This Summer Make your Dessert Sparkle!

One of the joys of a childhood summer are sparklers. My boys look forward to that time of day when the sun has set and they can light the world on fire... figuratively speaking, of course! Influenced heavily by a few images I had saved onto to my Pinterest board, I thought it would be fun to add some sparkle to my kids' dessert. What could make a warm brownie a la mode even sweeter? The magic and glow of a sparkler, of course! Sparklers truly make those spectacular summer nights even more memorable.

To make your Sparkling Warm Brownie a la Mode you will need:

2 glasses 
1 brownies cut into a circle shape to fit the bottom of the glass
2-4 scoops of vanilla (or your favorite) ice cream placed on top of the warm brownie
Optional: Hot fudge, caramel or butterscotch sauce drizzled over ice cream
2 sparklers placed into the center of the ice cream, anchored by the brownie
Serves 2 - Double recipe if needed

Pardon our poor quality, rushed iPhone photos!

Love, on the rocks

I've not posted in a while - this is unusual for me. Last weekend I was away in Newport, Rhode Island where life was was all rest and relaxation... a dip in the pool, a walk in the sand, and a climb upon the rocks to hunt for the perfect pieces of sea glass. I don't know what it is about sea glass... but I adore it - and  I love looking for it... carefully combing the sand, and rocks of all sizes, sometimes. It requires a careful and methodical eye, and a certain amount of patience. There's something extremely therapeutic about it... getting lost in the process of the search... tuning out the world... forgetting your troubles and stresses... 

Whenever I comb the shores I must search for the perfect faded pieces of glass that wash upon the shore. A perfect piece of sea glass is one that is smooth to the touch with a frosty appearance. My children and I have one rule - If a piece of glass still has a side that is still fairly sharp we toss it back into the ocean until it is ripe for the picking. At the beginning of the season we collect pieces of all sizes, as the summer progresses and our collections grow we tend to leave the smaller pieces behind. It seems that lately most of the sea glass is brown. Sometimes you'll find green or white pieces. Blue, lavender and red sea glass is nearly impossible to find. And when you find a piece that has been deemed "rare," it is a special treat. You can find sea glass just about anywhere the ocean meets the sand. You'll find more earlier in the day before the beach has been picked over and as the tide is rolling out. But by far the best places for sea glass are along the rockier parts of the coast. The glass is washed up onto the rocks and then seems to rest in little craters created by the shifting rocks and tides. I learned this when I was hunting sea glass in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, Marblehead, Massachusetts and Newport, Rhode Island. Whether you're just picking up your first piece or you thousandth piece I must tell you that with certainty you will find love on the rocks! 

The above piece is not really ready for picking by our standards, but how could we possibly resist this lovely and brilliant cobalt blue? Where did it come from? Something unique and exotic or perhaps a bottle of Saratoga water that had carelessly been tossed overboard?

Aunt Dee's Strawberry Bread

You need only 1 strawberry bread recipe. You need this one. You will thank us after you've made it. Trust me. This quick bread is sweet but not too much. It's chock-filled with berries so it is tender and moist. This bread is perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack with a cup of tea. We make it a lot in the summer with our freshly picked berries, but we make it in the wintertime as well. It makes a lovely holiday, teacher or hostest gift. This really should be one of those family recipes that's kept in a vault, safely locked. But I'm sharing it because I don't believe in those kinds of secrets. I believe that a good thing should be shared and enjoyed.

And now, without further ado ...

Recipe makes 1 loaf -- this is rarely enough and you will want to double it!

Preheat over to 350 degrees


1 1/2 C. flour

3/4 C. sugar

1/2 Tsp. baking soda

1 Tsp. vanilla (we don't really measure!)

2 eggs

2/3 C. of canola or extra light olive oil ----> (And healthy to boot!)

1 1/4 C. cut strawberries


Sift flour and baking soda together in a bowl and set aside.

Mix together eggs, sugar, vanilla and oil

Slowly add dry ingredients while mixing

Grease a 9 inch loaf pan

Bake 55 mins, but check for done-ness at 50 minutes by inserting a toothpick into the center. If it comes out completely clean, it's done. If not, give it another 5 minutes.

Let cool about 15 minutes before serving (If you can stand it!)

Go ahead and make this before everyone gets up! Such a perfect thing to serve on a slow Summer morning!

* All images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House. Re-use of these pictures is permissible with proper attribution

2 Ingredient Strawberry Ice Cream :: No machines required!

This was totally Martha Stewart's idea. And I stole it. She used peaches. She called it Sherbet. I used strawberries. We think it tastes more like ice cream than Sherbet. No matter what you call it, it's a fun quick, and easy frozen treat. We loved this for it's simplicity and ease. We loved it because you don't need a fancy ice cream maker. We liked it because it was relatively quick and well, we're an impatient lot. We like instant gratification. And come on, admit it, you do too!

4 cups strawberries, frozen, stems removed
1 can sweetened condensed milk

That's it. Crazy, right? We know!


Freeze 4 cups of strawberries and place in a Ziplock bag in your freezer. Lay flat so they don't freeze together. Freeze for about 2 hours or overnight. We always have frozen strawberries on hand for smoothies, and baking. 

In a blender pour in the condensed milk and then add the strawberries. Bend until smooth. When smooth pour mixture into a metal loaf pan. Place in freezer for about an hour. 

After remove and serve!

Note, this is delicious but very sweet. You may want to cut down on the sweetness by adding a little bit of while milk to the mixture, say, about 1/3 of a cup. Test to taste. Kids might like it sweeter than the adults.

If you go strawberry (or any berry or fresh fruit) picking, this is a great way to use up a ton of berries. Fresh berries tend to go soft and start to turn fairly quickly. This is a great and fun summertime activity to do with kids of all ages. 

In the blender, always add the liquid to the blender first!
Otherwise the frozen berries will merge and freeze together and blending will be tough!

Pretty in pink!

Ready to scoop...

Ready to eat!

For a perfectly red, white and blue treat add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and top with fresh blueberry!

Save the Wino! A fun and whimsical gift that gives back

The next time you need a hostess gift - whether for a pool or cocktail party, or summer BBQ and want to bring someone a bottle of your favorite, red, white or rose, instead of handing over a naked bottle, or one that's haphazardly tied up in a pretty bow, consider a fun, eco-friendly, friendly, reusable wine bag and is raising awareness against the ivory trade and helping hundreds of Kenyan women. The story behind the bag is quite remarkable.

L.I.F.E Line, the company that makes the Wino bag, started in 2008 with a small group of mothers in Kenya, shunned by society because they had children with special needs. Teaching these women to sew allowed them to earn an income for their families, send their children to school and grow from quiet outcasts to leaders of change. What started with a canvas tote bag ended up transforming an entire community. 

L.I.F.E Line is a CTC company. Comfort the Children International works alongside Kenyan communities to provide resources that create sustainable change. Instead of simply giving aid and money to those in need, we build relationships and programs that empower residents to help themselves. They are a 501(c)(3) non-profit that helps Kenyans build and manage the sustainable infrastructure necessary to meet the challenges of everyday life, employing over 75 local Kenyans and serving the 60,000 residents of Maai Mahiu in the Rift Valley.

CTC’s initiatives focus on education, environment, economy, health and community development that directly impact the community as a whole. Our programs are delivered through local relationships, creating the foundation necessary to make lasting changes while ensuring that your donations of time and money have a maximum positive effect.

In 2014, the L.I.F.E. Line has grown to employ over 400 women in communities across the Rift Valley in Kenya. Providing competitive wages and sourcing materials locally, the L.I.F.E. Line is a fashionable step toward alleviating poverty.


Proceeds from each bag sold supports rhino conservation at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in central Kenya. They've been popular as hostess gifts, party favors, wedding favors, and more!

For more on this wonderful company please visit their website
You can find their bags at select Whole Foods stores, or through their website. They are offering The Entertaining House readers a 30% discount through the 4th of July. They have many other wonderful items to select from as well. Simply enter the code EHLOVESLIFE.

These bags make wonderful party and wedding favors as well!

We love our Wino bag and know that you will too!

Frozen grapes :: The perfect figure-friendly treat for those hot summer days

If raisins are nature's candy, are frozen grapes nature's perfectly bite-sized popsicles?

I've been hearing about frozen grapes for years. I was a skeptic. Truth be told, they didn't sound very appealing to me. (No pun intended there!)  And yet, for some reason I thought I should try them. I took some red and green grapes, pulled them from their stems and placed them in a Zip Lock bag. A couple of hours later I had these perfectly little frozen treats. The frost looked lovely. Quite pretty in fact. I bit into one of the frozen fruits and was quite surprised with what greeted me, it was as though I was tasting a bite-sized grape-flavored Italian ice. I prefer the red ones myself - but I prefer them when they're not frozen as well. Frozen grapes also make a wonderful iced garnish to your beverage or cocktail without watering down your drink. So, really, these little frozen treats are perfection any way you look at them!

The green grapes may discolor a tiny bit as some of mine did. This is normal and they are still perfectly alright to eat.

All images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

POUND :: The Summer's hottest new work out!

via Fit Sugar
Because I love great food, wine and bubbly, I need to work out. A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to try out a brand new work out called Pound. As soon as I did I was immediately hooked. It’s like no workout I have ever experienced before. No wonder it’s the latest craze to hit the workout scene! This new workout is described as “a full-body cardio jam session that combines light resistance with drumming.”

Here's your opportunity to get ready for the beach while you unleash your inner rock-star while you get fit! This complete workout fuses cardio, Pilates, isometric movements, plyometrics and Isometric poses and can burn between 400 and 900 calories an hour. It's aerobic and it's strength training.

POUND works by combining easy to follow cardio moves with strength training and drumming – a combination that works the entire body. Your instructor will guide you through clear and thoughtful explanations - helping you to focus on the core group of muscles you are working on at that particular moment. There are modifications for each workout from beginner to challenging based on everyone's particular fitness level and ability. No matter your ability you will feel your body working. If you feel you need to increase the intensity of your workout you simply need to POUND harder! As with any fitness program, it is imperative that you listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, speak up or modify your movements.

Each 2-4 minute song is carefully calibrated with interval peaks and extended fat burning sequences, which provides you with the best workout in the shortest span of time. When class is over, and you’re done rocking out to the 45-minute POUNDtrack, you’ll have done 15,000 reps, performed over 30 extended interval peaks, and zipped through over 70 techniques without even realizing it! You'll enjoy a beneficial workout and instant stress relief as you pound your way to fitness! The classes are energizing and invigorating yet when you’re finished with your 45 minute session, you’ll feel wonderfully relaxed - you’ll be in a zen-like state, much like you are after Pilates or yoga.

I happen to prefer working out in classes over using the equipment at the gym. I love the variety and the energy that the classes bring - this is what keeps me coming back. I find that when the work-outs become stagnant and lackluster that I lose my enthusiasm and stop. The best thing is to mix it up - it'll keep you going back for more, and it's the best thing for you and your muscles as well!

Pound has received rave reviews from exercise and fitness gurus across the board, with mentions in The New York Times, Self, Shape, Fitness, Health, InStyle, Elle among many more.

Because POUND is so new, it's not offered everywhere so you'll want to check around. Many gyms offer a free class or free day pass. Take advantage of these for trying out new programs without the commitment.

via Summit Fitness

via hercampus,com

For more information on Pound click here. 

Gifts from the sea :: How to turn your kind finds into treasures

If you have children and live near the beach or visit it over the summer, your buckets, no doubt don't ever come home empty. When my children were younger they picked up everything - imperfect, broken shells were flawless in their eyes. How could I tell them otherwise? How could I tell them something was not impeccable because it had holes or broken bits? In art, and in life, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Because we live on the shore and spend time in Newport and on the beaches in Maine, we have, perhaps, an overabundance of shells. I wondered, however, what would happen if we painted some of these shells. I am a self-proclaimed spray paint addict. It always amazes me to see how something so ordinary can instantly become extra-ordinary. I don't think we have any unpainted shells left at the moment! 

All you need are some shells - any shape and size will do, some good quality glossy metallic spray paint and some old newspaper. Simply arrange the shells onto the paper and holding the can directly over the shell begin to spray. Younger children will need close supervision. Always use spray paint in a well ventilated area. This is a great project to do on a cloudy day or even under a porch on a drizzly day. 

Notice below how those shells with cracks and holes are given a whole new life and look? And your children were right; they are perfect!

Take this project to another level. Large clam and quahog shells can become pretty soap dishes. Create a lovely gift by placing a pretty bar of soap inside the newly gilded shell and tie with a pretty bow. I decided to turn some oyster shells into salt and pepper servers. 

Shells can be displayed in large glass vases or bowls or simply on their own. Smaller shells can make lovely gift toppers and tree ornaments for the holidays. The possibilities are endless. What would you do with your painted shells?

All photos were taken with an iPhone 4S and are the property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House. Photos may be reused with proper attribution and a link back to this site.

Have a great day and go get your sprain paint on!

Happy National Doughnut Day!

It's a Hole-y Day! Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme, Cumberland Farms and Winn-Dixie are all celebrating as well offering free donuts to their customers.
  • Dunkin' Donuts: Stop in at participating stores and get a sweet freebie with any beverage purchase. The Blueberry Cobbler doughnut is new on the summer menu.
    Cumberland Farms: Get a free dougnut with purchase of any hot or iced coffe or Chill Zone beverage.
  • Krispy Kreme: Get your hands on a free, hot and delicious confection of your choice at South Florida locations in Fort Lauderdale, Tamarac and North Miami. No purchase is necessary. Choices include new limited-edition Birthday Cake Batter and Brownie Batter doughnuts.
  • Winn-Dixie: Munch on a free jumbo cake, powdered or cinnamon doughnut hole from the bakery. Limit one per customer, while supplies last.
There's actually a lovely story behind this sweet day. In 1938 the Salvation Army  wanted a way to thank and honor the "Doughnut Lassies" from World War I who fried up doughnuts to help comfort the troops. It's a lovely story, isn't it? And quite fitting that it should fall on the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. So honor your soldiers, heroes and veterans and have a doughnut!

Or maybe you'd like to try your hand at making some yourself...

Camille Styles shares with us these perfect French Breakfast Doughnut

or make them mini-sized!

Spoon Fork Bacon gives us a cream puff doughnut. Pinch me, am I dreaming? Am I alive?
I think I've died and gone to Heaven!

Refinery 29 shares these ice cream filed doughnuts... %^$!@O#$$ Oh. My. GOD. 
If I hadn't gone to Heaven above, I am certainly now... unfortunately there is no recipe here... I may have to create my own. I promise to share with you all!

 My teenage boy has an insatiable appetite. He also loves doughnuts. He may love coconut even more. Table for Two has a recipe that he will most absolutely love!

The Sugar Hit has these amazing Blackberry Jam and Custard filled doughnuts. She describes the dough as lemony pillows. She had me at Hello. Hello Lova! (And she made these with Bonne Mamman Jam - there is NO other jam worth considering. Ever!)

A Kitchen Addiction has these wonderful looking Apple Cider Doughnut Muffins - a healthier take on the traditionally fried fare. I love apple cider. And muffins. It's a win-win in my book!

What's better than a jam-filled doughnut? A miniature version of one! Why? Because I can pop them all in my mouth and there's won't be any left for you if you're not fast enough! These were created by Dominic Chapman of Great British Chefs for children. And yeah, there's nothing healthy whatsoever about this recipe... which makes these tasty treats seem even more delicious!

Ah, fear not chocolate lovers! Dolcetto Confections has a Nutella-filled doughnut which is like a chocolate doughnut but better!

it's summertime!!!!

Original source unknown

Happy Memorial Day! While the day is really to celebrate and remember all those who have given and continue to give of themselves for our country, for most of us it is the day that marks summer's official arrival. While the calendar may argue, this first long weekend of the season, tells us that summer is here... that we can let our hair down and let the weight of the world roll off our shoulders... We can bask in the warm rays of the sun, jump into the pool, swim in the lake, sail on the ocean... We will have cookouts and barbecues, catch fireflies and wave sparklers around. We will eat ice cream and watermelon, hamburgers, hot dogs and lobster rolls. We'll drink copious amounts of iced tea and lemonade. We'll go for long walks and run and bike for miles and miles, perhaps even stopping to picnic along the way. We'll search for pretty shells and sea glass. We'll take road trips and sight see and make new friends along the way. We'll stay up late and listen to the peepers and crickets. We'll open our windows and let the sweet, summer air inside. We'll live in sundresses, cut off shorts and flip flops. We'll nap on hammocks or on couches in screened-in porches... Ah summertime... Welcome back!

via Slim Aarons

via The Kitchn

via The New Yorker

via Tumblr

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via Alicia Block Photography

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original source unknown

via Tumblr

via Alicia Block Photography

10 Inspiring Ideas to for your Memorial Day and Summer Entertaining


Memorial Day marks the official beginning of summer in my mind. Although summer doesn't officially start for another 3 weeks and many schools aren't out for another 2 weeks, I still view it as the beginning of a new season. A season of warmth, and care-free days, lazing at the beach or poolside, evenings outdoors with sparklers, lemonades and glasses of wine for the older folks. Summer is sundresses and afternoons on the hammocks and flip flops. Gardening and grilling. As a working mother I will do my best to juggle my time so that I can spend as much time with my children as I can. My years with them are dwindling. In a few short years my oldest will be off to college. What a different song I am singing these days. I look back just a few short years ago and wondered how I would manage the long hot months of summer. Admittedly they're older now. They don't need to be tended to around the clock. They can, for the most part, take care of themselves. I will arrange for equal amounts of time at camp and equal amounts of time home with me. We will fill our days and seek adventures both great and small. I will figure out how to work and get my projects done in a timely manner and still be there and available to the children so that they're not inside on their iDevices on a gorgeous summer day! We'll start tomorrow (rains are predicted for today) with our first trip to the beach armed with large plastic buckets and look for shells and seaglass and we will return and place our findings out on the porch... In my mind, that always marks the beginning of summer. 

A few simple red, white and blue bandannas can add instant Patriotic decor to your Memorial Day and summer celebration... Used as napkins, or sewn together to create a table cloth, seat cushions for your outdoor table..

An inexpensive flag from the party store can transform a simple jar into a wonderful luminary... glue some twine or rope around an old jar or bottle and you have an instant summery, nautical flair.

A little bit of paint makes everything more fun!

Perhaps whip up some of this Sparkling Lemonade from Annie's Eats

For a different spin on the traditional day, why not try Summer Dogs with Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce?!

Nothing says summer like the lobster roll. Here's one with a twist from Food & Wine Magazine.

These beef and pork sliders from on brioche buns from What Katie Ate will turn an ordinary burger into an extraordinary burger!

 Why not be inspired by the French this holiday weekend. 
Try your hand at this Green Been and Potato Salad for a delicious and nutritious spin on things. 
Via The New York Times. 

For a sweet treat with a twist, this angel food cake packs a punch with all the fresh fruit, whipped cream and Grand Marnier! Visit Perpetually Hungry for the recipe.

The View from Great Island has these gorgeous red, white and blue yogurt popsicles.
Inspired? Visit her blog for the recipe.

Healthy Fast Food? Can such a thing exist?

Palmwich™ makes it possible! It hardly seems possible that something that looks this good and tastes as good as it looks - trust me on this one - could be considered as fast food. Well, it is and it isn't. It's fast in the sense that you can order your food and in a few short minutes, it's there, gorgeous, and ready to go. But this isn't fast food. Fast food has such a negative connotation to it after all. And we hate to be lumped into the same category as those folks. What we have here is Real Food. It's fresh and wholesome and so good for you. Most importantly it's absolutely delicious. Look at the color of the Mediterranean Chopped Salad in the picture above. When have you ever had fast food that looked like that? Look at the colors. And yes, that's kale. Incredible, right?!

Remember a while back I said I had a new project and I would share when I could? Well, I can now! I was brought on to over-see all the PR efforts for this new company called Palmwich™. Getting the word out won't be hard. Getting people to try us out won't be hard. Getting people to return? A cinch! You'd never in a million years think this was fast food. It's really delicious.

The new restaurant just opened in Darien, Connecticut and is the first ever Real Food Drive-Thru of its kind. We see it as a delicious solution to the real-life problem of finding healthy food on-the-go. Palmwich unites two things rarely seen together, Real Food and Drive Thru!

We have a creative and inspiring menu that offers hand-held sandwiches, chopped salads, and sippable soups that are easy to eat on the run, consumers seeking a more nutritious option will be able to select from a variety of items that are wholesome, natural, freshly made and delicious.

The Darien location is drive-thru only to accommodate today’s busy lifestyle with the understanding and knowledge that we can’t always slow down to eat a proper meal. Sometimes the only way is to eat on the run. Palmwich is not “fast food.” but real, house-made food that’s served up quickly with a menu that outshines the competition in taste and nutrition. There’s no longer a reason not to eat well even when you’re on the go.

In creating each and every Palmwich Real Food and drink item, we are mindful of portion size, nutritional content and using all-natural ingredients—and nothing else. We offer gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan selections. We use only natural sweeteners; our meat is sustainably raised and hormone-free; and our breads, salad dressings and sauces are house-made, every time. We’re proud of the Real ingredients that go into each and every Real Food item on our menu. We guarantee you will taste the difference! Pretty amazing, huh?!

Our portable grilled Palmwich Pockets are delicious and house-made—four of which are less than 400 calories. We offer Sonoma Chicken, Tuna Nicoise, Mediterranean Veggie, Chicken Burrito, Cheddar Burger, Pizza Primavera and Beef and Broccoli. Our Chicken and Cheddar and Pizza Kids Palmwich Pockets were created with children in mind. Our Spoonable Salads are chopped and ready. Our Caesar, Mediterranean Kale, Asian and Garden salads are as fresh as can be. Protein can be added to any salad with steak, chicken or hardboiled egg additions. Sippable Soups are vegan and need no spoon! Sip Carrot Ginger, Tomato Basil, Ten Vegetable or seasonal selections easily on the go. Plus hearty, Savory Sides, Quinoa, Chick Pea and Orzo, can be combined with a Palmwich Pocket or Spoonable Salad to make a Palmwich Pair or enjoyed on their own as a light meal.

Re-fuel and power-up with Palmwich’s own freshly made, vitamin-rich GreenSqueeze fresh juice, a delicious blend of kale, cucumber, celery, spinach, apple and lemon, or one of our house-made Energy Bars, an all-natural balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats. Choose from Banana Walnut, Cranberry Almond or Peanut Butter Chocolate— or go ahead and try them all! As the weather heats up, cool down with an Organic Frozen Yogurt, with or without all-natural toppings.

We will be offering breakfast and taking online orders soon.

I hope my local friends will stop by and check us out. I promise you will not be disappointed!

For more information, please visit out website

Trade Secrets Garden Tours, Part 2 :: Bunny Williams & John Rosselli

After alternately devouring, then savoring, every page of my autographed copy of  An Affair with a House that Bunny signed for me last month when I visited the incredible Upper East Side store, Treillage, that she owns with her husband, antiques dealer, John Rosselli, I knew I was going to fall madly in love with this home and gardens in Falls Village, Connecticut. I too could have an affair with this house!

As we walked up the driveway and past the magnificent orchards, we headed directly to the rustic-Greek revival-style pool house. Although I had seen it so many times already, I had yet to see it in person. The pool house was just as I had anticipated, though the pool was a good bit smaller than I had envisioned!  From there we then strolled through the dense woodland area with carefully planned paths that took us on these wonderful loops to discover all sorts of wonderful treats, some in plain sight, others less so. We strolled around the pond surrounded by magnificent gardens and marveled at the wonderful wildflowers and the enormous koi gold fish swimming around. We visited the roosters, the vegetable gardens, tip-toed around the most wonderful sherbet-colored tulips and meandered through a field filled with the most wonderful and ornate bird houses. We poked inside the pool house and the absolutely exquisite guest house where I joked about wanting to crawl into the bed to take a quick siesta. Their home is not only spectacular but truly special. This designer's home had a comfortable, lived-in feel to it that made it incredibly inviting - not something you expect from a designer's home or show-house.

This post is a bit longer than what is typical for me. I do hope you will relax and take a moment or two to enjoy it. This is such a wonderful place, it should really be savored.  Why don't you stop for a moment and pour yourself a cup of tea or a glass of wine... We'll start the tour when you're ready!

The iconic pool house - Greek revival meets Adirondack...

A sneak peek behind and I found their out door shower.... You know how I adore outdoor showers!

The tulips were incredible... I wanted to post every single tulip I shot... I think there were 20 or so pictures!

The guest house was incredible... I would be more than happy to make it my permanent home!

I love the whimsical touches!


Shall we have a nightcap before heading upstairs to bed?


I would sleep like a Queen!

The sink... to... die... for! 

This was a detail on the legs of a table - I thought it so charming.


I'd love to sit here and have a chat with them... I would have so very many questions for them both!

Aren't these sherbet-colored tulips simply divine?

(I took a lot of these as well and had a really hard time picking just one!)

  I wonder if Bunny and John are naturally early risers?

A green house that is also to die for!

 I'm glad you came along... I hope you enjoyed the tour!

The 1 thing that absolutely everyone must take ...

They say never to judge a book by its cover. Though I most often do.
I'm guilty of doing the same with wine and many other things in life.

We all do. This is why branding, imaging, product development and packaging are so crucial. We buy what we like. We buy what pleases us regardless of the contents. When the product is good we come back for more. When it's not, we move on. 

In life, however, that chance usually doesn't have a pretty label that jumps out at you. Sometimes chance is invisible and other times it is not. We are creatures of habit and like what is familiar and comfortable. But when we stick within the confines and the safety of our comfort zones we miss the most amazing opportunities. So I believe in taking chances both professionally and personally. It's something we all must do!

The above photo was snapped from the label of a lovely bottle of wine we'd had out at a restaurant the other night. We selected a Super Tuscan and the Maitre d' suggested we try this one. Sight unseen we took that chance. And what a fabulous choice it was.

I think it only fitting that today's inspiration should come from a wine bottle label!


A (perfect) day in the life... Looking back at Mother's Day 2014

I had long given up on having the perfect Mother's Day. I was never one to want for luxuries or niceties, or anything lavish. I don't believe that Mother's Day is about jewelry or lavish gifts. It's about simplicity. It's about being with children and parents and taking time to slow down and enjoy the best of things around us. That's all I ever wanted - even when the children were small - especially when the children were small. My favorite Mother's Day of all time was 16 years ago - I didn't have a child yet, but I learned that I was about to. Yesterday was second best only to that one. 

When the children were young I yearned for a moment to reflect - to sit for a moment, uninterrupted, or perhaps to take a long hot bath without screaming and shouting in the background, or a little one barging in on me. The children are older now and, for the most part, when I tell them to give me 5, 10 or 20 minutes of peace and quiet they are happy to oblige. Downtime, as we learn when we become mothers is truly life's greatest luxury. 

I grew up not celebrating Mother's Day. My mother, and her mother, never believed in the day - "Every day is Mother's Day" were sentiments they echoed. But I also believe that children should understand how much their mothers do for them and sacrifice for them. And I do think it's nice for the children to give back - of course they need to be old enough to "get it" - and my youngest doesn't yet, nor should he. 

On Saturday evening, exhausted after a long and busy day, I crawled onto my bed with my iPad to catch up on my lasted Netflix addiction. I heard noise and laughter and general business in the kitchen. I then heard, "Quick, grab the vacuum!" I chuckled. I thought that they were making breakfast - muffins or something for the following morning. They were working together and very little yelling was being directed at my youngest!

The following morning I padded my way into the kitchen and found the following note attached to my espresso machine:

I made my cappuccino and brought it back to bed. It was 5:30 am. There are worse things than binge watching your latest addiction on Mother's Day morning!

The kids got up and  brought the following to me:

They created that menu the night before. Now, that's what I'm talking about. That's creativity!
I opted for the omelette and had some feta, peppers and scallions added to it. I also requested a clementine and some raspberries. My daughter made the eggs. They were fantastic! 

Not a drop was left!

My youngest one had been working on a special something for me in school and he was dying to give it to me! It's Monet's flower garden, can't you tell?!

While the children were making their own breakfast and cleaning the kitchen I got dressed and headed out for a long walk around the harbor and the beach. It's one of my most favorite routes. I had to stop and take a few pictures along the way.

The sky was right blue and clear as far as the eye could see. They sun shone down brightly. I wish I could have captured the sounds of the gentle breezes, the birds, the people and children - I wish I could have captured the smells of the warm morning after a heavy rain, the freshly cut grasses, hyacinths, tulip trees, cherry blossoms and all the other fragrant blooms. I wish I could have captured the feel of the warm, morning sun and gentle sea-side breezes...

Isn't it wonderful? This is a tiny glimpse into my small sea-side town. This is why I chose to live where I do. For 6 months of the year this is what I get to enjoy on an almost daily basis. My morning walks energize me, ground me, rejuvenate me and although I have a quick pace, they slow me down. I can vary up my route so that it's anywhere from 2 to 7 miles - depending on how much time I have. I can vary them so that I see something new and different every time. Who needs therapy when you have this?!

I got home with about 40 minutes to spare before the children and I headed out to lunch. To my amazement they had all showered and were all dressed - perfectly dressed. When we got to the restaurant, we were seated outside and as we waited for our beverages to arrive my daughter handed over 3 handmade cards and a bag with two jars inside. One was for a lemon facial salt scrub and the other was a brown sugar body scrub. They searched online and in the cabinets and came up with something, clever, creative and completely unexpected! Our lunch was lovely and I treated myself to a sangria and when we were done our hearts were and our bellies were full!

Later that afternoon I took a little siesta on the hammock outside... but it got to be too hot! (I should bite my tongue, I know!)

And so I grabbed my 13 year old to help me move the furniture to the screened-in porch... love-seat, rug, pillows, radio and iced tea - I settled on to the couch, ready to relax some more when my littlest one said "Mom!" in a panicked and nervous manner. "Look," and he pointed to where there was an opening in between some of the rocks on the porch floor. It seemed that we were about to be joined by hundreds and hundreds of swarming termites! And let me tell you, that scream, I am sure, was heard many towns away! It should also be noted that Raid ant spray works on termites ... now, off to call the Pest control people!

I hope you all had a lovely weekend!