Sunday, March 28, 2010

Big Pink Beds

There could be a part of me that is coveting
the owners of these beds...

A few thoughts come to mind when I look at them:

kitsch, Marie Antoinette, ostentatious,
ethereal, chic, over-stated, feminine,
luscious, tawdry, prodigious, marvelous, Madame X


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tulsa Time!

Only a few years ago I saw Jason Boland put on one hell of a concert at a fraternity party in Norman, Oklahoma in the pouring rain--and then proceed to down his sorrows and depression with a bottle of Jack with the hosts of the party. He was conflicted, sad and tortured.

Since that concert, Boland has lost 50 (or so) pounds, doesn't sleep with a bottle next to his bed and is a self-proclaimed man of God. His Johnny Cash-type 180 is seen not only in his actions, but reflected in the lyrics of his music as well.

The recent release of Jason Boland & The Stragglers' video just made my morning-Tulsa Time-you know, the old Don Williams tune made famous by Eric Clapton (that he apparently didn't even sing when his tour led him through Tulsa).

The combination of his healthy life, his newly found faith in God, his recognizable voice and a down-home song makes for an awesome 3 minutes and 51 seconds!!

I hope it makes your day too! Click on the link above to watch!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Could it be true!? A guarantee!?

According to both the owners of the Italian restaurant, Scalini's, in Cobb County, Georgia AND my girlfriends at work, this recipe for eggplant parmigiana is guaranteed to induce labor. To date, Scalini's owners claim that 300 women, in the past 23 years of business, have given birth within 48 hours of consuming this delicious meal smothered in cheese and marinara sauce.

So is this a sure bet? Could this be the answer for the poor women of this world that are tired of wobbling when they walk, sleeping on their side, not being able to give themselves a pedicure or the worst of all-not being able to go for an afternoon run? Or maybe I'm just hoping that this is a sure bet for inducing labor for myself because of the mentioned annoyances...?

Technically, our little girl won't be 'full-term' until week 37-tomorrow I will be a week shy at 36 weeks (9 months!). But don't kid yourself, if we aren't holding Knox Leon Jolie-Pitt's future wife in our hands in 2 weeks, I will be testing this Italian hypothesis, along with any other suggestions you might have. And if this hypothesis doesn't prove true, at least we had a darn good meal out of it! Let's get to cooking my friends!!!

  • 3 medium sized eggplants
  • 1 cup flour
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 4 cups fine Italian bread crumbs, seasoned
  • Olive oil for sauteing
  • 8 cups of marinara sauce (recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 pounds of mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups of ricotta cheese
  • Directions

    1. After you wash the eggplant, slice them into 1/4-inch thick slices. You may choose to peel the eggplant before you slice it. However, you may want to leave the skin on since it contains a lot of vitamins.

    2. Place the eggplant slices on a layer of paper towels and sprinkle with a little salt, then cover with another layer of paper towels and hold it down with something heavy to drain the excess moisture. Let them sit for about an hour.

    3. Working with one slice of eggplant at a time, dust with flour, dip in beaten eggs, then coat well with breadcrumbs.

    4. Saute in preheated olive oil on both sides until golden brown.

    5. In baking dish, alternate layers of marinara sauce, eggplant slices, ricotta, Parmesan and Romano cheeses, until you fill the baking dish, about 1/8 inch from the top. Cover with shredded mozzarella cheese, and bake for 25 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

    Scalini's Marinara Sauce


  • 2 Tablespoons of chopped garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 8 cups chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
  • 1/8 cup of fresh chopped sweet basil
  • Pinch of thyme
  • Pinch of rosemary
  • One teaspoon salt
  • One teaspoon black pepper

  • Directions

    1. Lightly saute the onions in olive oil in large pot for a few minutes.

    2. Add garlic and saute another minute.

    3. Add tomatoes and bring sauce to a boil, then turn heat low.

    4. Add remaining ingredients, stir, cover and let simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally

    Friday, March 5, 2010

    Reves Doux Mes Amis!

    If you haven't met, then please, introduce yourself-QUICKLY!

    I just LOVE this website. It's a fabulously anomalous site to buy and sell things handmade. You can find everything on this site from handmade jewelry, to paper goods, needle crafts, hand-blown glass items, anything & everything for your wedding, the PERFECT gift for your family/friends and unique items for your home that you won't find in stores.

    Nearly everything is custom made for you by artists across the US. One of the neatest things that I've found on, is the opportunity to commission artists to create oil paintings based on the picture that you send them-how cool is that!? Another great thing about is that you have the ability to directly contact all of the artists with any questions, thoughts or comments.

    Heidi Devlin is an artist that features a delightful collection of her handmade pillows on, and I think I'm in LOVE! They are all custom made based on your requests, and have a wonderfully personal touch that you'll cherish forever. Perfect for anyone! Best of all, they're SO affordable! My favorite is the pillow-"Reves Doux"-which means "Sweet Dreams" in French. I'm so excited because Ms. Devlin just confirmed that she is going to stencil our little girl's first and middle name in place of "Mon Enfant!" What a perfect example of the wonderful benefit to being able to correspond directly with the artists!


    Monday, March 1, 2010

    Fighting the Ho-Hums

    Never did I envision this blog falling victim to the pregnancy ho-hums; and thus it has. My pre-baby brain was full of creative ideas involving cooking and other such endeavors that challenged me during our adventure in Miami. And then 'it' happened. 'It' being the details involved in pregnancy that drive your husband to spend a little more time at the gym, and force his excitement with the weekend question, "honey, what needs to be done around the house today?" Needless to say, there have been moments of complete lucidity, and then those dreadful moments that bring you to tears when the cat sees a toy in the measuring tape as you try to get the length of the crib mattress for your mother that's creating a crib-bedding masterpiece.

    With that being said, there really hasn't been a moment of calm in the 33 weeks since we knew our baby girl was coming. So, I feel inspired to share a few moments and convey that, really, my creative endeavors haven't ceased completely, nor has our active life in Miami-I've just struggled with the ordeal of making POINT A connect with POINT B to equal POINT C-the blog.

    My cooking certainly hasn't been cut too short. After all, we all need a nightly hearty dinner. Per the request of the sweetest boy I know, I made a Hood family favorite for Valentine's Day-the Jello Pokey Cake. Smothered in strawberry Jello, this classic was quite delicious. However, I couldn't quite recall if it reminded me more of my summers at New Life Ranch or visiting relatives at nursing homes. Brian loved it-and that's all that matters.

    I've been experimenting too, and come to a conclusion; one should NEVER make cinnamon rolls without yeast. Don't listen to the online recipe comments made, "a quick, Betty-Crocker-comparable Saturday morning treat." They just don't compete, and any palate knows the difference-even my baby girl knew the difference, in utero. I can't help but compare cinnamon rolls to a Tulsa classic-Petty's cinnamon rolls. DELISH.

    One thing I love about Brian is that when he sets a goal-he always finishes it. His recent goal was to complete a 1/2 marathon prior to his daughter's birth. In typical Brian James fashion, one isn't enough of anything-so he finished two in less than a month-the second on a bum knee. The Chicago & Marine Corps. Marathons are now calling his name. Don't blame me if I like the runner booty that has come of this 'vice.'

    One of the recent highlights of the past few months was the acquisition of our newest family member-Cimarron Grosvenor. He's the first born (10.11.09), and only boy, of the litter of pups that my mother and father raised-Clementine, of course, being the mother. From the moment I held him in my hands at 2 weeks old, I knew we couldn't live without him-disregarding that everyone said I was crazy for taking a puppy 3 months prior to giving birth! He has made a seamless transition to our life in South Florida.

    Grosvenor is mild-mannered and loving, and he will make a wonderful gun dog with his desire for discipline and loyal personality. His maturity level, at only 5 months, constantly amazes me. He LOVES his daddy and LOVES to stand at my feet while I cook dinner-hoping for the occasional vegetable to drop to the ground. Daily, Brian and I comment on how fortunate we are to have such a wonderfully adapted, well mannered dog in our lives. The true test of his nature was proven this past weekend when he joined us for dinner at some friends' house that have a 9 month old baby girl, Olivia. Grosvenor was interested yet extremely gentle with her-I was a proud mom.

    Finally, we're 33 weeks pregnant with our first little girl. Elated, thrilled, nervous and unprepared are a few of the adjectives that I could easily use to describe the feeling in these final weeks. But the most honest of all of the feelings that we presently have is BLESSED. She is healthy, kicking and announcing to the world that she will be here soon. I can't help but think about her growing up to be a woman, and with those thoughts, I recalled in terror, a comment that my father made to me (in anger and frustration, naturally) at the tender age of 17 that I haven't forgotten, "someday, I hope your daughter does to you what you're doing to me." I suppose I do have a few things coming my way...

    A few questions that I'm asked regularly that make me smile are:
    "Do you have any cravings?" Answer: no-but I really like chocolate in all forms.
    "Is the nursery ready?" Answer: no, I'm waiting on my mom and mother-in-law to finish that up for me...oh...and sleep in the same room as the baby as well. Really my answer is: Nursery? Who can afford a third or fourth bedroom in Miami?
    "How are you feeling?" Answer: there have been a few moments that I've really felt badly, but other than that, this has been a very easy pregnancy. I DO confess to complaining a few extra times when Brian comes home, though, for the sake of an extra back rub that night.
    "Do you have a birth plan?" Answer: whatever my insurance says that it'll pay for. My birth plan (or whatever that is) = free.
    "Have you and Brian taken any Lamaze classes?" Answer: no. I am also the girl that didn't take bridal pictures.
    "Are you going to have an epidural?" Answer: heck yes. I'm not looking for a medal of completion. I got enough of those in elementary basketball.
    "Are you ready?" Answer: what kind of a question is this? Yes, people ask this quasi open-ended question. Am I ready? Are WE ready? I mean of course we're thrilled to meet our baby girl in April, but when you're a first-time parent, do you EVER have any idea of what is REALLY about to change your lives? According to our parents, Brian and I have no idea about what's to come-and that's the exciting, thrilling thing about life! Yes, we're so 'ready' but then again, we have NO idea what's to come-that's why we're counting on the knowledge of our mothers-with collective experience from five children, they can help tell us what to expect. Love you RAF & JAH!

    I'll keep you updated on the continued adventures Brian & I encounter. The support that we are shown THOUSANDS of miles away in Miami is continually humbling. Thank you. We love you.

    Cimarron Grosvenor 2.21.10

    A fun day at the beach!

    First, and definitely NOT the last 1/2 marathon!
    Grovie was Dad's BIGGEST fan!

    33 Weeks folks!

    Saturday, December 5, 2009

    'Tis the Season for...PUMPKINS!

    It has been a busy "Fall" in Miami (I have to quote the season because it never really feels like Thanksgiving/Christmas time down here because daily, it's 90 degrees and 100% humidity). Wasn't it just June, or even the Fourth of July? I digress.

    Anyway, I have been cooking at a lot-or so it seems. Pumpkin and local varieties of squash have been my recent medium, so I want to share a DELIGHTFUL recipe that my MOL sent me-Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Sauce. My mouth is water as I think about it.

    We had some friends over for dinner right before Thanksgiving, two of which are pescatarians. This was what I served, along with grilled salmon and roasted veggies. The raviolis were absolutely delicious and a wonderful taste of the season. I didn't grow up eating a lot of sage, but it is a flavor that paired wonderfully with pumpkin!

    One thing I suggest is that you treat each ravioli as an individual entity. Drop them in the water to cook individually and let them dry individually. You spend so much time creating each ravioli that you owe it to yourself and your sanity to treat each one with care during the actual cooking process as well. I didn't do this, and as a result they stuck together and we didn't get to experience the artful care that I put in to each ravioli. I would also suggest to use LESS pumpkin than you think is necessary. The wonton wrapper is very thin and too much filling will result in a busted ravioli.

    If you make these, please let me know how they turn out! I had a blast making them and watching Brian's face when he put the first taste in his mouth-I definitely scored some points with the hubby with this dish! :)

    Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Sauce

    for the ravioli:
    1 cup pumpkin or squash puree
    1 cup ricotta cheese (use fresh if you've got it, otherwise drain the
    store-bought cheese in a cheesecloth for an hour)
    1 tbsp butter
    2 tsp balsamic vinegar
    1 tbsp dark molasses
    1 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
    dash of sea salt
    dash of ground pepper
    1 package of wonton wrappers

    for the sage brown butter sauce:
    4 tbsp butter
    6 chopped sage leaves
    2 tbsp white wine
    3 tbsp sour cream
    4 large whole sage leaves-for garnish

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread squash puree on a baking sheet and place in the oven to dry, 10-15 minutes. You want your puree to be at a mashed-potato consistency. Scrape in to a a large mixing bowl.

    Heat 1 tbsp butter in a small sautee pan over medium heat until it begins to brown. Remove from heat, swirl in balsamic vinegar and molasses. Add to the pumpkin along with the ricotta, Parmesan and nutmeg. Season to taste with the salt and pepper-chill for a couple of hours. At this point the filling can be refrigerated for 1-2 days-so you CAN make this in advance.

    Lay out the wonton wrappers. Place a small amount of the chilled pumpkin filling in the center of the wonton and using a pastry brush, moisten all of the edges with cold water. Fold the wonton in half or in to a triangle. Using a fork, firmly press each seam forming a solid edge. Cook the raviolis in gently boiling water for 2 minutes-no more.

    While the raviolis are cooking, melt 4 tbsp of butter with the chopped sage and a pinch of salt until it foams and begins to brown-continue to swirl the butter sauce until it creates a chestnut brown color. Slowly add 3 tbsp of sour cream and 2 tbsp of white wine and mix together well.

    Spoon the sauce over ravioli individually, or place ravioli on a large platter and spread the sauce over them that way. Top with some Parmesan, freshly ground pepper and perhaps some fried prosciutto--DELICIOUS!!

    Tuesday, November 3, 2009

    The Pack Rat's Solution!

    I confess. I'm extremely sentimental. My mom has always called me a 'pack rat' because I have kept anything and everything that reminded me of a special memory. I have boxes and boxes of memories from pee-wee t-ball trophies, to notes passed in middle school, to concert access bracelets from Cross Canadian Ragweed concerts in high school.

    Prior to the development of iPhoto and and the ability to organize photos based on events, we had all of our pictures printed at Med-X or Walgreens. So needless to say, I have pounds and pounds of photos from my days at New Life Ranch Summer Camp, to high school basketball action shots. Thankfully, I was an obsessive scrap-booker in high school, so many of my memories are safe and sound in an over-sized blue book that I have stopped hauling to/from each place that I live. I only wish that I had an electronic version of this.

    So, I have TWO answers to TWO dilemmas. Firstly, the issue of safe-keeping photos that have been printed. Secondly, the issue of commemorating the special memories.

    1) Safe-keeping your existing photos with/without the negatives.
    The answer: Scan Cafe (! You have the ability to take all of the loose photos that have been sitting in your house for years, put them in a box and mail them to to this company-securely and safely. They scan your pictures and load them to a proofing system, where you can choose the ones that you want and don't want. Keep in mind that you have to keep 50% (at a minimum) of the pictures that you submitted. During the proofing stage, you can organize your photos so you don't have to do that prior to sending.

    Additionally, Scan Cafe can also restore old photos, pixel by pixel, that have scratches, color fading, anything! If you have a favorite picture of your friends or family that has aged with time, this is the perfect opportunity to let the experts fix the photo and bring it back to life!

    For your loved ones that have been avoiding the 'old photographs' topic and have kept the picture cabinet locked and demand no mention of this burden, this is the perfect solution! Scan Cafe even has a Gift Box that is sold for $149. It is the ideal way to force the subject and make sure that all pictures and memories are well preserved!

    2) The issue of commemorating special memories.
    The answer: My Publisher (! There have been a few moments in the past years that I have wanted to share with my friends and family. Scrap-booking is so much fun and so creative, but I wanted to expand from that a bit and create something that could show off professional quality photographs in a clean and concise format. The day that Brian and I were married, I gave him a book that I made through a program, Blurb ( It turned out nicely, and recalled our courtship and engagement. Looking back, Blurb was quite hard to work with, and it seemed I was always battling with some flaw in the program.

    We have almost been married for two years so it was time (especially with a baby on the way) to commemorate our wedding day. It took me a little over a week to finish the book using the My Publisher program, with a considerable about of time committed. I received the book one week ago and I am shocked how well it turned out-so much more beautiful and professional than Blurb's book. It has an exquisite linen cover and showcases the pictures in a clean professional way!

    The program was SO easy to use, and My Publisher offers a multitude of themed options that can help guide you through the making of the book, ranging from love stories, journeys, family, the great outdoors, baby, school days! Best of all, it was very affordable and they gave me a fabulous coupon that I couldn't deny (of which they are still offering to first-time publishers). I would definitely recommend this program! I loved preserving our wedding day through My Publisher, and will definitely use it again!