Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Holidays: Food, Drink, and Diet HELL

The holidays are rapidly approaching- already here if you count Halloween, and I am preparing myself for the inevitable temptation to eat, drink, and be merry. The question is: can one enjoy the Holiday Season without indulging in no-good-for-you food and drink?

Thanksgiving will be spent with my in-laws at a potluck dinner party. I will be bringing candied yams (an old family recipe that calls for yams to be slowly cooked in brown sugar and butter...AMAZING) and my "famous" pumpkin trifle (three layers x's two: pound cake, pumpkin filling, heavy whipping cream, repeat). Not only are both of my dishes AMAZING, but there will be plenty of other appetizers and dinner dishes that will be pleasing to the mouth, but not to scale.

My advice to myself (and anyone else who wants it) is.....PORTION CONTROL. I have mastered the art of small portions in the last year, and I will utilize this skill on Thanksgiving. A plate that is filled with vegetables has little room for much else. So my plan is simple. Find the least fattening thing on the dinner table (usually veggies) pile up my plate with that, and choose one or two items that are not so healthy (but really yummy) and eat half as much as I would want to eat. Eating a small amount of Thanksgiving fixings will satisfy my holiday hunger, but not put me over the top in my calorie count for the day or greatly effect next morning's scale reading.

It is also important to note, food does NOT a good Holiday make. Holidays are about spending time with family and friends, enjoying the feeling of gratitude for life's many blessings, and spending time in reflection of those who have gone before us. Food is merely a catalyst to bring about family discussion and laughter. Eating on Thanksgiving or any other day of the year has to be about nourishment and nutrition. Once I open myself up to seeing food any differently, I can always find the excuse to eat in order to satisfy my cravings and not for the nutritional value it brings to my body.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lanvin For H&M Collection

For some time now, H&M has been collaborating with high-end designers to create limited edition pieces of fashion that are both chic and affordable. Lanvin, (pronounced Lahn-Vaan) is the newest fashion house to jump on the H&M bandwagon. The collection Alber Elbaz has created for the fashion-forward, mass-market store will be seen in (selected) H&M locations in late November.

H&M has famously partnered with some of the world's greatest fashion minds. Consumers have had the chance to buy H&M Collections designed by Roberto Cavalli, Karl Lagerfeld (Coco Chanel designer), Stella McCartney, Madonna, Viktor&Rolf, and Comme Des Garcons. I have been on the receiving end of H&M's designer looks, (Lisa, my dear friend and H&M Manager gave me an amazing Jimmy Choo bracelet for Christmas last year) and I can tell you- the merchandise is well made and carefully designed to excite any fashionista.

I can predict one thing, however. The lines to buy the new Lavin Collection at H&M will be discouraging. It will be almost impossible to get the size and item that you have looked forward to placing in your closet, BUT if you do find that dress, purse, or jacket that you have been coveting since the debut of Lanvin's collection- you will own a piece of history. Ebay will be stocked with inflated priced Lanvin for H&M items, and you might even be tempted to place your own for sale. But this is a mistake. My advice for anyone who purchases a Lanvin design from H&M...KEEP IT. LOVE IT. ENJOY owning a rare collaboration between high-end couture and fashion affordable chic.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

No Cable Equals Great Entertainment

Tony and I have gone without TV-cable since July. I have to admit, it has been a little challenging. I defiantly feel out of the loop when it comes to local and national news, Tony is mourning the loss of Saturday and Sunday morning football, and if I'm totally honest... I absolutely miss the Real Housewives series; with all that said...NOT having TV has been a greater blessing than I ever could have imagined. For starters, Tony and I spend much more quality time together in the evening: cooking and going for long walks after work. We have one less bill to pay each month, which is fabulous, and we don't waste countless hours (and if I'm completely honest, it is HOURS) watching TV programs that have little or no educational or cultural enriching value.

We have, however, become members of NetFlix! Our Disq Queue has become quite important- each of us sneaking into the Queue, moving up his movie choices and moving down hers' in hopes that his picks will get here sooner. Getting our DVDs in the mail is the ultimate cheer up after a long day of work and school. Our movie choices are quite different; Tony always choosing action and horror, and me- well I love documentaries and indie films, best.

I have to say, the best part of my week is the few nights that Tony and I curl up in our den with our snoring dogs at our feet, and put on one of the highly anticipated NetFlix films. All in all, I believe that we have had richer and more authentic entertainment by watching some magnificent films, then we ever had flipping through TV channels in the hopes of catching something worth watching. With all the reality shows, negative news, and sub-par sit-coms on cable these days; its no wonder that we are enjoying life a little more without cable.

Here are some of our past film favorites!

1. The Stoning of Soraya M.

2. The Cove

3. City Island

4. Invictus

5. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (I loved the book as well)

6. Goodbye Solo

7. Annie Leibovitz: Life Through A Lens

8. The Hurt Locker

9. Into the Wild

10. Crazy Heart

Not having cable has given Tony and I the opportunity to make movie-watching an event, a special time for just the two of us. We have become more present with each other, talking over dinner and while cooking without the background noise of the TV to distract our conversation. I love spending more quality time with my husband, and I think that limiting the amount of "entertainment" has been a great step in growing our emotional and spiritual connectedness. While distracting oneself with TV can be a useful tool (I did this a whole lot while I was recovering from my ankle surgery last year) it is important to be aware that TV time takes away from family time. Setting up a DVD, making popcorn, and settling in for a movie night has become a treat for us- not just another part of the daily routine.

Happy MOVIE watching!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Return of the Kitten Heel

As a self proclaimed "fashionista" and "high heel guru," I was devastated when I shattered my ankle in May 2009. "How am I ever going to wear my 4-inch heels again?" was my first question to my physical therapist on my first day of therapy . As I have come to find out, I won't EVER be wearing my amazing stilettos again. So I was pleased to see shorter fashionable heels in magazines and in stores this fall. I even bought a pair of red, patent leather, round toe-kitten heels.
I was so excited when I read the article, "The Return of the Kitten Heel" in Bazaar Magazine's September issue! I revere Bazaar Magazine as fashion's bible, and if Bazaar says Kitten heels are back "en vogue," THEY ARE!
I still get a little misty eyed when I run my fingers over my artfully displayed Dolce and Gabbana, Jimmy Choo, and BCBG 4.5-inchers but these shoes have a special place in my closet and in my heart. Until that day comes when I can cat-walk down the streets in my towering stilettos, I am pleased to wear my trendy kitten heels.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween: A Kid's Holiday

Halloween is an awesome holiday!! What makes it so special is that children have ONE day to dress up as anything they want...and get loads of candy, to boot! Childrens' imaginations are such wonderful gifts, and Halloween gives them a platform to run wild with costumes, stories, decorations, etc. that feed their little spirits.

On Wednesday, I had an appointment at Kaiser, Santa Clara. While I was waiting to be called in, I had the pleasure of seeing children dressed up in their Halloween best walking (or wheeling) to each of the departments to collect their tricks or treats. These little kids, (some of them bald from chemo and wearing surgical masks) were the cutest little babes I have ever seen. I was touched by the parade, and reminded of how precious children are. The kids I saw in the hospital were battling for their lives, a little imagination and candy might have helped to cheer their little spirits up!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I have been counting my calories strictly for the past 10 months. While I absolutely LOVE that I am tinier than I was at 15 years old...there are days when I just want to EAT something yummy! I have come to believe that when dieting the best way to stick to my plan is to create a list of foods that are just not options for me to eat. This helps me to stay clear of foods that will not only increase the number on the scale but will make me feel yucky (I have honestly eaten a piece of cake and woken up the following morning feeling hungover.)

My list of NO WAY deserts:
Ice cream
Pound Cake
"Real" hot chocolate with whipped cream
Anything with the word "mouse" in it
Cheese cake
Chocolate covered ANYTHING (I broke my rule a month ago and bought dark chocolate covered blueberries from costco- I ate about 6 handfuls the second day they were in my house, and finally had to throw the entire bag out....I WENT NUTS)

Having a list of the foods that I absolutely CAN'T eat is well and good, but finding options that let me enjoy an after meal desert is a necessity. Desert has never been a "must" for me after dinner, but it is nice to have it once in a while. Here are some great alternatives that I have begun to indulge in, on the occasion that I want a little treat.

1. Baked Apples
2. Angel Food cake with strawberries and a dab of light cool whip
3. Lady Fingers from Trader Joes
4. Strawberries with 2 teaspoons of honey
5. Frozen Yogurt with rainbow sprinkles from Willow Glen Frozen Yogurt (these days there are FroYo shops at every corner- stay away from toppings such as: snickers, m&m's, cookie dough, etc.)
6. Rasberries and blackberries with dark chocolate shavings (I get a small block of dark chocolate from Whole Foods and keep it in the fridge for this purpose)


Baked Apples is something that I have eaten since childhood. Its no wonder that I have a very thin family, for baked apples was the extent of desert in our home :)
(Serves 2-4 people)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cut 2 apples into fourths
Peel and core the apples
Place a small amount of water in an oven safe bowl (like a casserole dish)
Put a dab of butter on each apple slice (as thin and wide as your pinkie nail-also, you can skip the butter altogether)
Sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar over the apples in the baking dish
Sprinkle a teaspoon of Cinnamon over the apples in the baking dish
Let apples bake for about 15-18 minutes or until you can stick a fork in one with ease

Lady Fingers and Strawberry Puree
(serves 3-4 people)

I buy Lady Fingers from Trader Joes: 100 calories for 5
Puree about 8-10 strawberries
Mix together 1 cup of light cool whip and strawberry puree
Dip Lady fingers in the whipped strawberry puree for a yummy desert!

Happy Deserting!!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Dirty Dozen: Food You Should Buy Organic

Today, American's have food options all around us. It seems that the "in-thing" is buying organic....people are buying everything from organic meat and fruits to organic cookies. Grocery stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Lunardi's, etc. are becoming a major part of middle class culture. The problem is this: not everyone can afford the all-organic life style. What are the MUSTS of organic foods, and what foods can we place less emphasis on buying pesticide free?

I have compiled a list (with the help of thedailygreen.com) of the most essential foods that you should buy organic. Every year The Environmental Working Group determines which foods have the highest amounts of chemicals and pesticides- and The Dirty Dozen list is updated to help consumers make safer food choices. Here is 2010's list with some explanations from me as to why these foods are on The Dirty Dozen.

The Dirty Dozen:
1. Strawberries- strawberries can have as many as 59 pesticides on them. The skin of strawberries naturally suck up these chemicals, so washing does very little to help.

2. Apples- apples are typically grown with the use of poisons to kill off bugs and fungi. These pesticides penetrate the thin apple skin and washing and peeling does very little to eliminate the consumption of these chemicals. Apples are often times sprayed after picking to create a shiny gloss that make them more appealing to consumers....YUCK. As many as 42 different pesticides and residue have been found during tests on apples.

3. Bell Peppers- bell peppers have extremely thin skins which offer little protection from chemicals, as many as 49 pesticides have been detected during testing on these veggies.

4. Celery- celery has NO protective skin, so chemicals are nearly impossible to wash off...64 different pesticides have been detected during testing on celery.

5. Blueberries- blueberries, (while full of antioxidants) are one of the dirtiest berries on the market. Tests have shown that they are treated with 52 pesticides!

6. Potatoes- these veggies have been determined to have nearly 37 pesticides, even domestically grown.

7. Grapes- imported grapes have a much larger risk of being more heavily contaminated than those grown domestically...with that said, grapes have very thin skins and offer little barrier to the pesticides that are sprayed during and after they are grown.

8. Cherries- locally grown or imported, cherries have a dangerously high number of pesticides sprayed on them (42) if they are not grown organically.

9. Kale- (I'm not a huge fan of this leafy green, BUT....) kale has been placed on the top 12 dirty dozen this year because it has seen a huge rise in pesticide spray.

10. Spinach- spinach has been treated with 48 pesticides, recent tests have shown.

11. Nectarines- nectarines have very fragile skin and offer little protection from chemical treatments. 2010 tests have detected up to 33 different pesticides on this fruit.

12. Peaches- like apples and nectarines, peaches are one of the dirtiest tree fruits. Tests have determined that 62 pesticides are sprayed on peaches.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Weekly Lil

Tony and I have moved to Willow Glen and internet has not been set up yet...I am so sorry for my late post of the "Weekly Lil!"

We have a little tree in our back yard that has (or should I say, HAD) about six small apples. Lily picked each apple off the tree and carried them around the back yard. I have been finding hidden stashes of apples for the last two weeks!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Weekly Lil

Tony and I are getting settled into our house in Willow Glen...we found some treasures packed away in the garage and used one of these great finds to dress Lily up like the princess she is!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

GIRL POWER: In Downtown Campbell

My friend Christine and I have a standing appointment to get our nails done every other Friday at Judy's Nails and Spa. After a few sessions we began to explore the little Courtyard where Judy's store is located. We subsequently stumbled upon two great finds...Bombshell Boutique and Couture Tan: Airbrush Tanning & Boutique.

Bombshell was our first discovery. It has fresh, trendy, and well priced clothes and the customer service is fabulous!! Christine and I have both purchased a wide variety of items from Bombshell- ranging from a fedora hat, jeans, purses, and summer tops. Every time we go in to this store, one or both of us comes out with a lovely little polka dot bag full of goodies to take home!

On one of our nail days- we headed in to Couture Tan. Christine was eying a bathing suit (which she inevitably bought) and we decided to book an appointment for an airbrush tan the following week. The tan looked amazing (it lasted about 6 days for Christine and 9 days for me). The owner, DeDe, has great specials for first timers and we were able to get our first tan for $25. We loved the tan so much that we went back and got a second spray tan for a pool party over the weekend. Christine and I have referred 5 of our friends, all who have been very pleased with their results!

The reason why I named this post "Girl Power" is because of this... ALL of the stores in the Courtyard in downtown Campbell are owned and operated by WOMEN. I have mentioned three, but in total there are 9 stores: a hair salon, doll shop, two art galleries, an antique shop, a jewelry/specialty store, and the three shops I have already mentioned.

I have decided that this little area in Campbell is an absolute GEM, and deserves the business of all my friends! Next time you're in the area drop in and check out these fabulous little boutiques.

Bombshell Boutique
295 East Campbell Ave.
Campbell, CA 95008

Couture Tan
301 East Campbell Ave
Campbell, CA 95008


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Weekly Lil

Tony and Lily taking some time out to have a little alone time....

Sometimes Lily believes with her WHOLE heart that she is actually a lap dog.....

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Weekly Lil

Every once in a while Tony and I look around the house and wonder..."where is Lily?" We peak in our bedroom and we find her curled up on our bed....this is getting weird.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Steven's Baptism

My dear friend, Steven invited Tony and I to his baptism and we were absolutely overjoyed to be there today. Steven and I have been friends since high school. As we have grown up and gone our separate ways we have remained great friends partly because of the faith we share for Jesus Christ. I had the honor in being a part of his day and was once again reminded of the LOVE that Jesus has for His children.

Baptism is an important part of the Christian tradition. It represents the shedding of one's old life (a life without a relationship with God) and being reborn into a covenant with God. As Steven was being baptized, the pastor made it clear that Steven was already serving God and in a relationship with Him- that being washed clean in water was only the symbolic gesture of Steven's commitment to living a new life with God in the driver's seat.

As a Christian, it is so important to watch my friends and family grow their relationship with the Lord. I am so blessed to have a friend like Steven who shares my belief in God. As we continue to seek Him in our own lives, we will have a buddy to share our faith, struggles, and prayer requests along the way.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Kid's Birthday Parties as a Child-less Woman

Brody, the birthday boy enjoying his new toy.

Baby Dave eating an amazing cupcake that Deanna made by hand.

Today I went to Brody's 1rst birthday party. He is the cutest little bundle of chubby baby that I have ever seen. My dear friend Deanna has three kids, all are well behaved and beautiful. I have known Deanna since we were in kindergarten- and I am always amazed at what an elegant, hard working wife and mother she has become.

Kids birthday parties are one of those events that child-less adults usually dread going to. There are bunches of kids running around, parents conversations are being interrupted by a screaming child, and the conversation is usually based on the newest kids toy or parenting ideas that are in "vogue." BUT, I haven't experienced the usually inevitable feeling of dread and boredom at the last few birthday parties that I have attended. I feel excited.

Kids are suddenly becoming cuter. Their messiness is adorable and their fits are becoming less annoying. I guess this means...I WANT MY OWN. Yikes. This is kind of new territory for me. I have always known that I wanted kids, but felt it was so far off that the idea was just whimsical...a fairy tale, even. As my life is becoming more grounded, I am beginning to get used to the idea of having children in the near future....and I like it.


Friday, July 9, 2010

The Weekly Lil

A rather sloppy version of "Downward Facing Dog," if I do say so myself.

So, my plan was to post a picture of Lily (doing the darnedest things) daily...but that is way to much work- and just ridiculous. My new plan is to post a picture of Lily (or two) every week. I will call it, "The Weekly Lil." I Figured this would be a great way to show everyone the world's cutest dog, and a great way to track the growth of my huge horse dog!!


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Losing Weight and Gaining Gratitude

In the last six months I have been working extremely hard at losing weight, gaining strength, and becoming more active. The last couple of years have been extremely hard on my emotional life, spirit, and body. Right after Tony and I were married, I became pregnant and miscarried. Then came Tony's heart attack (and second angioplasty), and a few months later the final blow...I shattered my ankle. Throughout these trials I watched my body change...in a BIG way.

In January I made a commitment to get back in shape!! With the help of LiveStrong.com, I began tracking my calories and my fitness level. After a trip to visit my sister and brother-in-law in Boston, I decided to eat less processed food and focus my daily calories on natural food that has been eaten for centuries. My sister gave me a book (which I have talked about in this blog) called "Food Rules" by Michael Pollan, and this book gave me great suggestions for the way I should eat. I.e. "only eat food that will eventually rot." "If it came from a plant eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't." It is extremely hard to avoid all processed food, but I try to be conscious of how much I eat.

I have lost 50 pounds in six months...and I absolutely NEVER thought that I could do it. I am 20 pounds lighter than I was when I got married, and I'm 10 pounds away from my weight in high school. I would like to lose another 20 pounds, but the most important thing to me is to be able to maintain a healthy weight and fitness level.

Working out is a huge part of my success. One of the best things that has come from my ankle injury is the absolute sense of gratitude that I have for my body's abilities. I am so blessed to be able to be active, and it would be an absolute SIN to not push my body to its full potential. I work out (on average) 5 times a week, and try to mix it up each day. I go on long walks, swim laps, and do bikram yoga. I have also been known to go running, although my orthopedic surgeon has advised me not to run on my bad ankle (so I only run if I have to).

What I am trying to work on is a continued feeling of contentment for where my body is at this minute. It is important to look towards the future but more importantly, I need to feel grateful for the progress I have made and enjoy my body as it is in this instant. Below I have listed two different examples of my daily diet and fitness!!

Day One
1 cup of Go Lean cereal with 1/2 cup of blueberries
2 cups of coffee with splenda and two table spoons of skim milk

1 medium banana
Caprese Salad:
1 tomato
2 ounces of fresh mozzarella
1 teaspoon of
pepper to taste

Afternoon snack:
6-8 medium strawberries

2 pieces of Turkey Loaf (my recipe)
5 stalks of asparagus with pepper

Day Two
Okios Blueberry Greek yogurt mixed with:
Pumpkin flaxplus granola (Nature's Path)
1/4 cup blueberries
1/2 teaspoon of acai fruit powder (found at whole foods)
2 cups of coffee with skim milk and splenda

1 medium banana
Chocolate brownie Clif Bar

Afternoon snack:
1 ounce cut Parmesan cheese

5 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast with rosemary and pepper
brussel sprouts and shallots
1/2 of a medium avocado

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Going Green: Urban Chic

Here are a few tips for going green- anyone can do this!!

1. Don't use paper plates or plastic utensils EVER.

Once I had a party for my husband's staff- I put out 20 small plates and silver for all to use. Yes....I was in the kitchen for a good twenty minutes of the party, hand washing dishes so that I could get them out for further use...(one person even asked if she could run to the store to grab paper plates, I think she felt bad for me....obviously I said NO) but here is the best part....less trash and no wasted trees!! :)

2. Use cloth napkins.
We keep a drawer of these in the kitchen and reuse the napkins for a few days (depending on how "used" they get) and we throw them in the washing machine when they need to be refreshed. I don't have to point out the obvious, but I will...less trash and no wasted trees!

3. Unplug your computer at night.
This saves major electricity and a special bonus...it saves $90 a year on your PG&E bill!

4. Put a brick in your toilet.
This raises the water level and uses less water per flush.

5. Eat less processed food and more organic.
Processed food usually (almost always) comes in packaging which means plastic...which means more trash that doesn't decompose...EVER. Plus, eating organic is better for you body...a win, win.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Household Products I Can't Live Without

I suppose that you know your an adult when you actually take the time to list cleaning and general household products you can't live without....well, if that makes me an adult, I guess I need to accept that!! Here are my favorites...

1. Laundry detergent: All Small and Mighty
2. Stain Remover: OxyClean Stain Removing Gel
3. Toilet gel stuff: Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Cleaning Gel (you put it in your toilet after you clean it and it keeps it fresh and clean for a week!!)
4. Fabric Softener: Downy Simple Pleasures in Lavender Serenity
5. Toothpaste: Crest 3D Vivid toothpaste (I LOVE THIS)
6. Face Cleanser: Lancome Oil Free Gel Cleanser
7. Rubber gloves: Williams Sonoma Rubber Gloves (They are amazing...I have a pair for the kitchen and a pair for cleaning- and I always give them as gifts for brides-to-be)
8. Air Freshener: Glade Plug-ins in Hawaiian Breeze (every time I go to the store, I buy more- I have new ones on hand at ALL TIME)
9. Towels: Hotel Collection white towels from Macys (they are the BEST, and some are pretty well priced and I buy them way too often- we have a million in this house)
10. Lotion: Johnson and Johnson Baby Cream (LOVE)
11. Lotion: Chanel Firming Moisture Milk (I use it every time I get out of the shower-its the best)
12. Dishwashing Detergent: Cascade Action Packs

Happy Shopping!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sweet Poems

"It All Changed in an Instant: More Six Word Memoirs By Writers Famous and Obscure" by Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser

This is such a fun little book. The writers of this book did a little less writing than "normal" authors- they sought out six word memoirs from individuals all over the country, and in some cases, the world. This book is a culmination of their favorite and most intriguing six word memoirs! Listed are a few examples....

From the book:
"My life made my therapist laugh"
"I just hope there's a sequel"
"No siblings means complicated adult relationships"
"Dancing through life in sensible shoes"
"That homeless man is my stepfather"

Here are a few that I made up- just for the fun of it!!

"On wings I fell so far."
"Jesus is my hero, for now."
"I found treasure under the rainbow."
"Tears help to heal my heart."
"Happiness is overrated, JOY is optimal."
"Dad is gone, only body remains."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Food: Home-Made BREAD!

I got this recipe from my sister!! Its great- and I copied the directions right off of her blog....Its not plagiarism when you are citing the source!! Her bread was so great that I had to make it for myself, and the picture of the bread is MINE!! And it was amazing! thanks for the recipe Heather!!

"White loaf: 3 cups white flour, 1/4 tsp dry yeast, 1 1/4 teaspoon salt. Mix, then stir in about 1 3/4 cups of luke warm water. I add the last 1/4 of water incrementally because it seems that random conditions impact how much water is actually needed for any given loaf.

Wheat loaf: 2 1/2 cups white flour, 1 1/2 cup wheat flour, 1/4 tsp dry yeast, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 cup wheat germ, 1/4 cup millet, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup flax seeds. Mix, then stir in about 2 1/4 cups of luke warm water.

After the dough is mixed it sits with plastic wrap covering the bowl for 12-18 hours. At the end of the first rise, flour a cutting board and pat down the dough and fold it a few times. Then flour and cover the dough with a towel for another 1 1/2-2 hours. Half an hour or so before the dough is ready to bake, preheat the oven to 450F and put the baking dish and lid in the oven. When the second rise is over, dump the dough in the dish, cover, and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove the lid and turn the heat down to 420-430F. I usually leave it in for another 15-20 minutes, but gauge the time based on the color of the bread."


Lily is a gentle GIANT!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Food: Lemon Squares

Lemon Squares

2 cups Flour
1 cup butter (or margarine)
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Blend with a spoon and pat into a 9x13 pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes

4 eggs slightly beaten
2 cups of sugar
4 Tablespoons flour
4 Tablespoons lemon juice

Pour over crust
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes
Dust with powdered sugar
Do not cut into squares (about the size of brownies) until it has cooled (at least an hour)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Food: Meatball Goodness

Meatball Recipe

This is my favorite meatball recipe- its really simple and its fabulous! My mom has been making meatballs like this since I can remember!!

3/4 of a pound of ground beef (organic is best)
1/4 cup of original bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tablespoon of Worcheshire sauce

Mix these ingredients together with your (clean) hands. Roll them into balls the size of your choosing.

In a separate bowl mix:
one can of condensed "Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup"
one can full of water
2-3 tablespoons of Worcheshire sauce.

Brown the meatballs in a non-stick pan
After meatballs are browned pour in the sauce you've made
put the lid on the pan and let the meatballs cook for about a half hour to 45 min. (stirring every few minutes)
Add some cut (organic) mushrooms in the last 5-10 minutes of simmering

Once the meatballs are done I cook Gnocchi (an Italian potato pasta) to serve under the meatballs. You could also cook rice, or noodles- whatever you want!! ENJOY.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Food: "Food Rules" to live by

Here are some of my favorite food rules from "Food Rules" by Michael Pollan:

1. Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients.
2. Only eat food that will eventually rot.
3. Don't eat anything that your Grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. (i.e Lucky Charms, goldfish crackers, GoGerts, etc.)
4. Buy your snacks at the Farmer's Market.
5. If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.
6. Its not food if it arrived through the window of your car.
7. Treat meat as a flavoring or special occasion food.
8. Eat sweet foods as you find them in nature.
9. Eat more like the French. Or the Japanese. Or the Italians. Or the Greeks. (eat traditional foods according to traditional food culture- generally if you eat this way, you WILL be healthier)
10. Breakfast like a King, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Favorite Books

Here my list of favorite books!!

1. Pillars Of The Earth by Ken Follett: This book is my all time favorite. It takes place in the middle of 12th century England. It focuses on the building of a great cathedral in Kingsbridge, and tells the story of the people that live and work in the village. When I finished this book, I cried. I knew that I was going to miss learning about the romance, betrayals, hardships, and joys that the characters went through. A MUST READ!

2. East of Eden by John Steinback: The story begins with two brothers- their rivalry is a modern version of Cain and Abel. It follows one brother through his life and the lives of his sons. Truly mesmerizing. John Steinback is one of my favorite authors. His character development in this novel is extraordinary.

3. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant: This author takes the story of Dinah in Genesis 34 and creates a novel about what her life "potentially" could have been like. This story is about embracing womanhood and all its joys and trials. The women members of Dinah's family spend their happiest moments in the "red tent" telling stories, giving birth, making elaborate family plans, and discussing spiritual faith. The bond between women is strong- this story illuminates the amazing relationship between a woman and her friends.

4. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinback: I never read this book in school and wanted to understand its significance to American literature. I understand. This is a story about a family's journey out West in search of a better life. Along the way they are faced with loss, new friendship, sickness, and much much more. Once in California they have to fight oppression and humiliation in search of jobs and proper living conditions.

5. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin: This is a true story about Greg Mortenson's humanitarian work in Pakistan. Once a mountaineer, he stumbles into an impoverished village at the base of K2 and becomes committed to building a school for the children. This novel is a humanitarian's story about struggle, adventure, and triumph at the base of one of the greatest mountains in the world.

A few other books that I find AMAZING:

6. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger
8. World Without End by Ken Follett (The sequel to Pillars of the Earth)
9. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
10. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

Friday, February 19, 2010

25 Things You Don't Know About Me

1. If I chew gum I have to have two pieces of gum in my mouth.
2. I have to be the last one to clap during an applause.
3. Nicole Kidman and Gweneth Paltrow are my style icons- and have been since I was in junior high.
4. I had to stop watching Grey's Anatomy because I became too emotionally involved.
5. I have never gone to the bathroom in front of my husband.
6. My favorite desert is Lobster Tail- an Italian pastry.
7. I have been with my husband since I was 19 years old.
8. My favorite snack is non-fat cottage cheese and apple slices.
9. I did youth ministry in Spanish Harlem when I lived in New York City. And loved it!!!
10. I have never been to Europe.
11. My dream was always to be an actress- and if I think about it, it still is.
12. My favorite movies are Mona Lisa Smile, Under The Tuscan Sun, and Meet Me In Saint Louis.
13. Easter is my favorite holiday.
14. The best present I have ever received is from Tony- he gave me my pug Molly on my 20th birthday.
15. I haven't had a sip of alcohol since December 7th, 2009.
16. All of my friends have been my friends since I was in elementary school, junior high, and high school- I have very few "adult friends" and that is fine with me.
17. My favorite food is hot dogs- but I only eat them twice a year (give or take).
18. My English Mastiff sleeps on a down comforter and Calvin Klein duvet- she is a princess.
19. I take a bubble bath almost every day- and always wear a tiara while doing so.
20. My mood completely changes when I am in a mall- I become "all glowey" says my husband.
21. The priest that married my husband and I also baptized me when I was two months old.
22. On my wedding day I wore a headpiece that was worn by my great grandmother, grandmother, mother, all my aunts, and me!
23. I cook dinner every night.
24. I never listen to music in my car- only NPR.
25. My favorite animal is a Hippo and I would give anything to see one in the wild!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Enjoying a little city called Boston

In the six and a half years that Tony and I have been together, (married two) we have not done a whole lot of traveling. It was a great suprise to both of us that we actually bought tickets (one of the tickets was given to us by a friend), packed two suitcases, and got on the plane. WE ARE HERE! Boston is amazing- and I will have more details to come.....
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