Archive | October, 2011

Halloween Is My Gateway Holiday…

31 Oct

I have never admitted to anyone, until this weekend, that I DO NOT like Halloween, and every year, I face it with dread and apprehension. I hate that The History Channel tries to convince me that zombies could be real and that I should prepare for a zombie apocalypse. I hate that little kids are scared by the different costumes when they go out in the dark to get their candy. If I knew their address, I would deliver candy to their house. I do not like the thought of people thinking that on this one day, ghosts and spirits are more active. My thought: “No, you are just more wierd!” But most of all, I hate that I have to decorate for something with a color scheme of orange and black.  What can you really do with orange and black? I had always kept these feelings to myself, until this weekend.

It was when Joanna asked me if I liked Halloween and not trying to sound like I was a party pooper that I answered her with, “It is not my favorite holiday.” Joanna, in her typical brutal honesty, told me that she hated Halloween along with her oldest son. I can not tell you my relief upon hearing this, because I thought I was alone.  I had never admitted my loathing of this particular holiday until this weekend when I told her how much I also hated Halloween. It was after my friend gave me the courage to admit my feelings that I realized that Halloween is our “Gateway Holiday.”

Once Halloween is over, I can begin to think about the planning of visits from friends and families; making pies, cookies and dinners; picking the perfect gift for those we love; but, most of all, being thankful for all the blessings in our life. Today I am thankful for my girlfriend giving me the courage to be honest about my feelings and helping me find a new way to look at Halloween.

So on this day, that makes some of us happy and others, like me, look forward to the last of the cute costumes coming to the door, just know that sometimes it takes a good friend to help you admit and own your truth. And at the very least, she can help me fight off the zombies if they show up at my door. I may want to invite a lot of friends over, just in case the zombie apocalypse occurs…thank you History Channel for all the tips.

On the scariest night of the year, be safe, enjoy the little ones and give out extra candy to everyone.

Happy “Gateway H0liday” to those of you out there who stand with us, and Happy Halloween to everyone else.

Big Hug…W

Live Out Loud!

30 Oct

I cannot take credit for this amazing list, that is due Sonya Derian of  I came across this list about two months ago and it spoke to me.  There are things here I fail at, and things that are inherently ‘me’, and I love that it challenges me to be better at it all.  Take what you will from it, but at the end of the day, I think it’s important to understand that we all have so much to give.  Getting past whether or not our gifts fit into what we ‘think’ our life should look like is integral to our growth.

Contributing our gifts to our family, community, and the world is a responsibility we should hold ourselves to.  One of my favorite quotes:  “It’s never too late to change your life.” We don’t know how long we have on this earth. Life is short. Use everything you have.

1. Live your life on purpose. Not on “default.” Be Proactive. Make conscious and deliberate choices. When you don’t choose, circumstances choose for you and you are never leading: you are following or catching up—or worse, living in “default” mode.

2. Utilize your full potential. Give what you’re doing your best and fullest attention. Be here now. Even if you’re not where you want to be, giving it half your effort doesn’t move you forward. Master what you have at hand, for the sake of mastering it and something will shift.

3. Overcome your fear. Get out of your comfort zone. Find out you have a pulse. Let something give you butterflies in your stomach. This is how you know you’re alive—how you grow into something new. Every fear overcome is a freedom gained. Don’t know how to overcome fear? Do the thing you’re afraid of. Cross them off the list. Make it a game. Pretty soon, you will be invincible.

4. Discover a new talent. One of my favorite quotes by Martha Grimes is, “We don’t know who we are until we see what we can do.” But we don’t find this out until we try something new. Learn a new instrument, take an art class, play with a digital camera, sign up for a salsa class, take up cooking, plant a garden, join toastmasters, pick up a needle and thread, try mountain climbing, go scuba diving, camping or kayaking. Find something that interests you and explore it. You never know what will come out of it.

5. Honor your word. When you strip everything else away, your word is all you’ve got. Do what you say you’re going to do. By honoring your word, you honor yourself. And it doesn’t feel good when you don’t. So, make it a habit. Value your integrity and keep your promises. It’s a good life practice. It’s a good business practice.

6. Create a new habit or break an old one. Who has dominion over your life—you or your habits? Make it a game. How many things can you get under your control? How many bad habits can you convert? There is a great sense of empowerment when you feel you are in charge of your life. This helps you get there.

7. Pay a stranger a compliment. Not only does it make someone else feel good, but it makes you feel good to compliment someone else. All of the sudden the world is small and the stranger next to us becomes our friend and we recognize that we’re all in this together.

8. Take yourself out on a date. Treat yourself. Bring a book. Bring something you’re working on. Bring a journal and use it to write up all the amazing qualities that you want in a partner or a friendship when it comes your way. Find somewhere that has music or wireless and plant yourself there. Have a meal, enjoy it. Treat yourself. You deserve it. Living out loud is playing out loud whether you have someone to join you or not. And you never know who you might meet or strike up a conversation with.

9. Take 100% responsibility for your life. If things aren’t working out in your favor, take note and ask yourself what your part in it is. Being a victim is passé, boring. There is no power in blaming other people. Don’t wait for other people to change. When you change, your world will follow suit.

10. Live in the question. There is nothing you cannot be, do or have. So do not impose limitations on yourself. Instead of saying you can’t get there, ask “How can I get there?” Live in the affirmation of possibility rather than the declaration of negativity. There is always a way, and it is being presented consistently, but you have to live in the question to be on the lookout for the answer.

11. Make more decisions for yourself. There is great power in making a decision. It’s a declaration. You don’t know what you want? Then look at what you don’t want and work backwards. I bet you do know what you want; you just haven’t been in the habit of asking yourself. Hey. That’s a new habit to change! (See #6)

12. Learn to say “No.” To live your best possible life, you need to learn how to say no to the things that aren’t serving you. The best barometer to measure this by is: if it isn’t a “hell yeah” (yippee, so fun, can’t wait), then it is most probably a no. If you have to talk yourself into it, it’s a no. Once you get comfortable saying no, everything becomes a matter of choice. Living a life of choice is a living a life of freedom.

13. Know your own value. Others may be more educated, skilled or talented in one or another area, but there is something magnificent and valuable about what you have to offer this world that, in comparison, is equal. Do not allow yourself or anyone else to diminish it. You have a learning disability? So did Dr. John Demartini and that’s what makes him the most powerful speaker today. Joe Vitale came from homelessness. Look at him now. Stop idolizing anyone else’s gifts and dismissing your own.

14. Give yourself permission. For everything. Permission to make mistakes. Permission to shine. Permission to look beautiful. Permission to accept (instead of correct or dismiss) praise. Permission to have bad days. Permission to get angry. Permission to cry, to laugh, to scream. Permission to take the day off. Permission to take a nap, go to sleep early. Permission to get a massage. Permission to do nothing. Permission to succeed. Life is about being here now, in all your full range of emotions, mood swings, wins and losses. Give yourself permission to live out loud today.

15. Own your own opinion. No one has to agree with you in order for your opinion to matter. Stop waiting for consensus. YOU matter. Your opinion matters. The nature of Living Out Loud is that some people will agree with you and some people won’t. You will NEVER get consensus. So, stop looking for it. The only question you have to ask is, does your opinion matter to you? Claim it. Own it. And know that with new information, it could change tomorrow. Life is transitory. Live in the evolution.

16. Do not punish yourself for past actions. Your past behavior was what you’ve done, but it is not who you are. Who you are is still unfolding. Mistakes, errors in judgments, and failures all add to our character and value. They make us human and compassionate and wise. To berate yourself for acquiring these valuable qualities is wrong, so stop it. A new beginning starts today.

17. Live in the realm of “possibility” rather than “probability.” Stay open at the top. You don’t know what the outcome can be. Statistics are made up of groups. You are an Individual. Be the individual that charts your own course. You don’t know what is possible for you until you find out.

18. Do not argue for your limitations, but instead focus on your strengths. We all have weaknesses, but we also have our strengths. What do you do well? Practice that. When you lead with your strengths, the rest follows suit. And miraculously, your limitations sort of disappear. What you focus on grows.

19. Practice gratitude. In a world of imperfections, it’s amazing how perfect things actually are. But sometimes we have to look for them. When your life’s circumstances aren’t working in your favor, the one thing you do have control over is your attitude. If you lead with gratitude, and create a habit of it, in short order, your life will change.

20. Be authentic. Thoreau said, “If I am not I, who will be?” Did you ever notice that the ones who are most successful are not the ones that follow the masses and trends, but the ones who stand in their own authentic expression and declare who they are? Regardless of who agrees with them? There is an expression that is uniquely yours and to dismiss it, is to dismiss the divine.

21. Own your own power. The answers are not outside of you. Own what you know. The more you practice this, the more you hone the powerful magnetic field that surrounds you and the more power you emit in your convictions, knowing and in your life. Your results will confirm this.

22. Stop Complaining. Complaining is a form of passive victimhood. Ask yourself instead, why is this happening to me and what part do I play in this picture? Then work on your part of the solution. Have you ever found yourself not setting a boundary and allowing someone to take advantage of you? Or not taking care of yourself in a situation and getting burned by the outcome? We are always the single common denominators in our lives and we are the only ones we have control over. Use what you are complaining about as your inner clues as to where you need to start taking better care of yourself.

23. Practice “being” and have nothing to prove. Know your own value with or without results. Your value is in your human being-ness not your human doing-ness. In a society that is wrapped up in image, this is sometimes difficult to practice. People ask what you do, not who you are. But a person who knows their own value, does not have to prove it.

24. Be of service. Offer your help where you can and do your part in making the world a friendly place. We are all in this together. As Gandhi preached: be the change that you wish to see happen. You would be surprised by the impact you have.

25. Love generously. Spread random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty. Hatred is already rampant. We need to tip the scales the other way. Love is a far more powerful emotion and has far reaching consequences. Living out loud means loving Out loud. And ironically, the more you love, the more love you have to give.

26. Find your bliss and live your passion. Again, don’t know what that is? Then it’s time to find out! Your emotions give away clues. When your life has spun out of control and you are finding yourself in a tizzy, go back to what makes you happiest and do that. The more you follow this thread, the more you are leading with the heart. There are always ways to monetize your passion, to find ways to make a living at what you love, but first you have to discover it. Your emotions don’t lie. Follow their lead.

27. Stop waiting. Life is happening right now. Don’t wait for the right career, the perfect relationship, the landfill of money. Make the best of what you have right now and be creative with it. Don’t put your life on pause. Live with the possibility that what you are waiting for can arrive tomorrow, and live your best life today.

28. Let other people off the hook. They didn’t mean harm, and even if they did, it hurt them more than it hurt you. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and rise even taller. Don’t use anyone as your excuse to shirk your responsibility to live a bigger life. Victimhood is not a badge of honor. Overcoming adversity is. Use success and joy as your barometer. And march on.

29. Use co-creation to help you. We are always working in conjunction with invisible forces. They want to create on your behalf, but they are waiting for your leadership to direct them. Living out loud means acknowledging that we are a big presence with a big force of nature at our disposal. We don’t underestimate our power. We utilize it.

30. March to the beat of your own drum and stay the course. Do you hear your own music, but find yourself dancing to the tune of someone else’s beat? Stop it. Were you told at any point in your life that your own music was the wrong kind? Re-Consider. The symphony of the world’s vibration, the hum of its tune, is the sound OM (aum). Your task is to find your own Om—your life force vibration, life pattern or purpose, your song or melody . Find it, claim it, express it, and live it. Never give up on yourself. You are who you are. It’s time to honor that and make use of it. Stay the course.

For many of us, this is already a way of life. But to others, some of these practices may feel daunting. To you, I say this: just start. You may not succeed 100% of the time, but like a friend once said, “Life is a hard hat zone, we’re always under construction.”

Bloom where you are planted. Work from the inside out. Make the commitment to yourself and get started.

Find your “OM”. Claim It. Own it. Express It. Live it. You are divinely supported.

– Sonya Darien

Sunday Blessings to you all!

xo JB

#Dear Santa: Birch Box

30 Oct

I am a product junkie.  I know I’m getting older, and as a lifelong sunshine lover, I am fighting some, uh, smile lines. 😉  But I am not going to age without a fight!  I am all about finding the best, most effective, yummiest, smartest products to keep my face/hair/body amazing and healthy.  Yesterday I found a FUN company that offers you the ability to play with a product {try it long enough to determine its value} for such a fab value that you owe it not only to yourself, but also to your BFF.  And maybe your mother and sister{s}.  Trust me; they’ll thank you.

Each month, a fab box will arrive at your door with a handful of new products.  Yes, delivered to your door.  Here’s the link… go… do it…. right now.  What are you waiting for?!  Birch Box!

My grandmother was right when she said “Always wear lipstick and curl your eyelashes… it makes everything else less important.”

xo ~ JB

Spinach Salad with Fresh Strawberries and Bacon… #ItsWhatsForDinner

30 Oct

This is a wonderful fallback salad when you are not sure what to have for dinner. I used organic spinach leaves, freshly cooked bacon and sliced strawberries. The finishing touch was a drizzle of Basil Olive Oil and Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar. So yummy with the salty and sweet flavors and gone in seconds. I did have to share a few times with the hubby, but I didn’t mind too much. Anytime I can get him to eat something other than a burger, I have won the battle!

Food is Love…Big Hug…W

A Chat Over Tea…It’s Good For The Soul #itsasouthernthing

29 Oct

As I travel and browse with girlfriends on shopping trips and sightseeing, I am always looking for that item I can not live without. Over the years, I have found some very interesting objects that have become a part of our family.  And though my husband swears we could have lived without many, I know he is mistaken.  On my recent trip to Door County, Wisconsin, with my new friend, Angela, and my youngest son, we stopped by a little consignment shop in Sturgeon Bay, right across from the Madison Avenue Wine Shop.

This little store is like many I have visited all over the country with a little of this and that, but mainly most of the items were left overs from a life or a move or a garage clean out. I always look and try to take the time to walk through the entire store, because you never know what you are going to find. A few years ago, in a store much like this one, I found an extensive collection of really old records and purchased all of them. At the time I really did not know what I was going to do with these records.  Fast forward 15 years, and with my father-in-law and my family over tea one night and after dinner, we pulled out the records. I was not aware that he knew most of the artists. We sat for almost two hours and listened to music he had enjoyed in his younger years. He knew all the words, so we laughed and he sang, and I was grateful for that purchase.

In these little thrift stores and antique shops I continue my search, and this store in Sturgeon Bay was just like all the others. I was ready to leave when something caught my eye. It was behind a few pots and pans and had my name written all over it. One of my favorite things to do is to have people over, so we can eat, visit and just enjoy time passing in each other’s company. Having tea or coffee is part of that ritual, so the silver sugar/creamer set with the matching tray was a good find for me to continue these rituals. And at under $5, I was even happier.

And a few days later, on this beautiful Saturday morning, my husband and I enjoyed a cup of tea with some banana muffins. We ate, laughed and planned our day. I enjoyed our time together even more, because we were together.  But most of all, because we were eating muffins from my mother-in-law’s china, which reminds us of her every day, and enjoying another great find from one of those little stores. A find that someone may have loved and enjoyed before us. Everyone should have things they love surrounding them, and I think this little item will a part of that love for many years to come.  My husband…he tolerates the prettiness and tries not to make it dirty.  Me…I am constantly reminding him to wash his hands and not be rough with the pretty things. We make a good team.

Do you have something you have found in an unexpected place that brings you joy or makes you smile? If so, we would love to hear about. Share the name and the address of the store where you found it. I may visit.  😉

Joy is contagious…share your joy today…

Big Hug…W

Perfect Pizza Dough Makes The Pizza… #ItsWhatsForDinner

29 Oct

While browsing through Facebook this morning, I saw a good friend post that she had made pizza rolls for her college boys, and it was then that I knew what I was making for dinner.  I did a little searching and found a site that offered the perfect Homemade Pizza Crust. Being the bread maker I am, I could not resist making this dough, using it with my homemade red sauce (recipe to come later) and trying my hand at homemade pizza rolls/calzones. I pulled out the bread maker and had the dough going and had shared it with Joanna within ten minutes of finding the recipe.


The only variation I made on the dough recipe was that I used basil olive oil, which made the dough smell amazing.  Once the dough was finished and had rested for about ten minutes, I cut off pieces off dough to make the pizza rolls/calzones. I got about 13 rolls from my dough. And in a 500 degree oven it cooked up so fast and yummy. I made sure I brushed butter over the rolls right out of the oven; and the consensus was that they were amazing.


The oldest, shown with a double-fister, said that the flavor was awesome, but he would have liked more toppings inside the calzone and a thicker dough.  The husband and youngest said don’t change a thing and that the oldest did not know what he was talking about. A boy-debate did ensue, but they continued eating which is all that mattered to me. And my wonderful husband who has been a Double Dave’s fan for many years gave me the best compliment ever by saying that what I made tonight was better than Double Dave’s Pizza Rolls. I couldn’t believe my ears.

The calzones were such a hit, my youngest decided to make some more dough and use it for pizza. And as you can see by the photos and the video of my very talented husband, the dough was easy to work with and turned into pizza in just a few minutes.  My husband and youngest son had so much fun that I think we may be making pizza and calzones every Friday night for many years to come.


Let the Italians Eat!  Food is Love…Big Hug…W

Accent Walls & the Stratgey

28 Oct
We are working on a fabulous living room remodel! Stay tuned for more… especially if you have a large, open format living room with a huge accent wall. We have the answer to your constant question “What do I do with that wall?!”

More to come…

Stay tuned for a recap of cooking, traveling and overall observations…

28 Oct

What a wonderful day in Door County yesterday. We found some amazing olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a beautiful tea set at an antique store. Did I mention the art? Well, we stopped by a few galleries and saw some amazing photography, paintings and blown glass. It was absolutely beautiful. We ended the day at a wonderful restaurant that served this ‘my life can be over now’ Banana Bread Pudding. I asked for the recipe and was told the owner of the restaurant was a cancer survivor. For a donation to her local cancer foundation, she would share the recipe. Done and done! Joanna and I will be writing about this crazy week we have had in the next few days.  Stay tuned…Big Hug…JW

The Bucket List, pt. 1

21 Oct

Do you have a bucket list?  If so, what’s on it?  I had never made one until my, uh, 30th Birthday this year. 😉  But when I sat down and was honest with myself about where I’ve been, the things I have accomplished and been brave enough to try, well, the list wasn’t long enough for me.  So I set about to create a list that would inspire me.  I believe that one step leads you to your next step, so that’s kind of how I made my list.

First up is more travel.  I love to see the world, and prior to my second marriage {don’t judge}, was on quite a roll.  I used to have great getaways with my girlfriends, take trips alone, etc.  It was so much fun!  But it stopped once I was remarried and we had more kiddos.  We always talked about places we’d like to travel, but it never happened.  Single again, it’s time to get back to exploring the world and sharing it with my friends and family.  There’s so much to see and learn, people to meet and adventures to be had.  I have also gone back to school as an International Studies and World Languages student, so I’m committed. 😉

Here’s one of my goals on the agenda for 2012…  Hiking through Italy.  There’s this amazing five day hike that takes you up the northwest coast of Italy, stopping in villages each night.  Can you imagine?  I’ve given up my beloved Starbucks runs to save for this trip, and I am determined to take one or two of my favorite people with me, so honey may need to give up new shoes too, but it will be so worth it!  Here’s the trip I am looking at, through REI…

What’s in your Bucket?

Godetevi i vostri viaggi!


Panna Cotta and Compote, where have you been all my life?

21 Oct

This week I was watching the Nate Berkus Show’s cooking segment. They were in the middle of cooking something I had never heard of before…Panna Cotta. The show’s version was Coconut Panna Cotta with a Mixed Berry Compote (recipe below), and it looked so very yummy. What intrigued me was how easy it looked and Nate’s reaction upon eating it. I decided I would take the challenge to make a dessert that would elicit a reaction akin to Nate’s, so I dove into this challenge last night. The ingredients were easy enough to find, and it did not seem as if I would really have any issues with putting everything together. The hardest part had to be slicing through the vanilla pod and scraping out the beans. Luckily, I still have all my fingers. The next issue occurred when I dropped the lime I was zesting into the hot water and sugar. It was not really an issue until I continued zesting and the lime shot across stove and the counter. I did not think it was going to be that slippery. Well zesting and juicing done and vanilla beans scraped, and it was time to put everything together. I made a few slight changes by adding a little extra sugar to the berry compote and adding a little of the aforementioned compote to the hot coconut milk mixture. The result was that the berries sunk to the bottom before everything had the chance to chill. This beautiful dessert chilled for a few hours and then I added the chilled compote to the top (see photo). For aesthetic reasons, I added a little piece of kale to take a photograph, but it was promptly removed. The result was heaven. The coconut flavoring was not very prominent, but it was a much lighter dessert than I expected.  And, yes, Nate was so correct…you can’t stop eating it. Though the family did not give a reaction similar to Nate’s tv reaction, they did like it and asked if I could make a chocolate version. I told them I would do some research, and today, on Twitter, my wonderful friend Joanna found a recipe for  Chocolate Hazelnut Panna Cotta topped with Pomegranate Arils that we will share soon!  She is so awesome!

The ‘low-down’ is that this is a great ‘make-ahead’ recipe and one that is so light, you could serve after a huge bowl of pasta. Just be careful of slippery limes being shot across the kitchen.

Until next time…Keep Cooking…Keep Laughing…Keep Loving…Give Yourself a Break and Someone a Hug

Big Hug…W

Panna Cotta Ingredients
1 ¾ cups heavy cream
3 teaspoons of powder gelatin
1 can of coconut milk
2 tablespoons of condensed milk

Mixed Berry Compote Ingredients
¼ cup Sugar
¼ cup water
1 vanilla pod
1 lime
2 cups mixed berries (1/2 cup each of blackberries, raspberries, strawberries& blueberries)

1. Set aside ¼ cup heavy cream in small bowl and add powder gelatin to set.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk, condensed milk and 1 1/2 cups heavy cream.
3. Mix soaking gelatin into warm coconut milk/cream/condensed milk mixture until dissolved.
4. Strain mixture into shallow parfait glasses, let set/refrigerate 2-4 hours.

Compote Procedure
1. In a small saucepan combine sugar with water and heat to make simple syrup.
2. Cut and scrape vanilla beans from pod into saucepan.
3. Zest and juice lime into saucepan.
4. Add mixed berries and stir until it forms the compote.
5. Pour berry compote over the panna cotta and serve.