Friday, February 29, 2008

I had so much fun last night! Les' band played for a BBQ sponsored by MWR for a group of British, German and Greek (I think) naval ships that were visiting Sicily. I almost didn't go, but I'm so glad that I did. I haven't smiled that much and laughed that hard in a long time! I spent most of the evening mingling with the British guys. Most of them were around the same age as my little brother and reminded me a lot of him (I miss you Ivan!) Here are a handful of pictures from the evening:

Posing for the camera

"It Doesn't Matter" rocked last night! Probably their best performance yet. The crowd loved them!

One of many tables (only halfway through the evening) covered with empty beer cans. They were definitely having fun!

Betsy (Terry, the drummer's wife) guest starred with the band for a few songs

One of the British guys took the stage on the drums and was really good! The crowd loved seeing one of their own in the spotlight.

The tallest and smallest from one of the British ships.

One of my buddies from the evening, and the only one whose name I remember...sort of. I think his nickname was Kigsy (and I know I probably didn't spell that right).

This is what happens when "pissed" guys try to build a beer can pyramid....but don't check to see if the beer cans are empty....

If anyone I met last night happens to visit my blog, I had a great time and hope to meet up with you again one day. Leave a comment and keep in touch! If you want to see the rest of the pics from the evening visit the entire album at:

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Perfect Popcorn

How often do perfect moments come around? When they do, do you recognize them when they happen? Sometimes, the thought will hit me that I could live in the current moment forever. It is an amazing feeling. I hold on to it as long as possible and enjoy it while it lasts. When I take the time to recognize this feeling not only do I enjoy that moment more (because I know it is fleeting) I have those moments to look back when things aren't as perfect and know that life (even in the not so perfect moments) is still good.

I had one of these moments last night. It was simply sitting on the sofa with my hubbie, drinking delicious wine and eating the best popcorn ever. He had his arm comfortably around me and the bowl of popcorn was nestled on our laps between us. We were watching Seinfeld reruns. It was peaceful, safe, and full of warm, comfortable love. It was one of those perfect moments that I want to be able to look back on and remember vividly.

I also wanted to share the recipe for the awesome popcorn. We are totally addicted. I found the recipe on Bitten. The only change I made from the orignial was to cut the recipe in half (the original had 1/2 c of corn and 4tbsp of butter). I could eat a massive bowl (or three) of this...its that addicting...but I'm trying to be a little bit good with what I eat.

Sweet & Salty Popcorn
Adapted from Bitten
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 c popping corn
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • sea salt
  • sugar
  1. Put the oil in the bottom of a large, deep saucepan (6 quarts or so) with a cover; turn the heat to medium. Add 3 kernels of corn and cover.
  2. When the kernels pop, remove the cover and add the remaining corn. Cover and shake the pot, holding the lid on as you do so. Cook, shaking the pot occasionally, until there are a few seconds between popping sounds (a few unpopped kernels are inevitable). Meanwhile, melt the butter (here’s where the microwave comes in handy) if you're using it.
  3. Turn the popcorn into a large bowl; drizzle with the butter and sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and about a tablespoon of sugar; taste, add more seasoning as needed; toss and serve.

What Spice Are You?

A fun little quiz I found:

You Are Black Pepper

You may be considered ordinary by some, but you're far from boring.

You elevate the mood of any discussion, and people miss you when you're not around.

You are secretly very dominant and powerful. Most can only take you in small doses.

What do you think? Am I black pepper?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

20 Things To Remember

Today I am cleaning up my "to file" pile in my office. I came across a sheet of paper with 20 things to remember. I'm pretty sure my mom sent it to me. They are good thoughts to keep in mind so I thought I'd share them:
  1. Faith is the ability to not panic.
  2. If you worry, you didn't pray. If you prayed, don't worry.
  3. As a child of God, prayer is like calling home every day.
  4. Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.
  5. When we get tangled up in our problems, be still. God wants us to be still so He can untangle the knot.
  6. Do the math. Count your blessings.
  7. God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts.
  8. Dear God: I have a problem. It's me.
  9. Silence is often misinterpreted but never misquoted.
  10. Laugh every day - it's like inner jogging.
  11. The most important things in your home are the people.
  12. Growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional
  13. There is no key to happiness. The door is always open.
  14. A grudge is a heavy thing to carry.
  15. He who dies with the most toys is still dead.
  16. We do not remember days, but moments. Life moves too fast, so enjoy your precious moments.
  17. Nothing is real to you until you experience it; otherwise it's just hearsay.
  18. It's alright to sit on your pity pot every now and again. Just be sure to flush when you are done.
  19. Surviving and living your life successfully require courage. The goals and dreams you're seeking require courage and risk-taking. Learn from the turtle, it only makes progress when it sticks out its neck.
  20. Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. Your character is what you really are, while your reputation is...merely what others think you are.
I hope these thoughts bring a smile to your face and a spring to your step as they did for me.

Now playing: Augustana - Feel Fine
via FoxyTunes

Beautiful, but...

I saw these dishes in my January copy of Real Simple magazine. I fell in love with them. Then, of course, read the find print and discovered they were Hermès.

Yep...just the set of two cups and saucers is $300. Ouch. They are gorgeous but I'd be afraid to use them!

Now playing: No Doubt - Hella Good
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I should be cleaning the house...

I should be cleaning the house or doing something productive but playing on my blog is so much more fun! I decided that it was time to give my blog a whole new look. Pictures, and especially food pictures tend to look best on a neutral background (not so much with the pink). Let me know what you think and if you have any suggestions for improvements. Thanks!

Don't knock it 'till you've tried it

Free! From class, that is. On Monday I finished my fifth MBA class and have now officially reached the halfway point in my degree. This last class, Managerial Decision Making (MBA510) was a toughie, but I survived and got a decent grade. (yippee!!)

The last few days have been spent trying to catch up on a few things around the house. Yesterday was supposed to be a big cleaning day, but around 10:30A my friend Betsy called to see if I wanted to go shopping with her in Palagonia. I jumped at the opportunity to get out of the house for awhile.

We went to the supermercados in Palagonia and then decided it was time for lunch. As we drove up through Palagonia looking for a restaurant a sign caught my eye. It was partially blocked as we approached so all I could see was Buon Vino. I mentioned it to Betsy and said I needed to come back and check it out. Betsy, another wine lover, immediately pulled off to the side of the road and asked "where!?" I pointed it out and much to our surprise and delight it turned out to be a wine shop! We immediately agreed that lunch could wait, we had to check it out.

As we entered we were ecstatic. It was the first local wine shop either of us had found. Along one wall they had a selection of local bottled wine, and along the other they had several tapped barrels and a selection of different sized plastic bottles to choose from to fill from the barrels. They had Nero D'Avola, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rosso (just a basic red table wine), Rosato, and Zibibbo.

When Les and I first arrived in Sicilia several people told us about the local wines that could be purchased and were often sold in plastic bottles. The one time (about a year ago) we stepped out and purchased some it was awful. The California wine snob in the back of my head was telling me wine in a plastic bottle is as bad as wine in a box. I was a bit skeptical about buying wine in a plastic bottle, but as soon as I tasted it at this shop I was sold.

Betsy and I each bought two two-liter bottles. She purchased a Cabernet and a Nero D'Avola and I purchased a Cabernet and a Zibibbo. The Cabernet, although young, had a great flavor. It wasn't overly acidic or tannic as young red wines can be. The Zibibbo, a sweet dessert wine similar to Moscato, was delicious. I spent a grand total of 10euro for four liters of wine! The Cabernet was 4euro (about $6.00) and the Zibibbo was 6euro (about $9.00). Finding this store, with quality wines at phenomenal prices was awesome! I will definitely be going back...often.

After our awesome wine find we finally made our way to lunch and then home. We decided that our new wine needed to be enjoyed immediately so as soon as we had put our groceries away Betsy came over and we enjoyed a glass of wine. That is where Les found me when he came home from work. He was anxious to get in on the action and poured himself a glass while we told him the story. Shortly after Les got home Betsy's husband called and we invited him over for a glass as well. We enjoyed the wine and the company for a couple of hours in the late afternoon. What a great way to spend a day!

Monday, February 18, 2008


I read a lot of books and watch a lot of movies but I rarely take the time to sound off on them here. I'm not great at writing movie reviews, but I will say you should see Once. Les and I watched it last night and it was great! A bit slow at first, but definitely worth it, and the soundtrack is awesome. I bought it on iTunes today and am listening to it right now. Check it out if you like movies that aren't mainstream and have a bit of depth.

Now playing: Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova - If You Want Me
via FoxyTunes

Friday, February 15, 2008

Nope, Not Scallions

They look like green onions (scallions) right?

My vendor at the market this morning said they were aglio. I didn't believe him until he cut one open for me to smell.

I've never seen garlic (aglio) like this before but I can't wait to try it! does one best prepare garlic that looks like scallions?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Winter Pesto

Yesterday, after I finished making the cheesecakes I was in desperate need of "real" food. (I ate way too much batter!) I decided to try a recipe I found on the Orangette blog for Winter Pesto. Her recipe calls for almonds, but since I didn't have almonds on hand I tried walnuts instead. It was delicious! I served my pesto over fresh pasta for a decadent yet simple lunch.

Winter Pesto
Adapted from Orangette Blog
  • 4 tbsp. walnut pieces
  • 1 cup Italian parsley - packed
  • 4 - 6 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 of a lemon
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 small garlic clove
  1. In a small food processor, pulse the walnuts until finely ground. Add the parsley, 4 tablespoons of the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and garlic and process to a paste. Taste and, if needed, adjust salt, lemon juice, and/or olive oil.
On an entirely different note I'm thinking about starting a new blog just for sharing my ideas on food and wine. I'm not entirely sold on the idea and would like to know what you think. There is a poll on the right hand side of the page - please let me know your opinion. If you have anything else to add you can always leave me a comment or message me on Meebo (also on the right hand side of the page).


Now playing: Josh Groban - Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)
via FoxyTunes

Heart Shaped Cheesecakes

Yesterday I decided to break out the heart shaped spring form pans that I bought at Target several years ago. I had never used them and decided that it was time. I searched through several cheesecake recipes looking for just the right one and finally gave up and made up my own. I took a bit from one recipe, a bit from another, and then put my own spin on it.

I started out by making a chocolate wafer cookie crust. I attempted to divide the crust crumbs evenly between my three heart-shaped pans. I thought that the three heart pans would hold about the same amount of cheesecake as a normal cheesecake pan. I was wrong. Even though I made thick crusts I still had crumbs left over. I pulled out a couple of ramekins and baked a couple of extra crusts.

Next, I prepared the batter. Since this cheesecake was for my sweetheart on Valentine's day I decided to forgo the reduced-guilt route and made a super rich cheesecake, complete with full-fat cream cheese, sour cream and whipping cream...yeah, oh so good! I filled up my heart shaped pans first and still had a ton of batter left. I worked on the next two ramekins that had crust...still had a ton of batter. I ended up using every single ramekin that I own!

Bunches of Baking Cheesecakes

A Heart-Shaped Cheesecake, Cooling

All sorts of ramekins filled with cheesecake

The finished product, just before we devoured it last night

Yep, that's right. We celebrated Valentine's day a day early since Les has to work tonight. We savored our cheesecake with a bottle of Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine). We had a great evening. Les even made me a homemade card! It was so sweet!

In case you want to make something similar, here is my recipe:

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

  • 1.5 c chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
  • 3 tbsp butter - melted
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F . In 9x3 springform pan, combine cookie crumbs, melted butter, and sugar; stir with fork until evenly moistened. With hand, press mexture firmly onto bottom of pan. Bake 10 minutes. Cook completely in pan on wire rack.
  2. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Beat in sour cream and heavy cream. Blend in the flour and vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add eggs one at a time. Fold in Reese's Baking Pieces. Pour batter over crust.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, or until center is almost set (filling will be soft). Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight before removing from pan.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Now playing: Josh Groban - You're Still You
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


I wrote a huge paper for school last week - around 25 pages. As I was nearing the end I went back to read through the requirements one more time and realized that I was missing a few things. The paper was supposed to include certain statistical concepts and probably corresponding calculations. I had covered a few of the topics but didn't have any calculations.

I nearly panicked as I flipped back to the syllabus to see what percentage of my grade would suffer if I turned it in the way it was. It was only 5% of my overall grade so I decided to take the chance. I finished it up, proofed it, and, other than missing a few things was very happy with the way it turned out. Off it went to the professor.

Today I opened up my messages for class and noticed that my grade had been updated. gulp. I felt those nervous butterflies start to act up in my tummy and wondered how bad the damage was. (It was a feeling similar to knowing that you need to look at the credit card bill after vacation but you aren't looking forward to it.)

When I opened the message I was completely flabbergasted! I got a 100%!!!! The professor even made "very good" type comments with exclamation points! All I could do was laugh. I couldn't believe it. I'm totally giddy and happy right now and had to share. :)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Remember the episode of Friends where Joey was auditioning for a soup commercial and he couldn't get the right line? He was supposed to say "mmm, soup" but he kept saying "mmmm, noodle soup". As I sat down to dinner tonight I found myself saying the same thing, or at least what he was supposed to say, "mmm...soup".

I found a delicious recipe for Smoky Corn Chowder in this month's Real Simple Magazine. I made a few adjustments so I could use the ingredients I had on hand and it was delicious! It could also be easily adapted for my vegetarian and vegan friends.

Smoky Corn Chowder
Adapted from Real Simple Magazine, February 2008
  • 8 ounces diced pancetta
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 10-ounce packages frozen corn
  • 2 14 oz. cans vegetable broth
  • 1 cup whipping cream or half-and-half
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  1. Cook the pancetta in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  2. Spoon off and discard all but 2 tablespoons of the drippings and return the pot to medium heat. If you are a bit short on the drippings add a bit of olive oil until you have about 2 tbsp of oil. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, and red pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the corn, broth, and half-and-half and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer half the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Return to the pot, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and stir to combine.
  4. Divide the soup among individual bowls and top with the scallions and reserved pancetta.
To make this meal vegan friendly omit the pancetta and step one and begin by cooking the onions in olive oil. Replace the cream with unsweetened soy milk. If anyone tries the vegan version let me know how it turns out.

This soup was easy to make and sooo good! I will definitely make it again (and again get the pictures).

Monday, February 04, 2008

It Doesn't Matter Rocks Applebee's Pub

Last night Les' band performed at Applebee's pub Superbowl Pre-game Party. They sounded great! Here are a few pictures:

They have more gigs coming up in February so if you want the dates let me know!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sharing Smiles & Laughter

As I turned the page of my calendar from January to February I noticed that the picture of the month could have been my cousin and I as little girls. It looks like the kind of mischief we would have created to amuse ourselves.

And a funny from Reader's Digest that Les & I found hilarious:
  • My wife found this flyer taped to a neighborhood telephone pole: "Found, make yellow Lab, very friendly. Loves to play with kids and eat Bubbles. Bubbles is our cat. Please come get your dog." Submitted by Robert Chapman, Reader's Digest, February 2008, p. 125
I hope these funnies bring a smile to your face as they did to mine!