The Art of Editing

February 27, 2010


I didn't intend to post my class times here on the blog, but unfortunately the mass email distibution list I set up to send information to those that showed an interest ended up in spam folders which caused a bit of confusion, so I decided it was best to post them here and send the email. I don't want to inadvertantly leave anyone out:)

I have three classes set for the month of March. Once I make it through those, I will then set up a schedule for April.

The majority of people that inquired are looking for Photoshop instruction, so this first round of classes is going to reflect that. If there is anyone that is looking for Lightroom 2.0 this month, please contact me via email.

Class Description
Photoshop CS3/CS4 Basic Photo Editing and Enhancement
This class will give you an overview of the basic tools for everyday editing. You will learn how to brighten and sharpen the eyes, make your subject pop of the page. It is an A-Z of my work flow or the series of things I do to enhance my photos. I will also show you how to install and use actions.

Class Dates and Times for March
{Note: I am limiting class size to 4 People}

Thursday, March 11th - 8:30-10:30pm Eastern Time
Thursday, March 18th - 8:30-10:30pm Eastern Time
Saturday, March 13th - 10am-12pm Eastern Time

Classes are $75 per class for group instruction or $125 if you are looking for one on one instruction. Payments will be made via paypal. Once you notify me that you are interested in a class, I will invoice you. Your payment is what will secure your spot in the class. After I receive payment and before your class, you will be sent a guide or outline of all the areas we are going to cover in your two hour session. This is going to help you follow me and navigate through the instruction while allowing you to take brief and simple notes without having to write everything out.

As I mentioned before, but there seemed to be a bit of confusion, Classes will be held online. Your location does not matter. If you have a computer and internet service, you can join in. Everyone will be sent a link to attend the online meeting. During that meeting you will be able to view my computer screen to see what I am doing and you will have a dial in code so that you can hear and speak to me and others on the call. It is a very fun and interactive way to learn.

I think that about covers it. If there is anything I missed, do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions.

Enjoy your weekend!!

Black and White Wednesday - "A Brother Is..."

February 24, 2010

the long road

After 5 weeks, we finally have an official "Black and White Wednesday" button!

I need to thank my good friend Marla....... this is her beautiful work!! She designed the button..... all I did was send her my black and white photo and she did the rest!! I think she did a FABULOUS job.....thanks girl...I LOVE IT:)

Feel free to go to my sidebar and grab the new button!

Today's photo....or I should say, the first photo, was one of my favorite shots from this past weekend. I purposely didn't post it on Monday and saved it for today. I was not a big fan of the color version, but when I saw it in black and white......I couldn't wipe the smile off of my face.

As I have said many times before..... these two are like any other brother and sister duo. There are days where I feel like I need to be wearing a black and white striped shirt and have a whistle around my neck....... but we also have days where they are so sweet and loving with each other. Our little afternoon in the park....was one of those days that was filled with so many of those sweet exchanges.......I am just so happy I was there with camera in hand to capture them.

Looking BackBW2 WM ROUNDED
A brother is
Help Me throw it5BW 2ROUNDED WM

This one was posted in full color the other day, but I couldn't help but convert it....and now that I see it, I personally prefer the B&W version.

So let me fill you in on a little obsession that I have........ I need to put things in groups of THREE. When I buy or arrange things in my home, I like to cluster in groups of three. I actually think there might be some design rule about it.... not sure, but for some reason it has always stuck with me.

After I decided on my photos for this week, I came across the "A Brother Is..." poem and thought it was absolutely perfect for this series. In sticking with my "Three Theory" I am going to print and frame the poem in between these two pictures.

I have to admit, I was pretty excited to get a few usable pics of the kids together. So many of my photos are of the kids individually.....and that is something that bugs me. So this is yet another goal I am setting for myself as part of this project. More photos of the kids together.

Speaking of goals...... I bet you thought you might see a pic of my wall?? Sorry, no can do. I am so far behind..... none of them are up yet!! I need to get my rear in gear....the black and whites are piling up.

Alright.... now it is your turn.

Have a Happy Wednesday:)

Over The River and Through The Woods

February 22, 2010

Sarah Pulling Wagon3 wm

I know with a title like this, you are thinking we went to Grandma's house for a visit.........

NOPE..... Just a stroll through our favorite wooded park that happens to have a little river {more like a stream} running through it:)

We were all in some serious need of fresh air this weekend. The sun was out and the temperature finally went above freezing.....although you would never know that, because we are still surrounded by 2 feet of snow!!

Run as fast as you can2 wm

I assumed that most of the park would still be snow covered, but they typically plow the walking path, so we brought the wagon along for a little entertainment.......and that it was. Can you tell??

Nick leaning over bridge WM

Nick appeased me and stopped long enough for me to snap a quick pic....... he will do anything to avoid the camera these days and I hate it because Sarah is plastered all over the blog and I have very few photos of him, but I guess it comes with the age!

Sarah3 wm

Sarah contemplating her next move. I Love this scarf....My Mom gave it to me and I know it was handmade by someone......just can't remember who. I think it really brings out her big baby blues:)

Throwin A Snowball2 wm

They quickly ditched the wagon when we reached the big bridge. Nick decided it would be more fun to throw snowballs into the river. If you look way down the path behind Nick, you will see a cluster of people...... it was actually a wedding party. This park is a big spot for wedding photographers and even the two feet of snow did not scare off this bride and groom. The entire wedding party wore big snowboots so they could climb through the snow in order to get the beautiful scenery in the background. I am not sure I would have braved it if I were the bride.....her dress did not fare well.

Oh, It's Cold Out Here3 wm
After watching "Nicky" throw a few snowballs, someone else wanted to join in. She is warming up her hands in anticipation and figuring out how she is going to clear the top of that railing.....

Help Me throw it4 WM

What's gonnna work...... TEAMWORK!!!
Had to throw that in there.....Sarah loves the Wonderpets:)
With a little help from "Nicky" she successfully launched her snowball into the water. She only threw one...... because she quickly realized that it was not too smart to be digging in the snow without gloves. The cold and wet hands were enough to end our little trek through the park. So we headed for the car to go home and warm up with some hot chocolate.

Unfortunately, the kids were the only ones that got to enjoy hot chocolate. I gave up all sweets for lent....... the first week is always the hardest and I have been going through major sugar withdrawals. I guess I didn't realize how much I rely on those sweet treats to get me through the day. Kind of reminds me of Elaine on Seinfeld with the 3pm cake fix!! Anyway.... to all my recipe lovin friends, you won't see anymore delectable desserts posted here until after Easter.

Have a great week!

Just a little note: I sent the first mass email out to all those that expressed an interest in online photo editing classes. If you inquired about classes and did not receive the information, please email me {My email is attached to my profile} It seems I had a little issue with my email being marked as spam. I want to make sure that everyone got their info!!

Thank You

February 18, 2010

The Rose Texture Thank you border 2 wm

I felt the need to put up a note today after the response to yesterday's post.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I read each and every comment and email. Your notes of support, encouragement, and empathy blew me away.........words cannot express how much they meant to me.

Even though I have shared so much of myself here on this blog, I found it somewhat difficult to hit "Publish" on that particular post..... but I am so glad that I did.

I am SUPER EXCITED to see that so many of you are interested in classes... either now or at a later date.

Currently, I am compiling emails of all those that expressed an interest. You should receive an email from me this weekend with some more information. I am working on a schedule.....and hoping to begin classes sometime in March:)

Again..... THANK YOU....... this bloggy community never ceases to amaze me!!!

Have a wonderful weekend!! I will be back on Monday.

Black and White Wednesday - "The Long Road"

February 17, 2010

the long road to china bW wm

We started on the international adoption path over 4 years ago, just shortly after Pat and I were married. Life was good with very few worries. We lived in a small, yet quaint and cozy, home. We knew we would outgrow it quickly but figured when we returned home from China, we would start to think about upgrading to a larger, more accommodating home for us, Nick and our “China Baby”.

Very quickly, we realized The Wait was going to be much longer than we anticipated so we re-evaluated our plans. At the time, both Pat and I were doing very well financially with our respective jobs, so we started our house hunt and decided to build our home.

Two months before we moved in, we received an amazing and unexpected gift...... Sarah!! We never dreamed of completing a domestic adoption, but she was meant to be ours and even though we were scared to death.....we put our decision in the hands of the Man Upstairs and prayed that it would all work out. Every single day we are reminded by her smile how incredibly fortunate we are to have Sarah in our lives.

Even with the gift of Sarah, never once did we consider abandoning our China adoption. Quite the opposite really....... at the time we were concerned that we would jeopardize our place in line or the ability to complete our international adoption. We discussed things with our agency and they told us that with the wait times increasing, chances were we would be long as there was at least a year in between Sarah and the new "China Baby" we would be okay.

So here we are…4 years later. FOUR YEARS LATER and still no word from China. We continue to wait and wait and wait.

Unfortunately, a lot has changed for us financially since we started this process. It’s no secret that the economy has taken a terrible has hit us pretty hard these last two years. Pat’s career is in the financial services industry which was directly affected by the downturn and we have dramatically changed our lifestyle to accommodate these changes.

Gone are the days of going out for fancy dinners, shopping outside our budget or just spending money generously and spontaneously.

It has been a difficult transition and we have made sacrifices. We have had to forgo invitations to spend expensive nights on the town with friends, regular nail appointments and I even changed hair salons in effort to save a little money {and you all know how I am about my HAIR!} Bottom line.......... no more frivolous spending period.

Over the past several months I’ve been invited to home shows like Matilda Jane, Silpada, etc. I’ve been asked to join in on online/virtual baby showers for those traveling to China and been asked to assist in donating money for others to bring their precious children home from China and other countries.

I haven’t been able to participate and although it breaks my heart because I am a truly a giving person by nature, I need to keep my focus on my family and our own financial situation.

Of course, our Nick and Sarah never go without, but if there’s a way to cut corners and save a little extra we’re doing it. I do LOVE nice things, but sometimes the nice things come with a hefty price tag and although I do miss having the freedom to spend, I realize that tightening our belts is a real necessity now.

I have been lucky this past year with my own job. The long hours on the road and hard work I’ve put in earned me a raise and a company vehicle....which have both helped tremendously, but we still need to be smart about our spending with our long awaited adoption just around the corner.

Pat and I had a heart to heart recently as our Home Study Paperwork came up for renewal. We know that the key to get us through this time is to focus on our family, which is more important than any material thing in this world. We intend to complete this adoption.......but to do that we are going to continue to make hard financial decisions. We’ve come way too far to watch our dreams fall apart and we are both committed to do whatever it takes to make our dream a reality.

Over the past few months I have been approached by several people interested in photography asking me if I would be interested in teaching Adobe Photoshop and/or Lightroom. I have to say that the wheels started turning.

I realize that what started out as a photography hobby has turned into a real passion for me. While I don't claim to be a pro or know absolutely EVERYTHING about Photoshop or Lightroom, I can most certainly teach what I do know.....which is basic photo enhancement and editing with a few fun creative things thrown in for good textures or how to design a blog header.

Though I already have a pretty tight schedule and my job takes me on the road much of the work week..... I have decided that I can certainly work a schedule in the evenings or weekend to offer some small online/interactive and one-on-one classes as an additional avenue to earn money to prepare for China.

I’m still working out the small details. For those that are interested in a web based class, please let me know via comment or email. My email is attached to my profile.

Classes will be $75 for 2 hours of instruction.

Classes will be limited to 4 people per class.

I will also be offering private 2 hour one-on-one instruction for $125.

We all face challenges and road blocks in our lives, but the way we choose to handle them is what defines us. I refuse to let anything get in the way or block "The Long Road" we have been traveling these last 4 years........ we will make it the distance and reach the end of our China.

A First Attempt- CNY

February 15, 2010

cny (20 of 59) wm

This weekend was filled with a few firsts......

We did celebrate CNY, although from the following pictures, you can tell we are complete novices.....

We didn't have a full blown CNY celebration complete with the outfits, pretty asian decor, red envelopes, etc....... but we did work on a little lantern project and I cooked an authentic meal.

You have to start somewhere right??

I am hoping...okay, I am praying that we will have our baby girl by next CNY and that will be cause for us to do it up right!!

So let's start with the little project. I know this is probably the easiest thing under the sun, but Sarah loved making and decorating the lanterns!! I set her up in the dining room so she could spread out....besides, the kitchen was declared a disaster zone, you'll see why in a few minutes.

It has been a long time since I whipped out the camera just to take snapshots....and honestly..... I miss doing it. I have been so focused on photography this last year and always trying to get the "perfect shot" that I rarely take pictures of the fun day to day things.... that needs to and is going to change.....

Getting Ready WM
Sarah spreading out her pencils and getting her work area all set up!!

CNY Collage wm
As you can see, she takes her artwork very seriously.....and oh yes, blue is her favorite least it was today:)

WHY Won't it come out WM
This one make me laugh every time I look at it...... Our Elmer's Glue Glitter Pens were a little difficult to squeeze. Do you think she is a little frustrated?? LOL....her entire body was trembling because she was squeezing so hard!!!

Miss Sarah was not the only one frustrated this weekend........

Now I know why so many of you told me to go out to eat or to order take out.

Let me see....... the best way to describe my Asian Cooking experience......

I feel like I jumped into the deep end of the pool without learning how to swim first.

Do you want to know what I tried for my first dish??

Yeah, you guessed it...... Asian Dumplings!!!!

They were a lot of work........every inch of my kitchen was covered in flour........and by the time I was done making them, so was I!

Oh, and fool that I am..... I looked at the recipe and didn't think it sounded like enough, so I DOUBLED it....I was rolling dough ALL.DAY.LONG!!!

Dumplings WM


3 cups all-purpose flour
up to 1 1/4 cups cold water
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup ground pork or beef
1 TBSP soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 TBSP Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, or to taste
3 TBSP sesame oil
1/2 green onion, finely minced
1 1/2 cups finely shredded Napa cabbage
4 tablespoons diced water chestnuts
4 tablespoons diced carrots
2 slices fresh ginger, finely minced
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced

Stir the salt into the flour. Slowly stir in the cold water, adding as much as is necessary to form a smooth dough. Don't add more water than is ncessary. Knead the dough into a smooth ball. Cover the dough and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

While the dough is resting, prepare the filling ingredients. Add the soy sauce, salt, rice wine and white pepper to the meat, stirring in only one direction. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring in the same direction, and mix well.

To make the dumpling dough: knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball. Divide the dough into 60 pieces. Roll each piece out into a circle about 3-inches in diameter.

Place a small portion (about 1 level tablespoon) of the filling into the middle of each wrapper. Wet the edges of the dumpling with water. Fold the dough over the filling into a half moon shape and pinch the edges to seal. Continue with the remainder of the dumplings.

To cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add half the dumplings, giving them a gentle stir so they don't stick together. Bring the water to a boil, and add 1/2 cup of cold water. Cover and repeat. When the dumplings come to a boil for a third time, they are ready. Drain and remove. If desired, they can be pan-fried at this point.

Dipping Sauce:

2 TBSP of Soy Sauce
1 TBSP of Rice Wine Vinegar
1/4 tsp of minced garlic
1/4 tsp of minced ginger root
1/2 tsp of sugar
4-8 drops of Hot Chili Oil

They were A LOT of WORK......I was frustrated with the rolling, folding, and sealing of the dough. I wanted them to look pretty and they didn't.............BUT

THEY TASTED REALLY GOOD and they got the double thumbs up from the family:)

The main dish was not that difficult....but then again, after the dumplings, anything would have seemed easy!!

I decided to try out an orange chicken dish..........

cny (53 of 59) WM
I threw in some steamed veggies....carrots and broccoli and served it over white rice. If you would like the recipe click HERE. This one was definitely a keeper.....I will be making it again in the near future:)

So there you have it...... Our first attempt at CNY.
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!! I am a little behind on blog reading, but should be around today........ I am OFF for the holiday....... Gotta love a three day weekend:)

BTW, in the recipe for the dumplings, it mentions only stirring the meat in one direction. Does anyone know the purpose of that? At first I thought it might have something to do with the meat and making it tough or overworked, but then I thought it might be an Asian Tradition or something to do with luck. If you know the answer...... let me know!!

This post was part of Recipe Monday. To see more great recipes or if you would like to post and link one of your own, visit Colleen at THE CRAZY EIGHT.

Happy Valentine's Day!

February 12, 2010


I know this is a couple days early, but we are thinking about celebrating Chinese New Year on Sunday. In the 4 years we have been waiting, we have never celebrated. I thought this might be a good year to start and I thought it might be fun for Sarah{Nick is with his Dad this weekend}. It is about time we start preparing her for what is yet to come......God willingly!

I am going to attempt to cook something authentic.....attempt being the operative word. I am no stranger to the kitchen, but this is a cuisine I have never really tried to cook. If I don't succeed, we could always order take out, right??? If anyone has any tried and true recipes that they make for CNY, I would love them!!

Smiles WM 2

Like many of you here in the Northeast, we have been stuck in the house all week due to the snow. School has been closed since Tuesday and they are not reopening until next Tuesday. The kids are beginning to climb the walls......and frankly, so am I:) Sarah has been living in her her "dress up" clothes and yesterday she begged me to resurrect her "Fairy Costume" that she wore for Halloween.

It's pink and has wings so I told her it was kind of Cupid-esque{not really a word, but it sounded good} We paired it with her cute pink heels that have hearts on them to complete the Valentine's Day look!!

I love you this much wm

After a couple minutes in front of the camera, she had herself believing she really was cupid. She wanted to test out her "wings" to see if she could fly like he does.

Lucky for her, the bed is not too far from the floor......... As you might have guessed, the wings didn't really work! Lucky for me, that she didn't go digging through her brothers things to find a real bow and arrow:)

She is a character!! Never a dull moment with this little one:) I can only imagine what life will be like with another little girl in the house. I think it is going to be a rough transition for our little cupid, but in the end she will love having someone to play with........... and boss around!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend and a Happy Valentine's Day!

For those of you celebrating, HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!!

UPDATE: I was just reminded that today officially marks 45 Months of Waiting. Our LID is 5/12/06. For those of you not in the adoption community, that is the day our paperwork arrived in China. I cannot believe it....... at this rate, I am thinking we are going to hit the big 50 before we see her face. Only time will tell, but if I was a betting woman, I would say we are most definitely going to see fifty before we see a sweet smiling face.

Black and White Wednesday - "Bubble Lovin' Beauty"

February 10, 2010

In effort to live up to my expecations of getting some real life, everyday shots to put up on the wall, I decided to grab the camera this week when "my subject" least expected it.

bathing beauty 2

When we moved into this house a few years ago, Pat and I were so excited to finally have our own Master Bathroom. It was our own private space for about the first year and a half.......

Now we have been forced to share it with our Bubble Lovin' Beauty.

Bubbles Everywhere 3 WM

Even though Sarah and Nick have their own bathroom, she insists on "swimming" in the big tub. She always requests extra soap so that when we turn on the jets, the bubbles will "get crazy and come up really high"

Sarah Bath Tub Giggles WM

Our bathroom has a large double window that is right above the tub. These pictures were taken in the middle of the day when the sun was shining bright. I opened the blinds and let the natural light pour in. You actually couldn't ask for a better lighting situation. I even noticed that the water in the bathtub acted as a reflector bouncing the light back into her face and eyes.

When I downloaded these photos, I instantly fell in love with the simplistic yet classic feel, and the pure joy that is radiating from her happy little face! They were nothing special left in full color, but in my opinion, they came to life when converted to black and white.

Now that we have reached week 5, I am going to order the photos I have posted up to date and get them hung on the wall. I hope to have a little sneak peek for you guys in the next two weeks so that you can see the progress I am making!! My plan is to do a mix of different sizes and frames. I also want to throw in a few canvases, float wraps, and storyboards. I can't wait to see how it will look when it is all finished......but I still have a LONG way to go!!

Thanks for all the support and interest in Black and White all are making it really easy for me to keep this up and stick to my goal. Not to mention that I am having so much fun visiting all of your blogs to see your own black and white selections. I am truly inspired each and every week!

That is all I have for today! I am off to grab a big mug of hot chocolate so I can settle in for a cozy snow day with my family.
Mother nature will not let up on the Northeast.

Happy Black and White{and very snowy}Wednesday!!

Just a little note, last week Mister Linky disappeared for about an hour and then reappeared. I know a few of you had some issues trying to get your posts linked. I hope that he cooperates this week, but in the event he disappears again, just leave a comment to let me know you played along and I will see that you eventually get linked.

Another Blast From Old Man Winter

February 8, 2010

Snow Day WM

We were on the outer fringe of the big storm that came up the coast....... we still got about 9 inches, but nowhere near what some of our friends experienced South of Philadelphia. I am hearing some parts got a whopping 30 plus inches of that is a storm!!

I am so glad that we didn't get what they were actually forecasting for our area. Sarah could barely stand the couple inches that we did get. Don't let that smile on her face fool you, it was only momentary....more like it was only there until she got wet. She is not really a fan of the snow. She is defintely a summer girl who loves to be barefoot and run on the beach:) I can't really say that I blame her, because I would much rather be on beach than dealing with these freezing temps and wild winter storms.

She cannot stand it if one flake of snow touches her skin.......and refused the snow pants I tried to put on her. I tried to reason with her and explain that they would keep her warm and dry, but she was having no part of them so we opted for tights, thermals, and her jeans........and as expected, one jump into a snow pile and she was freaking out that snow was getting her wet!! That was all she wrote and we were back in the house minutes later taking off the layers of wet clothes trying to get her warm.

Nick and Pat were still outside playing in the snow and cleaning up the walkways....... so Sarah and I fired up the Mix Master to make something warm and sweet!!

If you remember last week's post included lemons..... I LOVE anything that has Lemon in it......and actually, I often will buy bulk lemons and limes to fill big apothecary jars and use them as decoration in the kitchen. They look so pretty and they smell good too:)

Since I had so many on hand, and really needed to start using some before they went bad, I tried out this new recipe...........

Lemon Cake Crumbs wm

Lemon Yogurt Cake
Recipe Courtesy of The Barefoot Contessa


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.

Lemons WM
OH MY WORD!!! This one is surely a winner..... it has the density of a pound cake, but it is super moist. The combination of the simple syrup{Sugar and lemon Juice}followed by the lemon glaze on top, put me over the edge!!! You can see how the top of the cake gets cracks in it.....the simple syrup and the glaze soak through into the cake!!! If you are a lemon lover, give this a try. You will not be disappointed.

Cooking N&S Black and White WM

While I realize that this photo is blurry and that Nick's face is all smushed because he is hugging his sister so tight, I had to post it. These two can bicker like the best of them, but when I see the moments like these, I realize behind all the bickering.......they really do love each other:) I actually might need to print this one so that I have a constant reminder.....bickering has been at an all time high the last few weeks.

Sarah and I have a deal when we bake. If she just assists and lets me make sure all the measurements are correct, then after the cake is in the oven baking, I will give her some "gredients"{as she calls them}to make a cake of her own. She never really makes a cake, but she sure loves to mix things up. It keeps her happy and our desserts come out tasting like they should!!

We were just finishing up in the kitchen when Nick came in from outside. He wanted to lick the beater until he realized what was in the bowl......he changed his mind rather quickly.

Hope everyone survived their weekend!!
It sounds like we might get another blast from old man winter this week.
When is Spring going to arrive?

If you are looking for some new recipes or have one you would like to share, stop by The Crazy Eight and join in the food fun!

Black and White Wednesday - "Rose"

February 3, 2010

Rose Rounded

When you look at this photo, I am sure you see a rustic looking vase with a few Roses in it.........

When I look at this picture, I see so much more.......

To me, roses will always signify more than just a pretty flower.

They signify someone who was very special.........her name was "Rose"

Two weeks ago, after my tulips began to look lifeless, I decided to pick up a bunch of variegated roses to fill the empty vase that sat on my kitchen table.

They were so pretty....and everytime I walked through the kitchen, I couldn't help but smile. They brightened the room and my day and seemed to be a constant reminder of the most beautiful "Rose"...........

my grandmother

There are so many wonderful memories of her swirling around in my head and I never want to forget them.

I loved to spend time with her and being at her house was always such a dinners and holidays were the best. Her cooking couldn't be beat. I don't think she ever served a bad meal and you never left her house feeling anything less than full.

Most of the Italian recipes that I have shared here, were recipes that she had learned from her mother and they have been passed down generation to generation.

When I was in high school, I spent an afternoon with her in the kitchen, where she taught me the basics. It was the first time I was let in on the family secrets and it is a day I remember, as if it were yesterday. I would like to believe that she was a big part of the reason I have such a passion for food and cooking......but I think all of her children and grandchildren share that passion. It is the Sicilian way..........everything revoloves around family, fantastic food, and really great wine.

My grandma also loved to shop and was always dressed from head to toe....... In addition to introducing us to her love of food and how to cook, she also taught us how to shop. I am almost certain that the women in this family got their love of jewelry, designer shoes, and handbags from her.....

In October of 2000, my Grandma lost her battle with Cancer. It was tough to see her go. I had just received my new lease on life as I was told that my cancer was in remission only one month before she was diagnosed with her inoperable cancer. It seemed so unfair to me. I won my battle.......and yet, she did not have a fighting chance.

There is not a day that goes by that I don't think of her at least once and wish that she were here to see her entire family.....and all the blessings we have received since she left us. I would even like to believe that she had a little hand in some of those blessings.........

As I look through old boxes of photos, I wish that I would have taken more pictures of her in her final years.....the way I knew and remembered her. I do have a few cherished her beautiful wedding picture, but I don't have many.

I looked at my vase full of roses on the kitchen table and decided to grab the three prettiest roses of the bunch and then I arranged them in a barilla pasta jar so that "Rose" could hold a place of honor on the wall of black and whites in our house.

At first I thought the "Barilla" jar was kind of clever.......but on second thought she probably wouldn't be thrilled to know that I actually brought a jarred sauce into the house. Sorry Grammy......when you work, you need to be prepared for those nights when you are running short on time:)

I took a different direction this week and chose to do a Black and White with a selective grandma was one of the most colorful people I knew..... so I thought you would let me slide with just a hint of "ROSE" in this picture!

It is week 4 and I think you know the drill.....

Leave me a link and/or comment so we can all stop by to check out the beautiful black and white you have chosen for this week:)

Have a Happy{Black and White}Wednesday!

A Little Comfort On A Cold Winter Weekend

February 1, 2010

It has been a bitter cold weekend. The snow missed us, but it seems like the cold temps are here to stay....unfortunately.

Pat and I were able to sneak in a night on the town without the kids. Saturday night we went to a wine tasting and enjoyed an evening filled with good food, great new wines, and fun with some friends. We were long overdue for a night out without the little ones. It is something that we need to do more often.

Stove 2 wm

After sampling some fine food on Saturday, I got the bug to get in the kitchen on Sunday and make us some good comfort foods......

I don't know about you, but for me, especially with my work schedule, I like to cook a few meals over the weekend, so I don't have to rush around after work to try to put together a complete meal. If I can have a few things pre-made and ready to definitely helps...otherwise I would be serving dinner at 8pm, which would not be good.

Lasagna with Sausage 3 wm 2

I decided to make lasagna with meat sauce. I made a enough to make 2 medium sized trays......we cooked one and I put one in the freezer.

Here is what you will need:

Meat Sauce

3 TBSP of Olive Oil
2 Onions Chopped
4-5 Cloves of Garlic Minced
4 28oz Cans of Crushed Tomatoes
1 1b of ground meat(I like the meatloaf mix: Pork, Veal, and Beef)
1 lb of Hot Italian Sausage(out of the casing)
Salt and Pepper to taste
A dash of sugar
A dash of Red Crushed Pepper(optional)
A bunch of fresh basil

Heat the oil in a pot, add onions and cook about 5 minutes until translucent, then add garlic and continue to cook another 2-3 minutes. I usually season with a little salt and pepper. Then add the 2 lbs of ground meat and Italian Sausage. Contine to cook until browned. Add 4 cans of crushed tomatoes, a dash of sugar, and tear apart a bunch of basil and stir in. You can also add a little more salt and pepper as needed. I usually cover and simmer for at least an hour.

Cheese Mixture

1 15oz Container of Ricotta Cheese
1 bunch of Parsley Chopped
1 egg
Salt and Pepper

Additional Cheeses Needed

Shredded Mozzarella
Grated Pecorino Romano

2 lbs of Lasagna Noodles Cooked according to the package.

Layer in the following order:

Riccotta mixture
A little pecorino Romano
and repeat until you have your tray filled.
On the very top layer, I do the noodles, followed by the sauce and then I use shredded mozzarella. I also take little bits of butter and drop them ontop of the helps to brown it.

Bake at 350 Degrees for 45 minutes to an hour.

Spinach 2 wm

Typically I make a salad to go with a hearty pasta dish like this, but I wanted to try something different, so I went with a spinach sidedish. I know that spinach is not the most popular vegetable, but I really love it if it is made the right way. This dish did not disappoint, I found it in one of Giada's cookbooks, it was super quick and easy and went perfectly with the lasagna.


2 10oz bags of Prewashed Spinach
1 Red Onion
2 Cloves of Garlic
1/4 Cup of Chicken Stock
1 TBSP of Soy Sauce
1/4 tsp of Salt
1/2 tsp of Pepper
1/4 tsp of Red Crushed Pepper Flakes
The Zest of one Lemon

Heat the oil in a very large pot over medium heat.
Add the onion and the garlic and cook until almost tender, about 6 minutes. Add the broth, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
Add one third of the spinach and cook it until it just begins to wilt. Continue adding the spinach one large handful at a time, sautéing just until it begins to wilt before adding more.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl, sprinkle with lemon zest and serve

Favorite Gadget wm

As I was cooking today, I started thinking about some of my favorite kitchen gadgets....... there are so many cool things out there that make our lives easier when we are in the kitchen.

There are quite a few that come to mind and I could never pick just one, but this one is in the top five........ the Microplane!! I use it for everything....... it grates cheese, it zests lemons and limes, it grates garlic and nutmeg....and the list goes on!! It is such a timesaver and so easy to clean!!

What is the kitchen gadget you cannot live without?

This post is part of Recipe Monday. To see more great recipes or to post and link your own recipe, head over to Colleen's blog.