Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Cozy For The Holidays: Sweaters

Welcome to the first week of Cozy for the Holidays with my fashionable friends at The Blended Blog.  Every Wednesday this month we'll be sharing things that make us feel cozy.  I hope you'll join us by linking up below!

Nothing makes me feel cozier than a warm sweater.  I've mentioned one or two or a million times that I'm always cold.  This time of year I dress in lots of layers, almost always topped off by a sweater.

For the next few weeks, I'll be sharing some of the ways I wear my collection of sweaters.  First up - a Christmas sweater with cords and moto boots.

Corduroy pants are another great way to feel cozy.  These gray Kut from the Kloth corduroy skinny pants come in ten wonderful colors, and they're stretchy and go with everything.  They do run a little big, so size down.  The snowflake sweater came from the Loft Outlet, purchased during my shopping day with Deena.

It was 25 degrees outside (-3.88 for my Canadian friends) when I took these pictures, and yep, I was freezing! They're predicting 4-6 inches of snow in the next few days, and in typical Seattle fashion, everyone is panicking. In our defense, we have very few snowplows, and most of us live on a hill.  In fact, my town's answer is to put a sign at the entrance to our neighborhood that says "road closed" and leave it at that.  These are the days I'm glad I work from home!

Linking up  with The Pleated PoppyThursday Fashion FilesFashion FridayFabulous FridayPumps and PushupsHow I Style ItNot Dead Yet StyleMy Refined StyleThursday ModaI do DeclaireAgeless StyleWednesday's Wardrobe 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Favorite Christmas Recipes

Happy Holidays, friends!  Welcome to the first stop on The Blended Blog's Christmas recipe hop.

One of the best things about the holidays is all the delicious food, and sharing meals with family and friends.  My favorite?  The sweets.  Give me all the cookies and pies and candy.  

Today I'm sharing two dessert recipes that are staples at our house during the holidays - or as my boys would say, "It's tradition!"

Shan's Shortbread Cookies

easy shortbread cookies

I had a friend in high school whose mom baked the most wonderful goodies.  When we went to Shan's house, there was always something delicious waiting on the kitchen counter.  One of my favorites was her shortbread cookies. They freeze really well, so I usually make a double or triple batch.  Mixing with your hands works best as the batter is really thick.

1 pound butter
1 cup sugar
5-5 1/2 cups flour

Mix all ingredients together.  Start with 5 cups flour, and add until batter is thick but not crumbly.  Spread into a tall cookie sheet.  Cut into squares, dot with a fork, and sprinkle sugar on top.  Bake at 325 degrees until slightly brown (about 7-10 minutes).

Grandma's Custard Pie

This has been my mom's favorite dessert since she was a little girl!  Nobody makes it as good as grandma did.  It's a very simple recipe, and can be garnished with fresh fruit if you want to add a little extra flavor and color.

Pre Cooked Pie Crust (you can make your own - I buy Marie Callender's)
4 eggs
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp. Sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups milk, heated almost to boiling
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat eggs slightly.  Mix in sugar and salt.  Add milk, then vanilla.  Pour into pre cooked pie crust and sprinkle top with nutmeg.  Bake at 425 degrees for 30-35 minutes until just set.  This pie can be served warm or refrigerated.

Head on over to Sarah's blog next to continue the hop.  And for even more holiday deliciousness, come back to The Blended Blog tomorrow for Tasty Tuesday and our second progressive dinner.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Paris Is Always A Good Idea: Day Four

Welcome to day four of my surprise trip to Paris.   If you missed them, you can catch up on days onetwo and three here.

Monday was bright, sunny and warm.  A perfect day to head out of Paris and into the French countryside!  Our destination was the town of Chantilly, to see the hunting palace and gardens of Prince de Condè.

Our guide book made it sound easy enough.  "From Gare du Nord, ask at any information desk for the next departure to Chantilly-Gouvieux on the Creil line."  Feeling confident, we hopped on the metro, made our way to Gare du Nord,...and had a small panic attack upon arrival.  Gare du Nord is the busiest railway station in Europe, serving 190 million travelers a year.  I'd never seen anything like it.  Thousands of people, dozens of platforms, and surprisingly, very few employees who spoke English.

After using our limited French to ask at several information desks, getting lost, and asking again, we finally found the correct platform.  Feeling very happy with ourselves, we boarded the next train that arrived and settled back for the 50 minute ride to Chantilly. Mistake one.  

Ten minutes later, the train pulled into the first station, and everybody in our car got off except us and two others.  I remember looking out the window and seeing a man gesturing at me, clearly wanting us to exit.  But I figured he must be confused (ha), so I ignored him.  Mistake two.

We pulled out and for twenty minutes moved verrrrryyyyy slowly down the tracks...right into a train yard.  And stopped.  And then nothing happened.  There was no platform, or ticket office, or another soul in sight.  The other two passengers looked just as confused as we were.

To make a long story short, we got on the wrong train.  Clearly.  

Luckily, a worker at the yard came along and was kind enough to help.  He didn't speak English, and when we showed him our ticket for Chantilly, he just laughed.  Oops.  He walked us down a long road to the entrance gates and turned us over to the security guard, who told us in very loud, slow French, to wait here.  A few minutes later a company van pulled up. The driver impatiently gestured at us to get in, and I'll admit we had a moment of hesitation. But really, what choice did we have? We had no idea where we were, or how to get back to Paris.  And Google Translate was NOT helping, no matter how loudly the security guard talked.

Fifteen minutes later we arrived at a welcome sight.  A train station.  Thank you, kind French people!
This is a good time to mention that, contrary to popular opinion, the French are very nice, friendly people.  As long as you make an attempt at their language, and don't act like an ugly American, they are quite lovely.

We bought a ticket back to Paris, found our platform at Gare de Nord, and patiently waited for the correct train this time.  Three hours later than originally planned, we finally arrived in Chantilly.

The town was charming...

And the thirty minute walk to the chateau led us through a beautiful forest...

That ended here, at the Petit Chateau.

Around the corner was the Grand Chateau, set on a beautiful reflecting pond.

We toured the art gallery, and then made our way to the Hameau de Chantilly, a small village built on the grounds. The thatched roof homes were used by the prince when he wanted to "play peasant", and although they appear simple on the outside, apparently were quite lavishly decorated.  Because you know, a prince pretending to rough it still needs his princely things.

There was a small cafè in the Hameau, and this is where we ate the most delicious food of our entire trip. Strawberries and Chantilly crème. Yep, it's in bold because it was that good.  Seriously, I still have dreams about this dish, and have been on a hunt to find some in the States.

On our way back to the train station, we passed a little library box. Between the crème and the books, I was ready to move to Chantilly.

But we needed to get back to the city, because we had special dinner plans.  Luckily, we got on the right train this time. Sheesh.

Our longtime friend and his daughter were on a three week graduation trip in Europe, and they happened to be in Paris on this night.  It was fun, and a little strange, to meet up with people we knew, so far from home.

And thus ended the day.  Stay tuned for day five, which includes two words:  Louis Vuitton.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Fall Favorite Finds: Buffalo Plaid

Welcome to the final week of Fall Favorite Finds with my fashionable friends at The Blended Blog.  A big thank you to everyone who has joined us during the month.  

Plaid is a definite fall favorite for me, and buffalo plaid is even better.  When I found this BB Dakota jacket on super sale, I knew it would be a perfect addition to my outerwear collection.  The wool blend is really warm, and it can be worn open or zipped up.  I was feeling extra crazy (must be all the turkey), so I added a little pattern mixing with my turtleneck.

I hope you'll link up with us below.  Next week we'll be back with a new link up, Cozy For The Holidays.  Start thinking about what makes you feel cozy!  

And be sure to stop by again on Friday, for day four of my suprise Paris adventure.  We started out lost in the French countryside, and ended the day with dinner with friends from home. 

Linking up  with The Pleated PoppyThursday Fashion FilesFashion FridayFabulous FridayPumps and PushupsHow I Style ItNot Dead Yet StyleMy Refined StyleThursday ModaI do DeclaireAgeless StyleWednesday's Wardrobe

Monday, November 28, 2016

Mindful Monday: Which Wolf Will Win?

Like many, we spend the long weekend after Thanksgiving decorating our home for Christmas.  It's a happy time, with lights and laughter and music, and a little complaining by the boys.

But this year, I couldn't get in the spirit.  T went back to school early, to attend the big rivalry football game.  I was missing my dad and my uncle.  Each ornament I hung on the tree brought back a memory of a time now gone.  My bad mood was trickling down to C and my husband, ruining what should be a fun, happy day.

And then I remembered something I read a few months ago.  The exact words eluded me, so I stopped what I was doing and went to find the book.  And there it was:
There is a story about a Navajo grandfather who once told his grandson, "Two wolves live inside me.  One is the bad wolf, full of greed and laziness, full of anger and jealousy and regret.  The other is the good wolf, full of joy and compassion and willingness and a great love for the world. All the time, these wolves are fighting inside me."  "But grandfather," the boy said, "which wolf will win?"  The grandfather answered, "The one I feed."
I was feeding the bad wolf, allowing my happy holiday memories to take a negative tone.  Once I started feeding the good wolf, the joy and excitement of another Christmas season returned.  There were still a few tears and moments of sadness, but I realized that my happiness is up to me.

In the end, the tree was trimmed, the decorations put in their place.  T will be home for Christmas in a few weeks, and as long as my heart beats, my dad and uncle will live on.

I've decided which wolf will win.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Fall Favorite Finds: Poncho

Welcome to week four of Fall Favorite Finds with my fashionable friends at The Blended Blog.  Every Wednesday we'll be sharing some of our favorite fall pieces, and I hope you'll join us and link up below.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!  I'm sure everyone is busy preparing for the big feast and planning a shopping strategy for Friday.  I've got both boys home for a few more days and I'm enjoying every minute!

On to this week's find - a poncho.  I've tried on at least a dozen ponchos in the last few months, but I always felt like they were too big and bulky.  Then I found this one by Fate, and I knew it was the one.

It hangs just right, the print is fun, and I was surprisingly warm, even on a cold, dreary day.

Linking up  with The Pleated PoppyThursday Fashion FilesFashion FridayFabulous FridayPumps and PushupsHow I Style ItNot Dead Yet StyleMy Refined StyleThursday ModaI do DeclaireAgeless StyleWednesday's Wardrobe

I hope you'll link up with us below.  Have a wonderful long weekend and enjoy the turkey!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

5 Favorite Kitchen Tools

With Thanksgiving week upon us, there's a lot of cookin' going on in kitchens across America.  Today I'm participating in a blog hop with my friends from The Blended Blog, to share some of our favorite kitchen tools.  If you're stopping by from Katie's blog, welcome!

Let's be honest.  If you know me at all, you are well aware that the kitchen is NOT my natural habitat. I don't enjoy cooking, and it shows in my complete lack of culinary skills.  However, I'm no dummy, so I married a man who loves to cook.  Our friends and family can't wait to come our house for dinner, as long as my hubby is in the kitchen.

Having said that, my number one favorite kitchen "tool" is definitely this guy.

He can open the refrigerator, and within thirty minutes, there's something delicious on the table.  But since I can't share him with you, here are a few other things that make life easier in the kitchen.

- We grill a lot of salmon at our house, and the fish flipper makes turning a long filet much easier.  It's also perfect for pizzas and panini's.

- If you do find me in the kitchen, I'm probably making cookies.  The cookie dough scoop makes a perfect ball of dough every time, and it's also helpful for scooping melon.

- I use the avocado saver several times a week.  It really does work to keep the avocado from becoming brown after cutting.

- My newest kitchen tool is the spiralizer, and there are thousands of recipes using this gadget. Our favorite is to spiralize zucchini and use it in place of pasta.  So yummy!

Head to Lisa's blog next for some kitchen tool stocking stuffers and gift ideas!
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