Saturday's Little Things in Life

I feel alive today!  Nothing motivates me more than a beautiful day outside when I can open the windows.  I confess that I get pretty lazy when it is cold out.  My body doesn't want to do anything but cuddle up and watch a movie, read, or browse the internet.  I seriously don't feel like I get much done during the winter months.  I realized this today when I suddenly came alive and started to feel motivated about doing things around the house.  It felt great!  I started moving appliances around in the kitchen, scrubbing it clean, organizing, etc.....all while feeling the beautiful breeze from outside and listening to the neighborhood kids play.  I know this is a sneak peak of Spring, but I am so thankful for it.  I needed it so much!

Below are some snap shots of some of my favorite things in my kitchen.  The little things in life bring a smile to my face.  

These beautiful flowers are from Josiah & Nicole for my Birthday, such a wonderful surprise!  The candle sticks are some that I picked up at an antique store and spray painted them purple. love!

This coffee is SOOOOOOO yummy.  I first tried it in Jersey at my in-laws house over Christmas and then couldn't wait till the day I got a Keurig! :-)

Grapefruit - enough said!

These just look so pretty in my kitchen!

This was from a photo booth at our cousins wedding in FL.  It's displayed proudly on our fridge!

My little coffee station!  

My Birthday Gift!

These purple bottles are one of the most unique and favorite things in my kitchen.  They are from the late 1800's to early 1900's and originally clear.  One of the ingredients these bottles were made with was manganese and would cause the bottles to turn shades of purple in sunlight.  Apparently they will continue to get a deeper shade over time when exposed to more sun.

Pot Holders - love the colors!

Reusable Produce bags!

My mother in-law gave me this great apron for Christmas.  Can't wait to use it!

My mom embroidered dish towels for all 3 of us girls.  I also have one with my initials (it is in the wash though. hehe)  Love these!

A clean kitchen does my heart good!

Happy Saturday Everyone!  I hope this weekend makes you feel alive and back on track like it did for me!

All the best,

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Zuppa Toscana Soup


1. (of food or drink) Delicious.
2. Extremely beautiful.

Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana Soup is my favorite.  So, yesterday I attempted to make it based on some recipes I found online.  I also decided to try it in the crock pot (Why don't I use that more??).  All day long the beautiful aroma filled the house and made our mouths water.  I wouldn't be surprised if it was making Zoe's mouth water too. ha!

Anyway, as promised to a few of you who requested the recipe, here it is!  If you are like me, you like to revise recipes to your own tasting.  I am posting the recipe exactly how I made it, but I will also give you the link to what i revised it from.

Zuppa Toscana

  • 1 LB Mild Sausage
  • 4 Chicken Bouillon Cubes dissolved to 4 cups of water
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3 large potatoes (cubed)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/4 cup of onion
  • Whipping Cream or Heavy Cream
  • Kale
Brown the sausage.  I added some cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper, & italian seasoning to the sausage as it cooked.  Begin cubing the potatoes & chopping the onion and garlic.  Combine browned sausage, potatoes, onions, garlic, water, & chicken broth to Crock Pot.  I added some more cayenne and crushed red pepper since i like that extra spice. Cook on high for 5-7 hours.  Before serving, add a tablespoon of cream & some chopped of Kale to to each bowl.

It was SOOOOO yummy.  The perfect comfort soup on a frigid evening.  I cannot wait to eat the leftovers today too.  I'm sure it may even be better!

Please share your thoughts and revisions if you make this recipe too.  I would love to hear your thoughts. :-)

All the best,

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My Happy New Year

As I sit here, Zoe is curled up next to me on the couch, I am brainstorming about our photography, & the smell of my homemade Zuppa Toscana soup is filling my house with amazing smells!  There is absolutely no music or tv on right now and I love it.  I feel like I can hear my own thoughts.  I think I am finally emerging from my burrow and feeling creative again.

TJ & I ended Charlotte Photography's 2010 year GREAT!  But, around Christmas, I crawled into a little comfortable hole and have been relaxing ever since.  I wasn't very creative during that time, though I enjoyed everyone else's creativity. :-)

Today I spent the afternoon making soup and organized a couple cabinets in my kitchen.  It's kinda like my New Years Day, the beginning of 2011 for me. Haha.  I think it's ok to have those times of rest, a time to reset.  If I kept forcing myself to do anymore, I know I would have been burnt out.  I love that the Lord gave us these snow days this week.  There are tons of things I could have made myself do, but instead I spent time relaxing and eating. LOL.  Oh did I snack!

Anyway, here's to the beginning of my 2011 creativity.  I will definitely be blogging about my homemade Zuppa Toscana.  It is my favorite Olive Garden soup!  Pictures & Recipe to come.

All the best,


Snow Days are the best Lazy Days!

At 28 (well, 2 weeks from today at least. ha), I am just as excited at the call of snow as when I was 13.  All week long, the weather channels have been predicting snow.  Well, anyone who lives in the South knows that we usually cannot rely on their predictions.  However, the past few weeks they have been pretty accurate.  On Sunday night I went to bed and was so excited that Monday had nothing scheduled and they we may get snow.  I woke up at 3:45am and looked outside.  My eyes were still very sleepy and fuzzy, so it was hard to tell if there was snow.  After a few minutes I looked out again and saw white on the neighbors roof.  EXCITEMENT AROSE!  I checked fb on my phone to see if others had started talking about snow.  I then got out of bed and checked the window to see snow falling.  What a wonderful, peaceful feeling.  I felt like Lorelei on Gilmore Girls (She can always smell the snow...and gets super excited).  I started singing softly that it was snowing while TJ continued sleeping.

A few hours later we woke up and everything was covered with fluffy white snow and it was still snowing.  I made a few "It's SNOWING" phone calls, turned on Fox News Rising, and sat on the couch with a smile on my face and in my heart.  There is something so great about being home and snowed in.  TJ and I spent most of the day laying around and watching 30 Rock.  I was also in the mood to cook something comfortable and warm.  I didn't have the right ingredients for soup, so I made chicken chili and then a side of guacamole.  We ended up snacking of a bunch of other foods throughout the day and were full when it came time for the chili, so I saved it for today.

Later on yesterday we took a walk around the neighborhood with Zoe.  We walked over to some friends neighborhood to see if any snowball action was going on, but it was an empty street.  So, we walked back to our neighborhood and noticed out neighbors were building a snow fort.  They had cardboard boxes and were packing the snow into the boxes and then made big snow blocks.  TJ got down in the snow with the kids and started packing the boxes with them.  It was great.  They got the wall 3 blocks high and about 6 or 7 blocks wide.  A lot of fun!  It was really nice interacting with our neighbors too.  

It was such a relaxing day.  Snow days don't typically come very often for us in the south, so it's wonderful when they happen.  Actually, today we are iced in now.  I walked outside to the mail box and had to hold on because it was literally a sheet of ice on top of the snow and our driveway.  

Here are a few photos from our day yesterday.  Enjoy!

Here are a few photos from our day yesterday.  Enjoy!


2010 into 2011

The last few days of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 were so wonderful.  We got to spend Christmas Eve with my family here in town, which was absolutely wonderful.  Christmas Eve has always been a big deal in the Sward/Woodfin family.  Growing up, it was when all the extended family would eat together, exchange gifts and sing carols.  Now that we are all grown up, we spend it with a lot less of the extended family, but still as much fun! :-)  My mom decorated the house so beautifully and had the dining room table set with china, wine glasses, and candles.  This year we decided to have a mexican fiesta.  Past years we have had lasanga, so this year we changed it up with Mexican lasagna and yummy side dishes.  Of course dinner wouldn't be dinner without the famous, traditional, Crandberry Cake w/ Butter Sauce (I will have to post this recipe sometime, AMAZING).  After we ate, we gathered in the living room to exchange gifts.  I think the BEST part about the gifts is that so many of us made items for each other.  We then ended the evening with watching The Christmas Carol (animated version with Jim Carrey).  I know it made everyone, especially my parents, so happy that we were able to all be in town this year for Christmas Eve.

Before TJ and I went to bed on Christmas Eve, we laid about a dozen dog treats on the living room floor so that Zoe would go crazy with excitement and eat them all up Christmas morning. (I know, I know....we sound like WEIRDO Dog owners, but who cares...no kids yet, so until then Zoe gets Christmas treats. haha).  Needless to say she was in treat heaven the next morning.  This was actually the first Christmas that Tj and I woke up in our home...I lovde it!

So, our plan was to spend Christmas Day together at home and then driving to New Jersey on Sunday to see his family.  We opened stockings and gifts (Santa brought some beautiful jewelry to me), made breakfast, and watched a movie.  Then TJ's parents called and said there was lots of snow coming to Jersey within the day.  Now we had the decision of braving the drive on Christmas Day or delaying our trip a few days.  We decided to leave that day and hurried to pack our suitcases and load up the car.  Xmas Road Trip it was!

We arrived in NJ at about 2:30am and surprisingly only hit snow in parts of NC and VA.  The rest of the trip was smooth sailing.  Once we got to NJ, his parents woke up to greet us, we chatted, and unwound from the drive.  Crazy, but we actually opened presents and stockings in the middle of the night before heading to bed. haha!  The next morning the snow started and didn't stop for over 24 hours.  We got over 2ft. and blizzard weather for another day.  It was insane and a Christmas dream come true. :-)

The week in Jersey was great.  It started with 2 days of being snowed in, staying in our pj's till the afternoon, movies, coffee, homemade Turkey Soup, and of course playing in the snow!  In the middle of the week, the whole family headed into NYC to see West Side Story on Broadway and then had dinner at the Blue Fin Restaurant.  It was a wonderful day!!  I love that TJ's mom so enjoys going to see plays.  The rest of the week was full of family get togethers and meeting up with old friends of TJ's from highschool and college.  It's always so great to get up North to see all the family, especially our nephew Nicholas.  He is 2 years old and the star of the family.  Every gathering is the Nicholas Show.  Such a cutie!

For New Years Eve, TJ and I went to a place called Mexicali Blues to see a Grateful Dead Tribute band and also to catch up with an old friend of TJ's.  It was a great night!  It's always fun bringing in the New Year with a bunch of people!  By midnight I was so ready for bed though! LoL.  Is that an age thing or just from having a busy week? haha.

Well, I feel like I was all over the place with what we did over the holidays.  I did not intend on writing so much, but I did.  Tomorrow I will write something a little more creative and thoughtful.  Tonight I just felt like ending my holidays with a recap.

Although I am a week late, I would like to wish everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR!  May this be the year that dreams come true!

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