January 31, 2015

Winter & Valentine's Day Decor in the Kitchen

Farmhouse sink with faux rosemary topiaires from Ikea and fresh baked pies sign from World
Happy (almost) February!  We are one month closer to Spring.  I always enjoy the bareness of the house for the first couple of weeks after the Christmas stuff goes away, but then it starts to feel a bit bland and I start pulling things out of the basement.  I put the "fresh baked pies" sign from World Market back over the sink and added a couple of faux rosemary topiaries that I picked up at Ikea on either side. I think they are the perfect size for a window sill.  

January 26, 2015

Winter Decor

Much to the dismay of my winter sports loving family, we have not had much snow here in NJ or in the Adirondacks Mountains this year.  But that is all about to change.  There is a blizzard forecasted for us over the next couple of days.  I decided to add some winter chalk art to the chalkboard in our entryway along with a scarf for the deer head.
Winter chalk board

January 20, 2015

Winter Family Room

Without a doubt, our family room gets the most use in the winter.  We probably spend as much time in here in January-March as we do the rest of the whole year combined.  This is where we hibernate by the fire on those frigid cold days.   
Corner stone fireplace in winter family

January 17, 2015

Winter Reading

I love to read and one of the best parts of going to the mountains is that the lack of internet access leaves lots more time for reading.  The above picture shows a few of the books I enjoyed most this vacation.  In no particular order, here is what I read:

1. Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld.  The first book I read of Sittenfeld's was Prep this past summer and I loved it.  Sisterland did not disappoint and I had a hard time putting it down.  It is the story of two sisters with psychic abilities.  The author's writing style is so relatable to me and I plan to read more of her work.

2.  Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist.  One of those books that I have been meaning to read and when I saw it was on sale for $1.99 at Amazon, I immediately downloaded it to my iPad.  It is part memoir and part cookbook (much like another of my favorites, A Homemade Life).  I have already tried a few of the recipes and it inspired me to spend more time cooking and entertaining.  Lots of food for thought here.

3.  The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain.  I have read almost everything Chamberlain has written, and her latest did not disappoint.  It kept me constantly wondering what would happen next as secrets were revealed throughout.

4.  Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult. Not my favorite by Picoult, but it held my interest enough for me to get through it.  Enjoyed learning more about elephants, but probably my least favorite of the books I read recently.

5. Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl.  Another food centered memoir that Shauna Niequist recommended as one of her favorites at the end of Bread & Wine.  An enjoyable read.

6. That Night by Chevy Stevens.  This is Chevy Stevens' third novel and I have loved them all.  Highly recommend all of her books.  They aways keep you guessing until the end.

Next up, I am planning to read:
1. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
2.  Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist

Now that we are home, I am making an effort to keep the tv off and read more.  It is good for the soul and I find that I sleep so much better when I unwind with a book before dozing off.  I also like to read in the bathtub, but it seems that I am downloading more and more of books onto my iPad and it was frustrating not to be able to read in there.  I did not trust myself with my iPad near water.  So I went online in search of a waterproof iPad case and found one (it's this LifeProof case) for a decent price on Amazon.  I am loving it!  I don't think I would trust it to submerge it completely in the water (although it says you can), but at least the iPad is safe from splashes and accidental droppings.

Speaking of downloading books, I have been loving how many books my local library has been adding to their online site.  Sometimes, I have to wait a week or two for a popular new book, but many books just seem to be available when I search for them.  Also, I have been borrowing magazines from them digitally for about a year now and I am amazed at how much the assortment that they have available has grown.  Pretty much all of my favorite magazines are now available for free.  I just thought I would tell you about this amazing resource so you can check out your online library.

Have you read anything great lately?  Do you download books electronically from your library too?  I would love to get some more recommendations.

January 12, 2015

Clean Slate

I have a confession to make.  I enjoy putting away the Christmas decor even more than I enjoy putting it up.  It has taken me a long time to realize this!  Before decorating for Christmas each year, I pack away much of our regular decor clutter because I know if I don't, Christmas stuff will overwhelm us quickly.  So when we finally pack away all of our Christmas things into our seemingly endless assortment of red and green bins and haul them all into our attic (while my kids complain the entire time about this task), I look around our empty house and take a breath.  A deep breath.  I enjoy the emptiness for a day.  And then I get to start fresh with a clean slate to turn our house back into a home.
Ikea stocksund chair in living room with striped drapes, wicker tray on wall and ampersand throw

January 9, 2015

Twenty Fifteen

Hello friends and Happy 2015!  Are you recovered from the hectic holiday season yet?  The end of December always feels like such a whirlwind as we get ready to celebrate Christmas with our families in our home in NJ and then leave for vacation in Upstate NY right after.  Vacation was slow and relaxing and just what we all needed.  As I have mentioned before, we have no internet or cell phone service at the house up there and I enjoy the break from it all.  We read, played games, shopped for a used pick up truck for our oldest boy (yikes!), and took lots of walks down snowy trails.