Come Back

Blogging is sharing, developing and stretching ourselves through the shaping of our ideas. Blogging is about the community we become a part of by allowing our lives to become entwined with another. Blogging sharpens our ideas and perhaps gives us new ones. Blogging makes us laugh and sometimes leaves a tear. Blogging is real.

So what happens when one day you wake up and wonder, “why did I stop blogging?”.

Yes, life is busy and at my blogging peak I would spend considerable time in front of the computer reading and writing…often the problem in life is the inability to put down boundaries yet when we pick up a new hobby something in life’s schedule must change or we won’t have the time and ability to develop whatever new thing has caught our eye. I liked writing and I enjoyed reading my fellow blogger’s posts. Recently I had a comment from a fellow blogger just saying hi—even though I had not sat in this chair in over a year someone I “met” in blogosphere reached out and touched me, I find this truly remarkable.

So why not come back?

I am going to make a promise to myself to sit in this chair once to twice a week and write. Share my world with others and let your world influence mine.

~Paige

Gingerbread Gem

Fun with the Foodies- Italian Night

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It’s time for another episode with The Foodies.

Let me reacquaint you with the cast of characters.

We have Hilary…

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Then there is Doug…he goes with Jo-Ann

IMG_0649 Steven goes with me.

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And then there is me…

IMG_0667 The group began last fall. We pick a theme for the evening, decide upon the menu, then decide who will prepare what. The ingredients are bought and we convene at one of our homes to prepare the meal, consume the wine, and share an evening of food, fun and laughter. Our previous themes include the Fall Harvest, Holiday Cheer and Fondue Night.

Saturday’s theme was Italian which was selected to prepare the way for Doug in Jo-Ann who will be indulging in authentic Italian cuisine later this month. The 3 of us gals being weight watchers try to select menu items that won’t be a Points Plus disaster, this month was no different. The evening would be hosted at my home with the food prepped to get underway around 4pm.

The table is set…

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The FOODIE Flashcards are making a debut this month. A birthday gift to Jo-Ann from her daughter.

On the menu is a colorful Antipasto. Beautiful as well as tasty.

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We nibbled on this while we prepared the main course and enjoyed our first couple bottles of wine.

In the kitchen at the cooktop Hilary prepares the main course. This may be the most scrumptious chicken recipe I have ever tasted. First the chicken is coated in fresh herbs and “sits” for a spell.IMG_0566

It is then pan cooked thoroughly. Fresh herbs of parsley, fennel, roasted pine nuts and dried cranberries are then sautéed until soft. A good dose of wine is added and cooked off. The chicken is then added back into the vegie laden broth. The result is absolutely fabulous.

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The accompaniment to the main course was Eggplant Rollitini. Thinly sliced eggplant with a dollop of ricotta cheese mixture rolled and covered with a marinara sauce and cheese. The result was quite tasty.

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What would an Italian feast be if there was no bread? Even weight watchers have to indulge a little bit.

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We are now ready to EAT!

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Some calories to burn we turn on Santana and head into the living room for a little dancing.

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No one thought to grab the camera when I grabbed my pink boa and coin skirt and started to salsa around the living room. That is the problem with being the photographer!

We head back to the kitchen to get dessert ready to go. My absolute yumminess. Lemoncello ice cream is the treat for the evening, now I know what you are thinking…there is no way this is on the Weight Watcher’s meal plan…well you are wrong. The recipe is straight out of Cooking Light magazine and made a perfectly delightful way to end the meal.

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We broke out the Foodie Flashcards while we indulged on the treat.

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The girls were better guessers and did better depictions of the clues. It was fun to watch those boys try.

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We tried to convince the guys that they should take a turn at being the “chefs” but so far no go. Given how challenged they were at the game maybe we should let it be.

We wrapped up the evening with a bottle of Sambuca. What a perfect ending to a great night.

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I hope you enjoyed this episode of Fun with Foodies. Perhaps you want to start your own Foodie group. I would highly recommend it.

Foodie

March Inventory

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In my part of the world we did not experience Mother Nature as described in this poem. Quite the contrary in fact. We enjoyed some record high March temperatures and the early arrival of many Spring flowers. Unfortunately we had a hard frost this week and the early to arrive magnolia blooms have suffered. It has been fun to hear from so many who have shared their visions on my Spring Sharing post, if you haven’t added your two cents please stop over.

I like to take time each month to summarize where I am toward my goals. I have found this helps to keep me accountable. What I have discovered this month is in writing my goals down I have begun to stretch a bit more. It’s really exciting. To that point I have joined both the walking challenge and the stair climbing challenge over on Stopping the Wind. This has helped me to re-engage with my fitness goal. I have committed to increasing my weekly steps and stairs in April. I invite you to cheer me on. To see my and all other bloggers progress visit the links above.

10000 steps

I have tried a couple of new things on my blog this month that engaged my readers actively. I invite you to visit my Celebrating Women’s History page for a complete index of some great posts about inspiring women.  I have really enjoyed these interactions and intend to make them regular highlights on my blog. Stay tuned for more…I hope that you will considering writing a guest post(theme to be announced) as well as post a comment to whatever question is posed. This is a great way to share your thoughts and opinions with the world and experience new bloggers. My other blogging accomplishment this month was to reach 500 likes on the Authentic Me. Thanks to all who visit and click the like button.

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Over the month I have discovered many new to me blogs. I find new blogs in a few ways. One is to follow through a comment on another blog, I either like something they have to say OR I simply like the name of the blog. I have also used the WP tags a couple of times. Beware this can really suck you if you’re not careful. It is my hope to begin a regular post of interesting blogs I read. Once I figure out how to best flag a post I will move forward. I have also found many new blogs through my use of Twitter. One of my goals in March has been to build my Twitter account. My efforts have brought me almost 300 new followers. I have been very intentional in building my account and have already learned so many things from those that I follow.twitter

I have not been as active with my new camera as I would have thought but my outings have brought some nice snaps. I have registered for a digital photography course hosted in May by the Appalachian Mountain Club. It is in the beautiful Delaware Water Gap area so I expect plenty of glorious opportunities to snap great pictures. Adding to the pleasure is my husband and two dear friends.

I have continued to maintain an organized home office. I am very pleased with this new habit(3 months now so I can call it a habit). It has helped to keep us on track with our personal financial goals and it looks neat all the time. I appreciate both of these outcomes.

I have not reached my reading goal for the month of March. At least not of the books I am reading/listening to. I certainly spent a lot of time reading blogs and articles for work. I will need to re-evaluate my time budget and determine if I need to adjust. I do know that it is easy to get absorbed in the WWW if not careful. I try to set time limits so that I don’t become consumed.

To my great pleasure I continue to write daily in my personal journal. I have found great encouragement in connecting with my pen and paper each morning. I have even moved the alarm up by 30 minutes to the scary 4:30am time so that I can have more time in prayer and journaling. My Heavenly Father has been faithful to meet me each day I sacrifice myself to get up to be with him.

All in all it has been a wonderful month. I have learned and grown each day…thanks to all of you who share the journey with me. I am excited to discover what He has for me in April.

~Paige

 

Celebrating Women

Women's empowerment

My plan today was to put up a post highlighting accomplishments achieved in February and new “stretches” coming my way for March. In my quest for a piece of clip art I learned that it is Women’s History Month with a specific emphasis on education and empowerment in 2012. This of course has my juices flowing. My passion and purpose in life is to empower women. For me this is exhibited through my work as a nurse helping women with cancer and most recently my involvement with the organization Dress for Success.

The purpose of Women’s History Month is to increase consciousness and knowledge of women’s history: to take one month of the year to remember the contributions of notable and ordinary women, in hopes that the day will soon come when it’s impossible to teach or learn history without remembering these contributions.

Anyway I thought it would be fun to invite my readers to participate in a month long celebration of women’s history.

If you would like to participate you could simply once a week or more often if you choose write a post on a women of history.

Some ideas to get YOUR juices flowing…

Maybe she is one you know a lot about already or perhaps one you would like to dig into a little deeper. My friend over at Stopping the Wind recently used a quote by Helen Keller to get her out of her slump.

Or you could head over to Women’s History Month and check out the daily celebration and write accordingly.

Perhaps my photo blog followers have pictures and stories of women they would like to share…

How about my poetry followers sharing a little on their favorite woman poet…

Or maybe my fellow healthcare/conscience bloggers would like to give health facts important to improving women’s lives…

This may require you to stretch beyond you comfort zone, so be it…

I hope you will join in the Celebration. I will try to have a widget to use soon(no promises here though as it is beyond my current skills).

I will leave you today with this song…

My Heart Sings

Cover of "Romancing the Ordinary: A Year ...

Cover via Amazon

On Saturday I read a page in the yearly devotional I am using, Romancing the Ordinary, by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Using words, quotes from others and personal testimony Sarah weaves together a page about discovering things that make our heart sing. Cee Neuner posed the question in her Share your World weekly, what makes your heart sing? I didn’t make it to Cee’s party yesterday because I was off celebrating my dad’s 70th birthday however I wanted to share some of my thoughts on this topic today.

Sarah Ban Breathnach says that we can fall in love with anything that feels like part of your destiny. She goes on to tell an amazing testimony about falling in love with rare sheep. Now I don’t think that sheep would do it for me but I am not Sarah. It’s not about the sheep though. It’s about discovering the things that cause my heart to sing. It is in those things that authenticity is found.

Some things make my heart sing forever.

~my wonderful husband, my children, my Savior

Some things for a season.

~a beautiful flower,a friendship, a thrilling adventure

Some things for a moment.

~a songbird, a decadent dessert, the sound of laughter

What causes our hearts to sing is uniquely our own. We can at times miss it though. We can get so caught up in the busyness of life that we neglect to experience the things that may cause our heart to sing. Perhaps it is a new experience and we think to ourselves, I don’t have time for that or it is a stretch in a new way taking you beyond your comfort zone.(need some encouragement on this topic check out Inside Out Café for more inspiration) As the author of the devotional tells us, “What’s important is to realize how much we shortchange our chances for real happiness when we insist on how “it” has to be.”

I don’t know about you but I am wanting to experience real happiness in every aspect of my life. Recently I have done this by discovering new restaurants(Friday night we ate Dim Sum), fellowshipping with people that are outside of my usual circle of “friends”, baking a chocolate cake that I then drizzled real chocolate syrup and whip cream over, riding the Easy Street van which has given me back 2 hours a day(yippee), spending time with our beautiful granddaughter, buying a new DSLR camera. 

What has caused your heart to sing recently?

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Join us at the Hibachi Grill

Last Saturday night a group of friends planned an evening out. The venue was to be a local hibachi grill style restaurant, Koto’s, located in Groton Ct.  Many of the friends had never before experienced this style of cooking which in my opinion is a truly enjoyable and entertaining way to spend a few hours.

The party was large enough, nine in all, to fill an entire grill. Authors note: if you go with just one other you will wait until the grill is full before being served which can be an annoyance. Our server Ryan came right over to explain the ordering process to the Newbies and take our drink orders. Japanese wine was in order. As we enjoyed the beverages and conversation we could observe the fun being made at the other grills.

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The grill is about six feet long and emits A LOT of heat. I was very thankful that I wore a short sleeve shirt under my sweater so I could shed a layer. My friend Joann, who you have met in some of my other posts, taught me how to use chopsticks. Apparently growing up she had a Japanese exchange student live with her family for a year. I was very pleased with my mastery of this fine motor skill, as you can see pictured below.

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Our chef arrived and the food prep began.

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The first thing to be done is to cook the eggs. IMG_0284

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The rice comes next. After it is cooked the chef forms a heart on honor of the soon to be celebrated Valentine’s Day.

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Loads of Veggies are stir fried. Look at the beautiful colors. At about this point the chef makes the first swing around the table squirting the Sake into everyone’s mouth. Unfortunately I was laughing too hard to capture any usable photo’s of this fine event. I can say that some have really big mouths!

Loads of Veggies

There was tender beef and fresh scallops, lobster and shrimp to accompany the rice, veggies and noodles.

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Before the chef would leave he would toss a piece of uncooked vegetable to each person seated who would try to catch it in their mouth. The photo below is my friend Fran’s attempt. This catch(or not) would be immediately followed by a fresh round of Sake.

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With the meal prepared our chef bid us goodnight. We dined and laughed for another hour. The hibachi grill experience is wonderful whether with a group of friends or seated with a group of strangers. Everyone has a great time. Highly recommend it to everyone. Worth mentioning, I forgot my camera at home so these shots were taken on my IPhone:)

 

 

Fondue with the Foodies

 

Last night was our bimonthly foodiefest. Our selected theme was Fondue. I personally had never eaten let alone prepared fondue and according to my friends seemed a bit nervous during the creation of my portion of the menu.

The word Fondue is derived from the french word “fondre” which means “melt”. Our menu for the evening~

     ~ Cheese fondue with crusty French bread dippers

     ~ Beef cooked in oil with dippers of Peanut, Mustard or Red Sauce

     ~Chocolate fondue and Raspberry fondue with Angel food cake, fresh strawberries & peaches for dipping

All consumed with a variety of wines.

Fondue Anyone

The preparation began with the sauces for the meats.

Most Yummy

A little wine helps to thin the sauce

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 My contribution to the meal with the cheese fondue. I went with a traditional recipe of natural Swiss and Gruyere. I shopped that same day for the freshest ingredients. Note to self: keep cheeses away from the energetic pet dog who enjoyed biting into it. Thankfully she was discovered before too much damage was done!

The recipe instructions say to heat the wine until the surface is covered with bubbles. This was fun to watch…

Look at those tiny bubbles

 It is so nice to get together with friends and cook, eat and drink. I really can’t think of a better way to spend the evening.

The table is set, the guys are here and the prep is done. Time to eat.

The communal meal of eating Fondue apparently has some regulations although I am not to sure that we followed them. Essentially it follows the concept of “double dipping”. You are not suppose to get your piercing fork contaminated.

Cheese Fondue starts us off

 
If your like me you have no idea that the meat comes to the table raw and gets cooked in oil at the table. You then use your choice of dips to accompany the meat.

This is Doug

 
 
 
 
 
 
Beef cooked to order
After we have dined sufficiently on the appetizer and the main course we are ready to indulge in the simple pleasures of dessert. Back to the stove to prepare the chocolate and the raspberry fondues.

Stirring and straining

   It looks as though the cooking here is serious business.

 

Special Ingredients make the chocolate especially nice

As you can see it is really light and fun.
 
Back at the table we are enjoying good conversation and opening the dessert selections of wine.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Ooh la la chocolate wineSo good!

 

Sharing the love and laughter  with one another is so special.

 
 
 
 

Brut Rose

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I am especially fond of the sparkling wines…

Do a little dance...

Picture Perfect

 

Go Doug!

 My husband Steven definitely enjoy the food and the fellowship.
 

Plenty of laughter

 
 
 A good time was had by all. Next month we will be at my house. The theme is yet to be decided.
Thanks for reading along…

What to say when someone you know has breast cancer

So someone you know has breast cancer.

Of course you want to be a support, a friend so you call.

Here are some pearls of wisdom, again taken from my work with women struggling with the disease.

  1. First of all be a listener. Your friend has just been given some very difficult information and she needs to talk. You just need to listen.
  2. Do Not tell them about your co-worker or Great Aunt Kitty, everyone’s treatment is unique.
  3. Don’t offer up statistics. These are only numbers and often skewed to serve the group presenting the information. Your friend IS NOT a NUMBER.
  4. Please don’t tell she is strong and will get through this. While this may be very true what she really needs is permission to feel the emotions she is experiencing.
  5. Be with her for the long haul. Cancer treatment can take almost a year to complete if you need to have surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. The struggles and fear go well beyond the first couple of weeks.
  6. Have I mentioned…be a good listener. You don’t have to say anything in fact it is often better if you don’t.
  7. She will be tired as her body tries to repair the cells that are damaged. Encourage her to rest. Offer to clean her house or do the laundry.
  8. Make her a pillow to protect her from the seatbelt harness.
  9. Buy her a new pair of button up pretty pajama’s to wear when she is recovering from surgery.
  10. If you are not sure what to say don’t say anything at all, just be there.

While everything written above may sound like “common-sense” I can assure you that it is not. I have heard terrible stories from women struggling with cancer that have had terrible and upsetting things said to them during their treatment. Remember the story and choice(s) are theirs to make, don’t judge or tell them what YOU would do…be thankful that you don’t have to really think about what you would do!

Thanks for reading.

Below is a link to a website that allows you to simply click and money gets added into the breast cancer research fund. Consider taking the extra moment and clicking.

http://click4breastcancer.org/click-for.php?entered=true

 

Falls Harvest

We are a group of friends who love the joy of creating food as much eating it. As a result we started a Supper Club, or as we call it a Foodies Group.

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Last night we celebrated Fall’s Abundant Harvest.

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The afternoon started off with some hummus, cucumber yogurt dip and veggies.

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Who among us can cook a fine meal and not indulge in the sweet tastes of fall brews? Not us…

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The harvest brought us Butternut Squash Soup as the first course.

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The Cornish Game hens were grilled after a brush with a glaze made of apricot jelly and brandy.

Thanks guys for “manning” the grill.

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Our main course was accompanied by some mashed fall vegetables. Very tasty indeed.

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We laughed and danced all through the meal.

Laughter and dancing aboundsOnly the freshest ingredients

Whose Glasses are those anyway?Hilary and Paige

We did have one little mishap with the caramel topping for the dessert. It was still finger licking good.

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I am reminded of the stories of Jesus reclining at the table with his disciples enjoying the food and the wine. Isn’t fellowship SWEET?!

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Simple Woman’s Daybook September

Because I feel it is in keeping with my search for my authentic self and the enjoyment of simple abundance I will be joining the Simple Women’s Daybook blog. You can discover and explore this blog for yourself by following http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com.  I hope that you will consider joining us. 

FOR TODAY
Outside my window…the sky is blue with some fluffy white clouds. The air is cooler than it has been, fall is moving into New England.

 
I am thinking…my dog is so cute as she wrestles with her blanket on the living room floor. Oh the simple things…

I am thankful…oh so many things. Good friends, good books and good beer to start.

In the kitchen…that cake I baked smells very yummy

I am wearing…jeans and a long sleeve tee.

I am creating…the person I want to be!

I am going…to spend the weekend enjoying whatever life brings my way.

I am wondering…what my college aged son is up to this weekend.

I am reading…the Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall and David Manuel.
 
I am hearing…David Sanborn on the CD player

Around the house…things are orderly and clean, ahh!

I am pondering…how to maintain childlike faith

One of my favorite things…a good meal in great surroundings with my favorite people.

A few plans for the rest of the week: an afternoon with our granddaughter, maybe a massage, fundraising event- Pink Flamingo’s

Here is picture for thought I am sharing…