Aside

Therapy for ME! Getting this out so that I can start 2014 FRESH! :)

31 Dec

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It has been… A YEAR.  I say that with capital emboldened letters here because this year has brought both incredible growth, happiness, and adventure but also so much sadness and self contemplation for me…  It’s been almost a year since I started this glitter-filled blog, full of recipes and loves and personal reflections; back when I first began I couldn’t have imagined where this year would bring me… Just when you think you know a thing or two about life, just when you think you’ve got a thumb on a few things; suddenly and inexplicably, life says “OH NO YOU DON’T!!!”  The really interesting thing about that for ME is, even with the knowing of the trickery of life, it can and will throw a curve ball at you when you least expect it… Life can STILL, and I can only assume always will, surprise you in both amazing and devastating ways.

This blog entry, for me, is more therapeutic, so you might not find in it’s words, my usual upbeat ponderings, at least not overtly upbeat… So, if what you are looking for here is more of the same, I would say “STOP NOW!!!” That’s the beauty of the blog, YOU decide if it’s worth reading today or not!  I will proclaim that in my humble opinion, blogging, writing, and even sharing troubles with a friend is one of the best ways to recapture your personal happiness… “A trouble shared is half the trouble.” Because let’s face it, even someone who spends copious amounts of time trying to find their own happiness as well as others can get down every now and then… and this Queen of Glitter has been feeling all sorts of shades of blue!  I have been meaning to write this blog for the past 8 months, no better time than the day before the start of a new and fresh year!

The beginning of this year marked my very first adventure to another country… Where? Cabo, Mexico… Not very far or exotic from the beautiful Northern California surroundings I am usually in… But I loved it.  For the first time I realized, well not realized, but saw and smelled and tasted how rich the world is.  How amazing people are and it was with that first trip that I knew there weren’t going to be many places I wouldn’t want to adventure to if given the chance.

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Next we went to New Orleans, I visited my grandparents in Texas, we did a trip to Disneyland, one to Maui, and most recently to Boston… The Boston trip was a follow up to our AMAZING DC trip last year, and again I felt so humbled, so blessed in that moment that I was able to go to these places.  To see Plymouth Rock and an original tea chest that was floating in the harbor during the Boston Tea Party. These trips have left me with a since of history,  not just of our own country and people, but of myself…

In the middle of all of this, I decided to open my very own business. It was a big decision, I had worked for someone for 13 years in the beauty industry and woke up one morning and just said, “NOW.”  I think it was a combination of things that led to my decision. People had been telling me for years that I should do it, even my husband had asked me every year since I had known him.  I can’t say EXACTLY what prompted the decision for sure, but once I made it, I was like a dog with a bone and worked my way through it… In our house we say “Put a pot on your head and run into battle” (you get the idea).

Can I please just say that was a lot of work? I really didn’t complain about it to anyone and I’m not complaining about it now, but I think because I just, DID it, it looked easier than it was, and I have to say emphatically, IT WAS NOT… There really wasn’t any TIME to complain, and anyways no one forced me to start my own business, I had no one to blame but little old me!🙂 I spent my evenings researching (by the way, there doesn’t exist a list or book out there that outlines how to open your own business, so if you want to be a millionaire, think about writing that!!!) and my days executing.  I was still working full time while I was starting my business and each day was like feeling my way through the darkness, but I had this truth in the back of my mind, “YOU CAN DO THIS!”  (Not to mention a husband who always believes I can do anything) About 2 months after I made the decision to open my own mini spa, I opened the door to Treat and haven’t stopped since…

My business has been such a success, and God willing it will continue that way.  It’s been hard, it’s been tiring, it’s been a learning experience and I have no doubt it will continue to be, but every month these amazing people and FRIENDS have filled my books and made it possible for me to pay my bills and make a living doing something I love.  I just have to put in this post how thankful I am, how filled with gratitude and awe for the people who are in my life, the ones who support and uplift me.  These amazing people who come to see me and hear about my life and tell me theirs, who trust me and are trusted by me. People who tell me their truths and allow me to tell them mine… These people who make my job more than just a job, YOU who can tell me a story, or a fact, or a piece of your life and impact how I live mine, how I see the world, to know that the simple act of sharing a kindness can change another persons life…  How can I be so lucky and blessed to have you? Ok, I’ll stop gushing and continue… Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 1.02.08 PM

So I’m sitting here listening to the Carole King pandora station because it reminds me of what I really want to say here… What I really want to put out into cyberspace without any expectation of return but just to finally put the words to paper and maybe where my life is right now in this moment is why I am finally able to do it…

In March, my Mom died.

My mommy died😦.

As I sit here writing these words with tears spilling out of my eyes. I breath the air in and hold it and what I want to do, what I have done is cry her name out.  I’ve cried it alone and in the dark and in the shower and I’ve kept the pain a secret because there was so much about her that was dark, and painful, and abusive… But also, there was so much love and laughter and I can’t help but feel like the strength she didn’t possess had flowed out of her and into me… I only realize these things now, as I get farther way from her death, the more I think about her.

Shortly after my Mom died, I went to dinner with a friend who had lost her own amazing Father suddenly, a very different kind of passing than the one my Mom endured… What she gave me was a poem her Dad had written and a candle… She said “Not now if you don’t want, but sometime, this candle will be here with this poem and when you’re ready, you can light the candle and think or write or do whatever you feel about your Mother.”  That candle has sat in my desk from that day to this, unburned but not unnoticed… I know it’s there, waiting, but some things are too painful and there doesn’t seem to be enough time and space to REALLY go through it, so each time I feel brave enough to light the candle, instead I refold the poem neatly back in and place the lid over the top.   Sometimes I think I look stronger than I am, have to be stronger than I am…  I most of us do.

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The older I get, the more I realize that my Mother, My Family, the ones who I spent my entire life trying “not to be like” because of what my mother had become, the ones I felt like had mortally wounded me, the things I sought and still seek therapy for; that family of my youth really was, a great family.  So much of my youth was about this wonderful family, especially the ones in Texas who are and have been just as good as any family is today… It’s not easy to be close when your so far away.

I am not giving my mother a pass. She was an alcoholic and it was very painful for me, still IS painful for me, so much so that I had to choose to not have her in my life.  Let me explain.  When I was a little girl, my mother and I moved out here from Texas… Of course I didn’t know why, but all I knew was that I was with my mom and that was all that mattered.  When I was a tiny, my mother was IT, she was the Alpha and the Omega, she hung the moon and raised the sun.   Many of my closest friends and even my husband don’t really know this because by the time I met most of you, she had gotten so sick and I was so tired of trying to save her… I had grown resentful and bitter and couldn’t understand why she couldn’t save herself… I had felt abandoned and isolated by the rest of my family because I alone had to shoulder the burden of my Mother… But it wasn’t their fault, not then and not now.  My Mother put us as far away as possible so that no one could help her, and me, like a small town teenager could only imagine of the day I could escape my captivity…

But before all that, I remember watching  my Mom putting on her blue eyeliner and drying her hair… I would put on her work jackets with shoulder pads and pumps and dream of the day when I would be just like her.  I loved my mother. My mother LOVED Christmas.  I’ve never known another person alive who loved Christmas like my mom did, and because of that, I’ve always loved Christmas too. Even when it was just her and I in a one room apartment, Christmas was ALWAYS elaborate and magical, and I don’t mean presents, it was the tradition of it all… I remember sitting, even in high school when she was sick with her disease but had a moment where she was just my mom, singing Christmas carols together.  She would laugh and always knew every word… I’ll never be able to ask another person about those moments, they were ones shared between her and I alone…

At Easter, from the time I can remember until I moved out of the house, my mom would hide Easter eggs with me… I can see it in my mind right this moment, oblong spheres of pastel blues and pinks hastily hidden in bushes and pots with me complaining that I was too old for this and her just laughing and telling me if I was warmer or cooler… These are some of the very best memories I can recall, and so many more are coming to me as the days go by…

But, I literally waited my entire life for my mom to die. That’s an intense statement, but my entire life I waited for the phone call.  When I was little I would cry at the thought, desperate and in despair that she would not be with me.  No child should have to fear that, but I did.  My mom would kiss me goodnight, every single night, I couldn’t even go to bed unless she did.  Before I finally had to walk away from that house of despair, I remember her falling to the floor and me picking her up while saying “Mom, I am so afraid that you are going to die soon”… To which she replied as ever “Don’t worry about me, I’m going to be around for a long time.”  Once I got older and she got so bad I secretly hoped that her misery would end, and mine too.  I had such guilt over that feeling.

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I realize now, and pretty shortly after I got the phone call, finally, that she had died that the anger I had felt towards her, the words of pain I had shared for her with others had been for me.

What I mean is, those words and feelings protected me, and I am grateful that they did because I had to be strong enough to walk away from her sickness… I thought I had lost all hope for my mother.  I thought that I had accepted that I would never have a mother, I thought that I had mourned her when she moved back to Texas and sometimes lived on the streets… What I realized when my husband told me of her death was that somewhere, down at the bottom of my heart, there was a tiny grain of hope. There it was, still in there, and it burned like a searing white flame in my heart.  That little flame is what caused the most pain after her passing.

I don’t feel the guilt that I thought I might have for how we left things, her and I.  I really don’t feel that type of pain because where she is, I know she knows my heart, I know that she knows I loved her, love her still, and I know that she knows that I had to keep her at a distance from me and from the family I was trying to create with my husband.  I want a good life, a full life with joy, not struggle… And I had to make that decision to turn my back not just on family, but on my own Mother.   Life is hard enough without constantly fighting the people who are suppose to have your back, especially a Mother.  I know that my Mom knows now that I had to choose my life, my happiness over hers, and I had to give her the freedom to do the same.  It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, and I wouldn’t wish that choice on anyone.

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What has been amazing about my mom’s death is that so much of that “protection” has fallen away now.  I am astonished, not only about letting go of so much of the pain and the forgiveness that has come, but I’m also finally able to remember some of the wonderful times.  I think this is what causes me to oscalte between fondness and sadness.

I know now that there will never be anyone who loves me the way my mother did, even in her sickness.  I think of her so often these days, mainly because my new spa is located near the area that I spent so much of my childhood, so many of the “Good Years” and I can see us, her and I at the grocery stores, driving down the streets… I see the cookies she loved, Sandies, the woman could eat an entire bag in one sitting… I can see myself rolling my eyes that every single time I had a problem with anyone it was because “they were jealous of me”, she always said that… I could never understand it, but it was because my mom really did always see the best in me.  My mom thought I was so neat and beautiful and what I cry about now is that she did lose me… and I can’t beat myself up about that, but my heart hurts at the thought of her realization of that.  I can’t imagine losing a child to death, but to lose one by choice…

I think some people think that I am the type of person that shares everything with everyone…  The truth is, I’m not… I do hold things back and in, because some things are so sad and tragic that I just can’t imagine putting it on someone.  Not long after my Mom died in March, I found out my Dad had died too…  I really didn’t have much of a relationship with my Dad and so I didn’t cry about it like my mother, but it did effect me.  I thought, OK, I’m 30 years old and now I have no mother and no father and I never will.  I will never be able to ask my mom about what it was like to be pregnant with me or what I was like as a little girl.  I would never have grandparents kin to me that might match the amazing ones that I had growing up.

My mother will never hold my child or look at me with a mother’s adoration, I’ll never be able to fold into her arms like I did as a child and be comforted the way only a mother can.  I’ll never have those people in my court.  I can’t say what it’s like to lose your parents when you are older or when you have children of your own or other familial relationships like siblings that are and live close and are empathetic and nurturing, especially since the rest of my family are so far away, but what I can say is that when you find out that you are the ONLY thing left behind from two people who ended their lives addicted and down-and-out, two people who left nothing behind, not a cent, or a ring, or a family album or heirloom, just you; it does get into your head.  It’s a moment that makes you feel alone in a crowded room.  I’m not throwing a pity party here, but I do think I am allowed a moment of pain in this tragic tail, this life changing moment. Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 12.50.43 PM

It’s been something I have dealt with internally for several months, just letting little bits out every now and then to ease the pressure in my heart like tremors to release pressure in the fault lines.  I couldn’t even bare to go to the funeral or gravesite, and I know it looked like coldness, uncaring to come people  but… Even now the thought of her in the ground sends me into a panic.  Instead, it comes out when I hear Carole King or James Taylor’s “You’ve got a Friend” or when I pull out the ornaments that I remember hanging on the tree with her.  Death is so hard, it is soooo painful. But it’s also so beautiful.  I have learned so much about myself since the passing of one of my dearest friends 2 years ago, and now my mother.  I am so filled with joy that even though I may cry about her because of that hope that I didn’t know was there, I also have these memories that I hadn’t remembered for years.  Maybe it is “rosie retrospection”, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

This Christmas has been especially hard for me.  Not only have I missed my mother in ways I never thought I would, but my beloved grandmother was diagnosed with ALS, a disease that means she most likely won’t live for more than 5 years, and I don’t think it will be a peaceful time for her.  I can’t speak with her on the phone anymore because the disease has taken her speech… I use to talk to my grandmother just about every day since I was 13.  I miss her so terribly.  Even though she would drive me nuts, besides my mom, she was the closest thing I had to a mother and I am devastated that I cannot help, that I will now lose this connection to myself, and I am devastated for her all at the same time.

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With all this sadness I feel compelled to write about, now, at the end I want to say how dazzling I think life is. How wonderful my life is.

I have a husband who I miss the second he walks out the door, we have a happy life in spite life’s curve balls, and I know that I would not be where I am, or who I am today without his love and his support. He has been the one person in my life who has put the pot on his head for me and me alone, because HE sees my true heart and desires.  I want to say that to the world, I think I tell him enough, but I want to say it here.  You are my heart.  You make me laugh so much and hold my hand and my heart when I am in despair and I hope that I do the same for you.  Thank you for being there this year, my rough year, our rough year.

I also want to thank my friends.  And when I write this, you know who you are.  The ones who send me a text to tell me that they are there if I need them, the ones or who hug me and allow me to be me, crazy and emotional and so so full of love with so much love to give.  Even the ones who don’t do those things often, but who I know would do anything if I would be brave enough to ask.  Thank you for accepting my love and giving in back in spades to me.  Thank you for reading this and being there and being daring enough to endure with me and for seeking your happiness with me…  My next posts should be fun and light and fresh, and I just know 2014 is going to be amazing.  I have hope:).

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Delicious Thanksgiving Treats!

26 Nov

I am such a huge fan of Thanksgiving, and I am fairly certain that at the very least, most of us enjoy the food.  ALL HAIL the Thanksgiving Feast!  For me, the food is most certainly a big part of the sheer enjoyment I feel on the day “The Holidays” truly begin. 

Strategically placed turkey with the the fixins is ALMOST all I can think about!

Strategically placed turkey with the the fixins is ALMOST all I can think about!

Growing up, some of the dishes I anticipated most were carefully honed, crafted, and handed down from my Mammaw to my mom.  I remember hovering around the kitchen begging to get a lick of the chocolate silk pie, or my grandmother’s deliciously moist cornbread stuffing.  I could eat that stuff cold, I could eat it in between to slices of bread, with NOTHING ELSE (talk about carb on carb), but most of all, Thanksgiving just wasn’t the same unless I saw those golden mounds of cornbread with little crusty crests, interspersed with bits boiled eggs, celery, and all things savory…  Hold on; let me wipe up the drool… 🙂

When I was younger and just starting to cook, the internet was my oyster and every recipe was a chance to create a new, MORE perfect recipe.  With each click, a potential new flavor combination, something out of the ordinary, a culinary pearl… In short, I got tired of the tradition and wanted something innovative!!  We all go to that place, in fact I think it’s how old family recipes get lost forever, and most of us spend the rest of our lives trying to recreate those “tired old recipes” we were trying to escape.  Call it rosy-food-retrospection,  but at this stage in my life, after trying so many different recipes, I think it’s safe to say that I have landed on what I believe to be those dishes for my family.  I’m not saying I won’t ever try something new, but herein lies two recipes that, in my humble opinion, are ones that will not disappoint (at the very least YOU) and the having of them should leave you excited and unstressed for next holiday season… and the one after that and so forth.

 The more I cook and the older I get the more I appreciate clean, simple, and delicious recipes and ingredients.  My recipe for Mulled Cranberry Sauce and Yam Soufflé with Homemade Marshmallows are both best made ahead, which means more time for you to enjoy the holiday and watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade come Thanksgiving morning.


Mulled Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:

12-14Oz Fresh Cranberries

1-1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar

Fresh Cranberries, simmering until bursting, and finished in an old fashioned mold bought on Etsy!

Fresh Cranberries, simmering until bursting, and finished in an old fashioned mold bought on Etsy!

1-Cup Muscat or Dessert Wine

Juice from 1 Orange

Bundle of Mulling Spices in a Cheese Cloth

Directions:

1) Bring Muscat and sugar to a boil over medium high heat.

2) Add rinsed and picked cranberries, bring to a boil and simmer, covered for 10 minutes with mulling spices and orange juice.

3) Use food mill or immersion blender (my preferred method) to blend.  You can make it chunky or perfectly smooth depending on the family preference.  I find everyone likes it smooth, even if they prefer it chunky, but not vise versa.

4) Top with orange zest and pour into serving bowls or molds to set.


** You can serve this warm or cold, it’s UNREAL the day after with your Turkey sandwich!!!

Yam Soufflé with Homemade Marshmallows:

Note: This soufflé recipe isn’t difficult at all.  I have used caramel, nuts, fruits, and a variety of other ingredients to dress up yams, but actually I find that they make the most impact on the plate the same way they did when you were a kid, beautifully whipped with butter, brown sugar, and spices.  What makes this special, the WOW factor, is that I make my own marshmallows… It’s seems like a daunting task, but it’s really not, and you take ALL the credit. Plus you can give the extras out as gifts or plop them into hot chocolate to selfishly enjoy with a Christmas movie!

Homemade Marshmallows: I like this one by Alton Brown

Finished Mallows, the candy thermometer, and setting gelatin! These are DIVINE!

Finished Mallows, the candy thermometer, and setting gelatin! These are DIVINE!

Ingredients
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Nonstick spray

Directions

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.
For regular marshmallows:

Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

**You can use cookie cutters and make all kinds of fun shapes!!!

 

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Yam Soufflé: I adapted this one from Ina Garten, whom I think makes the best of everything, generally.  I will also say that after several years of going back and forth between canned and fresh, I have decided there isn’t much difference here and so I take the help from the can.  Trust me on this; there is no discernable difference in taste!

 

Ingredients

4 pounds sweet potatoes (about 6 large) (I used CANNED!!! Easy PEASY!!!)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Open can, place the sweet potato meat into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (I mash it up a bit, usually over heat) and add the orange juice, cream, butter, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Mix together until combined but not smooth and transfer to a baking dish.

Bake the potatoes for 20 to 30 minutes, until heated through. About 5 minutes before you remove them, top with homemade marshmallows!

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Hope you enjoy! Happiest of Thanksgivings to you and yours!!

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SUPER EASY and DELICIOUS Peanut Butter Pie!

4 Nov

Peanut Butter Pie!I am a HUGE lover of peanut butter… But even more than that, I love peanut butter and chocolate together.  When I was a kid, and to this very day, one of my all time favorite birthday cake recipes includes a deliciously peanut-buttery frosting on a decadently moist chocolate cake! Yum! Therefore, it should be no surprise to you that anytime I run across a peanut butter and chocolate recipe I have to take a look.  Recently, I stumbled on this recipe and decided to give it a whirl, and boy oh boy it did NOT disappoint!

The recipe I am including can be found on The Pioneer Woman website but I want to tell you about a couple changes I made, mostly for convenience… Since I last blogged I started my own business and so I don’t have quite as much time as I once did.  Still, I love to make at least one dessert per week from scratch…Er, sort of scratch… Even with a little help from the grocery store, it’s still so much better than anything you can buy pre-made!  Here goes:

1) Although I think that a homemade crust would be better than a store-bought crust, I decided to opt for a store-bought Oreo crust for convenience. I know, I know, a store-bought PROCESSED crust!!?  Please kindly close your mouths!🙂  I GENERALLY buy organic and non-processed foods, but you know what?  Every now and then I think it’s just fine to take a little help! So trust me on this, if you want to, BUY THIS CRUST, it’s easy and tastes ALMOST as good as the one you would have made!

2) Trust this recipe! I know Dr. Oz and the media has scared the CRAP out of us about partially hydrogenated soy bean oil and corn syrup… So why would you EVER purchase cool whip? (Unless you’re from the south where I am pretty sure it’s a constant staple for potlucks and church gatherings)  But here, in this recipe, you have to use it.  Pioneer Woman says so, and although I haven’t tried a substitution in this particular recipe, I have in others and it seems to create a less creamy and short lived pie… Again, it’s not like you’re eating tons of stuff with cool whip in it! You get your nails done, you dye your hair, an occasional pie with cool whip isn’t gonna kill you, so DO NOT TRY TO SUB WHIPPED CREAM FOR COOL WHIP! IT WON’T BE THE SAME! 

3)  Save the whipped cream as a topper!🙂 This pie is really rich! I think it’s made even more wonderful with some deliciously fresh whipped cream! It just lightens everything up a bit!

4) Crumble some cookies on top!  I actually took some Oreos and crumbled them onto the top.  It’s not necessary, but it sure was tasty! Sprinkles would be nice too!

5) The longer you let it set, the firmer it gets! It was almost tastier the next day!Cupcake

Ingredients: If making this with the pre-made crust the recipe takes about 5 minutes to whip up if you’ve thawed your ingredients! So simple! So Good!

FOR CRUST

  • 25 whole Oreos
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
  • Or 1 store bought chocolate cookie shell!

_____

PEANUT BUTTER FILLING:

  • 1 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1 package (8 Ounce) Softened Cream Cheese
  • 1-1/4 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 package (8 Ounce) Cool Whip, Thawed

Preparation Instructions

Crust:
Crush the Oreos until they’re fine crumbs. Pour melted butter over the top and stir with a fork to combine. Press into pie pan and bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes, or until set.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

*Or do nothing because you bought your pie shell pre-made

FILLING:
Whip the peanut butter with the cream cheese until smooth, slowly add in powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Mix in the thawed Cool Whip and beat until smooth, scraping the sides as needed.

Pour filling into crust, smoothing  the surface with a spatula. Allow to set in the fridge for at least one  hour before serving.

Pie!

I haven’t forgotten about my Blog!

10 Sep

I have so many ideas to blog about, it’s hard to pick just one! Is there anything you’d like me to blog on? Let me know and I’ll get “write” on it! Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 10.56.20 PM

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Recipe: World’s Best Chili and Corn Muffins!!

18 Mar

Recipe

Well… We certainly don’t have very much longer to enjoy the type of recipe that I am posting today… Summer Chili is a completely different dish, made for lavishing toasted buns and hot dogs with a dose of extra decadence… This chili recipe is one that IS a meal.  I’d suggest making it within the next couple weeks, perhaps on one of the rainy days of spring and I promise you won’t be disappointed!

I came across this recipe while on a trip with my hubby to Washington D.C. last fall, and I was simply DYING for a bowl of authentic “East Coast Chili” … Since I hadn’t been to the East Coast as an adult, I really don’t have any idea what this means… and I’m pretty sure Boston might be better known for it’s chili than is THE DISTRICT… but none-the-less this produces a seriously easy and delicious bowl of pure yummy-ness! Some of the ingredients took me a bit of looking to find, but I am not entirely sure why since now I see them everywhere… with the exception of the “Dark Chili Powder”… this needs to be bought in more of a specialty shop like Draeger’s or maybe even Whole Foods (where I live).

I do suggest that you serve this with a corn muffin (I crumble mine inside but my hubby prefers his on the side🙂 ).  I’m not sure if that’s how they do it on the East Coast (in Texas they serve chili with rice too! Yum!), but it’s how we do it in this house and it brings the bowl of chili from fabulous to… well, no words, but grunts of pure satisfaction🙂. I am including both of these recipes, which I have tried several times but have not improved upon since there was just no need… Although a can of fiesta corn and a dollop of jalapeno jam may not be the worst idea I ever came up with when adjusting the corn muffin recipe… but you know what they say “Why mess with perfection?!”

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Old Ebbitt Grill Chili

(Serves Six to Eight)
Sweet and slightly hot, this saloon-style chili with beans has been a staple on Clyde’s menu for thirty years. Liz Taylor would order it by the gallon and have it shipped to her house! Since we no longer offer our chili in the can at Britches clothing store, it’s only fair that we give you the recipe that has been top secret for many years.

(This was taken from the website which is included in the “Old Ebbitt Grill Chili” link🙂

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb. pound small diced onion
1 tbsp minced fresh garlic
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 25-ounce can chili beans
1 12-ounce jar chili sauce (This is in the tomato sauces section at my Safeway)
2 tbsp light chili powder
1/4 cup dark chili powder*
2 tblsp Worcestershire sauce (clearly a secret ingredient)

1. In a heavy bottomed pot, saute the onion and garlic in the vegetable oil until golden brown.
2. Add the beef to the onions and cook until it is about medium-rare. Do not stir the beef around too much – you want to have some large clumps of beef in the finished chili.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until it is just blended. (It may seem like a lot of powder but that’s why they call it chili!)
4. Cook the chili over medium heat for about 10 minutes, just until the meat is fully cooked. Don’t overcook it!

Serve the Clyde’s chili with ice cold beer and condiments like shredded sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream and minced onions.

toppings

I’ve used scallions several times, but there is something about the bite of a white onion that lends itself so nicely here. Medium cheddar and a dollop of light sour cream! MMMMM!

*The light chili powders have more of the hot seeds or flakes ground with the pods. By using more of the dark powder our chili is a little sweeter. If you can’t find light chili powder, just using a little bit extra of the dark powder will taste great.

Barefoot Contessa’s Corn Muffin Recipe:

Corn Muffins (Makes 12 Muffins)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup medium cornmeal
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 extra-large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, melted butter, and eggs. With the mixer on the lowest speed, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stir until they are just blended. Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling each one to the top. Bake for 30 minutes, until the tops are crisp and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly and remove from the pan.

The Bowl of Chili Baby! Soooo good!

The Bowl of Chili Baby! Soooo good! Of course you could use ground turkey, but beef is better here!

Sunshine in a Bottle: Best Perfumes For SPRING!

16 Mar

Spring MUST HAVE SCENTS!

Every year, about this time, I get a MAJOR hankering for some fresh and floraly scents with the deepest hopes of quickening that bright and cheery re-emergence of spring.  Since I am generally drawn to fragrances that have notes of Jasmine or Orange Blossom, it’s with absolute certainty that I bring you a list of fabulous fragrances for just about any fellow harbinger of SPRING🙂 .  Each one of the fragrances mentioned herein, are subtle but are also sure to evoke the sweetest memories of springs gone-by.

I once read that every woman should have ONE true fragrance… For years and years I searched for that one scent that was absolutely me… but then I just gave up; For me, this is simply impossible and I have finally accepted it.  In my humble opinion, fragrance is a personal journey (I carry bottles of the first perfume I ever wore (Love’s Baby Soft), and the one I remember my Mammaw wearing to church (Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door or Tresor by Lancome), just so I can bring back the memory with a whiff), and a trip to a local perfume department is almost like looking into a scrapbook of memories or listening to THAT song you loved during a certain time period of your life.  Here, I will give you my take on each fragrance, but urge you to take a sniff of each one the next time you’re at the mall and see what memories they conjure for you.  Treat yourself to some sunshine in a bottle!!!Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 11.07.03 PM

1. Orange Blossom, by Jo Malone: This fragrance was introduced to me by one of my very best friends who lived in Paris for a bit… Well, she actually lived all over… I would receive post cards from exotic locals and imagine all the wonderful adventures she was having, and upon her return there was always a bit of beauty or fashion influence imperative to follow from my perspective.  As such, anytime she suggests something to me, I just know it will be luxurious!!    This scent IS the sweet and enduring scent of orange blossoms, pure and simple.  It reminds me of carefree days spent waiting for warmer weather and educational freedom so I could get out and ride my bike around the neighborhood with friends.  Being in the heart of fruit-tree country, often I could smell these blossoms on the wind… So incredibly lovely, this was my firsScreen Shot 2013-03-15 at 11.08.22 PMt Jo Malone LOVE and my first TRUE bottle of spring!

2. French Lime Blossom, by Jo Malone: This one, my Parisian loving friend wears today and it really does remind me of her, which is just lovely!  I’ve never been to Paris (yet), but I do imagine a wonderfully and effortlessly fabulous Parisian woman wearing this scent… It’s light and fresh, but has the playful floral of the lime blossoms. French Lime Blossom is slightly more sophisticated than the orange blossom scent with it’s green quality and hint of actual lime, but is it equally evoking of spring… or perhaps a spring romance!

3. White Jasmine & Mint, by Jo Malone: White Jasmine & Mint was a fragrance addition FOR ME  last year, and I plan on continuing the indulgence.  The sparkling green-ness of the mint in this blend is so lovely and adds something altogether unique.  Often, I blend this fragrance with my Orange Blossom scent to get a fragrance more complex and all my own (I should mention Jo Malone’s fragrances are designed to be worn alone or combined with others! Yipee).  This IS NOT your grandmother’s white-flower scent, so if you’re nervous about a fragrance that contains jasmine in the title, don’t be.  To me, this scent revives memories of warm spring evenings when all the night blooming jasmine starts to tell it’s secrets to the wind… mmmm, I can smell it now!

4. La Chasse aux Papillons by Le Artisan Perfumeur: If I could only have one bottle of spring for the rest of my life, this would be it.  If I had to bury a bottle of perfume for every season so that the future might know what spring smelled like in days gone by… I say again, this would be it.  The title means “chasing butterflies” and perhaps this, as much as the extremely feminine nectar cradled within is why I keep coming back to it year after year.  This fragrance hits every note I adore in a fragrance, orange blossom, lime, lemon, tuberose, laughter, sunshine, and pure woman-ness (Ok, the last three aren’t really notes, but THEY ARE TO ME!).  This is a fragrance I wear in the daytime, unless I layer it with something for night…  I picture myself out in the sun with a picnic basket or strolling an outdoor mall with friends.  This scent is pure and clean and fresh… which I think is asking a lot of a white-flower fragrance! It doesn’t give this headache prone girl any trouble!

5.  Grand Neroli by Atlier Cologne: This is another fragrance that was introduced to me by a fellow fragrance lover and friend.  This scent is much… hmmm.. what word should I use here… Deeper than the other fragrances.  It’s certainly one that could be worn at night as well as in the day. If you haven’t heard of this line before, you really are missing out! Their Orange Sanguine was so close in place of this one that I think it must be mentioned here as well.  For if Grand Neroli would be night, the Orange Sanguine would be day, with juicy hints of blood orange and bitter orange peel… I somehow imagine myself in Greece or Italy when I envision the obviously fabulous woman who wears either of these scents… but you can be positively marvelous right in your own backyard with a bottle of this on your nightstand!Screen Shot 2013-03-14 at 12.15.02 AM

6. Pink Jasmine by Fresh: This scent is a cross between the freshest most clean scent you can imagine (think fresh laundry or your favorite shower soap) and jasmine… Imagine walking past a warm dryer vent on a spring day.  I love to wear this to bed (yep, I even wear a touch of perfume to bed… If it worked for Marylin, Hallllllo!!) or any time I want to feel super fresh and cleeeeean.  I should mention that the like-named cream, which fetches a pretty penny, is lovely layered with any of the Jo Malone fragrances suggested here. This is probably the scent in the bunch that I wear the longest, from March through August when I need a real freshness lift! Did I say fresh enough here!!!?

There you are! I’ll note here that some of the biggest complaints with any of these fragrances is that they don’t last once sprayed.  I sort of agree and disagree.  Since I am so sensitive to fragrance, I can’t use many that are bold enough to last from dawn to dust; at least without me become immune to the scent after the first hour… And, I will also mention, that to me, part of what is so great about these scents is that they are closer to the smells I LOVE in nature, and not that strong, overpowering fragrance that is usually associated with white flowers. Do you have any favorite spring scents I should try!?  Looking for a fragrance recommendation? Hope this helps you find the perfect spring fragrance!!!

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Best Undereye Concealer!

14 Mar
Best Undereye Concealer!

Bye Bye Under Eye offers a waterproof, yet moisturizing formula that will stay put no matter what. The truly innovative formula contains high concentrations of Vitamins K, A, C, E and Collagen – clinically proven to reduce under eye puffiness and discoloration while strengthening the delicate skin of the under eye area.

Soooo… there’s one downside… I don’t know where to get it besides ONLINE (super sad face). But can I please, PLEASE tell you how much I love this product!

For years I had searched and searched for a product that had enough coverage but didn’t crease in those little tiny evil lines under the eyes!!! I tried everything the drugstore had to offer, and just about every single brand at Sephora… But now, my search is over… I faultered just once this last year to re-prove that this, in fact is, the best🙂 .

What’s to love about this one?  Here’s a couple things:  first, it’s SUPER blendable, which is very important to me, it’s waterproof (this stuff won’t budge), it’s packed with TONS of vitamins and minerals that are great for the undereye area (almost like an ultra tinted eye cream), AND this tube is HUGE!!! Mine lasts almost 8 months or more!

If you don’t like something with coverage, this isn’t for you, but if you’re like me and need to erase those undereye bags and circles, this works like a dream!!!

Let me know what you think!!!

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Spring 2013 Nail Polishes I ADORE!!!!!!!!!!

6 Mar

Screen Shot 2013-03-04 at 7.02.20 AM I am a self proclaimed NAIL POLISH JUNKIE! I thought I was hiding my habit from my husband, but one night he mentioned that I should never light a candle in the downstairs bathroom or the entire house would be engulfed in flames due to the sheer amount of nail polish present. I have managed to get my ‘nails’ on all except the purple color (I have an almost identical color from OPI).

All of these formulas are cheery and opaque, so they really pop on the nail! I love BUTTER LONDON’s Philosophy when it comes to chemicals, and their colors are TO DIE FOR! So far the peachy tone is my favorite, closely followed by the bubblegum pink! I have a feeling the mint color as well as the typically hard-to-wear yellow will be a mainstay in my nail repertoire from Spring through Summer! Try them out!Screen Shot 2013-03-04 at 7.02.58 AM

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For those of you looking for more coverage in a BB cream!

4 Mar

For those of you looking for more coverage in a BB cream!

Many of you know how much I have LOVED the Nars Tinted Moisturizer… But, like many of you, it just didn’t provide enough coverage when I needed it. I still love my Nars lotion, but after of a week of using Diorsnow White Reveal, I may be a convert. Although it does have SPF 50, and I am not a huge believer in higher than 30, the coverage is great with the same benefits of BB creams!!! However, because of the added sunscreen, you really need to make sure you wash your face before bed!!! Try it out and let me know what you think!

Happiness Tip: WHAT YOU SAY MATTERS ~ Is it helpful, is it kind, and is it NECESSARY?

27 Feb

twain

We’ve all heard the old adage “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  I remember being reminded of this maxim many times in my youth whilst wondering what exactly I had said that wasn’t exactly nice.  Of course children have a way of not knowing that what they are saying may be hurtful, or at the very least unnecessarily true.  We allow children to make these mistakes, but can we also be allowed to make them as adults?

I feel certain that I have made it well known to all of my friends and readers that I believe we are all placed in each other’s lives for a purpose, although we may not know what those reasons are at any given point in time… I also believe that the Universe keeps sending each of us the same lessons over and over again until we finally get the message and make a change in our lives and or our thinking (for me it’s God, but for many of you God may not be the right term, so here I’ll use the term Universe in place of God which to me is one and the same and allow you to insert whatever higher power, or force you believe exists in the world).

This week, I have been hearing the same words, or messages continually, and this repetition has prompted me to share with you, a series of lessons that I am certain I will keep building on as I grow and become more aware of my own ability to affect the world and people around me. The root of this concept is “WHAT YOU SAY MATTERS.”

In one of my most recent posts, I mentioned several lessons, which were painfully reinforced through some difficult situations, such as “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”  When expanded upon, to me this means that we each carry within us our own unique set of experiences which direct each individual in his or her actions, and subsequently shapes how we perceive the world around us (Obviously not rocket science🙂 ).  In addition, each of us, within our own personal walls, both at home and in our minds, is dealing with our own triumphs, struggles, and perceived shortcomings.  Sometimes none of these are known to even the closest outside party… As time goes on, most of us learn to drown out the voice inside that prompts us each to compare ourselves, or possessions and positions to those around us… Sometimes though, it’s hard.  And although I don’t often lean towards jealousy or lack of confidence, sometimes it does happen, and I don’t know anyone in the world who is harder on me, than me.

This long introduction brings me to an equally long point.  Often times, when I am struggling the most with myself, I can also fall into habit of criticizing others.  This is not something I even notice that I am doing; but I come from the kind of southern stock that doles out the sobering medicine of raw truth with a pinch of pessimism or sobering reality the way a doctor writes a antibiotic prescription to the ailing patient, suggesting that the medicine really is meant to help.

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 10.21.12 PMHowever, not along ago, after talking to a dear friend who has seen me through so many hard times with such wonderful and insightful advise, I began to draw some interesting conclusions about the “messages” I’ve been receiving… from THE UNIVERSE… This friend told me that after all the years of self-work and inward looking, she realized at one point in the past she had fallen into a pattern of “agreement”.  That is, when a friend would talk about someone else, she wouldn’t necessarily disagree, but rather listen and nod. Often, after hearing the negative observations of the one friend about the other, she would find herself silently adopting the position of the critical friend… I’ve certainly been in this situation before and most likely will be again in the future, and I might even put one of YOU in this position against my greatest hopes…  Sometimes though, with certain people, it just seems easier to smile and nod than to put up a protest about what’s being said.

Again, I thought about some of my recent clients and friends who have talked to me about what a difficult time they are having at work or in life because one person or a group of people are talking about someone else that THEY are friends with… But what can be done? How can you keep yourself out of an argument but still be respectful of the other person or friendship?

Here are a few of the conclusions I’ve made:

Class1: When I feel the need to bad mouth someone else, and I mean really knock them (I’m a comedian by nature, so some of my humorous observations are just who I am), it’s usually because of MY OWN insecurities… That really took a lot for me to admit!

2: THINK! What YOU say matters! Here’s a reminder of what to do before you speak, I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard it before; it’s just a longer version of that same  OLD ADAGE AGAIN! First, Is what I am about to say helpful? If so, is it necessary? As in, do I really think the person NEEDS to hear what I am about to say, at least from MY standpoint?  (Listen girl, if that eyeshadow makes you look like you have black eyes, I NEED to tell you.  You don’t have to listen, or take the critique, but it’s just something I’m gonna need to do for my own belief in what friends help with… Oh yeah, and you’ve had something green in your teeth since 9am…) Finally, can my delivery of said information be KIND?  Even if you feel like screaming, you can always take a moment to find a BETTER way of saying what you need to say.  I regret that in the past I may not have paused to take my own advise, but I am using this moment to reaffirm that life and relationships will most certainly be better if I do these few things.

2.5: In the past I have said things about others out of insecurity, thank goodness it’s not that often any more (silver lining of aging? Heck yeah!)  That said, I have found it is best, especially if I am with a mutual friend, in a work setting, or in a group setting, to ask myself IS IT NECESSARY and USEFUL to say whatever the heck I feel like I need to say about another person… I mean, I can be a real stinker, if I don’t jive with someone, it can be written ALL OVER MY FACE! I need to work on this for the future, and maybe you do too!

3: IF YOU DON’T LIKE WHAT’S BEING SAID, CHANGE THE CONVERSATION! Now listen, we all have friends who never agree or disagree when we feel the need to vent about this subject or that.  Let me just say what I have learned is that more often than not, this is a tell-tell sign that the listener you have chosen IS NOT COMFORTABLE WITH WHAT YOU ARE SAYING, SO STOP! There are just some friends you can’t vent to, it’s just the truth.

Often times though, we can lead by example. If your coworker, friend, or spouse is being a Negative Nancy, then every time they bring the negative crap up, change the conversation.  I am NOT saying be an unsupportive friend, or co-worker, or spouse (bad days happen, and sometimes it’s a bad week… I’ve even had a bad YEAR before!!! Sometimes you just need an ear or a shoulder), but I am nodding to the fact that we can all get into the habit of talking about all the negative, and trust me, this can go on FOR DAYS with some people if you allow it, so CHANGE THE CONVERSATIONScreen Shot 2013-02-25 at 10.52.05 PM

If that doesn’t work, I’ll just have to tell you a quick little story… When I was even younger than I am now,  I found myself going through a very tough time, and I shared this with everyone at work.  I don’t want to say I was being intentionally being selfish, but I was devastated, and this devastation permeated my very being; I didn’t even realize how it was affecting those around me.  One day I noticed that whenever I would talk about this anguish, one specific co-worker would leave the room.  Once I realized this was happening, I went and spoke with the co-worker about it, and I acknowledged that I understood why they couldn’t hear it anymore, and that I would try to be more respectful in the future. Great lesson learned.  Thanks co-worker! Yet more proof that what you say matters!

It IS possible to train those people in your life to be MORE aware of the fact that what THEY say matters.  If you can’t do it by actually changing the conversation, or leaving the room, then I suggest using the method that would probably resolve most of the world’s problems… COMMUNICATION.  If someone is talking about someone you care about, or someone you don’t think deserves it, you don’t have to make enemies, but I do think it’s important to NOT agree inadvertently through silence.  A simple “Hmmm, what you’re saying about this person doesn’t really fit with how I view them, so if you don’t mind NOT talking about him/her around me, I would really appreciate it.” Now, if that doesn’t work, you might be screwed.

I hope those of you who read this took something valuable away for you that can be applied to your life today,  at first glance this seems like a problem for the young, but it’s not; they lied to us all when they said highschool would be the end of all of life’s drama! I have come to this truth, not on my own, but because so many of you have helped me through your stories, experiences, generosity, LEEWAY, and kindness.  If you did read it, trust that you read it for a reason, whether you know what that is yet, or not! (Wink, wink!)

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