Happy Anniversary, Tinkywink!

If you follow my blog, you are well aware that I am rather mad about my dogs.  If you are new to my blog, be warned; I am rather mad about my dogs.  I will do plenty of posts about cooking, crafting, cleaning and the like, but in addition there will be plenty of dogs.

We have two pups, a four year old Terrier Schnauzer mix named Molly, who is possibly the most beautiful dog in the world.  And then there is Tinky Wink, a purebred Yorkshire Terrier.  Both of our dogs are rescues; Molly came from a home that was no longer able to care for her, and we adopted her when she was four months old.  She is so spoiled and has been with us for so long that I really don't think she has any memory of her early life.  Tinky is another story...

Tinky came into our life this time last year.  We were reading our local paper; it's a weekly that comes out on Fridays, and it always has a "Pet of the Week" column featuring an animal from the local shelter.  We had seen many dogs and cats featured over the months, and   we always hoped that they would find happy homes.  This particular Friday, however, something about the picture made us stop and take a second look.

The picture was a of a very small, scruffy, panicked looking dog.  Wild eyes peered out from the pulpy newsprint.  We had no idea what breed he was.  We did, however, feel very strongly that we should go and bring him home.

We spent a long night discussing the pros and cons.  But no matter how many "cons" we came up with, there was always a "pro" to counter them.  We were resolved; we would go and adopt the strange little dog from the paper.

The next day, a Saturday, we headed for the shelter.  A volunteer brought us the dog, who immediately jumped into my husband's arms and snuggled in.  He was very scruffy and grubby, and he smelled like shelter.  But there was something sweet and compelling about him, and he seemed determined to stay with my husband.

We turned to the volunteer and announced that we were ready to take him home.  But this was not to be.  We were informed that only the manager could approve adoptions, and she wouldn't be in until Monday.  We would have to wait a day and a half to bring our new boy home.  We felt like the world's biggest meanies as we gently handed back the little guy, and left the shelter with his outraged howls echoing in our ears.

On Monday, we waited on pins and needles for 1:00 PM to arrive.  We were terribly anxious that something would have happened to him over the weekend, or that someone else might come along and scoop him up.  We arrived at the shelter at 12:59 (with an increasingly suspicious Molly in tow) and went in to make our case.  

Well, he was still there.  We were informed that we would have to foster him for two weeks, and if that went well he would be ours.  This policy makes good sense, especially for households with other pets.  Throughout the process of filling in the paper-work, we heard the volunteers referring to the pup as "the little Yorkie that barks all the time."  We looked at each other.  Yorkie?  We were sure they must be mistaken; the sad little creature huddled once again in my husband's arms looked a far cry from the fancy little dogs we knew to be Yorkies.  However, once he was home, bathed, and with a belly full of Little Cesar, his ears popped up and we indeed had a Yorkie!  In fact, during the process of many cuddles and belly rubs, we discovered an ID number tattooed on his stomach.  Our scruffy little shelter dog was a purebred!

The two weeks passed quickly and soon we were back at the shelter, signing adoption papers and paying his fee.  We were smitten with our new dog.  We had a lot of fun getting him acclimatized to our home, but there were challenges.  Adopting a rescue isn't always easy. Over the next few weeks, we discovered Tinky had food aggression issues, barked a lot, and was a flight risk (this resulted in many pajama clad dashes up the street for me).  Over the past year, we have worked out most of his issues and now he is a plump, spoiled, silly little toy of a dog who loves to put on his sweater and go for a walk, or snuggle against one of us as we watch TV.  He's a little old dude (between 7 and 10) and so we tend to baby him a lot.  However, as time went by he lost a lot of the weaknesses he had when we brought him home.  He is well established in our home and we honestly can't imagine life without him.
Tinky Wink Today

And so, Happy Anniversary, Tinkywink!  It's been a wonderful year; I hope we have many more.

Cranberry Pecan Cookies

Do you find that your taste for certain foods changes with the seasons?  I do.  Winter is all about stews and other slow cooked delights. Spring puts me in the mood for crisp, light salads.  Summer, and it's endless social events, makes me crave barbecues and camp fire goodies like charred wieners and 'smores.  And then there's fall, which the weather here is feeling more and more like, despite what the calendar says!  Fall is all about "harvest;" artisan cheese and bread, preserves, caramel apples and squash.  I could go on forever about the culinary delight that is autumn, but instead I will focus on one fall treat that is as synonymous with the season as back to school and falling leaves.  Oatmeal raisin cookies, or rather, my take on them...

Many people are chocolate chip cookies fans, and indeed, I love them too.  But I prefer my cookies a bit chewier.  And so I make a lot of oatmeal raisin cookies.  I like to think they are more wholesome than other oat-less cookies.  Today, however, I wanted something a little different.  And so, I made a little adaptation by adding cranberries and pecans.  This is a little something I do from time to time, and it's a flavour combination that I'm always pleased with.  A friend introduced me to a similar, but giant, version of this cookie that the bakery of our local grocery store makes.  It got me through my cookie cravings during those weeks in the summer when it was just too hot to turn on the oven.

Is there any simple, but delicious, change that you make to a basic cookie recipe?  If so, please share in the comments.  

Have a wonderful weekend!

Write Here, Write Now!

One day not so long ago, we were enjoying a quiet weekday afternoon at home when, unexpectedly, a courier truck pulled up in front of our home.   Could it be...?  When you live clear across the country from your family, visits from couriers become more frequent, and are a cause for excitement.  Alas, the driver was simply taking advantage of the available parking spot in front of our house, and another family on our street was the lucky recipient of the parcel.

This experience led us to a chat about mail, and how it has evolved in recent years.  While email and social networking sites have certainly shrunk the miles and opened communications (I send Facebook birthday greetings to people I haven't seen in years, never mind knew when their birthday was), it has caused actual paper greetings to slow to a trickle.  Even between people who are close, such as family members and good friends, "I wrote on her wall" has become the modern equivalent of "I sent her a card."  And while any greeting is better than no greeting (don't get me wrong, I love that wall o' love on my birthday!) there is nothing like the excitement that comes with receiving actual mail.  Not bills, or statements, or junk mail, but a letter or a card or (insert squeal here) a parcel!!!

My cousin Ainsley of Pattycake Manners is a wonderful correspondent.  Her handmade seasonal greetings are eagerly anticipated in our family.  Seeing those hand-stamped envelopes in my mailbox gave me a little lift during a sometimes lonely first year away from home.  Indeed, the first pieces of mail I received in British Columbia were a BC Hydro bill, and a card from Ains.  I was looking at my collection of cards the other day, and it occurred to me that I should perhaps be returning the gesture at other times of the year besides Christmas.  

Well, this train of thought led to the fact that there are lots of folks out there that would enjoy a greeting, something to add a bit of excitement to checking the mailbox.  It was then that I decided I was going to reclaim snail mail and spread some joy, one stamp at a time! Furthermore, I am going to share my pursuit with you!  And if this little exercise inspires you to put pen to paper and spread the love, snaps to you!

First up is probably the simplest way to ease into note writing.  Postcards.  Postcards are nifty and retro!  The real beauty of them is that they can only hold a few words.  How many times have you sat down to write a letter and couldn't decide what to say?  Oh, we have no problem dashing off witty comments on our friend's status updates or tweets; basically, we're good to go with 140 characters or less. A blank sheet of paper, however, leaves us floundering.  If this sounds familiar, try a postcard. You'll make someone's day without the stress of writing a doctoral thesis on "how you're doing."

So, where can you find postcards?  Once you start looking, you'll see them everywhere.  In Canada, Canada Post sells a good line of cards with prepaid postage; I like to pick these up and keep them on hand for quick "thinking of you" notes to the folks back home.  Dollar stores often sell postcards.  Tourist attractions and souvenir shops are great sources; if you have a cool attraction in your area, pick up a bunch of cards featuring it and send them to friends who live far away.  Anything featuring the Giant Fiddle of my hometown, Sydney NS, gets a huge response.

So have fun with it!  Yes, it costs more than a digital greeting, but really, you can't put a price on happy!  And a postcard is about the most cost-effective happy-maker I can think of.  

Have a great week!  See you on Friday!

Windown to My World - Please, Dad?

Like most pet owners, we do our best to instill good manners in our dogs.  However, some habits are hard to break.  Although our dogs usually hover close by when we're eating (just in case) they know enough to keep a polite distance.  Should one of them be brave enough to try giving us their paw, a firm "NO" is usually enough to send them on their way.  There are, however, a few foods that are apparently so irresistible to them that they become more aggressive in their begging than usual.  Steak is one of those foods, and was what we had for supper tonight.  They were so cute sitting there at attention, Molly occasionally pawing the air, that I couldn't resist snapping this picture over my husband's shoulder.  

And no, despite how cute they are, they did not get any steak!  Dogs - 0, Humans - 1

Have a great week!

The Thrifting Continues...And Filing, Too!

The weather has been cool and crisp the last few days, and it feels like "Back to School."  Of course, I haven't gone "Back to School" in years.  Despite that, I still feel like going shopping for school supplies.  As an adult, I fulfill that urge by purchasing office supplies.

Oh, office supplies, how I love you!  One of the highlights of my professional career was that, in many of my positions, I was responsible for office supplies.  Pens, sticky notes, correction fluid, notebooks, folders and files.  Oh the files and folders were the best!  I adore filing systems!  

Yes, it is safe to say that I truly love office supplies and filing systems.  Yet strangely, I have never successfully implemented a filing system at home.  We've tried a couple options, and we can always find what we need, but when compared to the meticulously organized systems I've maintained in the workplace, my own system was sadly lacking.  Many times we agreed to do something about it, but we never seemed to get around to it.  

Until now.

We recently purchased a filing cabinet at our local thrift store.  It is missing its lock, but that's OK, and it has a sticker on the front, but other than that it's in pretty good shape!  I am toying around with the idea of getting some spray paint and painting it a funky colour, but for now it is going to be put into use "as is".  In this spirit, we picked up some folders and files on our recent trip to town.  I was getting excited; I was getting to indulge in two loves - filing and shopping for office supplies!

Tonight, I took my new supplies and sat down with some Sharpie markers and labeled the folders and files.  I made a few categories, like "Utilites," "Accounts," and "Household," and then spent a happy hour neatly printing "Hydro," "Gas," and lots of other prosaic stuff on manila folders.  And I loved it!

Tomorrow I'm going to get out the not-so-system we are using right now and refile everything into the new cabinet. I can always take the files out if I decide to spruce it up a bit.  The cabinet is going to live in my husband's study so I will have to take this into consideration if I'm going to paint it.  If I do pretty it up, I'll be sure to document it for a future post. For now, I've included a picture of with my pretty kitty, Junior Mint, lounging in front of it.  We put it on one of her favorite blankets so it wouldn't scratch the floor while I'm doing my filing, thus the rare picture of our elusive white cat.

Normally I would not share a picture featuring a velour blanket on the floor, but so rarely do we get a photo op with Mint that I couldn't not share.  She literally walked (okay, rolled) in front of the camera.  So enjoy!

Sigh.  Some people get excited about racing, sailing, or sports. I get passionate about office supplies and filing.  It takes all kinds!  Is there anything "nerdy" that you secretly enjoy?

Have a great weekend!  I'll see you on Monday!

Hidden Treasure

One of the (many) great things about reading blogs is that I get inspired.  I have found so many amazing ideas, projects, and recipes that I want to try that I don't think I will ever get to all of it!  But recently, I decided to try my hand at one of the activities I'd read about that seemed particularly intriguing: thrifting.

As far as I can gather, "thrifting" refers to the process of shopping at a thrift shop, that is, a second hand store.  Not necessarily an "antique" store, but a store who's function is to sell second hand items, no matter what their vintage.  Back home in Cape Breton, I'd loved going "thrifting" with my mother; she is one of those people who is always making amazing discoveries at second hand and antique stores.  Indeed, I owe many of my better "finds" to her shrewd eye.  However, it took me a while to get back into thrifting in Kitimat.

We started going to the local thrift store more frequently and we began to find some real treasures.  Once, it was a pair of marble rook bookends which found a home in my book and chess loving husband's study.  Another day we found a metal mortar and pestle which I will use to grind oilier, more fragrant spices so that my marble one will not get discoloured.  And then finally, one day, we struck gold!

Now, don't get all excited. We've all heard of people buying "costume" jewelery at a thrift shop only to discover that they'd acquired an expensive bauble for mere pennies.  No, what we found was gold in colour alone.  

We found brass. In pairs.

First, we found the ducks.  There they were, sitting atop an old shelf, gleaming in the afternoon sun.  I couldn't decide if they were wonderful or hideous, but I was leaning toward wonderful.  I like ducks, and these were lovely shiny ducks.  We also love literature, and our home is full of books that, well, sometimes need something to hold them up.  And so, I decided to point them out to my husband, who was perusing, you guessed it, more books.  Well, as luck would have it, he loved them too, and so the shiny fellows came home with us. (They are nowhere near as smudgy as my photo would imply, I'm going to blame this picture on my camera.)  We haven't decided yet exactly where they will end up, but for now they are hanging out on our end tables, keeping company with our next shiny find...


Brass lamps!  I know, I know, if someone had suggested brass lamps to me I would have told them they were crazy (well no, I'm too nice to have actually verbalized that, but I would have thought it).  But, one day while browsing I noticed them and decided to take a closer look.  However, upon approaching the display I noticed that they had both the glass hurricane and wick key of oil lamps, and disregarded them as such.  I was later informed that they were indeed electric lamps, and I hastened in to purchase them.  My husband and I had a bit of a laugh over all our shiny purchases, but we realized that surprisingly, the brass items complemented many of the items we had in our living room. On our mantel we display a small pile of favorite books as well as a few nautical tools, both of which have gold coloured accents.  The hardware on our doors is brass.  And so our new items, which seemed so "not us," actually fit into our home quite well!

We love our living room now!  It's really coming together nicely.  It still needs a few things but our "thrifted" items really brought the room together and have given us focus as to how to decorate the room.  We purchased a few brass frames to contrast with the black ones we were already using and I have to say, all in all the golden touches have really warmed up the space. 

Have you found a treasure in a thrift store?  If so, I'd love to hear about it!  Have a great week and I'll see you on Wednesday!

Window to My World - Phelts

Say hello to Phelts, our original fur-baby.  Phelts is 12 this fall, but he is still as youthful and energetic as ever.  My husband met him on a film set and even though he eventually came to live with us, he's never lost his taste for drama. Phelts is a delightfully weird cat, and charms all who meet him.  In fact, we've had people ask to have him "willed" to them should anything happen to us.  He has an incredible "purr" that can go for hours and has healing properties; just ask anyone who's had their blood pressure lowered by letting him sit on their lap for half an hour!

Time for Me, Time to Be...

Recently, a short film shot in Nova Scotia enchanted the world and went, in the language of our times, viral.  The video, called How to Be Alone features Tanya Davis, a poet, singer, and song writer,  performing her poem in a variety of settings, accented by charming hand drawn animation by director Andrea Dorfman.

Davis' message is a good one, and it left me thinking. And although, based on a few articles I read, the poem is referring more to being romantically unattached, I think that it can resonate for others who are alone in different capacities.  For many people, being alone is a hard reality, and something that they truly struggle with. 

Relocation is going to be a regular reality for our foreseeable future, and so I count myself lucky that I enjoy being alone.  My nest is my haven, and I love spending time here.  I spent six months alone during my husband's training, and courses often take him away for a week or so at a time.  And I'm fine with that. I may not always like it, but I'm fine with it.  I'm comfortable being alone, with my books, my music, my crafts and my cooking.  I have wonderful conversations with my dogs.  Do I get lonely?  Absolutely.  But there are some aspects of being alone that I rather enjoy, and, though they may not be enough to make me crave being alone, they certainly make alone time tolerable.  Eating what I want (popcorn or ice cream for dinner, why not?), staying up late watching marathons of cooking shows, spending hours crafting or reading a new novel are a few of the little "home alone" indulgences that I allow myself.  And to me, the best thing about being alone for a while is that it really makes me appreciate the wonderful life that I don't live alone, but share with a really great man.

Have a wonderful weekend!  I'll see you on Monday!

Window to My World - "If You Go Into The Woods Today..."

Shortly after we arrived in Kitimat, we were enjoying a Saturday afternoon drive when we rounded a corner and saw this fine fellow on the road ahead.  We kept a safe distance away (this photo is taken with a zoom) until this Grizzly Bear retreated back into the woods, leaving the road free for us to pass.  However, after we had driven by, we paused for a moment and looked back.  Guess who was back in the road, watching us drive away?

Although fascinating, bears are wild animals with the potential to be very dangerous, and should always be treated as such.  For some information on bear safety, here is a link to a page of information prepared by BC Parks.

Have a wonderful week!

Technical Difficulties...

Hello Everyone!

We appear to be experiencing technical difficulties today at Nesty!  Please check back later for today's post.

My apologies for the delay.  Have a wonderful day, and I'll be back soon!


Cinnamon Caramel Coffee Cake

Whenever anyone asks me "How do I learn how to cook?" I advise them to start with the basics.  Purchase a great basic cookbook, like The Betty Crocker Cookbook or The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, and start cooking.  Whenever you do something, whether it's thickening gravy or boiling eggs (really!) look it up and do it the right way.  Even experienced cooks can sometimes fix a "bad habit" by revisiting the basics on occasion.

The great thing about this approach is that this is how you evolve from "cooking" to being "a cook."  Over time, you will find yourself playing around with recipes and putting your own spin on them.  For example, take a basic marinara sauce.  I made one the other night, and on a whim decided to puree half an onion and stir it into the sauce while it simmered.  It was great!  With experience, you will learn what flavours and textures work, and what ingredients you can switch and alternate.  It's a great feeling when you learn how to keep going with a recipe despite the fact you are missing an ingredient!

Baking can be a little bit trickier.  In fact, it's only recently that I've been comfortable enough with my skills and knowledge to start experimenting with the major components of a recipe. But now that I'm gaining confidence I'm having a great time developing my own recipes.  My method for doing this is to pick a recipe, decide what elements I want it to have, and then research and try many, many existing recipes.  Eventually, I learn what I like and don't like, what works, what doesn't work, and where I can experiment.

My project the last few months has been coffee cake.  I've baked a lot of coffee cakes during that last little while, but I've finally established a few really great recipes. I knew that I wanted to use a tube pan, and that I wanted a moist, sour cream type of cake.  I have found that this chocolate chip coffee cake recipe from Cooks.com is a great, reliable recipe that always brings rave reviews.  However, I wanted to do a sweeter, caramel flavoured cake.  So, I decided to try a little tip from my Nana.  Her advice is that mixing white and brown sugar will give a great butterscotch flavour so I tried it with this recipe.  As well, I swapped the white sugar in the topping for brown, and I used butterscotch chips instead of chocolate chips.  And, it worked great!  It's really sweet, so it's perfect for those times that your sweet tooth is crying out for something.  I'm thinking that next time I'll try some Skor or toffee bits in the topping as well.  And for presentation, I think a drizzle of caramel ice cream topping would be perfect!

Have you put your own touch on a recipe?  I'd love to hear about it!  Have a wonderful week!

Simple, Sweet Mocha Cupcakes

Cupcakes.  Is there any food more adorable than a cupcake?  More adorable, versatile, or...simple?

The idea that cupcakes are simple may raise some eyebrows among those of you who don't enjoy baking or find baking difficult.  And, yes, there are many cupcake creations that are intricate affairs best left to those who truly enjoy the pastry arts.  But here's a little secret...you can make cupcakes that look almost as gourmet as those found at your favorite bakery, without all the fuss.  You just need to use...

A mix.

I know, I know, "Shhhh, don't tell anyone!"  And you don't have to.  But here's another little secret; even those of us who adore baking sometimes rely on mixes and pre-made frostings.  So, if you'd like to impress your friends at book club, a baby shower, or coffee break, why not whip up a batch of delightful Mocha Cupcakes?

Here's all you need:
  • Chocolate Cake Mix
  • Pre-made Cream Cheese Frosting (buy 2 if you want to do big swirls of frosting)
  • Instant coffee or instant espresso granules
  • Coffee beans (for garnish, optional, but looks great!)
  • Muffin liners
Follow the instructions on the cake mix package for preparing cupcakes.  While the cupcakes are baking, prepare the frosting.  Mix the instant coffee granules, to taste, into the frosting.  Add a bit at a time as too much will taste bitter.  I used about half of a Starbucks VIA instant coffee packet to a regular size can of  frosting and that was perfect.  When your frosting is well mixed, insert a large tip (such as Wilton's 1M) into a decorator bag and fill the bag with frosting.  Pipe large swirls or rosettes onto the top of the cooled cupcakes.  Garnish with coffee beans (if you can find chocolate covered coffee beans, even better!).  Share with all your favorite people!

I love to bake, and I am a huge fan of making things from scratch.  However, sometimes you need something that you can whip together quickly and cake mixes are perfect for times like these!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Window to my World - Canada Is...

As many of you know, my husband, myself, and our three (at the time) furbabies came to Kitimat from the Canadian East Coast.  To get here, we drove across the entire country, hitting every province except Newfoundland, PEI, and the Territories (hey, there's time!).  It was a fabulous journey, one which I often say every Canadian should do at least once.  

If you aren't Canadian, our country is wonderful and welcoming and you should come and see it!  As you pass from one province to the next, you will be amazed at how very different our various regions are.  In the East, you can see whales and icebergs in Newfoundland and Labrador, and continue on to gentle mountains, breathtaking coasts, and gorgeous farmland in the Maritime provinces of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.  In Quebec you can enjoy amazing culture, beautiful countryside, and spectacular city life in Montreal and Quebec City.  Ontario, a huge province, has a bit of everything, from the metropolis of Toronto to the remote Canadian Sheild.  Passing into Manitoba you will feel a real change as the prairies begin.  Saskatchewan is a true prairie province with wheat fields, grain elevators, views that go on forever.  Alberta is another province with a bit of everything; it begins with wide open prairies and then ends in the majestically beautiful Rocky Mountains.  "Super, Natural British Columbia" is almost indescribable in it's sheer natural awesomeness.  We entered from the North, through the Rockies, and followed the mountains to our new home.  To the south, there is the Okanagan Valley, Whistler, and, of course, Vancouver!  So come and visit us!

One thing you will find of interest is our uniquely Canadian fascination with GIANT OBJECTS!!!!  Hey, we never said we weren't quirky!

 We set out on our journey determined to see as many of these objects as possible.  However, we, with assistance from our trusty GPS, planned too efficient a trip, and we missed out on a lot of these unique landmarks.  You can check out this great slideshow of Canadian Giant Objects.  For several years I lived across the street from Sydney's Giant Fiddle, and I have visited the Giant Glooscap on several occasions. Sadly, we did not think to get a picture of ourselves at the Giant Fiddle before we left home, and the only Giant objects we managed to find were these less well known ones.  How we missed the giant Canada Goose in Wawa, Ontario I will never know.  Anyone who's been to Wawa knows that it's a very small town, and that goose was probably impossible to miss.  

Above, you can see Molly and I posing with the Giant Blueberry in Oxford, Nova Scotia.  We are only about 5 hours into our journey here, so we look relatively fresh, if not a little sad (giant sunglasses are a homesick girl's best friend!)  Below, I am striking a pose with a giant sheep somewhere in the farm country of Ontario.  I can assure you I was heartily sick of that hoodie by the time we reached British Columbia.
 What a trip!  When we were children, Roger Whitaker was popular, and one of his 8 Tracks (remember those?) always seemed to be in the car, ready to play our favorite, "Canada Is..."  We sang that song in our grandparent's backyard in Cape Breton, and on a playground in Swift Current, Saskatchewan where you slid out of a clay buffalo's mouth!  And as an adult traveling West to an unknown new home, I hummed it to myself many times.  I did a search to see if I could find this song to share with you, and I found this wonderful slideshow prepared by the Vendramin family after their 2007 cross Canada trip.  I don't know them, but I thank them for posting this wonderful gift of a video to YouTube.  In it, you will see many of the giant objects that pepper our wonderfully diverse country.  I will admit to getting misty when the Nova Scotia pictures started playing, especially the Cape Breton pictures of the lobster and Baddeck.  And of course, any pictures of Mounties or their training facility in Regina fills me with pride.  So enjoy, and we hope you visit our beloved country.  We're a little proud of her!!

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday Breakfast on the Patio

Sunday is delight of a day.  Some of our favorite memories are of wonderfully relaxed Sundays spent sipping coffee, reading, and talking.  We have our favorite Sunday music, and of course, our favorite Sunday foods.  Sometimes we do a full breakfast, and other times we go out and let someone else do the cooking. 

Cooking is one of the ways that I show those I love how much I care about them, and so obviously I spend a lot of time planning and executing culinary delights for my sweetie!  However, our favorite Sunday breakfasts tend to be the ones that don't require a lot of cooking and clean up, so that we can enjoy as much of the day as possible relaxing together.  And so, Saturday night, I decided to do some preliminary work on the next days breakfast.  

The weather has been absolutely wonderful, and the best time of day to sit outside is the morning and early afternoon, before the sun is too high and the backyard becomes uncomfortably hot.  I knew that I wanted to take full advantage of this wonderful time of day.  So, I planned a simple breakfast of sweet rolls, fresh juice, and of course, dark roast French press coffee. 

As many of you know, the mandate of Nesty is to chronicle my pursuit of a happy home and a honeyed life through simplified living. And to me, part of this pursuit is finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.  I could have easily baked the rolls the night before and served them up cold, from a plate on the counter, and it would have been fine.  Instead, I decided to put a little more thought, yet not a lot more work into the whole thing and make a memory out of this particular Sunday.

I decided to make cinnamon rolls, which are always a favorite in our home.  I prepared the rolls up to the point of shaping them and putting them in the pan, but instead of letting them rise at the time, I loosely covered them and popped them in the fridge for the night.  When I woke up, I let them sit on the counter for half an hour to rise while I preheated the oven and took care of the dogs.  Once the rolls were in the oven, I made coffee and orange juice.  Before long, the rolls were finished, and while they cooled I prepared a vanilla glaze for them.  I popped outside to move my barbecue table up to the upper patio.  I fetched a few serving items, such as my cake safe and a favorite tray, plus a pretty tea cloth, and set everything up outside.  Before long, I was calling my husband to breakfast on the patio:

Now, isn't that nicer than just putting everything on the counter?  By waiting to bake the rolls until the morning, the house was filled with the scent of baking bread and fresh coffee.  In addition, we enjoyed our breakfast outside in the fresh morning air surrounded by the beautiful coastal mountains.  And by keeping the menu simple, we got to enjoy each others company without thinking about the cleanup.

This took so little effort, and yet it made us both so happy.  And that's the real motivation for me to do things like this; the joy I feel seeing someone I love happy.  What do you do to make life nicer for the ones you love?  

Have a wonderful week!