Sunday, July 31, 2011

please pass the mustard...



I love this color sweater for Fall ( it's coming guys, it really is!) I have an old one that I will never part with unless I find a replacement.


Oh...mustard and teal sooo pretty...


As well as mustard and aqua...






Source: etsy.com via Darlene on Pinterest



hey, I own this! Got it from Christina for mother's day!Love it!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Vintage Style







Didn't people look oh so different in the old days? I can always tell when a photo is really old or is just a modern picture edited to look old. Even with the best vintage hair and makeup, there just isn't quite the same essence. It must have been a lot of work to get hair coiffed just so, not to mention achieving the perfectly arched brow. Part of me loves the style from days gone by but mostly I like that we don't have to constantly wear dresses and heels to fit in. Although I must say that I would like to wear dresses more often, especially since I never wear them! I have ordered my first vintage dresses from etsy and really hope that I don't end up looking like a sack of potatoes in then! Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Next Week Will be AWESOME!!!




I am so incredibly excited about next week!! "Why?" you ask? Well, I'll tell ya! My daughter Christina from Consider The Coffee, and my grandson Kavi are coming for a visit here in Alabama!! It is so much fun when they come here, only more fun when Stina's husband Suj gets to visit too. We are dreaming that he will make it here towards the end of the visit so they can drive home together!
The World's Longest Yard Sale starts right after they arrive and we are going to get to meet Angela, from Pickles on Pizza!! Me and Stina are both blog friends with her and can't wait to meet in real life. I love her blog because when you read it you feel like you are right there with her hearing her funny stories and drooling over her awesome vintage finds! I feel like I know her already and have had like three dreams about it, all good ones where we laugh and talk and have fun yard sailing together!
So...Kavi, Stina, yard Sailing, meeting an awesome person and her husband just makes for a memorable time I am sure!
Oh, and The Help movie comes out on August 10th while Stina is here and we are for sure going to see that together.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thanks Anthony Bordain!


Do you ever watch a TV show about food that makes you obsessively crave the delectable delights showcased? Well, it happens to me all the time. The sad thing is that it is near impossible to find fresh made, good quality food in our town which results in hour long drives to Birmingham where there are several places we love.
That being said, however, we have not had any good Pizza since we have lived here. Pizza Hut? Nah! Papa John's or Little Ceasars? Ummm, NO! I grew up in NYC where Pizza parlors galore dotted the neighborhoods and even the crappiest NY Pizza was multiple levels above what can be found here.
So, the other night, Anthony Bordain was in Naples, Italy eating the most amazing, decadent yet simply made pizza I have ever seen. Burnt bubble crust...sigh...fresh mozzarella...gulp...brick ovens...oh my.
The next day, I had to make some home made pizza, so I made sure to get some fresh mozzarella, basil, calamata olives and artichoke hearts.
This recipe for whole wheat crust was very good ( I am trying to eat more whole grains) and I could only imagine the texture if it was baked in a brick pizza oven. The fresh cheese made all the difference. If you make some yourself, I highly recommend using it over the regular stuff.
The crust was a little soft , but delicious, and if you go to the recipe link you can read reviews and see how people tweaked it.
I made one with sauce which was left over from the day before pasta dinner and used some chopped shallots, the olives and artichoke hearts, topped with crumbled mozzarella , basil leaves and lightly drizzled with olive oil. I made the second pie the same except with basil and evoo mixture instead of the sauce. I baked them at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes, but might pre-
bake the crust slightly next time to make it a little crispier.

Monday, July 25, 2011

felt flower tutorial



Get the tutorial for these adorable flowers here
Don't you just love the color combo? Makes me feel fall-ish!

Birmingham Sunday







Yesterday was a nice day. We went to church in the morning and decided to drive to Birmingham for lunch afterwards. We can never think of where to eat in town, especially on Sundays, so an hour's drive is well worth it to avoid blah and boring chain restaurant food. We ate at Taj India, one of our favorite places and then did a little downtown exploring.
Ever since we have lived in Alabama, we have been wanting to go to the Civil Rights Museum. Growing up in New York City during the time frame of the Civil Rights Movement, I saw the images of hatred and violence on the news. It was a horrific time of mistreatment and crimes against people that I shall never forget.
The 16th Street Baptist Church was the sight of a bombing that left four beautiful little girls dead, the news of which shocked the nation. The museum is located directly across the street from the church, which is a beautiful and stately building. We were happy to see that it was open and found out that on Sundays, you can donate any amount you wish for entrance.
Several times my throat closed up and I fought back tears as I listened, and read through the exhibits. We left the building feeling impacted by what we saw and observed. The Birmingham Airport is named after Fred Shuttlesworth, the Pastor of the 16th Street Baptist Church and a Civil Rights leader. A street in our town, Hood Street is named after the first African American male who attended the University of Alabama, who was from Gadsden. Richard Arrington Jr, was elected as the first African American Mayor of Birmingham only 15 years after the civil unrest of the area, and he served for twenty years. A street downtown is named after him.
As you can see, this museum was an inspiring experience for us yesterday. After that, we drove around the downtown finding the newly constructed park ,Railroad Park, and a vintage store that we have to visit when it is actually open and a few other areas we wanted to see.
A good day, indeed.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

why the Y?


So...the other day me, my daughter Jenny and friend Rachel joined the YMCA in town. It's less than a mile from our house although it isn't the most modern one you'll ever go to. I had shared on a previous post that I had checked out the Y along with another place that is open 24 hours and was 10 dollars cheaper per month. The drawbacks were that it is about 6 miles away and was filled with very young and buff people. The Y had all ages and sizes so it won out as the better choice.
We tried out the equipment after paying our dues and I quickly learned that an elliptical is a lot harder than an exercise bike and I get a little motion sick on a treadmill. Ha!!
A young man showed us how to use all the fitness gadgets and asked if we had any questions, but of course we didn't because when you are fitness center illiterate, you can't think of a single thing to ask. It was a little warmish to me in the workout area even though there were ceiling fans throughout the room. And it was mostly teenage boys in the weight lifting area so we determined to NEVER, no NEVER venture over in that direction. The regular strength training machines would have to do.
After struggling to do 5 minutes on the elliptical, I began to rethink my decision. The Y requires a written cancellation 30 days in advance when you want to quit, and I began rehearsing the letter in my mind.
"Dear YMCA, I am afraid that it is not going to "work out" between us. I am too self conscious, too old, too fat, and way too HOT!!!!
Thanks,
Darlene Franchi"
Well, today I went by myself for the first time and used the exercise bike for one hour. If you know anything about me,you know that I have an exercise bike at home and usually do an hour a day on it. So...weird way to make use of my monthly fee, huh? You see, I am taking baby steps with this health club stuff. I need to get used to just being there before I can tackle all the new fangled machinery. Like the elliptical. ( I managed to do 6 minutes and 35 seconds on it the second time there )
Hopefully I can last there until the cool mornings of Fall begin and I can return to my beautiful and refreshing walks at Noccalula Falls or in the historic neighborhood nearby.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

mmm,mmm, good salad ideas



I have been enjoying some nice fresh salads lately. If you have never eaten arugula, you should give it a try. It has a distinct almost peppery taste that gives life to any salad ingredients. I have enjoyed an arugula,strawberry,shallot, walnut and blue cheese salad, which tastes just as good with sliced peaches instead of the berries. I made a dressing in a small jar with evoo, about half as much water, a shot of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, salt and pepper and a touch of honey to mellow it out. I sometimes add a shot of dijon mustard for variety. Don't be scared to try this yourself, you just have to keep tweaking until it reaches your desired flavor. I haven't bought pre made dressings in months!
Today I made quinoa and added chopped cucumbers, sliced shallots,chopped greek olives,feta cheese, oregano (mexican oregano), then added salt, pepper, olive oil,fresh lemon juice to taste and it was also fresh, healthy and delicious.
I don't usually measure, I go by taste, but that is easy when you start with small amounts, and keep tasting and adding until it tastes right.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

healthy and simple foods






Well, I have been moving along nice and slowly with my weight loss. I have lost 11 pounds in 8 weeks by counting calories with my phone app, myfitnesspal, and using my exercise bike for 60 minutes most days. I have been eating a lot of the same things for lunches, like Lean Cuisines and such, but now I am getting bored with that and want to find more healthy, tasty, and simple meal ideas.
So today, my daughter Jenny made this delicious cucumber, feta cheese toasts for a light dinner and I absolutely loved it. It was perfect in its simplicity of ingredients and freshness of taste. She mixed feta cheese with a little lemon juice, salt and pepper and a touch of extra virgin olive oil and spread it on one side of split french baguette that was toasted in the oven at 350 degrees until crispy. Then thinly sliced cucumbers were layered on top, sprinkled with salt and pepper, a little lemon and olive oil.
Mmmmmm, mmm, mmm, it was so tasty! Now I need about, oh...ten more simple ideas like that!



Friday, July 15, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

mason jar mania!!! recipes!!!

CUPCAKES in a mason jar!

fruit crisp


fruit pie
click on picture to get the recipe!
I have a major obsession with all things jar! Perhaps mason jars evoke some sort of innate urge to can things. I don't know, but even for vases, drink glasses, and candle holders and someday for a light fixture, my love lives on. Put a straw in one, or roses, or daisies. Or just use them for single serving pie or bread or crisps, or muffins, or soups, or chili!! Or CUPCAKES!!

Lantern love


I love paper lanterns, especially when they are hanging somewhere in my house. I found these lanterns on line and had to have them to brighten up the fireplace for summer. I purchased them from Luna Bazaar for 1.95 each and they have many varieties to choose from!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Red, White and...ooooh....






Source: flickr.com via Ivy on Pinterest





Ever since I was little I have loved the red and white color combination. I still remember a red and white dress I had when I was three. For real, it was my favorite dress and I always felt happy wearing it! So these pictures made me feel happy also so I had to share them with you!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Nashville...Franklin...Leiper's Fork

delicious Lebanese Food at Mediterranean Cuisine in downtown Nashville
best falafel and hummus I ever had! Everything made fresh!

Bombay Bistro had a delicious Indian Buffet near our hotel! absolutely scrumptious!
Riff Burgers in downtown Franklin had delicious salmon burgers! Found out that there are two Riffs in Birmingham ( an hour from home)and will definitely try other burgers like turkey, lamb, chicken and veggie. Rays beef burger tasted gourmet!


Leiper's Fork had horse drawn wagons!



decorated for our daughter Jenny's birthday after we returned home!

I will try to share a summary of our road trip last weekend. Basically we learned that the Fourth of July weekend is the busiest weekend all summer. We don't like sweltering heat or shops that are purely tourist oriented. And did I mention that we aren't big country music fans? What do we love? Food! And coffee! And air conditioning!
Our hotels were very nice, one near Opry Land, for no real reason except it looked nice and was a good price, although we could not find a blessed coffee shop in the area and settled for...gasp...McDonald's coffee...quiet sobs...
So, downtown Nashville was very crowded at the touristy Music Row and it was humid and in the high 90s so even though it was a nice looking downtown it was kinda exhausting navigating on foot in a place we are unfamiliar with. Parking garages were a necessity, so after paying to park at one you didn't want to leave it to spend more at another lot.
The Nashville Public Library was gorgeous with several levels, marble floors and a fantastic Civil rights exhibit that made the trip worth the effort. The Library has a cafe called Provence Bread and Bakery that had tasty healthy lunches and pastries and coffee.
We decide to stay in Franklin the next night and to check out it's historic downtown. We made the mistake of going there already hungry and also not knowing where to eat and it being Sunday many places were closed, so off we went back to our hotel area to eat at the Bombay Bistro which had some of the best Indian food we have ever had at a restaurant.
The next day was the Fourth when we decided to give historic Franklin another try and although there were craft vendors in the streets and a festive atmosphere, many places were closed and it was super crowded and steaming hot again. We did however really enjoy eating at Riff's Burgers where the food was fantastic!
Now, about Leiper's Fork. We wanted to go there because I had just watched the Judds reality show and saw that they lived there and it looked nice and was just outside of Franklin. It was pretty small with only a few eateries and shops, but also kinda tourist oriented, so without any Judds sightings it didn't seem worth the effort to drive there. There were some gorgeous properties and farms there though.
It is funny to me that the highlights of our trip to Music City were all food oriented! Lebanese food! Indian Food! Hamburgers we could have eaten nearer to home! Oh well, I guess we are a little weird!
It was our youngest daughter Jenny's birthday after we got home and I had a super fun time decorating for it! Her birthday dinner food request was Philly Cheese-steaks made by Ray and she loved every bite!
(lanyard lady, if you are reading this, I miss you! Hope you return to Blogville soon!)



This past week...road trip

First of all, our home pc has a virus so I am posting from my phone.  We went to Nashville for the 4th and returned home to celebrate my daughter Jenny's birthday
  I will post more when my husband's laptop is home later