Monday, March 30, 2009

A Cinderella Story

Last week I received a package in the mail. From the looks of it, it was from my family in Canada. The box was a medium size, wrapped in purple and scotch tape. There was a hole on one of the corners from the intense shipping. I signed the necessary paperwork and went skipping to my car, ya. I skipped. How often would one get a special package in the mail? Trust me when I say that if you did, you would skip.

It was one of those moments when my mind couldn't hold back the excitement. I watched my hands scramble to open the box. Luckily because of the hole, it was easy and the contents were finally revealed. My very first pair of Chanel shoes!

Unaffordable fashion met "me". I smiled and thought of Cinderella. She was a regular girl who saw wealth from a distance. Don't we all feel that way, looking in magazines that proclaim the rich and famous? But circumstances changed for Cinderella as they had changed for me. We each received an invitation to experience the upper class with the handing of a shoe.

In the end we both had our Castle, our Prince, and our Shoes. What more would we need? My theory is that we don't even know until life hands us something unexpected, something so great we didn't even think we deserved it and because of that...... our lives are changed.

Happy Endings, hope.

Friday, March 27, 2009

If I only knew more

My sister is crying on the phone, she has a rash. She is missing exams to go see the doctor. Three hours later the doctor tells her to go to a dermatologist. The dermatologist needs to be referred by another doctor and her skin is itching, red, burning and hurting right now! She calls me scared about her condition, frustrated with the doctor and worried about her exam. Right then I needed a solution, I needed words to make her feel better, to instill hope and to be an encouragement. My mind raced to be the hero in her moment. I rambled about what I did in a similar situation.....blah.....blah.....blah. It did not help. I advised her on perhaps what I would do......more blah, blah. I told her not to worry, it will be okay. That was also unhelpful. She let me go still crying on the phone, and at that point I decided that I needed more knowledge on the way that my words work.

This week for our date night, we went to the center of downtown to an remolded restaurant that used to be a brewery. As it turned out it was the popular place to be at on a Thursday evening and the wait was 1 hour if you had no reservations. We placed our name on the list and went down the block to the biggest book store I have ever seen. It was 3 stories tall. There was an information desk where the person asks you what book you are looking for and directs you to a specific, colour coded room. My book was in the literature/Dictionary section. He told us to go right to the first set of small stairs and take a left to the blue room. We did. They had both used and new books, the shelves were from floor to ceiling, the scent of new and used mixed together to just form "old". I laughed about about febreeze to myself and continued to take in the sense of importance that the atmosphere made me feel and a recognition that knowledge can instill hope. I recognized the smell then, it was that of wisdom.

Within 15 minutes I found a shelf of books that talked about words but most of them were on history and definitions. Between the used books, paperback books, and very thick books there was my book. A small, unintimidating, straight to the point book. It was called "ON WORDS" by Paula LaRocque. Right on the front cover it simply stated the fact "insight into how our words work-and don't", I rejoiced. I had found the book. I will move forward.

We headed back to the restaurant, they told us we still had a 15 minutes wait so we went next door to a store called "Anthropology". It had a mix of vintage things, with modern art, and organic clothes. It was an interesting place because of its versatility, there was so much to see and touch. Books, clothes, doorknobs, dishes, bread, corks, candles, bedding, tiles and underwear. Almost any person would be intrigued and find something worth buying. That was us. "Genius", my husband found a tea cup set that worked well with our house and would hold a good purpose as I read my new found book. Thirty-one dollars broke our bank account but at least it was a investment towards my journey.

Dinner was good. It was a place with comfort food and conversation. Talk of life, health, kids, friends, economy and religion played its part of importance. Our evening was ending on the basis of enjoyment. Closing in on our freedom of time.

Until next time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Either a "hit" or a "miss"

It seems that sandwiches are either a "hit" or "miss" with me. I order them but they have never been that inciting for me to want them over and over again. For me the perfect sandwich requires a lot. It needs to start with a good quality bread, the kind where you can taste the freshness without the need of toasting it to have its homemade charm. I like it to be presentable but not persuasive. What I mean by that is sometimes the amount of lettuce and meat surpass everything else on the sandwich. Assuring me that its fresh and filling. I need to be more subtle, for each item to hold its own place of importance. I want to see versatility, not height. A good sandwich has only what is necessary. I find that when you have something so simple it needs to have the best type of ingredients because anyone can make a BLT and the difference that stands between it and all the others is quality.

(I had to have it again so I made it at home, it was comparable and I was in love.)

On my recent lunch date at Nordstrom cafe I had a BLTA or something to it. Basically it was a regular BLT but with turkey and avocado. The turkey had a little bit of smokey flavour that went well with the Havarti cheese. The bacon was crisp, the lettuce was just enough and the tomato and avocado were ripe. It was so good that for the first time I was craving sandwich because it exceeded the typical standard.

Isn't that what quality is, the exceeding of the typical standard. Nordstrom definitely did that for me. It is one of those places that doesn't proclaim its title it proves it to you.

They have a cook book that has some of their best recipes. I don't have one but it looks promising at if you search under cook books.

Enjoy, Hope.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring time forward

Its spring time and it seems like everywhere you turn there are pastels dancing around in their cleanliness. Everything is fresh, green, and clean. So you can't help yourself but be influenced and allow the stores advertising to play in your mind. There are eggs, birds and bulbs at every turn that it seems to not only invite us to see nature being renewed but also the planting of our own seeds. Yep, once again pregnant mothers are at every turn. Babies are being made, new life is beginning and inspirations are born.

Last week had definitely been inspiring. It seemed like everything that I saw, I wanted to have. One thing that really sparked my interest was the cover on some magazine, it had a picture of a centerpiece. The theme was a collaboration of spring branches in bloom and Easter eggs. Now I am not one of those people that have themed items in the home, I enjoy them but if I am about to introduce new life in my house I would rather buy a plant then a pastel, clay bunny. I thought that was me until that picture captivated my interest. All of a sudden to add little eggs to the flowers seemed so ingenious that my previous views of "fresh" abandoned me. I needed it to show my excitement for the upcoming season and at that point no plant would be able to portray it for me. So my search began and ended in TJ Max for the blue speckled eggs that I so needed to have at an affordable price of 5.99. Thank you TJ your the best.

Spring is the perfect season to invite new changes in our own lives. Just because the you, you remember is not into something doesn't mean you can't be. So go ahead and put a speckled egg in your life because even small steps are steps taken.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Do nothing be everything

We love the anticipation in almost anything. Its that simple pleasure that excites most of us, like getting our hair done, our nails painted or going out for a lunch date with a friend. Its fun and we wish it would happen more often but the truth is that most of us have a hundred other things to do, so we make appointments. We pencil things in.

The same thing goes for husbands. They love to anticipate too, only what they want is you. There is something created between you and your husband when you let them know that you reserved a evening just for him. Just by you telling him that you will be "available" sparks interest. Its amazing how both of you feel when you anticipate each other.

So go all out, he is the one you chose for yourself. Put on that outfit which for some unexplained reason he totally loves. Send him a little text asking him what he feels like having for dinner and before he comes home give your kids something to do. Let it be casual, but devoted to him. Take control, take his hand and lead him to the bedroom.....he'll know what to do!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday: Barbecue spiced shrimp tossed with Tomato and Basil
*Refer to Monday and Wednesday Post


24 jumbo shrimp, Peeled and deveined
(I buy the ready-to-go ones)
1 1/4 tsp cumin seeds crushed
1 tbsp smoked or plain paprika
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
Left over pasta from Wednesday
1 tomato
Fresh basil


1. In a small bowl mix together all the spices and generously season the shrimp. Either bake the shrimp in a 350 F oven on a greased baking sheet for approximately 15 minutes or grill them on skewers on the barbecue. Either way......

2. Take the leftover pasta and fry it on the skillet until its crispy and golden. About 10 minutes. Toss in the ready shrimp, diced tomato and chopped basil.

3. That's it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wednesday: Spaghetti and Meatballs Recreated
*Refer to Mondays Post

1 part meat mixture
1 part dough
1 slice bread
1/4 cup milk
3 cloves garlic
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
4 tbsp salted butter
1/2 can favorite pasta sauce
Fresh basil is optional


1. Divide dough into 4 parts. Roll each part out into 1/8 thickness and cut into 1/2 inch strips. Cut again crosswise to form rectangles. Pinch in center to create a bow. Place them on a floured surface to either freeze for the future or use right away for this recipe.

2. In a food processor fitted with a medal blade process the bread, milk, garlic and cilantro. Add to the meat mixture.

3. Form the patties and heat a skillet with a 1/2 inch of oil. Dip the meat pattie into the egg and then the flour and fry.

4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add in the pasta and wait for the boil to return. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes if fresh and 5 minutes if frozen.

5. Drain pasta and add some salted butter. Place the ready patties on top and pour the pasta sauce on top. Sprinkle basil if you have it and you are ready to eat!

* Note: if you want the patties can be made in advance and frozen between sheets of wax paper just omit step #4 until you are ready to fry them.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tuesday: Deep fried Love dipped in Salsa
*Refer to Mondays post

1 part meat mixture
1 part dough
1 can favorite salsa
1 jalepeno
2 garlic cloves
1 tomato

1. Divide the dough to 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll out each ball into a 5 inch thin round.
2. Place thin layer of meat on half of the round.
3. Fold and pinch the ends with a fork.
4. Preheat skillet with about a 1/4 inch of oil on medium-low heat.
* You could also use the raw tortilla dough from Costco if you like. This was easier and cheaper for me because I have a bread machine. Which ever one you prefer would work.
5. Cook about 4 at a time until they are golden brown. If you want to leave some for the next day they will last for upto two days prepared in the fridge. Just make sure to place them on well floured wax paper.
6. With a food processor fitted with a metal blade pulse the rest of the ingredients 5 times until fine but not yet pureed.
7. Dip, eat and enjoy your creation.

Monday, March 16, 2009

My low budget way to cook gourmet!

Everyone is always looking for new recipes that are affordable. Last week I wanted to see how many dinners I could make using 1 recipe. I wanted them to different enough from each other so that my family would eat it all week long. I was also prepared to put Saturday aside to make all the dinners at once so that my week would be free of dinner worry. These were inspired by our low budget which in turn gave me less time to spend at stores and more time to think about things like this.

*On Saturday I prepared the raviolis because they took some time to make but also I cut and shaped out the pasta. I froze all of them by placing them on floured surfaces and once they hardened I put them in containers for next weeks use. Then I made the "deep-fried love" which were put on floured wax paper and refrigerated until the next day. The patties I made last because the meat mixture was altered but after I did that I placed them each between wax paper and froze them as well.

Meat mixture:
2 lbs Ground Beef
2 lbs Ground Pork
4 each Onions, diced finely
Salt and Pepper to taste
* Divide into 4

In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together. To check if the meat is salty enough I usually lick it to check for the amount of salt in it. If you are still unsure or perhaps uncomfortable licking raw meat, fry a piece of the meat on a skillet and check it that way. If might take a few times but I would make sure its exactly how you like it so that you won't be disappointed with all of your meals.


*Each recipe requires this dough so I make it 4 times as I am preparing other things.

1 cup water
2 each eggs
1 tbsp salt
4 cups unbleached flour
x4 (times four) *

Combine all the ingredients in a mixer bowl that is equipped with a dough hook or a bread machine set on the dough setting. You could also mix this by hand but why if you have one of the other options! Mix until combined. Let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes covered.

Monday: Classic Russian Ravioli with a Spicy Sourcream Sauce

2 parts meat mixture*
2 parts of the dough*
1 stick salted butter
1/2 cup sourcream
1 tbsp favorite hot sauce

To make:
1. First divide the dough into 6 equal sections. Roll each part out until it is 1/8 inch thickness. Using a 1 1/2 inch circle cookie cutter cut out the circles. Keep the scrapes, add it to the rest of dough while not using it. It needs to always be covered or it will dry up.
2. In the middle of each circle place a teaspoon of meat and fold in half. Pinch the edges together and then pinch the two ends (It will look like a large tortellini).
3. Place each one on a floured cutting board but do not let them touch eachother, when the cutting board is full put it in the freezer. When they are frozen you can place them in a bag and use for upto 3 months.

To cook:
1. Fill large pot with water about 3/4 of the way. Salt it and wait for it to come to a boil. Place the amount desired and wait for the water to come to a boil.
2. Once boil returns, cook for 5 minutes. They will float to the top.
3. Strain very gently and place in a bowl. Put in the salted butter and toss to combine.

To serve:
1. Make your favorite salad.
2. Mix the sourcream and hot sauce together.
3. Place on plates and serve.
4. If there are any left overs I love to fry them the next day!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Have a snow date.

One of our favorite past-times happened a week after we had just met. "Genius" was on the mountain with some friends snowboarding. He must have been thinking about me because he decided to fill his truck with snow and bring it over to me in hopes of having a snowball fight! I was a girl from Canada, where there is always snow during the holidays. That day he gave me the perfect Christmas gift, snow to a place that had none was what made my stay memorable.

Now 7 years later we still go visit the snow. Snowboarding is something we enjoy doing together but in this economy its become too expensive to be a serious hobby so we go when we have some extra cash. For our date this week he took off a day of work and we went there for the first time this season.

The conditions on the mountain were perfect. It was sunny enough to make the shadows dance from the ski-lifts, it was warm enough to be lightly dressed but still look cute. The sky was clear, the wind was calm and the snow had fallen only two days prior. I was a little scared but the weather provided some level of comfort. I started off slow but gained too much confidence by the 3rd run so I did have a pretty bad fall. "Genius's" solution to that and to almost any problem is to go and have a glass of water. I know that it doesn't make sense but it sometimes it works and today was that day. Being refreshed helped me put a fresh start on my attitude so we continued. We had a chance to hang out, ride the slopes, see each other fall, laugh about it, and in the end drink plenty of water. Love was in the air today.

Things that brought you together when you dated should be remembered in your marriage. Experiencing the past times again are always fun, they tend to bring out the young and foolish side of you! What's your story, and how does it play a part in your lives today?

Fun Hope.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A great way to start your day

Breakfast Boats

I wasn't a big breakfast person until I had these! If I want them last minute I usually just buy the dough at any pizza place. But most of the time I make a large amount of homemade dough and have friends over for a weekend brunch! Either way its both very presentable and delicious.


2 lb Pizza Dough (Store Bought)
3 cups Shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup Crumbled Feta cheese
6 each Eggs (Optional)
1 stick salted butter

Homemade Dough
1 cup water (warm)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp oil + more for greasing bowl
3 1/2 cup unbleached flour, divided
1 tbsp active dry yeast

1. To proof yeast, sprinkle yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar over warm water in a small bowl; stir until yeast is dissolved. Let stand 5 minutes or until bubbly.
2. Place 3 cups flour and salt in large bowl; stir in yeast mixture and 2 tbsp oil, stirring until smooth, soft dough forms. Place dough on lightly floured surface; flatten slightly.
3. To knead dough, fold dough in half toward you and press dough away from you with heels of hands. give dough a quarter turn and continue kneading, using as much of the remaining 1/2 cup flour as needed to form a elastic ball.
4. Transfer to an oiled bowl and let rise in a draft free place for 1 - 1 1/2 hours until doubled. Punch down and let rise for 30 mins.


Preheat the oven to 350. In a medium bowl stir together the two cheeses. Divide dough into 6 even balls. Flatten or roll them out to 6 inch rounds. Place desired amount of cheese in an even layer (I do 1/2 cup), roll-in the edge enough to contain the cheese in and pinch ends together. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until just beginning to brown. Take out and place egg in the ones you want, if your not doing eggs at all place back in oven and continue to bake for 5 more minutes or until lightly browned. Melted butter is the best part of these so put it on when they are still warm and enjoy.

Good morning, hope

Monday, March 9, 2009

A lack for Design?

I like for things to look neat because I don't have an eye for randomly placed objects to look very good. I have read some books in search of some answers in my much needed space to look nice. They had some helpful tips but most of them were things that I had to invest time in and learn more about. One thing that I needed right away was an idea on how to cover the bare walls in my 3200 square foot house. While all this learning was taking place I decided to use simplicity to create drama, a repetition of similar items to fill my empty area. Basically if your in a rut and your design senses need some time to break through, don't worry. Take something you love and repeat it on a large scale. I started with my family room and hung our family photos, it definitely creates a statement and an understanding on what the function for that room is. It is there to hang out in, to take Sunday naps in, to sit by the fire, to watch movies in, to play in, and mostly just to be us in. What is important to you should be seen in your home. Make a statement.

Inviting, hope

Friday, March 6, 2009

Spoil him rotten!

Everyone loves to be pampered. Its a special feeling that you can only get when the moment is completely yours. When time stands still and you question weather its real, its when you want it to last forever just to embrace it. Just to feel it for as long as you can. Its yours to be had and a memory to be smiled upon time and time again. Moments like that happen intentionally, they exist because love is shown through our actions.

Service is one of the ways love is shown to us. Service your man. Because its not always about us, even though its nice to think so. Make him relaxed, bring him some dessert, be completely devoted to him. I made a bath. Threw in a salt. Turned on music. Opened red wine. Cut up some fruit. Melted chocolate. Lite up candles. And served him. Yep. Everyone loves to be pampered.

Frozen fruit work well in a hot bath because fruit is a light dessert and when its frozen it is also refreshing. Pair it with a sweet fondue. Here are two ideas.

Frozen Cherries with Dark Chocolate
1 Pkg. Frozen cherries, Half-way thawed in fridge.
1 Bar Good quality dark chocolate, Melted
Cherry brandy is optional, add to taste

Frozen Pineapple with Carmel Sauce
1 Pkg. Frozen pineapples, Half-way thawed in fridge.
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. add the brown sugar and stir until it dissolves. Add the cream, whisking until combined with the sugar.

Note: I bought a personal fondue set after Valentines for 5 dollars. Its just a little stand with a candle under it which works wonderful for little things like this.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Show it off

The story of my life in the brightest moments

They say that diamonds are a girls best friend, and its true. We love jewelry, shiny things that sparkle in the sunlight. We love to look at it, all perfect dangling before our eyes. We especially love to wear it, to touch it, to want it. Sigh. Pretty things make me happy. I want to be able to just take a small glance at them, smile, and think about which one would be the best one to wear for the day. I open the glass case, see them stare back at me and carefully choose the shiniest one. To me its the idea of the layout, the presentation, and the choice that in this display I can have everything!

Things that you love should hold a spot of their own, and if its a decoration on you it should be in your home as well. It is a good way to add character to your space because it tells a story of birthdays, holidays and little just-because moments. Weather it was a treat to yourself or a gift from the one you love, tell your story.

Shiny, hope

Monday, March 2, 2009

Let's do lunch

Dukkah Delight Sandwich

Everyone loves "free samples". Its a time to feed your kids on the go as well as get some shopping done, its the perfect setup until you buy something that only tasted good at the store. I am sure it has happened to of you, Costco being the worst because then you are stuck with it for a really long time (I have their smoothie something-or-other sitting in my freezer). Anyways as I was packing my husbands lunch I decided to create a whole new sandwich using my recent purchase of "Dukkah". Its label reads as "an addictive dry dip of hazelnuts and exotic spices" and at the store it really was (which explains the reason I bought it) but bringing it home its versatility escaped me until today.

2 slices favorite sandwich bread
3 tbsp goat cheese (chevre)
2 tbsp half-in-half
1 tbsp dukkah
4-6 slices of pastrami

Toast bread, while toasting heat the goat cheese and half-in-half in saucepan over medium-low heat until blended. Spread the cheese on each bread and sprinkle the Dukkah over them. Finish off with the pastrami. I packed a sauerkraut salad that I made to complement the sandwich. Anything sour or with vinegar will do. Enjoy it.

Note: I bought my Dukkah at Whole Foods

Yummy hope.