Wednesday, December 30, 2009

chile con queso



I missed my electronic contraptions last night.  Comcast was down in my house so no TV nor internet but at least we had electric, unlike most homes in the neighborhood.  Mike could not even get his car out of the garage (electric) so I drove mine to his house and the whole area was really dark, only illuminated by a little moonlight.  Very eery.  I listened to the radio and still don't know what transpired to cause the outage.  He was so happy I gave him a bunch of tealight candles for St. Nick's so he was not totally in the dark.  I kept the fireplace on at our home and meditated by my lonesome.  Wayne met his Snapps band buddies for a jam session and Dan worked and Steve was napping.  Once he awoke up around 8:30 we resumed our Office marathon.  Part of our Christmas gift was updating our DVD collection and this was one of them.  I like to watch uplifting stuff prior to the New Year to keep the feel good going.  Wayne and I will see It's Complicated on New Years Eve at Dan's place so he won't be alone again.  He worked all Christmas Eve, all Day and the next, so if Mohammed can't come to the mountain, the mountain will come to him.  They are extremely busy at Gold Class this week - one night 600 people were served.  Hope he gets good tips.  Start the new year off right. 

It has been one of those grueling days of grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, put decorations away, give two massages to clients, register the boys for college, pay the bills, bring dogs to vet for ear check and nails trimmed and finally relax by clicking (hence my blog.) I keep forgetting I am a domestic goddess now so there is nothing I cannot accomplish.  I am amazed that I did all this stuff and ran a business all those years. At least I don't shovel the snow anymore.  Wayne loves his bull snowblower too much. It's nice to take things down a notch.  All three bambi dogs are back and we love watching them frolick behind our home.  The cardinals have not been around but I believe they flew over to my Aunt Diane and Uncle Bill's home for awhile when I told them they missed them in Bourbonnaise. My dogs are traumatized by the doctor's visit.  They'll recover soon enough.  So spoiled.  :)

I read on Laura's recipes that pork and bean dishes are good for prosperity and black eyed peas for luck.  I heard a certain fish is good for the new year - sardines or anchovies - something like that.  I also heard if a tall man with dark hair is the first to walk through the front door on new years day,  that is good luck.  I make sure Wayne goes out the garage and in the front each year.  I do~!   We have been making a feast of filet mignon just to ring in the new year with a simple yet special dish.  Until then, I am making the boys' favorites and today is taco day and Danny's chile con queso.  My neighbor, Gary (from when we lived on Christiana) gave me this recipe and I have passed it on to so many people.  I am sure they add their own little ingredients, but this is the way it works for my Dan and his buddy Rudy.

Chile con Queso

2 lbs. chihuahua cheese
1 lb. pepper jack cheese
2 big cans crushed tomatoes
3 scallions
2 habanero peppers
bunch fresh cilantro

Cut your cheeses into 1 inch cubes,  chop your onions and peppers and cook in a crock pot with the tomatoes.  Chop cilantro and add when serving.  This keeps everything warm and ready to eat and is one of the best dishes for a party or get together.  Dip with nacho chips or use as a topping on tacos, enchiladas or burritos.  Ole!  And Happy New Years Eve~It's a blue moon tonight, Mercury and Mars are retrograde and we will ring in a new decade.  Lots to look forward to.  Life is short, so live it up.  xo




Tuesday, December 29, 2009

free your mind




In order to see the rainbow you have to see through the rain.  Unknown

Man is not made by his circumstances, he is revealed by them.  James Allen

I'm going to turn on the light, and we'll be two people in a room looking at each other and wondering why on Earth we were afraid of the dark. Gale Wilhelm

Success is 99% failure. Soichiro Honda

Man will occasionally stumble upon the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on. Winston Churchill

Men are born to succeed, not to fail.   Henry David Thoreau

People are always blaming their circumstances for being what they are.  I don't believe in circumstances.  The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them.  George Bernard Shaw

I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.  Chinese Proverb

If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; if I can ease one life the aching, or cool one pain, or help one fainting robin into his nest again, I shall not live in vain. Emily Dickinson

Love breaks down the barriers and creates unity.  That which creates barriers and creates separateness and differences is ignorance. Brian L. Weiss, MD

The heart knows truth as that which sets it free.  Glenda Green

There is a field beyond right or wrong.  I will meet you there. Rumi

In order to truly find the Path, each of us must loosen our minds and begin from a point of wonder and openness - of being willing to not know.  Laurie Beth Jones

Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.  William Jennings Bryan

As you believe, so shall you receive.  Jesus

The ancestor of every action is a thought.  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nothing occurs in your life - nothing - which is not first a thought.  Thoughts are like magnets, drawing effects to you.  Neale Donald Walsch

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so...William Shakespeare

The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.  Frank Lloyd Wright

Be careful what you wish for... you must might get it! Unknown

To be is to do. Jean Paul Sartre

To do is to be.  Jean Jacques Rousseau

Do, be, do, be, do.  Frank Sinatra

There are really only two ways to approach life - as a victim or as a gallant fighter - and you must decide if you want to act or react, deal your own cards or play with a stacked deck.  And if you don't decide which way to play with life, it always plays with you.  Merle Shain

Embrace the Process, and move through it with peace and wisdom and joy.  Use the Process, and transform it from something you endure to something you engage as a tool in the creation of the most magnificent experience of All Time:  the fulfillment of your Divine Self. Neale Donald Walsch

First we have to believe,  and then we believe.  G.C. Lichtenberg

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Marie Curie

The only source of knowledge is experience.  Albert Einstein

Dreams are the seeds of reality. James Allen

Thoughts are a very subtle, yet extremely powerful form of energy. Neale Donald Walsch

As we enter a new decade, let us hold on to what we need to continue our journey and discard the unnecessary baggage that weighs us down.  Sort through our thoughts and purge that which binds us to our personal prisons; embrace new ways of thinking -  enriching our hearts and minds to greater venues.  We determine our tomorrow; take the chance, make the choice.  Love yourself and those who need it the most. xo


(thanks to Lauren Tratar, author of Life)

Monday, December 28, 2009

bodacious



These are my nutritional ingredients for a healthier me.  I routinely follow the lemonade master cleanse program derived by Stanley Burroughs almost 50 years ago.  It has helped me stay healthy and keeps me drinking lots of water, which I have disregarded these last few weeks.  My bad.  My laziness extends to my writing letters for words i.e. TFS (thanks for sharing) and LOL (laughing out loud).  How hard is that?  Geez.  If I post LMAO, will it work?  Laughter can decrease the size of my derriere?  I will do the right thing today to refresh myself as well as lift those weights that are collecting dust.  It doesn't take long to fall back into bad habits but I am good about making U-turns, as Dr. Oz recommends.  I like that guy.  He makes sense to me. The only way to lose weight and keep it off is to eat less and exercise more.   My favorite commercial this season is the guy who is trying to connect his video camera to the television and his kid keeps taping his behind, insisting they can't see anything on the screen, all-the-while the family is cracking up at his view, unbeknowest to him.  I giggle when I see this and will miss it once the season is over.  Steve knew how much I liked it and pulled a fast one on me, capturing a pic of a bodacious me.  Thanks, sweet son.  It does offer me the incentive to stop the expansion.  Cheers -  to chugs of water. xo



that's a bodacious butt - yikes!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

homemade pizza




Back in the old days, we did not have pizza parlors, but what we did have was Appian Way pizza mix.  My mom decided to make pizza basically from scratch and we indulged every Friday night.  When I was a wee one I loved watching how she took the spoon and spread the pizza sauce on the dough then sprinkled the cheese and sausage.  Dad liked it loaded so he had mushrooms and peppers but we kids did not, so she made a basic one for us.  Once in the 4th grade we had to give a presentation to our class describing how to make something, so I brought this recipe and my classmates were drooling just thinking of the ingredients.  We continued the Friday night pizza tradition with our boys and once a month I make the homemade version.  It offers a nice variety from our routine places.  We are huge pizza afficionados and like to try new places.  Dues is our numero uno.  When we were dating and first married we went there every Friday night and sometimes during lunch for over 15 years.  Giordano's has the best stuffed and Rosati's, Nancy's and Home Run Inn (with bacon) are the other joints we order from. Usually we get the one that has a coupon, unless we have a taste for one or the other.  Today we will have the scratch version.  I really don't make the dough from scratch since Betty Crocker and Appian Way do it for me, but the rest is my own. 

2 packages Betty Crocker or Appian Way pizza crust mix
1 15 oz. can Pastorelli pizza sauce
1 lb. mozzarella cheese
1 lb. colby cheese
Italian spices
Parmesan cheese
2 links hot Italian sausage
Pepperoni sandwich lunchmeat (or salami)
Variety of peppers (red, green, yellow, orange)
1 12 oz. package of fresh mushrooms
1 large onion

Follow directions on pizza mix, using hot water to prepare dough, but before you add water, season with Italian spices and a dash of salt and pepper, then your dough is flavored.  After the dough is ready, roll it in a dab of oil covering the whole slab of dough and place a towel over the bowl and set aside for at least one hour so it can rise.  Meantime, de-skin the sausage (kind of weird) and saute in little pieces until brown. You really don't have to remove the skin, but that's what I do. You can add chopped garlic, your chopped peppers and onions so they are softened, or not.  Set aside for later.  I buy the mozzarella in chunks and then process the cheese but you can buy shredded cheese already made.  This is the time to shred it, then set aside.  Now that all your ingredients are waiting to join each other, take a pizza pan and spread oil top to bottom so that even the edges are nice and greased.  Take your dough and place in the center and carefully spread edge to edge.  If little holes peak through, just squeeze the dough together until it is all one nice sheet of dough ready for the spread.  Pour the pizza sauce onto dough and spread evenly with a spoon. Here is where I reminisce and lick the spoon after it is all spread.  Begin layering your favorite ingredients, meats first, then onions, mushrooms, garlic and finally the cheeses.  I like to top it off with a little oregano and parmesan cheese just for kicks.  Cook in the oven for 20 minutes or so at 425.  Remove and let cool and slice in squares or triangles, depending which pan you use.  Begin a tradition for yourself and think of me fondly.  Enjoy. xo





nothing is constant but change




I am being drawn to the concept of non-conformity lately (as my inner voice tends to do) and sure enough, a perfect movie depicting same was on last night. Revolutionary Road is loaded with mind-provoking thoughts and we wanted to see it again just to analyze it.  Every one of the actors are superb and the chemistry between Kate and Leo is outstanding.  The unhappy ending makes for a more realistic depiction of the real world which makes this movie so believable.  One thing I have been aware of lately, being a Mad Men fan and seeing RR in the same era, is how we are getting lazier in our social graces.  The late 50s, early 60s had their issues, but people were more gracious, more cordial and more english.  They had better manners than we do today.  Perhaps behaviors are similar, but the way people interacted was more pleasant. 

This movie deals with so many issues on so many levels.  I wanted to see who exactly was responsible for the demise of their relationship and at first felt it was Kate, then Leo switched gears on her and turned everything around, making her feel responsible for their unhappiness to boot.  I am in awe of the character with "mental issues" who called each and every one for what they were, yet he is labeled the nut case.  That's how it is done, even now.  When we don't follow the ways of the pack (which can be construed in any scenario, from the office, friends, family) we are criticized and ostracized.  If we choose to beat to a different drum and express ourselves, if people don't understand or agree, same thing happens.  This is where those who rise above conformity (because they are uncomfortable with it) feel the hopeless emptiness when they have to go with the flow. They get stuck in the rut. A great scene is when Leo dreads the morning ritualistic walk to the office with all the other suits and when he embraces the idea that he is free to follow his essence and separate from the pack, he just stands in their midst, watching, knowing he can be what he chooses.  Ah, but then he weakens and regresses into the trap and my favorite lines are when he repeats into the dictaphone, "Knowing what you've got, knowing what you need, knowing what you can do without.  That's inventory control."  Priceless words.  Kate's version is "No one forgets the truth, they just get better at lying." The worst thing we can do is lie to ourselves.  Loaded. This movie will stay with me for a few days just as it did the first time.

As this decade ends, perhaps it is a good time to leave some of our old ways of thinking behind and challenge ourselves to find new ones.  So many of us encountered life changing situations in the form of unemployment, relationship failures, devastating loss; and instead of playing victim, turn it around - make lemonade.  Do what it takes to pursue a way to make a living by doing something you love, more purposeful, more meaningful.  Don't settle for a doldrum existence.  Be with people who make you feel good about yourself.  Be an instrument of inspiration.  Change is good and a constant in our lives.  Follow your heart's desire and see where it leads.  Pray to God for messages of how to be the best you can be.  Our paths are not always straight and sometimes the broken road can lead us to greater things. So what if those around you have more money or bigger homes or nicer cars.  Less is more. Simple abundance.
Be happy with what feels right for you.  Make it so. xo

Saturday, December 26, 2009

let it snow



the weather outside is frightful, but to me it's just delightful
as long as you love me so, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

We are getting a huge dusting from the heavens but it is so hypnotic just watching it embrace our bushes that I love it so much.  I have not left my home for a couple of days but had to leave and shop for food (what else is new) to make my dishes for the next few days.  To my delight, I was in the middle of my list and my better half came to help me with the load of goodies.  Once everything was home I made each of us a cute bloody mary, including celery stick, and began my cooking sojourn.  I prepared the chili for big daddy and us and while I chopped my assorted ingredients listened to my ipod.  It was on fire today.  My ears are so satisfied.  I hope it is reflected in the cooking for it was so pleasurable creating my dishes this way.  I am making homemade pizza for everyone tomorrow but got all the stuff chopped so all I have to do is put it together and deliver.  I'll share that tomorrow.

Anyone interested in guacamole, here goes:

6 avocados, mix soft and hard
2 ripened tomatoes on the vine
3 scallions
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
olive oil
juice of one fresh lime
lots of salt (to taste)

Slice the avocado in half length-wise, separate and use the knife and mash into the pit, then pull it out and dump.  Scoop the avocado into a bowl and mush to your liking.  Chop the tomatoes and scallions and add to mix.  Pour a little oil and squeeze the lime into mix, including salt and cilantro.  Mash and let set awhile.  Dip using your favorite nacho chips and relish this treat. Avocados are healthy and a great source of protein (not the nachos tho) Can't have everything all the time. 

It is so quiet in our home - Mike's at his place, Steve is visiting his buddy, sweet Ellie Bellie, and poor Dan is working (again.)  He still has not opened his presents but will later on.  He likes his job so no worries.  I am looking forward to sampling the chili on a day like today - that is comfort food at its best.  I have not cooked for a few days as we always cater our Christmas Eve dinner - usually from Bobak or Rosati.  Everyone raves about the chicken parmesan, seasoned potatoes, Italian sausage with sweet peppers, mostaccoli and all I have to do is provide the little things like veggies and pickle trays, cheese and crackers and voila - dinner is served.  My extravaganza cooking is Thanksgiving but after a long month of cooking, baking, decorating, shopping, cleaning and wrapping gifts, I cherish not having to prepare so much for the big day.  It works for me and keeps things enjoyable; especially on days like now where all is calm, all is white.  I am reflecting on all that transpired the last few months and pray so hard for those who are sick or financially strapped and especially those who lost a loved one.  I know God will provide the relief they all need but it doesn't hurt to nudge Him a little, along with my prayers of gratitude for all He does.  Hugs from all my boys were the best gift I ever want.  The joy on their faces when they receive a gift they really like helps, too, as well as a nice call from Dad and Bo exclaiming high praise for my blog book with reflections of my thoughts.  Acceptance is sweet and I am relishing this just for today.  Soft cuddles from Wayne-O top everything.  Thanks, babe.  Warm wishes to everyone.  Try to stay merry. xo

Friday, December 25, 2009

baby jesus




She gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the place where travelers lodged. There were shepherds in the region, living in the fields and keeping night watch by turns over their flocks.  The angel of the Lord appeared to them as the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were very much afraid.  The angel said to them:  "You have nothing to fear! I come to proclaim good news to you - tidings of great joy to be shared by the whole people.  This day in David's city a savior has been born to you, the Messiah and Lord.  Let this be a sign to you: in a manger you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes."  Suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in high heaven, peace on earth to those on whom his favor rests."
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another:  "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this event which the Lord has made known to us."  They went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger; once they saw, they understood what had been told them concerning this child.  All who heard of it were astonished at the report given them by the shepherds.
Mary treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, in accord with what had been told them.



Luke 8-20

Thursday, December 24, 2009

ho ho ho



You better watch out, you better not cry
You better not pout, I'm tellin' you why
Santa Claus is coming to town.

He's making a list, he's checking it twice
He's gonna find out who's naughty or nice
Santa Claus is coming to town.

He sees you when you're sleeping
He know when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake.

HO HO HO and Merry Christmas Eve



(thanks Charlie, Santa)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

i'll be






When darkness falls upon your heart and soul, I'll be the light that shines for you
When you forget how beautiful you are, I'll be there to remind you
When you can't find your way, I'll find my way to you
When troubles come around, I will come to you

I'll be your shoulder when you need someone to lean on;
be your shelter when you need someone to see you through
I'll be there to carry you, I'll be there
I'll be the rock that will be strong for you;
the one that will hold onto you when you feel that rain fallin' down
When there's nobody else around, I'll be

And when you're there with no one there to hold
I'll be the arms that reach for you
And when you feel your faith is running low
I'll be there to believe in you

When all you find are lies
I'll be the truth you need
When you need someone to run to, you can run to me

I'll be the sun when your heart's filled with rain
I'll be the one to chase the rain away
When there's nobody else around
I'll be.... xo




thanks reba

Sunday, December 20, 2009

bye bye betty





Betty Crocker has left the building! Baking is done, finished, finito.  I had no room on my kitchen table so I had to put my pastries in the dining room until they are devoured.  Thanks, Lady Di, for the wreath recipe - they are already half gone.  What a mess to make - a perfect treat for kids, though.  The funny thing is I don't have a sweet tooth so these treats will be passed on to those who do.  I am so grateful for my ipod as it provided such sweet tunes while I conquered this endeavor.  Andrea Bocelli dominated the shuffle.  On the up side I am not out and about shopping on this horendous weekend like many of you are (thinking of you, Carrie.) Now it's time for a nap, my new pasttime (when my body lets me.)  Here is the recipe for the wreaths in case anyone wants to feel like a child again.

Kellogg's Rice Krispies Wreaths
(I call them pointsettas)

3 Tbsp. margarine or butter
(I'm a fan of butter, but that's me)
1 (10 oz. pkg) marshmallows
2 tsp. green food coloring
6 cups rice krispies cereal
(on sale at Jewel)
red sprinkles

In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat.  Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted.  Remove from heat.  Stir in food coloring.  Add rice krispies cereal a little at a time and stir until well coated.  Warning - do it quickly - and remove your jewelry.  Coat your hands with oil and grab a handful of mix, form into wreath-like balls and place on wax paper.  Sprinkle red sugar in middle.  Indulge. xo

just for today



I am still practicing living in the NOW but this season brings out so many memories of days gone by.  There are constant reminders of when my boys were little in the ornaments made by my mom that grace our Christmas tree and the many crafts she made all over our home. They bring me to a happy place in my heart.  Wayne has been transposing a lifetime of memories when the boys were very little and this tugs at my heart so much it is almost painful.  I want to reach in his monitor and tickle their little toes.  My Dad was sage when he insisted we videotape all these moments.  Helen chimed in with the suggestion that our lives will flash before us like a blink of an eye once we have kids so I took heed on both words of wisdom and stayed in tune to every detail while raising our boys.  I finally completed my blog books entitled "in my words" and I am proud to give them as gifts this week.  All the presents are wrapped and look so pretty and festive.  I plan to continue baking my next round of kolacky cookies for our Christmas Eve dinner with Wayne's family and my friends in Delavan.  I will dabble in trying to make my mom's famous wreath cookies that my boys loved so much as well as the thin mint cookies.  Then we will take a break from all the preparations and be entertained by James Cameron's new flick, Avatar, at Danny's theater.  It is so luxurious at that place and Dan told us the 3D version is the best.  This has been an extremely tumultuous week and despite the fact our hearts remain heavy with grief, I am going to embrace the love that was shared by my family and friends and put whatever I can into my cookies.  I am blessed. xo

Saturday, December 19, 2009

did you know...





the most widely eaten fruit in America is the banana

most lipstick contains fish scales

snails have teeth

mountain goats are not actually goats; they are antelopes

a pidgeon's feathers are heavier than its bones

it is not possible to tickle yourself

most elephants weigh less than the tongue of a blue whale

rubber bands last longer when refrigerated

dolphins sleep with one eye opened

the tallest man was 8 ft. 11 in.

vultures can fly for six hours without flapping their wings

the average sea turtle cannot reproduce until it is 25 years old

India has more English speakers than the United States

right-handed people tend to chew food on the right side and lefties chew on the left

neckties were first worn in Croatia, which is why they were called cravats

on average a man spends about five months of his life shaving

John Adams was the only President to be defeated by his Vice President, Thomas Jefferson

the average lead pencil can draw a line 25 miles long or write roughly 50,000 English words

the hippopotamus has the capability to remain underwater for as long as five minutes

the National Park Service manages over 25 parks on 80 million acres of public land

on average, a laptop uses half as much energy as a desktop computer

President William McKinley had a pet parrot that he named "Washington Post"

in Athens, Greece, a driver's license can be taken away by law if the driver is deemed either "unbathed" or "poorly dressed"  snapple real facts

I love my new little bear made by my niece, Melissa.  Our souls are connected not only by blood, but we share our professional passion as massage therapists.  I am fond of all natural creatures but have an affinity to bears and owls and have been told they are a few of my spirit guides.  xo



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

tears






There is a sacredness in tears - they are not the mark of weakness but of power. They are messengers of overwhelming grief and of unspeakable love. - Washington Irving

Shedding tears is our body's response to overwhelming emotion, whether it is joy or sadness.  Tears enable us to physically cope with whatever triggered the adrenal gland to respond.  When our bodies cannot handle the emotion, our tears flow in response to our overpowering need to cope.  Most times we are refreshed after a good cry and typically feel better.  Did you ever crave the notion to watch a tear-jerker movie?  Perhaps you needed to purge the tears and subconsciously you encouraged the trigger to cry so the healing cycle could take place.  The expression of crying a river depicts a continuous need to release the pain within ourselves, enabling this release of energy to continue another path unto the universe, perhaps quenching a dry dam.  We cry tears of joy for the same reason; it is our body's basic physical need.  Women are known to cry more often because we are in tune with our response system and society allows us to express emotions more so than men.  I don't agree with this old fashioned way of thinking but I realize this will not change anytime soon, so the best I can do is impress upon my sons that it is acceptable to express yourself and if it takes tears, just cry.  Let it flow. xo

Monday, December 14, 2009

benes family


Frank, Marilyn, Kevin, Matthew, Amy and Jillian.  To me this was the ideal family.  Each brother had a brother and sister and each sister had one of each to share their journey as siblings and with the extended family of 17 cousins.  I do not know of another family that was the epitomy of love, togetherness, and old fashioned fun.  They always had a house filled with toys and games and crafts and music.  Marilyn earned her degree in teaching and embraced her gift of nurturing by raising her children and providing a warm, loving home for children who needed care while their families earned a living.  There was no shortage of wee ones in their home.  No matter what time of day I would stop by and she was never too busy to take time and chat.  Frank provided well for his brood and often worked side jobs for friends and family members with his expertise in electrical and home construction.  He could make anything and he knew exactly how to do it.  Upon entering their home one might almost get bowled over with the love that filled the air.  Immediately you felt relaxed and welcome.  Some may say this is the old fashioned family; a rare gem in these busy times.  That's what made it so special.  They opened their home for our sister Karen's wedding celebration and it was the best party we ever attended.  Everyone was laughing and singing and dancing in close quarters but that's what made it so much fun.  People were everywhere, together, sharing the joy of new beginnings.  It was magical.  They make the best host and hostess.  I chose the first picture for it depicts their characters perfectly.  Always making us laugh. 

This picture was taken more recently during our niece's wedding, another fantastic celebration where everyone laughed and sang and danced.  But alas, it would be one of the final memories of a family still living under the tapestry of togetherness.  Our world would get many jolts following this day in the form of illness, death and conflict.  Sadly, this happens to most families, but the vast amount of people affected would damage many lives forever.  We lost our matriarch, Virgie, and not even a year prior to that, our beloved Jim, husband to sister Julie and dad to Jackie, Vickie and Ginny, would leave us for the better place.  Today we mourn another devastating loss, sweet Kevin, a mere 19 years young, was tragically struck and killed on Friday.  True to his giving nature he donated some of his organs so that others may live.  This is a testament to the beautiful boy he was to all who were privileged to be a part of his life. 

Marilyn and Frank should have no regrets for they gave their son a dream family.  Their lives are forever shattered, but their faith will sustain them.  We will always remember their devotion to family and hopefully learn to be more like them.  I know I will.  All the cliches in the world cannot suffice to say how fragile we are.  How short life can be.  Feel our love these next days, Benes family.  You will be surrounded by many forms of comfort and love.  Tragedies such as this have no reason.  They are senseless to us mere mortals.  Perhaps you will not realize it now, but someday you will and it will provide the incentive to keep moving forward, even if through the motions.  Matt, Amy and Jill will keep his memory alive.  Kevin will smile down and you will feel his presence forever.  His love is everlasting.  I pray that all who read this, understand that no one cheats death. The best we could do is see the good in everyone.  We are all connected.  Please tell those you love that you do.   xo

Saturday, December 12, 2009

1st day of christmas



Jesus is the reason for the season


On this first day of Christmas, let us remember the true meaning of our celebration. Our Lord came to save us and we honor His birth with gifts of good tidings and joy.  Remember how much He loves us.  My Christmas wish is for you to fill your heart with love.  Make this your gift.  Keep joyful memories of the past as momentos of how you have been blessed.  Hold them in your heart as treasures.  Anticipate the future with hope and affirmations of blessings yet to come.  Be grateful for today, this is truly our present.  Take a breath and be still.  Embrace the now moment that has been given you to cherish. 

 With love, Happy Christmas. xo

kolacky cookies



I have been baking this Polish treat for over 20 years at Christmastime.  I don't know why I never bother during the rest of the year - it must be a conditioning thing.  They taste better during the holidays. I pack them in cute little tins and dispense them to my clients and friends as gifts, filled with warm wishes. 

Today I share this recipe as I know it.  There are numerous varieties on how to make them and you can substitute cream cheese for ice cream and margarine for butter, but this is how I do it.  It's best if you prepare the dough a day prior as it takes a long time to make as many as I do and the task is more pleasant spread over two days.  I typically make 3 batches at first which takes 4 cans of filling and triple the above recipe (see my picture) then another batch closer to Christmas for our dinner so they are fresh.  I always freeze a batch of dough for Wayne's cousin so he can make his own whenever after our Christmas dinner.

Ice Cream Kolacky Cookies

1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 lb. butter (4 sticks)
1 pint vanilla ice cream, melted
3 tbsp. sugar
4 cups flour
your favorite fillings
powdered sugar for dusting

Mix together flour, sugar and baking powder.  Add butter and cut in (like for a pie).  Careful here for it can get messy so keep the speed on low until it mixes thoroughly.  Add slightly melted ice cream.  Form into a ball and wrap in wax paper overnight or in a few hours if you only make one batch. Remove from fridge and let it thaw about an hour.  Once softened, take little chunks and roll into a ball, press onto baking pan with thumb in the center.  Add fillings as desired (this is a good time for warm wishes.)  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes tops.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Place on dish and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  I like to mix and match my fillings depending on who is receiving them as everyone has their favorites.  My boys love the apricot, strawberry and cherry, I love the poppy. Other fillings I use are lemon, almond and raspberry.  They look so festive with the variety of colors.

From my home to yours, filled with love. Enjoy!  xo

Friday, December 11, 2009

big daddy's chili


Mom made chili for her music man every day.  When they would travel to Las Vegas she made enough to freeze beforehand so when they returned he was fulfilled with his daily delight.  Upon her passing, I embraced the honor of continuing this tradition, making Dad's chili based on a combination of recipes by Mom and Nanny (her mom.)  It took a few experimental batches to get it just right and my concoction cannot be deviated, for he is a creature of habit.  Dad never fails to let me know how much he appreciates this; it is truly my pleasure.

The main ingredient is my love, so if you wish to duplicate this recipe, make sure you include plenty of it.  As follows:

3 lbs. ground chuck
1/2  vidalia onion/3 scallions
1 whole garlic
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced/1 small can mushrooms
4 packets variety of chili mixes
diced peppers - 1/2 each - green, red, yellow, orange
1 1/2 big cans tomatoes, puree/stewed
1 can each pinto/black beans
Dash of cumin, ceyenne, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, adobo spice, chili pepper 

Brown meat and drain fat.  Add chopped garlic, onion, peppers; saute together to blend the flavors. Add spices, a little water and then tomatoes.  Stir and season to taste.  Simmer awhile then add beans.  Simmer a little more and add mushrooms - make sure to add your love throughout the preparations. For some reason chili always tastes better the next day but when my boys take a whiff of the aroma they dive in.  Every 3 weeks I make a savory pot for Big Daddy and one for us, and my boys know that Grandpa's pot is on the left burner.  Enjoy.  xo

Thursday, December 10, 2009

thin mint cookies



Janet's Thin Mint Cookies

12 oz. bag Chocolate Morsels
(I combine dark and milk)
1 tbsp. Mint Extract
4 tbsp. Oil
Ritz Crackers


Pour chocolate morsels in stovetop pan. Add mint extract and oil.  Stir constantly,  monitoring the blending until smooth and creamy.  Remove from heat and dip crackers in the chocolate.  Place on wax paper until cool.  Close your eyes and reminisce about Girl Scout cookies.  Let your taste buds do the rest.  Enjoy.


This recipe was passed on to me this weekend by my friend, Janet, who is a master baker.  She knows I am not and thought I would appreciate this recipe as it does not require any baking at all.  xo

compassion



COMPASSION

Compassion is an angel
Who always gives her all,
She's there for every creature
Whether great or whether small.

At any time of day or night
Or any kind of storm,
She'll wrap her arms around your soul
To keep you safe and warm.

Compassion swells within a heart
When someone is in pain,
It softly beats a rhythm
So gentle and humane.

No matter if it's man or beast
Or what their tale of woe,
Compassion with her wings outstretched
Will help the healing grow.

Compassion has a kindness
Seen in every tender act.
So when you're kind to someone else
I tell you it's a fact...
Sometime she'll be around again
For all the angels say,
Compassion shown to others
Will be shown to you someday.


I hope you enjoyed my angel poems.  They are compiled in a book given to me when I began my journey at The Goddess Touch 10 years ago.  Somehow the premises were surrounded by angels when clients would bring gifts and I would shop at the Angel store in Lake Geneva for decorations to fill the nook and crannies.  I firmly believe angels guided me in my quest to provide comfort and love to those who walked through the doors and I offer the poems honoring  them as a token of my gratitude.  I was told that angels are readily awaiting to assist us and all we need to do is ask them.  As a little girl my favorite prayer was as follows:

Angel of God, my guardian dear,
To whom God's love commit me here.
Ever this day be at my side
To light and guard,
To rule and guide.  Amen. xo


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

my better half

The good news is my better half got a job. The bad news is my better half got a job. 

I know in this economy you may think I am out of my mind, but I have really enjoyed the past month sharing my days with Wayne.  We were able to get a sneak peak at what our retirement days will be like and I look forward to living them with ease.  We knew for a year he would have to pursue other options for income and let the universe take over our destiny.  This is extremely hard for a man to do as they are defined by who they are, what they do and what they make (according to Steve Harvey, anyway) and he was too anxious to enjoy the luxury of freedom of employment unless he was secure in the fact he could continue to be the bread winner for a few more years.  We made the best of our time by going to movies during the day and frequenting a few spas for a little pampering.  We sat by our respective perches clicking our computers working on our various projects.  Mine is blogging and connecting on facebook.  I continue to give massages but on a limited basis and most of my time is being the domestic goddess around our home.  Now he knows what it is like to be a domestic god.  And he likes it (so do our dogs.)  This time of year is about hanging around the abode as the weather dictates if we want to be outside in the colder elements.  The fireplace lures us to stay right where we are most of the day.  We pitter around the house and perform the daily ritualistic chores but it is not so tedious when shared by another.  We make sure to provide space to one another so as not to get too attached so Wayne will connect with his buddies to jam or just enjoy their company over a brew and I will meet my friends for lunch to update our lives and share new endeavors.  This camaraderie provides a sense of comfort and calm to the heart.  All the years of challenge and dealing with life situations get rewarded in these few precious moments of tranquility.  We are not wasting a second and continue our little projects for the boys - he is transferring about 30 VCRs onto DVD to give our sons for Christmas as remembrances.  Last year I ransacked all the photos I had everywhere and made special photo albums depicting each of their lives from birth.  I made one for Wayne as a father and the dogs, too.  It was fun to do but time consuming.  They really appreciated these momentos and I still hear comments from their friends about how neat it is to share the kids' past. I am compiling my blog notes into a book so they know my stories and with the videos, we can give our sons a little legacy to reflect on and pass onto their offspring someday.  Operative word being someday.  We will wait and embrace the time when we will be blessed with grandkids.  We make jokes about how we will spoil them.  Everything in time.  There is no doubt God has His own plan for us and we learned many moons ago to give things up to Him,  for He knows better than we do what is best for us.  So we ask His will be done and give us strength to endure any trials He may have in store for us. Our lives are in His hands and this belief works for us.  My music man is heading out to meet with a few of his lifetime bandbuddies, Tom and Danny, from their Snapps band back in the day.   I will prepare the sauce for ravioli tonight while listening to 99.5 country station.  Blessings are everywhere.  We only need to open our eyes and embrace these gifts.  Then share them.  The greatest gift is to love and be loved.  Amen.  xo

love


LOVE



Of all the angels high above
There's one above the rest.
Of course this angel's name is Love
Among us all most blest.

Love's in the air caressing spring
With every passing breeze.
Love's in the warmth that summer brings
Love's in the autumn leaves.

Love's in the souls that are so pure
Who seek for God's salvation;
He helps their spirits to endure
Through faith and adoration.

Love's in the causes won and lost
For Love is in the labor.
We all forget the trials crossed
When seeking Love's sweet favor.

Love guides our angel's every move
Which isn't all that odd.
How could we work or scarce improve
Without the Love of God?


thank you N. A. Noel and John Wm. Sisson for believe xo


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

hope


HOPE

It's Hope that's there when you're in need
To somewhere, somehow plant the seed
That yes, there's Hope to carry on;
Support the weak and make them strong.

Whatever contest may be held
Or when it seems your cause be felled,
When all seems lost and without reason
Hope springs alive; she'll have her season.

That little seed from long ago
She planted there will start to grow,
Because of Hope we'll all survive
Because we all kept Hope alive.

That seed she nestled in our breast
That helps make us our very best,
An angel's gift she loves to share
You'll always know that Hope is there.


thanks to N. A. Noel and John Wm. Sisson  xo




Monday, December 7, 2009

gift wrapping




I am the world's worst wrapper when it comes to gifts and this year discovered the most helpful tools for accomplishing this task.  The guaranteed straight paper cutter and hands free tape dispenser made my annual chore so much easier.  Why did it take Scotch so long to invent these delightful contraptions?  Today I am grateful they did.  I listened to Sarah McLachlan's Wintersong, Toni Braxton's Snowflakes, Kenny Roger's Christmas, Josh Groban's Noel and Chris Botti's December compact discs while accomplishing my goal.  I always get more presents as the season continues but the big wave is over and the trees are kept company with delights waiting to be opened by the boys.  I love this part of the holiday.  My back still hurts, though, so it must be time for a massage.  Kohler's in Burr Ridge has a new spa I have been meaning to check out so I may just make an appointment for me and Wayne very soon.  I give him massages all the time but it's fun to explore new places together and compare notes afterward over a glass of wine and a nice lunch. 
Give and you shall receive.  xo

charity


CHARITY
 
There's one who speaks with clarity
And gentleness of mind.
We love our friend sweet Charity
For acts she does divine.

Yes, Charity can feed the poor;
She helps the sick and tired.
Those brought low before her door
Leave fresh, renewed, inspired.
 
An act to lend a helping hand
To a stranger or a neighbor,
Will resonate throughout the land
And always win God's favor.
 
That's the part in all our minds
That seems the most sincere,
The joy of giving each one finds
With Charity each year.
 
 
thanks to N. A. Noel and John Wm. Sisson xo

Sunday, December 6, 2009

grace


GRACE


Here's the one with such a face
That all of us will seek for Grace,
So full of charm with virtue mild
This gift to us this graceful child.


You always know when Grace takes wing,
The sun will shine, the birds will sing;
And everywhere in every place
The world will seem so full of Grace.


By Grace of God we use our time
To contemplate these things divine;
And when we take our slumber here,
We have no doubt or even fear
That Grace of God will guide us on,
Protect our night from dusk to dawn,
And every morn her wish will be,
We'll rise anew so gracefully.


And when the day is nearly done,
With each success that you have won,
It's then God's angels sing with glee,
We're glad to grant our Grace to thee.



Our wonders of the words they'd use,
What songs would they inspire?
Which poems would the angels choose
From and angel heart's desire?


thanks to N. A. Noel and John Wm. Sisson for Believe xo


Saturday, December 5, 2009

the goddess touch



Once upon a time this goddess had a dream of providing a haven for women to enjoy peace and tranquility. Many of her friends, from all walks of life, were having recurring issues that needed attending to, and she envisioned a home-life environment that could provide solace from abusive husbands, bitter divorces, respite from every-day demands and just having someone listen while they vented about their burdens. She thought of a natural surrounding that could offer massage, soothing music, comforting tea; a place to feel pampered so they could carry on with their life situations in a confident way. She even affirmed what would be included at this place - her dining room table was filled with crystals, tarot cards, candles, music CDs, and one day while frequenting the Renaissance Faire in Bristol with her taekwondo teacher, it was suggested that this goddess should be the massage therapist at her dream place. Ha! After inquiring with her dance friend and thereafter mentor, Frankie, she applied and was accepted at the #2 massage school in the nation - Chicago School of Massage Therapy and within 18 months became a nationally certified massage therapist. This goddess thought the school would show her how to knead and give rub downs but much to her surprise it was loaded with an education she would embrace with enthusiasm. Anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, acupressure, business, ethics, history and numerous hours of hands-on massage technique. Her story is a true testament to affirm your dreams and thoughts are things.
She befriended her female soulmate, Helena, at this school and remains close to her for over a dozen years. After graduation on December 10, 1999, the goddess opened The Goddess Touch in Darien on December 11, the very next day. This was a quaint home environment that provided hair treatments, facials, manicures, pedicures, chiropractic therapy and of course, massage. Her business acumen for the past 25 years enabled her to run the business and she found owning same was no piece of cake. The Darien Chamber of Commerce approached her to become a board member to help reorganize the city's chamber and since she had the appropriate background, she became actively involved and helped spearhead many projects to promote local businesses. Membership and the Community Expo were her babies and she did quite well with them. It helped this goddess understand how other businesses endured the many challenges of ownership and the camaraderie was outstanding.

One of the many services provided at the spa was goddess night. Three sisters came by asking for mini services for each of them to celebrate one of their 50th birthdays. The girls planned a night they will never forget and the rest is history. Many groups came in and the women had mini massage, facials, mani-pedis and the best part was when they just hung out together in the main area. Women love to bond. It is our healing. The goddesses would bring refreshments and listen to music and share their stories. Of course, there were times when men would partake in goddess nights and they were exposed to facials and manicures and loved them. Having 3 sons and a husband justified the fact that men need to be pampered as well as women so she opened her doors to everyone. The goddess was on a mission to heal the world. And she loved every minute of it. Service to humanity is true spirituality was the motto.

Opening a new business is loaded with challenges and probably more than anyone anticipates. Getting incorporated, hiring an accounting firm, purchasing tons and tons of supplies and making payroll when there were no initial clients is painstaking. Her current accountant came in as a client and he just started his own business 18 months prior to her own inception and not only are they still in touch but he is a dear friend and confidante. Thanks, Steve. Helena would take the train from the city every Tuesday for a full year just to help design, decorate and offer encouragement at its inception. Whatta gal. These friendships are priceless.

And then the goddess has lovingly provided 7,000 massages in last decade through The Goddess Touch and thanks God she was physically able to do so. She is not a spring chicken and pondered the inevitable tendinitis or back sprains that so often afflict massage therapists. But God wanted her to continue and she did so with grace and effervescence to this day, without any problem. One of the best compliments received was from Charlie,whose real name is Don, but he referred to us as his angels, hence his name. "I walk in this door a mere man and leave here feeling as a God." :) Many clients remain friends of the goddess and her heart is full of love for them.

After five years of running a full service spa and salon in Darien the goddess found it necessary to scale down her time and offered massage/reiki and stone therapy in Hinsdale for the last five years servicing clients until July of this year. Currently she provides massage to a few clients in her humble abode. The need to balance family life and a profession is important and family takes precedence .

This journey provided many paths, some with curves along the way, but one thing is certain - the energy between two people can be profound. Without it we are just water, skin and bones. When someone receives a massage, it is the exchange between practitioner and recipient that provides the wonderful healing. There is no better profession than one that makes people feel good. These memories are the moments that take your breath away. This goddess has been blessed and is grateful to all the persons who walked through her doors faithfully and happily. Thank you for the honor and privilege to be part of your lives. If our paths cross in the future, let's share a smile, knowing our connection in this lifetime made a difference. The end. xo

Friday, December 4, 2009

more feng shui



The three major concepts of feng shui are the flow of energy; the balance of yin and yang; and the interaction of the five elements in the universe - fire, earth, metal, water and wood.

The flow of energy is expressed in nature, where perfectly straight lines occur only in very short segments, such as sugar cane and bamboo stalks. Even the tallest trees have irregularities, and it is a natural law that energy flows in wavy lines similar to breezes and streams. When energy travels in a straight path, as in the case of a roaring flood, its awesome power is unleashed. When a flood destroys everything in its path, it usually follows something man-made, such as a road. Freeways, tunnels, bridges, buildings and lampposts have straight edges that are conduits of negative energy called sha or killing energy. In feng shui, straight lines and the angles they create are called killing arrows.

The second important concept is the duality of the universe, expressed in yin/yang symbol of one dark and one light teardrop positioned in a circle. One teardrop has yin qualities which are female, soft, passive, nurturing, dark, fluid, even numbers and the right side of the body. The other teardrop signifies yang traits which are male, bright, hard, active, aggressive, odd numbers, and the left side of the body. The two halves comprise a whole, yet there is an element of each in the other.

A fluid S-shaped line divides the two teardrops and personifies the balance within the universe, nature, the environment, and the self. It is our task to maintain the balance of yin and yang within our physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and intellectual selves. Achieving this balance results in feeling grounded - much like a rock that is pounded by the elements but remains solid.

The third concept includes the five universal elements, each of which relates to the others in two ways - a creative connection that provides strength and power, and an overpowering or destructive relationship that denies same. Knowledge of these relationships is critical in feng shui; placement based on misinformation or ignorance can result in an effect opposite to the one you want to achieve.

Generative Cycle

Fire generates earth
Earth generates metal
Metal generates water
Water generates wood
Wood generates fire

Destructive Cycle

Fire melts metal
Metal cuts wood
Wood moves earth
Earth dams water
Water puts out fire

In the Compass school, the eight areas of a room correspond to the same areas in the adjourning rooms. N-NE-E-SE-S-SW-W-NW will always be the same in all rooms. The following list details the eight compass directions and what they represent in the Compass School:

North: career, business success, black, winter, water, metal, tortoise, 1

Northeast: knowledge, wisdom, self-development, success in school, turquoise, tan, winter becoming spring, earth, fire, 8

East: Family life, health, nutrition, harmony, prosperity, green, spring, wood, water, dragon, 3

Southeast: Wealth, prosperity, abundance, green, purple, spring becoming summer, wood, water, 4

South: Fame, fortune, longevity, festivity, joy, red, summer, fire, wood, bird, 9

Southwest: Marriage, mother, relationships, love, romance, spouse, yellow, white, pink, red, summer becoming autumn, earth, fire, 2

West: Children, children's fame, creativity, white, autumn, metal, earth, tiger, 7

Northwest: Supportive, helpful people, international trade and travel, interests outside the home, father, gray, metal, earth, autumn becoming winter, 6

Put the right objects in the right locations in order to achieve harmony with the universe, nature and yourself. You can activate the areas of your life that you wish to improve, such as health, career and love. Much of what you do is based on common sense, sound architectural design, intuition, geography, meteorology, astronomy, interior design, ancient Chinese philosophy and Chinese folk beliefs. As you tap into the tao, or flow of the universe and its rhythms, these are the keys you will use to create a more holistic, natural and simple way of life. Keep your heart pure and your intentions strong, and see how this fascinating and wonderful tradition transforms your life.

Just a few more tips to improve your Chi:

Do put an aquarium in N areas (business and career success) or in E or SE for prosperity. In every corner of the world, water - in the form of rivers, lakes and oceans - has brought trade, commerce and prosperity.
Don't put an aquarium in or facing a bathroom or a bedroom. This is considered unlucky and can result in loss of fortune.

Do keep your basement free of clutter.
Don't locate a bedroom in the basement. Finish basement rooms for occasional use only - a family room, guest room or game room.

Do hang a crystal in a dark corner to activate chi in that location.
Don't keep your colored crystals in the sunlight as it will cause them to fade.

Do try to have more space in front of your desk than behind it. You need the support of a wall behind you and space in front of you to allow good chi to beat a clear path to you and your business.
Don't position your desk directly in line with the door or under a beam. If you do, you will be receiving negative sha energy or will be located under oppressive sha which causes illness, accidents and misfortune.

Do put red, pink or yellow orchids in a clay terra cotta pot in a SW area if you desire children. Put white or yellow orchids in a metal container in a W area. Orchids symbolize the perfect man, love, beauty, refinement and many offspring.
Don't have pictures or vases of peonies in your bedroom if you are already married. This flower will encourage your partner to stray or seek love interests outside your home.

Do plan a new view, surprise or delight to be revealed at every step or turn along a garden path.
Don't forget the most basic law of gardening and life: you reap what you sow. Plan and nurture seeds of kindness, honesty, compassion and integrity, and that's what you will harvest.
Happy Friday :) xo


Humble thanks to Angi Ma Wong for the Dos and Taboos of Feng Shui

Thursday, December 3, 2009

faith


FAITH

Here we are with Little Faith
A giant without measure,
It's those who keep a little Faith
Who always find life's treasure.


A little Faith will guide us on
Through darkest hour or night,
While others may not see the dawn
We'll see her morning light.


Who knows, with just a little Faith
And all her angel's charm
We'll make our mother planet safe,
All creatures safe from harm.


From flowers in the fertile fields
To mountains fresh with snow,
Abundance from God's bounty yields
The fruits that make Faith grow.


So you can see with love and grace
And even joy abound,
It's good to keep about the place
A little Faith around.



What words of joy and those of praise
Would angels give a voice?
When speaking of warm summer days,
What words would be their choice?


thanks to N. A. Noel and John Wm. Sisson for your angels xo