Another snow day calls for PANCAKES!

I am a fan of making most things home-made.  

Don't get me wrong I keep brownie mix in the house and even cake mix but I grew up with a Mom who baked from scratch and my taste buds definitely know the difference.  

Baking home-made is almost as easy as making a box mix....ok, maybe 1 or 2 extra steps but SO worth it. 

Years ago when the kids were little I searched high and low for a good pancake recipe.  One that didn't require me to have buttermilk in the house because that was a deal breaker.  I mean really, who puts buttermilk on their grocery list or has time to think about weekend pancakes when they are doing their weekly grocery run?  Well not me.  

This recipe has regular fridge and pantry basics.  And it quickly became a favorite in our house.  

Pancakes are mostly a weekend (or in this case snow day) thing.  And when the kids were little sometimes I would surprise them with pancakes for dinner.  

The kids like them with chocolate chips, I favor blueberries in the pancake and then top them with a mixture of blueberry jam and syrup.  Our oldest prefers diced bananas and chocolate chips.  

The bottom line is that the basic pancake recipe is a good one.  
Add it to your recipe book.  You won't be disappointed.

299 Pancakes

1 1/4 cup flour (I like to mix half white flour and half Trader Joe's white whole wheat flour)
3 Tbls. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda

Mix all the dry in a large bowl and set aside.

Add a cup of milk to a large, glass measuring cup (the 4 cup kind) or another bowl.  

Add to the cup of milk....
1 egg
1/2 cup vanilla or plain yogurt (i have also added fruit yogurt in a pinch)
2 Tbls. melted butter

Whisk to blend and then add to the dry ingredients and blend just until mixed.  Don't over mix it.

I like to use a flat, square non-stick pan.  

Sprinkle in whatever makes you happy.

Happy snow day.


There are NO rules to holiday decorating!

This time of year holiday decor takes center stage.  It is fun and festive!  

We get lots of customers coming into the store asking how to do their mantle or table.  The answer to this and all holiday decor questions is do what makes you happy!  

For some this may mean loading their space with traditional red and green, for others who may live near the beach it's aqua, white texture and driftwood and some like a cleaner, more modern white and silver vibe.  

I don't work with an overall theme and truthfully I usually forget where I had things the previous year so mostly it's like starting new.  I pull out the holiday bins, add a few new things and over the course of couple days I get it done. 

Here is my holiday happy!

I will start in the kitchen...next to our kitchen door is my dear friend Sandy's artwork that she gifted me some 12 years ago.  I add the bells to the door and it drives my family crazy but I love the it sounds like santa's sleigh.  

I hung this sign over my coffee area.  I must admit I am one of those who removes wall decor and replaces it with holiday decor.  

On a side counter I have this cookie jar with a set of wire lights....really, don't lights just make everything better?

Leaving the kitchen and heading into the dining room is the ornament wreath.  You can see a peek of the cookie jar on the left.

A while back I took all my window treatments down in the dining room and I like how clean it feels.  It also leaves plenty of space to hang the 3 wreaths.  They are good quality faux ones and I box and store them after the holidays.  

The Mr. and Mrs. Claus wood statues have been with us for a long time and I still like them.  

This side table in the dining room got a pop of gold to match the chandelier.  I filled a cloche with brass wire lights and love them paired with the gold straw trees from last year.

On our dining table I have placed 3 clusters of what I like to call the Dr. Seuss trees.  

In our front hall I take full advantage of the drape affect.  
This mirror is at the bottom of our stairs and has the perfect ledge to place this thin wood sign.

We have an old painted dresser in our front hall where we collect the mail and holiday cards.  The mirror below is resting on it.   I like to put lights here, the church has a bulb inside and glows so pretty at night.

Head into the living room and on the back wall is our 2-piece hutch turned dry bar.  I keep the lights on the inside perimeter year round but added lots of festive do-dads to the shelves.

I just polished the vintage silver tray and its amazing how happy freshly polished silver makes me!

I grew up with a manger that sat on the same table every holiday.  My parents gave us this mini one years ago and its super easy to find a home for.

We are waiting for the oldest to arrive home from college to put up the ornaments so for now our tree is a bit bare. The handful of wrapped gifts help. One of my favorite things is buying wrapping paper.  I love to pick papers that all coordinate. 

I chose to leave my vintage buoys out this year and added the white feather trees to them. 
I spy another vintage silver piece that needs polishing!

I found this santa at IKEA last year and its sweet sitting on the vintage coffee table tray with another Dr. Seuss tree and a scented candle.  

I like trays on the coffee table...it's instant organization!

In our little den I kept things kinda mellow.  

The green feather trees I have had for a few years but this is their first time in the den.  I like that they feel wintery.  

Full disclosure, I have a throw pillow obsession and could NOT resist the 2 plaid ones that I put in here. 

The merry & bright sign is mellow but feels good in here.

In our powder bath I placed this wool tree on the vanity.

And I did a "cut and paste" on the sign and felt head deer.  
Too cute not to re-use it just like I did last year.

I like to remember the upstairs spaces too.  

This year we have my parents joining us for Christmas Eve sleepover so I am making sure to remember the third floor bunk room too!

In the boys bath I added a bit of festive...so easy to drape the garland over the sign.

And on the upstairs hall chest I placed another glitter house.

I even snuck a few felt trees in my daughter's room.  
I wanted it to feel festive when she gets home from school next week.

Thanks for taking a look at my holiday happy.  

 Happy holidays to you and your family and
 let's all hope for PEACE everywhere!


Checking off my bucket list one birthday at a time

Today I realized that my last blog post was over a month ago.  Yikes!

I have such good intentions and then LIFE sneaks in and well you probably know how that goes.

I love having a store and all the great, inspiring parts that come with it but some days it feels like there is no time for the extras....like blogging about fun, creative thoughts or ideas.

I have been meaning to write about my 50th birthday trip to the South of France but it seems that since I turned 50 I would rather sleep than blog.

The trip and all the aspects about the travel was AWESOME.  I have friends and family saying they are just going to cut and paste when they head to France.  So here are my tips for a successful trip.

1.  Research is KEY!

When we take a trip to somewhere new and somewhere far away (like on a plane and in different time zones) I am a crazy lady about my research.  But you know what it pays off.  And it was no different for this most recent trip to France.  A few months ago I spent a couple weeks googling towns, hotels, and reading a million reviews on both and then lots of travel guides.  This is how I found The Chèvre D'Or (the gold goat) in the little medivial town of Eze about 40 minutes outside of and high above Nice.

The grounds were amazing and the property had multiple levels of gardens nestled and terraced into the side of the hill.  And the view down to the Sea was spectacular...although in this picture its a bit foggy.

Everything was built out of stone.  The pathways, the buildings, the walls...amazing to think that this was all built SO long ago without the aid of modern technology.

What a treat to eat breakfast each morning with this view.

2.  Stay at least 2 nights in a hotel to be able to get the flavor.
 I find that 2 or 3 nights in a location is what you need to discover the rhythm of the staff, the locals, the area.  It allows you time to settle in and learn about an area as well as get to know the hotel staff which usually makes your stay more enjoyable.  The only time I recommend a one-night stay is if you have an early morning flight and want to be close/er to the airport.

I found this charming B + B from a online site called "Charming B and B's"....pretty simple right?!
It was a five minute drive outside of the city of Aix en Provence and centrally located to all the towns I wanted to visit while in the region of Provence.  The property was a former barn that the owner converted into 2 buildings...one housed 3 rooms which all led out french doors to the pool and the other house was the main living space where breakfast was served each morning.  She even had the original stone fireplace rebuilt in the kitchen of the main living space.

3.  Break the vacation up with different accommodation types

I initially did this because of budget restraints but have found it to be a really nice formula for a week long vacation.  2-3 nights at a luxury hotel.....2-3 nights at a modest accommodation and then we typically add a night in a city so we can access our flight easily upon departure.  And by modest I do NOT mean 2 star but rather a B+B, or an apartment in the middle of a town or city found through AirBnB...something that is different than a hotel.  Its a totally different vibe and lets you experience the local area from a different vantage point.

4.  Plot and Plan ahead of time your local travel
For instance for the first 3 days we didn't rent a car because I discovered that the town of Eze was very tricky to navigate when driving a car but easily accessible by bus or train.  I knew that Monaco was an 8 minute train ride from Eze and that the train and bus system was fairly easy to navigate. We hoped the local commuter train from Eze and once we got to Monaco we opted for the double decker tour bus.  The view from the top of the bus was perfect!

We had a rental car booked for mid week when we would be touring the Provence region and driving from town to town. I think you get the most our of  your trip when you arrive to a city or town and know your options and how to generally navigate the area.

While using the B+B in Aix as our home base we travelled to the fishing village of Cassis...

And then we drove up from sea level to the town of Gordes high in the hills...

We ended the trip staying in Nice for a night since our flight was early the next morning.  We arrived about noon so it gave us time to explore the city and we were so impressed with all it had to offer.

We walked the beach and were surprised how many people were sun bathing and swimming.

And then we climbed the historical tower that sat on the Eastern end of the beach.  With each level higher we climbed the beach grew smaller and you could view the entire Promenade des Anglais.

Here we are at the top of Bellanda Tower.  

It was an amazing way to end a 50th birthday trip.  And as luck would have it the sunset out our hotel window was pure perfection.