Sunday, July 28, 2013

Let's Set The Table, Host A Buffet & Try Some New Recipes

Darlings, let's be gracious hosts today...
pretend with me, you're hosting a buffet for about twenty friends, here's some delicious recipes I had to share.
Dinner manners
...Buffet Feng Shui...
#SouthernCharm Tip #228: Obey the Laws of Buffet Feng Shui
Charleston Pink Lady Cocktail
Spring Pea & Radish Salad
Strawberry Bruschetta
Oven Roasted Potatoes - These rich and flavorful potatoes will melt in your mouth!
Lemon Infused Pasta Salad with Fresh Herbs and Grilled Asparagus
Southwest Summer Squash & Chicken Bake
mini strawberry rhubarb pies. ♥♥
So now your guests are full, the conversation was pleasant, and you can graciously thank-you for coming.
Ta-ra darlings!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Secrets to Happy Families

Thought this was a valuable article to share.
ByDenise Mann, reviewed by Charlotte E. Grayson Mathis, MD
From the Brady Bunch and Partridge Family to the Cleavers, Cunninghams, and Cosbys, images of happy families have rarely been in short supply. We all have ideas about what they should look like.
Does yours fit the portrait of a happy family? If not, don't despair. Now we're letting you in on a few of the secrets to a happy family. You, too, can experience some of the domestic bliss that seemed previously reserved just for TV families.

Happy Family Secret No. 1: Enjoy Each Other

The essence of a happy family is that they truly uplift each other and that all comes down to how they treat each other, says Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a New York-based family and relationship counselor and host of The Learning Channel's Shalom in the Home. "There is a joy that characterizes their interaction," says Boteach, father of eight children and author of several books, including the forthcoming Shalom in the Home. "Parents come home and the kids are happy to see them and when kids come home, the parents are happy to see them."
Cooking with mother

Happy Family Secret No. 2: Swap Stories

"When your kids come home, ask them what happened in school and have a story for them," he says. "If you come home dejected and not really interested and then five minutes later the TV is on, why would they be happy to see you?"
The bottom line, he says, is that when you come home, your kids have to come first. "You must drop everything you are doing and always come home with something to share with your kids, whether a story or even the smallest vignette," he says. "This way you give your kids something to look forward to. The great bane of family life is boredom and that is what leads to dysfunction, affairs, and kids wanting to be with their friends over family."

Happy Family Secret No. 3: Put the Marriage First

"Set a real example of love," Boteach says. "The relationship and marriage must come first." Think Carol and Mike Brady of the Brady Bunch and Cliff and Clair Huxtable of the Cosby Show.
There are many families where kids always come first, says Boteach. Then they become substitute providers of love, he says. "That's an unfair burden to put on a kid." It's also bad for families, he says, "because kids will move out of the house eventually."

Happy Family Secret No. 4: Break Bread Together

Families that eat together, stay together. It's that simple. "Family dinners are essential," Boteach says. "It's a time to connect." Have a minimum of four family dinners per week, he suggests.
Norman Rockwell

Happy Family Secret No. 5: Play Together

"Have one or two unifying activities that the family does together on a nightly basis," Boteach says. He suggests bedtime stories for young children or reading a chapter from a novel to an older child.
Sandra Kuck

Happy Family Secret No. 6: Put Family Before Friends

"In happy families, family comes before friends," he says, "The camp counselor understands something that parents don't and that is that caring for kids also has to be fun. Give rules, but understand that kids need fun, too. When kids get bored and listless, they start looking for excitement out of the home and that is when friends become more important. Friendship is important, but subordinate to family."

Happy Family Secret No. 7: Limit Children's After-School Activities

Today, growing numbers of kids are over scheduled and participate in six or seven after-school activities per week. The mother becomes a chauffeur and the children are never home at the same time. This is not a recipe for a happy family, Boteach says. "If your kids grow up not knowing how to do ballet, they will be OK. No after-school activities is an extreme and too many activities is the other extreme, but moderation is where we should aim." Create your own after-school activities as a family, he suggests. For example, take your kids rollerblading, bike riding, or swimming after school as a family.

Happy Family Secret No. 8: Build and Honor Rituals

"Families need rituals," Boteach says. Rituals can be religious, national, or even family-specific, he says.
Barbara Fiese, PhD, professor and chair of psychology at Syracuse University in New York, agrees. "Happy families have meaningful rituals and are not stressed out by them," she says. "They can be unique to your own family such as going for bagels on Saturday morning, a weekly pizza night, or even a family song. Rituals tend to bring family members close together because they are repeated over time."
To work, rituals need to be flexible, she adds. "They can't be rigid," Fiese says. "If the bagel place is closed, you have to go someplace else."
vintage summer scene

Happy Family Secret No. 9: Keep Your Voices Down

Remember that children thrive on stability. "There has to be a calm environment at home," says Boteach. "Talk to your kids, give them strict rules, and punish children when necessary, but don't lose control and yell. If you yell at kids, that shows you are out of control and you create a non peaceful environment."

Happy Family Secret No. 10: Never Fight in Front of the Kids

TV viewers never really saw Carol and Mike Brady go at it, did they? While some fighting or bickering may be inevitable, try to keep it away from the children, Boteach says. "If your kids see you fight and argue, apologize and say, 'We are sorry you had to see it. Daddy and I just had a disagreement, but everything is OK now.'"

Happy Family Secret No. 11: Don't Work Too Much

All work and no play does worse things to a family than make it dull. "If you are away all the time and don't prioritize your kids, your kids will internalize feelings of insecurity," says Boteach. They'll begin to believe that they're not valuable enough.

Happy Family Secret No. 12: Encourage Sibling Harmony

Sibling rivalry can be divisive. "I try to speak to my kids about how fortunate they are to have siblings," Boteach says.
Children paintings by Vladimir Volegov

Happy Family Secret No. 13: Have Private Jokes

Happy families have inside jokes, Syracuse's Fiese says, "Jokes and nicknames symbolize that this is a group that you belong to and serves as a shorthand for larger experiences," she says.

Happy Family Secret No. 14: Be Flexible

"This is easier said than done," says Fiese. "But by their very nature, families change so you have to be open to change in membership and age," Fiese says. "Somebody gets married, somebody dies, somebody remarries and teenagers are no longer children and young adults are no longer teenagers, but they are all still part of the family."

Happy Family Secret No. 15: Communicate

Rose J. Perkins, EdD, associate professor of psychology at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass., says that a happy family communicate with one another. "Frequently families are set up where everyone tells the mom and then the mom sends the message, but in a happy family, there are more flexible, open lines of communication."
In happy families, "all the members of family unit are able to communicate openly," she says.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Charities that Came into my Life's Purpose

Today, over at Kelly's Corner there's a discussion about charities.

I was born in South Africa and spent the first eight years of my childhood there. I also went back for a visit when I was fourteen. 

Despite being fortunate to have had a 22 acre farm out in Centurion, during the apartheid my mother decided to take my sister and I home to England where we were so grateful for our safety.

So Sentebale holds a personal place in my heart. It was founded by Prince Harry (in memory of his mother) and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho. It is for children in Lesotho who’ve had to live with extreme poverty and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

After moving to England when I was eight, I did a lot of bake sales with a group of school friends to try and raise money and awareness for the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. The aim of the charity is to create a lasting legacy to the Princess' humanitarian work.

We specifically had our money given to the children’s wards, where one of my dearest childhood friends spent some time in her childhood.

When I was eighteen, just about to turn nineteen I moved to the US. I had been in college studying interior design when during my thesis year of 2009 my maternal Granddad and my maternal Nana died.

After graduating in the summer of 2010, I moved home with my dad and later that year, just weeks before Christmas my paternal Granny passed away. My paternal Grandpa had passed away eleven years earlier, so within a year of so, all my grandparents were gone.
 My dad and I. 2007
My dad had turned a yellow, jaundiced color and had noticed discoloration in his eyes, so he went to see a Doctor who diagnosed him with pancreatic cancer eight short weeks after his mother’s passing. He passed away this past May, at just fifty-four.

I volunteered for around two years with a children's group called Kids Konnection, which helps children understand and get comfort when their loved one has cancer. It reassured me that there are kind, humanitarian people who really care to take their time to be there for someone else, and their children. If you ever feel a glimmer of loneliness, then volunteering will give you purpose, to serve your community and God.

Since graduating college, the girls I used to nanny while I was studying started a darling group called the Lavender Girls. They are now in their fifth year and sell lavender products to make wishes come true for the children of Children's Cancer Association.

So there you have it, charities that have made an impression on me, or that have come into my life over these near three decades. There's so many more, but these are my favorite few.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Thursday Chit Chat

Last night I was getting cabin fever, so we decided we'd go out to Carrabas for some flat bread, iced-tea and a chit chat.
We got there just after 9:30pm, and noticed that they would be closing in less than half an hour, so we decided to try Applebee's.
When we entered Applebee's there was karaoke going on for women's night, so we asked to be seated at the far back. We waited...and waited...still no order, and the woman singing was so out of key we knew a chit chat would be difficult. So we got up and left, which feels like a walk of shame.
Ever done that?
So what else is open by nearly 10:00pm and nearby? Perkins. It was hopping in there, with retirees who were out for the night in their masses. We had half a sandwich and a slice of pie and finally had a chance to chit chat.
Today, I wrote some letters, and have attempted watching the movie Double Life, a Lifetime movie about three times. It's about a woman whose identity was stolen. Along with a cup of tea.
Did you hear about Gloria MacKenzie? She is the 84-year-old Power ball winner who won the $590.5 million jackpot in May. She has decided to donate $2 million to fix the roof of a Maine high school in her hometown.
Gloria MacKenzie, is the 84-year-old Powerball winner who won the $590.5 million jackpot in May. She has decided to donate $2 million to fix the roof of a Maine high school in her hometown.
Here she is from her younger days. Meanwhile, Kanye and Kim have spent $2 million dollars, but for a gold plated toilet and a Swarovski encrusted fridge. Now that is ludicrous!
 Now, back to my movie!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge

From abc news:
"Prince William and Kate Middleton have named the royal heir George Alexander Louis, Kensington Palace announced in a statement today.
"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are delighted to announce that they have named their son George Alexander Louis," the palace said.
The baby's official title is His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge. The baby boy was born Monday at 4:24 p.m. London time. He weighed 8 pounds, 6 ounces, according to an official announcement from Kensington Palace four hours after the birth."

I wrote about the birth of Prince George yesterday, and about his maternal grandmother, Carole Middleton some time ago. Many people are intrigued about the thoroughly modern Middleton's, who through hard work have built a multi-millionaire mail order party business.
In my opinion, William loves the continuity the Middleton family have, something he never had growing up.
I was so excited to watch, and experience such a wonderful historical moment. Utter joy to watch the news, that's for sure.

You are cordially invited to follow my Royal board on Pinterst.

Monday, July 22, 2013

It's A Boy

What wonderful news.
Early days: Prince William leaves the King Edward VII hospital with his wife, where she had spent four days being treated for acute morning sickness at the start of her pregnancy last year
William and Catherine have a baby boy. He was born at the private Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington at a healthy 8lb, 6oz at 4:24pm.
Kingly news: Two aides place the easel on its stand outside Buckingham Palace as is the tradition at Royal births 
I watched via CNN and the Today show. Natalie Morales did an excellent job. Here's the comment I made on her post:
"Well done for waiting in that heat Natalie, you've experienced such a historical moment. Thank you for keeping us updated throughout the day. It was such an exciting moment, with some tears of joy."

Global broadcasters: Natalie Morales, of NBC in the US, reports live from outside St Mary's Hospital, west London, as the world waits for news
all photos from Daily Mail
For some reason I couldn't sleep last night, and spent most of it awake, so at 5:45am I decided to come to the living room, and saw that the TV had announced that William and Catherine had been taken to the hospital. It was an exciting day waiting for the news!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Belgium's King Philippe and Queen Mathilde

Oh, how I adore the European Royal family.
I spent eleven years of my childhood growing up in the English countryside, and had a chance to meet Queen Elizabeth when I was in middle school.
So, when news came about the Belgium has a new King and Queen I was excited, but especially to see Mathilde as Queen.
I adore her, she is so beautiful, gracious and a wonderful mom to hers and Phillipe's four children.

Here are some photo's I wanted to post, so I'll remember the day.
The new King Philippe of Belgium and Queen Mathilde seen at the Cathedral of St Michael and Saint Gudula today
(L-R) The Belgian royals greet the public from the balcony of the Royal Palace after the ceremony on Belgium's National Day in Brussels
Grand: The new monarch King Philippe of Belgium and his wife Queen Mathilde posed on the steps of the impressive Cathedral of St Michael and Saint Gudula
Royal family: The new King Philippe and Queen Mathilde have four children
 At the stunning abdication party to mark the handover of the Netherland's throne from Queen Beatrix to her son Willem-Alexander

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cracker Barrel & A Lot of Love

Happy Tuesday y'all, or is it Wednesday?
This afternoon we went to the Cracker Barrel closest to our home in Port Charlotte, and it made us feel like we were in Tennessee all over again.
Except, there were no gramdpa's lounging in the rockers!

This weekend, I decided not to respond to my emails for a day. All this estate planning, has been so tiring. The amount of forms, etc. to fill out after someone's passed away is surmounting. Plus having to keep in touch with lawyers, CPA's, funeral directors and then let the rest of the family know the updates is not on the top of my 'enjoyable' list. But where there's a will, there's a way (no pun intended).

At home, we've had lot's of snuggles as you can see. I love the hustle and bustle of our home, I'm never bored and always have a pet to cuddle up to.
Our home is filled with a lot of love.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

In the Midst of July

Can you even believe we're in the midst of July? It seems that every month passes by, and I am still accepting that Spring has sprung and long past gone. Perhaps, it's because this year has been so busy I'm playing a lot of catch-up.
Our wedding is less than three weeks away, and we're having a simple backyard vintage ceremony, a delicious dinner for two, and then a sunset boat ride.
Wedding invitations
We met back in the Fall of 2010, for a labor day picnic. I was twenty-four had just graduated college for a second time and moved home with my dad. Cory was twenty-eight and had also graduated twice, and had his own home. We had decided on BBQ, but decided to order it from Famous Dave's and eat out in Columbia Point Park. We soon realised we both had a lot in common.
Outdoor tea table
After twenty months together, Cory proposed, on my twenty-sixth birthday at the beautiful Davenport Hotel. We had a delicious dinner by the fire, before I was guided by the hostess into the Marie Antoinette Ballroom, where at the end stood Cory with petals, shaped into a heart. He proposed, and it was the bestest birthday ever.

We've had a fourteen month engagement, and although we've know each other for three years, it somehow seems so much longer. This year has so much more to bring, and as long as we remember 'love is patience, love is kind'. We'll have a happy life.
So, as this month flies past I'll always remember my day. But please be still for a little while, July.

A Young Ina Garten

This is a pretty picture of a young Ina and her daddy dancing at her wedding. She had it on her blog.
The Stevie Wonder song Isn't She Lovely comes to mind.


Ina posted this picture on her Instagram account.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July 4th 2013

We had a relaxing July 4th weekend, at our current rental home in Port Charlotte, FL.
We've been here for a month already, and have a few more months here until Cory's job sends us on to his next travel location.
Our home is located on a canal, and has the most glorious sunsets. So this July 4th we decided to invite a friend over for a picnic in the lanai. We had bratwursts from the local German butcher, grilled asparagus, cherry tomato salad, blueberries, watermelon and we sauteed some pepper and onions for relish. It was delish!

Buster, thought the bird sculpture was real, so he gatecrashed our lunch to inspect. Ha ha.

Later in the evening we went to watch the fireworks on Port Charlotte harbor. It was fun watching the display over the bridge.
But, I digress...There are some really interesting people these days.
The rest of the weekend we did some wedding shopping, shared some flatbreads at Carrabas,  watched some Hallmark movies, did some yoga and spent a day at Venice beach. Happy birthday America! From the girl who spent her childhood in the heart of the English Countryside.
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