Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Treats

One the traditions that I was excited to be a part of is the gift of sharing, and every year we go door to door giving a little treat to the ones we love. Friends, neighbors, and family all get a visit from our family. Its a way we deliver our Christmas Cards and also do a little catch up with the people we see a little less.

I love the feeling of being welcomed into a home. I love giving treats to people that are excited about receiving. And I love seeing that cup of coffee being enjoyed with something I made. It is definitely a time when I think that the giver is getting more out of the giving then the receiver and each year it is a "must" on my list.

I do try to do an assortment of treats. This year it was a mix of some of my favorite recipes.

Mango Cheese cake with a pistachio crust

Gentle Cake

Almond Cupcake with Caramel Mousse
and Coco-nut topping

Chocolate Macaroons

Were all put together in this Paula Dean Canister, because,
Christmas Traditions, hope.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Card

I finally ordered my Christmas Cards and even though all the people in our lives will be receiving them, I thought it would also be a good time to share our year with my followers.

I need to start by saying that we have been so blessed to have every thing we need and more. For starters, staying in our home has been a huge blessing. For us, it has honestly been a humbling experience and I find myself smiling at the thought that we have had both the opportunity to live with much and to live with less.

It seems that while our plans have taken us down a easy road in the past, we realized that it had only been by his grace. It was in that grace that he gave us some really great moments and filled our lives with people that have not only celebrated with us but today have helped sustain us. People that have walked the road with us, prayed for us, and encouraged us in every step, in every turn and then at every fall.

More then ever we have seen God's work through people. Families who prayed for us when we needed them to. Men who walked with my husband as he fought for his business, learning from the leaders in his life so that he could learn to lead. Each and every week we gathered with our house church to eat, relax, and almost always laugh.

I do believe that there is something about laughter that softens even the roughest spaces. There is something about community that smooths out the hardest of places. And there is something about prayer that touches the most delicate part of the soul. A year filled with that, in my books is a great year.

Happy holidays, hope.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Time Together

I love how holidays bring the family together. I love the small moments of traditional fires, hot chocolate, and of course Ginger bread. I love the music that continually plays in the background, the kind that gets everyone singing. I love the presents, the tree, and every decoration. All in all, I do enjoy every aspect of Christmas but especially because it reminds me that God so loved the world that he gave. He gave us a part of himself, he gave us his son. And now, it serves as a reminder about a gift I can only aspire to give and giving myself to my family was an easy start.

Spending time together, hope.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Branch off

For me, it was time to branch off of the typical center pieces and create something I was excited about. So when I saw a recipe for these branches in a Martha Stewart magazine, thoughts started racing inside of my head. Immediately I was inspired by the wonderful stump that Natalie had given me, a dessert order, and of course Martha. Can I just say that it was hard not to make something spectacular, a piece that I was proud of showcasing in the center of my table.

Russian Branches Cookie

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Course Salt
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
1/4 cup Sugar
2 tbsp Brandy or Rum
1 tbsp Lemon Zest
1 Tbsp Orange Zest
10 cups Safflower oil
or Veggie Oil
Confectioners Sugar

In a medium bowl sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until it turns pale yellow. Add the brandy, lemon zest, and orange zest. Beat to incorporate. Add the flour and mix together. Knead together.

Let the dough rest covered at room temperature for one hour. After it rests roll the dough out in a rectangle, about 1/8 of an inch. Cut into thin strips and shape into branches by stretching the dough out. Deep fry in a large skillet on medium heat until golden brown.

Assemble in a vase, or decorate on a favorite dessert. Powder with Confectioners Sugar.

Towering, Hope.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

All Decked Out

With the menu set, I had a house to decorate.

A tree to light and presents to wrap.

A table cloth to make and a table to set.

Delicate ornaments to hang.

Also, Paper whites to plant.

And lastly, a fresh garland to hang.

Finally we are all decked out for Christmas, hope.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cookies and cream

Peach Puffs


2 cups flour
100 g Butter
2 eggs
2 1/2 tbsp Sour cream
1/3 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
Dissolved in a couple drops of Lemon Juice


8 oz. can of condensed milk
1 stick butter
1/2 cup Heavy Whipping cream or 1 cup Whip cream

Beat sugar and butter, when fluffy add the sour cream. Separately whip the eggs and then add to the butter mixture. Beat to incorporate. Add the Baking soda paste. Mix well and then add the flour. Divide the dough in half and then let it cool in the fridge for 30-40 minutes. Once cool form 1 1/2 inch balls and bake in a 325 F. 6 cookies at a time for about 10 minutes. After removing the six from the oven, pick up one of the cookies using a towel. With your other hand carve out the middle, coming as close to the edge as possible without breaking it and remove the insides. You should end up with just the shell of the cookie. While shelling the remaining 5 cookies, place more in the oven to bake. Keep doing this until all the cookies are hollow and you have a small bowl filled with their crumbs.

To make the cream, you will need to beat the butter and the condensed milk together until incorporated. Add the whipping cream in a stream and beat until thickened. Then, process the crumbs in a food processor. In a separate bowl mix the crumbs and the cream together. Add the cream until desired consistency and moistness. Always do a taste test.

To assemble, add the cookie mush back into each cookie and and stick 2 halves together. They will slide off of each other, so put them on a high rimmed cookie sheet in sandwich formation until you finish with all of them. Place in the fridge to cool for about 30 minutes. Once hardened, mix a few drops of peach food coloring together with a water. Brush on each cookie and dip into the sugar or sprinkles.

Katie says it just wouldn't be Christmas without cookies,

Main Course

Grilled Fillet of Pacific Salmon with Thai Red Curry Sauce

This has been a recipe favorite in my books for years. I find that even though I am not a curry person I love this adaptation that I found in a cook book. The cook book is a collection of San Francisco's favorite recipes. One of the reasons I fell in love with it is that it had a small description, no pictures, and a tip for success on every page.

One of the other things that this recipe does well, is give a great first impression. It looks beautiful on a plate or a platter so I just couldn't resist in making it again. Also I have found that this version of rice is the perfect way to cook it.


2 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 cups Basmati Rice
3 tbsp Unsalted Butter


4 1/2 tsp peanut oil
2 1/4 garlic, minced
2 1/4 tsp peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
1 tbsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
2 1/2 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk
5 tbsp plus 1 tsp canned tomato paste
4 1/2 tsp soy sauce
3 tbsp brown sugar

Cabbage Slaw:

2 cups loosely packed julienned green cabbage
2 cups loosely packed julienned red cabbage
1/2 cup julienned carrots
2/3 julienned cucumber
1/3 cup cilantro leaves
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
1 tsp soy sauce+ more if needed
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar+more if needed
Salt and pepper to taste


6 six-once salmon fillets
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper
( I have grilled a whole fish also)

-To make the rice: Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a small oven proof saucepan over medium-high, combine the water, rice, butter, and salt. Bring to a boil. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, about 12-15 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Set aside and keep warm.

-To make the sauce: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and saute until light brown, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder, curry paste, paprika, coriander seeds, and cumin. Reduce the heat to low and saute until fragrant about 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk, tomato paste, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Do not let the sauce boil. Keep warm or reheat gently before serving.

-To make the salmon: Prepare the grill. Alternately, heat a saute pan over high heat, brush the salmon with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill or saute the salmon to desired doneness. About 2 1/2 minutes per side for medium rare.

-To make the cabbage slaw: Combine the cabbages, cucumber, carrots, cilantro, and mint in a medium bowl. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, salt and pepper and toss to coat. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

-To serve: Place about 1/2 cup of the basmati rice in the center of each plate, then place the salmon on top. Pour about 1/2 cup of the sauce around the outside edge. Place a small pile of the cabbage salad on top of the salmon. Try to get as much elevation on the salad as possible. Sprinkle the sauce with peanuts.

* The secrets of success cookbook By Michael Bauer

Monday, December 6, 2010

For starters

Thai Pumpkin Soup:

Marinated Carrot Salad:

2 Bags of Shredded Carrots from Trader Joe's
(or you can shred 2 lbs yourself on a Mandolin)
Ground Corinader
Salt and Pepper
Cayenne Pepper
Apple cider Vinegar
1/4 cup Grape Oil
6 cloves garlic, crushed

Place the carrots in a salad bowl. On medium heat, heat the oil in a pan. Once it is hot add the garlic and let it sizzle for just a second or two. Add the hot oil to the Carrots and stir to incorporate the oil. Start with a couple splashes of vinegar and begin adding the seasonings. Play around with the spices until you get your desired flavor. It should be intense and well seasoned, usually it is balanced between spicy and garlicky but it depends on personal preference. When you are satisfied with the flavors, cover the bowl and let it marinate in the fridge overnight or for at least 12 hours. It can last in the fridge for about a week but usually tastes better at a cool room temperature.

*I do realize that this is not a traditional, measurement kind of recipe. But, that is how Irina does it. She is a cook that has a eye for spices and a taste for correction. So, this is the best I could give you and if you are up for an adventure in the kitchen. This would be it. With out a doubt this is one of my favorite salads*

Soaking up, Hope.

My Holiday Menu

Creating a Menu usually takes me a little time. Its a sit down moment filled with opened cook books on my table. The way I usually start is with a favorite recipe, and work my way down from there. In this case it was a Red Curry Salmon that lays on a bed of a Cabbage Slaw. With the main course figured out, I knew I needed a starter, a salad and a side. Going along with the Thai flavors of the dish I added my recent favorite, Thai pumpkin Soup. After that, the sides were easy because my sister-in-law makes the most amazing Stuffed Mushrooms and a Marinated Carrot Salad, and even though it might sound ordinary the flavors she puts together are anything but. The Carrot Salad she makes has coriander and garlic that linger on the tip of your tongue, while hints of spicy cayenne add a little bit to the dish. Also, in addition to my recipes I will post my a few new things I added to my kitchen, that help my day in it be a little easier.


Thai Pumpkin Soup
Marinated Carrot Salad


Red Curry Salmon with Cabbage Slaw
Basmati Rice
Stuffed Mushrooms


Christmas Caramel Cookies
Russian Branches


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Team work

My husband and I are a team. If we had a design show on T. V, he would be that carpenter that makes visions become real. Nothing I do would be possible with out him and I love sharing my passions with him. I find that even though I respect his point of view, I also enjoy our many debates. But in the end though, we are always a team.

So, this little project was delegated by me and made by my "Genius". This cutting board was exactly what I needed to move out of the craft room and into the kitchen. It was made with a specific purpose that was both important and necessary. It was about to become my inspiration and drive behind the recipes that I was about to create.

Making something together where my inspiration drives our passion, hope.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

All tied up

Bolt did it again. The minute I saw this adorable robot fabric I knew that it would put a smile on any boys face. It was modern but fun. Simple yet colorful, and casual as well as comfortable. I just knew it was going to be the perfect gift for not only my boys but a few others as well. I found that besides the assembly of this project my favorite part was learning how to actually tie a tie. That with the joy of giving, just had to make it on my list of 25.

Tie together, hope.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Accessorize it

Christmas is a season that is red, shiny, fragile, and beautiful.

Everything about the dress that Jenny chose was festive and she loved every part of it. But despite her confidence in the choice, she was still lured by the saleswomen to the neatly arranged rack of accessories. From the corner of my eye I could see her eyes light up as we approached the beautiful headbands. And even though there were many great choices for her, I reasoned with the child. This is a result of that reasoning.

Making accessories instead of paying Nordstrom prices, hope.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dollar Dream

Next, I found these beautiful leaf ornaments at the dollar store. By adding a simple silk flower, I was able to make this dollar deal go further. I do think that something hand made on the Christmas tree gives it a personality that can only be your own. For me, it is always simple and white. It is a style I can only try to run away from but can never have enough strength to turn my back on.

Ornamental, hope.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Christmas Count Down

As we finished the turkey off with thanksgiving, I found myself thankful for the nice dusting of snow we have had the whole week. It was easy to enjoy the comforts of staying indoors. Sitting close to the fire and sipping on hot cider was very relaxing, but it didn't take long before I soon found my hands itching for something to do.

With out sizes or patterns, this wool hat and vest set was not an easy task for me but as the rhythm of the sewing machine became familiar to me, I saw potential in myself. I saw a women that was very much capable and never before did it make more sense to me. Never had I felt like believing in my creator meant to also believe in myself. Never did I feel like his presence was all around me when I was in the bubble of my purpose. And even though my purpose might just be a house wife right now, I am enjoying every minute of it.

So, if their is anyone else their that enjoys the hassles of staying at home I thought you might like my next adventure.

25 things in 25 days before Christmas.

1. Make an outfit.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Thai Pumpkin Soup

Thai Pumpkin Soup

Adopted from Epicurus with minor changes made for my liking.

In delight of the wonderful holiday approaching next week, I think nothing says Thanksgiving better then a Pumpkin can. This version of pumpkin soup brought me to a whole new appreciation for them and I am excited to add this to my collection of recipes.

  • 3 to 4 shallots, unpeeled
  • 1 1/2 pounds peeled pumpkin, cubed
  • 1/2 cup canned or fresh coconut milk
  • 2 cups mild pork or chicken broth
  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce, or to taste
  • Generous grindings of black pepper
  • Coriander to taste
  • Minced, scallion greens and jalapenos.


In a heavy skillet, or on a charcoal or gas grill, dry-roast or grill the shallots, turning occasionally until softened and blackened. Peel, cut the shallots lengthwise in half, and set aside.

Peel the pumpkin and clean off any seeds. Cut into small 1/2-inch cubes. You should have 4 1/2 to 5 cups cubed pumpkin.

Place the coconut milk, broth, pumpkin cubes, shallots, and cilantro leaves in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the salt and simmer over medium heat until the pumpkin is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the fish sauce and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Taste for salt and add a little more fish sauce if you wish. (The soup can be served immediately, but has even more flavor if left to stand for up to an hour. Reheat just before serving.)

Serve from a large soup bowl or in individual bowls. Grind black pepper over generously, and, if you wish (this was my favorite part) garnish with a sprinkling of minced scallion greens and jalapenos. Leftovers freeze very well.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Little Sparrow

The arrival of baby Phillip is much anticipated. And while I love throwing frilly little things for girls, nothing can be more delightful to me then planning for little boys. I love the colors and the simplicity of them. The different hues of blue and green seem to never change but some how remain striking. And while it is fun to create new things it is also nice to fall back on things the have been proven to work. Classic looks remind me that some things never change and that being predictable doesn't need to be boring.

Patterns of blue birds echoed throughout the room, playing upon the branches of nature while nests made of moss awaited prayer over a seed inside. A prayer for nurture, love, and blessing in honor of the delicate arrival. Wishes for health, growth, and development upon each step that takes place before maturity. And while each is just a seed in the beginning, they serve as part of a purpose in God's plan. Nothing is without a destiny but yet for his glory alone.

To create, in a sense is to experience Him. To plan, is something that is part of Him. To be purposeful, is a reminder that there is always a purpose. I couldn't help but enjoy every part of my month. I enjoyed the days of preparation because I was able to appreciate it that much more. And in the end, I couldn't help but be in awe of the outcome. The turn out was a simple display of nature entwined by all the complexities it needed to come to life.

I felt that it was everything I could have given to a shower. And when the day finally came and the guests crowed the space, I thought about his name. Phillip Vorobets. Which, interestingly enough translated to "sparrow". And as I busily arranged the food on the table, I couldn't help but think that I was throwing a shower for a mama bird, that is awaiting the birth of her little chick in December.

Let the nesting begin, hope.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Baby Ella Rose

I met Katie through a friend. She was sweet, soft spoken, and extremely beautiful. Right away, I loved her sense of togetherness. But even besides that, I liked how she chose her words. Always so carefully and intentionally. And even though she seemed delicate I found that I also admired her strength. In all truth, it was easy to like her.

What I found interesting though, is how the personality that shaped her, in turn helped shape her party. I knew that if I could convey just a little part of who she is, that it would make the evening memorable for everyone.

(Keep in mind who it's for and what they are like)

A rich plum seemed suitable. It was deep, as well as vibrant. The kind of color that was anything but predictable but every bit exciting. Balancing it off with a perfect white brought some lightness to the heavy shade and I liked how it made the patterns pop out.

(I say, start with one idea and build on it)

(A vision sometimes lacks the small details when it only sees the big picture)

So, the search for some details began. I needed umbrellas that I scored at Salvation Army, lanterns that I found at Ikea, and candles from the dependable Dollar Store. With all the major things purchased I was excited to start putting it together.

As I assembled the table, I felt that it still lacked. I needed something different. Something special. Something that conveyed every part of her femininity. And what better then a flower. It seemed like it was every bit delicate as it was purposeful. So, it was time to put my hands to work.

(Some things are last minute. Plan on it.)

At the end, I looked around and thought it provoked all the emotion a baby shower should. There were tender tears, powerful prayers, and genuine blessings that filled the room. And even though I would have loved to give my decorating some credit, I know that the women in that room made it happen for Katie. She was, after all, a special women of God.

Decorating is only one detail of the party, Hope.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Part 2: Confrontations with life

(If you haven't read the beginning. Here is the link of a post I made in September)

In an instant, my perspective changed and as I looked around my room I saw the place I had felt so safe in before be a place that was anything but. The music stirred up repulsive ideas in my head that were constantly being played on repeat. The clothes on the floor were dancing around pathetically, the same ones that I worked so hard for and took extra shifts just so I could fit in with the groups in school. And the photos lay scattered on the floor, pictures of boys, memories of hurt, of pressure, and of violation. I saw the worst before me and hated every part of it. It was almost like a break up, where all I felt like doing was ripping up my wasted time. The pleasure I would get if I could only tear away at the pages of my adolescence, and then burn up any left remains.

Instead, I packed slowly, going through each regret and by the time I finished, my heart was ready but my mouth stayed shut. I knew that the clock was ticking inside of my suitcase but I just couldn't make out the words and silence never gave me a good opportunity to speak. It seemed like it was never the right time or the right moment, so I kept my mouth shut until the day the phone rang. I knew that the voice on the other end was about open up my can of worms and actually, I was glad it wouldn't be me. I was better off, safer even, in the horrors of my thoughts.

I listened to the muffled voices and then the click of the receiver. I heard every creak in the steps as my mother walked up the stairs. And for the first time ever I was more scared then I have ever been. I was up against myself and my pride. Because actually, perfection, was something I tried hard to be. I had to, perfection was the only thing my parents could accept at this time. But the walls were about to come down when that door would open, and I would have to come face to face with disappointment.

The handle turned, just as predicted and the lion broke loose in the room. It was gnawing at me, chewing on every piece of disbelief and then spitting it back at me. Without intention, I froze like a prey anticipating its defeat. Wondering when the time of death would strike me. Sooner was better. Silence was better. A sad face was better, better for the heart I heard. And as I sat there on my bed, strangled by fear, I realized something in between my mother's words.

Perfection was not mine to have, it was grace. Perfection was not made for me, completion was. And I was not made to meet human expectations but fall short of them. I was made for grace. For mercy. For selflessness. So, right there in the middle of the battle I experienced a failure that was accepted without blame.

From that moment on a new strength was born. I decided that even though I was in a bit of a human heap I did not want my circumstances to push me down. Rejection seemed only temporary because I believed that the truth always had a way of coming out. That right had a way of being rewarded, and that purpose had a way of fulfilling promise. I realize now, that it was the security that saved me. It would need to, and soon, because my plane was about to land with a whole new set of problems.

I was told that in my culture women are regarded as women of influence. They are the ones who establish the rules for the weaker, sexual male who thinks about it a million times a day. We had responsibilities to keep. Pressure to concur and sexual drive to hold under control. So, to say the least, I had a whole lot of blame coming my way that was about to challenge just what I believed myself to be.

As expected, it was hurtful and I can still remember the comments that tore me to shreds. The eyes that looked me straight in the face and told me that I was undeserving. The conversations of misunderstanding that followed moments of complete abandonment. It was in those kind of moments that I could almost feel the grip of God holding me back, when everything in my body wanted to attack right back.

This needed to happen no matter how much I would have loved to ignore it. But family was important to us. Marriage was important to us and we wanted to convey God's dedication to us, by dedicating ourselves to each other. His love and His promises, meant something significant to us as we promised to be there for one another. And then when things would get tough we would know just how to forgive time and time again, because we had been forgiven. Because in the end, it would be our relationship with Him that would show us how to have a relationship with each other.

Relying completely on God, we got married the sixth of October. Just a few days after I had turned 18. I wore a simple dress together with my prom shoes. Which in turn, reminded me so much of the past summer where my biggest problem had been my best friends crush on me. Remembering my past relationships, I hoped that the man I just married was the one I truly loved. And then, as I swayed to the rhythm of the day, in the perfect crisp air of autumn I liked the comfort I had in relying on my husbands magic. He was the one that believed in love at first sight, in soul mates, and miracles. His love for me, together with God's grace, seemed promising in comparison to anything else.

Lord, Please. Please I prayed, hold us together on the path that you have set before us. Help us be stronger and more fierce than what the world offers or what the enemy will hold in his hands. May we always rise above the influence and no longer fall into temptation. Instead, during our faithful walk would you bring wisdom and understanding to our actions and persistence in our minds. Help us always fight the fight for what is right.

I felt peaceful at last, almost like everything was in its place for the first time in months.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Thanksgiving came early

Fall is here and I just couldn't resist putting up my little pumpkins as part of my table setting for our dinner guests. We were having Caesar Salad with Genius's Wraps. They continue to be a favorite of mine and I was excited to make them, to eat them, and to be thankful for them.

To be thankful, really thankful came to me in the form of small blessings. Simple things that came in just the right time were personal to me and as I sat at my window last week I looked down at my plate a little differently. God had a way of providing, a plan of provision, and a promise of shelter and food. Always. Sitting there, I was completely thankful for what was given to me and I think for the first time I was sincere about it. Humbled in a sense that he will always share with me.

The words were easy. Share what you have with God's people who are in need. Be hospitable. (Romans 12:13) This was the memory verse for the kids this week at our church. And after I sent them off to school, I stood in my kitchen smiling. I knew that sharing with me was God's desire, and it was only by knowing what he does for me that I can delight in doing it for others.

So today, setting it up for our guests brought delight in my heart. It was nice to have our friends over. To catch up, see where God is working, and be involved in their life continues to be a blessing. It was nice knowing that even before thanksgiving this year I was thankful in my heart. Thankful, for the people in our lives and the food on the table.

Smiling, hope. Thankful, hope. Humbled, hope.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Barbie and the 3 Musketeers

Jenny is my only girl. She is the middle child between two boys. She is very much girlish as she is tom-boyish. So the Barbie Musketeer movie became an instant hit with her. For a whole year she planned her birthday. She that knew she wanted a sleepover, to have a Musketeer cake, and to battle with swords. What she didn't plan on was winning a coloring contest at a local mall, for the grand prize of 12 tickets to the carousel. So with the final detail checked off, the anticipation began to build up in her. Until finally her birthday came.

The carousel was surreal in the evening. The horses bounced around almost freely, expressing themselves in the rhythm of lights. The girls were their masters and they enjoyed the security in that. To be wanted, to be loved, to be needed was something special to the painted horses. And even though they stood prepared for hours until they were chosen, the laughter was always worth it.

The musketeers fled into the night. With only the sword on their backs to protect them. They fought off the boys who laughed in their faces, made fun of their names, and said they were weaklings. They showed them who's boss. They proved them all wrong. Because that's what Musketeers do!

But as all fairy tales go, they each have their end. With a yawn and a stretch, a smile and a sigh we put our little princesses to bed. They were done for the day. They each needed some rest. From the magical land called "Birthdays". So they pulled up their blankets, fluffed up the pillows and dreamed up more dreams for their own special, birthday party.

Into the night, hope.

Friday, October 1, 2010

September Winner

Thank you for all of your amazing comments once again. Many of the compliments were nice to hear but I was looking for something deeper. More about you, my viewers and your walk through life. Although being open, tends to be hard over the internet I was taken a back by this particular message.

The winner this month is this anonymous girl. Thank you for opening your self up and then, for sharing it.

Anonymous Girl.

I truly need rest from hanging on to things, emotional things, heartaches, loss, failure, resentment, sadness, and being able to finally forgive and let go. Here's a poem that I have had for a while, I am not sure who it is written by but it is very simply put. I have realized that to achieve rest I have to start letting go step by step. That it takes time and that it could only be done with the helping hand of god.

To let go,
doesn't mean to stop caring;
it means I can't do it for someone else.

To let go
is not to cut myself off;
it's the realization that I can't control another.

To let go
is not to enable,
but to allow learning from natural consequences.

To let go
is to admit powerlessness,
which means the outcome is not in my hands.

To let go
is not to try to change or blame another;
I can change only myself.

To let go
is not to care for,
but to care about.

To let go
is not to fix,
but to be supportive.

To let go
is not to judge,
but to allow another to be a human being.

To let go
is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes,
but to allow others to affect their own outcomes.

To let go
is not to be protective;
it is to permit another to face reality.

To let go

is not to deny,
but to accept.

To let go
is not to adjust everything to my desires,
but to take each day as it comes and to cherish the moment.

To let go
is not to nag, scold, or argue,
but to search out my own shortcomings and to correct them.

To let go
is not to criticize and regulate anyone,
but to try to become what I dream I can be.

To let go
is not to regret the past,
but to grow and live for the future.

To let go
is to fear less and love more.

These are no instructions on how to let go...but it is a start, hope.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Thai Chili Beef

This is one of my favorite go-to meals. It is both delicious, eaten the same day as it is microwaved. I do have to say that even though I hope for left overs, very few times does that actually happen. Also, we usually pair this together with chow mien noodles but if I am having company then a simple veggie stir-fry would be added as well.

Beef and Marinade:

3/4 tsp. ground Coriander
1/8 tsp. ground white pepper
1 tsp. light brown sugar
1 tbsp. fish sauce
2 lbs. blade steaks,
trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch strips


2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp Asian chili-garlic paste
3 med. garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 Serrano or Jalapeno Chilies, halved,
seeded and ribs removed. Cut cross-wise
(I only use one chili when I make it)
3 med. shallots, trimmed, peeled and
quartered lengthwise, layers separated
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/3 cup roughly chopped unsalted peanuts
Lime wedges for serving

1. For the beef and marinade: Combine coriander, white pepper, brown sugar, and fish sauce in a large bowl. Add beef, toss well to combine; marinate for 15 minutes.

2. For the stir fry: In a small bowl stir together fish sauce, vinegar, water, brown sugar, and chili-garlic paste until sugar dissolves; set aside. Heat 2 tsp of oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over med high heat until smoking;add on-third of beef to skillet in even layer. Cook, without stirring, until well browned, about 2 minutes, then stir and continue cooking until beef is browned around edges and no longer pink in the center, about 30 seconds. Transfer beef to medium bowl. Repeat with additional oil and remaining meat in 2 more batches.

* Try frying it over a fire if you happen to have a chance. Its my preference over the stove top.

3. After transferring the last batch of beef to bowl, reduce heat to medium; add remaining 2 tsp oil to now-empty skillet and swirl to coat. Add chilies and shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Push chili-shallot mixture to sides of skillet to clear center;add garlic to clearing and cook, mashing mixture with spoon, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir to combine garlic with the chili-shallot mixture. Add fish sauce mixture to skillet;increase heat to high and cook until slightly reduced and thickened, about 30 seconds. Return beef and any juices to skillet, toss well to combine and coat with sauce, stir in half of mint and cilantro;serve immediately, sprinkling individual servings with portion of peanuts and remaining herbs and lime wedges.

* Recipe courtesy of America's Test Kitchen