Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Happy Easter Bark

Easter is a bitter sweet time for me this year.  For the first time in forever I didn't decorate for the holiday, my kiddos have no interest in dying and hunting eggs (they are 16, 15 & 14 now), and we won't be enjoying the holiday with my family in Tennessee.

I don't think I like the holiday this way, so I decided that Easter baskets were a must!

Besides the fun little girly trinkets and sports themed gifts for my teenagers, I whipped up a batch of delicious Easter Bark for a sweet treat.  
It's such a fun spin off the peppermint bark so popular around Christmas time.

Ingredients are simple:

Two Boxes of Bakers White Chocolate
Spring M&M's
Wax Paper

Break apart the white chocolate squares and melt on medium heat, stirring continuously until smooth.  Be careful not to over cook or your chocolate will be lumpy and unusable.  I usually remove my pan from the eye when about 3/4 of the chocolate is melted and stir to help the remainder melt.

Layer a cookie sheet with wax paper and then pour the chocolate on to the paper.  Use a spatula to smooth it out.  While the chocolate is still soft and semi-warm, top with the almonds and M&M's.

Let harden for a couple of hours at room temperature, then break into chunks.

Fill spring themed bags with the chunks of bark for a delicious treat even the most grown-up of teenagers will love!

And as always, Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fragrant Passage Candle Company

Whenever I can, buying USA, especially local made products is high on my list when shopping.  Back at Christmas I was gifted with a unique and fun candelabra from my husband made from an old wine bottle with an hand-forged iron topper.  It holds four glass votives.  

I love how it is made because it can go from a casual outdoor setting (how I have it featured now), to a vintage set table.

The company where Audley discovered this sweet little gem is located in Greensboro, North Carolina, just a few hours from our home.  Introduced in 2009 at the High Point furniture market, and owned by David Oreck (of Oreck vacuum fame) with its 40-something employees, everything here is made in the USA.  It may not necessarily be made in NC, but the glass, iron, wicks, etc... are all American made.  The candles themselves are made and pour right in North Carolina.

Now I admit, I am a self-proclaimed candle hoarder.  I love to find my favorite Yankee Candle and Colonial Candle scents at TJ Maxx or HomeGoods and store them up.  When we have company over, there are generally no less than three candles lit, making everyone suffer through my obsession with musky fragrances.
I also love to give candles as gifts!  From a hostess gift to an inexpensive birthday gift, scent candles in pretty jars seem to never go out of style.

As Audley passed through Greensboro on his last business trip he stopped and picked me up an actual candle from Fragrant Passage.

{He actually stopped to purchase a new votive where his kitty cat decided to knock my wine bottle candelabra over and break a votive.}

  Fragrant Passage has a factory store that is apparently stocked with an abundance of accessories, delicious scents and styles.

This Pure Air vanilla scented candle Audley chose is specifically made as an order eliminator instead of just making a room smell good.

I'm generally not a fan of food scented candles, but this vanilla is not over powering.  As for oder eliminating, I cooked bacon in the kitchen the other morning and after lighting the candle, it didn't take long for the smell of fried bacon to disappear from the kitchen.  Even after blowing the candle out, there was no lingering scent of bacon.

Personally, while I like bacon, I do not like it smelling up the house all day!

Not only does this American company feature the Pure Air candle, they also carry oil diffusers, decorative glass candles, tapers for special occasions and votive candles.  They even have a candle packaged as "Coffee To Go"; it's packaged as a coffee to go cup!

My candle was considered an "oooopppps" because it was more pink than white in color, so it was only $5.  Candles normally range from $10 and up.  The little USA made glass votives Audley replaced for me?  They were just .99.

Definitely affordable!

After such a positive experience with the candles (and Audley says their staff is super friendly & helpful, as well), I would like to try another of their candles soon.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

First Yard Sale of the Season

Just before the rain and a high of 41 returned to our forecast today, we were able to enjoy a really nice weekend here in the ever weather temperamental sate of South Carolina. 

Of course the beauty of a pretty first weekend of spring is that people start setting up for yard sales.  

My parents were in town for the weekend as well, so along with Audley, we took off and hit up the first yard sale of the season, which happened to be just around the corner from our house!

We discovered a treasure trove of goodies as we browsed; antiques galore, especially dolls and dishes.  My mom actually found a doll that was made very similar to one that she shared with her sister as a little girl; one that was left outside and melted in the rain.  

She thought it might have been made of chalk or something similar, but never knew.  Did anyone else ever have a dollie like that?

Tea Party anyone?

Just one of the beautiful dolls we discovered on our adventure
Boxes of vintage linens in the drive
As for dishes, what a variety!  From mid-century barware to 1930's Depression glass and collectable plates galore, there was plenty to choose from.

I loved the antique butter presses .... but NOT the price tag!

My mother found several pieces marked with a "W" which is our family monogram.  When inquiring about the background, the woman who owned all of the beautiful wares (and had passed away a year ago) was a "Woolworth".

As in the 5 & dime Woolworths. 

How cool is that?

While I often browse more than I shop at yard sales (I need to have one myself!), I did actually purchase some neat goodies at this one.

I absolutely loved this hymnal from 1893 that I picked up for a dollar.  It was so neat to thumb through the book and realize that some of the hymns we still sing in worship on Sunday are well over a hundred years old!

The pretty red, white and blue tablecloth the book is laying on is a vintage 1960's beauty that I grabbed for $5.  I thought it would be perfect for a Memorial Day or July Fourth picnic cloth.  Hopefully I will be able to clean it up nicely. 

I loved this set of pink depression glass bowls from the 1930's.  I wasn't going to get them, but my sweet hubby talked the owner down from $75 to $40 ( yes, you can bargain at yard sales).  I must admit, they are beautiful and still look nearly perfect.  I wondered if they had ever been used.

I also picked up this really pretty mid-century cocktail pitcher with the original blown glass swizzle stick for $5!  I was so excited because it fits just perfectly with my bar car that I restored a couple of years back.

Momma discovered a old camera from the 1950's that she had to have.  She also purchased a couple of the table linens and two antique pewter items;  a pitcher monogrammed with a "W" and a tea pot stamped with 1886 on it.  

In researching the latter on Ebay we found similar pots selling for over $400 dollars!  I would say she really lucked out!

I don't know how many more casual weekends we will be able to enjoy this spring, but I sure enjoyed this one without any demands.  Hopefully we'll get to hit up a few more yard sales or flea markets soon!

Thursday, March 06, 2014

The Cookie Monster {Paleo Style}

Sometimes Mommas have to be the bad guy, even when we don't want to.

Sometimes we have to say no, even when it's difficult.

We know it is for the benefit of our kiddos, but getting them to understand that is sometimes very difficult.


Then there are times that Mommas find a solution and suddenly "no" becomes "YES" making all right in the world again.

This has been the story of my life lately as we are having to change our eating habits again, making them just a little cleaner.

When we began eating clean months ago with my lifestyle change & weightloss, things like migraines seemed disappear from our home.  That is until my Madeline would go away for sleepovers, or youth group trips, or sporting events.... places where  food (while absolutely delicious to a teenager) didn't necessarily sit well afterwards.  After missing fourteen days of school this year with migraines (all after weekend adventures & a couple of family trips), we decided things had to change.  

Healthy just got healthier as we are now going very clean and taking more of a natural (some call it Paleo) approach to eating.  Wheat & grain seem to be the source of her problems, so we are beginning to eliminate them from our diet.

The result?

No more headaches, and absolutely delicious chocolate chip cookies that were devoured in a matter of minutes as they came out of the oven the other night!

2 Cups almond flour (or meal)
2 Tablespoons coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup Spectrum organic all-vegetable shortening
1/4 cup honey
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips (dairy & soy free)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  I lined one large cookie pan with payment paper to help prevent sticking.  In a food processor, blend together the almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda and salt.  Add the shortening, honey and vanilla and blend until thoroughly combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.  Take a tablespoon of the dough and flatten on the cookie sheet. Leave a little space between each cookie.  Bake about 7 minutes until the cookies are golden.  Allow to cool a few minutes or enjoy hot from the oven with cold milk!  

{You can also press the cookie dough into a brownie pan and make delicious cookie bars.}

And just a side note .... these cookies are very addictive and while the ingredients are natural, they do not make a "diet" cookie.  These are a definitely a treat if you are trying to lose weight & not a part of a low-fat lifestyle.

But they are good.

Really good.

I hope you'll give them a try!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Fireside Romance

For most of mine and Audley's nineteen years together we have been away from family as well as being parents from day one. I became a full-time momma the day we said "I do." When it comes to keeping romance alive in our marriage we have often had to be quite creative with "dating" each other. 

With small children and lack of babysitters often we created what we have fondly called "carpet picnics".  These began when we lived in Carrollton, Georgia about 12 years ago.  We would feed the kiddos and then put them to bed two hours earlier than usual.  While I did the tucking in, lighting candles and laying out our picnic spread, Audley would run out and grab take-out from our favorite little seafood restaurant and we would picnic in the living room floor.

Those were special times for us.

Now days, with three teenagers still living at home we don't have to have babysitters any longer; we usually just go out.  But last weekend Audley and I decided that we really wanted to watch the Olympic opening ceremonies together.  We had to run the girls to a sleepover after we both got off from work and we had a child sick with a chest cold.  There wasn't time for supper out, and we felt bad for Bradley, so we took a step back in time to the days of our carpet picnics.

We ordered take-out sushi from our favorite little joint, fed Bradley and tucked him in and enjoyed a romantic dinner by the fire watching the opening ceremonies.

Audley built a beautiful and cozy fire, while I lit candles, arranged our take-out on a platter, pulled out our chopsticks and dipping bowls to complete our fireside date.

Honestly I couldn't have asked for a more enjoyable date with my husband.

What are some things that you do to keep the romance alive in your own relationships?