Friday, August 28, 2009

The bet is on

Years ago we met a couple with many differences between one another. What they did to challenge each other was betting. Every dislike became an obstacle and every opinion was put to the test. The offers were made, rules exchanged and the bet was on. I will add that it was fun to watch, to anticipate the final result and as a couple we couldn't resist the temptations of "having a bet".

In secret I will tell you that ladies should take advantage of this opportunity. In theory most of the time we are right and this is a way to cash in on that. Men on the other hand love challenges, competitions and games. They love battle so this is one way they can have their way.

Yesterday, a simple disagreement turned into a game. I argued that some people have an energy (or something?) about them where they can get electrocuted numerous times and it will keep happening to them over and over again. He said that he had only heard of 3 and I was certain that I was aware of a person who had been hit by lightening 7 times.

The bet was on. He made a phone call to his friend who looked it up online. It was a big deal and no one wanted to be wrong but this evening the "genius" husband of mine needed to take a hit. Some times there are days when I know more than him and lucky for me that day was yesterday.

My prize was a gift that he would buy me, a wrapped up surprise for no reason at all. And as he shops for it, with a happy heart he will think of me and the time that "I WAS RIGHT". Let me gloat in my glory just this once because I never know what the next bet will bring.

Win or lose, hope.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Hype

Recently, on one of our dates we went to a restaurant where we overheard a conversation. A gentlemen passing by was raving about the atmosphere in the place we were at. He talked about the Italian family that owned the place and how they managed to combine their traditions, language and food in a way that worked together in the experience as a whole. After hearing this I realized that it was the lifestyle of this family that brought people in and it was their devotion to others that created this hype.

As people, we want to be entertained. To laugh, to eat and to enjoy time so anybody that can give us that we want to be around. We will choose you over everything else because the moment becomes personal instead of surface-like. This is what every good restaurant has, a feeling that you can't explain but you know you are part of. I believe this a great example of hospitality and it put me to a challenge with our recent guests. Enjoying people on the other hand is easy, so together we had a lot of fun.







Different people do different things. Different ways. Different norms. I recently talked to someone who felt best when they were completely left alone. Help me understand this area more by sending me your comments on the way you feel most comfortable as a guest.

Thank you.

Enjoying, hope.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Everyday Italian

Growing tomatoes is a luxury that I can't explain. The taste always explodes with flavor, the kind that even Giada would love. In the rare times that I watch her show I am amazed at her expression for food. Its as if flavor takes you back to those Islands, to a place that most of us won't ever see but will only believe in the things that her pretty little mouth tells us. I believe Giana, I trust her flavors and I am always interested in her travels because most of every one enjoy Italian.

This week I marinated some home-grown tomatoes using a recipe from "The secrets of Success Cookbook" by Michael Bauer. This week the Breakfast Boats in a Great way to start your day, sailed into Lunch with Brushetta on the side instead of the eggs to create an Italian Creation. Thank you Larissa for sharing your brilliance.

Marinated Tomatoes

8 Roma tomatoes, peeled
(submerse in boiling water for a minute)
1 cup (or more) Extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 (or more) basil leaves, torn into pieces
1 tsp sea salt, or as needed
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper (or more)
Balsamic vinegar to taste

-Cut peeled tomatoes in half lengthwise and cut each half into eighths. Add 1/2 cup of the olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings as needed. Gently squeeze the tomato mixture with your hands to distribute the flavor and release juices. Cover and set aside in a cool place for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours before serving.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rock my world

Ikea opened up near our town about a year ago. It turns out that people have a love-it or hate-it approach and in our case we are the "lovers". What we enjoy about the store is that it has free child care for kids that are potty trained and tall at least 37 inches, we have two that meet this requirement. They also have great frozen cakes that I am recommending to all of you who would rather "buy" than "bake" a cake. They are quite delicious. Lastly, I think that their decorating ideas are simply genius.

These reasons lure me back to the store time and time again, sometimes for a free break from the kids, other times for inspiration but mostly for cake! This time was a business trip, "Genius" needed some kind of light system for work and I wanted my usual sweet-treat.

If any of you have been there you will notice that they have a certain way about directing you through the store, they basically make sure you follow the route so you would not miss a single item. During this trip we enjoyed the familiar walk around the store, sipping on our shared cup of coffee. Towards the end, in the floral department I came across these rocks for 99 cents.

Even though the rocks are beautiful, the simple bag captured my attention. Woven bag, heavy rocks and a decorative touch at a price that was nice was exactly what I needed to stop my doors from closing when I wanted a breeze inside my house. With a "sale" a reason always follows.

Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever had good ideas from things that were too cheap not to get? I know that for me that's when my mind works best, when things come to me. Today was a sale.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bathroom Break

My sister left just, yesterday. I tidied the house back to order to await another set of guests coming on Thursday. Since the bedroom was already done to the best of my budget I put some finishing touches to the bathroom.

I don't like to cut curtains because I never know where they will be hung next, but a great alternative in this case was to tie a knot. This creates a better bathroom length that is both neat and out-of-the-way for daily shower use.

Glass canisters have recently become very popular and are fairly cheap to come by. I Love to place everyday items in them because they are both decorative and functional. Placing plates underneath gives them a place of their own but its also a detail touch that I love.

Tags are a great way to take away the guess-work for guests. This is another idea I use to my advantage because I don't always want them going through all the drawers, especially in the kids bathroom where they are not under constant watch. I also think it looks cute so that helps.

Lastly, I made up a basket of things that the guests may need during their stay with us. Shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and body wash are a must but I also included things like face wash, toner, creams and water. Mints are always a hit too, I need to make a note-to-self though.

I also want to add some fresh flowers to the space. I find that in spaces that don't have windows, like this bathroom it brings in life and light that a window typically does. I like to choose Lavender when its in season because of its aroma.

Completed, hope.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thursday Throw-down

It has definitely been a busy week. There was a few set backs, a couple overwhelmed moments and at least one break down. But as always a new day awaits and I had just enough in me to pull myself together. Its amazing how much a new day brings and how one days struggles are another days triumphs. Yesterday was that day for me.

In the midst of planning meals for my friends with newborns, baby shower preparations, financial observation and the await of my sister coming I promised that I would post the guest room up on the blog. Unfortunately with the tightness of time, nothing was getting done and I had one screwed up cake to fix on Thursday.

Luckily Thursday was on my side. Some would say luck, I would say faith. It was one of those days when everything goes right to a point where there is enough time. Early that morning, after picking up some paint for the canvas art I was attempting I stopped by "Good will". My recent adventures there have been unsuccessful but yesterday I found everything I needed for the room.

There were two jewelry stands and light shade that went well with the theme. I was excited. Ya, accessories do that to me. After I put the room together, the best I could with out "Genius's" help I called my friend for a nail polish shade of pink that was worth the hassle.

My sister loves pink, she is a girl so why shouldn't she? Realizing that, I had felt the need to supply her with the things that comfort us by giving her a gift. I think that everyone could use a new brush, a new bottle of polish and a new night shirt. I felt that I was right on....I just needed balloons and some tissue that sparkled to throw the pink over the top.

We are leaving in just a few hours to pick her up. "Genius" helped out with scheduling a bike ride with our kids in the "Bridge pedal of Portland". It's 37 miles, doing that with two kids would take him all day so that freed up some alone time for my sis and I. As I crossed the last thing off my list I felt my body relax and I found that deep breaths are best taken when there is nothing in the way to hurry them.

I know this is a little long, I had a lot to say and a lot to get off my chest.
Thursdays, hope.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hospitable Heart

August came to us in a heat wave that awakened the city. Every where I turned people were having a good time outdoors. In this last month of summer break we have been catching up on our wasted time. We have been at swimming holes, sat on picnic grounds and pedaled on biking trails. We have been traveling to near places, dining on outdoor patios and taking walks along the rivers bend. We have also been having company over for many late night sittings but this week would be the first time this summer that someone will be staying for a few days. Family is coming to town!

I was excited because for the last few months Hospitality has been on my heart and I searched for ways that I could be more hospitable. Realizing that I only have a few days to put my vision into action I found a scripture to encourage me and push me forward.

"He must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self controlled, upright, holy and disciplined...."

Breaking it down I knew that being hospitable was to go above and beyond what is expected of me. I decided that I wanted to finish my daughters room which was doubling up as a guest room to let the person know that we were expecting them, not fitting them in. In order to do that I needed to transform her bland walls, hang up some pictures, add accessories to a shelf and pull everything together with curtains.

I have a bed.

I have a light.

I also wanted to let the person know that I find them important and I wanted to put together a small gift of things that they enjoy or may need during their stay with us. To make them feel welcomed and thought of during their visit.

Finally I wanted to free up my schedule to have time with them. This was a little tricky but its amazing how flexible life is when you want it to be. Of course that does not mean it will be easy but it is possible.

I knew that for these things to happen I needed that scripture. I needed to love what is good and to know what that was for me. I needed to be self controlled and disciplined to be the good host that I wanted to become and having my sister over would give me the practice I needed for my vision to become a lifestyle.

Today is a starting point, a blank canvas of a room will hopefully become the expression of my heart. I will keep you posted with my attempts and perhaps my determination will not fail me this time.....

If you enjoyed this post check out Hospitality Redefined.
Hosting, hope.