Day in the Life

Spring is here!

Well, almost – we do live in New England after all. So just relax and, for goodness sake, don’t plant anything yet. Maybe buy plants for your porch that you have to take in every night if you must. Or do what I do – visit local nurseries for inspiration and my version of color therapy – Hillcrest Gardens in Needham has a sweet greenhouse where you pretend it’s not nasty outside.

Easter is almost here, too, and I have several favorite shops: Just Next Door and Greentail Table in Newton and Gift Garden in Milton – okay, so it’s happens to be next to The Plate which is my favorite place to pick up treats when visiting my parents. They have the most gorgeous coconut cakes, and everything else is delicious, too (yes, I have tried almost everything on the menu. You’re welcome). It’s also above The Fruit Center Marketplace which has a small but mighty floral department. another favorite is Volante Farms where they have a great selection of adorable candy in addition to their wonderful local produce, meat and dairy items. Order ahead from Lyndell’s in Somerville for gorgeous custom cakes and sweet cupcakes.

So here are some of my finds – please note the matzo and seaweed (!) that I included in my gift packages to my daughters. While we don’t observe Passover, we have been to our share of Seders hosted by family or friends and the two holidays do overlap this year. Great hostess gift ideas at Just Next Door, Greentail Table and Gift Garden.Need inspiration for non-candy items for the kiddos? Try theses headphones from BuddyPhones great sound quality and sized to fit the little ones. These volume-limiting kids headphones are waterproof and wireless and come in cute designs. Unicorns! Thanks Deb for the photos!

photo by D Grubs http://www.dgrubs.com/
Photo credit D. Grubs
photo by D grubs http://www.dgrubs.com/
Photo credit D. Grubs

More non-candy ideas? Books, art supplies – anything from our favorite Crayola crayons to these cool Copic markers, a family puzzle or game.

Another fave is the charming Wellesley Books for a great selection of gifts for all ages, and, of course, books.

From Wellesley Books

Top 10 Children’s Picture Books of 2018

Disclaimer: I received Buddy Phones only to facilitate in this review and promptly gave them to someone with small children. All opinion are, and always will be, my own.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and More with #Xfinity – sponsored content

Disclosure: I attended The Marvelous Mr. Maisel event hosted by Comcast (it was a blast), and this post is sponsored by Comcast. 
All opinions are, and will always be, my own.

What a marvelous night!

Great people, food, drink…and the first episode of Season Two of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel! So fancy, and so unlike how I normally watch, well, anything, really. And, yes, I had already binge watched, I mean, done my homework. So the second season aired December 5th, the event was on the December 12th, and there are ten episodes. You do the math. Really.

Are you a fan? It’s fast, funny, witty, and with more than a sprinkling of swear words (all that you’d expect from Amy Sherman-Palladino, creator of another family favorite, The Gilmore Girls) with a wonderful, talented cast, and a dream of an apartment.

In our house, we have discussions over what we call “the big tv” and resultant take-over of the family room, but usually everyone is on their own devices, be it phone, tablet or computer. And some of us even like the same shows – even if we watch them at different times and at different rates (hello, my family of binge watchers).

Do we have favorites? Of course! On Netflix: Grace and Frankie, The Crown, Queer Eye, Chef’s Table, or re-watching Friends, Gilmore Girls, and The Office. On Amazon Prime we have both new favorites – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Homecoming, Forever, Catastrophe, The Romanoffs, and old favorites like Downton Abbey, Suits,The Americans, Victoria, House, Friday Night Lights, and Monk.

And we just may already be super users of Amazon Prime, just maybe.

Did you know #Xfinity is the only provider to have Amazon Prime, Netflix and YouTube? And all now available at not even the touch of a button, but with voice command on Comcast’s Xfinity X1? Seriously, if you have X1, you can just say, “Watch The Romanoffs, ”Show me The Big Sick,” or “Find comedies” into the voice remote. Or launch the Prime Video app by saying “Amazon Prime Video” into the voice remote, or zip on over to the X1 apps menu. You mean I can watch Mrs. Maisel on the big tv now? That’s awesome!

You can download the app and watch all of your favorites from your phone, tablet or computer, too. With Xfinity apps like Stream you can stream your X1 DVR recordings while you’re on the go, you can also download and watch them anytime (for when you don’t access to wifi).

Well, I love Amazon Prime Video and love the new features of Xfinity – check them out for yourself here –

For more information about X1- visit: https://www.xfinity.com

To sign up for Prime or learn more visit: http://www.amazon.com/prime 

Holiday Prep on the fly

I could pretend to be organized, or I could be honest and admit most things I do are by the seat of my pants. Occasionally, rarely even, I plan ahead, so given all that’s been going on, it’s even more amazing that I set up a wrapping station. While it is in my cold-ish basement, it’s organized so I can dash down for a quick wrap instead of running around the house in a mad rush as I head out the door looking for the scissors and tape.

Super easy to assemble wrapping station with things you probably already have – maybe magically already together – wrapping paper, craft paper, ribbon, cellophane tape, pens and markers, scissors, doilies (cut up to make snowflakes), card stock for gift tags, gift bags, little ornaments, tissue paper, washi tape and anything else arts and crafts-y. Organize in cute containers your children made in ceramics class or throw everything in the top drawer of a dresser. I did a little of both. Don’t have an empy dresser? Use any basket – laundry or otherwise.

And I was inspired, truly inspired, by my visit to Highfield Hall in Falmouth for the holiday house tour – the entire house was beautifully decorated using reused, reinvented and repurposed items by the talented and lovely designer Rita Pacheco. Coffee filters were turned into paper snowflakes, pine cones and greenery, found and repurposed objects were artfully combined in vignettes throughout the mansion. The event is over for this year but pencil it in your calendar for next year, and in the meantime, explore the house, trails, gardens, community events, cooking classes, and art exhibits. In February, they have two wonderful events –  The 60th Anniversary of The Sound of Music: A Robert Wyatt lecture and the Woods Hole Jazz:The Yoko Miwa Trio.

You can host your own events there, too – corporate, community, and weddings, too. No pressure, daughters, but I kind of love it there.

And our house? Simpler than Highfield Hall for certain, but I did carry the inspiration home. So far greenery picked up from rambling walks in our neighborhood and from Star Market and Russo’s.

I’ll work on inside decorations later this week to get them done just under the wire as usual. Happy Holidays!

Healthy Dinners you can make in advance

Everyone I know (okay, online anyway) is in love with their Instapot, and while I have not yet succumbed, we do have a few time-saving kitchen devices. There’s an older pressure cooker that I pull out only rarely – just one bad experience with a chicken soup spill/semi-explosion (entirely operator error, btw) stays with you for a while, and a newish Crock-Pot which I use at least once a week because I do like an easy dinner prep.

Our favorite, and possibly over-served but maybe not because I never get push back, dish is Smitten Kitchen’s Black Bean Ragout. Served over garlick-y toast, rice or pasta or sweet potatoes (we do love our starches), with avocado and quick pickled red onions. The leftovers (if there are any) go into another favorite – and super easy – dish also from Smitten Kitchen –  Spaghetti Squash tacos (shhh, I even microwave the spaghetti squash – it’s so fast and easy).

These lovely Parmesan crackers are another favorite.  Serve them alone, or with almost anything – hummus, chutney, more cheese, and it will look as if you know more than you do about baking.

We’ve been eating more plant-based foods around here, it’s healthier, more eco-friendly and kinder, too. And the Minimalist Baker is wonderful go-to resource. I made the One Pot Red Lentil Chili for that freezing cold Marathon Monday and it was delicious! Start it on the stove and move to the slow-cooker.

We also love the wonderfully flavorful and hearty Abundance Kale Salad. Prep this on Sunday and you have meals for a few days. I also prep grain bowls for lunches. Make your favorite grains in advance and put them in the fridge, do the same with roasted veggies. In the morning, pack a bowl with whatever strikes your fancy. Fast dressing? A chef friend told me to slightly water down hummus for a quick tahini dressing. Yummy and easy.

Minimalist Baker knows sweets – and appreciates you don’t have all day – try these One Bowl Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes, and the Two Ingredient Dark Chocolate Truffles

 

 

 

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