Monday, December 19, 2011

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

A few "stops" I made along the way, to the tune of 
The Sound of Music 


Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with string
These are a few of my favorite things

Etsy: ing00te

Etsy: Crafts2love
Etsy: prattcreekart

Etsy: BirdaKnits


Happy Holidays, Health,Love,Peace,& Blessings !

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Are You In Charge Of The Appetizer

It's December, and it's that time of year when people all across the globe pull out there recipe books to bake and make some of their most favorite recipes. The other day when I stopped by a friend’s house I was so impressed at the array of yummy treats that she had made. One of my favorite was her homemade hummus. If I could spoon it out of it's serving dish and stuff it down my mouth I would... but instead of making a pig of myself I decided when I got home to open my own recipe folder to see if I had a recipe of my very own. Amazing enough I did. I found a Martha Stewart hummus recipe for a mint and parsley hummus....ooh sounded so good, so I decided to try to make it. 

Now I will say that sometimes Martha's idea of a simple recipe is a bit skewed, but this one was really simple. I also love the color that it is (green) perfect for this time of if you're in charge of bringing an appetizer to your next party, I'd say this one would be a hit. Enjoy! 

Click here for the recipe: Martha Stewart Living, May 2007 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Get Some Action

It’s  that time of year again; the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, picking out the best gift, the perfect wrapping paper, and ribbon. As for me I gave that up about three years ago when I started a tradition with my older nieces and nephews. Instead of frantically trying to find a gift for each of them I create a special day that is tailored to them.

This type of gift giving has really worked out well for many reasons. First, it gives me quality time with each of them. Second it allows me to take my time and find something along the way that I think they will enjoy. Third , it allows me to stretch my budget which helps tremendously around the holiday season. Especially since there are eight that I need to consider, and lastly, it helps us discover new places and things together.

Here's how it works:
1. Keep my eyes peeled for deals that may involve something that they would enjoy
When I find something I schedule the day. I have been very lucky finding deals on:

Buy With Me
Deal Go Round

2. Via mail I send little hints leading up to the day. Usually they are so random that they don't guess it.

3. I pick them up and disclose what the day will consist of.

Some of the events that we have enjoyed have been The Blue Man Group, Cake Boss, Cirque de Sole’, Movies, Theatre, Ogo, etc..

This past weekend two of my nephews and I celebrated their day. I picked them up, went to breakfast, and then told them that we were heading for a paintball adventure by Action Games. I found this deal on Buy With Me. Saving of 50%. Cha Ching!

Since neither of us had ever done paintball we didn’t know what to expect. We suited up in camo, loaded our guns with paint, and with butterflies in our belly we hit the woods. 
Located in Tewksbury Action Games  has 6 outdoor fields that specific games are played. Games like capture the flag, attack & defend, Fort Courage, Mission Recon, etc... Games are typically played from 9-2 with a short break for FREE BBQ luch at 12:00.

Is it painful you ask? Well let's put it this way, I have welts in places that I can't disclose BUT we had a fabulous day! I loved it, and my nephews had a blast too.
If you're looking for something to do, I highly recommend it as one of your stops.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

On My Honor

My nieces have been part of their Girl Scout Troop for 13 years. Together with their troop they performed many community services and leadership projects. They have gone to multiple camps and exotic travel destinations. They attended and hosted multiple fundraising events and let's not forget selling thousands of boxes of cookies. Their Girl Scout experience has definitely been an Experience Of A Lifetime; one that they will treasure for years to come, one that  helped teach them essential life skills, an experience that has shaped them as women, built up their courage, confidence, and character. Girl Scouts was a blessing that helped keep them grounded during the difficult times of growing up. 

This past weekend I had the honor of attending my niece's Girl Scout Gold Ceremony, the highest award in Girl Scouting. This is a prestigious award that recognizes girls who make a difference in their communities and in their own lives.

To achieve this gold status you must first complete your bronze and silver awards . Once you've accomplished that you can go for the gold. Here's what you must do:

1. Choose an issue that you think needs help in your community 
2. Research & investigate it
3. Invite a mentor and others to support & take action with you
4. Create a plan
5. Present your plan to the Girl Scout council
6. Take the lead and carry out your plan
7. Educate,Inspire & Share your experience with others

I had known that she was working diligently on her community project for quite some time. She created an arts and craft program for schools that were unable to afford one. Her dedication coupled with the commitment from her leaders, families, and  mentors helped her achieve her goal. In her group alone there were ten girls being awarded their Gold. Apparently this is extremely rare, in fact many Girl Scout troops dissipate well before the gold award is even thought of. 

I was so proud of my niece,and of all the other nine women that took the initiative to educate and bring awareness to their communities about real life issues that can effect each of us.
I was happy that my own little lovely was part of this organization, and  that she has three wonderful leaders that are passionate about what it stands for.
I was so thankful for Juliette "Daisy" Gordon Low who believed that all girls should be given the opportunity to develop physically, mentally, and spiritually. 

Girl Scouts Organization
Girl Scout Promise:
On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

Girl Scout Law:
I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and torespect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


What stresses you out ?
Work? Clutter? Weight? Relationships? Bills? Kids? Laundry? 
These are just a few things that come to mind, but there are a long list of other things that can really bring you down. I was feeling a bit stressed yesterday. Big project, time crunch, know that sort of thing. I couldn't wait to get home to escape the madness. When my little lovely got home I decided to scoop her up and go for a walk at Appleton Farms, a place that always soothes my soul and calms my spirit.

Appleton Farms is a 658 acre of farmland located in Ipswich, MA. It is a breathtaking  peice of property. Its rolling grasslands, farm animals, and antique homes, make it a picture perfect New England stop.  

On our walk we chatted about stress. I asked her if she thought that people back in the good old days were more stressed than people today. She thought that people in general don't change so therefore there was still the same amount of stress back then as there is today. Pretty interesting, right? 

I never really looked at it from that perspective,I guess the way that I saw it was people today have more stress because they have more stuff, more things to worry about, bigger homes, more bills, heavier workloads etc.. If that is the case then why not just do with less? Wouldn't that help our stress level? We seem to have everything that we need to make our lives easier; washing machines, microwaves, cars, heating systems, etc.. and life seems more difficult.

Back in the olden days people had less. They got together in the evenings, sat by the fire, read, talked, crafted, taught, etc.. Were they stressed? My little lovely seems to think that they probably were because people don't change. The basic fiber of a human remains consistent from one era to another, so if a person is going to stress they will regardless. Interesting.

So what do you think? Don't stress yourself out, but I'd love to hear your perspective.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I'm Out Of Breath

The other day my little lovely was discussing music with my husband. As I sat in my office I could hear them discussing different kinds of instruments. My husband somehow was reminded about a Jaw Harp that he had growing up. I had never heard of such a thing so it really peaked my interest. I of course went to You Tube to see if I could find anyone playing a Jaw Harp.
Apparently the Jaw Harp is thought to be one of the oldest musical instruments in the world. It has been pictured in Chinese drawings dating back to 4th century BC. Although it is also called a Jew Harp it has no ties between the Jews people nor Judaism; it is actually native to Asia.
The Jaw Harp is made of two simple metal pieces. A flexible metal , the  reed, and a frame. I think it kind or resembles an antique hair pin. To play it you firmly you hold the frame  to your mouth  and pluck the reed with one finger to produce a note. Your teeth must be parted sufficiently for the reed to vibrate freely, and your mouth should not come into contact with the reed to prevent the vibrations. 

Here are two people playing the Jaw Harp. Each creating a totally different sound and style of music. Super cool I think, but I'm out of breath just watching them!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thrifty Costume Design 101

It's that time of year again where little goblins invade our streets in search of treats for their little jack-o-lanterns or big pillow cases. Halloween happens to be one of my favorite holidays; not for the gore and spirit factor but mainly because it is a time that people can show off their creativity. Growing up I always enjoyed participating in costume contests and throwing a Halloween party, and still do.  

Today Halloween has become quite a money maker. A survey from the IBIS World shows that an average family spends $22.50 on Halloween candy. I can attest to that as I spent $20 today at the grocery store picking up candy. 

On an average 6 billion dollars was spent on Halloween last year; averaging out to be $66 per person. Although those are some scary figures my intent is not to be a Debbie Downer but rather to inspire you to be thrifty and creative.

Princess Beatrice Photo: Courtesy of Reuter

For instance do you want to be Princess Beatrice (she's the one on the right)? Go to your local thrift store and hunt for a small plastic wall mirror that has an ornate ribbon like design to it, take out the glass, spray it tan and viola, you have the front of her hat. Couple that with a dress donated from someone's grandma's closet and you have a Princess Replica. Total cost probably $15 
Garden Gnome
How about being a garden gnome? Simply create a red hat from hard paper stock, cut a mustache/beard out of white felt, belt your favorite blue blazer, and you are well on your way to Gnomeville. If you don't have any of those items at home, no worries, you can surely find them at a thrift store for under $10 

Want to be a Smurf? Goodwill has the white pants to start your costume out right. Add a blue shirt and a pointy white hat made out of felt and you have now transformed yourself into a Smurf. Total cost under $10

Whatever or Whomever you choose to look like this Halloween enjoy yourself, be safe, and be thrifty. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Off With Her Head"

Although we are nearing Halloween, I can assure you that this blog post does not include gory guts or rolling heads. Today I'm writing about a peculiar tale that dates back to 1865, Alice In Wonderland.
Alice In Wonderland

Tea Party

It all starts when Alice falls down a rabbit hole meets a slew of characters, The White Rabbit, The Mad Hatter, The Caterpillar, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, The Cheshire Cat, The Queen, Knave, and King of Hearts just to name a few. From tea parties to lawn croquet with a flamingo and finally a the Queen's famous quote "off with her head", the story has many layers of creativity and whimsy.

The Rabbit

The Mad Hatter

It's no wonder that a local artist chose Alice In Wonderland as his theme.....and you don't have to climb down a rabbit hole to see this display because it is the centerpiece of his front lawn. 

I first saw his display about six years ago when I first moved into the area. The theme that year was the Tour de France. He had about a dozen bikes set up on his lawn as if to mimic the actual race. I was awestruck by his attention to detail and how he was able to take straw stuffed people and position them to tell a story that is immediately recognized. I have seen him replicate Gilligan's Island, The Lion King, and The Super Bowl. All of them fantastic!

Twiddle Dee & Twiddle Dum

Cheshire Cat

The Playing Cards
This has now become one of my MUST stops this time of year. If you live locally take a ride up Bridge Street in Hamilton to experience this scene. I'm sure you will be amazed at the time and detail that this artist puts into his work. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next year, but until then I will stop and imagine myself falling down a rabbit hole and enjoying a cup of tea with my new friends.

The Caterpillar 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Don't Delete This Email..It's A "Must Read"

Indigenous art: A carved head adorns an aboriginal church in Nootka Sound on British Columbia's Vancouver Island.
Lucidio Studio Inc./Newscom

How many emails do you get in a day? Are you ever tempted to press delete without reading them? I am definately guilty of pressing the delte button before reading some messages. Not yours of course, I'm talking about some that you know are not "must reads". Last week while I was going through my inbox I came across an email that I nearly clicked delete but for some reason hesitated. As I scanned through the content it mentioned a "must see" documemntary about a whale. This movie was being shown at a local movie theatre that I had never gone to before so I thought it would be a great stop. 

The theatre:
When I walked in I was pleasantly surprised. The Cape Ann Community Theatre is a quaint  living room style cinema, that shows first-run independently produced films from around the country and around the world to local audiences who might not otherwise discover them. This was exactly the case with the feature film that we had come to see. 
Photo By: Mardi Carter

The movie....
The Whale is a true story about a young Orca whale, named Luna that seperates from its family and finds its way into the Nootka sound. The Nootka sound is an inlet of the Pacific Ocean on the west coast of Vancover Island in the Canadian province of British Columbia. I was not familiar with this particular sound but after seeing this movie I either want to move there or visit for an extended time. The scenery was breathtaking; its no wonder that Luna wanted to stay for a while. In fact the story tracks her visit to the sound which lasted about four years.

Orcas are extremely social creatures that crave constant contact with their extended families. So when Luna lost her family she went looking for a substitute; and she found these substitutes in the people of the Nootka Sound. She followed and played with vessels, canoes, ships, kayaks, and anyone who would give her attention, play with her or pet her. The people fell in love with her and she fell in love with them. The story tells us about a friendships, about amazing moments in life that are given to us, and what we do with those moments. 
Unfortunately this story has its ups and downs. Because of two differing views between the First Nations tribe who thought Luna was a reincarnated spirit, and the fish-and-wildlife officials who were convinced that he needed to be forced back into the wild people are torn with what to do with this beautiful visitor......
Photo By: Mardi Carter
If you want to know what happens next you really need to catch this film at a theatre. It's Rated G- perfect for family movie night, and totally worth it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Is It Time To Harvest, Hunt or To Wine?

Grapevines Plucked

This past weekend my family got together at my dad's house for a Harvest Day. I always thought that it was just a time to gather, barbecue, pick some crops, press some grapes and carve some pumpkins, but apparently there is a real purpose for this season, and has been for many generations. Since my father grew up on a farm in Portugal he is familiar with what to do during each farming month, he is also familiar with the moon cycle which has always been a guide for farmers.
Grapes Pressed 

Certain moons call for harvesting while others for hunting. Full moons have traditional names, from many different cultures, and coincide with the months or seasons of the year. For example:

  • January – Wolf Moon
  • February – Snow Moon 
  • March – Storm Moon 
  • April – Pink Moon 
  • May – Flower Moon 
  • June – Strawberry Moon 
  • July – Buck Moon 
  • August – Sturgeon Moon 
  • September – Harvest Moon
  • October – Hunter's Moon
  • November – Beaver Moon
  • December – Cold Moon

Garden Harvested
This past Tuesday evening, October 11, was the Hunter's Moon. It got its name because Native Americans used this moon as they tracked and killed their prey during the autumn moonlight. It is also called the Wine Moon because of its color; my dad calls it the wine moon because that's when he typically plucks the vines and presses his grapes for his wine. It's quite a time, and the Indian Summer weather that we had added to the beauty of our Harvest Day. 
What about you? Is it time for you to Harvest, Hunt, or Wine? 

Pumpkins Carved

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Indian Summer

Last week we had some chilly days her in New England so I did what every normal New Englander does; I regrettably switched my summer wardrobe to fall, and sadly began to layer up. The only good thing about switching wardrobes is that you weed out some pieces that you don't particularly care for anymore, and replace those items with new ones. 

I know this is inevitable so I typically take it in stride rather than kick and scream; but then something wonderful happened this past weekend, just like that !BAM! we got above normal temperatures that were to die for. I'm talking a solid weekend of 80 's and above, an Indian Summer. 

If you live in a region that doesn't experience this type of weather change, an Indian summer refers to a period of considerably above normal temperatures, and typically occurs in the Northern Hemisphere between September and mid November. Even though I had packed up my shorts I welcomed the sun with open arms. I went back to the attic and got down my summer gear and headed straight for the beach, oh yeah, now that's what I'm talking about! 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What A Gem

Do you like museums? I do! 
Are you the kind of museum goer that stands next to each piece of artwork and reads all about it? I'm not. 
In fact I'm totally the opposite. I love to visit museums, and look at all the magnificent colors, textures, shapes, and sizes, but the information connected to each piece hardly ever makes it into my little brain. I guess that's just the way I'm wired, I'm visual. 

This past weekend when I was visiting with my family in Maryland (hi guys!), we took a trip into the city to visit the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History 

in Washington DC. There are several halls in the museum, each focusing on a specific topic. There is the hall of human origins, one for dinosaurs, another for ocean life, and the list goes on an on. My favorite by far is the Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals. Spectacular!

I'm not even sure that I have a word to describe the beauty of the gems that they have in this exhibit. This collection is known to be one of the most significant collections of its kind in the world. There are more than 15,000 gems in every possible color imaginable. The most brilliant gem of this collection is of course the Hope Diamond. People were lined up to catch a glimpse of its sparkle and waiting anxiously as it rotated on its turntable to snap a picture of it. Not even a stinky fart that someone left behind cleared the room. Pewwww! 

I must admit that I was awestruck by it too, no not the fart the diamond but some of my most favorite gems were vibrant hues of blue, red, green, orange, and yellow.  

If you ever find yourself in Washington DC you must make a stop at this museum.You will not be disappointed. Promise!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Do You Have A Costume?

This past Sunday I was at the mall; anyone that knows me knows that malls are not my favorite thing. They tend to be noisy, crowded, and in general overwhelming. There are two places that I do like, and that make the mall experience a bit more enjoyable for me,
1. Pretzel Time pretzels, 2. Anthropologie. Both are a treat for me, especially Anthropologie.

As I buzzed into one store and out of another I noticed a display that they had on the upper section. The textures and colors intrigued me so I went to have a closer look. The Massachusetts College Of Art & Design currently has a display at the Burlington Mall, that I think you'll agree is pretty impressive. Students took everyday common materials, and created a piece of wearable art.  Wow, what a talented group of young adults. Here are some of the pieces that stood out to me. I can even see them as a Halloween costume, can't you? Do you have your costume yet? If not I'd suggest grabbing a fist-full of straws and getting busy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Do You Have A Yellow Jacket?

A few weeks ago when hurricane Irene swept through the East Coast, we had several tree limbs come down; one of them bringing a big yellow jacket nest. A little voice inside of me told me not to touch it, but because I am very curious and love to examine things I decided to poke it with a stick. BAD decision. The nest was active, very active, and before I knew it I was being attacked by a swarm of yellow jackets. Did you know that their stings are particularly painful because they don't just sting; they bite and sting, and sting, and sting, until there's no more stingin' to be done. They got me six times. Ouch! 

Apparently in the fall is when their nests have grown to their largest size. If a colony is disturbed, they can become very aggressive and sting....Yup, I found that out the hard way.

Fast forward to this weekend.....
I love to take walks and ride my cruiser around town. A few weeks ago I passed by a house and saw that they had a pretty big nest attached to the side of their house. Although it was really pretty, It blended in with the house color. I wanted to leave a note, but didn't have a pen. 

This weekend I rode by the house again and saw that the nest was still there, and had tripled in size. Luckily this time the owners were home. Fortunately they did know that they had a thousand plus unwanted guests, but were not sure how to address the issue. I don't have to get stung again to know that it hurts, therefore I did not offer up my yellow jacket extermination services; what I did say is that I'd research some techniques and write about here it is, if you have nests:

1. Locate them during the day. You may want to cover yourself with thick clothing so that they can't sting you.

2. Treat them at night because they are all in the nest, and because they don't see very well during the night your chances of being stung are reduced. If at all possible wait till a cold night because they have trouble flying in temperatures below 50 degrees.

3. Treat the nest with dust insecticide like Sevin or Dursban, but usually an aerosol will do as long as the poison reaches the nest.

4. Check the following day to see if they are dead, if not repeat the treatment.

The good news is if you find a nest in the late summer / early fall, you can typically leave it alone because the coming cold will take care of it.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Are You Spinning?

Did you ever have a day that your head was spinning from the moment you woke up? Yesterday was that kind of day for me. It started early morning and didn't end until late in the evening. I knew it was going to be that kind of day, I knew that I was going to run out of time, but despite knowing I overbooked myself. Anyone that knows me knows that this is a small flaw of mine. :-) I can't resist, I want to do it all. Most days I accomplish everything on my list, some days I fail miserably.

I can't say that yesterday was an epic fail because I actually did accomplish  everything that I set out to do, but it wasn't exactly the best day because my head was spinning, and I ran out of time to write a well thought out post. Maybe that's ok though, maybe some days what we really need is a little spinning.....just as long as it's the right kind of spinning.