Monday, June 29, 2009

Cherished Childhood

Almost everyone has those embarrassing child photos somewhere. Lurking in a box, in a old photo book, or in your parents attic. They are out there weather we like them or not. I did not. I just wasn't one of those "cute" kids, so the thought of even putting, no....hanging it on the wall didn't even come up until I was at a friends house. She was one of those people that just come from a good looking family, have beautiful kids and live in a chic little house with plenty of character and style. I love her and her home because it had everything my place didn't and it offered me a different kind of palate. I would sit and admire her tasteful style on her couch. I would wonder how 10 different patterns of floral could work so great together in her home but not in mine. I would makes notes of changes that I needed to make for my space to look little more interesting. As I sat there in the middle of the colors... and textures... and stuff I noticed three great wedding photos of her parents, his parents and theirs. I fell in love with it. I loved the thought and charm that was put into it and it sparked this decorating idea.

Here is how:
  • Take a frame. I used a really nice frame to create interest for my mediocre pictures.
  • Take a scrape of fabric. I don't even know why I have an obsession to buy pieces of fabric, and worse to keep them without any reason. By using it justified my obsession.
  • Take a couple similar photos with similar styles or colors to join them together. I scanned and reprinted his in "sepia" to match mine.
  • Take your creativity to a whole different level, be as creative as you want but learn with each attempt. I have yet to master this so be my guest.
Attempting, hope.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Made in Canada

After 3 weeks of clouds and wind the weather finally soared over 60 degrees. Almost any kind of good weather deserves to be celebrated over here and we went downtown to do that. Now I am a girl from Canada who grew up by the Great Lakes, who is used to temperatures of 90 degrees, to humidity, to sun shine days and occasionally hot summer thunderstorms. Seven years later since I moved down here I am still a Canadian at heart and a full supporter of all they have to offer.

Some people look for "Oprah's Book Club" but I look for the small and many times missed sticker of "Made in Canada". There is a certain kind of pride that goes with it, just to know that America can't make everything and does use their sister country for something. I am sure I gleam just a little bit when I find it and no marketing is required for me to fork up hundreds of dollars.

Times of relaxing does not mean being a bum. Its comfortable, its quality and its luxury to a line that sells athletic wear. I personally love all of their clothing but they really do know what the ultimate "hoodie" should be. Without a doubt that's my favorite thing there. Ironically enough, Oprah's heard of them too :) MADE IN CANADA.

Spa treatments are also desired by almost every women, being pampered is always a treat. For all of you that do it at home, need to try "Lush". Besides being organic they give great demonstrations of their products and even keep the kids interested. This week I am trying their face care products and right now their blueberry mask has won me over. It really is like nothing out there so sign up for their monthly specials at MADE IN CANADA.

Their are those days when you want to stand out, to be noticed and to be complimented but this time they keep it on the inside. So sneaky of them....those Canadians! Sadly you can only view the beautiful clothes online but fortunately enough I have family there who know what to get me if they want to literally "send their love". I kid you not when I say that anytime I wear anything from there, it just screams attention and what girl wouldn't love that? So if by any chance you happen to go to the sister land be sure to stop by "Le Chateau". MADE IN CANADA.

Canadian, Hope.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Treat Yourself

I love dessert, I will go to extremes to make it and nothing seems impossible in comparison to the pleasures. Of course this would not be the time to watch your calorie intake because 1 and 1/4 cups of butter are melted until golden brown and bubbly. This brings out the natural nuttiness of it and blending it will the same amount of ground almonds takes it over the top. A cup of flour, cup of sugar and a teaspoon of salt are blended together in a separate bowl. 5 egg whites are mixed in and the "nutty" mixture is added. Now for all you that want to make it a little extra something...add a tablespoon of cherry brandy, its totally optional but it does gives a great introduction to the fresh cherry that's added inside of each muffin right before baking. Let your ingredients mingle together for 20 minutes, clean up those dishes while the flavors blend and when you are finished, bake at 400 F. This Nutty treat is ready in 10-15 minutes, so get ready...

Just on a little note, I dipped each one in dark chocolate and added another cherry on top. I love cherries and the time to pick them is just around the corner. If you do end up going to the farm as I will be remember to eat as much as you can and save the big ones for this recipe. Here's to happy pickings!

Chocolate Cherry, hope.

Friday, June 19, 2009

One Perspective

These are the parts, the things that I see, held in my heart for you and for me. For the things that unfold are the truths that I know. This is my image of you.

Your stride is your confidence guiding you. You are aware of the things around and you know that you can make a difference. It is amazing how in tune you are with yourself, so much so that no matter what has happened you accepted it and took action. You are quick to learn, to adjust with the speed of life. There is no room for regret, for regret is not a step forward to the place you are heading.

You are strong, collected, confident. You know what you want and you are prepared for it. Despite all of this you are also approachable, likable and reasonable. You are cocky but charming, smart but funny and realistic but positive. You are not boring and can hold a conversation, you give proper compliments and are not afraid to show your sensitive side. You know how to have fun and are not up-tight. You know how to unwind and enjoy life. You believe in miracles, in soul-mates and love-at-first-sight. You stand for religion and all things that are right. You have a voice, you have power and charisma. You have ambitions, goals, and dreams. You know when you are wrong and are not ashamed to apologize.

You are your own, you know who you are and the person you have become. You give it your everything. You do all that you can. To prove to us daily that you hold your self accountable by your actions. You are responsible, respected and reliable. You are understanding, willing, and giving. You have compassion and our needs always come before your own.

In any case you are the perfect man by all the worldly standards. Happy Fathers Day to all those fathers, the ones that try, the ones who stand strong when we don't and to the ones who take it when we can't. Because we watch you everyday, grow with you, and become you.

Watching, hope.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

100 Things To Do

Every week there seems to be a routine feeling of "100 things to do". Tackling the house, balancing life and raising our kids gives us each a list of our own. Here is my typical Monday.

9:00 am
My first step: Do that which I would never get to.

15 nails hammered to fix my jewelry case.
1 moldy plant, that needed to be saved.
Things that are not in the way don't bother me.

10:00 am
My second step: Do that which I have trouble remembering.

4 pillowcases removed and
4 stinky sheets washed.
I always think it could wait one more week.

2 rugs vacuumed on the deck and
5 pieces of furniture placed back on them.
Outdoors chores escape me constantly.

10 Bank Bills filed away,
5 passports opened and organized,
15 post-its were picked over.
If I could I would hire some one.

11:00 am
My Third step: Pick up all that stuff everywhere!

4 pairs of shoes, in each corner of the house.
15 Lego pieces scattered between different cabinets.
1 small bin of infant toys put back.
It is possible that most of this mess was made by "Drakers" and
keeping up with a toddlers adventures requires a whole other list.

8 folded towels put back on the shelf
2 stacks of clothes to hang or put away
3 blankets, folded neatly.
This is a repeated laundry cycle which I realize that if I did it correctly, It would eliminate this step. Too lazy...too late for regret.

12:00 pm
My fourth step: Feed the family lunch,
Munch while preparing.

12:30 pm
My fifth step: Clean all of our filth.

5 windows windexed to a sparkling shine.
7 mirrors cleaned, reflection perfect.
6 black surfaces dusted,
4 garbage buckets emptied,
5 sinks scrubbed until shiny,
3 toilets sanitized of their odor,
7 counters wiped clean.
6 rooms were vacuumed and
4 rooms with hardwood floors were washed.
5 bedroom beds had to be remade.
17 Pillows fluffed and placed

My last step: Clean the kitchen

50 dishes loaded
15 dishes washed by hand
3 appliances wiped down
1 table straightened
4 place mats put down
12 fresh flowers trimmed
2 pillows fluffed.

2:00 and 250 things later I sit back and rest.

I am really happy that I only clean once a week. It takes care of that but like many of you know that's not even the half of it. I tackle most of it on one day to free my mind from it and I am curious to know the ways you tackle yours. What's your list of a hundred or more? What do your days look like? Make one yourself and let us know because everyone needs to tackle life we just go about it differently.

Tackle, hope.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lets Get Together

My sister-in-law was throwing a party for a friend. Last minute plans fell through so "Genius" and I offered our home to her. I was to be in charge of desserts and the rest of the food would be provided along with her hard work. I was excited to eat stuff made by some one besides myself.

Beet Salad and Marinated Onions

"Genius's" famous Shish-Kabobs

Marinated Wild Mushrooms and Cucumber Salad

People starting coming at about two in the afternoon and while the women scrambled to get everything together the men grilled the meats. I love how intense they get about the meat coming out just right and the expressions on their face shows just that. Love men at work.

The meat was the juiciest I have had in a long time, the flavor of smoke and spices blended together just right enough for a person to want seconds. The salads were fresh and light. The ingredients were simple and complimented the strong flavor of the meat very well. As usual compliments were in order and conversation stayed around that for while.

Every one was full but our eyes craved more, so we sat around the table longer and only when we finished off the food did the meal feel complete. The table was cleared and room was made for the "desserts". Yum, yum, yum.

Carmel Creme filled Pizelles

White Chocolate Mousse and Pecon filled Fillo cups

There was no doubt that berries are in season now and each dessert craved it. Raspberries, Blueberries and Strawberries mingled together with sugar, butter, and whip cream. After that life as it is was forgotten and time stood still. There seemed to be no hurries, no schedules and no hassles. Some went for a walk, others relaxed and before we knew it the sun began to set. It didn't seem to draw any one away so a fire was made. It was hot and inviting, everyone gathered together and conversation lingered into the night.

To me, that's what summer days are all about. Socializing, interacting and lots of food for the reasons of getting together in the first place. What do you look forward to in the summer?

Get together, hope.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Table Topic

Thursday Evening was a chilly night. This has been going on for two weeks now and my tan is fading as well as ideas on "hanging out" inside of the house. We chose to sit on our deck, it is one of our favorite spots. Its covered, and anytime we watch the many rains it reminds me of times spent at my Grandmothers house, eating french fries and watching cars on similar summer storms. I cuddled up in my heating blanket and took out the conversation cards that were given to me as a gift a couple years ago.

Card #1. What's the hardest thing you have ever done?

Genius: Opening up himself up to me (and now you)
Hope: Deciding to keep my son instead of aborting him because not only would I have a child I was also be leaving my family and getting married. Aborting seemed sooo much easier.

Card #2. If you got a tattoo what would you get and where would you put it?

Genius: On his writs he would do a bracelet effect of buildings and then on his lower back a small flame would turns into a blazing fire, working its way up the back and onto his arms, heading for the city. (Presently he has none)

Hope: I thought his idea was very creative but I am not at all into them, at least for myself.

Card #3. Are there any redeeming qualities to the person you most dislike?

Genius: Responsibility. If your a man, you need to hold a job. Lets just start at that.

Hope: Less excuses. You make your own choices that can either complicate life or simplify it.

Card #4. Which culture would you choose to be born into?

Scotland. Just because they have unique traditions that would be fun to grow up in.

Hope: French. The way they can put expression on life by using cuisine, fashion and language. And since I can't be french at least I can hope to travel there someday.

Card #5. What's the best way to spend a rainy weekend?

and I agreed that hearty food followed by a nap would be the best thing ever!

We met at the end by agreeing on something but also found out some new things about each other. Transparency with each other will deepen love so I smiled at my man and he smiled back.

If you are interested check the availability on them at
If you too run out of conversation with each other. But for all of you that don't and are still going strong, what are your secrets? Let us all know.

Communicating, hope.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Valuable Vintage

Purses are loved by all women and each one of us need it to hold the reasons of our lives. The bigger the purse, the bigger our reasons to store up our life for all upcoming seasons. To have and to hold. To look and to love. For better or worse. Till death do us part.

Because of this I am always on the look for another purse and I fell in love with this one. When I touched it I knew that it would be able to store all the things I needed comfortably and conveniently. I needed to buy this one for the visual love of purses, the reason of needing a brown one and the convenience of a good fourteen dollar find. It seemed easy to convince myself so I didn't fight the desire.

What is a purse to you? What is in it and what is the most important? Its time to take a look inside....

Valuable, Hope.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

MMMM...Mixed Vegtables

So usually I go grocery shopping every two weeks. One week we eat meals that I planned and the next is gathering the scraps together to somehow make a meals happen. Together this creates a balance of both following instructions and being creative. Last week I had an eggplant, 2 carrots, onions, bell pepper and about 10 mushrooms. Looking at my ingredients I realized that if I put all my veggies together I could make something happen.

Now my sister-in-law makes this amazing eggplant dip that I thought I could attempt making, she was on vacation (LUCKY!) so asking her was not an option and that put me and my taste buds to a different kind of challenge. Duplicating the "famous" dip would be just as hard as attempting those restaurant dishes we swear we could make at home, so I knew I was in trouble.

Here it is, not as good but just as enjoyable.


1 Eggplant
1 Bell Pepper
1 Onion
2 Carrots
10 Mushrooms
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
6 Cloves Garlic


Saute each veggie separately with a little olive oil to coat the pan. Using the 2 tbsp of oil add the garlic just until sizzle. Once that is done, place every thing back in the pan and to your own preference add Coriander, Cayenne, Brown Sugar, Salt and Pepper. Once it is seasoned add about 1-2 tbsp of vinegar or fresh lemon juice, I used White Wine Vinegar but any will do. This seemed to blend the dish together nicely. The cilantro adds freshness towards the end and I personally love any cilantro ending.

After that was done we grilled some Chicken burgers and french bread (that's all we had but buns would work too) and added some mayo and tomato. This created a meal that was simple but had a lot of flavor and put a new healthy twist on "Burgers".

My hope for this week is that you can try this for you and your family and if not at least try to see potential in that empty fridge of yours because for me that's when its the most rewarding.

Rewarding, hope.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lavender meets Jalepeno

Date day started off with a great pair of jeans and heels, it was still morning as we drove to Home Depot to pick out some Herbs for his garden. We had a fun time picking and choosing. The many smells surrounded us, invited us and provoked our senses. Being a little overwhelmed by the choices we compromised and gave ourselves each a personal plant. Lavender was sweet, fresh and clean. It was my kind of plant for all those reasons and more. Now, him on the other hand just needed "hot". This speaks on a level beyond food and continues on in our marriage. Intense would be the best way to describe it and a Jalapeno would give him just that. We played in the aisles, payed for our plants and left each other to do the rest of our own responsibilities.

Gardening would have been fun, getting down and dirty but a storm came in and the news anchor warned us of a tornado watch. "Genius" rented a movie and we sat together comforted by pitter-patter coming from the familiar sound of rain.

What are some interests that you and your spouse share that may seem like a chore to others but for you its pleasure? One time I pulled out a card that asked "What part of living on the farm would you least enjoy?" and to my surprise "Genius" said that there would be "nothing" where as I on the other hand was finding hard to find anything. Least to say we do not live on a farm, just growing a small garden of compromise.

Growing, Hope.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Emergency Facials

Summer 2006
Back in the day of perfect skin,
Really, not even one line?

May 28 2009
Took me by surprise,
I look really tired, aged and dull.

June 2 2009
Look older but better,
with only 3 days of treatments.

My life consists of three time frames, just like the many of I am sure you can relate. There was the time of youth and freedom where breakouts were always a common issue but seemed under control. Then as I got older, kids became the common issue and they began to put a different kind of expression on my face. "Out of control" is the last period, the time where I realized that change needs to happen immediately.

Perhaps when you glanced at the pictures the change was not as drastic but keep in mind that they were all taken in the same gloomy Northwest weather, outdoors. My hair color and weight are similar in the three pictures and the only difference is that in 2006 I took time to cleanse, scrub and mask. Three years later bad habits formed and I didn't even notice as my skin became bumpy, oily and blotchy. I realize that you can't see all that in the photo but a noticeable difference still stands, without even seeing the condition of my skin I look more refreshed, relaxed and elastic (some how even the wrinkles under my eyes faded).

I knew that we couldn't afford fancy treatments or creams so I searched on-line for a miracle. The information was there and I wrote down 3 recipes, from a site that unfortunately has a virus today so I can't send a link just yet but its if you want to check it out later.

I do want you to know that before I did any of these I did use a store bought cleanser and scrub that I already had.

Biore Strips: to clean those unsightly pores
1 1/2 Tbsp Heated milk
1 Tbsp Unflavored Gelatin

Mix together and apply to face. It takes about 10-15 minutes to dry but once it is just peel back and amuse yourself. I loved this recipe a lot for many reasons. One of those reasons is that it is really easy, another is that it's warm on the face and also because I love to see results.

Tomatoe Mask: for Blemishes...UGH.
1 Ripe Tomatoe, diced
3 Tbsp Oatmeal, Old-fashioned or Instant
1 tsp Lemon Juice

The recipe called for being diced and mixed together, with only 1 Tbsp of Oatmeal but it was too runny so I added more Oatmeal and Processed it together. It made enough for 2 times so I refrigerated the rest for the next day. I loved that it was cool and tingly on my face but it was still runny so take a towel, just in case.

Pineapple Olive Oil Mask:
1/2 cup Pineapple
3 tbsp Olive Oil

I would process this one as well just because I prefer a paste substance. I actually didn't try this one out yet but I am planning on it for the weekend. It sounds promising and I am looking forward to my results.

I realize that some of you may have great products that work for you but this post is only to encourage the use of home made products because I saw results in only 3 applications. So go ahead and find something that will work for you, or give these recipes a chance. Either way, join me on this journey because we are not getting any younger......

Refresh, hope.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Terrarium Tantrum

In a recent blog called "Going Green" I attempted to make a Terrarium Conservatory, I mentioned that I didn't find the instructions and had high hopes on giving birth to a "Green Thumb". Well, I recently noticed that my plants have been browning so in my attempt to save them I went out looking for some information and found it at the Better Home and Garden website. After reading it I was well informed by them that I did almost everything wrong and once again something that I thought was so simple turned out to be a little more complex.

I feel that today's post should clear up any questions that I have been getting, but have been unhelpful with my lack of knowledge. I understand that sometimes just "winging" a project doesn't work and this time it was precisely that. I am sorry and hope that everyone who tried this can still save their plants and for all you who didn't attempt it I really think this is worth a try. Here you go.

Planting Instructions:

1. To plant directly in the conservatory, choose small plants, those in 2-and 3-inch pots. Go for a combination of taller plants and sprawling plants as well as mix of foliage colors and shapes.

2. If the plant is a little too large for the conservatory, you can divide it, tearing off just a portion and planting it.

3. If you need to add soil, any good-quality all-purpose potting soil will do. If soil shows in the finished planting, tuck in bits of green florist's moss on top of the soil to cover and for added effect.

4. Trim off any foliage that would touch the glass, fostering bacterial growth and contaminating everything. Then add stones, little sculptures, acorns, dried leaves, twigs, and other natural elements for decorative touches.

  • Place in diffused light (mini conservatories usually heat up too much in bright light). Give the plants a good watering when placing them in the conservatory. You may not need to water again for months; just keep soil evenly moist. Do the usual trimming and pinching of any yellowing or fading foliage and flowers.
  • While many plants love the humidity in a mini conservatory, many develop problems if they don't have good air circulation. It's a good idea to remove the glass for a few hours every few days or so to prevent fungal or mold problems, especially with flowering plants.
  • A layer of pebbles or charcoal will prevent the plants from getting wet roots.
  • However you use them, these exquisite little marvels will give you hours of enjoyment. All it takes is a conservatory itself and a little flight of fancy to design a garden under glass.
List of Plants that are recommended for use.

African Violet, Aluminum Plant, Begonia rex, Creeping fig, Creeping moss, Cryptanthus, Fern, Ivy, Magic Carpet, Moss, Zebra or Pocket plant, Parlor Palm, Net leaf or Snakeskin plant, Orchids, Pellionia, Peperomia, Pitcher Plant, Ribbon Plant, Sweat Flag, Venus Flytrap.

Try Again, Hope.