Happy first day of Spring!  When we were in Copenhagen last week I was seeing pansies and spring plants everywhere.  I was a little concerned that I might not find any pansies today, but I didn’t have to go far.  Stew Leonard’s in Norwalk had me covered.   The sun is shining and I need pansies for my planters.

First Day of Spring + Spring Cleaning

We have tulips on our table and pansies on the porch. I don’t buy tulips all that often because I would only buy them in the Spring and they just don’t last that long.  But when I saw these I knew I had to bring them home for my new Canyon Crock from Studio McGee.

First Day of Spring + Spring Cleaning

Spring always makes me think of Spring Cleaning!  There’s still ice and snow everywhere, but a little Spring cleaning was in order for the porch today.  It’s amazing what a good broom and a bucket of hot soapy water will do for a porch.  What this porch really needs is a power washing and some touch up paint, but that will have to wait a few more weeks.  I even left the black runner because I’m not convinced we are done with winter here in Connecticut.

You know that quote from You’ve Got Mail where Joe Fox says, “Fall, it makes me want to buy school supplies.”  Well that’s the way it is for me in the Spring–except, Spring always makes me want to buy cool new cleaning supplies like I have been pinning to my “Clean” Pinterest Board.

Like this Magnetic Dustpan and Brush Set from DWR or maybe this one from The Container Store, it’s a lot less expensive.

I keep seeing these Black Barn Brooms on Pinterest and this one for indoors.

I’m restocking all my laundry supplies including a new one for Darks from The Laundress and the Cashmere Shampoo and the Delicate Wash

And I think it’s time for a new laundry bin.  I’ve had my eye on this one from Steele Canvas Basket Corp. ever since I visited their factory in Chelsea, MA.

So what are your tips for Spring cleaning?  Do you make a list or just start at the top?  I would love to hear!

Sonny + Coffee + Copenhagen

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Sonny + Coffee +Copenhagen

Sonny was our first stop after dropping our bags at the hotel upon arriving in Copenhagen.  Turns out they had only been open for a few days, but you never would have known it.  The front of the space is more of the coffee shop with a few seats and a place for take-away coffee. The rear of the shop is a cozy restaurant serving up delicious and beautiful meals all day and into the evening on Thursday & Friday.  We didn’t have the chance to enjoy a meal at Sonny, but seeing their instagram makes me think we missed out!

Sonny + Coffee + Copenhagen

The entire restaurant makes you want to stay all day.  Candles lit day and night.  According to The Little Book of Hygge, the Danes each burn 13 pounds of candle wax a year.  After spending a week in Copenhagen and seeing candles burning everywhere, it’s not at all hard to imagine that statistic to be true.  I could not love a practice more.

Sonny + Coffee + Copenhagen

Sonny + Coffee + Copenhagen

Sonny + Coffee + Copenhagen

Sonny + Coffee + Copenhagen

Sonny + Coffee + Copenhagen

If you are visiting Copenhagen, add Sonny to your list!  You won’t be disappointed.  What I loved most about our Copenhagen experience was the way people create spaces based on the hygge factor.  Everywhere we went it was impossible not to notice.  Wood burning fireplaces, candles and beautiful lighting illuminated from windows as we walked the streets at dusk.  I mentioned The Little Book of Hygge – Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking in this post.  I just noticed on the back of the book under International Bestseller it says, “Get consciously cozy.”  Yes, that’s the best way to describe it!

Flower Shops + Copenhagen

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Flower shops are plentiful in neighborhoods all over Copenhagen.   Since it’s almost spring, the shops fill their sidewalks with beautiful fresh cut flowers and spring plants.   It makes it impossible not to stop and take a look.  Danes really have it figured out, they light candles all day into the night and apparently have spring plants and flowers filling their homes.  Pretty much a dream come true.

Flower Shops of Copenhagen

Flower Shops of Copenhagen

Flower Shops of Copenhagen

Flower Shops of Copenhagen

Flower Shops of Copenhagen

Blomsterskuret is in the Frederiksberg neighborhood of Copenhagen.  We came upon it as we walked to coffee at Granola.  And Granola is the sister restaurant of the well known (at least on Pinterest) Hotel Central & Cafe.  The hotel is tiny– it has just one room.  Of course I loved this flower shop not only for their gorgeous display of plants in rustic containers, branches and fresh cut spring blooms, but also because it’s painted black.  Everything looks good against black siding–especially pansies.

Flower Shops of Copenhagen

At another shop in the same area, this lovely display even looks amazing with the contrast of graffiti.

Flower Shops of Copenhagen

This shop was close to our hotel and every time I walked by I took a photo. On about the third day, Madeline said, “You do know you’ve seen that before, right?”

Flower Shops of Copenhagen

Can you see why I love this place?  I mean candles all day and flowers on the street–everywhere.

Flower Shops of Copenhagen

Just walking back from the Metro and look at all those pale pink tulips!  Spring officially starts next week, but it looks as though it’s in full swing here in Copenhagen!  It’s easy to see why the Danes are the happiest people in the world.  They surround themselves with fresh flowers, plants and make their nests cozy and a place that brings happiness and comfort.  We all need that at the end of a long day and week.

 

Buzz Kaffebar + Copenhagen

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Madeline and I are in Copenhagen for a few days and of course there will be lot of coffee drinking.  Everywhere we walk we find the coolest places that have perfected the Hygge thing.  I mean this place had candles lit in the morning.

Buzz Kaffebar + Copenhagen

We set out this morning to Sankt Peders Bageri for one of their famous cinnamon buns, but they were closed.  Luckily we found Buzz Kaffebar a few doors down.  We had bread with jam and nutella and coffee which was delicious.   The atmosphere was light and cozy at the same time.  Pillows and faux sheepskins on benches, great lighting, well tended plants and votive candles everywhere.

Buzz Kaffebar + Copenhagen

Buzz Kaffebar + Copenhagen

Each window sill had its own little arrangement of items that made the space inviting and cozy.

Buzz Kaffe Bar + Copenhagen

The white walls and steamed windows on a cold Sunday morning could not have been more perfect. I have to say, I’ve only been in Copenhagen for a day and a half and it might be my favorite city.  Everywhere you look people are enjoying a meal and conversation in cozy places lit by soft lighting and of course candle light.  Until recently I never knew that all this that I have loved for years is called Hygee and the Danes have been practicing it for generations.  It really does explain why they are the some of the happiest people in the world.

 

Make Easy Weeknight Soup

Monday, March 6, 2017

Easy Weeknight Soup is our answer to dinner in 5 minutes on a busy night. I love to cook on the weekends when we have a little extra time and then savor the benefit of a delicious bowl of soup after a long day. And no cooking involved other than re-heating. We sometimes serve with a little crusty fresh bread or on those nights when we don’t have fresh bread, I’ll take a few slices from the freezer and put them on the panini press for a couple of minutes. A little fresh grated Parmesan cheese and basil makes it seem like you’re not even eating leftovers.

Easy Weeknight Soup

Ingredients for Healthy Weeknight Soup

All together there are 14 ingredients plus spices and vegetable broth.  Seems like a lot, but at least half is stuff you probably already have in your pantry like beans, lentils and tomatoes.

Make Healthy Weeknight Soup

What I love about this soup is that it’s healthy, but satisfying at the same time.  I sometimes use MyPlate on Livestrong to track calories.  Here’s another reason to love this soup.  One serving is 329 calories!    This soup has so many vegetables that I can even skip making a salad.  We’ve served it with a scoop of Trader Joe’s brown rice which is another variation and still keeping it simple, but  a little heartier with the rice.

Weeknight Soup

adapted over the years from Giada DeLaurentis who calls this soup Spicy Bean Soup– I don’t like that name.  In fact I would have never even made it the first time based on the name alone, but my husband did and we loved it.  There are so many things other than beans that are fresh and colorful and healthy, so why call it Spicy Bean Soup?  I mean, even chili doesn’t have bean in its title.  We call it weeknight soup because we can make it and have it all week long served different ways.

Olive Oil

2 onions, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ pieces

2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2″ pieces

1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2″ pieces

6 Cloves Garlic, Chopped Small

1/4 cup chili powder

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried crushed red pepper

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juices

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

12 ounces tomato juice

one Parmesan rind

8 cups vegetable broth

2 15-ounce cans Cannellinni beans, drained and rinsed

2 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup dried French green lentils

3 cups broccoli florets

2 zucchini cut crosswise and cut into 1/2″ rounds

2 yellow crookneck squash cut crosswise into 1/2″ rounds

Freshly grated Parmesan

Fresh Basil chiffonade

To make:  Heat the olive oil in a large pot like a Le Creuset and add the chopped onion, carrot, celery and red pepper and sauté for 10 to 15 minutes or until onions become translucent.  Then add the chopped garlic and sauté for an additional two minutes.  Add the chili powder, coriander, cumin, oregano and crushed red pepper and stir together and cook for two minutes.  Add the tomatoes with their juices, tomato juice and paste and the Parmesan cheese rind.  Add the broth, beans, lentils and the rest of the vegetables and bring to a simmer on high heat.  Lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender.  Pour into five 26-ounce containers and refrigerate or freeze.

Note:  The original recipe calls for two teaspoon of salt– that seems like a lot. I leave out the salt, use low-sodium vegetable broth and no salt added diced tomatoes and we still feel like it is very flavorful.

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DIY Checkerboard Chalkboard Wall

Friday, February 17, 2017

We have had our chalkboard wall since we’ve owned this house.  I’ve loved the idea even before having one.  However, over the last few years I’ve sort of tired of the whole chalkboard thing.  That was until I saw Amanda’s on Perfectly Imperfect Living.  I had seen the checkerboard calendar idea on Martha Stewart for an office, but I never really thought about making our current wall into a checkerboard chalk wall.  A few Saturdays ago I mentioned it to Brent without much reaction.  Then a few hours later over lunch I showed him Amanda’s.  Well, that was it.  We went to our local paint store and chose four shades of Benjamin Moore black and gray from the paint chips.  You can actually make any color you want in chalkboard paint now, but you probably already knew that!  Of course I stuck with shades of gray and black because basically our entire house is black and white.

DIY Checkerboard Chalkboard Wall

Once we decided on the size of the squares we wanted, Brent used a regular pencil and a yardstick to draw the lines.  We then went back and numbered from one to four assigning each of our paints a number.  Then he started taping.  As soon as he was done with one color he removed the tape and waited until it was completely dry before taping the next set.  The entire project from start to finish took about four hours.  We used Benjamin Moore Chalkboard Paint, a new Purdy brush and green Frogtape.  All together we spent just under $100.  I think it is visually so much more interesting than just a plain black wall.  Plus it’s fun to add things to the calendar.  Of course we all use digital calendars, but there’s something about a calendar that’s right there in front of you.

DIY Checkerboard Chalkboard Wall

DIY Checkerboard Chalkboard Wall

Paint colors by Benjamin Moore:  Raccoon Fur, Gray, Steel Wool, Black Beauty.

DIY Checkerboard Chalkboard Wall

DIY Checkerboard Chalkboard Wal

DIY Chalkboard Wall + Quince Branches

Sources & Supplies

Kitchen Island from Williams Sonoma – Ours is no longer available, but this one is similar.

Lowell Pendants and hooks at end of island from Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co.

Palmetto Vase from Crate & Barrel

Enzo Mari Apple & Pear Poster available here.

Purdy Paint Brush

Frogtape

Benjamin Moore Chalkboard paint

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Dreaming + Summer Vacation

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Dreaming + Summer vacation–It’s mid February and that means one thing—It’s time to start thinking about summer travel.  It might be that’s it’s cold and dreary, but about this time of year I can’t help but thinking about a big family vacation.  Our kids are seniors– 17 and 22 so for the last several years I keep thinking this is the last one.  And if this is the last big one, it has to be great.  It’s never gonna be the last family vacation.  I’ve been told that if we keep paying, they’ll keep coming along.  Sometimes we have so much fun that we keep going back to the same place.

Tuscany, Italy

Borgo Scopeto Relais is one of those places.  We discovered Borgo through a google search after seeing the adorable movie, Letters to Juliet back in 2010. When we realized the hotel near Siena depicted in the movie was actually a real hotel and not just a movie set, we made a reservation.  And as beautiful as it is in the movie—it’s even better in person.

 

The Hills of Tuscany, Italy

Sunset in Tuscany with views of Siena

It’s easy to see why so many artist are in love with Tuscany.  The light is amazing.  We chased the sunset on many nights winding through country roads in search of the perfect opening at the highest point.  We found fields of sunflowers and lavender.

Driving through Tuscany

All roads lead to gelato in Florence, Italy

All roads lead to gelato while sightseeing in Florence.

The hills of Tuscany in August

I’m not sure the time of year the movie was filmed, but I have a feeling it was July/August because every where we went looked like we driving through the movie.

Sunflowers in Tuscany

The cottage at Borgo Scopeto Relais

Borgo Scopto Relais

Borgo Scopeto Relais

Borgo Scopeto Relais

Borgo Scopeto Relais is what led us to this spot in Tuscany in the first place.  This place is so special.  You can read about the history here.

We stayed in a cottage and the kids shared a room in the main building.   It’s quiet and around every corner there are amazing views of Siena.  You can use their mountain bikes to ride through the vineyards, or play tennis and of course in August, the pools are inviting.  Resort time sprinkled in with a little sightseeing makes for a perfect vacation.

Tuscany

Last year we discovered the cemetery that was in the film while driving around at sunset.  A little further down the road we found the perfect spot for dinner.  It’s called Osteria Cacio e Pepe.  As you might guess, their signature dish is a bowl of cacio e pepe.  It might be the best bowl of simple pasta ever.  Under string lights overlooking a vineyard at sunset with my favorite people.  I love family vacations!

Osterio Cacio e Pepe in Tuscany

Sunset over Tuscany

A cappucino in San Gimignano at dusk

Tuscany is one of our favorites destinations and one we keep going back to—creating different memories each time.  What’s your favorite place?  Do you keep going back or are you on to the next adventure?

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Friday Link Love + Painted Stone Fireplace

My most popular post on this blog and on my Pinterest has to do with painting our stone fireplace.  I have loved getting all your emails and photos of your stone fireplaces.  And know that any advice given is with a lot of consideration.   Painting brick or stone is fairly permanent and of course I don’t want to steer any one in the wrong direction.  I have seen some pretty terrible before photos and and have loved seeing your photos after you tackled the project.  Keep them coming—one day I would love to share everyone’s before and after fireplaces.  Send me your photos and permission if you want to share!  See our before at the bottom of this post.  (it’s from the real estate brochure).

Here’s a few things I’ve seen this week that I thought you might like:

This article about Math has you thinking about it in maybe a whole new way.

Now that I’m working part-time I don’t always have the time to do yoga or bar method classes.  Even though a class is only 60-75 minutes, it’s the planning your schedule around it, driving to the class and then home again. I still do classes at least twice a week, but the other days I mix in strength training with resistance bands.  I bought these.  Perfect for travel too.

And while we are talking about health and fitness, is stretching the new fitness fad?  Read this article.  They talk about it in years.  As in–how old are you in flexibility years?

Clutter can really weigh us down.  I know last year the craze was all about the Tidying up Book.  But what if you’re just not ready for that?  Here’s another way looking at de-cluttering that makes a lot of sense.  And at the end the year if you follow this plan you’ll have rid yourself 1,825 items.  isn’t that crazy to think about?

So I think this weekend I’ll get rid of 10 items.  That doesn’t seem so hard.  Hope you have a lovely weekend!  xo annie

Before (from real esate brochure)

This photo shows the fireplace before it was painted.  Photo is from the real estate brochure.

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Friday Link Love starts with hot tea

Friday, February 3, 2017

 

Friday Link Love Starts with hot tea + SMEG

Friday Link Love starts with how much I love our  new tea kettle from SMEG.  We drink a lot of tea around here.  We have used a kettle on the stove forever.  Years ago my friend Gemma from the UK couldn’t believe we still made it that way.  I think it’s because I could never find an electric kettle that I liked.  But that was before I found this one by SMEG.

Working Out —in a Museum – This is brilliant.  And all before the Met even opens its doors in the morning.   It’s a 45 minute workout with music and moves through an otherwise quiet time of day at the museum.  You’ll end up in The American Wing where you’ll nosh on crusty bread and butter, coffee and clementines.

Make this simple pasta on a busy weeknight or anytime you’re craving pasta.

It may be early February, but it’s not too early to start thinking about outdoor patio weather once you’ve seen these chairs on Emily Henderson’s former deck.

Emily Henderson's Former LA Deck

via

 I’ll mix in my favorite outdoor pillows from Serena & Lily.

I’ll be making this baked camembert on Super Bowl Sunday.

Ever since I started making almond butter I’ve been searching for more recipes using nut butters.  I’ll be trying this one for Flourless Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies today.

The View From Great Island

via

Searching for the perfect Valentine gift?  Original art is always a good idea.  Like this one titled “Somewhere Sweet” by Lizzy Ragsdale and available in her online shop.  Or commission a painting of a favorite place like this one.

Have a lovely weekend and thank you from the bottom of my heart for showing up here and reading MLT. I love getting your emails about everything from the perfect white paint to coffee shop recommendations.  xo annie

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7 mirrors to mix up your style

Thursday, February 2, 2017

I love to mix styles in home design.  Modern with traditional, bohemian with modern and a little modern with cottage.  Mixing styles gives it a more layered and collected feel.  I never want my home to look like a catalog, but I also don’t want it to look like a flea market.  One way to add in a different style is with a mirror.  We have a traditional style home built in 1900.  I can’t go completely modern, but we have a pair of Knoll Barcelona chairs that we need to work around.  We added the Lanai mirror from Serena & Lily.  It softens the look and stark lines of the black Barcelona chairs while adding almost a Bohemian feel to it.  The pillows I chose for this area are also from Serena & Lily and have that same Boho look without going over board.

I like to have one thrifted or flea market piece in each area or room.  One big item like this trunk, then that’s it for this area. Otherwise it starts feeling and looking like a thrift shop.  Initially we had an ornate vintage mirror (from a flea market) and ornate sconces that came with the house.  It was just too much.  The Lanai mirror and the new sconces make the whole room look more pulled together.  I used off-white planters/pots from Terrain from the same collection to down play the flea market trunk.  The Natural Tree Stump side table is from west elm.  It started out in Madeline’s room years ago and has since made its way to the living room.  I like the look of nature that along with a few houseplants brings to a room.

  1.  Serena & Lily Lanai Mirror  2. Serena & Lily  Montara Mirror  3.  Serena & Lily Mosaic Mirror  4.  Anthropologie Barton Mirror  5.  Anthropologie Ruvima Mirror  6.  Wayfair Kenitra Arch Mirror  7.  Serena & Lily Ojai Mirror

These are some of my favorite mirrors that I keep pinning over and over.  How did we live without Pinterest to keep our inspiration and ideas all in one place?  I still have my binders of ripped out magazine pages, but by now most of those pages have ended up on my Pinterest boards–which according to my Pinterest analytics reaches way over a million people each month.  You can look at my Pinterest right here.

The Lanai mirror can be hung vertical or horizontal.  The hardware on the back of the mirror provides both options.  We tried it above our fireplace first and needed to move the hardware on the back.  Using a power drill we were able to easily move the hardware and add picture frame wire to hang on the existing screw already in the stone on the fireplace.  Ultimately we decided to hang the mirror in the front room of the house.

                                                                                       via

I love this quote by Charlotte Moss.  We are just all creating stories–one mirror, chair, trunk, sconce at a time.  What’s your story?

This post is a product review for the Lanai Mirror.  All words and opinions are my own.  I thank you for supporting the brands that keep fresh content on MLT.

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