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August 30, 2016

Restocking + New Products | Essential Bottles, Ribbons, Parchment, Kraft Treat Bags

I've restocked and added a couple of new products in the store that I wanted to share today.  Enjoy!

Paper Coffee Cups, 50 for $12

After I introduced the Clear Cups & Lids this summer, my sister suggested a to-go coffee cup for the store.  She mentioned the ones found at the grocery store were not attractive and pretty expensive.  We usually use stainless thermoses for our coffee, but...  I am the worst about leaving our nice coffee thermoses in my car for days... or leaving them in the backyard, or the garage, or on the shelf at the store while I'm browsing.  They are always missing.  
When we have friends or parents for dinner or brunch, I always offer to send them home with a coffee for the road, but end up having to scrounge up a cup of sorts to put it in.  These will be so nice to have for so many reasons - hot cider on walks this fall, to-go hot cocoa (and schnapps) for our friends on halloween night, and anytime we're headed in the car in the morning. 

I've added a new color to my Taper Candle mix - Rust (top, left, $10.50 for set of 12" tapers).  You may have noticed that I don't really do much red around here (really only around the holidays).  But, I do love that warmth of red tones.  This Rust color is muted enough for my neutral loving habits, but still adds that seasonal warmth that I'm craving.  

These bags are great for everyday lunches (they fit a sandwich, popcorn, slice of banana bread or cookie!) or entertaining.  This fall, I plan to fill them with popcorn trail mix for Emma's class (they're into not so sweet at her school).  
I love wrapping it with ribbon or twine and sealing with a label.  
50 bags per set
6" x 8" bags

I've added some new ribbon colors to my mix, as well.  Left to Right :

5/8" Satin Moss, $6 : A new size of one of my favorite colors.
2" Tan Satin : A new soft color that goes with every season.
7/8" Copper Satin : A favorite from last year in a new size.
2" Large Antique Blue Grosgrain
5/8" Gold Satin : A new size of a great color for fall.
1 1/2" Satin Moss
Ivory 5/8" Grosgrain
5/8" Antique Blue Grosgrain
5/8" Sand Grosgrain
5/8" Moss Grosgrain

You can see that the new satin is a bit softer, a touch more pink than the grosgrain.  

And... All of the Essentials Bottles have been restocked!  This is thanks to Laurie who packages them all up - it is quite a job!

August 29, 2016

Family Dinners at Our House | Steaks with Easy Red Wine Sauce + This Week's Menu

Family Dinner At Our House

I will not pretend that this is the scene every single night at our house... but we try for at least a couple nights a week.  These photos were from last night's Sunday dinner table.  It is always easier to pull off a nice Sunday dinner than during the week, right?  At first glance, this setup may seem fancy for a family dinner, but all of these elements are really common.  I know that some are thinking, why all the trouble?  And the truth is that it isn't really much trouble at all, really very little effort or expense involved, though the impact is big.

I feel so strongly that sitting down at a table that is set, brings a sense of purpose to a typical family dinner.  It brings us all together for a moment of grace and it says no matter what your day was like, I want to sit, share and talk with you.

A lot of time when we sit down at this table it doesn't have flowers and the candles aren't lit, and it feels completely different.   So, at least 3 times a week, I am going to make it my goal to actually light the candles : )  It feels somewhat related to "stopping to smell the roses."  It is there for the taking, you just have to stop and actually make the effort.  I mean, what does it take 4 seconds to light candles?

And like most families, we have our fair share of casual dinners at the island, too, don't worry.  Though, if you've never thought about the difference between sitting at the counter versus sitting at a table, the difference is this : conversation.  When you are sitting and not facing each other, conversation is hard.  Eye contact is even harder.  I imagine as kids get older and they have more independence, eye contact with parents while talking about their day can be so revealing.  It is always my goal to make our dinner table a safe zone, a comfortable place that is a place that everyone wants to be and feels loved and cared for.

I mentioned that the setting was not much effort.  I always try to create a "maintenance free" table setting once a week - this is a perfect example.  The flowers are dried hydrangea from our yard that have turned the prettiest shade of green (that actually seem a little more vibrant in the photos than in real life).  They don't have any water and would look just like this if I left them there all year long.  Though dry, they still bring life and some seasonal color to the table.  Other "maintenance free" tables we like are a bowl of apples or gourds (fall!), or potted herbs.

Anytime you add taper candles to a dinner table...and actually light them ; ) you add instant atmosphere.  These are 12" Privot Berry Blue tapers that go great with the green flowers (blue + green is my current favorite combo, as you all know).   The candles come in an 18" too for an even bigger effect.  Super elegant.  The "copper" salt and peppers were a steal from Target.  Be fore warned, they are plastic with a copper coating... something I didn't realize (but should have since they were $18).  Love the warmth that they bring to the table, though.

Emma always helps with setting the table.  This time, she made place cards for each of us, while I took care of the rest of the setting.  When she sets the entire table there is a lot of mix-matching linens and flatware, which is just fine by me.   I'll be sure to share one of those tables someday, too.

As you can see, above, she drew a pumpkin and maple leaf for me... she knows how much I'm itching for fall!

Mike got a "branch" : )

The place cards were her idea.  Sometimes she makes placemats from printer paper or tries her hand at interesting napkin folds.  I just like that she's enthusiastic to help and looks forward to making it special.  Hoping I pass on this love for making family dinners special to her.  At least I'll know that whatever life circumstance she finds herself in, she'll be able to create a special dinner for her family.  What is it they say about teaching a man to fish?  So many parables in this post... ; )

A cherry leaf and cherries for her.  After the fact, she also decided they could be headphones, which she thought was better.

Dinner was seared steaks with a very simple Red Wine Sauce.  I'll share the recipe for the wine sauce later today.   It is all of 3-4 ingredients and transforms dinner.  In fact, this entire dinner looks impressive but it is the easiest dinner to make.  Besides putting the baked potatoes in the oven 1 1/2 before, the rest of the dinner took about 20 minutes of hands-on time.

I'd like to pretend that this was Mike's giant loaded plate, but we all know that he doesn't like mushrooms...  busted : )

Table Setting Resources :

Block Print Napkins, 4 for $32

Privot Berry Blue Taper Candles, $10.50

Brown & White Ceramic Container (available in Squares or Round), $12.00-28.50

Heathered Indigo Throw (over back of chair), $80

Dusty Green Block Print Pillow, 20" Square, $32

See the rest of the Blue & Green Classic Home Collection, here >

This Week's Menu :

Seared Steaks with Easy Red Wine Sauce  (recipe coming later today)

Baked Potatoes

Sautéed Mushrooms

Sliced Tomatoes

Chicken & Vegetable Corn Chowder 

This is a great dinner to make in advance.  I'll put individual servings in the freezer for Emma and I to reheat for lunches, too.

Beef Stroganoff

This photo and recipe link are of this "fancy" version of Beef Stroganoff.  Our favorite weeknight version is made with ground beef and egg noodles.  I'll share this version very soon - an almost weekly staple around here.

Panko Salmon

So much flavor in this Barefoot Contessa recipe.  That Nine Color Salad is still one of my favorites.

I'll share the Easy Red Wine Sauce recipe later today.  I'm off to pick up Emma from preschool... oh boy do these mornings go by quickly.

August 23, 2016

Individual Chocolate Chip Bread Puddings | Family Dinner Dessert

We have some leftover croissants around, so these are on our list for dinner tonight. 

Sometimes dinner with everyone around the table can be impossible.  I get it.  There are schedules, there are meetings, practices, etc.  If you can't do dinner, there's always dessert.  If everyone isn't home at the same time, or if someone missed dinner and is coming in late, gather everyone around the island, or on the back porch for a 8pm, warm and goey (chocolatey...) feel-good dessert.  The relaxed vibe and comforting treat is a great way to help everyone relax and open up about their day.   These are the moments that make your house feel like a home and make your family feel loved and  comforted after a long day at school (or the office).

Bread Pudding is a perfect "Family Dinner Dessert."  It maybe takes 5 minutes to put together, then can be baked before you serve it (or just reheat later when everyone gets home!).  It is also a great helping-hands dessert - Emma basically was able to help with each step.  I made a "vanilla bean sauce" by heating up cream on the stove, then added some sugar and vanilla bean paste.  It keeps in the refrigerator and can he drizzled over anything... ice cream or whipped cream would also be a dream (and easier).

I always forget about bread pudding.  Except when we are out at restaurants and they read it off of the dessert menu - always met with oohs and ahhs.  I've officially put it back into rotation.  Especially as cooler months are approaching, a warm goey dessert with coffee after dinner is all anyone could dream of. 

Of course, these can be made in a casserole, but they are so cute (and convenient) in my Small (disposable) Tart Pans (10 for $5).  

Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding
4 servings2 large croissants
1 whole egg
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 cup of half and half
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
1/3 cup of chocolate chips of chopped chocolate
1 cup of cream
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste
Cut croissants into cubes and place them into a mixing bowl.  Stir together half and half, egg, yolks, sugar rand vanilla.  Pour half and half mixture over cubes of croissants.  Add chocolate and fold in until well mixed.

Spoon into small tart pans.  Place tart pans on parchment lined baking sheet.  They will bubble over slightly, so it makes for easy cleanup.

Keep in refrigerator for 10 min - overnight.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until liquid mixture seems set and bread has browned on top.

For vanilla bean sauce, simmer cream in a saucepan.  Add sugar and vanilla bean paste.  Let cook on low until slightly thicken, stirring constantly.  Serve warm over bread puddings.

Baking alongside Apple Cake.

Yay for parchment sheets = easy clean up.

August 22, 2016

Back to School | This Week's Menu

Back to School!

This morning Emma started her last year of Preschool.  She's in a class with 7 old friends, 2 new friends and an enthusiastic teacher.  They are the big kids at school - and she couldn't be more thrilled.  There was not as much of that shyness or timidness that accompanied her in years past.  She loves her school, she loves her friends and she is pumped.

Each year I write this post, of going back to school and each year it feels about the same, a little bittersweet.  After two months of 100 degree weather, we woke up to a crisp 65 degree morning and it really did feel like it is time for the school year to begin.

I feel a bit like we earned school this year, though, we are ready.  We did summer right.  We were at the pool, we took long morning walks, we played in the yard, we had lazy days and nights (and dinners)... and we are getting a little stir crazy around here ; )

 This is her last year before Kindergarten.  Her last year before mandatory 5 days a week, 7 hours a day.  In years past, she went 3-4 days a week and I picked her up at 2:30.  This year it is 4 days and I'm picking her up at noon.  Instead of having lunch with her friends and napping, we'll have lunch together and more down time at home.  I'm just savoring this last year of time we have together at home before it is gone... and she's thrilled to not have to take a nap, of course.  It means that I'll have to get up and do some work early in the morning, and probably a little more at night, but I'm hoping I can still keep the boat afloat while stealing all the time with her I can.

As always around this time of year, I'm looking forward to getting back into routine.  I'm ready to cook again... we've been pretty lazy in the kitchen this summer.  The Weekly Menu Planning is back with the help of the Dinner Planning Tablet.  I'm going to put a new focus on Family Dinners here on the blog.  It is something that we always focus on in our home, and I'm going to talk more about it here and how we make it happen - I know it can be hard.

I already have some posts planned for this week that I'm hoping will get you all inspired to gear up for a new season of Family Dinners, too, no matter what that might look like for you.  Last night, my parents sent out a photo of the dinner they had set for themselves (for 2) by the pool.  They could have set it at the island with the TV on, but they didn't.  It was a beautiful night and they made the effort to make it special.  That's family dinner.  A little effort.  It looks a little different for everyone (as it should), but it should feel the same - making an effort and a priority to spend quality time with each other on a daily basis.

Our Menu for the Week :

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Over the weekend, we cleaned out my parents' over-abundant tomato crop and I made a huge batch of Garden Tomato Sauce - a first for me.  (In other news, we just now harvested our first tomato from our garden...)  I'll share the recipe soon.  So, so good.  I also made 30 meatballs (easier to make than you think...) + I used some of the meatball mixture to make two meatloafs that we will have later in the week.  The extra sauce and the meatballs will go into the freezer for easy meals later.

Apricot Glazed Salmon & Couscous

I'm going to try swapping the Chicken for Salmon tonight.  I've grilled and baked the chicken in the past (and like both), but I'll probably bake the salmon with the apricot sauce to keep it from burning too much on the grill.  I'll let you know how it turns out.  And if you haven't tried the couscous, you must.  I'll have it leftover for lunch all week long.

Meatloaf & Mashed Potatoes

As mentioned above, I used the same mixture from the meatball recipe to form the meatloaf.  You could use the exact recipe for the meatloaf if you like (it is delicious), but it is easier for me (and close enough) to use the same for both.  For this dinner, I'll reheat the meatloaf, make mashed potatoes, roast carrots (instead of green beans) and make the very yummy roasted garlic sauce (that is a part of the original meatloaf recipe).

Classic Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Colorful Carrots

Lemon Thyme Chicken

I'm not sure if I'll grill or bake these, but it is a weekly staples around here with sliced tomatoes, and a green veggie.

Mr. Darcy, Emma and Daddy

And if you want to know what I look like after I've rolled out of bed and taken Mr. Darcy on an hour walk.  This.  This is what I look like most days.   Now, don't you feel better about yourself?  You're welcome.  ; )

August 09, 2016

Classic Home Collection | Muted Blues & Greens, Botanical Prints, Linens, Candles, Natural Parchment

The Classic Home Collection

For me, this time of year is all about getting back to the routine of home.  I'm looking forward to earlier evenings, family dinners, snuggly weekends and a cozy, cozy home.  When I was putting this collection together, I really thought about what a classic home looks and feels like to me - timeless and comfy, no need for trends, no time for fuss; a home that just feels warm.

After days out in the world, dealing with who knows what, my goal is always to make our home a safe haven - a place everyone feels secure and loved. Guards are let down, defenses put away and it has a really comfy place to settle into before a comforting dinner around the table.  To help you make that happen in your home, I found the softest throws and pillows in muted tones, napkins and tablecloths for family dinners, worksheets and tablets for organizing everything, classic candles and botanical prints.  

I hope you find something that will help you to run your home more efficiently and more beautifully. ore beautifully. 

Shop the entire Classic Home Collection, here.


Botanical Prints, $4-6

Botanical prints are one of the most classic pieces of artwork.  Bringing bits of nature into your home like this adds that warmth and earthiness that we all crave this time of year.  
Classic botanical prints professionally printed on photo paper.   There are six prints to select from.

The Softest Throws, $80-90

These Throws are absolutely luscious.  The softest thing you've ever felt.  They are so so so soft, heavy and cozy - a blanket that you'll love curling up with in your favorite chair.  
Throws Pictured Top to Bottom :

Olive Meena Pillow Cushion Cover, 20" Square, $32

Left, Olive Meena Pillow Cover, 20", Right, Indigo Block Print Cover, 22"

The "What's For Dinner" question is always a struggle at our house.  I ask Mike what he wants, and he says give me some choices.  Usually I come up with 3-4 of the standards (pasta, steaks, grilled chicken...), but forget about some of our favorites.  Now, at the beginning of the week, we can sit down with this tablet.  
Not only will it help us to decide what to have, but it will help me balance the week's meals - beef, fish, chicken, pasta.  All of these recipes can be found on my site, you can search here.
Natural Cardstock, 50 page tablet

Weekly Planner Tablet

To some, this might sound like an old-fashioned idea - a paper planner?  For me, I need to have something I can hold in my hand.  I want to be able to sit down with Mike on a Sunday evening and walk through our week.  Not only does it keep us organized, but it helps me to be able to see balance in our week.  I plan for casual dinners out (instead of cooking every night...), and it helps me see the space for fun and downtime.

Daily Living Tablet, $8

I'm keeping this tablet on my bedside.  While the Weekly Planner is more about logistics and scheduling, I want my priorities to have a space, too.  At the end of the day, I like to think about what I really want out of the next day, what my goals are.  So, I let the weekly planner do its job and keep me organized, but I let my Daily Living tablet to keep me prioritized.

Grocery List Tablet, $8

In one of the Barefoot Contessa's cookbooks, she showed her custom printed grocery shopping lists.  I always thought what a great idea that is, but never found a source... so, of course, I made one  : )

LePens, Set of 12

Colors : Grey, Brown, Blue, Green or Black

Sometimes it is just the little things that can make those daily tasks a little more fun.  Sitting down to fill out your Weekly Schedule, or make your Grocery List is much more tempting with a full supply of beautiful LePens on your desk, right?
Many of you have become fans of LePens like me.  I keep a glass full of them on my desk at all times.  For three years, I've sold four of them in a set with my Tablet, but I know many of you would love to have a big supply, too.  Now, I'm offering them in a box of 12 - perfect for getting organized as we begin a busy new season.

LePens have been my favorite for years.  They are thin and elegant, with a tiny felt tip.  You may have seen them on Martha Stewart's desk.  She's also a huge fan.  In fact, she gave her design editor, Kevin Sharky, an entire case of these grey pens for his new office.

Unbleached Parchment Paper, 100 sheets, $10

I love this new color for Fall baking.  I can't wait to wrap up a loaf of banana bread for a gift in this paper.  Of course, it is also perfect to use as a pan liner on sheet pans.

I'm looking forward to the school year beginning and sending Mike and Emma out the door every morning with a smoothie to-go in these cups.  I'll be sharing more of our smoothie recipes soon.
At first I ordered these cups for myself to keep on hand when we have friends with kids over.  I like that they are simple and clean and I can dress them up with a fun straw.  Halloween party?  Black or orange straw.  Birthday?  Pink, of course.  Christmas?  Red or Green.  Then, we started using them so much around our house on a daily basis, that I stocked them in our pantry.  We use them for smoothies on our walks or when we head out in the car.  We use them for lemonade when Emma has friends over.  We use them anytime we are headed out the door.  
*These darling straws are from Ikea! 

Everyday Candle, $24

This is the original scent that I carried in my store - almost 2 years ago!   Orange oil, currant, jasmine and cedar combine to make my favorite scent in my home.  I use this candle to start everyday.  Poured in a Blue & White Ceramic container, as that classic look we all love.
These candles are custom made for me by a local artisan, 5B & Co. Candlemakers in Brookside with pure soy wax and essential oils.

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