Post – Thanksgiving. With recipe!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family. We had such a wonderful dinner that lasted all night. I love having the kids home and being able to have my parents, my husband’s parents, and our friends over on such a special day full of gratefulness. I was also very proud of myself because even though I was planning on letting myself indulge a little but I really kept myself in check. It was a great Thanksgiving.

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Bobby and Clara hung around the house until Sunday. I love having them stay at home, it is just like they never left. I don’t even mind doing their laundry or picking up for them while they are home, but 4 days was enough of that. 🙂 As much as I love when they are home, I do like my new peace and relaxation at home.
After they left, I didn’t have much work at the floral shop so I thought I would get a head start on Christmas shopping. I avoided leaving the house at all on “black Friday,” and thought that going during the week would be better… boy oh, boy did I forget it is officially holiday shopping season. I was fighting the crowds just to get into stores and look at the racks.
I didn’t last long shopping at the mall and instead came home and made some hot chocolate. My hot flashes haven’t been acting up so I thought I could treat myself to some of my favorite holiday drink. Being the wonderful wife I am I waited until my husband was about to get home and made our favorite holiday hot chocolate. It is so thought, but delicious and has lots of fiber, and antioxidants here is the recipe.

Prune Hot Chocolate
Ingredients-
• 1 cup almond milk
• 3-4 medium prunes
• 2 tbsp. dark cocoa powder
• A pinch of salt
• ¼ tsp. vanilla

Instructions-
• Puree all the ingredients together in a blender then heat it in a pot on the stove. I like to top it with a marshmallow. ‘Tis the season to enjoy! 🙂

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November has been such a great month and sure has flown by. I am excited for December and for the New Year ahead.

Until Next Time,

Nancy

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4th of July Fun!

Happy Fourth of July! This year with the fourth landing on a Monday, all of our parties and fireworks were on weekend. We were pretty busy the last weekend so, today will be nice just hanging out and relaxing on the day off. We attended two fabulous Fourth of July parties at my husband’s coworker’s home and my sisters. It was a really fun weekend party hopping and helping my sister decorate and cook for her barbecue.
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My sister asked if I would help her decorate and make some of the food, of course I said yes. Over the past year or so I have really become quite the party decorator. It is always fun when I get to spend time with my sister, especially when it is something I am better at than her.

We came up with some simple party decoration ideas that wouldn’t cost a lot of money and were simple enough to keep the party relaxed. I had these big red and white buckets from a party I had a while ago for Bobby that we made into coolers for the drinks. We just filled them up with ice and put the pop in them. I also made cute little vases with red and white tulips for the tables. Tulips are very clean and crisp flowers that worked perfect for what my sister was going for. My sister insisted on using overhanging lights with red and blue bulbs to really give it a cozy feeling. It ended up looking very cute and patriotic.

After we decided on the decorations and got them all hung up and situated we began our kitchen fun! My sister assigned me to making desserts and snacky foods, my favorite. I made the cutest American flag fruit pizza, it look fabulous and tasted even better. I also made a grape salad, frozen watermelon drinks, and fresh salsa. Here are my super easy recipes I used for my Fourth of July concoctions.

Easy Grape Salad
easy-grape-saladIngredients-
• 1 lbs. seedless green grapes, stems removed, washed and halved
• 1 lbs. seedless red grapes
• 1, 8 oz. package of softened cream cheese
• 1, 7 oz. jar marshmallow crème
• 1, 6 oz. package of almonds, chopped or slivered

Instructions-
• Stir the cream cheese and marshmallow crème together until smooth and creamy. Add the grapes to the mixture and stir in. Fold in the almonds and stir until grapes and almonds are coated with the cream cheese mixture.
• Serve chilled, enjoy!

Frozen Watermelon Drinkseasy-watermelon-drink
Ingredients-
• 4 cups seedless watermelon chunks
• ½ cup sugar
• 1 lemon, juiced

Instructions-
• Combine all the ingredients together in a food processor and puree until smooth. Pout into a pan and freeze, about 1 hour. Rake the mixture with a fork and freeze for another hour, and repeat one more time. Then rake and serve in cups for a delicious refreshing watermelon drink, Enjoy!

Very Easy Salsa easy-salsa
Ingredients-
• 4 large tomatoes, diced
• ¼ cup chopped white onion
• 3 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
• 2 tsp. jalapeno, minced
• 1 ½ tsp. fresh lime juice
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• Salt to taste

Instructions-
• Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to let the flavors mix, and enjoy!

Hope you had a fabulous Fourth of July “pre-weekend!”

Until Next Time,

Nancy

Happy Father’s Day

happy-fathers-dayHappy Father’s Day to all the daddy’s out there! I think it is important to celebrate our mothers and fathers everyday but especially on these days. Bobby and Clara got their father the greatest gift imaginable last year, so I had no idea how they would be able to top that. I don’t know how they did it, but they came up with a great idea that their father absolutely loved.

Last year we got him a brand new infrared grill and a cookbook and he was the most surprised I have ever seen him. Bobby and Clara are so cleaver and good at surprising both of us. This year I helped them brain storm a little but let them take the reins. We decided since we went with such a huge gift last year, we are going to keep the gift thoughtful and more realistic.

To go along with last year’s gift, Bobby and Clara wanted to get him some new grill tools. I thought it was such a good idea. They found a good deal on a grilling set and got him some “man” spices and sauces that he can use.

This morning we made him breakfast in bed and brought the paper up to him. Bobby and Clara always laugh at the little things that make their father so happy. It is just a reminder to them that it is the little things that really matter.

Because it is Father’s Day and we usually always cook for him, he told us last week that he wants to grill a big juicy steak his way. He is so funny sometimes. I am sure he will love his gift and the spices and sauces and will use them for dinner. Obviously we weren’t opposed to that, it makes it easier for us.

It is going to be a great rest of the afternoon spending Father’s Day relaxing and then having my husband grill dinner 😀
Happy Father’s Day!
Nancy

Post-Christmas Recap

xmas-660694_640Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends! We had a wonderful dinner and couple days with Bobby, Clara and her boyfriend.  It felt like we were constantly on the move and running around.  It was a great Christmas but I am very happy to sit and finally relax.

Having an extra “family member” home for the holidays made me want to really make sure everything was clean and tidy.  I spent the days leading up to Christmas cleaning and making sure I had everything I needed for dinner and snacks for the kids.  Bobby and Clara got home the day before Christmas Eve and they were out of the house almost all day and night hanging out with their friends.  Clara had fun introducing her boyfriend to all of her friends from high school.

I love seeing how Bobby and Clara have stayed so close with their friends from high school and when they are together it seems like not even a moment has pasted.  I seemed like they had a great night out, they slept in a Christmas Eve until the afternoon.  Those crazy kids.

Instead of celebrating on Christmas Day we decided to mix things up and have dinner on Christmas Eve.  The food was so incredible I even surprised myself!  Clara’s boyfriend was so helpful in the kitchen…I like him a lot, good choice Clara.  After dinner we all curled up in our living room and watched OUR favorite movie, It’s a Wonderful Life.  It was a great way to digest all the delicious food we just consumed.

On Christmas Day we opened up presents…and yes we still wait for Santa to put them under the tree on Christmas Eve.  I loved that we all stayed in our PJ’s and sat around the tree laughing and exchanging gifts.

After we opened gifts we all helped make a Christmas brunch.  It was so so so much fun!  There may have been too many cooks in the kitchen but we had a blast laughing and cooking.  We used some leftovers from the Christmas dinner and made some fresh fruits and veggies to kick start the day.  I think I like our new tradition!

After brunch the kids hung out for a while and then left to go to their homes in the evening.  It was so much fun having the house full and making new traditions.  I think making these new traditions make being an empty nester easier.  We are not dwelling on what used to be, but what is.  I am so thankful for my wonderful family and can’t wait to make more memories and create even more new traditions.

Happy Holidays,

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Merry Chistmas & Happy New Year!

Nancy

The Perfect Father’s Day Gift

Bobby and Clara have been working with me to figure out the perfect gift for their father and my loving husband. When they first brought up that they wanted to do something really special I was beyond excited. Just talking about Father’s Day we immediately got talking about the funny times we have had and all the crazy things he taught my kids.
Buying gifts for my husband has always been tough, he is such a modest person and always says he just wants our company. This year we really wanted to give him a gift he wouldn’t forget.
We had been brainstorming for quite a while, until I saw a cook book called, Carnivore by Michael Symons, he would love it. I told my kids and they loved the idea, but we still wanted to do something a little more.
This weekend Bobby called Clara and me, he had the idea we were searching for, to get higrillm a grill! He loves grilling and our grill has been going downhill lately, it was perfect. We found a grill online from a store near us and ordered it.

The grill came in today and I went to look at it. It is super fancy, he is going to love it. We chose to get him an Infrared grill because they are supposed to cook more evenly and last longer. The grill has 3 burners and a side burner, he is going to grill for the entire neighborhood 😛
I am so excited to give it to him. Clara and Bobby are coming home on Saturday and I think we are going to have it delivered here in the morning so he can use it and his new cookbook. This is going to be the best Father’s Day for him!
What are you gifting for Father’s Day?

fancy free nancy bell

Until next time,
Nancy

“It’s up to you, New York, New York”

WOW! New York was everything I expected and more! Words do not begin to describe the beauty of that city. The snow falling from the sky with bright lights illuminating the streets put me into a movie scene.

When we first landed in New York I felt like a kid in a candy store. My face was glued to the window in absolute awe. Looking outside, the snow falling peacefully, and the sun making each flake sparkle was exactly what I wished NYC to be. The cab ride from the airport to our hotel was probably one of the best cab rides of my life. 🙂

new-york-trip-1

We stayed at the Hilton Times Square so we drove through Times Square and got our first glimpse at the Big Apple. Our room was so nice and had a beautiful view. My husband got us a suite for the week…so romantic. I think this was one of the first times I have ever stayed in a suite; I felt like a princess.

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After getting settled we went on a walk around Times Square and just wandered through the streets. There is something about New York City that is so magical and spectacular. It is like a fairytale.

We were able to fit in almost everything on my list. The holiday markets throughout the city were outstanding. I thought we were just going to go to the Columbus Circle Holiday market but we ended up going to three other ones. Even though Christmas is done, the spirit of the holidays is definitely still in the air.

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I faced two fears this trip; heights and ice skating! I am so happy I found the courage to get past my fear and try new and exciting things. We went ice skating in Central Park at dusk one day; I’m going to say it again, SO magical. We also went to the lookout deck at the Rockefeller Plaza. WOW, just WOW! The views of the city literally took my breath away. I also got to see Grand Central Station and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

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The highlight of my trip was TWO BROADWAY SHOWS! I wasn’t sure if we were going to make it to any, but my husband surprised me with tickets to Wicked and we loved it so much we got tickets for The Lion King too. I am so happy I was able to experience a Broadway Show in NYC, now I can check that off my bucket list. 🙂
Our trip to New York City was INCREDIBLE! I have never been in complete awe for so long. The city, the people, the architecture, everything is just beautiful. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful husband who knows me so well. We did a lot of relaxing and sightseeing throughout the week. I feel like I was really able to connect with him and feel like newlyweds again. Traveling with him made me realized that the world is ours and we really need to take advantage of it. This was, by far, the BEST anniversary present ever! I think I may have even caught the travel bug? 🙂

“Big lights will inspire you, let’s hear it for New York”

Until next time,

Nancy

WELCOME 2015

Happy 2015 everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s! I had the best couple of weeks with my family, I am so happy. It was a great way to say good bye to and ring in 2015!

A little recap; Christmas was so wonderful! Dinner with our family turned out delicious, my hot chocolate meringue cake was a huge hit! We scarfed the entire cake down for desert. Bobby was scooping it was cutout sugar cookies…can you say sugar overload! My in-laws were really happy to see Bobby and Clara too. We had a great dinner, exchanged a few gifts, and laughed all night.

Bobby and Clara left on the 31st to go celebrate New Year’s Eve with their friends. It was sad saying good bye but I know they will be home again soon. The hubby and I stayed in on New Year’s Eve drank a little champagne and watched the ball drop on TV…if I wasn’t excited for our trip before, I am so so so excited after seeing Times Square on TV. It was the perfect New Years, simple and romantic.
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I have been cleaning up the house since Bobby and Clara left. It is ridiculous how much of a mess my kids can make in such a short period of time. 🙂 On a positive note, I have gotten back into my routine, walking, biking, and watching what I am eating. I am proud of myself, I actually stuck to my goals I set before the holidays. I was able to exercise three times a week and eat fairly healthy. I think my biggest accomplishment was learning when I am satisfied after eating, instead of eating to the point of discomfort…go me! 🙂

I feel like the past couple months have flown by, we leave for New York City in TWO DAYS!! Words do not begin to describe my excitement. I started packing for myself a few days ago…and packing for my husband too; if I didn’t help him pack, he would just bring one change of clothes…men, I tell you! 🙂 I am excited to wear my new clothes I got special for the trip. I have been shopping periodically, finding good deals on “chic” NYC clothes. I figure, if I dress like I belong in New York, maybe I will just end up staying…:P Just kidding.

I know I keep saying it but these past couple months have been nothing less than extraordinary. I am so thankful for everything I have accomplished, everything my family and friends accomplished, for everyone’s positivity around me, and I am happy I’m blogging! I will miss reading some blogs that I’m following when I’m at NYC, so you shouldn’t miss them:

http://anextraordinaryday.net/
http://emptynestcountryliving.com/
http://www.over50feeling40.com/

I know this is the time when I should share my New Year’s resolution, but my resolution is not to have a resolution. I want to keep doing what I am doing and not change anything. I am so happy with everything in my life right now, I couldn’t wish for anything more!

Happy New Year, it is going to be a good one!

Until next time,

Nancy

What to cook for Christmas Dinner?

Well it’s about time to start getting the ingredients and preparing for Christmas dinner with the family. This Christmas we are having dinner at our house with my husband’s parents. I have been enjoying cooking lately, so I am actually very excited. Having the kids home and my husband’s family come for dinner is going to make for a wonderful Christmas.

christmas-balls
I wanted to share what I am planning on making for Christmas Eve dinner. Most of these are new recipes or old ones that I put a little Nancy spice into. 🙂 It is going to be so delicious.
For a salad, Mixed Green Salad with Oranges-
Dressing Ingredients
• 2 tbsp. finely chopped shallot
• 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
• 2 tbsp. orange juice
• 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
• ½ tsp. sugar
• 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• Salt and Peper
Salad Ingredients
• 1 head of romaine lettuce, in small pieces
• 1 head of red-leaf lettuce, in small pieces
• 1 bag of baby spinach
• 3 small oranges peeled
• 4 ounces soft goat cheese crumbled
Instructions-
1. Dressing: Combine shallot, vinegar, juice, mustard, and sugar in a bowl, slowly mix in the oil while whisking. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Salad: Mix the romaine, red-leaf lettuce, and spinach in a bowl and add orange slices. Toss with dressing, sprinkle goat cheese on top
mixed-green-salad-with-oranges
For the main course, Beef Roast with Red Wine Gravy-
Roast Ingredients
• 5lbs. boneless sirloin roast
• 4 large cloves of garlic, sliced
• 2 tbsp. chopped thyme
• 2 tsp. dry mustard
• 2 tsp. onion powder
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. pepper
• 1 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 large onion, peeled and cut into wedges
• 4 large springs of thyme
Gravy Ingredients-
• 3 tbsp. olive oil
• 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
• 1 ½ cups red wine
• 1 ½ cups low sodium beef broth
• Salt and pepper

beef-roast-with-red-wine-gravy
Roast Instructions-
1. Make small slits all over the roast and stuff garlic into each slit. In a bowl combine chopped thyme, mustard, onion powder, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Rub this mixture all over on pate and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F, scatter onion wedges and thyme springs over the bottom of a large roasting pan. Roast meat for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 325 degrees F and roast until meat thermometer is at least 125 degree F.
3. After the beef is cooked thoroughly, remove and put the meat on a platter and cover loosely with foil and allow to rest.
Gravy Instructions-
1. From the juices on the bottom of the beef pan, add 3 tbsp. oil and place pan over burners and heat on medium. Stir in flour and cook until brown (2-3 min). Pour in wine and broth and bring to a boil while mixing from the bottom. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 mins. Strain to get beef chunks out, season with salt and pepper and serve with sliced beef roast.

And for desert, Hot Chocolate Meringue Cake
Ingredients-
• 6 egg whites
• 1 tbsp. cream of tartar
• 1 ¼ cup sugar
• 3 tbsp. sifted cocoa
• 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
• 4 cups of whipped cream
Instructions-
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Line two baking pans with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Slowly add sugar and continue to beat on high speed. Sprinkle in cocoa and cayenne paper and continue beating.
3. Spread the meringue in about 9 inch circles on the lined baking pans. Bake for 3 hours, and let sit cooling for 1 hour.
4. Fill the layer with whipped cream and serve.

hot-chocolate-meringue-cake
Besides these great recipes I’m making the classics; mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, corn and mixed veggies, etc., and you can’t have Christmas without cutout sugar cookies! The kids still prepare Christmas cookies to surprise their grandparents. 🙂
It is going to be one delicious Christmas!
Merry almost Christmas! What are you planning friends? 🙂
Nancy

A Full House Again

We have a house is full again! 🙂 Bobby got home last weekend and Clara came home this morning. Since they got home, they haven’t stopped sharing new experiences with me, I love it. Although, I think Bobby was excited about me doing his laundry and cooking dinner for him more than anything else.

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It feels so great having the whole family together and hearing about how everyone is doing in person; Facetime and Skype are just not the same. Bobby had a great first semester at college. He is loving his classes and has made so many friends. I can tell he is truly happy with his choice about colleges. Clara is doing great as well, she is finishing up a post graduate internship and is on the job hunt now. I am so proud of my children and so happy I get to have them both for Christmas.
While they are home I am going to try really hard not to be the annoying mom that always wants to be with them. I want to do fun little things with them around town looking at Christmas lights and stuff like that but I have to remember they want to see their friends here too. It is going to be really hard. I know they have their own lives now and aren’t used to living with their parents, so I need to show them how happy I have been and continue through the holiday season. I am just so happy they are home and want to hang out with me, at least for now. 🙂
I found a funny blog post about the 10 things a college student wants to hear when they arrive home for Christmas break

1. Welcome home!
2. Of course I’ll fill your gas tank!gift
3. Here, let me do your laundry.
4. Look at (family pet’s name), they missed you.
5. Two words…Gift Cards
6. We just bought snacks
7. We made your favorite homemade meal, and it is ready
8. I am proud of you.
9. If I could line up all the students in the world and choose just one to spend Christmas with, I’d choose you.
10. We paid your school bill.
I think this is so funny and for the most part very true for my kids. But, I don’t mind it at all, I get to have their company for a while so it is worth it. I love being a mother.

christmas tree

It is going to be a great couple of weeks with the kids for Christmas, and then….off to NYC with my hubby. I am so lucky to have such wonderful family and friends in my life.
Happy Holiday’s!
Until next time,
Nancy

NYC Trip Planning

Winter in New York…I have been imaging this for years and finally it is coming true in a few weeks. I am beyond excited to go to New York with my husband for the first time! It’s even better because it is winter and I love snow but never get to see it. There are so many things I want to do and see while I am there from the Rockefeller Center to the window displays at Macys, Barneys. And Bloomingdales. I am not a fashionista like you know, but those window displays and know across the country. I also have gone shopping so I can look New York Chic while I am there. 🙂

New York City
I have begun to make a list of things I want to do in NYC…our trip is coming up so fast. I don’t want to have a set schedule the whole time, I just want to focus on relaxing and spending quality time with my husband.
Here is my list of things I want to do so far-
• I heard the Columbus Circle Holiday Market at 59th and Broadway is incredible. Even if we don’t buy anything I just want to go, see it, and walk around.
• I am a terrible ice skater…I can’t even remember the last time I went, but when in NYC I feel like I have to go Ice Skating at the Rockefeller Rink or the Wollman Rink in Central Park. I know even with my falling, I will feel like I am in a movie.

• Obviously I want to walk across the Brooklyn Bride. It is such an iconic landmark in New York you can’t pass up.
• I want to go on a walking tour of the city. There are so many different types of walking tours in NYC like neighborhoods, pizza lovers, chocoholics, foodies, music, art, architecture, and the list goes on. We will have to decide what we are feeling, if we end up going.
• I am scared of heights but yet again, when in NYC one must, go to the lookout deck at The Rockefeller Plaza. The pictures from the top are incredible. I am going to have to face my fear.
• We HAVE to go see Grand Central Station. I feel like I wouldn’t be in NYC if I didn’t.
• I’m not sure if we will be able to fit in any shows during our trip but I really want to see Radio City and maybe even the Rockettes.
new york city
I seriously cannot wait to experience the big apple! The countdown has begun T-30 days!

Until next time,
Nancy