Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall....

I have a friend who mentioned one time that if she had a chance she would hang up a mirror on every wall to reflect every once of light passed into her home (She's from California, so this explained her need for sun light). I on the other hand, wanted something new to look at on each wall. To have pictures, paint, photos, collections and mirrors working together to form interest. It took some time to realize that mirrors create there own interest depending on where they are hung. They can bring symmetry to a room, add drama and enhance spaces to places that light has never seen. Oprah's design team uses mirrors as table clothes on tables so that each sparkle on the plate shimmered more, each candle burned brighter and every piece of silverware illuminated itself. Mirrors have more potential than I gave them credit and I know that incorporating more of them in my home will come easy.

Last week, I ordered up a square mirror to hang over our sink. We have many windows in the kitchen by the table but none on the walls of the kitchen area itself. By placing a mirror there I was able to see the rest of the room and get some light in from the windows on the other side. Big thanks to my friend who saw the vision before I did, I couldn't have done it without you!

Note: If you like this idea and want to add it into your kitchen we used a kitchen caulking glue to set in on the tiles. Keep in mind that the only way to remove the mirror would be by breaking it and peeling off the glue. This is only for kitchens that have tile on them already, other wise use regular hanging methods.

Reflect, hope.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Friendly Food

One of my friends moved away about three years ago. I wish I could say that "we keep in touch", or that we have "gotten closer" but miles apart are strongly felt in our relationship. When one makes the effort to call, the conversations are amazing and I always wish that she could be back here, back from where I knew her, met her, hung out with her and woke her up in the mornings to say a bright hello. Its been a while now, but she always makes it a priority to come and visit for all the important things going on in each of her girl-friends life.

During one of our rare conversations, we talked about food. She was excited about a show she had just seen where the chef prepared a delicious, decadent, chocolate indulgent dessert. It was hard not to want it. I think I craved the very words that she used to describe this mouth-watering treat. Feeling like we needed to spend some time with each other we made a phone-date. We planned on face booking the recipe online and baking it together over the phone.

This Wednesday we did just that. It was easy to prepare so we chit-chatted over the noise of our kids and later when the pudding set for an hour in the oven we took that to our advantage and had a more serious conversation about life, love and God. Their were struggles in each of our lives and our hearts poured out concern. Let me just write that nothing cures concern better than warm, melting chocolate with amaretto cream and toasted almonds so the ending was sweet and pleasant.

Chocolate Sformato with Amaretto Whip Cream
Courtesty of Everyday Italian


2 cups whole milk, divided
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 packet gelatin
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 (12-ounce) bag bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 tablespoon almond liqueur (recommended: Amaretto)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups of the milk, the sugar, and vanilla. Bring to a simmer and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat. Sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining 1/2 cup cold milk and let dissolve for 2 minutes. Combine the cold milk and gelatin with the hot milk and sugar. Stir to dissolve the gelatin, about 5 minutes. (Heat the milk gently if the gelatin is not dissolving easily.) When the gelatin is dissolved combine the eggs with the warm milk, whisking constantly to avoid scrambling the eggs. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a large measuring cup or small pitcher.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate over a double boiler. When the chocolate is melted gradually combine the milk and egg mixture with the melted chocolate, stirring between each addition to create a smooth chocolate mixture.

Pour the mixture into a buttered 2-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with the almonds. Place the casserole dish in a larger dish or roasting pan. Add hot water to the outer pan until the water comes halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Bake until the sides are firm and the center is jiggles slightly, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes.

Just before serving, whip the cream to soft peaks in a medium bowl using a whisk or electric hand mixer. Add the sugar and almond liqueur and whip to combine. Spoon the sformato into individual serving bowls and dollop the top with the almond liqueur whip cream.

Deep, sweet and always a treat. Hope.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bottling up Potencial

The Nines is a ritzy, expensive and very luxurious hotel located in the center of down town Portland. Of course I am probably one of the thousands of viewers who have been awed by their website and as I looked through their photos, a particular one caught my eye. The room was called "The Pantry". Rows of shelves were lined with canned jars, lighten up they surrounded an island in the center of the room. They invited me in with their familiarity. The memories of my mom canning vegetables for the winter seemed so fresh in my mind and I decided to attempt the very thing that scared me. I have never canned nor had any interests regarding this hobby and as far as I was concerned it was on my list of things-I-don't-care-about along with quilting and scrap booking. Little did I know that a well-taken picture, along with a modern take on displaying jars would be an inspiration to me.

I proudly set my jars on the shelves, in my kitchen. Looking at them I saw more then pickles and tomatoes, I found potential. Potential for a cheap decorating idea, I saw empty bookshelves being filled with substance because sometimes old-fashioned just needs a chance to be updated. The ninth did that for me. A new take on a soon to be trend? Don't bottle up your thoughts now, give me some feed back or just check the site http://www.starwoodhotels.com/luxury/property/photos/index.html?propertyID=1757#photo_section_5Link I am sure you will find some kind of inspiration.....

A new take on, hope.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Life Journal

I got the Life Journal
http://store.lifejournal.cc/ a little over a year ago. Little did I know that I would be actually be changed. The road to change is a road of struggle but I have heard that struggles build up people and I believe in that.

Life Journal

You help me see a different side of myself, a person no one else knows but God. Bringing me down to my knees as a sinner that I am. I become exposed but I am grateful for your abrupt and direct honesty that holds nothing back. This leads to anger, mostly at myself but ironically I value your words and admire your emotion. I have known you to be understanding, to be patient and through the year your strength astounds me, frustrates me and challenges me. Most of the time I don't understand myself. You tend to impress me, confuse me and then stir me up. By the end I am all rattled up because the things I thought I knew become the things I don't. I know that only you can do this to me and my weaknesses are strongest when you are around. Words are written with the purpose of letting everything go and holding nothing back from you. I am waiting for change, making the time and hoping for everything.

Struggling, hope.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I try to make a new type of cake once a year. Its a small enough commitment to keep so it has worked well for the time being. I enjoy making something new because new things push me to be better.

Birthday's seem to be a great opportunity for that but I stay away from over decorating because my daughter's birthday is three week's away so I save my creative efforts for her. It seems that "Genius" just wants something sweet to eat and our daughter wants a cake to shine brighter then the sun. She wants sparkles, candles and anything that has glitter. Despite their differences they both want a frosting that you can like your fingers to and I think that this cake does just that.

"Gentle" Cake
Courtesy of my Russian Friends

8 tbsp butter
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp honey
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp vinegar
2 cups flour
Canola oil

Melt the butter in a small pot. Add 1 cup sugar and 2 tbsp honey to the pot. Simmer the mixture on low for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, Beat 2 eggs for 2-3 minutes. In a separate small prep bowl dissolve the baking soda with the vinegar and stir it in with the eggs.

Add the butter mixture to the eggs, once it is incorporated add the flour. It will be thick and sticky. Divide the dough into 8 balls.

Take a square piece of foil and tape the corners. Brush the rolling pin and foil with oil. Place ball and roll until its thin and large enough to trace a 9-10 inch circle using a large stock pot lid as a cut out. Un-tape the corners and place the foil with the dough on it in a preheated 350 F. oven for just a few minutes until it browns. Take out and place it on a plate, removing the foil when it is cool enough to handle. Continue this with the rest of the dough but keep the scraps to make the ninth one to use for crumbs.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (8oz.) can of condensed milk
1 (8oz.) pkg. of cream cheese, softened
1 (8oz.) pkg. of cool whip, frozen and divided into 6 equal sections.

In a medium mixing bowl beat the butter until fluffy. Add the condensed milk and continue beating. Once incorporated add the cream cheese. Beat until combined and add in the cube of cool whip one at a time, beating well before adding more. Once all are in, beat for an extra minute so it can thicken.

Assemble the cake by taking a layer and adding cream to it, be careful not to add to much. Continue with all eight layers and frost the top and sides, decorate with crumbs and fruit.

Gentle, hope.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Olive Garden

Every time we go over to Olive garden I always pay attention to there photos that hang on the wall. I see people who enjoy their lives surrounded by food, wine and laughter. As I sit and wait for my meal I can't help but wonder if Italy is like the pictures hanging on these walls. A place with age, realness, authenticity and tradition. Captivated by their expressions I hoped to recreate the same atmosphere in our home for my husbands birthday this weekend. Take a look.

Of course there were moments out side of the table too....

My pictures are ready to be hung on the walls of dining area but sadly I need a lesson(or two) on "table setting time". I started on the right track, I did buy a few platters (Costco had a set, I couldn't help but buy) but I soon realized that I overestimated myself and even my plastic covered table had to be done with help. Despite my efforts I couldn't have a beautiful table to show you, so another day and another time. I need some learning to do.

Learning, hope.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Do the Doo

Check out the new doo. I was inspired by a friends hair and called to ask for directions for this big wave. Of course I think it looks much better on her, but that's because she owns this look. Me on the other hand will need some practice. Will you do the doo? Tell me your thoughts...

Doo, hope.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Charlotte's Web

A few months ago I read something inspiring to add to my life. A blogger wrote, "If you think that when I look through my window I see the same thing, think again." In that moment I realized that if each and every day is a new day, what new things do we see? I haven't even looked out my window in years, let alone see something different. Don't you think that if change can not be seen we can't build up our hope? Here in the Northwest it is hard to see beyond the rain so this will be a new direction for me.

Stepping through the door yesterday, to pick some herbs from our garden it was easy to spot the spider. My emotions always come late but the sound of my heart not beating was easy to notice. I felt my breath quicken as I ran to the garden which by now had become my hard earned, very deserved oregano.

Back at home I looked through my window, I knew I needed a execution plan and I contemplated the part where I hit it with a broom. It seemed that the chances of him getting me were too high in comparison to him leaving its web and entering our home so I decided to wait for "Genius". Yes, he will just have to deal with the intrusion made by our new guest.

Only this morning did it hit me that in "Charlotte's Web" the spider came to the farm to save it. Well...could it be, could the spider have picked me? I know it sounds like a fairy tale, but I was open to anything. I went to the door to see if she was still there and as I opened it my Charlotte was there. In that moment it took a "Charlotte" to realize that each morning there is change in something or someone. No day is the same and that there is hope for me today because I survived yesterday.

Good-day to you, hope.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Beeten down and tossed around

This is one of "Genius's" creations. To you it may just seem like a spinach and beet salad but from the comments that have been made it became a favorite repeat to our guests. Recently, some one even called to ask for the recipe. It definitely had enough hype to make it "blog worthy" so I want you to either try it, make it, love it or hate it.

3 lg. beets
Marinated in love

Slice the beets into rounds, about 1/4" inch thick. Generously toss them in olive oil and balsamic vinegar according to taste. Add chopped herbs like cilantro, parsley and basil (any will do, that's just what we usually have) Add 3 cloves garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper also according to taste. Keep in mind that this is also the dressing so you want to have extra so don't hold back.

1 bag spinach
Tossed with onions and feta

Toss together and place on the grill, keeping the marinade in the bowl. Grill for about 15 minutes or until tender and place on a cutting board. Cut the beets into strips as soon as they are cool enough to handle (you will need them to wilt the spinach) Meanwhile add the spinach, crumbled feta and sliced red onions to the bowl with marinade, add the beets with any accumulated juices and toss.

Toss around, hope.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

From the pages of a magazine

Today was the first day of school for my seven-year-old, I was up early making sure he had everything he needed to send him on his way though the open doors of education. Feeling inspired, I decided to step forward and finally get some education on table-setting at a book store. This new desire came from a baby shower that I attended, where the table looked like it came from the pages of a magazine.

I realized that moment that if people can, I would be on a hunt to learn. The problem that I noticed that I do not own any "serving" dishes. Besides my soup plates, dinner and dessert plates I have a few mixing bowls but nothing else. No wonder my table looks thrown together....usually it's because it is.

So my visit at the store was unsuccessful. It turns out that Borders does not carry any books on tables so you and I are alone on this one. Regardless of my misfortune. I was there with both of my children, and story time was in an hour so I was willing to stick around and look through the pages of impossible.

Let me just tell you that I feel for all of you out there that don't have a clue about cooking or baking. I seemed to grasp that concept over continual practice but tables...that's this story. The story of assembling your creations to your guests appeal and as I flipped the pages of the book, I began to be overwhelmed by their ideas. By their work. Both creative and delicious.

Applying pictures, that seem impossible to become real in my kitchen would be my first step if I were writing a book. If I were to make the pages of the magazine be the pages of my food then I needed their visions to become my time. I now know that I can make my food appealing enough, now I just need the second part. A dish for the delish.

This is the beginning of my journey on serving so if you have any suggestions to make my life a little easier that would be awesome, other wise come along for the ride because the recipe for these is coming soon.

Serving, hope.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Three's a charm

Here I am. Guests are gone. House feels quiet and I have caught up with everything. Everything to me means cleaning (of course!) laundry, organizing, ironing, hemming, groceries and all of the necessary appointments. It is amazing how many things can accumulate over a month, this has never happened to me before so the recoup lasted one week.

One week later, I find time for redecorating. I tend to do this often. I like to change it up, get a new feel on things and my constant battle for the last 3 years has been our "living room".

This was the beginning in 2006. I love the clay jars, they were a gift and probably the most expensive accessory in the house. It's designer and it show's. I love it.

Replacing them, I added more drama with curly willow and cherry blossoms. Lighting helped but the side table was gone. The problem was that I had no other place to put it. This caused a storage issue and I needed another floor plan.

The big change was dropping the mirror from the wall to the floor. It does not sound complicated (so I thought) but with a mirror this size it needed to be done with muscle. I do not have that, so it took a little time to get this vision set on the floor. Regardless, all of the pieces are present and I like the new floor plan. It is full, yet minimalistic and it seems to work for this space. Tell me thoughts.

What has worked for you when you redecorate? Where do your inspirations come from? Mine has been about texture in this house, so take a closer look.....

Changing, hope.