19 October 2009

Good News for everyone who reads my little blog...I will be able to post more often for a few months now! So stay tuned for all the things that may show up here! Happy reading everyone!

16 September 2009

First Restaurant Review

One of my great passions in life is supporting small businesses! My greatest dream in life is to be a successful small business owner myself (really, since I was not even ten years old!) I am in-tune with the start-up trials and tribulations, the fear involved, the courage one must muster, the passion needed to succeed, the deep well of energy you must have, and so on and so forth. I am charmed by each new business that I visit. I find myself trying to imagine exactly the vision of the owner. Looking for every little piece they have done so very right in their execution of that vision. Then looking for places they can improve, not because I want to find flaws but more as an exercise to hone my own business creating skills. Finally, I always try to search out some small treasure that will fit into my budget as a token of my appreciation that they took the chance to follow their dreams.

A recent lack of budget, well actually complete non-existence really, has slowed my ability to support small business. However, on a recent weekday I was the lucky guest at a luncheon date with my mother! We visited a new little restaurant here in my home town called "Mangia! Mangia!" And so I got the idea to start reviewing restaurants as part of my call to support small business and expand my blog topics! Here is my first restaurant review! (What fun now I can be my own food critic!)

Mangia! Mangia!

Who: Not sure who took the chance, but I may find out in the future.
What: Little Italian Place
When: Lunch and Dinner
Where: Just off of the main drag in Woodland Park, CO. (Behind Pizza Hut.)

*Note: In the future I will improve my information gathering skills!

Review: Mom and I decided on Italian as a last minute choice at lunch one day and she suggested the new little Italian place in town. It is called "Mangia! Mangia!" So we drove down to the place and went in for a little luncheon break. We were greeted and seated right away, in a little side booth, though they are small they have several booths along the side of the restaurant and a gaggle of table in the center (as the building was originally an Arby's it is rather difficult to change the setting inside.)

The waitress was prompt and friendly. We only asked for water, though I overheard an odd conversation regarding one of their fountain drink offerings (which piqued my curiosity.) I wished that the waitress would have given us the information on the specials and soups, but she chose not to - perhaps because they are written on a cute little chalkboard on the wall.

We decided on spaghetti and meatballs. This was prompted, I think by the fact that there are a number of lunch offerings, but only three that are not sandwiches (as I recall.) The meal is accompanied by a house salad and garlic bread. First, we received our salads. Which were a pleasant surprise. They were most enjoyable with mixed greens, red onion, an artichoke quarter, grape tomatoes...I need to take notes...and a very tasty vinaigrette (not too much thankfully!) Then came the entree. The entree, I believe, was a lunch portion (which makes sense.) It was pretty standard spaghetti and meatballs. Though, the sauce is chalk full of Italian Sausage slices. For me the sausage was different - but very welcome, as there was, in fact, only one, single meatball in their "spaghetti and meatballs." Should have been labeled as "spaghetti and meatball." The sauce had a nice home cooked and satisfying taste - very good tomato flavor. The only complaint I had was that the noodles were too wet for my pallet; I find it frustrating when my sauce is diluted by soggy noodles. The garlic bread was, well, garlic bread. Good for cleaning up left over sauce bits in your spaghetti bowl. Finally, we skipped dessert (trying to be good girls!) But I asked to see a menu to glance at the dinner offerings and desserts (sorry no cannolis - my favorite. But for my husband - tiramisu!)

Overall, it was a satisfying experience. And it is really great to have an Italian offering in our town. I say, if you are in town and have a taste for a little Italian flavor give Mangia! Mangia! a try. The dinner menu looks tempting. Perhaps, I will drag my dear husband in for an evening meal here at some point. Then I will report back here! Ciao!

My Thoughts/Suggestions:

*Enjoyed cute decorations that help to cover Arby's feel. The grapes are a good touch!
*Could work on increasing intimacy of the space - perhaps room screens could be employed.
*Liked the open kitchen - seems like there is less to hide!
*Needs music for ambiance (and to mask refrigerator noise!)
*Would love to see waitress slightly more professionally dressed. (Vintage would add flair and ambiance! *wink*)
*The place was clean, but I thought it could have used a slightly more thorough scrubbing in some areas! But I am PICKY!
*Liked the rose scented soap in the bathroom!

24 August 2009

Skiing is glorious!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Current mood: accomplished
The sun was shining and it was a glorious day! Everything about the day was, well, good! We always enjoy the drive up; as we are never in a hurry and we look for new and exciting things along the way. Even if there is nothing of note, the view of the mountains is more than you could ask for while driving anywhere! And of course the usual breakfast burritos were very yummy! (Tip: Make a really large batch of breakfast burritos every few weeks - wrap each individually in tin foil, then store in plastic in the freezer. When you wake up in the morning to ski, just pop a few in the oven while you get ready. Then wrap them in paper towels and such to keep warm - pop them in a bag - voila - breakfast to go! I like to pack a little salsa to put on before I munch - gladware works great for this. Oh yeah, ALWAYS remember to turn the oven off!!!) We also add to the comfort and enjoyment of the drive by filling our travel mugs with a beverage of choice (tea, cocoa, coffee it that is your style!) Then the drive is half the fun of the day!

I have really come to enjoy the new skis Ivan bought me this season. The first day we skied them all I could think was, "These skis are not my friends, I don't really ever want to see them again." I didn't want to admit it though and kept trying. But on this last trip a new relationship was formed. I really think they pushed me to the next level in my ski ability. Now all I can say is "old school is the cool school." Next up: tight pants and a fur headband!

We had an unexpected guest on the chairlift. Well okay, he was under the chairlift. At any rate, he brought an extra bit of fun to the day! The fellow of whom I speak happened to be a rather brave porcupine. He spent most of the day traversing from one side of the run under the lift to the other. It was fun hearing the excited exclamations when someone on the lift would discover the pointy little visitor.

We decided to change things up a little this last trip and finally decided to ride the great "marketing ploy chair lift." Some people call it the Imperial Express. Usually, it is so exposed that those who ride it must enjoy punishment or something. Me, I am not going to ride a chair, just to be blasted with wind straight from...just to ski some crappy snow since most of the terrain it accesses is closed. The weather was conducive to riding in less pain (and all the terrain was open) so we headed up. We had scouted stuff off of peak seven previously and decided to head off to the right from the top of the lift. We dropped in from the "Whale's Tale" and down to the base of seven. It was a real rush to look back up, waaaay up, to where we started from the base! And the snow was better than expected. Adding yet another high point to the day! After eating our PB&J on a bench at the base (don't let them fool you - there is nothing actually open at the base of seven - even if they tell you there is a new base area) we headed back up to hit the t-bar and drop in on the bowl on eight from the top side. It also was better turns than expected! So a great day all around.

There are several more weeks of skiing left - so if you want to feel the power and exhilaration of the mountains - get off your...excuses and come on up! You know we are there every weekend! I know lift tickets are expensive - but where there is a will - there is a way! Check out liftopia.com (I haven't checked out the site - sorry) - your local grocery store, etc. Discounts are out there for those willing to look! Isn't it time to have a great weekend too!

Joy of Glass Pitchers

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Current mood: thirsty
How often we over complicate, well everything. When everyday begins to overwhelm, I find myself seeking out the simple and pure. One of the most simple joys I have in life is a plain glass pitcher. I love to pull it out of the cabinet and fill it with cool, clear water. I slice just a few very thin rings of lemon. Rings always seem so much more pleasing and make the lemon seem so much more thoughtful. I float these upon the water so that they add a little excitement to the clarity of the glass and water. If I have a schedule for the day, I put my pitcher in the very front of the refrigerator, so that as soon as I open the door I will see my cool, clear water waiting for me. To pour a refreshing glass to sip and reflect upon the activities of the day. If, instead, it is a lovely day with no hurry, I like to set my pitcher on the empty kitchen table, with the sunlight beaming behind and place a clear glass along side. Ever ready for the moment I choose to taste the clarity held within. Live a beautiful life.

Ullr Party

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Current mood: tired
Category: Parties and Nightlife
Thanks to everyone who attended our inaugural Ullr Party. We can't wait to have it again next year. We hope to keep evolving it over time. Eventually including a large fire and maybe burning something in effigy...who knows - we want it to be as much fun as possible. Hmmm, maybe someday we will own a hottub.

This year the menu included homemade chili with all the fixings (even home-baked cornbread!) It had several compliments, so I think I did an acceptable job on the huge batch of chili! Each year will feature some sort of yummy one-pot meal offering, ski flicks and some sort of activity. We viewed Warren Miller's "Cold Fusion" and Greg Stump's "The Blizzard of AAHHH's." Oh yeah, and some select portions of "Hot Dog - The Movie" - though we missed the booby scenes (a favorite of the fellas.) Maybe next year? A few rounds of pool were had - next year you better bring you pool skills - you have been challenged! We even got in just a little ski tuning (Ivan loves to mess with skis - so get your bribes ready for next season!)

We would ALWAYS like to have a toast to snow and winter. This year it was anything you wanted but the brave ones partook of the Ullr (it is an interesting libation...) Someday, we would like to provide beverages ourselves - but thanks to everyone for contributing their own efforts this year! (Ooooh and y'all should have tasted the delectable dessert that one of our esteemed guests made and brought to tempt everyone!) So keep alert for next years party - 'cause only people who are NOT hosers, posers or whimps get invited! So if you weren't there this year...you missed out!!! (Those who come up and ski with us might very well end up on the "preferred list"...hmmm.)

Finding Inspiration.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Current mood: hopeful
Some days it is hard to find the inspiration. Some days it is hard to feel like there is a purpose. Some days just feel like they "aren't yours." Why do we have these kind of days? Why do we feel like we are so insignificant? Why indeed.

When I feel this way - I really wish I didn't. But I have found numerous ways to change my mood or at least get to the next day without having to resort to the pills so many people are fond of these days. I think one of the keys is to simplify. Let yourself have a day where you stick just the necessities. I am not saying don't get anything done, but don't add extra into the mix. Maybe even take some time to literally gather your priorities.

Make a hot beverage of your choice (I don't do coffee - but that it because it can add to the agitation instead of help it - but to each his own) and get a paper and pen (maybe even your favorite one.) Then sit down in a place that is inviting, comfortable (but functional - armchairs are not conducive to writing) and free of clutter (even if you have to just chuck it somewhere out of sight.) I try to keep places ready for just this purpose (even if it is just one place that you issue verbal threats to people who clutter it up.) This area alone can be therapeutic in its own right. Then take a moment, breath deeply and let go.

After a few moments of thinking of absolutely nothing in particular, start writing. Everyone gathers their thoughts differently - just start. Think of the one most important thing in your life - don't add to this thought - just the one most important thing. Write it down. Think of the top things (no more that five) you literally cannot survive without. I am not talking about cell phones or cable TV. I mean really survive. I mean food, water, shelter, your husband, your children. What if society as we know it collapsed tomorrow? What do you need? Write these and only these. Now sit back and think. In your day what do you absolutely have to do to obtain these. Just the very bare basics of what you need to do. NO DETAILS. Just "obtain money," "get food," etc. Very basic.

Then maybe you should stick to just these things for at least the day, maybe even a week or longer. Take some time to "just get by." Say no to invitations. Say no to the volunteer needs at your kids school. Say no to yourself when you think "I can get that done too." Just say no to the "extras." Live simply. But do the things on your list well. They are just basic, so you can achieve them without a lot of effort. Just let go of the extras. Just let go.

It is usually the "extra" in life that gets us down. I like to be busy and do a lot of things and that is not bad, but sometimes it is too much. It is energizing to pare away the extra once in a while and just focus on the basics and doing them well. It still get stuff done. I still have a sense of accomplishment. I still have purpose. But - I can handle it. It is like starting over without starting from scratch. It is a way of getting "a break" without the "break down." It is like a breath of fresh air. It is good.

Live simply. Live well.

Woodland has a Christmas Parade!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Current mood: awake
Well, okay. In reality they have a Christmas Parade every year. But on the whole, they barely resemble what most of us would term a "parade." Usually, what can be said about Woodland Park parades is that, well, they are...um...cold. Yep. Cold.

This year was an exception though. Well, okay. It was still cold. BUT! It was a really good parade. I would like to extend my hearty congratulations to the organizers for actually putting on a spectacle that was entertaining and had content!!! There were really floats!!! It was really great to see members of our community do something for a change! I was also knocked back when apparently the Ute Pass Historical Society supposedly entered. (I still think it was a hallucination - or I can't read or something. I have never met a bigger bunch of dead beats in my life. And I can say that - I was a member in days past. One of the few with any life in me at all.) There were really real floats. It was amazing. I really would like to pat the little kids who were soooo enthusiastic on the back - they really made me chuckle! "AND HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR TOO!" Too cute! I want to say to that I appreciate the people who - dressed up - the costumes you put the time into (or even rented - but put on) really added color and life to the whole thing! Please, please don't get discouraged - people really do like to see costumes!!! Let's see more of them!! Let's see new ones!! Let's get creative!!

I enjoyed the heck out of it. And I hope that next year there will be a repeat performance. (If anyone knows who coordinated the parade - please let me know. I would like to send a letter to them, letting them know how good a job they did. But don't burn "old tires" next year. k?) It would be nice to see this town get up and get in gear. Have something of value in this community! Today a good parade - tomorrow an "un-lame" Old Fashioned Fourth! So hopefully next year will be as good. And if you are looking to see a parade and you want to stand next to one of the most enthusiastic parade goers of all time - come on up! I might even pack a thermose of cocoa and some cookies!! AND I might even share if you have been a good boy or girl!

Race Review

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Current mood: animated
First let me say - it was a blast!! What a lot of fun! There were so many good points to the day. So many people to watch, so many great athletes, beautiful setting, perfect weather...I could go on and on!!

Here is the run down:

Breakfast burritos were super yummy (special thanks to my chef.)
Parking was free.
Shuttle was free.
Granola bars were free.
The event was free.
The sun was warm.
The snow was cold.
The turkey sandwiches were tasty.
The racers were awesome.
The view was perfect.
The people were entertaining.
More granola bars were free.
Beaver Creek base area was worth it.
Yeah - it was all good!

Okay, seriously. The whole thing really was a lot like the movies! And the spectacular finish was right on par! The last race was a real pulse booster! It came down to the US with one last chance to steal the day and walk away with first place. Ted Ligety came out of the gates like his bum was afire! He flew down the course like a jet preparing to break the sound barrier. The crowd went wild (as they say.) He blazed across the finish line...alas one-one hundredth of a second slow. It was so exciting though that nobody minded that the Austrians went home with first place. And besides the Austrian cheering section (who just happened to be right behind us) was so excited you couldn't help but be happy for anyone of Austrian descent that day! They even sing - just like in the movies when they are happy. Americans riot - other people sing and dance when there team wins.

I didn't get to throw my granola bar at Bode (he was just a little too far away), but here's hoping that if he gets to represent the US at Vancouver that maybe he takes it seriously this time. He has a rare ability and if given the chance I hope he proves he can perform (as he has in so many other venues.) I loved the oompa band and being on the television as a spectator. I loved the diverse and entertaining crowd. I wish we had packed the thermose - next time for sure. I loved that we had skied the race course the year before - it really gives you a perspective on what the racers are facing and makes you almost feel like you are a real part of the whole experience.

I can't tell you how charged I am to get back up next weekend to make some turns. And how cool it is that Ivan ordered me race skis this season. (Though I know I won't be arcing them like Bode.) Next time there is a race I will be even more excited to go and be a part of the whole experience!

If you are looking for a fun way to spend a day or even a whole weekend, I can definately recommend a ski race (though World Cups don't happen every weekend.) There are still other races to see, "up and comings" to cheer on and crowds to watch! I would like to emphasize how much free there was going on. If you are poor like us - remember there are still things that don't cost a lot - but are really a great way to spend a day. And with a little forethought...you can cut the cost even more. The only cash that we spent was for petrol! So pretty much all you need to do is make the decision to go! See you at the races!


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Current mood: contemplative
As the holidays are upon us, I would like to send everyone warm greetings. I would also like to admonish everyone to remember why we celebrate this time of year. I don't care what religion you are or are not, what country you are from or whether you are rich or poor. This is a season of fellowship, friendship and family. It is most poignant this year, for me, as this year I am very monetarily poor. But I don't feel poor. In fact, I feel more seasonally inspired than other years. Perhaps this is because I have nothing to focus on but the friendship and family - this year all I can give is fellowship.

This year it will not be about the presents. This year I will focus on the friends I can keep in touch with, the family I can spend a moment with - the time I can share. Isn't that really the best gift we can give? I will go out each day and greet strangers with a smile and a kind word. I will stand in holidays lines at the post office and grocery with patience. I will send greetings to far away friends with sincerity. I will try to visit those who cannot come and visit me. I will find the time to sit down and listen to my family share their joys and sorrows. I will give what I have to give. I will give my time, myself. And it just might be the best Christmas yet.

First Snow

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Current mood: creative
Category: Life
Last night we were all surprised by the snow that fell while we weren't looking! This morning we woke up to a bit more than initially expected! This was our first snow.

Most people wake up to snow and the grumbling starts. "Gotta find those darn snow boots" and "where's that winter coat..." Then there is the inevitable snow sweeping or ice scrapping. Grumble, grumble. To top it all off, this time of year it will simply cause mud by mid-day and then where are we at? Grumble.

But, just for today stop. Just for today take a moment to look at the pristine white canvas, look at the fresh and crisp landscape. Gaze at the leaves, still yellow on the trees, warming small patches in the view out your window. For a moment clear your mind, as clear as the blanket of snow before you. As you step out the door breath in the cold, crisp air - like nothing you experience any other time of year. Let the chill awaken your senses and start the day off on a clear and crisp note. Hold onto this feeling and make a space for it in your sensual memory.

Even though, perhaps, you are not a skier waiting breathlessly for every flake to fall or a youngster hoping for a chance to build snowmen and throw snowballs, you can hold onto this feeling and enjoy the snow just a little more when you wake up to that peaceful blanket of white on some crisp morning in the winters ahead.

Farmer’s Market

Friday, September 26, 2008

Current mood: warm
Category: Life
One of the things I love about summer is the Farmer's Market. When I was working I would get a little down every Friday, because I would drive past all of the people setting up for the day and I knew some lucky people would get to go and purchase fresh produce and homemade goods while I sat in an office all day. Farmer's Market is so special to me because it is a throwback to a more simple time. It is a chance to slow down and feel like you are actually a part of a community.

Today is the last Farmer's Market of the season. I have already grabbed my basket and put on my favorite wool sweater so that my mother and I can walk to market one last time! For me it is part of living a "beautiful life." I always carry a basket because it feels nostalgic and it makes me smile. (Plus, it is good for the environment - no plastic bags!) It gives me a chance to live for a moment in another time and another place. I can imagine I live in a quiet village with people who live harmoniously and joyfully.

After the Farmer's Market today we will celebrate the harvest for a few more weeks and then it will be time to celebrate in other ways, for other seasons. There will be so many joys to keep me occupied. I won't be sad that Farmer's Market is over for the season, I will already have a little part of me looking forward to when the weather begins to warm and the days become longer and the Farmer's Market comes to life again.

So for today, try finding a little way to slow down for a moment. Enjoy the fall colors, breath in the crisp air, cozy up in your favorite sweater, or maybe walk to the Farmer's Market one last time this year.

Living a Beautiful Life

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Current mood: cheerful
Category: Life
Everyday of our lives we are bombarded with negativity. This makes me sad and disappointed. Believe me, I know that everyday is not wine and roses and that sometimes we have to let our opinions be known (lest we be trod to death by the ill-mannered, less than compassionate fools around us.) Yeah, I get the trials of life - they are there. Yet, I think that negativity is a suffocating cycle that many of us are stuck in. It self perpetuates, because being negative seems to be easier. Eventually, everything is consumed by that cloud of darkness and everything we see, feel or encounter is shadowed with that darkness. Life sucks (to use the vernacular!) Wait...life doesn't really suck or at least it doesn't have to. But we have to want to be different, to have a higher standard for ourselves. I have made a promise to bring light into my life and hopefully into the lives of others. I hope to perpetuate a better cycle - a positive cycle.

I like to think of each day as an opportunity. A chance to live what I like to call a "beautiful life." I want to take each day as a chance to do something that makes my life and the lives of those around me better in some small way. A beautiful life does not mean that you have to change everything you do in a day or that you have to go around like some fanatic seeing everything through rose colored glasses. It is about small changes and actions.

I think it is important to start with oneself. We must get to know ourselves better, to know some important things. Things like what is really important to us, what truly makes us happy, what helps us relax, where we find solace and peace in our daily lives, how we smile, where we laugh. If you really start to listen to yourself you may be surprised. So often in life we let society project what it deems important on our characters and eventually we hardly know ourselves, unique is just a word. Just for a minute try to block the "marketing" out. Feel who you are inside. Practice. Try to see situations with your own clear eyes. See yourself. Know.

Often when we strip away the "marketing" we find that we are a much simpler person. A person with fewer actual needs, deeper desires, imagination, passion, energy - A Spark! Life can be so much more simple than we ever imagined before...if we let it. And yet complicated enough to be interesting. You may find challenges that excite you and rewards that you can't resist. Pursue the passion in your life. However simple it may be. Try each day to bring joy into your own life. Even if it is brief (it will grow!)

Then something interesting could happen. When we learn, again, how to live a more beautiful life, it becomes contagious. You will rub off on those you meet everyday without even trying. And you might be surprised how joy can be returned. You know the saying about flies and honey...it might just be true! Don't get down when you encounter those people still living a less than beautiful life. They are still going to be out there. Just let it be. Life is so much simpler than they imagine and you know it.

I hope to share ways that I live a beautiful life and maybe help others find inspiration to live a beautiful life of their own. If you are interested - read my blogs - if not that is okay too! Have a beautiful day!

Halloween Recap

Thursday, November 01, 2007
Halloween this year didn't go unnoticed! We carved pumpkins, made popcorn balls, decorated the door and drank hot cider!! (Not all on the same day of course but some were part of the festivities leading up to the actual day.) We even had a dozen tick-or-treaters!!

I dressed up for work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday! It was fun - I mean how often do you have a legitimate excuse for wearing stipped tights to work? Monday I went semi-"gothic" with my burgundy velvet shirt, cameo earrings and black pants (cute for any day really!) Wednesday I wore a black dress with my black and white stipped tights. And on Halloween I went dressed in my 40's style red dress (although I am hoping to make vintage a part of my regular wardrobe!)

As part of our "preparation" for Halloween we watched half of the scary movies that have been made since the indroduction of the moving picture...it was so exhausting watching all of those flicks!! Actually, I was sort of disappointed with some of the classic scary flicks...quite frankly The Exorcist wasn't as scary as I expected and I found the plot lacking. And Poltergeist was entertaining but not scary. Oh well, maybe I find the idea of each plot subject more scary than the movies themselves.

Anyway, Halloween was a good time this year - more to come next year. And watch out for when we have a house - some creepy parties are in order - so start preparing for some exciting costume parties!! Hope everyone else enjoyed All Hallows Eve as much as I did - I know my Mom did - she had the best Halloween walk set up in her driveway (you should have seen it - plus she was the coolest witch in the neighborhood!!) Yay for everyone who remembered to have fun this Halloween!

21 August 2009

Greek Festival...at Home!

Welcome to my kitchen! Well, as close as it gets right now anyway. Those of you who know me, know what I mean. Anyway, I had some requests for recipes the other day and I decided that I would add a section to my little space here for all things food!

I love cooking. More to the point I love eating! I also love a theme. Wednesdays are not usually the most exciting days of the week but, I see them as an opportunity to add a little energy and refreshment to the week (it helps you get to Friday!) This past Wednesday was Greek Festival Wednesday!

The recipes are not really mine but they are so good I must share them! And the more I cook with my recipes the more they become mine - through the tweaking and such. First, let me layout the Greek Festival Menu.

I decided on a more informal "Greek Platter" format than some of my other Greek endeavors:

The Menu
Gyro Meat
Heirloom Lettuce Mix
Farmers Market Tomatoes
Tzatziki Sauce
Feta Cheese
Kalmata Olives

Obviously you don't need recipes for the Lettuce Mix (you may substitute any greens you like - maybe I will blog about my forays into heirloom seeds at some point) or the Tomatoes (I already have a blog about Farmers Market.) Nor do you need them for Feta at this point (though I would love to make it) or the olives.

On to the recipes!

First, the Gyro Meat. This recipe is actually thanks to my favorite TV guy Alton Brown (Good Eats is a must watch!)


1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 lbs. ground lamb
1 Tbsp. garlic, finely minced
1 Tbsp. dried marjoram
1 Tbsp. dried, ground rosemary
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

In a food processor, process onion. Place onion in a tea towel and squeeze out excess juice, discard juice. Return onion to processor and add lamb, garlic, marjoram, rosemary, salt and pepper. Process all to a fine paste.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Place mix in loaf pan, pressing into sides and corners. Place pan in water bath.

Bake for 60-75 minutes. Or until mix reaches 165-170 degrees F. Remove from oven and drain fat. Place on a cooling rack. Weight meat mix with a brick wrapped in aluminum foil. Let stand as such for 15-20 minutes. The meat will continue to cook to a temperature of 175 degrees F.

My Notes:

You can do this without a food processor, but your texture will be more brittle.

Don't skip squeezing your onions. You really want a little water in this mix as possible.

I use flour sack towels for pretty much everything (such as this squeezing procedure!)

I use sea salt instead of kosher, but I like anything better than table salt for most cooking.

Bricks are actually really useful in the kitchen! I wouldn't skip this step either.

Serving suggestion: Slice meat with a sharp chef knife or bread knife. Then lay flat on a baking sheet. Place on top rack under broiler and broil until brown and crisp. (This sort of simulates the way gyro is usually cooked on a spit and finished at high heat!)

This next recipe is also compliments of Alton Brown and Good Eats!


16 oz. plain yogurt
1 med. cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped fine
pinch kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, minced fine
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
5-6 mint leaves, minced fine

Place yogurt in a tea towel or paper towels in a stainer. Place in refrigerator for 2 hours to drain. Squeeze excess water from cucumber using tea towel. Discard liquid.

In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, cucumber, salt, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and mint. Stir to mix.

My Notes:

Draining your yogurt is not totally necessary, but totally worth it. Your tzatziki will be ever so much more creamy.

If you use a paper towel use a good quality one so it neither tears or dissolves.

I like to use flour sack towels.

Same goes for your cucumbers.

You can make this in advance and store in refrigerator (up to one week.)

This is a really intense flavor experience. Go gently if you have never had this before. And whatever you do don't shun it on your first try...it will probably grow on you!

The final recipe I got from my Mom. I don't know where she got it but - Thanks Mom!


1 package yeast
1 1/4 cup warm water
3+ cups flour (I use whole wheat)
1/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add 2 cups flour and stir. Add shortening and salt. Beat to a smooth consistency. Stir in flour as needed to make a soft dough. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 3-5 minutes.) Let dough rest 15 minutes. Divide into 12 potions and roll each into a smooth ball. Let these rest 10 minutes. Flatten each ball with heel of hand. And let these rest another 10 minutes. Roll each into a circle turn the dough over only once. Place circles on a baking sheet.

Heat oven to 450 degrees F.

Place baking sheet in oven. Bake for 3 minutes. Turn each and bake for another 2 minutes. You will have to bake the pitas in batches.

My Notes:

If you prefer you could make white flour pitas. Or a combination of wheat and white.

After I bake my pitas I place them in a basket lined with a flour sack towel. Which I fold over the pitas to keep them warm.

You could prepare these before hand and store in plastic. Rewarming when you are going to serve.

Serving Suggestion:

This meal is fun to serve on a big platter with the pitas wrapped in their towel in a basket separately. Pile you meat in the center of a large platter and make a pile of lettuce, a pile of tomatoes, sliced onions if you like. Add a pretty bowl with the tzatziki. Place your cube of feta on with a fork to create chunks. Garnish with olives. Grab plates for each dinner and a fork. It is feast time!

Extra Fun!

Put on Greek music in the back ground.

Use brightly colored linens (such as napkins or a table cloth.)

Grab a bottle of Retsina (wine.)

Add fun extras such as dolmas, hummus and veggies, etc. All stuff you could pick up at your deli.

Finish with little glasses of Ouzo.

For dessert indulge in baklava - make it yourself - or pick it up at you local bakery!

Now this is a real Greek Festival we have going!

*I promise...I will try to remember to take pictures in the future!*

14 August 2009

Doing Storage Right!

So often in life we feel like there just isn't enough room. We need more storage. You know it is true, otherwise there wouldn't be storage units on every street corner. I would bet that with a little organizing (and some saying good-bye) the storage units would be hurting for business. Following is a great example (plus it will give you an idea of what I do as Organizare.)

Many homes have storage opportunities waiting to be discovered. Some are less obvious than others, while some are staring us in the face. Many times we don't take the time to see the hidden storage opportunities, but that is a later post. The obvious ones are almost always poorly used. That is the subject of this post.

The example I would like to show is a basement room. Not overly large, maybe 15'X12" - it did already have shelving (a huge bonus!) The shelving was only so good though. As you will see in the before shots - you could not get to them - which makes them about...useless. (Note: shelving units are fairly inexpensive and easy to acquire.)

The process, though daunting initially, was not a hard one. Start at one end and move to the other. Sort into three piles Save, Trash/Recycle, and Give Away. Proceed. The items that needed to be acquired were few (none if you are on a severe budget - though the results are a little less spectacular.) We purchased plastic storage bins and one shelving unit. Plastic storage bins are totally worth the money - trust me on this one. It took us less than one week and the results were worth it!



A Few Others:

Take Aways:

1. Get rid of stuff! If you don't use it you don't need it!

2. Store things in a way you can get to them. You won't use what you have if you can't find it, get to it, etc. (Here is where spending a little on your storage containers can really pay off in the long run.)

3. Label, label, label!

Quick Tip:
To label something...

Use 3X5 Note cards (or larger), packing tape, and a bold black marker.

It will be easy to read. Easy to change on plastic storage bins. They also make it easier to read on regular old cardboard boxes (you know the leftover ones we all have that most stuff is stored in) because they are nice and white and bold! AND they are cheap and easy!!

Hope this starts you thinking about where you might be able to find more space and use it well!

Organizing for Life

Organizing for life. I use this statement as a tag line for my business, Organizare. The face value of the statement is good, but my actual meaning is even better. When I organize I do it for life. More life. A more fulfilled life. What do I mean?

My idea of organizing means that life should be easier and more enjoyable after I am done. Tasks should be accomplished easier, quicker, maybe even cheaper. You might actually enjoy performing the task you have organized. You may find more time in your day, time to do the things you always want to do but are secondary to the other tasks at hand. You may find more money in your budget, because you aren't buying items you already have. You may be more inspired because your daily routine is a breeze and you can practically get things done with your eyes closed. Life is better. Life is organized. Organize for life.

I should probably explain a little about why I love organizing. All of my life I have been what you might call a disaster. To give an example of where I started (all the way back as a kid.) Yeah, I had been a mess for awhile! Anyway, I used to participate in lots of after school activities when I was in elementary school (surprise, surprise!) Anyway, my Mom used to come and walk us (me and my sister) home so she would often wait for us while we were in our activity. One day she went through my backpack. Yeah. She was not impressed. Nope not at all. The best way to describe what she found is, well, sedimentary layers of everything that had gone to - or should have come home from - school. Did I mention she was not impressed? Nor would I use the word pleased. A lot of things she never knew about were right there in the backpack of doom. I have come a long way.

It wasn't an overnight change. I was a procrastinator for most of my education. To be honest, almost all the way through college. But at least by that point I had given up trying to create sedimentary formations. It took a lot of bad things turning worse, rough consequences and a lot of sick stomachs to really move to being an organizer. Living on my own really helped too.

Today, I will tell you honestly that most of the reason that I am organized is because I am actually one of the world's most lazy people. Being organized saves so much time and frustration. I also don't function well in a certain type of chaos. I will absolutely admit and accept my weaknesses. I think more clearly and efficiently with clear areas to work in, focus on, etc. Basically, what I mean is you don't have to be perfect to be organized. So don't hesitate to be so.

I am going to open a new section in this blog where I will share some of my favorite organizing ideas with you, as well as, show off a few of the projects I have done (to give you an idea of what I do and what you too can have in your life!) I hope that you will find some of what I share useful and that maybe you will be inspired to try some of the ideas out in your own home, office, car, anywhere! Yet one more way to live a beautiful life!

04 August 2009

My Little Shoppe

I love to create things. I love to make anything I find laying around into something romantic. Bits of muslin and worn out silk flowers find new life as precious little sachets. Pockets left over from an old jacket become a unique purse. Bits of lace, swatches of velvet, beads and baubles all find new life. Here is a preview of what I have made to date. Please take a look at what I have and click on what you like to see more!
Buy Handmade

20 May 2009

One Day More!

I am happy to announce that tomorrow, yes tomorrow, our little fella gets to come home! I will introduce him properly in his very own post once he is home. I just wanted to post that it is almost time! If I get the chance later today I will post a tour of his "nursery" like I promised before! Happy Day!

08 May 2009

Laundry Hanging Time

This was the first week warm enough up here in the hills to hang out laundry! And so I did!

I love to hang out laundry! It is such a calming sort of thing to do. I feel good just getting outside for part of my chores. I really feel good when I think about using less energy and doing my small part to make it a better world. I am thankful that I live in a place clean enough to hang out my laundry. And I am glad that the neighborhood doesn't have silly rules against such things.

I even really enjoy using clothes pins. They are such silly little things that we usually take for granted. I mean, through life how often do we find clothes pins in odd places or use them for funny things like holding chip bags closed. Though, I must say - they do a much better job than most of those chip bag specific clips! I like the good old fashioned wood ones, especially after you have used them so many times that they get that smooth feel to them. I also love when you find the cute little, crafty bags people have made or received to hold their clothes pins in on the line. Such a throw back to a time gone by, hanging clothes on the line.

It tickles me happy when I am walking somewhere and I see where someone else still chooses to hang out their clothes. I feel like they are probably someone I could get along with, a kindred spirit. Even if we may never meet. I know many people are unable to hang out clothes due to silly HOA rules or sadly the level of pollution. I am truly sorry they don't have the opportunity to enjoy laundry dried by the breeze and warmed in the sunshine. It is truly and peaceful smell.

Some environmental thoughts for the day. Hang drying your laundry uses less energy. You don't even have to have a clothes line - there are many wonderful folding laundry-hanging units on the market! You don't even have to have an outside! You can set up a folding unit in your house!! And finally, you may be able to use fewer nasty chemicals - UV is great for killing groady stuff and for getting your whites whiter! Just don't leave your laundry out toooooo long!! And best of all you cannot beat the smell of line dried laundry, no matter what the scent of your detergent! Happy laundry hanging season!

07 May 2009

The Forever Home Countdown

Two Weeks! That is what is left of our wait for our fuzzy little friend to join us! We have decided on a name and his little "room" is ready for his arrival! I have made a few more things to "cute" up his place. I will take pictures and give you a virtual tour of the "puppy nursury" as so many have called it.

We are so anxious to start training. We have read books and books on training. We have been practicing on all the dogs we know and are ready to get our little guy off to a great start! We have already made plans and arrangements for starting his socialization. If you have not yet been invited to a "puppy party" you should let me know how much you love puppies and would like to meet ours! So join us in our countdown to May 21 when our furry friend will make his journey to his mountain home!

14 April 2009

Puppy Love

For many years we have asked that the fates would align and we would be able to get a dog. For many years we hoped and researched, wished and planned. Finally the fates have done their thing, the hoping and wishing has paid off (and the puppy bait worked!) Soon we will bring home the newest member of our family. He will be an adorable, little, fuzzy Elkhound puppy! We have put in many hours trying to find the right breeder and waiting for puppies to be born. At long last, we have finally found a little friend to call our own!

The puppies were born on March 8. We have visited twice, once at 3 weeks and again at 4 weeks. Each week it gets harder and harder to leave without our little guy (though to be sure he has been too small up to this point!) I have been keeping busy getting everything ready! My mom laughs and wonders what I will be like when we decide to have kids. (I told her I will have nine long months to keep myself busy!) We wanted to make sure that everything would be ready for when he came home, and that it would be the best system we could set up (since we are not living in our own house right now!) So we spent several weeks collecting the best deals on the items we knew we needed, setting it up just right and now I am in creative mode.

We decided to kind of stick to a theme. Since our little fellow is a Norwegian Elkhound (they are actually meant to hunt moose) we are going to stick to a snow/moose theme. With this in mind, I started looking at the leftover fabric mom had recently gifted me (she wanted to get it out of her house.) I found a rather large chunk of blue something or other and some really cute plaid (plaid and moose look great together.) With that I was off to a great start. First, I whipped out a really great kennel cover out of the blue fabric. Well, okay we had a lot of really weird problems with it - but in the end I really like it and it looks really keen! I really think our puppy will like how cozy it makes his kennel feel. Next, I stumbled upon a small amount of blue vinyl. When the brain got working, it decided a dish mat was in order. So I grabbed a little shelf liner at the store (to keep the mat from sliding across the floor) and whipped that up into a spiffy little dish mat edged in the cute plaid I had found. (Note to all the sewing people out there - using tissue paper with the no-slip shelf liner is a must. Really quickly I found out that it will not move through a sewing machine at all. But with a little tissue - success!) Next up: to make a "go bye-bye" tote bag and a toy bag for the house. One out of the matching blue and the other out of the cute plaid! Our pooch will be styling for sure!

I have been taking pictures of my progress on what has been called "the puppy nursery." I will add pictures to my posts as often as possible. I am also planning to put up some of my dog accessories on my etsy site. So if you are a dog lover like me - you should check my site to see what I have come up with to enhance the dog loving experience!

19 February 2009


I don't remember the first cup of tea I ever had, I am sure I was very young and that it was not actually tea per se. But, I do know that for as long as I can remember, I have had a fascination with the taking of tea. I love every detail surrounding tea and its enjoyment. Everything from the tea itself to the dainty napkins you might set on the table. The one detail that thrills me every time, one of which I cannot seem to get enough...teacups! I love them.

When we left our humble little apartment to take a step back, one of the few things I did not pack up to put into storage was a small china tea pot and our special china tea cups. The tea cups were a gift one Christmas from my mother (who happens to enjoy tea just as much as I do.) She had picked out two tea cups. One that she felt fit my personality and one that fit my husbands (who also happens to love tea.) We were delighted; and made a point to have tea out of these special tea cups on regular occasion. I will admit that, while we have a cup of black tea every morning at breakfast, we do usually drink from somewhat more utilitarian vessels - Irish coffee mugs. They are simply more capable of taking the abuse of constant use (and I can buy more really easy!) But on lazy weekend mornings we often take tea from our china tea cups. It makes the tea seem ever so much more important. I always seem to savor it more and contemplate life more gently.

I enjoy the china tea cups so much that I actually store (display) them on the dresser in our bedroom here at the house. They are like a symbol of how we like to live our life and I just think they are sweet to look at when I pass into or out of the room. They always remind me to slow down, think happy thoughts and enjoy the finer things in life (however simple they may be!)

I have another teacup that has found a home with us. It resides on our computer desk in the basement. It also serves as a visual reminder to savor the moment. It is the first in what I am sure will be a long line of teacup acquisitions. We decided that we enjoy tea so much and especially teacups that we would collect any teacup that caught our eye and just couldn't be left behind. This first one came home from Goodwill one random day. Others may be waiting patiently in the antique shop. We never know where our new additions may be hiding, but the hunt is half the fun. And when you have a large collection you are never afraid to pull them out and share them with friends. I always say, the best way to enjoy something treasured is to use it!

Just looking at the teacup next to me makes me want to go put the kettle on and settle in for a moment with my teacup. To take a deep breath and simply enjoy a moment of gentle reflection. To indulge myself in a beautiful moment, in a beautiful life. I think I will do just that...

18 February 2009

What am I getting into here?

After much thought I decided to start a "blog." I loved blogging on MySpace, but so many of my friends stopped using it. I broke down and tried FaceBook (to where all my friends had disappeared, I found.) But it is, well, boring. So I chose to find a new medium of expression and landed here.

Everyday, I try to grow and improve as a person. Everyday, I try to find something to appreciate about the day, no matter how simple. Everyday, I try to live a beautiful life. I tryste with life. (Yes, I know tryst does not have an "e" on the end. But the "e" is there for a reason. If you read my blog, maybe someday you will discover why it is there...) I love so many things sometimes I get far too much on "my plate." Hobbies seem to take up residence in my home when I am not looking. For many years it bothered me that I didn't focus on one thing or even a few things. After struggling with all my interests, I have finally come to terms with the fact that I am extremely eclectic. At least life is never boring!

If you choose to read this blog, I will share my life philosophies with you. I will share my hobbies with you. I will share goodness knows what with you! The topics are sure to be varied. The topics might be interesting! The topics may even be insightful. I make no promises or guarantees. But who knows maybe you too will find that you also "live a beautiful life."