream action??   Cook With Sara's Mocha Chip Ice Cream sounds and looks delectable!

We have some talented participants in Mangia Mondays!  If you've been featured on Mangia Mondays, feel free to share a button on your blog!
Shine Your Light
Join in the fun and link up this week!  Please remember to include a link back to either Delightfully Dowling or Shine Your Light or post the Mangia Mangias button (found in the "Buttons" link under my header) in your blog post - thanks so much!


Sweet Summertime:: Week Five

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
-Abraham Lincoln

this summer has certainly held some unexpected twists and turns for my family, 
but how can we feel anything but blessed?  

last weekend mark and peter headed south to a baseball tournament in south carolina, while hannah, sean and i went to my brother-in-law's house on lake winnipesaukee in new hampshire.
the kids went tubing all day and then a big crowd of us went on a sunset cruise.

meanwhile mark to woke up to this little note and texted it to me. 
 our teenager showing gratitude = priceless.

our deck is rotting,
but the mandevilla doesn't seem to mind!

the munchkins are bored,
but sometimes boredom turns into the best fun.

seanie's summer baseball team made it into the playoffs
{they lost, but they had an awesome season!}

i'm ignoring the weeding that needs to be done, and focusing on these beautiful gifts of the garden!

the best example of how you can choose happiness….
my mama, with my baby girl.

there are always going to be bills to pay, work to be done, and problems to deal with.  They're part of real life, but so is joy, if you look for it.

When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky. -

i hope you are finding joy in summertime pleasures!  

this linky party is all about celebrating summer and making a point of capturing some happy moments along the way.  you're invited to link up a post about your summer adventures and amusements!

Happy weekend!


Book Recommendation:: The Summer Kitchen

Do you get a lot of reading done in the summer?  I find I read so much more in the summer months and have a growing list of books I want to devour while watching my kiddos play marco-polo at the pool or throw the frisbee at the beach.   However this summer I had yet to read a book that I really enjoyed - most I've been feeling like I just need to finish and be done with - until this one:

The Summer Kitchen by Lisa Wingate

The Summer Kitchen is about a woman floundering in her life a bit when she crosses paths with some poor, neglected children.  Warning:  if your child complains that there's nothing to eat in your house while you're reading this book, you may or may not bite her head off.

This storyline reminded me a bit of Jeannette Walls' The Glass Castle, although not nearly as gritty.  If you've never read this one, it's a must.

Last summer I made some summer reading recommendations which included a few light beach reads.

A few more books I recommend:

Cleave, Chris - Little Bee
de los Santos, Marisa - Belong To Me
de los Santos, Marisa - Love Walked In
de Rosnay, Tatiana - Sarah's Key
Dubus III, Andre - House of Sand and Fog
Gist, Deanne - The Measure of a Lady
Gregory, Philippa - The Constant Princess
Gruen, Sara - Water For Elephants
Hannah, Kristin - Winter Garden
Hosseini, Khaled - The Kite Runner
Hosseini, Khaled - A Thousand Splendid Suns
Moore, Ann - (#1) Gracelin O'Malley
Moore, Ann - (#2) Leaving Ireland
Moore, Ann - (#3) 'Til Morning Light
Naslund, Sena Jeter - Abundance
Stockett, Kathryn - The Help

These books were recommended to me
I am hoping to read some of them this summer.

Brooks, Geraldine - Year of Wonders
Chance, Megan - An Inconvenient Wife
Donnelly, Jennifer - The Tea Rose
Donnelly, Jennifer - The Winter Rose
Genova, Lisa - Still Alice
Grissom, Kathleen - The Kitchen House
Gulland, Sandra - The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.
Haddon, Mark - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Hannah, Kristin - Home Front
Henderson, Susan - Up From The Blue
Lamb, Wally - The Hour I First Believed
Lahiri, Jhumpa - Unaccustomed To Earth
Landay, William - Defending Jacob
Lindley, Maureen - The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel
Picoult, Jodi - House Rules
See, Lisa - Dreams of Joy
See, Lisa - Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Setterfield, Diane - The Thirteenth Tale 
Sparks, Nicholas - Safe Haven
Zafon, Carlos Ruiz - Shadow of the Wind
Zusak, Marcus - The Book Thief

Okay give it up - any more recommendations for me?  What have you read recently that you couldn't put down??


Mangia Mondays:: Drink Up

Happy Monday, my dears, and welcome to Mangia Mondays!

I co-host this foodie blog hop every Monday with the gorgeous Kristin of Delightfully Dowling and we hope you'll join us to link up a recipe, a restaurant you've enjoyed, or anything having to do with enjoying culinary delights.

Ever once in a while I like to mix it up on Mangia Mondays, so today instead of a recipe, I thought I'd share with you all sorts of wonderful justifications for enjoying a glass of vino!

A few years ago an article in Food & Wine Magazine piqued my interest in the health benefits of wine.  We all know the hazards of overconsumption; I'm talking moderate wine drinking here - one to two 4 oz. glasses a day according to the American Heart Association.

{Do you know how much 4 ounces is in your wine glass?  I measured water and poured it into my favorite wine glass - and was surprised at what a small amount it was!  Considering that there are many risks associated with drinking more than the recommended amount, it's a good thing to know.  The last thing I want is to be an excessive drinker - gross.  But a glass of wine in moderation - enjoyable and beneficial!}

In a 2011 report, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) deemed moderate alcohol consumption a low risk lifestyle behavior that along with not smoking, adequate physical activity and a healthy diet, can "exert a powerful and beneficial effect on mortality." {via}

Wine in particular contains antioxidants that are beneficial to your health.
{image via, content via}

Moderate wine drinking:
Reduces heart attack risk.
A 16 year Harvard School of Public Health study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, 2007 revealed that moderate drinkers suffering from high blood pressure are 30% less likely to have a heart attack than non-drinkers.

Lowers risk of heart disease.
Red wine tannins contain procyanidins, which protect against heart disease, according to a study published in Nature, 2006 by Queen Mary University/London.

Lowers risk of stroke.
An 8 year study by Columbia University, published in Stroke, 2006, showed that moderate drinkers are 50% less likely to have a blood clot-related stroke.

Promotes longevity.
A 29 year Finnish study published in the Journals of Gerontology, 2007, shows that wine drinkers have a 34% lower mortality rate than beer or spirits drinkers.

Slows brain decline.
A study published in Neuroepidemiology, 2006 by Columbia University showed that brain function declines at a faster rate in non-drinkers than drinkers.

Reduces risk of Alzheimers.
According to the Alzheimer's Research Center, "Red wine is known to contain resveratrol and other protective substances, which modulate several mechanisms of Alzheimer’s pathology, including decreasing the levels of amyloid plaques."

Reduces risk of type 2 diabetes.
Several studies support findings that moderate drinkers have less risk than non-drinkers of developing type 2 diabetes.  According to a study of over 300,000 people by Amsterdam's VU University Medical Center published in Diabetes Care, 2005,  moderate drinkers are 30% less likely to develop the disease than non-drinkers.  A report by the University of Udine, Italy states:  "Red wine consumption during a meal significantly preserves plasma antioxidant defences and reduces both LDL oxidation and thrombotic activation. The consumption of a moderate amount of red wine during meals may have a beneficial effect in the prevention of cardiovascular disease in diabetic patients."

Cuts risk of cataracts.
A Nature, 2003 article of an Icelandic study revealed that moderate drinkers are 32% less likely than non-drinkers to get cataracts, and wine drinkers are at a particular advantage - 43% less likely to develop cataracts than beer drinkers.

Cuts risk of cancer.
The antioxidants in red wine are found to "destroy pancreatic cancer cells by reaching to the cell’s core energy source, or mitochondria, and crippling its function" according to a study by the University of Rochester Medical Center, published in Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 2008.  Drinking red wine cuts the risk of colon cancer by 45%, according to a study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2005 by Stony Brook University.

So go on and enjoy your wine (in moderation of course!)  In addition to wine's health benefits, consider this German saying:

Drink wine, and you will sleep well. 
Sleep, and you will not sin. 
Avoid sin, and you will be saved. Ergo, drink wine and be saved.

Cheers - to your health!



Sweet Summertime:: Week Four

Hi Friends!
What have you been up to this summer?  
This Friday linky party is just a fun way to compile your adventures and amusements - and motivation to take some pictures of them along the way.

All of my kids play summer sports, so we spend a lot of time watching this….

crashing on the ottoman in the middle of a Sunday is always a good summer activity!….

as is learning to peel potatoes...

...how about driving around looking at porticos and front steps with your crazy mother who makes you hang out the window taking pictures with her phone??….

These two girlies - Hannah and her friend, Emma - are growing their hair all summer.  
Reminds me of being a kid - not having to tie my hair up for school was so delicious in the summertime!

It's official, I get the award for owning SLR cameras for over 10 years without understanding how to properly use them.  Thankfully I have a subject who allows me to take action shots of him while I play with my settings! 

Summertime - not having a schedule - flying by the seat of our pants - goofing around together - hanging out with friends - swimming - reading - enjoying ordinary days - making memories.  
I love this sweet season - of the year, and of my life.  

Our week was ordinary - but really, extraordinary.

Feeling so grateful today for these kids and being able to watch them grow up - 
yes, even when they complain about being bored.
Even when they argue with each other.
Even when the start of school seems so far off!
I so appreciate that I get to be their mom and I am trying my best to make their childhood a happy one.
As Jackie O once said, 
If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters very much.

E.N.J.O.Y this day.  Who knows what tomorrow brings?  But today, go make the most of the day and fill it up with little bits of ordinary happiness!


Stylish Doggy Duvets

I'm in the market for a new dog bed cover.  

Here's my pup on his LLBean bed.  Bruschi (pronounced "brew-ski" for all you non-Patriots fans) makes it look little, doesn't he?  He can actually fit on the bed the long way, but for some reason he likes to lie like this.

In our last house this ginormous bed had the perfect spot in a corner of our very large family room, but in this house we could never find a place that worked well for it.  When we moved our kitchen table into the dining room, we decided to give Bruschi that whole area where the table once was in the kitchen.
This solution is actually working out great for us.  The bed is too big for our living or family room, and having the bed in this spot keeps Bruschi in the kitchen for the most part, which means his fur and slobberiness is contained a bit.  Our pup likes to be with us at all times, and having his bed centrally located means he can be in the midst of the family whilst he snoozes the day away.

However, the bed?  It's not so pretty - especially for being right in the center of our house.  The LLBean cover is hearty and can take a beating - I vacuum it once a day and wash it every week - but it's a couple years old and ready to be replaced.  The LLBean replacements are really not that cute, so I've been keeping my eye out in Homegoods and TJMaxx, but the beds are never big enough for my guy.  

Where to turn?  Etsy of course.  So many fabric choices that are in the same price range as the LLBean replacement covers!  Now to decide.

Just look at all these cute options.
I need a really large dog bed cover (in the range of 35"x45") for my big fella; the prices below are for around this size.  (Bruschi's LLBean bed is actually a large - they sell an extra-large that is 42"x52" -  ginormous for any house!)  

{Seriously, how cute are these models???}

{Bow Wow Beds, $50}

Pet Design has all these fabrics to choose from:
{Pet Design, $50)

I love all the geometric patterns that are so hot right now in home decorating.  

We need to step up the style in Bruschi's corner of the house, wouldn't you agree?
Who says a pup can't be stylin'?

I am overwhelmed with all the choices so please advise.  What fabric do you like?
Do you have any other resources for doggy duvets?

Hope you are off to do something fun today!  Have a good one, friends.