Country style, country love, country life. Sharing my inspired, vintage, rustic DIY designs and decor on my blog.
Literally. Last week Coach and I spent a few days away at the lovely Bethel Inn and Resort in, where else, Bethel, Maine.
A quaint, rural town with a few little downtown shops and pubs, Bethel is a great place to kick back and unwind for a couple of days. The resort special was 2 nights, 2 full breakfasts (I made that waffle myself-yum!)
one four-course dinner in the tavern and unlimited golf. Now for Coach that meant 3 days of 9 holes of golf each day. (Now if this had been me searching for my ball hit from the first tee of the first hole on the first day in the blazing sun, not sure I would have persevered for three days…just saying…)
For me that meant one day of 7 holes, driving the cart around and replacing the divots I had made on the greens and fairways PLUS two other days of hanging around, trying to find somewhere that gave me some bars on my iPhone. (because what’s a blogger without internet?!?) I would like to know, AT&T, why Coach can call me from Germany on his old 1990’s flip-phone and it sounds like he’s in the next room, but I take a road trip to Maine and have no service at all!?!?!
So, since my iPhone was not much use except as a camera and since today is Wanderlust Wednesday, I am sharing some of my favorite sights from our road trip. We took the inland route up (or down, depending on who you ask), but the coastal route home. Hope you enjoy!!!
Aside from all of the golfing and eating, we managed to do quite a bit of junking and antiquing. It is just astounding what my little CRV will hold!
Have loads of pics of shops and treasures and finds, but that’s a blog for another day! Hope you had a “main”ly great day!! Susan
Last weekend I gave a sneak peek of the sweet stuff we served at the bridal shower that my dear friend was hosting for her adorable soon-to-be daughter-in-law.
Since I love me a good shower of any kind, I volunteered to assist with the food and decorations. This was planned as a small shower with a few special guests, since the bride-to-be originally hails from Maryland, and another shower had already been held in her honor back home. The decision was made to host this shower as a “wine-tasting party” at a great little gourmet shop in Sandwich
called The Brown Jug.
Purveyors of fine beverages, and adjacent to a gourmet food shop, the wine shop has a charming, rustic feel, with floor to ceiling crates and shelves filled with wines and craft beers,
chunky, aged butcher block tables and sweet little café sets in the front windows. Along with some vintage enamelware overflowing with colorful garden flowers (these cut glass vases were filled with sand and seashells, borrowed, ah-hem, from the dunes of Cape Cod…)
and the inspired nautical decorations,
it made for a fun and relaxed party setting. And how can you not be in a party mood anyway, surrounded by great food
and hundreds of bottles of wine, just waiting to be opened and tasted?! BTW, do you happen to recognize those gorgeous chevron striped table runners?
I don’t know what it is about chevron, but it’s just so appealing, and blends with a variety of styles and colors, including Caribbean Blue (St. John wedding), Baby Girl Pink (Wakefield baby shower) and Nautical Navy (on Ol’ Cape Cod). Those runners have certainly been around the block-thanks Lindsey-I owe you!! The shop’s manager pulled out all the stop(pers) to make this shower a memorable occasion for the guests and guest of honor alike. Along with the gorgeous cheese, meat and fruit board that the shop had provided (with cheeses I had never even heard of, but boy were they delicious!),
we also put together a few scrumptious bites for the guests.
Included on the menu were homemade bruschetta, chicken and grape croissant sandwiches, stuffed spinach cheese bread and of course, the various wines and Prosecco chosen by the sommelier,
the shower was deemed a sweet success! It was truly a magical evening, with family and friends coming together with this loving young couple to celebrate their upcoming nuptials, and to shower the new bride with gifts and love.
And isn’t that what a shower is supposed to be about? Here’s hoping someone showers a little love on you today! Susan
Saturday was Volunteer Day with The Next 26 at the Greater Boston Food Bank. If you have never been to this gigantic 117,000 square foot warehouse on South Bay Ave in Boston, you will be astonished (as we were) by the overwhelming size and scope of this incredible organization.
Entering into the main lobby, I noticed this symbol on the wall,
which is there to pay tribute to Kip Kiernan, a social activist whose grandmother fed the hungry during the Great Depression. After eating, upon leaving her grandmother’s home, the people would mark an X by the entrance to let others know that it was a safe house. Kip was the founder behind many of Boston’s great service organizations, including Rosie’s Place, Boston Healthcare for the Homeless and Boston’s Emergency Shelter Commission. To read more about this incredible woman, click here:
Once entering the distribution center, you are facing vast shelves stocked with food and supplies, two stories high, stretching as far as the eye can see.
41 million pounds annually are distributed to eastern Massachusetts families and children. Folks, the statistics are staggering. 8% of the population in eastern Massachusetts are hungry- one of every four are children. This food bank provides meals for 475,000 on a daily basis, just for eastern Massachusetts!! There goal is to provide one solid meal per day per person, distributed through the various hunger-relief agencies scattered throughout the commonwealth.
Our job, for this day, was to sort frozen foods that had been donated by various grocery chains and stores. We were to open the boxes, sort them, then have them weighed (each was to be between 34-37 pounds), seal them up and move on to the next box. (Oops, Coach, you’re just a bit over on that one!)
We had been forewarned that we would be lifting 30# boxes repeatedly, and they weren’t kidding. Two long tables were set up, and forklifts started bringing over palettes stacked with the boxes filled with a variety of assorted frozen offerings-everything from gizzards to prime rib were available to sort.
We opened the boxes, sorted the foods into new boxes labeled Poultry, Beef, Processed (sausages, etc), Misc (frozen meals), Pork and finally, garbage (these were products with ripped packaging, browned or frost bitten meat, etc. The general rule of thumb was “If you wouldn’t want to eat it, then no one else should-toss it! We filled two gigantic crates with those throwaways!)
Initially, during our orientation, our supervisor made a comment that we didn’t have quite the number of volunteers he had expected, so we would get done whatever we could, but we would stop working at noon sharp. But what he underestimated was the grit and determination of this hardy crew of workers, some with groups, (like our 14 Next 26 participants!)
others just kind-hearted individuals willing to give up a Saturday to work for the greater good. We grabbed our work gloves, (these make quite a fashion statement, no?)
and cracked open the first boxes at 9:25 am, cranked up the music and began the sorting process. The supervisor kept mentioning we should take a break, because it was hot, and we were working so hard, but we were so determined to finish our shift, that just wasn’t happening! At 10:30, He finally shut us down for 15 minutes to grab a cold water (thanks for providing that GBFB!) and take a breather in the air conditioned break room. Quickly back in the warehouse, the time just flew by, and suddenly, at 11:42 AM, there were no more boxes to sort! We had, our little band of 41 volunteers, sorted and repacked 20,195 pounds of frozen foods!!! Which, I am so proud to say, translates to these stats:
Number of meals made possible:12,423
NET pounds of food salvaged: 16,156
Total pounds sorted per volunteer: 492
NET Meals made possible per volunteer: 303
Our leader, Ann, was so grateful for the amount of work we had done in such a short time.
We were so grateful for the opportunity to give back just a little. Knowing that what we had accomplished in so little time was going to touch so many lives was a bit overwhelming and so very gratifying. If you are interested in volunteering at the food bank, click here for info.:
Even if you can’t do the grunt work, there are plenty of other ways to help too! For all of the Greater Boston Opportunities available, including donating food, money or partnering, click here:
and Nicholas Leydon, the co-founders of The Next 26, who organized this volunteer effort. The Next 26 is a non-profit that was founded to bring Boston together in the aftermath of the Marathon bombings, raising awareness and funds for the One Fund Boston. Their goal? To raise $100,000 in 26 volunteer and fun-filled events in the months leading up to the 2014 Boston Marathon, in hopes of raising money and awareness of the great city we call home. With Event #3 under our belts, it’s on to event #4 at Fenway Park! For more information, or to join in the movement, click here:
Have a great Sunday, everyone. It’s a birthday and anniversary celebration day (34 years today for me and Coach-amazing!!) for us! Stay cool and strive to do one thing today to give back! Susan
Since it’s soooo freakin’ hot around here, who wants to sit out around a roaring campfire roasting marshmallows to make s’mores?!? Count me out! And we all know how much I love camping anyway…
So, a few weeks back I discovered this website called Thirty Handmade Days on Pinterest-this week’s High Five For Friday. Loaded with all kinds of great DIY and cooking ideas from various sources, there is so much there to repin and enjoy! On this particular day, she was featuring the S’Mores Popcorn recipe from Your Home Based Mom.
You won’t believe the photography on this website-all of the food offerings literally jump off the page- makes you want to go and try every darn recipe.
But the S’Mores Popcorn recipe caught my eye because I was looking to make something easy, sweet and plentiful for a wedding shower we were planning. See how yummy it looks in a nice big bowl next to the Ooey Gooey Life Changing Caramel Cupcakes?!
So we followed the microwave recipe she had posted for the caramel corn. Sounded perfect- no oven to turn on. But, because we were on Cape Cod and it was pretty hot and steamy outside and in, the resultant corn was a bit soggy, especially once we added the chocolate and marshmallows. (it was devoured anyway…never let a sweet treat go uneaten…). So we made the second batch using my old tried and true oven recipe (the beauty of living in an air conditioned society). First, you pop two bags of popcorn. We used this Smart Balance low-cal popcorn, figuring that it wouldn’t be quite so decadent-ha! Then we drizzled it with caramel (recipe below) and melted chocolate…
Caramel Popcorn Recipe
1/2 Cup Light Corn Syrup
2 Cups Lightly Packed Light Brown Sugar
1 Cup Margarine or Butter
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
In medium saucepan, melt butter, then stir in brown sugar. Bring to boil over med/high heat. Continue to boil, stirring constantly, for five minutes. Remove from heat, stir in remaining ingredients. Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes. Pour over popped popcorn that’s spread evenly on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake @ 250 degrees for 30-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to allow even coating of caramel and the popcorn is lightly browned. DO NOT OVERBAKE!! Pour the still warm popcorn onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
Drizzle the melted chocolate all over-as much as you like-but with all things chocolate-more is better!
I found this melting chocolate stuff at Hannafords and it was actually quite good. Melted easily and smoothly, poured well from the pan or drizzled with a spoon, tasted delish! We used 1/2 package for each batch we made.
So this recipe ended up making three sheet pans filled with the golden goodness!
Which we broke apart and placed in the large bowl (did you know that you can turn a covered glass domed cake dish into an elevated serving bowl? No? Me neither! You just simply flip the stand upside down
and tied pink and blue ribbons with a little tag I made from the Avery.com website. Super easy and cute little gift bags for guests to take home and munch on later.
So I hope you have S’More fun this coming weekend. It’s Friday, and the hot weather is supposed to clear out soon!! In the meantime, keep your ovens off and stay cool, everyone! Susan
This past weekend was another crazy whirlwind of activity featuring a trip to Cape Cod, a bridal shower and a birthday party-whew! We had planned the shower the prior weekend (in between coats of paint on the whale table) and had decided that cupcakes would be the featured dessert. So I found this amazing recipe on, where else, Pinterest from the blog Jan Can Cook (tons of great recipes! If you want to take a look, just click the link below : ) and we decided they would be perfect.
I mean, after all, who doesn’t love dark chocolate and caramel and buttercream and a pinch of sea salt?!? I followed her recipe (click the link above) with a couple of exceptions. For the cupcakes, I used Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge
and I added a cup of Toll House mini semi-sweet bits
into the batter before pouring it into the cupcake liners. For the caramel to put inside the cupcakes, I used good ol’ Hersheys ice cream topping-quicker and easier and oh, so gooey and yummy!
Just warmed it up in the double boiler and then spooned it into the little cavities
we had scooped out of the centers.
(By the way, this bowl filled with little cone-shaped fudgy chocolate goodness are leftovers- and fabulous dipped in the warm caramel for a snack : )
The Caramel Buttercream Frosting Recipe
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tblsp water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 (1.5 sticks) cup salted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
Stir together granulated sugar and water in small saucepan until clear. Heat in small saucepan over med-high heat and cook for 5-7 minutes without stirring until liquid turns a light amber color- do not overcook- it will burn!!! Remove from heat, allow to cool for a bit and then slowly beat in the cream and vanilla with a spoon. In a mixing bowl, beat the softened butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed and slowly add confectioners sugar until it is all incorporated and smooth. Turn off mixer and slowly drizzle in caramel mixture. Turn mixer to med-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Cool until ready to frost cakes.
(Normally I would insert a photo here, but we were having so much fun I forgot to take it! So I am just going to show you some pretty garden flowers : )
The buttercream frosting mixture was pretty soft, as it was hot and we were down the Cape, so there is a lot of moisture in the air. Once I piped it onto the cupcakes, we put them in the fridge to firm up. You don’t even need a piping bag- you can just scoop the frosting with a spoon and plop it on top- the more the better! In the recipe it says to pour the chocolate ganache on the frosted cupcakes, but we just dipped them right into the bowl and allowed them to drip a bit, then inverted them.
The Ganache Recipe:
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate-chopped. I used the 10 ounce bag of Ghiradelli Square chips-perfect for melting.
1 cup heavy cream. 1 Tblsp Dark Rum (Optional)
Melt in a pan over low heat and beat with wooden spoon til smooth. Allow to cool slightly before glazing cupcakes.
For the final touch, we snipped some mini-marshmallows (snatched from the S’Mores Popcorn Mix- recipe soon!) into flower shapes and popped them on top of the ganache. Cute! (we tried to figure out how to cut them into starfish, as the shower had a beachy theme, but that wasn’t happening…)
So the shower was moving along, and the cupcakes were just sitting there lonely and forgotten, next to the lemon water. I mean, it was a wine-tasting- who’s drinking lemon water?!?
So my friend grabbed the tower and some napkins and started passing them around. Suddenly, the room was filled with “oohs and aahhs” as each person took their first scrumptious bite. The hostess declared that she would choose me for her Cupcake Wars team, but the sommelier’s comment was the best when she exclaimed: “These are life-changing cupcakes!” Now I’m not certain if that is the case, but they were a big hit! Don’t be afraid to try these, even if you are a novice baker. Perfectly simple recipe. Perfectly delicious. Have a sweet, sweet Monday everyone!! It’s especially sweet for me because I am on vacation…woo hoo!! Susan