Showing posts from September, 2015

Crazy About Pumpkins

Did you know that:

One cup of mashed pumpkin contains about 245% vitamin A, 19% of vitamin C and 8% IronPumpkins originally were grown in Central AmericaThe US produces more than 1 billion pumpkins per yearPumpkins are considered a fruitPumpkin pie Is America's second favorite, (Apple wins first place although my husband would disagree.) 
These facts (And some more) brought to you courtesy of Real Simple  Read More here:
Since its the time of year for everything Pumpkin, I thought that for today's blog post I would just gather a sampling of Pumpkin Links for you to enjoy. Feel free to add some more in the comments area below.

Pumpkin (Sweet): 
Pumpkin Pie (Paula Deen)
Perfect Pumpkin Pie
Dark Chocolate Espresso Pumpkin Bread 
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Gingersnap Pumpkin Cheese Bars
Pumpkin Pie Latte

Pumpkin (Savory):
Native American Roasted Pumpkin & Wild Rice
Creamy Pumpkin Fettuccine
Spicy Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin Gnocchi
Savory Pumpkin Recipes (Food and W…

Coffee Lovers' Quick Links

Although the specific origins of National Coffee Day are unknown, today, not too many coffee lovers seem to care when or how it got started,only that it did!

I, personally am not a coffee drinker. I do love the smell of coffee-and that is where my love stops. I am definitely a Tea (that's my mom's English roots coming out) Chai & Cocoa kind of person, but I am surrounded with coffee lovers on all sides!

So this morning, I've compiled a quick short list of links for all my Java Loving family, friends & other folk, so you can feed your caffeine fix while I sip my Classic Earl Gray with a touch of wildflower honey!


Coffee Quotes

FREE Coffee: Where & How

Affogato (Gelato Dessert) Recipe

Coffee Review: The World's Leading Coffee Guide

History Kitchen: History of Coffee

Coffee and Health: The Research (Mayo Clinic)

15 Easy Coffee Drinks

7 Reasons to Consider Quitting Coffee

Iced Coffee: How-To

How to Make French Press Coffee

Cappuccino in a Jar

Brownie Streusal Coffe…

3 Easy Steps to Stress-Free Closet Space

For a year, every time my daughter and I went shopping, I would find the bag of brand new clothes hanging on her doorknob because she could not find room for it.

When I would suggest that she had too many clothes and should lighten the load a bit, she would laugh hysterically, "as if there was such a thing as having too many clothes".

What I found was that in reality, she was in fact overwhelmed with, yes, too many clothes. I suggested that she get rid of/donate one piece of clothing for each one she bought. She tried that approach for a little while, but needed much more help, as her closet is on the smaller side. She told me she just didn't know how to begin.

I hear this a lot from clients, who just don't know how to begin organizing their clothes, or that they feel guilty getting rid of perfectly good clothing, with tags still on them, after they have bought pieces on impulse or "on sale" and then don't ever wear it.

In order to make room for what w…

Learning from Failure

Yesterday my (almost 16 year old) daughter came up to me in the kitchen as I was making dinner, and said "Mom-you were right. AGAIN!"

Perplexed, I asked her what she meant.

She was referring to a (somewhat emotional) conversation we had last week about taking the things other people say and do personally. She told me that after thinking about it, she realized that she was doing that in a particular situation, and would make more of an effort to stop.

I told her I was proud of her for her self-reflection and for being willing to learn from her mistake.

She asked me how I became "so smart". I laughed.

My response to her was that I am so smart, because of all the times I've been so stupid.

I don't have mystical powers, and I am not especially brilliant, but I have made many, many mistakes in my life. I have failed at more things than I care to talk about. I have quit jobs, projects and people in anger and frustration way too many times to even count. But, the…

5 Home Remedies for Winter

I love this time of year-the vibrant foliage colors, the crisp air & cooler temperatures, football games, bonfires and the opportunity to bake more (it helps keep the house warm and fills it with the most delicious scents!)

The one thing that is a challenge for some families this time of year is keeping kids healthy as they go back to school and are cooped up in tight quarters (classrooms) with no fresh air circulating. My daughter has told me that about half of her classmates are already sick with some sort of upper/lower respiratory infection, and we have not yet begun the heavier part of the cold and flu season. 

One thing that bothers me about this time of year, is the obsessive people chasing me down in pharmacies, malls and even the farmer's market to ask: "have you gotten your flu shot? Its free!" As if that isn't bad enough, when I politely reply "no thank you" they act shocked, appalled and speak loudly so all nearby can hear, (as if to shame me)…

Raspberry Walnut Vinegar

I fell in love with flavored vinegar a long time ago. I have always enjoyed experimenting with flavor combinations and varieties of foods and vinegar is no exception.

One year, I made so much of it that I had to start giving it away as gifts. Word spread, and then people I worked with were coming up to me and handing me money to make it. Had I had the proper kitchen, frame of mind, and the ability to spot trends, I would have been way ahead of the curve by now!

Flavored or infused vinegar is a sensory experience all in itself: a versatile condiment, and can be used in most recipes that calls for plain vinegar. It adds zest and excitement to marinades, meats and fish and unique flavors to dressings, salads, pastas and vegetables.

Flavored vinegars are by far the easiest and safest condiment to make. Due to the high acid content of vinegar, it does not usually support the growth of bacteria, and have a longer shelf life than oil, as long as safe food handling techniques are followed.


How to Properly Clean Fresh Vegetables

I had a different post planned for today-but this one is taking priority. I have interrupted my book writing to post this. Please forgive my rant but...
I was doing some research for my book-and I have lost count of how many times I have seen the advice to clean your fruits, herbs and vegetables with a bleach solution! No. NO. and NOOOO!!  I realize we have a collective germ-phobia and want our food to be "safe" to eat, and I don't know who started this "soak your food in bleach" idea, but please, Do NOT soak ANY food in bleach solution! Fruits, vegetables and herbs are extremely absorbent and will ABSORB whatever you are using to clean it! Bleach is an excellent disinfectant for hard surfaces, such as counter tops, tile grout and toilets. But people, bleach is toxic if ingested!  It has no place and is not recommended in food preparation other than cleaning your counters, sinks and possibly your cutting boards before and after use. Sodium hypochlorite is the chem…

The Only 3 Chicken Soup Recipes You Will Ever Need

Today is a Chicken Soup Kind of day. 

I've had my office door opened as I work, and a breeze just drifted right in that said "Chicken Soup!" So I stopped right in the middle of writing to put a (very large) pot on the stove, as my mom and grandmother never did teach me the art of cooking in small batches!

While the batch I made today was rich and incorporated some produce that needed to get used up, I have 3 "go to" recipes for chicken soup, ranging from the very simple to the more complex that I would like to pass on to my wonderful readers today.

There is something nostalgic, grounding and satisfying about chicken soup. No matter how you make it-in vats or single servings, I think we all can agree that coming home and opening your door to the aroma of a fresh pot of soup on the stove, does wonders after a long day.

Use these recipes as is or as starters to experiment with your own versions.

Star Soup:

As a young child I caught many colds and infections, one be…

Random Things I Find on My Dining Room Table

This would make a great Discussion Topic: 'Random things I find on my dining room table.' GO!

Ok. Confession time: Although I make an effort to keep this area clear from "stuff, THIS is what my dining table looks like most of the week. 
We come into the house here, and things just wind up on this nice big, sturdy table.

The random items dujour are: colorful fall place mats, dishes, condiments, half a bag of pretzels, lip gloss, a phone charger, curling ribbon, tape, grocery list & coupons, receipts, a cordless phone, my daughter's lunch money, keys, a book, a used envelope with a "To Do" list written on it, 2 glass candy jars (new) , a lid to a different glass candy jar, and a bow and arrow. (Yes-one of the ways I know hunting season is approaching is that I find bows and arrows in very odd places!)

Quick: what's on your dining room table right now? Don't clean it up. Just list it below!

How do you combat clutter in your common areas? (Or do you…

Setting the Day's Tone

I believe that how you spend your first half hour after you wake up sets the mood for the rest of the day.

Some people like to exercise, some spend it walking the dog, making breakfast and getting kids off to school, and others begin their day by reading.
I am lucky, having an office right in my home, so my morning "commute" is usually a quick, 8 second walk to the other end of the house. 

In that first half hour, after my daughter goes to school and my husband goes to work, and the house is quiet, I love to ease into my day by watching the amazing sunrises from my office window while I go over my schedule, do some writing and drink my morning tea.

I want you to try paying attention to those first 30 minutes of your day, and how they set the tone for the rest of it. Try consciously using that time to improve your outlook, get organized and improve productivity.
How do you get yourself motivated in the morning? Please tell us in the comments area below!


Simple Things: Birthdays

Birthday surprises don't have to be elaborate. Sometimes its the simple things that delight so much!

My daughter came up with a simple and colorful way to surprise her friend for his 16th birthday: She filled his room with these gorgeous helium ‪balloons!

She enlisted the help of her friend's mom, and yours-truly.
The birthday boy's aunt was taking him out for a bit, so we had a short window of time to get things in place.
We purchased a small helium tank with 50 balloons and ribbon from BJ's Wholesale club. 
While we were there we picked up candles and a delicious chocolate cake that looked like this: 
We raced to the house-and were greeted by "Binx", the very happy dog. We set up our equipment and then had some trouble opening up the valve to fill the balloons, but we prevailed.
The happy dog kept barking and attacking the balloons each time we tried to fill one-the sound of helium filling up the balloons drove him nuts! So we had to banish him temporarily…

Ashamed of Having a Housekeeper? Don't Be!

Let's face it, none of us can do it all.
That is the simple reason why you shouldn't be ashamed to hire a housekeeper.
Everyone's situation is different-and people hire help for many reasons: If you or your children have health or mobility limitations, you may need overall help on an ongoing basis.

If both spouses work outside of the home-or if you are a single parent, you may need some extra help because you come home exhausted each night.

If you are single-and travel a lot for your work, it may be a welcome change to have your home nice and clean when you come home from a business trip.

Or maybe you just hate to / are not good at keeping a house.

Whatever the reason, when you hire a housekeeper, you are not only purchasing a clean, organized home, but you are buying back your lost time: time with family, kids and to do those things you don't get to do.

American women spend, on average, about 23 hours weekly doing cleaning tasks. That is almost 100 hours a month, a…

Your Kitchen: Germ Central

Your kitchen is the heart of your home-the place where everyone gathers during a party. The place where you prepare meals, do homework, solve problems, laugh and sometimes cry.

But did you know that your kitchen is also a germ hot spot?

Yes. YOUR kitchen!

Your sink, stove, faucets, microwave, coffee maker, counter tops and even the refrigerator are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria. In fact, your kitchen has more places for germs to grow than your bathroom. Pathogenic organisms such as E. Coli, Listeria, Salmonella, yeast and mold have the power to make you, your family and your guests ill if you don't look in the right places and stay on top of it.

Here are the 6 areas you should start with:

Your Hands: OK. Technically not a part of the kitchen, but the single most important thing you can do to minimize risk of a food borne illness is wash your handsbefore, after and as you are preparing food! In the restaurant industry, 89% of the cases where food was contaminated was due to…

The Importance of Creating

I love the process of creating: writing, painting, organizing, cooking, educating, designing...there is just something exciting and exhilarating about the entire process of self-expression and the journey of the unknown, pushing my own boundaries in the shadow of uncertainty.

Creating is the one thing we do that indicates we are truly alive.

But as much as I enjoy creating, I also look at the other side of the coin: Destroying. 
I feel that destroying is equally as important, although most of us do not "enjoy" destroying in any way.
Now don't misunderstand me. I am not talking about malicious destruction of a person's reputation, physical body or personal property out of anger or hatred, but the deliberate, thoughtful act of breaking down or eliminating a person, place, thing or memory from your life, because it no longer serves your best interest to keep hanging on to it. It has become "clutter" and is causing you and your environment to stagnate. 
The ent…


Sangria is a typical beverage from Spain and Portugal. It normally consists of red wine, (sangria meaning "blood") assorted chopped fruit, and sometimes a small amount of brandy.

I've seen tons of recipes using all types of wine and fruit combinations, but what about those who cannot or don't want to drink alcohol? (Such as the Mom-to-be at a recent baby Shower we attended?)

The solution is the Eclectic Domestic's (soon to be) world famous, "Non-Gria". We made about 3 gallons of it this past Labor day-it was colorful, refreshing and delicious! The longer it sits, the more intense the flavor.

Here is the recipe: (A downloadable recipe will be available on our website soon!)

Non-Gria:(makes about 3 gallons)

1 Standard size bottle Cran-Raspberry Juice
1 Standard size bottle White Grape Juice
1 Standard size bottle apple juice
Juice of 2 whole lemons OR 2 cups lemonade (from a mix)
2 lemons sliced- with peel
2 limes sliced-with peel
2 naval oranges halved a…