February 16, 2010

Skating on History

This past weekend, I had a chance to pretend I was living in the 1920's. It was magical. It all seemed very convincing, minus the DJ blasting "Thriller" and Lady Gaga. We live very close to the Morris Canal, a little piece of history that use to carry items to different locations across the tiny state of New Jersey. By the 1850s, it was replaced by railroads, but the canal way is still mostly intact.

My lovely town, once a year, holds a Valentine's Day Canal Skate. They have bushels of hay, small bonfires, a DJ - and you are allowed to skate across the water that over 200 years ago, brought coal from one end of the state to the other. The town decorates the trees with Christmas lights, and a waterway - no wider than 20 feet - you are permitted to skate up and down the area to the wonderful sounds of modern music.

It was a fabulous way to ring in Valentine's Day weekend. I sadly only have a picture of the area in the summertime, but use your imagination and visualize Christmas lights in the woods, every 50 feet a small fire with hay to sit on (along the path), and snowy lightly falling.

Romantic Snow Globes by WiddlyTinks.com

I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend, and enjoyed it with those they love!


February 15, 2010

Muffin Tin Me

I don't know how I have survived 28 years of living, and never heard of Muffin Tin Lunch. How wonderful for someone who doesn't like to make choices, and wants a little bit of everything. I think it's more advertised for kids, but I don't see why adults can't have this too! It not only is fun, but also can help with portion control....something I am lacking. completely. I'm thinking about the variety, and all the fun ways to display. Since this isn't a new concept (except to me!) I posted all the neat-o pics I found on the subject. Probably the most appealing aspect to this way of eating are the themes. Women have created a muffin tin lunch based on holidays, favorite books, movies, hobbies.....again, so many choices!!

Sycamore Stirrings based the muffin lunch on the book Mouse Mess by Linnia Riley. It is a story of a mouse (eek!) who creates a mess snacking and munching his way through the kitchen. The creator of this muffin tin picked the food mentioned in the book.

Another book/muffin tin lunch I found is based off of Goodnight Moon. I remember this book because as a kid, my younger cousin would read this religiously! Life in Gator Land created moon sandwiches and cheese stars.
My brother's favorite book as a child was The Hungry Hungry Caterpillar - and perhaps this muffin tin lunch would have gone a long way in his eyes! My Little Gems did a fabulous job listing the foods included on the menu. Thanks!!

THE MENU: chocolate cake, a go-yogurt, pickle, string cheese, ham, applesauce muffin, tomato wedges, and some peaches (had to eat something healthy with all that junk!)
Probably my favorite tin meal is based on the book, Pinkalicious by Victoria and Elizabeth Kahn. It's adorable, pink and so very cute! This is an amusing book about a girl who eats too many pink cupcakes (perhaps was this me as a kid?), and turns pink. I just love all the treats in this muffin tin - and I especially like the heart shaped tin. It definitely adds character to an already fun meal!

If you want to join in on the fun, you can join Sycamore Stirrings and be part of the Muffin Tin Mondays. I think if I find the time, I just might join :) Though I may be the only one without children on the site. hehe


February 12, 2010

Displays of Affection

This is the big weekend for lovers. Or so they think...really every weekend should be a weekend for lovers, not just the 14th of the second month of the year.

I fall in love with the holidays - and Valentine's Day is no exception. But I feel there is added pressure on relationships to do something "romantic". I fall right into that category, because my parting words to my dear husband this AM was something along the lines of "I hope you have something roMANtic planned for tonight or Sunday..because this IS our first Valentine's day as husband and wife." humph. Didn't leave much choice for the poor guy. And why is that? I want to feel romanced. I want to be swept off my feet from our everyday life. And while the rest of the world is celebrating, I want to feel special. Though really, I should feel that way everyday....but sometimes our everyday lives get the best of us - and we forget to say simple words. Like I love you. You look lovely. Thank you.

So on this day, much like every other day in the year, I say this "Be Bold. Be romantic. But be that way all year long. Not just on the 14th. "

Ten ways to show your affection when your wallet is empty:

1. Leave a note under her/his windshield wiper at work.
2. Pack "I love you" notes in her suitcase or lunchbox.
3. Complain less, compliement more. (Gee I should follow my own advice)
4. Wake up every morning fifteen minutes early to cuddle with each other.
5. Make breakfast in bed.
6. Start a journal of your thoughts and present it to your love. Perhaps write letters back and forth to each other. (I can not take credit for this idea, as it was my husband who suggested it)**
7. Make a list of 100 reasons why you love your wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend.
8. Create a jar filled with "Love Coupons." Make the coupons redeemable for hugs, kisses, back rubs or any number of special favors. Give the jar to your lover and let him/her redeem the coupons over time.
9. Read a book together (My husband and I do this, but it always puts me to sleep. I find it fabulous...not sure about his feelings!)
10. Make a mix cd...this NEVER gets old for me!! I think I will forever have every mixed cd/cassette tape ever made for me because I admire the work it takes to put it together.

Hope this list helps you a bit come up with ways to show your sweetie how you feel. It doesn't take jewelry, flowers, or fancy dinners to display your affection. (Though it never hurts!) It just takes some time and creativity. On that note my friends, have a wonderful Valentine's Day!


February 08, 2010

Love at first click

Could it be true? I'm falling in love all over again. With an envelope to hold my To DO Lists. *deep sigh*

While ranting about PB & Jelly spoons, I came across Organize.com - I'm not sure if they had me in mind when this site was created,, but to boost my ego, I'm going to assume the answer is yes.
Not only does this website deal with organizing, but it deals with it fashionable. My heart skips a beat. For this entry I can only focus on the catergory "Office" because if I look at the many other items listed, I would never go to bed!

The Errand Organizer seems to suit my needs just dandy. What draws my attention is the many jobs of this organizer - file folders, to do lists, stickers...etc. I love the contrasting teal and orange colors. It would fit nicely inside most purses/bags.

Another fabulous list is the Chore List, which could be given to not only your children, but husband or wife (hehe). The columns are divided into Inside Chores, Outside Chores, and everyday. At the top - you can write whose list it is, in addition to the date. There is also a space for what you get in return for completing the tasks...I just think this is a wonderful check list. Two stars from me.

This picture doesn't seem to be the greatest, but check out the site to see it up close...or order a pad for yourself! Start making your chore list...or atleast start writing on them :)

To go along with my Wino Wednesdays, there is a "Rate that Wine" pad. How fun! Coaster included. " Don't want to forget where to buy it? Record the store name in the clever Purchased From section. Once you've started drinking, be sure to rank the spirit's label, color, clarity, nose, body, flavor and finish... but realize that the options are for the less discerning (and more honest) among us." I will stick my nose in the air, and with my plastic wine glass, rate my $10 bottle!
If I let myself get carried away, this entry could be neverending....However, I am going to only post a few more items that I love from this website. Perhaps I will revisit this site again (and again).

Mail Sorter? I posted awhile ago but what I would like to make...but if my sewing machine and I disagree, I could just buy this organizer. (I never get tired of saying that word!) There are four slots, labled "Pay Me", "Respond To Me", "Notice Me", and "Read Me". There is also a little slot for stamps. This is fabulous, since I recently discovered 34 cent stamps - probably because I didn't have an organizer for them!


February 04, 2010

Hooray! A makeover!!

So happy to say that my blog has received a makeover. I L-O-V-E it!!!!!

A BIG thank you to Carolynn from My Blog Makeover for completely taking all my ideas and making it better than I expected!!!!!!!!!

Please let me know what you think!!!!

Not your typical sandwich

I never was a peanut butter and jelly type of girl. I loathed jelly as a child, so my mother would put other foods matched with PB. Since then, I have grown an appreciation for jelly or jam, but I still do not like the two to co-mingle.
Thankfully, my husband has come to understand this quirk -and also will slice apples if making PB sandwiches. But one thing I didn't try - and for the sake of dessert, I would be willing to try it out....Peanut Butter and Jam Ice Cream Sandwiches.
Since there seems to be a snowstorm approaching, this dessert will satisfy any cravings of desserts and lunch. And perhaps instead of a boring ole' sandwich, this is what I will have tomorrow at noon.

You will need the following:

1 18-ounce roll refrigerated peanut butter cookie dough
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons preserves, such as raspberry, cherry, or strawberry)
1 pint vanilla bean ice cream

Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Knead flour into cookie dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 13-1/2x9-inch rectangle. Cut into 1-1/2-inch squares. Transfer to ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are firm and tops are browned. Cool on cookie sheets for 1 minute. Remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

Place 1 teaspoon jam or preserves on flat side of 1 cookie. Place a small scoop of ice cream (about 1-1/2 tablespoons) on jam. Top with another cookie, flat side down, and press lightly. Repeat with remaining cookies, jam, and ice cream (there will be extra cookies).

Wrap and freeze 4 to 48 hours. Makes 16 sandwiches and 22 extra cookies.

*If I do try this recipe out - I will definitely take pics! **

Since I am thinking of PB and Jelly, I am not sold on the peanut butter and jelly spatula. Cute, sure! Practical, no. Why would you spend $8.99 when you can use a perfectly good knife you have at home? However, here it is.....if you are overcome with the need to waste $10 - this is where you could pick this item up. (I might add that my husband really likes this utensil. and that is no joke)

Now to end this post on a happy note....as a kid I also loved the song Peanut Butter and Jelly - which for those that don't know, went through the actual process of how to make peanut b and jelly sandwich. very techincal :)

First you take the peanuts
And you crunch 'em, You crunch 'em
First you take the peanuts
And you crunch 'em, You crunch 'em
For your peanut, peanut butter
And jelly
Peanut, peanut butter And jelly
Then you take the grapes
And you squish 'em, You squish 'em
Then you take the grapes
And you squish 'em, You squish 'em
For your peanut, peanut butter And jelly
Peanut, peanut butter And jelly
Then you take the bread
And you spread it, You spread it
Then you take the bread
And you spread it, You spread it
For your peanut, peanut butter And jelly
Peanut, peanut butter And jelly
Then you take your sandwich
And you eat it, You eat it
Then you take your sandwich
And you eat it, You eat it

I'm pretty sure that MY lyrics were neverending...but this will have to do :) In my version, you not only picked the grapes but squashed. Then you crunched the peanuts. Again, very technical.

Wear your heart on your sleeve

According to Goenglish.com (might I add a very reputable source for idioms) wearing your heart on your sleeve means:

People who wear their heart on their sleeve express their emotions freely and openly, for all to see. Example: "She is kind of player who never hides how she's feeling. One look at her and you know if she's winning or losing." Reply: "She wears her heart on her sleeve."

You can see how these people feel as easily as if they were "wearing" their "heart" on the "sleeve" of their shirt. Example: "Some people love him and some people hate him, but my brother always lets you know how he feels. He wears his heart on his sleeve."

People who wear their heart on their sleeve do not hold back their emotions, for good or for bad. It is clear how they feel in each moment. Example: "She's a shy person. She's never been one to wear her heart on her sleeve."

Why wouldn't we want to wear our hearts out on the open? Except for fear, what else is stopping you? (and I think perhaps that is reason enough for most people). However, I believe if you feel it, show it.
As I was ever avoiding work, I found Planet Pudge, who knows exactly how to wear her heart. Perhaps my love for this woman stemmed from her self-description, "an over-caffeinated, creative-deprived mom in search of fun, modern clothes for her two little girls. Sick of the same old mass-produced stuff, she started fanatically drawing, cutting, obsessing over fabrics and hand-stitching everything (much to the dismay of her calloused middle finger). "

My FAVORITE shirt is Apple of My Eye

Yet another cutie petutie shirt.......think of all the possibilities you could do with scrap fabric!

Or if you are more literal, here's the shirt for you.

Emily Penso not only designs and prints her own shirts, but also creates and paints her own jewelry. Her art work reminds me of cartoons from the Black Plague, dark yet inspiring. It may just be the bird man on her homepage, that reminds me of doctors from 1900's. Not sure if my taste is the same as her artwork, but I do love the tree earrings.

Lesson for today: Express your emotions. Don't be afraid to wear your heart out for all to see. Just maybe not literally.....


February 03, 2010

I love solid and liquid cupcakes

Today is my 3rd favorite day of the week. Simply because I have a little time to myself, and I sample wines for the good of the blog....or the good of me.

After jetting out of my work, and throwing my belongings in the car at a record speed, I nearly crushed the pastry gift my husband had left for me while I was at work. Strategically in the driver's seat. I almost had an accident. Not the kind that you would want to explain to anyone why you have icing in the cracks of your pants. What made it all better was the note attached, "Sweets for my sweetie." **sigh**

However, cupcakes and mini cannolis were my passengers for the ride home. Perfect side dish to my liquid dinner later. Cupcakes and wine.

I discovered Cupcake vineyards a few weeks ago after stopping at a bakery, then a liquor store (probably my two favorite places next to my parent's house and Target). I thought to myself "How clever to eat AND drink cupcakes!" But alas, I only ate cupcakes that evening. So a few weeks later (today), I decided my husband gave me the perfect opportunity to match my two favorite things.

I went home and cozied myself next to drafty window (how poetic), and opened up my bottle of wine for one. Then I peeled a cupcake, and voila! Heaven!

I tried the Cupcake Riesling - which was smooth and citrusy. I loved it. I checked out the website just moments ago, and it perhaps made my love grow. They have cupcake recipes to match with their wines. Seriously. I have attached the recipe from the website, and just as they stated, it "pairs perfectly". **deep sigh**

~ Pairs Perfectly with Cupcake Vineyards Riesling ~

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup finely chopped toasted hazelnuts
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon minced fresh or dried rosemary leaves
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
¾ cup sugar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ cup sour cream
Candied flowers or fresh rosemary leaves (garnish)

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners, if using. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl. Add the hazelnuts, Parmesan, lemon zest and rosemary; toss to combine.

2. In a large mixing bowl beat the egg and egg yolk and the sugar until very light and creamy, about 5 minutes. Add the olive oil in a thin stream beating constantly until blended. Blend in the sour cream.

3. Using a rubber spatula or the slowest speed on electric mixture add the flour mixture. Mix just until blended.

4. Fill each cup ¾ full with batter. Bake mini cupcakes 18 to 20 minutes and full size cupcakes 25 to 30 minutes, or until pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire racks.

5. Spread or pipe icing (1 cup of very cold sour cream) on the cooled cupcakes. Garnish with candied flowers or rosemary leaves.

Makes 12 to 14 standard cupcakes and 48 mini cupcakes

I may have to try this recipe this weekend, and perhaps stop at the store for a fresh bottle of Riesling - and put their cupcakes to the test. Here's to the letter C!


February 02, 2010

My Sister's Weeper

Watching My Sister's Keeper, I knew that it would be a sad one. I wanted to read the book before watching the film. However, that didn't happen. I had two hours to myself, and so I braced myself with a box of tissues, Bryan's snuggie, and my pjs. I was ready for whatever sadness laid ahead.

To start, I like how the movie flips back and forth between the past and present, so you know what decisions were made and how they came to certain ideas and problems. Narrated by each character at different points, the movie made me feel compassion for characters that otherwise would be wallflowers had we not heard their version of the day-to-day events.
If you are unfamiliar with the story, a family discovers that their five year old daughter has leukemia. Her parents are not blood matches, so they pick genes from each other to create their third child to assist Kate. Throughout their lives, the two sisters work together in the hospital, fighting to keep Kate healthy. At 11, the younger sister decides she doesn't want to donate her kidney to sister - as she was never asked if this is something she wanted to do. An act of braveness or act of selfishness?

Cancer. What to say about that? I've been blessed to only know a few people who have been sick. Those that were sick with cancer, I was young enough where I didn't realize the pain and suffering. However, it isn't always those who are sick who are suffering.
The movie focused not only on Kate's sickness, and her sister's fight against donating her kidney, but how everyone gets pushed aside at some point. I just felt awful for the brother. You know very little of what he does, where he goes - he is just a shadow in the background of medicines and hospitals. Kate, the girl who is sick, narrates how she took her father's first love away from him. In short, her mother only focused on her and her illness. Nothing more. I like how Kate realizes the impact of her illness on everyone, which almost forces her to make the decision not to fight any longer. I can't imagine having that strength as a teenager.

Early in the movie Kate refused to leave her bedroom, because after treatment she lost all her hair. Again. She was laying in her bed, crying, wailing in fact, saying how she was a freak and wasn't beautiful. Her father and sister were trying to gently coax her out of bed. Her mother was standing in the doorway, completely beside herself. After screaming to her daughter she had enough, her mother, played by Cameron Diaz - went into the bathroom and shaved off her blond hair. It was a simple act. But so powerful. Her mother couldn't make things better for her, but she could join her in looking a certain way. I believe it was also the turning point for Kate, where she knew she was going to die.

She eventually meets another cancer patient, Taylor, and this is her first and only boyfriend. This was also one of the only parts of the movie where I truly couldn't see through my own tears. Back in the hospital for more chemo, Kate is throwing up in a bucket. Taylor comes swooping in, holds back her hair - and gives her a stick of gum afterwards. There they sit, a pair of bald patients, holding each other, almost grasping at the only normal thing in their lives - each other. It struck a chord, and the tear gates opened.

I have heard that the book goes into more detail of each character, which is something I feel the movie lacked. It didn't explain her (short) relationship with a fellow cancer patient. All we know is the end result. Sadness.
I don't want to give too much away with the movie, but though the ending was of course sad, but it cleared up a little bit of hostility for me. Throughout the movie, I couldn't understand how and why certain characters reacted so harshly. Or why the younger sister was being so selfish. Or why the mother was so overbearing. The end comes, and you are left with a little piece of serenity.

I am going to open My Sister's Keeper tonight and start reading.