Monthly Archives: October 2012

Getting back to our roots

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It’s no secret how much I love pictures. I have always wanted them all over my house, to remind me of…everything. To remind me of how things used to be, of people I don’t see every day and even of those I do see daily. I just love the memories pictures have.

I’m constantly looking for frames at the thrift store, and I’ve definitely succeeded in the past. However, good frames for a reasonable price are hard to find, and if you want matching frames you could look for months before finding a pair. That’s why, when my mom and I stopped at an estate sale in September while she was visiting and I saw frames for $1 each, I grabbed 6! A good 8×10 frame is hard to come by, and these would have been at least $5 each at my local thrift store.

They sat in my garage for about a month before I figured out what I wanted to do with them. I was missing home, and had discovered pictures I took from fall in New England and the mountains of Idaho. Suddenly I knew what I wanted in those frames.

Now we have Idaho hanging in the guest room…(I thought the colors coordinated)

And Massachusetts in the bathroom.

Since I had 2 left over, I thought it was time to spice up the hallway, too.

Two of my favorite of our professional pictures, sandwiched between a wedding picture of Geoff and his family, and me with mine, Geoff’s sister and her husband, and all us “kids” (minus my sister).

Aren’t these frames great? The best part is I love looking at them, and for less than $20 I have refreshed 3 walls in our house, which makes me very happy.

In honor of my new nephew, use code BabyCash for 20% off your order in my shop!

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Mapping it out

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Four years.

Four road trips.

One round trip cross country road trip from Massachusetts to Washington and back to Massachusetts via Alabama.

One map to mark every trip.

I’ve had this idea for a long time, but finally got around to actually putting it together. It’s a good thing I waited too since my sister and I took what I hope is my last road trip this summer.

With every road trip I take, I mark it on my map. The yellow stars are states I’ve visited, and the red ones are states I’ve lived in.

I wanted to mount the map on a canvas and hang it up, but large canvases are expensive, so I put the project to the side. That is until Michael’s emailed me a 50% off coupon! Hello cheap canvas! For only $12 I was able to get the proper size canvas and my project was underway!

Hermione supervises the drying.

I used spray adhesive to start with, and painted mod-podge over the top. It was simple and easy; I was actually surprised at how easily it came together!

I knew exactly where I wanted to hang it. Behind the door, in the living room it compliments the wall color and is unobtrusively on display.

I love it, and Sam Adams approves.

For the record, the road trips marked on the map are as follows:

February 2008, Massachusetts to Pullman, Washington

August 2008, (South) Idaho to Tuscaloosa, Alabama

December 2009, Tuscaloosa, Alabama to Reading, Massachusetts

July 2012, Los Angeles, California to Chicago, Illinois.

Those first 3 trips I was moving, the last one I was moving my sister. I like to think I’m settled, now. I hope so, anyway!

Have you ever decorated with maps?

In honor of my new nephew, use code BabyCash for 20% off your order in my shop!

Introducing…

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Cash Robert, my nephew!

Born Oct. 16, at 1:50 in the morning, weighing in at a whopping 8 lb. 1 oz. my long awaited nephew finally graced us with his presence.

Sister-in-law Becky and baby.

I know he’s my nephew and I’m supposed to feel this way, but I think he’s pretty darn cute and I can’t wait to see him in a few weeks! My arms are itching to hold the cuddly little bundle!

Sadly, for now I have to content myself with pictures, and lots of them.

In honor of my new nephew, use code BabyCash for 20% off your order in my shop!

My cat is a vegetarian

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Do you remember the time Hermione played with a potato? Well, she’s been at it again.

The other day I received this picture from Geoff.

That is a tomato lying on the ground in the middle of the living room. It started on the counter, where it was picked from the garden and was finishing ripening.

How did a tomato get into the living room, a whole room away from the kitchen?

I’ll give you two guesses whose teeth marks are on this. Hint, it certainly wasn’t Clarabelle.

Amazing Butternut Squash Soup

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Nothing says fall like butternut squash and hard pumpkin cider.

The other day I got a crazy craving for something that I’ve never had, let alone made before. Butternut squash soup. So I bought a squash, and threw together the easiest, cheapest soup I’ve ever made. It’s also possibly the most delicious soup I’ve ever had, and I grew up in New England, with good clam chowder!

There is nothing that could improve this soup. Not bacon, or bread, anything. It’s perfect just the way it is, plus it’s thick and hearty and makes a great meal. Anyway, I raved about it on Facebook and twitter and received no less than 3 requests for the recipe! This beats my previous recipe request by 3! I’m on a roll.

So here it is, my Butternut Squash Soup from my America’s Test Kitchen cookbook (hands down one of my favorite cookbooks I have!) I hope you aren’t disappointed because it has all of 6 ingredients and the recipe isn’t anything spectacular, but it is so good.

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped fine
3 pounds of butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks {My squash was 2 pounds and this was more than enough so don’t stress if it’s not exactly 3 pounds. Also, good luck peeling because it’s a pain.}
5 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 sprigs of thyme {I didn’t have fresh thyme, so I just threw a bunch of dried thyme in there and it was fine}
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Melt the butter in a large stock pot. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the squash, broth, thyme and a pinch of nutmeg. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until squash is tender, about 20-25 minutes {20 minutes was enough time for me}

2. Remove the thyme sprigs {unless you’re using dried thyme} and puree the soup in batches in a blender until smooth. {Don’t be afraid to blend it like crazy. I didn’t want any chunks so I was pretty heavy-handed with the blender buttons}

3. Return the pureed soup to the pot. Stir in the cream. Bring to a brief simmer (just until the soup is heated through) and remove from the heat. Add more broth or water if it’s too thick {mine didn’t need any more liquid but it’s a personal preference}.

Before serving I put some nutmeg and a little salt in mine, and Geoff added salt, pepper and nutmeg.

That’s it! I hope you aren’t disappointed because I don’t have a super secret recipe, but I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed. Also, it serves 7-8 and heats up great as leftovers!

I miss this

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At home, in New England, the second week of October is known for its fall foliage. You can tell me it’s beautiful in the fall where you are, but it’s nothing like New England. And yes, I am a little biased.

I miss seeing the leaves on the ground all over. I miss going out of my way to crunch the really crunchy ones.

I miss driving down the road surrounded by red, yellow and orange, the vibrant colors of home.

I miss this.

Someday I will be back in New England for the second week in October, but for now…I live through pictures.

All pictures taken by me

What is Real?

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“What is Real?” asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day… “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When [someone] loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.

“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand…once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

Years ago, on my 10th birthday I received a book called Beauty, Brave and Beautiful. It was a book I’d randomly pulled off the shelf at my school library and fell in love with. It’s about a scraggly looking dog that lives in the woods and befriends a couple kids. They name her Beauty, even though she is far from that. When Beauty attacks a bear to save the children, they are afraid she’s been killed, when really she just played dead. The town erects a statue in her honor, and when the children describe Beauty, they talk about her straight legs, and big, bushy tail. She’s beautiful, in their eyes.

When Beauty wanders into the town square one day, the children recognize her, and are thrilled. Though the townspeople are, at first, disgusted by the scraggly dog, they eventually come around, and stop seeing her crooked tail, and big red nose. They start seeing the beautiful dog the children see.

The next year, I was given a stuffed Beauty, by my grandmother. Oh, how I loved that dog. I slept with her every night, even through college (don’t judge)!

Somewhere along the line, Beauty went from fluffy and chubby to gray, drab, the stuffing squashed together so she was much thinner. The velvet on her nose had long since been rubbed off, and there is a chip on her nose where she hit the wall one night, when I was swinging her around by the tail. One ear fell off and has been re-sewn on, and her yarn mouth is torn and hanging, not to mention the lines around her eyes. And yet, I still love her, to death. I don’t see the Beauty you do, I see a beautiful, wonderful dog of my childhood. I see a dog I cried into, a dog I hugged close when I was scared, and every night. I see a dog who has always reminded me of my childhood, and was something I clung to in the first few weeks of college.

Somewhere along the line, and I don’t know when, Beauty became Real.
For my birthday my grandmother gave me the only other Beauty we’ve ever seen. Though she’s made by Russ, Beauty was unique and I’ve never seen another like her. My grandmother found one years ago, and sent her to me this year. Now, Beauty sits by the fire place, my old, ratty, Real Beauty, and her counterpart, Elvis, but a pale memory of what once was.

Because Beauty, my Beauty, is Real.