Photographic diary

Life through my lens…

I’m really hoping March improves as far as temperatures go, it’s been a cold snowy week overall… But looking at the forecast things are warming up a bit over the coming week… Yay!

It’s been a crazy week, I met up with some friends I had not seen in a while, Paul officially got a new job, big changes happening for us there and we have been in full swing Birthday prep for next week… Tate is going to be one and then Paul turns 50!

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Indoor playtime for my babies… It’s cold and snowy outside!

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Photographic diary

Life through my lens…

Sunday was March 1st, Spring is on the way, or so you would think… Not here in New Jersey, March 1st seems to have been a signal for more snow! We travelled down to Wayne on Sunday morning for some indoor soccer and then had plans to hit their Costco for some grocery shopping. Plans went wrong when we decided to pop into the Mall for lunch and a Starbucks, it was crazy busy and took much longer than planned. When we finally left the mall it was a blizzard, so we headed very slowly on snow filled highways to our local Costco then home and into the warm…

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Planning a Valentines…

Some people think Valentines day is pointless… Me I’ve always loved an excuse for an extra celebration! I think this year we will be staying in yet again, but I really don’t mind, as I’ve said before I’m a bit of a hermit in all this cold weather, so a quiet night in is perfect for me!

The question is, how shall we spend our date night… I love planning a meal, and as it turns out so does Mabel, she loves Pinterest and has so many great ideas, so together on an ultra quick shopping trip last night we came up with a plan… Oh Homegoods I love you!

First, oh did I mention I love this idea… Mabel came up with the idea of framing a wedding photo for Paul’s new room we are decorating… Yes, the perfect Valentines gift… We found the perfect rustic frame, I found the perfect wedding photo and edited it, printed it, then of course framed it! I then found the perfect rustic basket, this basket will be the perfect addition for Paul’s Birthday present too… But shhhhh, that ones a surprise! I added in a giant rustic X, that makes a giant kiss for the room and then played around with additions for food… A slate cheese board, fancy cheese knives, new wine glasses… Then I added some food and drink, bread dipping oil and wine, I was going to add more food but I ran out of space!

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I kept dinner simple, cheese, meats, good bread… And for desert, chocolate fondue with marshmallows, tiny cookies and plump strawberries to dip… Now my perfect dinner for two turned into a chaotic dinner for five… I guess that’s the thing of a large family, as each person came home they joined us, and of course Mabel loves cheese and chocolate so it was a given that she would join us!

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On a final note of a day for lovers… Why is it an excuse to sell things for ridiculous prices… Godiva were selling their chocolate strawberries for $9 a strawberry, yes that’s $9 for one strawberry, granted I have no idea how much they normally sell for, but $9 for 1 strawberry seems excessive… Anyway I told Farrel who was thinking of buying his girlfriend some, he could make 6 for less than one strawberry using Godiva chocolate… Well part of that was true… Because his Mom can definitely make them for less, of course you knew it would be me making them… And they were delicious, as I made a few more for us too…

Her is my simple recipe for copy cat Godiva chocolate strawberries…

6 good sized strawberries
2 bars of your choice of Godiva chocolate (I used milk chocolate)
1 teaspoon of coconut oil for chocolate shine
Optional extra, 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips to melt for decorative stripes) or just like Godiva you could stripe the chocolates with the same melted milk chocolate)

Take a saucepan and place approximately an inch of water in the bottom, place a glass bowl over the water in the pan so that the bowl is not touching the water and sits nicely in the pan, add the chocolate and coconut oil in the bowl and then slowly bring the water to a low boil, this will slowly melt the chocolate, once it is thoroughly melted, take the bowl off the heat and dip each strawberries so that they are 3/4 coved in chocolate, place on a tray lined with parchment paper to allow to set! If you are using white chocolate to decorate, then melt the white chocolate in the same way as I have described for the milk chocolate, spoon into a plastic sandwich bag, snip the corner of the bag, be careful to only snip a tiny corner, then pipe over the set chocolate strawberries… Now try to wait until the chocolate sets… Then enjoy!

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Well last Saturday was a snowy day,the roads were dangerously covered in snow, but the food the wine, and our family… Well it was a weird combination, but it all made for a very different Valentines Day than I had planned, but I wouldn't change a thing… Well maybe Valentines Day in Spring would be perfect!

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January… Love it or hate it?

I love January 2nd… I Hate January the month, but love this day… Now I don’t want to be a bah humbug type person, but I love that January 2nd, no matter what day of the week it falls on brings back the world to it’s normal place, all the crowds of busy shoppers are gone, the stress the holiday season brings disappears and the world for just one day seems right again!

My thoughts in January focus on two things, hibernation, as I hate the winter months and trying to organize myself for yet another new year that lies ahead! I also try to focus on healthy eating and this year I need to cut out calories and try to lose some of the pregnancy weight gain, so my plan is to take recipes and adjust to healthier low fat ingredients!

Today is the first Sunday of 2015, we are staying in the house today, catching up on some chores and eating… But in alignment with my New Years resolution, I’m cutting the calories in our Sunday dinner… Potato and green bean casserole, steak, for those that love it and slimmed down carrot cake I’m converting it into pumpkin cake as I don’t have any carrots, it’s fine though I love pumpkin anything!

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In true January style my head is full of cold, sore throat, stuffy nose… My Mum always says we need the cold weather to kill off all the germs, but for me I just feel to cold weather breeds more germs, we are stuffed up in houses with heat blowing around making us dry, we go from warm houses to freezing cold temperatures all day, then our lack of sunshine leads to depression! January begins a countdown of weeks until we can crack out our sandals and sun lotion!

Happy New Year!

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Addicted to crochet…

Ever since I was very young and my grandmother taught me to knit, I’ve been a knitter, granted I have gone through phases in my life of knitting and then not knitting, but I can knit so I would say I am a knitter… Well now I have a new found passion for crochet… I have had a yearning for quite a few years now to learn to crochet, I dabbled a little bit last year, I could crochet a granny square but I was not using the correct hands, so I really wanted to master this craft! A couple of weekends ago I set about actually learning to crochet correctly, I you tubed a few videos on how to begin, voila i finally undestood how the yarn should go through your left hand, so far so good, I have the hands correct now, I would even say my tension is not too shabby, the next step for me is reading actual patterns… I’ll let you know what happens!

The other big thing for me this week is a two week menu plan… This is a first for me and I am not sure even if this will work out… Do I shop for two weeks? will things last long enough? questions, questions, but the thought of having a menu planned and shopped for, including lunch meals too… for two weeks has me so excited… This is one task I can halve completely, hopefully it will work out… Fingers crossed, grocery planning and shopping are not on my list of favorite things to do!

2 week menu plan

Day 1
Pesto bean soup , rotisserie chicken, pasta – http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/pesto-bean-soup-recipe/index.html
Lunch – pasta salad

Day 2
Italian marinated chicken -http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/melissa-darabian/italian-marinated-chicken-with-red-potatoes-recipe/index.html
Lunch – chicken salad rolls

Day 3
Sausage bean pasta
Lunch – sausage rice salad

Day 4
White turkey chili and brown rice (Whole foods recipe)
Lunch – baked potato and left over chili

Day 5
Sausage with zucchini and tomatoes served with ciabatta (Whole foods recipe)
Lunch – rice and sausage salad

Day 6
Lasagne and salad
Lunch – left over lasagne and salad

Day 7
Green salad with buffalo chicken and blue cheese (Whole foods recipe)
Buffalo chicken salad sandwiches

Day 8
Chicken noodle soup, ciabatta bread
Lunch – chicken soup salad

Day 9
Pasta with cauliflower and sausage (Whole foods recipe)
Lunch – Sausage pasta salad

Day 10
Chili and quinoa
Lunch – Left over chili and rice

Day 11
Italian chicken casserole and gnocchi
Lunch – Chicken and biscuits

Day 12
Salad leaves with sausage and fennel, served with baked potatoes (Whole foods recipe)
Lunch – Baked potato and salad

Day 13
Red Thai turkey curry (Whole foods recipe)) quinoa
Lunch – red thai curry flat breads

Day 14
left overs day
Lunch left overs lunch

Finally on this gray morning in March I want to say what a beautiful day it was here in New Jersey yesterday, the sun was shining, the sky was bright blue, it was a little chilly but still nice enough to think spring is on it’s way… Then BAM, we are expecting yet another snow storm later today… REALLY! Florrie and I attended book babies at the library yesterday too, it’s a 6 week class for 20 minutes on a Tuesday morning, well believe me 20 minutes was long enough for these 12 to 24 month olds, after a couple of songs, a couple of books their attention was completely gone… It’s so weird how we develop these things we take for granted over time… She loved it of course, although she was very shy for most of it, which believe me is not at all like my little Florrie Flower!

Stay warm and enjoy hopefully, our last snow storm of this winter!

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Snowy Super Bowl Sunday morning…

The Super Bowl is once again upon us, has it really been a whole year since the last one? Last year each of us bought a yummy dish of food for our television watching fest, this year everyone is out except my youngest three children so more wings for us to munch on… I am not a football fan, in fact I do not understand the rules of the game, but I do enjoy game day food!

The menu for our feast is buffalo hot wings with blue cheese dip, chili with cheesy hot dogs, nachos, queso and sweet and spicy popcorn… I have cheated and bought most of the menu, but I am planning to make the chili and cook the hotdogs in it so they are nice and spicy!

The rest of this cold snowy Sunday is going to be spent keeping warm, a morning trip to the Bagel Bistro for brunch is planned and Mabel is desperate to get to the 70% off sale in Abercrombie and Hollister but I just fancy a lazy day at home, so we will see what happens… My thoughts are that she might just persuade me!

Happy Super Bowl Sunday… What ever feast you have planned… Enjoy, the diet can always start tomorrow!

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Embers glowing…

We love to have a roaring open fire, there is nothing quite like the smell of wood burning throughout your house and the warm golden glow radiating throughout your home making it feel cozy and warm, but tonight as we lit our fire and watched it burn the house began to fill with smoke, the fan inside the chimney was not working properly, but at this point we were not aware of this. After deliberating what to do Paul decided to try to put the fire out as the house was becoming more and more smokey. I took Florence Blu and Mabel upstairs into my warm bedroom as all the doors and windows were open downstairs, it was freezing and extremely smokey, next thing I know my Mum is panicked and telling us we have to leave the house, it looks like the actual fireplace and chimney are alight… I grabbed a blanket for Florrie, Mabel unknown to me grabs her iPhone and iPad but no shoes or socks and runs out into the snow, thankfully we get into our car and move onto the other side of the road while Paul dials 911.

I have only praise for the Sparta Emergency Services, they were here in minutes, I think 3 fire trucks, 5 police cars the chief of the fire department and within seconds the road was blocked off and they were in our house. It turns out that whoever put our fire place in did not put it in to be used, it would have been nice to have been told that though, wires sitting just above the fire insert, no concrete above to hold the tv correctly and a very outdated fan system, one that the firemen had never seen before… We had a house inspection but nothing was ever said, you think that you have an open fireplace and chimney stack to be used, but obviously not in our house, just another bodge job to add to the many we have discovered living in this house over the last 4 years!

I am just thankful firstly to my Dad and Paul for spotting the smoke and fire in the first place, to Paul for remaining calm unlike his panic stricken wife, the Sparta Emergency services for responding so quickly and being so thorough, but most of all I am so thankful for the time of day it happened, had it been later and we had gone to bed without noticing, letting the embers glow, who knows it could have been far worse!

Thankfully we are all safe, my poor fireplace will never look the same again… But we will just add it to the list of many jobs we need to do in our house and be grateful we are at home cozy and warm right now!

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