March 30, 2011

The Perfect Recipe by Pam Anderson Cookbook Review

This week, for my own personal Single Nester Cookbook Challenge, I chose a recipe from The Perfect Recipe - Getting it Right Every Time by Pam Anderson (no, not that Pam Anderson).This cookbook tells you in great detail (no photos, just illustrations) how to cook foods such as a prime rib to cornichons and lobster.

While the instructions are very clear, I found some of these recipes a bit too stuffy for me. But, this cookbook might come in handy if I were to make such fancy schmancy recipes.

I chose to make a Basic Muffin Recipe.Here are some of the ingredients used.The author provides variations to this recipe so I chose to make Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins by adding 3 tablespoons of poppy seeds and the zest of one lemon. The recipe only called for 1 teaspoon but I am a lemon lover so I zested the whole dang thing. While I felt the recipe and instructions were spot on, my muffins came out dry with only a slight hint of lemon which surprised me considering I zested the whole lemon.

Was it because I used lowfat instead of full fat yogurt?

Was my flour old?

Who knows. The next time I decide to make Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, I might head over to the Internet to find an alternative recipe.

"Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts!" - James Beard

March 29, 2011

JoAnn's Bargain Fabrics

I haven't touched a sewing machine since a very bad experience in 8th grade (a long time ago).

I hit the peddle of the sewing machine like a NASCAR driver and proceeded to turn my skirt into shorts. Not pretty.

I would love to learn how to sew. My grandmother was a master seamstress but for some reason, that is not one gene I inherited. I do however, have her old-fashioned sewing machine.

I recently found these fabrics at JoAnn's in their bargain section. Each were from $1-3/yard! Aren't they fabulous?I think I did a fairly good job matching fabrics. I am hoping to create something with them. Pillows most likely.

Is there a way to do this without a sewing machine?

"Sewing: A creative mess is better than tidy idleness." - Author Unknown

March 28, 2011

A Letter from Pope Benedict XVI and a Prayer for My Brother

Three years ago, I decided to send the Pope a Christmas card.

Much to my surprise, he sent me a Christmas card back.

The cards are photos of famous religious artwork and his personal wish on the back written in Latin.

Here are the two I have received thus far.Last year, because of the death of my brother, I did not send out any Christmas cards. But, I did send one to the Pope. This time, I poured my heart out about the loss of my brother and how my family and I are struggling to deal with it and I asked for him to pray for both my brother and us.

Now, the Pope is pretty prompt in sending his replies. However, this Christmas, I didn't receive anything. I waited and nothing. I thought, "Geez. I poured my heart out and he didn't write back."

That is until several weeks into the new year, I received a package in the mail including this letter.Inside the package was this beautiful rosary blessed by the Pope.I was so touched. The Pope. Praying for my brother. Blessing a rosary for me.

I could cry as I write this.

Thank you Pope Benedict XVI. I am praying for you too.
"Some have been to the mountain. I have been on my knees by the side of my bed." - Robert Brault

March 23, 2011

The Smart Diet by Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook Review

Time for this week's Single Nester Cookbook Challenge recipe.

I wasn't thrilled to be honest with you about this next cookbook. Once again, I have not cooked anything from it prior to this week. I can see why.

I am talking about The Smart Diet by Better Homes and Gardens.This cookbook is poorly laid out. There is so much empty space and "fancy graphics" on each page that the recipe was in one tiny corner of each page. The only photographs were not always of the completed recipe but of one of the ingredients in the recipe.

I decided to make Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup.Here are the ingredients I used.While the soup was delicious, I was disappointed with this cookbook and may just be listing it soon on Amazon.

I would however, like to share with you one of my favorite kitchen tools - Cuisinart's Smart Stick Hand Blender.I use this instead of a blender to blend my soups. Very powerful and so easy to use.

Do you have an immersion blender? What soups do you like to make?

"Tell me what you eat.
I'll tell you who you are."
- Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

March 22, 2011

Forever 21 on Fifth Avenue

After admiring all of the bling in the store windows on Fifth Avenue, my niece and I went shopping at the recently opened, six-story Forever 21.Yes. Six stories.

When I was in the building, I thought that I had been here before. I had. Forever 21 took over the old Takashimaya store, which was a vision of Japanese beauty.

This Forever 21 is supposed to be a pop-up store with Forever 21 testing the waters since the rent on this strip of Manhattan land is the highest in the city. Notice the stores next to it - Bottega Veneta and Elizabeth Arden.

When you walk in, you are immediately taken to costume jewelry heaven.Here is a view from a higher floor.And, a view of Fifth Avenue through the store windows. Notice the lonely man waiting for his girl to finish shopping.After picking up something for my niece, the only bling I was able to buy on this Fifth Avenue shopping excursion was this ring.Not bad for $4.80.

I think it looks much more glamorous displayed in my Bohemian crystal ring holder I purchased on a trip to Prague.Where do you buy your costume jewelry?

For a peek at some of my collection, click here.

"It is health that is real wealth
and not pieces of gold and silver."
- Mahatma Gandhi

March 21, 2011

Two Minute, No Glue, Cheap Spring Wreath


Two minutes.

No glue necessary.

Under $10.

I have had this twig wreath on hand for years. Michaels had these garlands on sale for $3.99. I purchased two.All I did was wrap the two garlands around the wreath tucking in their ends and . . .

VIOLA! Spring Wreath!I love the lazy, easy, freeform nature of the wreath.

"Spring shows what God can do
with a drab and dirty world."
- Virgil A. Kraft

March 18, 2011

St. Joseph's Day Memories

March 19 is St. Joseph's Day and very popular with Catholics and Italians.

It is a very special day in my home because my brother and father have the name.

Every year, we would get together and eat St. Joseph's cakes. They look like this.

I remember last year's St. Joseph's Day very clearly.

I never thought it would be my last with my brother as he passed away last April.

This year, dad and I are going to a St. Joseph's Day mass and then we will head to the cemetery. I know I will cry.

Afterwards, we will eat St. Joseph's cakes with thoughts of my brother running through our hearts.

St. Joseph, please pray for us.
image 1 source

image 2 source

March 17, 2011

Fifth Avenue Bling - Van Cleef, Bvlgari, Harry Winston

I love to walk up Fifth Avenue and take a peek at all of the bling bling in the windows.

Here are some from a recent visit.

Van Cleef & Arpels in the Bergdorf Goodman windows.This next photo I believe is from Harry Winston.Next is a store that holds a very, very special place in my heart - Bvlgari. Why? I used to work here.Bvlgari is pronounced Bull-gah-ree not Bulgaria like the country or Bull-garr-ee.

A few weeks ago, on an episode of Desperate Housewives, Vanessa Williams mispronounced the name and I wanted to break my television.

The "v" which replaces the "u" in Bvlgari is a nod to the company's origins which are in Greece, not Italy. They are today headquartered in Rome.

I love Bvlgari's rich family history and the incredible artisans who make their jewelry and other items. It is amazing to see the hard work that goes into these pieces.

And folks, the sample sales were to-die-for!One day while at work, I was passing the vault and the gentlemen who worked in it called me over and instructed me to close my eyes. I did and what I saw when I opened them nearly knocked me over!

They had placed a 75-carat canary yellow diamond ring on my finger! It was worth over $1 million and it fit! It looked something like this but not exactly.Ahhh . . . I get all goose-bumpy just thinking about it.

If you are ever in Manhattan, definitely take a stroll along Fifth Avenue from 57th on down and admire these gorgeous creations.

Do I hear Lotto anyone?!

"I never worry about diets.
The only carats that interest me
are the number of carats in a diamond."
- Mae West


"This diamond has so many carats,
it's almost a turnip."
- Richard Burton

last image credit

March 16, 2011

Olives, Anchovies, and Capers by Georgeanne Brennan Cookbook Review

While wasting time looking through Amazon one day, I spotted Olives, Anchovies and Capers, by Georgeanne Brennan in their bargain book section.

I had to purchase it as olives and capers are two of my favorite things.

The subtitle of the book is "the secret ingredients of the Mediterranean table."

Greece. Italy. Here I come!
I do eat anchovies too. Don't be scared of using them. When you cook with anchovies, they break down and are almost undetectable but you kinda know they are there because they enhance the dish.

Luscious photos and delicious recipes, this cookbook begins with a detailed explanation of each of the three ingredients.

There were many recipes I wanted to cook for this week's Cookbook Challenge but I settled on Penne Salad with Three Herbs, Capers, and Tuna.Here are the ingredients I used.Adjustments that I made to the recipe are as follows:

* Doubled the recipe.
* Eliminated cilantro and basil as all I had was fresh parsley.
* Added olives. After all, that is what the book is about.
* Didn't use all the salt since the capers and olives are salty enough.
* Grated some fresh pecorino romano on top.
* Ate it right away instead of waiting.This dish was so delicious!I will most definitely make it again. It would be great for Fridays during Lent or as a summer salad.

Do you use olives, anchovies and capers in your meal repertoire?

"There is no sight on earth more appealing
than the sight of a woman making dinner
for someone she loves."
- Thomas Wolfe

March 15, 2011

Abercrombie & Fitch - Fifth Avenue Store

Would you wait in line for this store?Hell no!

I am always amazed when I pass this Abercrombie & Fitch store on Fifth Avenue.

Firstly, the scent practically knocks you over as you pass.

Then, you see the huge line that wraps totally around the block.

You would think George Clooney was inside!

But no. Just a bunch of clothes.

Why do tourists do this?

I stood on a fairly long line to see Michelangelo's David in Florence.

But Abercrombie & Fitch?

You will never catch a native New Yorker waiting on this line.

"Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite.
Or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting perhaps for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil or a better break
or a string of pearls or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls or another chance.
Everyone is just waiting."
- Dr. Seuss

March 14, 2011

I am ADDICTED to LIP GLOSS - MAC, Sephora, Revlon, Smashbox - You Name It!

Is there a 12-step group for this addiction?

If so, sign me up for a charter membership!

Now, one would think that this Single Nester needs so much lip gloss because it is constantly getting kissed off my lips. But, no such luck!

It is just that I am addicted to love lip gloss.

Here is the stash.I used two of these organizers to corral them.Here are my lip glosses with the names provided for my favorites.

And here they are. All secure and happy and ready to gloss up my lips.So which church basement are we meeting so I can get over this addiction?

What's your go-to lip gloss?

Who would have thought that there is a video about lip gloss love! Enjoy!

"Taking joy in living
is a woman's best cosmetic."
- Rosalind Russell
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