Sunday, November 23, 2008

Need some direction? Inspiration? Wisdom?

Check out a new blog I am hosting:
The Purple Spot Blog.
It is a daily dose of inspiration, words of wisdom, ideas, and laughs.
I am not the sole contributor to this website. I am part of a network of women who are currently in the process of growing in their character, wisdom, and leadership by tackling everyday issues, and struggles with integrity, and accountability. Are they, or I, perfect? Nope. We just know where to turn for help. God and each other.

IF you are going through something currently~ go through the archives and click on a topic, you may find what you are looking for.

Try it, you just may like it.

"Follow" the blog, and you will receive a daily dose of hope!

Love, love, and more love!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Holiday Recipes: Hot Beverages: Hot Cocoa, Hot Toddy, Mulled Cider,

I am a little biased but, one of my Clients CHEF HARRY SCHWARTZ has posted some awesome Warm Beverage RECIPES just in time for the cold weather and the HOLIDAYS. I have stolen a couple and they are below.

Hot Cocoa

1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 quart whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoon powdered sugar
Dash cinnamon
In a heavy saucepan, whisk together the cocoa, granulated sugar and water until smooth. Place over medium heat and whisk while bringing the mixture just to a boil. Slowly whisk in the vanilla and milk and bring just to a simmer. Keep over low heat. In a bowl, whisk together the whipping cream and the powdered sugar until soft peaks can be formed when the whisk is lifted from the cream. Pour the cocoa into cups or mugs and top with the whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon. Makes 4 cups.

Ginger Spice Tea

2 cups water
4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
4 whole allspice
1 slice fresh ginger
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon or 1 bag Jasmine Tea
Bring the water, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, ginger and zest to a simmer and simmer slowly for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain into a heatproof bowl and stir in the lemon juice and honey. Place back in a saucepan and bring just to a boil and remove from heat. Add the tea to the hot water and allow to brew a few minutes. Serve in teacups. Makes 2 cups.

Rasberry Orange Coffee

2 tablespoons orange zest
4 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups fresh brewed coffee
4 tablespoons raspberry flavored liqueur
Sweetened whipped cream
Mix together the zest and sugar with the water in a small saucepan. Drop in the cinnamon stick. Simmer until sugar dissolves and mixtures simmers a few minutes. Remove cinnamon stick. Stir in vanilla and coffee. Re-heat if needed. Place a tablespoon of liqueur in each of four cups and divide coffee among the cups. Top with whipped cream. Serve hot. Serves 4.

Mulled Wine

2 tablespoons sugar
1 bottle red wine (Merlot is wonderful)
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon brandy
Heat the sugar, wine, cinnamon stick and orange zest in a non-reactive pan over medium heat until hot but not boiling. A scum will appear on the surface. At that point, remove from hearth and skim off the scum. Add the brandy and strain the liquid into heatproof glasses. Makes about 6 glasses,

Swedish Glogg

2 cups red wine
2 cups brandy
6 whole cloves
1 cardamom pod, slightly crushed
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup currants
1/4 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup granulated sugar
In a non-reactive pan, stir together all of the ingredients reserving 1 teaspoon of sugar. Heat the mixture slowly and just until it begins to boil. Carefully ignite the mixture by passing along lit match over the top. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the flames and, after about 10 seconds, cover the pan to extinguish the flames. Strain into small, heatproof glasses. Makes about 8 servings.


6 apples
6 cinnamon sticks
12 ounces ginger ale
2 slices of lemon
3/4 cup granulated sugar
64 ounces beer or ale
1 cup Concord grape wine
Core the apples and place in a baking dish with a cover. Place a cinnamon stick in the hole from the core of each apple. Pour the ginger ale over the apples and add the lemon slices to the dish. Cover. Bake in a 350-degree oven until the apples are tender, about 40 minutes. Allow to cool. Discard the cinnamon sticks and lemon slices. In a non-reactive, pan. Heat half of the beer or ale with the sugar until it is hot but not boiling. Add the apples and their liquid along with the remaining beer to the pan. Heat until hot but not boiling. Ladle into mugs and enjoy. Makes about 6 cups.

Hot Toddy by the Fire

4 ounces Calvados
2 ounces apricot brandy
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
2 ounces heavy whipping cream
Make a fire in the fireplace. Warm the Calvados and brandy until hot but not boiling. Whisk together the sugar and cream until thick and frothy. Pour the Calvados mixture in a warm mug and then pour the cream mixture into the mug. Do not stir! Sip by the fire. Makes 1 toddy.
Sparkling Strawberry Punch
1 tin frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed
16 ounces lemon lime soda, chilled
32 ounces club soda, chilled
12 fresh strawberries
Place the thawed strawberries in a pitcher and mix in the lemon-lime soda. Divide among 12 champagne or wineglasses. Top off with club soda. Garnish with a fresh strawberry. Makes 12.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Blog Party- Day 5, GIVING BACK

The question of the day is, "How do you give back during the holidays?"

My husband and I have made it a priority to teach our daughter (and to live in the habit of) giving all year long. It is a normal part of our lifestyle as I believe giving is the key to prosperity. We make it a priority to live with our eyes open to the needs of those that "coincidentally" come into our lives- although, we don't believe in coincidences.

But, specifically, during the season, I organize a "Operation Northwest Christmas Child" where the cell leaders at our church nominate families where we know there is a need. And the Sundays leading up to Christmas, we do anonymous child adoptions. Families who want to give take a boy or a girl, and buy gifts for that child and bring them to the church where we then deliver the gifts to the families- totally as a surprise to them.
Operation Northwest Christmas Child was a huge success last year, and we had over a hundred children who we provided Christmas for.

We also throw a Christmas party with our friends, specifically with the intent of inviting those around us that are alone and have no family or friends to celebrate with, and seeking out new people to invite. It is an awesome night where we get to meet new friends and spread some cheer. And these usually turn into longer-term relationships. It is all about sharing.

I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!! And this is part of why. Everyone seems to be in the spirit of giving, and this is what traditions are made of. My husband comes from a culture where Christmas is not that big of a deal. And so, he really has struggled with the whole thing~ and what a big deal it is to me. But now that we have children, and he sees the look in their eyes on Christmas morning, and how much fun we have decorating the house and the tree and driving around looking at the decor, I think he is warming up to it. We are trying to incorporate new things into our traditions to include the stuff he was brought up with. For instance, 3 kings day is in January where you put your shoes out and the 3 kings come to your house and fill them with little gifts. Where he comes from, Baby Jesus brings the gifts, not Santa Claus.

I am definiately looking for creative ideas in teaching our children about the "reason for the season"! Last year, I purchased a book by Lisa Welchel, (remember BLAIR from The Facts of Life show?) she wrote a GREat RESOURCE for this.
Here is the description from her website: CLICK HERE to buy the book from her

"Redeeming the Meaning of Christmas... Have you discovered that Jesus sometimes gets lost in the middle of the hustle and bustle of His birthday party? Would you like to be able keep your children’s focus on Jesus and be able to join them in the wonder of the celebration?

For each of the twenty-four days preceding Christmas, The ADVENTure of Christmas serves as a fun and handy guide that describes the true meaning hidden in your most cherished traditions. Hanging lights on the house, wrapping gifts, and decorating the tree will become opportunities to share how these traditions relate to Jesus’ birth. The ADVENTure of Christmas recaptures the delightful essence of this beloved season, giving reasons to joyfully celebrate for years to come."

I plan on utilizing this resource this year as my Vivia is now old enough to begin learning about this stuff.

Sponsors: Day Five Blog Party Question is Brought to you by Baby Pop and Chic Covers

Monday, November 17, 2008

Blog Party: Favorite Holiday Recipe

MomDot Blog Party day 4:
I am just finding out about this "blog party", so I am a little behind.
Today's Question: What is your favorite Holiday recipe?

It's funny that this is the first question, and so it allows me to be a bit lazy. The last blog I have posted just happens to be my Thanksgiving Menu which is full of my favorite holiday recipes. The favorite being my Butternut Squash soup. I wish I could take credit for it, but here's the cool story to go with it:

My husband and I went to Big Sky, Montana for our honeymoon. It was a dream trip. I always wanted to stay at the top of a snow-covered mountain in a private cabin, with a hot tub and a fireplace. Well, this is exactly what Gabriel arranged. We were in this cabin which was "Ski in, ski out". But for us, is "Board in, board out". These cabins were associated with a beautiful lodge at the base of the mountain. We would spend the day out on the mountain, going to the lodge only to have a quick warmer-upper of coffee, hot chocolate and lunch.
Every day, the chef featured different soups~ and my favorite of the bunch was the Butternut Squash!
SOOOOOO creamy and sweet and deliciously orange!
After a week of eating this soup, I had to ask the chef for the recipe, not believing he would give it to me, BUT HE DID!
So, I have made this soup now every year for the Holidays. Holidays being October through January. My family fights over it. My friends beg me for the recipe. BUT FOR ME, it is about the nostalgia of it all. And for some weird reason, I feel that if I give the recipe out freely (as it was given to me,) it will subtract from the specialness of it all. I plan on passing this recipe on to my daughter, so she can pass it on to her daughters~ and the story of the dream honeymoon, the celebration of our promise to be together in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer will be remembered for generations to come.

I look forward to the day/s I prepare this soup because I make an event out of it. It takes a whole morning or afternoon to make, so I plan for it, and enjoy it to the FULLEST! The smell that emulates from the kitchen on that day is tantalizing! And this is the first year that my daughter was old enough to help (sort-of). At almost three, she was able to stand on her stool and stir the pot and help pour the diced squash into the pot at the right moment~ and pushed the button on the blender when it was time to puree...

I will give the ingredients, at least:
Whole Butter
Sweet Vidalia Onions
Butternut Squash
Heavy Whipping Cream
Chicken Broth
Fresh Sage

I say it is "my" recipe, because I have made it mine.
And "mine" will become "ours" as our family grows.


Soup Photo: ©, Pro Photographer, and BFF Susan Bourgoin.

Sponsors: Day Four Blog Party Question is Brought to you by Bottlewise and Glow Mama

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Menu, BRINE baby, BRINE!

I have found after working for chefs for 5 years, that I LOVE TO COOK! I don't do it as much as I'd like, but I LOVE the holidays because I look forward to preparing a masterpiece for a large group. I have a lot of family here in Orlando, and the baton of being the "Holiday Matron" has been passed to me. Every year the size of the group grows. This is also something my husband loves to do, thus has become one of the few pastimes we enjoy doing together.
I purchase fun, sturdy, holiday themed PAPER plateware so that the cleanup is much less. Sounds almost a crime to serve the following menu on paper- but it can still be done beautifully.

The past few years, I have prepared my turkeys by the same method and they have turned out SOOOOO succulent and delicious that my family fights over the leftovers.

3 words...
You can purchase a disposable brining bag at places like Bed Bath and Beyond or other kitchen stores.
I brine the turkey overnight at least 24 hours ahead of time. I use a basic brine of water, 1 cup kosher salt, 1 cup brown sugar or honey, and whatever else I decide to throw in there: cloves, orange slices, whatever sounds good.
Brining serves two purposes: it seasons the bird, and increases the moisture content resulting in a more flavorful and juicier turkey. This technique helps it retain the juices during the long roasting process.

When it's time to roast the bird, I make a basting concoction of apple cider, maple syrup, and white wine. And I baste every 15 - 30 minutes

So, below is my menu for this year. It will be basically the same as last year. I begin cooking a week ahead by making my soup (b/c this alone is an all-day event). Soup can be refrigerated or even frozen until the big day.

• Starters: (to be eaten while the rest of the meal is being prepared)
~ Butternut Squash Soup with Sage garnish (another thing my family fights over...)
~ Stuffed Mushrooms
~ Emmenthaler Fondue with French Bread and Apple Slices
~ Warm Spiced Apple Cider

~ Spinach Salad with Cranberries, Almonds and Feta ~ Light Citrus Vinaigrette
~ Avocado Grapefruit Salad recipe from BOMA at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney

• Main
~ Maple Cider Turkey with
~ Cider Gravy
~ Apple-Maple Sausage stuffing
~ Sweet Potato Gratin or Carmelized Sweet Potato Wedges
~ Green Bean Casserole (of course)
~ Mashed Potatoes (of course)- made with whipping cream
~ Dinner Yeasty Rolls

• Dessert
~ Warm Apple Cobbler ala mode with Haagen Dazs Dulce de Leche ice cream.
~ Mom's Lemon Icebox Pie

• Perrier or Pelligrino with lime-
• Iced Tea
• Wine- Cape Indaba
This is a South African white that I highly recommend.
Can be purchased at World Market among other places.
This is really the only white I like, being a red wine girl.

• Espresso
• Coffee

If any of these recipes look good to you, email me and I can pass along.

So nice!

My live-in-nanny (aka, mom or Bella) has been here for a total of 3 days, and already I am fed, watered, and laundered, oh- I mean my kids are...
This is going to be sooooo nice.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama, my new president

I face disappointment this morning ~ however, these are the words I heard before I even opened my eyes: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

Here is another command that we who opposed Obama must take to heart now:

Romans 13
Submission to the Authorities
1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there
is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities
that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels
against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted,
and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers
hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do
you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is
right and he will commend you. 4For he is God's servant to do you
good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword
for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring
punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to
the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also
because of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the
authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing.
7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if
revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

That is exactly what I have had in the back of my mind for weeks as we saw the nation turn towards Obama. That I can do all I can do right now, but as soon as he becomes my President, I must honor and respect him.
This is how...
The Good News is still the Good News, and that is, that I serve a king. HE does not change. He does not get ousted by the turning of the tide of a nation. He is my leader, and my ruler, and my Lord.
And HE tells me that HE will bless me if I honor the man who is the President of the nation I live in.
My blessing comes from Him, not a country or a President, or a political party.
My promotion, and my portion comes from my LORD, not a country or a President, or a political party.
My provision comes from my Father, not a country or a President, or a political party, or a fail-proof economy.

God, at this very moment is seeing the fulfillment of his will, and I command my eyes to perceive it. Everything is God's servant.
And I pray for a love for our new leader.

Whether I like it or not, or whether I understand it or not. This is where submission comes in- when I do NOT agree, if I agreed, it is just agreement, not submission. I know and understand and love authority. It has protected me in the past and will to this day.

I am not afraid. My heart is at peace.

My ways are not His ways, my thoughts are not His thoughts.
I trust Him inexplicably.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vote the BIBLE

For me, it's not about a particular party. It's about who is the candidate who's proven record shows that they fear the Lord. God is very clear in his word on many of the issues and I will not have blood on my hands because I placed money before human life. I wish John McCain were black, or young, or hot. This is not about race. It is about the state of the hearts of this nation. How far have we gone?

Vote the BIBLE.

Yes, war also takes lives, but 3500 babies are aborted in this country in ONE DAY. That is IN ONE DAY, the same amount of lives that have been lost in IRAQ in a total of FIVE Years! THAT's 42 MILLION LIVES SINCE ROE V. WADE.. Which is more than all the wars the US have fought PUT TOGETHER!

Vote the BIBLE.

ENTITLEMENT is riddling our nation. SINCE WHEN is it the job of a government to provide for you? Since when have we decided to demand that government OWES us anything? Entitlement leads to more poverty. Poverty is not a state of being, it is a spirit. I know many people who are poor but not impoverished. And likewise I know many who are "rich", but in poverty in their spirit. I can not vote for a candidate who insults me by saying I need a handout to make it, and I can't be trusted to work hard enough to provide for my family.

Vote the BIBLE.

Are jobs down, YES. Are we in trouble because we have spent the last several years buying things we can't afford? YES. But, please people! We cannot even BEGIN to compare this to the Great Depression when our grandparents lived in tin shanties, and cooked their dinner around a campfire. And people actually sacrificed personal comfort for a greater cause (WW2). We have NO RIGHT to compare~ We are so spoiled rotten that the thought of not "having it now" has thrown the nation into a tizzy.
Go live in a 3rd world nation for just a month. There you will see people who really CAN'T work. And live in depression. Any one who really wants to work in this country CAN. Flipping burgers, maybe, but since when are we too good to flip burgers to feed our families? Integrity. Does our generation even know what this means?

I am not Black. I am not Hispanic (although, my children are)- but I am a minority. I have a good attitude. Something that is few and far between these days.

I love my country.
I love that I am going to exercise an awesome "right" today by voting.
Go, make it count, people!

Vote the BIBLE.
Your vote is not secret to God.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, November 3, 2008

What we did today...

This is a beautiful place to walk near my house. Just can't fall in the water. It is alligator-infested~ Megan, you'll appreciate.
I was a walking billboard for my friend Eric Eisnaugle who is running for State Representative. Although, his district is not anywhere near where I walked.
Gotta do my part. Will be standing at the polls tomorrow to show my support.

Vote the issues: McCain or Obama?:

At least know your issues, people! Are you for Obama or McCain? BEFORE you vote, take this test on the issues and see:

Fun weekend

Friday night Vivia played the perfect hostess handing out candies to the infinite number of High School Musical Cheerleaders and Cowboys that came to our door. She would say "nice costume!" And all the parents would ooh and aaah at the cute little Goldilocks. I am glad we did the Sea World thing last weekend, because I was able to say, "We already did our Trick-or-Treating".

Saturday Gabriel and I made our annual trip the the International Food and Wine Festival at Disney's Epcot with our friends Pete and Crystal. Crystal just had a baby a month before me, and so we left the toddlers home, and brought the babies with us. We opted to bring only one double stroller to streamline the baby stuff. And before Gabe arrived (he had school and came to meet us after) it was Peter with Crystal and I, pushing around this double stroller with "twins" inside. You should have seen the looks from people trying to figure out if we were Mormons, or who was the mother of the twins... It was quite funny. We loved the escargot and pomegranate kirs in France, and the Lamb in New Zeland! The Maple Glazed salmon in Cananda, and the amazing stuff in Morocco. I look forward to the F/W fest EVERY year!

I broke down and purchased a double stroller because I honestly felt so trapped. I feel so much more empowered to go places now, because I know I can strap BOTH of my kids in safely. I thought that by the time Rio arrived, Vivia would happily walk alongside the stroller, obediently. HAH! She is a toddler-in-progress. We are working on the obedience part. And until then, she will remain in the stroller. I got the KOLCRAFT double- WHICH I ABSOLUTELY LOVE. The seats can face any combination of ways you want, which works great with an infant who is only happy when they can see Mommy. It is a bit cumbersome to get in and out of the car- but no more than the Graco I borrowed from my friend to try out.

So, this week, my mother moves in to be our live-in nanny. Which is her dream job. To be her grandchildren's nanny. And I am really happy for the help. So I have much to do today. So I must be going. Ciao for Now!