Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A year's end & hope for something new

As each year comes to and end, I always feel a little melancholy.  Christmas is over, and with it, the festivities and time off from work.  This year I had the pleasure of a visit with my sister and nieces, so it will be particularly hard to see this year come to an end.  Tomorrow they will head back to San Diego, and then on Sunday my college aged daughter will also head back to school for her next semester.

To keep me from wallowing in the doldroms of the foggy winter days ahead and the let down to the end of the holidays, I will try to remember that the new year brings with it  new promises and adventures.  It's a good time to re-focus and figure out what really matters and what we will make a priority in our lives.  Many of us will make resolutions and promises for change to the part of our lives we are not content with.  Some of those changes will actually be accomplished, others will wait for the next year or maybe not happen at all.  Whatever dreams you have for  the new year, remember they are yours, and no one can diminish their importance, not matter how grand or small.

Sometimes, we are afraid to verbalize our dreams, for fear of never accomplishing them, or because we may be ridiculed by others for their grandiosity.  This year, I would like to figure out a way to come at least one step closer to mine.

I might start by making a list, allowing myself some tasks towards my dream that are easily accomplished, and others that might be a little harder to accomplish.   Regardless, the attitude I choose now will help me start this next year with hope and determination to acheive the future life I really want.

My wish for all of you is the same, the desire for happiness, and the hope and determination to bring it to life.

Happy New Year & Happy thoughts,

India & Sahara at the park - they don't usually look this serious!  They really were having fun :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Spirit

Even with the financial struggles many of us are going through these days, I am really trying to get into the Christmas spirit this year.  I finally finished my decorations tonight while listening to my old favorite Christmas classics, songs by Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, no one puts me in the mood more.

My daughter is home for three weeks from college, so I feel like my little family is complete again.  Tomorrow is my city's local Christmas House tour, that a couple of my friends and I have made a yearly tradition of going on together.  It's a day I really look forward to.  My shopping is not nearly done, there are candy bar orders to work on, one more week of work before our Winter break, crafting I hope to do, and a few days of intense cookie baking ahead, but I will not let any of this overwhelm me, I am determined to enjoy every bit of it, not to let it rush by without fully enjoying every moment.

Life is just to short to let the stress take away from one of the most beautiful times of the year.  I hope that everyone will enjoy these next few weeks, and not let the burden of shopping and tasks overwhelm you, or keep you from enjoying your friends and family at this special time of year. 
May the Christmas Spirit be with you this holiday season. 

Happy Thoughts,

Here are some pictures of my house now that I finally(almost) finished the decorating. I'm using a borrowed camera, so the photos aren't that great.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Much to be thankful for!

It's been such a busy couple of months, my blog has sort of taken a back seat to other endeavors. Besides working full-time (plus a little overtime), I've been havning lots of fun being creative, coming up with lots of new Candy Bar Wrapper designs.  I've actually taken quite a few orders and the extra money is either buying more supplies or keeping my checkbook from hitting a zero balance.  Most importantly it's bringing in a few extra dollars and I'm still home with my youngest daughter at night and on the weekends.

In just a few days my oldest will be home for college for the Thanksgiving holiday, so I'm really looking forward to that.  Then it will be time to decorate for Christmas and start shopping.  The weather here is getting quite chilly and we've already had a couple of toasty fires.  Next week I plan to burn almost every night and can't wait to snuggle up with my girls.  I will enjoy being off the next week to just hang out.  Of course, we have soccer practice and games ( my freshman made the JV team) and ortho and hair appointments, but we'll still be able to get in some much needed relaxation.  Friday we will be out of the house by 5am for a little "Black Friday" shopping, and the best part, breakfast out afterward.  Spending time with my family is truly my favorite thing to do, I am truly thankful for all the blessings in my life!

Wishing everyone a Thanksgiving filled with good food, and the company of friends and family.
Happy Thoughts,

A few of my designs:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Time flies...

Wow, it's been over 2 weeks since I last posted, it has been a busy 2 plus weeks, that's for sure.  We celebrated my youngest daughter's 14th birthday, so scary...she's growing up so fast!   She had her first boy/girl party, and it was pretty cute, there were 11 girls and 1, yes, 1 boy!   I really think he's the only boy she invited.  Such a cute and awkward age for kids, wanting to be all grown up, but still really just kids.  My daughter is definitely not a wordly 14 year-old, she still likes snuggling up with mom at night before we go to bed.  I'm going to enjoy that for as long as I can get it!

I was given the rare opportunity to work some overtime at work, which I gladly accepted, I can definitely use the extra dinero!  I sure didn't like leaving for work in the dark and getting home after dark though, I'm grateful I don't have to work 10 hour days all the time!

I've also been working on a little side project/business, designing and making custom candy bar wrappers (see pics on the right of my blog).  I hope to eventually have a website so I can expand my sales to out of my local area.  I've had a few orders the past week or so, and plan to have some Christmas designs ready soon, so hopefully it's something that can provide me a little additional income, and I will be able to skip getting that second job I've been considering.  I really hate the thought of being away from my daughter in the evening and weekends, the times I really look forward to spending with her and doing all my chores around the house and yard.  I really enjoy being creative, so I hope this all works out.

Halloween was different this year, quiet and low key, a far cry from the usual full house we've had for the past 10 years or so.  It's so sad when kids have to grow up, I miss the excitement of little ones wearing their costumes and going trick-or-treating.  I sure did enjoy the few trick-or-treaters we had come to our door though, we even had Michael Jackson, who even did a little dance for me (he got an extra piece of candy for that!). 

Sadly, I broke my camera, the day before Halloween...how did I do it?  I dropped it!  It may not have been the best camera, but my girls got it for me last Christmas all on their own, and it's special to me for that reason alone.  I'm really hoping to get a better camera, but I will keep the broken one as a reminder of the thoughtfulness of my girls.Oh well, times flies when you're having and fun, and even when you're not!  I'm definitely looking forward to the calm month of November, before the hustle of Christmas is upon us.  I have a lot to be thankful for, so I'm going to spend this month thinking of all those things.  

Happy thoughts,

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A little overwhelmed, but hangin' on...

I haven't blogged much lately, been working longer hours and the days just seem shorter.  October is always a busy month for me, as my youngest daughter's birthday is this month, and we usually have both a big Halloween party that I spend weeks getting ready for and her birthday party, which has been a sleepover up until this year.

This year things are a little different and I'm trying not to let it get me down.  If you've read my blog before, you know my oldest daughter is away at college now, things are much more quiet around the house, and I am really seeing how much I counted on her to help, with driving my youngest around and helping me with errands.  I really miss her too.  She used to come "hang out" with me in my bed before I went to sleep at night or we'd watch our favorite shows together.  I think we're pretty close, and I miss the day to day interaction I had with her.  The good part is, the girls aren't fighting for my time, or my bed space.  I always insisted there was room for both, but it usually wound up that one of them would bail to their own room or the living room.  I can't wait until Thanksgiving when my daughter will be home for the weekend and the three of us can hang out in my room, or in front of the fire, even if it's just for a couple hours.

My "little" one, who turns 14 next week, wants a boy/girl party this year, I'm not sure how I feel about this, but I've agreed to it, so I guess we'll see how it goes...

My Halloween decorations are still boxed, sitting against the wall in my dining room, it's usually a full weekend project to get them all up, I'm finding myself a little less than motivated to get started.  I guess it's the thought that this year, the house may not be full of kids in costumes like it has for so many years prior.  The kids are growing up, and life is changing, it can be a little overwhelming, but I'm determined not to let it get the best of me.

My budget is tighter than it's ever been, so it will be a challenge this holiday season to keep up all the traditions we are used to.  I'm looking for new ways to decorate that use items I can craft for little or no money, or ways to repurpose things I already have.

Memories of Halloween's past - My girls in two of my favorite handmade costumes.

I'm going to keep my chin up and look for the positive in this ever-changing life.  Please share your thoughts on ways your life may have changed recently and how you've adapted.

Happy Thoughts,

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Sometimes I forget to appreciate my friends like I should.  I am continually touched by the kindness of my friends, some days though, something just reaches out and grabs me, and I'm reminded of how important they are to me.  Just last weekend, one of my closest friends invited me at the last minute to join her for a drive into San Francisco.  She needed company while taking her teenage son and two friends to a concert.  She had a few hours to kill while they were having their fun, and her boyfriend had to cancel at the last minute.  When she called, I was firmly planted on the couch, it was Friday after all, and I was getting myself in the zone of the weekend to come...I hesitated, and was ready to come up with a good excuse (too tired, no money, have to bathe the cat, etc).  I just couldn't say no though, I knew if I needed her one day, she'd do what she could and there was really no reason not to go, other than I was pretty tired.  I figured I could rest on the way there and we'd probably wind up seeing a movie, so it wouldn't take that much energy. 
We had a great night, she treated my to dinner and even though she thought I was doing her a favor by going on the spur of the moment, she did me a favor, all I would have done that night was fall asleep by 8 in front of the TV.
Today,  another good friend treated me to something I knew I shouldn't spend money on, but really wanted.  My neighbor was having a great estate sale, and had the perfect little outdoor bistro set that matches my house perfectly, I was telling my friend how much I really wanted it, but should not spend the $30 right now, even though  it really was a great price.  She wanted to check out the sale too, so we met there in the morning, and the first thing she told me when I saw her was, I have a surprise for you...I'm buying you the table/chairs for your birthday!  Well, my birthday is in March, and since
it's only October, you can imagine my surprise. 
What wonderful friends I have, there are so many more stories like this, my girlfriends who stood by me in the worst times of my life, and those who have shared some of my best days.  I really am grateful, and lucky to have these women in my life.
Thank you girls...a little shout out to Linda, Jill, & Wendy.  You girls are the best!

Happy Thoughts,

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Back Home

Well, it's done, my daughter is all moved in to her new home in San Diego.  We got her dorm room all set up, and I have to admit, she has the most coordinated space I saw during our time on campus.  The week started out great, the whole move-in process was busy and fun.  By week's end, coming home and leaving her behind was looming near, and my younger daughter started getting sick. By the time we left Saturday morning, she had been up during the night throwing up, and the ride home would be a challenge.

Saying goodbye to my daughter, and to my sister and sweet little nieces was tough.

I had a lot of time to think on the way home...

Now that we've been home a few days, it's taking a little getting used to.  It's pretty quiet around here.  I never thought I'd miss their arguing ( the cats & the girls!).  Kristil seems to be settling in, and it looks like Alyssa might be able to go back to school tomorrow finally.  She wound up with a full blown flu, ear infection, sore throat...you name it, she got it. 

Thank goodness for Facebook, texting, and email.

Thinking I need some baking or crafting therapy this weekend, it will be the first one I've been "home alone" in a while.

I think I've been tested this past week or so.  I hope I passed. 
My two little nieces, they kept us entertained during our time in San Diego

Monday, September 14, 2009

Week of Emotions

Just a short post today about something sad...today I will be giving up my sweet little kitty Camry.  Holly, an old co-worker of mine has kindly offered to take her and give her a new home.  We are forced to give up this dear little member of our family beause she and our older cat Roxy, do not get along.  Camry has taken to spraying all over our house, it started out just a few times in a week, to now a daily thing, in numerous places.  I have taken her to the vet to see if she is ill, she is not.  I've tried multiple things to get her to stop, but nothing has worked.  The cleaning involved is endless, and some things including spots on my wood floors have been ruined.  I have been dealing with this all summer and finally had to make a very hard decision to remove her from our home.  We  have grown very attached to this little girl, it will be very hard.  I've shed quite a few tears in the past couple weeks, and past couple days especially. 
This is also the week we leave for San Diego to move my daughter in to college at UCSD.  A lot of big changes in our home this week, it's gonna be a tough one.  Please keep me and my girls in your thoughts. 

Happy Thoughts,

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Little girls grow up, where did the time go?

So I'm feeling a little reflective today, my "baby" girl recently started high school. It just does not seem possible that this little girl who liked to toddle around the house in only a diaper and bucket on her head, can actually be old enough to wear make-up and have classes with Senior boys (ugh!).

This is the same little girl who always told me she'd live with me forever :)

Kristil & Alyssa, about 8 years ago...

Not only did my "baby" just start high school, but my "big girl", as I like to call her, will turn 18 in two weeks and leave for college soon. We've been buying dorm stuff and tying up all the loose ends of the college requirements, and now the time has come. In just over a week, we will pack up my trusty little truck, and make the 7+ hour drive to Southern Cal (the swanky little town of La Jolla, actually) to join the ranks of every other recent high school grad who ever dreamed of college, that right of passage... the "move-in". As a crafty mom, I have been making sure all the dorm stuff, bedding, storage bins, towels, lamps, etc, are all color coordinated. I'm sure a last minute run to Target will still be in order, even though it seems we have everything.

How can it be? It seems like just yesterday that I walked her into her classroom on her first day of kindergarten. I remember it so clearly, some of the kids were crying, not wanting mommy or daddy to leave, but my big girl was ready to go, there were no tears for her.

The years, a blur of slumber, Halloween, and Valentine parties, school shopping, haircuts, ear piercings, soccer games, school open houses, flew by. Now, a new chapter in our lives, my baby and I home just the two of us, a chance to bond and have the one on one time we never had together, and my big girl, facing new challenges, responsibilities and grown up decision making.

I face these changes with both fear and excitement. Fear of the unknown and the loss of the safety net I can no longer keep around my oldest, and excitement for a whole new world for her of experiences and adventures. I'm trying mostly, to feel assured, knowing that the dream of a college education for her is finally being realized, we really made it!

I bet there are quite a few of you contemplating these same changes with your own kids, or maybe another impending change?

Wish me luck, I think I'm gonna need it!

Happy Thoughts,

An early birthday celebration for my daughter's 18th birthday.

In true crafty fashion, making coordinated desk/room accessories.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Nobody's Perfect

Talking with my sis today, I was reminded that perfection is overrated. We were talking about all the great blogs out there, and how "perfect" many bloggers' lives seem. She made the comment that it depresses her to look at these blogs sometimes. "Even yours" she said to me, and I was honestly taken aback. I am so critical of myself, that I never even considered that someone might feel that way.
I knew what she meant about seemingly idyllic lives being photographed and blogged about, sometimes it does make me lust after someone else's life. The thing I think we need to remember is that a blog is just a small part of someones life. Some of us are more fortunate than others, some of us are single and struggle financially, and others have supportive husbands. Some are talented and creative, while others enjoy just looking at pretty things.
I never really thought about the fact that what might be inspiration for me, could be intimidating and discouraging to someone who might be facing challenges and major changes in their life.
I LOVE looking at beautiful pictures of homes and crafts, but there is another perspective that I had not considered.
Let's face it, nobody wants to read a blog about someone complaining about their unhappy life, or their bad marriage, but we all need to remember that nobody's perfect. I'm sure many of us who have blogs are facing challenges and disappointments, we just try to focus on the positive. I try to view my favorite blogs as inspiration and motivation, to get myself moving and doing creative things that make me feel good too. I try not to compare what I'm doing to anyone else, that can be disheartening.
I'm sure most of the talented ladies out there would agree, we all have our struggles, we are just trying to focus on what makes us happy, and maybe even brightening someone else's day in the process.
If we can remain humble, and live a life of integrity, I think we can still revel in the beauty of life without forgetting what's really important.
Any thoughts?

No matter how bad things may seem, we must remember to "sing, laugh, dream"

Happy Thoughts,


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cake makes everyone feel better!

This past weekend was busy and I started Monday morning off tired from it. Between mowing my lawns, changing bed sheets, cleaning bathrooms, and a soccer game thrown in, I made two special friends two yummy cakes, so it was all worth it! Dark chocolate layers (3 for each cake), filled with a chocolate "ganachey" (is that a word??) frosting and mocha buttercream. I did it all twice, just in case the recipes didn't come out right doubled. They were sooo good...since they were for friends, I got a piece out of both :), just what I need, hah!

Wendy's cake

Melanie's cake

Lindsey's cake

Cake sure does bring smiles to faces, gotta love it!

P.S Wound up making one more cake this week, 3 in a week, new record for me :)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A fine line

Having been a little more "busy" than I'd like to be, my body rebelling a bit (that darn shoulder)and some things that are going on in my life right now, I'm feeling as if I'm walking a fine line between optimism and pessimism. I'm trying so hard to stay positive, I know how powerful the mind can be. So, instead of focusing on the negative, I decided I would (force myself to) make a list of as many things that I can think of that are positive in my life, hoping this would brighten my perspective. I think it's working, I strongly suggest you try it too :)

1. My children, they are really what "it's all about" for me. They are amazing.

2. My Home/Garden, this is my sanctuary, a place all my own.

3. My Family- sister, parents, nieces, the most important people in my life aside from my girls

4. My Friends, my girlfriends mean the world to me, they are supportive and loyal.

5. My Health, for the most part I'm in good health.

6. My Job, I have one!

7. My creativity, this being an important part of who I am and what makes me happy.

8. My truck, it's fairly new, holds everything, and runs great, I love it.

9. My neighbors, they are wonderful and always willing to help out.

10. My cats, they give me unconditional love.

11. Blogging! What a wonderful way to express myself and meet incredible new friends!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I have had lots of ideas I've been wanting to write about, and planned to wait until the weekend, when I have more time. But, something happened last night that I wanted to share right away.

I realized (again), that I am truly blessed. I haven't written much about what is really important to me, but if you've read my profile, you have a pretty good idea. Family & home are the two most important things in my life. I'm really not much a career girl. If I didn't have to work, I'd be the first to tell you I'd be a stay-at-home mom/crafter in a New York minute! I would never be bored, really, I know I wouldn't.

Now, to get back to my story...last night I hosted our high school's PTSA board meeting at my house. Just a few of us got together to do some planning for the upcoming school year. I was pretty much regretting my decision to "host", it being my first week back to work, I've been pretty wiped out. I've been cleaning and making snacks the past few days getting ready. Probably due to the fact that I didn't get enough sleep, during the meeting I developed the worst headache EVER. I mean, this was the mother of all headaches, it might have even been a migraine. The meeting felt like it would never end, it was long! 3 hours long! By the time the last mom said goodbye, I literally could not stand anymore. I've never experienced anything like this, so it was kind fo weird for my kids who never really see anything take me down.

I'm the type of gal who likes her kitchen sink clean before she goes to bed, and I always make my lunch and set up my coffee maker for the next morning; but I knew I had to lay down in a dark room immediately, so I washed my face, got in my PJ's and crashed. I made the comment that if someone wanted to help put the food away, that would be great, but I'd get back up in a few minutes after I rested.

My oldest daughter got me a tall glass of ice water per my request, and my ever so sweet youngest came into my room with a warm washcloth for my head (awww!) Needless to say, I never got back up. This morning I woke up and went to the kitchen to find all the dishes had been washed, my lunch was made, and the coffee was set up and ready to go. All over the kitchen were little notes that read "CLEAN (didn't know where to put it)", this next to a big platter I don't use very often. There was the little note next to the coffee maker "coffee made". When I opened my lunch today (very well packed with even a treat for dessert!), there was the sweetest little note of all "Hope you're having a great day at work sweetie. I love you, Alyssa" Yep, my 13 year-old daughter called me sweetie, just like the notes I occasionally sneak into her lunches. Can you imagine a sweeter thing than this????

(the little angel in the photo above is my youngest, Alyssa)
I'm feeling pretty good today, I think I'm raising two amazing daughters. Life can't be much better than that, can it?

Wishing you sweet little notes and happy thoughts,


Saturday, August 8, 2009

My crazy week...tendinitis, a leaking sink, and Coq au Vin.

Yep, it was kind of a doozy...back to work on Wed. after a an overall glorious 6 weeks off (working at a school has it's perks), only to be confronted by a persistent pain in my left shoulder. Now that I'm in my 40's, I've noticed assorted aches and pains, but for the most part they go away. I pretend they don't hurt that bad, then they disappear...this has been working for me, so by day 3, when said pain still had not subsided, I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to really deal with it by going to the doctor, UGH!

I managed a same day appt. in the minor injury center, to find out I have "rotator cuff tendinitis", brought on by...not really sure, probably all the yard work, projects, and lifting of bikes into the back of my truck while loading up for my annual girls-only trip to Lake Tahoe. For some reason, my shoulder decided to hold out just until the very day I went back to work. I few anti-inflammatory/pain meds later, my shoulder feels great, so great in fact that I just finished trimming and weeding the garden and tearing English ivy off the front of my house (charming, but it's taking over).

I know, I know, I'm supposed to be resting it...my daughters are scolding me, reminding me I'm supposed to be wearing a sling that the Dr. gave me, but those things are so confining and they really hinder me from using my arm...oh ya, now I get it!

On my second day back to work, I came home to find water leaking under the kitchen sink, this after cooking a big dinner w/ many dishes to wash. Upon further inspection, water is pouring down around the garbage disposal, which seams to have completely lost it's seal. First, I try to fix it, this is what I always do, that doesn't work so then I call my dad, he looks at it and says he can't fix it, so now I might actually have to call in a professional (the $ signs are adding up in my head). Plumbers are sooo expensive, and no, I do not know one. I remember I've noticed a neighbor driving around in a van w/ a logo on the side advertising some sort of handyman services, if only I could remember his last name or the name of the business. I call another neighbor who knows everything that's going on in the neighborhood and just before she's about to give me the number she asks what the problem is, and upon hearing it, proclaims her husband Charlie can fix it. So minutes later, it's all set, my dad will meet Charlie the neighbor the following morning at 9am to check it out. I'll be at work (and at the Dr. even though I don't know it yet) so he will let him in and be there since the girls are home alone. By 10:30am, I'm medicated, wearing a sling, back at work and have a working garbage disposal, at not cost to me. Charlie, as it were, collects all sorts of construction odds and ends and just happened to have all new parts to properly re-install my garbage disposal. Apparently I'm incredibly lucky it worked for the past 12 years, as my ex had never actually put in the screws that hold it all in place!

Wow, what a difference a day makes! Now I can keep my plans for the evening of meeting 2 good friends, mom, and my youngest daughter (my little chef) after work to see Julie & Julia. An amazing movie, very inspirational and a real "feel good" movie. After the movie we're hungry and ready to cook one of Julia's recipes from MtAoFC, so we head over to B & N only to find we don't really want to pay full price for the book when we can probably find the recipe we need online. My daughter and I decide we will make Julia's Coq au Vin, we already have a cut up chicken in the freezer, so it's jut a matter of picking up a few ingredients the next morning. After early morning soccer pictures, we head over to Trader Joe's and find what we need. We proceed to prepare the recipe, in addition to chocolate chip cookies (a thank you for our neighbor Charlie) and nachos for my oldest who is hungry for lunch. All this going on at the same time, all three of us in the kitchen at once, very rare in my house. My oldest daughter does not cook, as a matter of fact she makes it a point to act completely helpless in the kitchen (all really an act, I know it!) I even get her to make homemade salsa with all the ripe tomatoes spread across our counter top.

Now no offense to JC, who I've been watching since I was little girl and I absolutely adore, but her recipes are a bit antiquated, and take a lot longer to prepare than they really need to. This makes me realize I need to give Julie Powell more credit than I already had, I can't even imagine making all the recipes in that book just as they are written. With all the other chores I could have been doing, I spent most of the afternoon in the kitchen preparing this dish. I could have easily cut and combined several steps. I usually don't follow recipes exactly, tweaking and changing ingredients here and there, but no, I made it just as Julia directed, so as not to disappoint my 13 year-old daughter.

One more thing, not to gross anyone out, but my cats have decided that they now need to mark their territory by spraying all over my house (they're fixed and female, go figure??). Now, I love my kitties and so do my girls, but I'm pretty much at my rope's end as to what to do about it. I've already taken the little one to the vet (250 bucks later!)to find out she is not sick, but "stressed out" by our older cat and the stray who has been sleeping in our backyard. A stressed out cat! You've got to be kidding me! Do they make Prozac for cats???

So, there you have it, a bit of craziness, and a reminder to cherish every day, you never know what the next one will bring, and to always look on the bright side, things could be much worse!

Here are pictures to prove we really did make Coq au Vin, nachos, and choc. chip cookies, all at the same time:)
Coq au Vin for dinner

Chocolate Chip cookies for Charlie
Nachos for Kristil

Monday, August 3, 2009


Ahhh, the power of inspiration. Since starting the book Julie & Julia a few days ago, what inspires me has been on my mind quite a lot. It takes me back to my childhood when I would sit in front of PBS (channel 9 in Northern CA) and watch Julia Child creating her magic in the kitchen. I was hooked on cooking shows at an early age, but I had forgotten the underlying influence she had on me. Then move ahead many years later, when as a newly married young wife, I saw an early (possibly first) episode of the then unknown Martha Stewart (PBS again). I sat in awe as she prepared a magnificent, if not extravagant Thanksgiving meal, every hair in place, all calm, cool, and collected. Her elaborate meal and decorations laid out and served in her barn next to the "main house". I was hooked, never would I live in a place as sumptious at MS's digs, but if I could just take a small part of what she was doing, I felt like I was on my way to the glorious, exhausting life of entertaining. Whether you love her or hate her, you've got to admire this onetime caterer, who single handedly built an empire and became a household name. The point of all this though, is inspiration, and where do you find yours?

Easily, I can say in the kitchen, before even JC or MS, I was inspired by my own mother and grandmother, both amazing, Italian cooks. This would have to be where I got my true passion for cooking and baking. My grandmother, as a broke, single mother, managed to open her own bakery and run it successfully for over 20 years, before my uncle took it over to continue her legacy.

Outside of the kitchen I am inspired by the many talented, artistic women who I've recently discovered by way of Internet, who are home, raising their children, but also sewing, crafting, designing and photographing. I could have never imagined all the quiet talent that is out there.

I am inspired by women like Julie Powell, an ordinary young woman, like so many of us, who turned a clever and funny blog into one of the currently most popular books and movies of all time. I am inspired by mothers who go back to school in their 30's and 40's, reinventing themselves and starting brand new careers. I am inspired by women - single, married and divorced, who are managing to raise their children, earn a living and still maintain their sanity.

Take a moment to consider who inspires you, and more importantly, what can you do with that inspiration?

Happy Thoughts,


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Simple Pleasures of summer - Cherry Lime Fizzes

A fun little diversion today...
What could be more appealing on a hot summer day than a sweet, bubbly drink in a fancy glass?

This is a fun, super easy, simple pleasure that my 13 year-old daughter and I came up with this summer. We don't really drink soda, only have it for parties, and sometimes when we go to the movies. So, this is a treat for us and I've convinced myself it has some healthy attributes, since there is real juice in it :). Part of the fun with these drinks, is the glass you serve them in, and the way you dress them up. The glasses can be tall or short, but preferably have a stem and definitely need to be real glass, this makes kids feel very grown up:) Serve with sweet maraschino cherries & lime slices, little umbrellas or flags, and don't forget the straw! Serve them with salty stove-top popped popcorn for a great sweet/salty snack. I will never be too old to enjoy these!

I like to make these individually when it's just a few of us, so they stay nice and bubbly and can be adjusted for sweetness to each person's taste. My youngest daugher likes them a little tart, while my oldest and I prefer them sweeter :). You can make a big pitcher of them if you're serving a big crowd.

Cherry Lime Fizzes
  • Fresh Squeezed Lime juice

  • Cherry syrup (Torani is perfect for this)

  • Sparkling mineral water, chilled

  • Maraschino cherries and lime slices

*Variation: Use fresh squeezed lemon juice, and strawberry syrup, for a sweet, bubbly lemonade, and garnish with fresh strawberries, and lemon slices.

Fill a fancy glass with crushed ice, pour 2 Tbs. lime juice & 1/4 C. cherry syrup. Top off with chilled sparkling water. Leave a little room to adjust flavor if necessary. Top with maraschino cherries and lime slices, pop in a straw and ENJOY! This amount of syrup makes it pretty sweet, which most kids like, but it you like it a little more tart, use less syrup or more lime juice. Just multiply the recipe to taste for a large batch.