Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tea Time

It feels like forever since I've stopped by here and yet it has only been a week. It was a long week of feeling blah, but by Friday night I was feeling like me again and couldn't wait to work on some projects over the weekend.  I've been craving lavender lemon shortbread cookies [I made them last summer and they were a huge hit]. 

This time around, I wanted to make them extra special since I'll be freezing some and giving them away as gifts. A tea bag shaped cookie seemed appropriate for these lovelies. I looked all over for a cookie cutter in the shape of a tea bag, but in the end there wasn't anything I could find [new product opp maybe?]. 

Improvising proved to be fairly easy. Once you roll the dough out, place a tea bag over the dough and using a butter knife trim out the cookies. A disposable straw can be used to cut out the hole on the top. Once they've baked and had time to cool, use a thin cotton twine and double sided craft paper of your choice for the string and tags. 

I'll warn you, I made a double batch of cookies, so by the time I sat down to tie string and cut paper I was tuckered out. My shortcut -- cut out strips of paper [approx. 1'' thick] and eyeball the length. It sped the process right up [I also had an extra set of hands]. The cookies were thick and durable enough for the man handling of these final touches -- which look pretty lady like to me. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Treats for my Furry Friend

A few weeks ago we learned that there was a recall on quite a few types of dog treats. This is the third time a food or treat I feed my little guy has been recalled. The thought of feeding him something dangerous to his health breaks my heart. What breaks his heart? When his 'mummy' won't give him any treats. He enjoys a good snack. Jeez, can't imagine where he gets that from [wink]. 

My quest to keep him happy, healthy and enjoying snacks has lead to exploring homemade treats. It's something that I have been wanting to do for years and years, but for one reason or another I haven't done it. The main reason is that I'm not quite sure what constitutes a healthy treat, but since China seems to be putting lots of gross stuff in the treats, I figure some relatively wholesome ingredients won't hurt him. 

Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits 

1 Cup Rolled Oats
1/3 Cup Margarine [slightly melted]
1 Cup Boiling Beef Broth
3/4 Cup Cornmeal
2 Teaspoons White Sugar
1/2 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
2 Eggs, Beaten
4 Cups Whole Wheat Flour

Combine and mix rolled oats, margarine, and boiling beef broth in large bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes [this helps the oats absorb the liquid].  In a separate bowl, combine cornmeal, sugar, milk, peanut butter, and eggs – mix well – and then add the oats mixture. Mix in flour, 1 cup at a time and knead dough until it comes together. Roll out dough to 1/2″ thickness and choose cookie cutters based on the size of your dog.
Place on a non-greased cookie sheet [they don’t rise and spread out like cookies do] and bake 35 to 45 minutes at 325 degrees.
 I  couldn't wait until they came out of the oven and cooled off to give Jax one. When offered a homemade peanut butter biscuit, he took it and ran. Success! 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday's Quote

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who come alive." - Harold Whitman

Is there really anything more to say [wink]?!

Have a lovely weekend dear blog readers.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Making my own counter top spray was reminiscent of days gone by when I used to play in the kitchen as a kid mixing all sorts of ingredients to find out which combinations would explode and make a mess. These days I'm more interested in cleaning up as few messes as possible and keeping the ingredients non-toxic. My cleaning days of practically knocking myself out with toxic fumes are over. 

Mixing together the ingredients for this spray was as simple as 1,2, 3. If you like immediate gratification and clean counters, then this recipe is for you. 

- 2 Tablespoons of Dr. Bronner's Lavender Castile Soap 
- 2 Tablespoons of White Vinegar 
- 2 Teaspoons of Borax Powder
- 2 Teaspoons Freshly Squeezed Lemon (or a couple drops of lemon essential oil)

Combine ingredients into a 32oz. spray bottle and mix with warm water and shake well. 

If you have any favorite homemade cleaning recipes, I'd love to hear about them. 
Happy Cleaning! 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Wordlessness. A funny word for a blog post, but yet its top of mind, so why not share?! As of late, I've had a bit of a 'not so good attitude' in a certain area of my life stemming from a frustration that I feel helpless about. In the grand scheme of things its minor, but in the day-to-day, it means something and needs productive attention. After holding a pity party for one, I decided it was high time I take back some of the control. I had to remind myself of a lesson learned [why can't I learn them once and be done?]: No matter what happens in life, if you can have ownership of the problem, even if its partial ownership, then said problem can begin to be resolved.

Fate brought to my attention a new book, that from the moment I heard about it I was compelled to read right away. The first chapter interestingly enough starts with looking inside with what the author describes as 'wordlessness.' I'm not sure about you, but I don't seem to get enough quiet time. Even when the room is quiet, I have what I call, 'drunken monkeys' chattering away in my head about something. It's quite the challenge to get that inner voice to quiet down a bit to actually feel the energy within my own body.

The concept of wordlessness is a method used to shift thinking with your head to moving into the whole inner space of the body. Feeling this inner space, opens the mind to being guided with the way one actually feels, not how you're programmed to feel. This energy is used as a guide for the big decisions in life and for the day-to-day stuff too. Deep stuff.

All this to say, the breathing exercises and practices for wordlessness have me actually resting in my body -- while awake. Anything that even borders on meditation typically puts me fast asleep. Instead here I am, feeling, rested and moving differently in my body.

Maybe now, I'll finally have the energy at the end of a long day to make those dog biscuits for my little furry guy that I've been putting off for weeks now and take care of my inner being.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Homemade Baileys Irish Cream

For my mom's birthday, I've made her one of her favorite drinks - Baileys Irish Cream. She has a little in her coffee most nights after dinner, so I know this will get used right up. After doing a little research on the ingredients, I wrote the the following recipe:

- 1 Cup Light Cream
- 14 oz. Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 1 Cup Irish Whiskey
- 1 Teaspoon Instant Espresso Coffee
- 2 Tablespoons Chocolate Syrup
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Bourbon

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and mix on high speed for 30 seconds. Pour into a sealed container and refrigerate. Shake before using. From what I've read, your homemade Baileys should last up to two months -- if it doesn't get consumed long before the expiration date.

From the beginning, I had a hard time believing that this was actually going to taste anything like Baileys, but to my surprise, it does [I think it's even better].

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Some of my earliest family memories are of the women in my family. My mom, her sisters, my grandmother and her mother [my great grandmother]. The matriarchs of the family brought with them this treasured traditions from Sicily that has been passed down through our large family. It is tradition in our family that on Good Friday we gather for what we have coined 'Cadula Day' to make Italian Easter Baskets made from flour, sugar, lard, eggs, and hard boiled colored eggs for decoration. 

My mom is the designated baker of Cadula Day and each year my aunts, grandmother and now, even my husband most years, join in for a full day of rolling dough, baking, decorating and packaging these Cadulas for the many members of our family. 

Between what we gathered from great grandma Catalfamo years ago and our own independent research, the making of these pastries is a tradition in Sicily not only for Easter but for other special occasions as well, such as weddings and other celebrations. Depending on the celebration, different shapes would be made with an egg used to decorate the pastry.

We've also discovered that the word 'Cadula' may not have been entirely accurate. With a heavy Italian accent, great grandma Catalfamo could be hard to understand and we think the official term may actually be 'Caddura' or 'Caddhura.' Regardless of the name we are lovers of this dry pastry. So much so, that one year we had extra dough left over and decided to make some cookies. They were a hit to say the least. 

Over four hundred cookies were made this year. Each person gets four cookies in addition to their own Cadula pastry and if they choose not to have a Cadula made for them, then they get four more cookies. With a large family it can be challenging to keep it all straight. This was the year we decided we can no longer rely on scribbled down notes to rely on from year to year. It's time for a spreadsheet mapping out who gets what, what kind of supplies we need as far as Easter grass, candy, boxes for packaging, etc. [craziness, I know]. 

Each batch that comes out of the oven needs to cool. Cadulas get jelly beans and then glazed with a powdered sugar frosting. The cookies get the same frosting and then sprinkles. It becomes an assembly line of Cadulas and cookies all in various stages that leads up to packaging in pie boxes on a bed of Easter basket grass and a couple handfuls of candy for good measure. They then get wrapped up and ready for pickup or delivery. 

I go home at the end of the day smelling like Crisco, aching from standing all day and thinking going to work would have been so much easier, but in the end I know how disappointing it is to call home from work during lunch hour to check in on the process versus spending the day working alongside the ladies in my life. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Friday's Quote

Another week, another Friday quote. Oh how I enjoy this part of the week. As I mentally unwind and look forward to the weekend, I hope to carve out some reading time. It's been a couple of weeks since I just sat and read, and I miss it. I tend to go through phases of either reading at a leisurely pace or devouring book after book. With reading, naturally comes a good quote or two to stumble upon. The ones that leave me thinking, 'Hmmm, I guess it's not just me that thinks or feels that way.' Novel concept [pun intended - wink, wink].

Quotes have been a part of my life since childhood. I'd find a phrase in a book or magazine and I had to have it. It wasn't enough to just read it, it somehow had to become part of my life. I would cut them out of magazines or jot them down and place them here and there. To this day, that has not changed. I tape quotes to my computer, my dressing mirror, tucked inside of little jars -- I even have a couple on my bookshelf.

So, as I look forward to sitting down with my new copy of Mrs. Kennedy and Me, by Clint Hill, it seems only natural to leave you with the quote that is currently on my bookshelf..."Your books are your autobiography: They map your history, reflect your tastes, hold emotional moments between covers. On these pages, intelligent designs for sharing space with the literature you love." [author unknown]

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Creative Direction

Sometimes when I work on a new project and I haven't quite figured out my creative direction yet, I take some time to play. In this case, my definition of play is pulling together objects for styling. 

Basically, I wander around the house, gathering things that are appealing and feel may work. Note, I said, 'feel'. The big thing is to not over think the process. Go with that gut feeling. 

Once I have gathered, I start arranging, rearranging, and rearranging again all while taking pictures along the way. It can take some time and futzing around trying to figure out what does and does not feel right. 

When I go with the flow and have fun with it, I tend to wind up with something I am happy with in the end.
How do you get those creative juices flowing?