Thursday, April 19, 2018

Flowers for My Home - A Review

As much as I look forward to Spring and new growth in the garden and yard, once those flowers bloom, I can only enjoy them in the garden. I can't bring them into my house.

I am highly allergic to most kinds, especially my favorites like Sunflowers and Queen Anne's Lace.

I am so happy to say that I found a way to have one of my favorite flowers indoors, and they are fire retardant too.

I was introduced to Thermaleaf® by fellow blogger Debbie who featured some beautiful wreaths she got from the company on her blog Mountain Mama..

I was offered to choose something from their website in exchange for a review. They specialize in fire retardant artificial foliage products for commercial use and home use.  

Why use fire retardant artificial foliage in your home? A great question and one that Thermaleaf® answers in detail on their website. I did not know that many fires can be caused by artificial plants and trees used in commercial settings because they lack fire resistant materials. They can catch on fire very quickly and the smoke from these plants can be deadly. Not something you want in your place of business or your home!

It took a few times of browsing their website to choose something because of the large variety of potted plants, trees, and topiaries, as well as wreaths and a large selection of floral sprays and stems to make wreaths and arrangements.

I finally chose the Queen Anne's lace stem pack of 12 so that I can arrange them in a vase or use them on a wreath. All 12 stems are in this vase.

I have always loved this pretty white flower that grows tall and lean in fields and roadsides during the summer. They have a lacy, Victorian look to them. 

While on vacation one summer there was an abundance of them growing along the roadside where we were staying so I picked a bunch and decorated our cabin with them. 

When the allergy symptoms appeared, I knew right away what the culprit was. Reluctantly, I have stayed away from them ever since. 

I am thrilled to be able to have these realistic looking stems in my home and they look lovely in my large stoneware pitcher. 

They have long stems and spots on them to cut through and shorten if needed. They also bend so you can arrange them.

I took some out for a leaner look in the vase.

Then I decided that the stems were a little too green for the coloring in my room and I walked around my home looking for other places to add them.

I thought they looked pretty added to my stoneware jug of Pussy Willows.

I also tried them in my glass demijohn bottle and although only three stems fit in there, I love the simple look in the living room.

I hope you will visit Thermaleaf to see if there is something pretty for your home.

The way the weather is going in the northeast, we may have to rely on pretty faux flowers to fill our vases!

AnnMarie xoxo

I am linking up with these blog parties:

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Almond Joy Cookies??!!

About twice a month I bake goodies for the traveling community theatre for the arts that my husband Frank, son Michael and I run. It is a dessert theatre and I am the coffee and dessert girl!

I love finding new recipes to make but they have to be finger foods and not too messy to eat.
Cookies and bar cookies fit the bill.

When I found this recipe for Almond Joy cookies that only had four ingredients, I was all over that!

Here are my ingredients....

And my favorite tool to use for cookies....

I whipped up a batch today for a performance tomorrow night so I can tell you that they are super easy. I even had all the ingredients in my cupboard already.

I do not remember where I found the recipe because I hand wrote it from somewhere. There are plenty of versions on Pinterest though.

Almond Joy Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen

14 oz. bag shredded coconut
16 oz. chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped roasted almonds
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk

Set oven to 325 degrees and line a pan with parchment paper.
Mix all four ingredients together.
Scoop out on pan and then flatten each cookie.
Bake 12-14 minutes.

If you love coconut, this recipe is for you. I baked mine for 13 minutes which gave them a nice golden color and a little crunch on the edges.

The hardest part of this recipe is packing them up to let others enjoy. Here is the pan that our guests get to indulge in. And yes, I tasted one, or two after they came out of the oven!


AnnMarie xoxo

I am linking up with these blog parties:
Tuesdays With a Twist
Keep In Touch
Full Plate Thursday
Thursday Favorite Things
Share Your Cup
Home Sweet Home
Best of the Weekend

So honored to be featured....
and here!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Parlor Reveal - Mini Makeover

Have you ever loved something, like a color,
and then suddenly you can't change it fast enough?

For me it was my parlor walls,
painted 21 years ago to cover up the ugly cherry paneling.

I am anxiously waiting for our bathroom remodel to begin but
I thought I would throw in a parlor redo in the meantime. 

Only the walls were going to be painted.
The Ballerina Pink ceiling would stay and the white trim would stay.

This wasn't going to be a total makeover. I just wanted a more
neutral color for the walls to blend everything together.
I still like my window treatments, fairly new rug, chairs and decorative items.
I was just so tired of the Cranberry Cocktail walls!

These paint chips had been hanging on my wall for months.
I knew I wanted Sherwin William's Portobello but at the last minute I chose a darker color,
just to be sure I didn't want a darker color.

Luckily I got a sample.

When it dried on the wall it literally looked like baby poop....a really bad poopy diaper!
Sorry if that is too graphic, but several others used the same phrase when they saw it!

Back to Portobello it was and I love it!

I had great pictures on my phone of all four walls of the parlor in the original color.
Could I get them to download onto my computer? No.

So here are a few Before's just before the painter arrived.

And here are the After's.....

The color looks different on every wall, depending on how the light plays off of it.
The first few days after it was painted it was very sunny 
out and it looked so good. Of course when it is 
that sunny in the room, I wouldn't
be able to get good pictures!

I thought the pink ceiling would be pretty with the Portobello 
and after the room was put back together, 
I love how it plays off the chairs and window seat pillows.

The room got a thorough cleaning, including
taking EVERYTHING off
the bookcases to clean and rearrange them

Some trim had to be touched up and the 
floors got a refresh with a new-to-me product that you just 
squirt on and mop. It is called Quick Shine 
by Holloway House.

I split the chairs and table apart a little to show 
the window seat more. I will live
with it for now. 

I am happy with the finished look and with my
painter who did it all in about 4 hours.

I like this view from one end of the house to the other....

Now if we can just get started on
the bathroom redo. It will be
a total gut job which is scary
to think about living
with the mess.

Here is a before of the bathroom. 
It will be totally different.

Hint: a black feature wall!

Wishing you all a Happy Easter 
and Passover!

AnnMarie xoxo

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Tri-Color Italian Pasta Salad

Even though this is the view out my windows....

...and Spring is no where in sight on this 33 degree day, I have been craving summer foods. I made potato salad and grilled (in the broiler!) sausage this week and tonight my guys are having Philly cheesesteak sandwiches with tri-color pasta salad, by request of my son.

What am I eating? Why, stir fry veggies of course, with a side of pasta salad!

This stuff is the best and my go-to salad all summer. I have been making it for years and years and years and it is great every time. It has a little bit of each food group, so you really could eat it as a meal (wink, wink).

Believe me, you will want a huge portion, or just have 6-8 small helpings. No calories after the first two.

Anyways, my son is funny because every time I am going to make this he comments on how bad the tri-color pasta salad is in the deli where he works. It has pieces of nasty ham in it and no taste. He is right, I tried it! He prefers mine over that 100%.

I promise there are no nasty pieces of ham in this recipe. Just pasta, broccoli, black olives, pepperoni, chunks of mozzarella, and grape tomatoes. I do not know where I got this recipe, nor do I measure the amounts too much. This is about what I used today. The cheese and dressing stays the same every time.

Tri-Color Italian Pasta Salad

1 pound box of tri-color pasta
4 oz. mozzarella cut in chunks (half a bar)
one small head of broccoli chopped
1/2 can black olives chopped in half
1/2 container grape tomatoes chopped in half
a handful of pepperoni slices cut in half
1/2 cup grated romano or parmesan
1/2 cup canola oil and 1/2 cup white vinegar mixed together

Cook the pasta till tender but not mushy. 
Drain and add in the rest of the ingredients.

**Please try not to cheat and use bottled Italian dressing...blech!
The combination of the grated cheese, parsley and the oil and
vinegar is really, really good**

This is the kind of recipe that tastes best if you make it in the morning for that evening's dinner.

It is even better the next day.



I am linking up to these fun blog parties:

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Mid-Week Musings

Hi! Happy almost Spring!

I don't have a set schedule of posting here on my blog so it has been awhile since I visited with you all.

So, what have I been up to since my last post?

Musing about this and that. Planning some updates for my home. A little Spring decorating.

Because we are in the middle of another storm I can't seem to erase the Let it Snow sign. It will have to share the side of my dining room with the bunnies.

I was inspired to make this basket when an Etsy buyer bought a similar basket from me and recreated a Martha Stewart design she saved from a magazine years ago. She sent me the picture of hers in her new basket and it was fabulous.

This basket was still in my shop. It is a vintage Harry and David gift basket from Oregon. I quickly deactivated it so I could use it to create my own Easter basket centerpiece. I guess that's a perk of having over 640 items in my shop. No one will miss the ones I keep for myself!

The greens are a garland from Michaels all bunched up inside; I painted the ceramic brown bunny about 40 years ago in ceramics class; the ribbon is new and the eggs are ones I painted last year. Of course I had to change my "Winter" scrabble pieces to "Spring".

My dress form got a new look. I have been searching online for the perfect Spring dress but until I find just the right one, I decided to dress her in this vintage long dress I found at a thrift store in Rochester, NY. I layered some of my personal necklaces with some vintage ones and she's ready for the transition from Winter to Spring.

My window seat in the parlor got Springified too with some new pink pillows added into the ones I have had there for 20 years. Love my new bunny pillow.

My sweet girlfriend Colleen gave me the beaded candleholder for my birthday. She is all about the baubles and bling, and me...I am a little understated in that department. I didn't know where to put it in my home but when I stuck a faux fern in it and put it under my gallery wall, it added just enough elegance to the room. 

One of those updates I mentioned earlier will be done in my parlor. The walls are called Cranberry Cocktail and although I love the color I am tired of it after 21 years. My new rug does not match perfectly to them so I want a fresh look with a more muted color. I am 99% sure I am going with the top color called Portobello. 

I have to decide soon since my painter is coming to paint on the 24th!


A couple of things I have been musing about are toilet rugs and mug cupboards. Yup, you read that right!

For some reason in this house I have had a toilet "rug" on the seat in whatever color the room currently is. I match it nicely to the rug. 

My husband hates it. It prevents the seat from staying up on it's own and that can be a problem for him if you know what I mean.

The other update we are planning is for this bathroom. It will be pretty much a gut job. That ugly tile? Gone! That ugly floor? Gone! That ugly old thingamajig under the toilet? Gone! Actually the toilet itself will be gone too and now, so will the toilet rug.

My husband asked me why I even have it there. 

I could not answer.

I thought it was the thing to do. You know, match it to the rug. Toilet seats are plain and ugly. Anybody out there with me on this?!

Another thing I have been musing about is my mug cupboard. To clean it out or leave it be.

My kitchen cupboards are tall, narrow and deep with lots of shelves. One of them is filled with mugs. Almost every time my husband goes for a mug he asks me why I keep all those mugs in there.

Because I can.

What if I get a house full of people that all want coffee?!?

I am quite attached to most of my mugs although I only use three of them on a daily basis. I have two 4 cup coffee mugs in two different colors to interchange daily and my tea mug. I have to start my day with a large cup of coffee and I am so afraid of my 4 cupper breaking again that I now have two of them.

Gotta cover all the bases on things you love.


I went to Trader Joe's recently with my sister and she insisted that I buy myself this huge chocolate bar to stash away and have a piece every she does.

Since I do like a little chocolate every day, I gave in. 

She twisted my arm after all.

It is my new favorite Trader Joe's item! Really thick chunks of milk chocolate with huge almonds inside.

I decided to give a bar to my husband for our monthly (on the 13th) anniversary gift. It's his favorite kind of chocolate bar. For those that don't know, we exchange a small gift every month on our wedding date. We have been doing it for 21 years.

He surprised me with this book. I actually had it in my cart on Amazon but never ordered it.

I think the two go perfect together......

Having endured three nor'easters with snow still on the ground, I can only hope Spring comes our way soon and gives me lots of ideas for future posts :-)

AnnMarie xoxo

I am linking up to these great blog parties: