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 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.