“All The World’s a Stage”

All the World's a Stage

Apple and Kiwi plate “staged” with a beautiful orange orchid and ceramic decorative element…makes it appear so much prettier!

I know it’s not necessary BUT…you have to admit, food does taste better when it’s presented well!  I just received a wonderful compliment from my daughter Lauren.  She called to tell me how much fun she had preparing breakfast for her roommates and “staging” their food on pretty plates with a beautiful fruit medley to compliment the meal( Much like I did when she was growing up for her and her friends!)  I was so proud.    It’s great to see our children grow and carry on special traditions and how as adults they can appreciate the fine art of cooking and food preparation in a whole new light.

Why not try creating your next plate with a few simple accessories like the fruit plate above?  Just add a simple flower or decorative element to the plate and take your food presentation from plain to pizzazz!

Another great yet simple trick to add sparkle to a plain pitcher of water is to add lemon or orange slices.  It not only looks pretty but gives the water a wonderful citrus flavor.  Pour into a beautiful glass and top it off with a mint sprig.

Happy Staging!

Start with cutting orange slices and add to pitcher

Start with cutting orange slices and add to pitcher

Add ice

Add ice

Pour in refreshing cold water and stir

Pour in refreshing cold water and stir

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Celebrate Inspired Living

celebrate inspired living” I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 1:2

I’m always grateful for those unexpected sweet moments .  One such moment was spending time with my friend, Angie Gallagher, at a quiet table in the Starbucks café at Target. What girl doesn’t love coffee and Target?  As we caught up and talked about body image with both the struggles and triumphs of age related changes, I came to realize how important it is to prosper in body as well as our soul and spirit prospers.

Angie and Jackie

Me and Angie

Anyone who knows Angie will tell you how  compassionate and caring she is.  As a busy wife, mother, and dietician/ nutrition expert, she still has time to encourage.  I love her “no condemnation” approach to nutrition and  this girl really knows her stuff!  She encourages growth  with a grace and gentleness that creates true lifestyle change.

As we sat there sharing our thoughts, one resonated with me the most. We don’t have to deprive ourselves just for the sake of vanity.  We can embrace the changes to our bodies and celebrate by being our best self while making small steps toward better health.   That’s not to say we can’t enjoy an indulgence once in a while.   The keys are balance, wisdom and acceptance.

Check out Angie’s website: http://www.inspirRedLiving.com for healthy recipes and nutrition advice.

For a simple healthy recipe why not try my celery and tomato salad as a side dish or snack:

Ingredients:  (3) celery stalks, 3 fresh garden tomatoes, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard.

Recipe:  Dice celery sticks and tomatoes in cubes and mix with 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tbls. balsamic vinegar, 1 tbls. Dijon Mustard.  Mix with salt, pepper and Parmesan Cheese.  ( add more balsamic or oil for taste)

A Matter of Taste

unique 2I don’t know when or where I decided to be different, but it wasn’t always this way.  I very much followed the traditional way of doing things. Somehow,  I found a way  to think out of the box and surround myself with only things I love, even when they don’t match!  Nothing in my home says “convention” but quite the opposite.  It’s a mix of old and new.  I guess I learned to blend what I learned from the past with the new.

My friend Melissa...so unique!

My friend Melissa…so unique!

I think we have a hard time thinking out of the box.  Why not take a second look? Maintain your taste yet mix it up a little.   God made so many varieties of things for us to enjoy.  How boring would it be if we all looked alike?

Recently I coordinated our Women’s Brunch and through the very mixed crowd, I caught sight of a wonderful thing… my friend, Melissa.  There she sat with her hip little outfit and cute cap…but that’s not the only thing that got my attention.  It was her cup and saucer.  There in the midst of all of our matching china, ” she sat with her very own blue antique cup and saucer, sipping away carelessly like it was all meant to be.  Melissa bravely brought her own unique sense of style to the table.  She is my hero!

unique 3

Different patterns, same colors using yellow soup bowl

This has inspired me to put together this little mix of place settings.  Each place uniquely appointed yet cohesively joined with the rest. The settings don’t compete, they don’t shout for attention, they just look pretty as they are.  Much like our lives…God has created us with a unique purpose in mind with a blend of personality styles and tastes coordinated together in  harmonious beauty.   Why not be the you God created and let it shine in your everyday style! (and your dishes don’t always have to match!)

Different patterns and colors using red soup bowl

Different patterns, same color family while using red soup bowl

My Go To Three Bean Soup

3 bean soup 2

This 3 bean soup recipe has been my go to favorite for years …not only is it easy but is also delicious and filling. You will want to make a tasty soup base with garlic and herbs being the staples here.  I love this recipe so much I can eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner!  Enjoy…

To add a little everyday gourmet to this soup:

  • Top with gorgonzola cheese
  • Add a little red pepper flakes
  • Crush some fresh basil and sprinkle over the top of the cheese
  • Substitute Almond Milk for water
  • 3 bean soup

Be sure to add lots of salt, pepper and garlic for flavor.  Of course you can use any beans you like, but my favorites are cannellini, chick peas, and kidney beans.   You can also substitute canned beans for fresh if it’s easier.  For this recipe today, I threw in some carrot and onion as well.

INGREDIENTS:

*2 Tbls. Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, 2 cloves garlic, 2 large fresh salad tomatoes, fresh basil and thyme, 1 can of canned whole tomatoes, 1 cup (or 1 can) cannellini, kidney beans and chick peas, 1 cup of water.

RECIPE:

In a medium saucepan sauté garlic, salad tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper in olive oil until soft.  Turn burner to low and let settle (seal in flavor) for a few minutes.  Add whole tomatoes, beans and water to the base and cook on medium until boiling.  Once soup boils, turn to low and let simmer for about 30 minutes.

Take a nice hot fresh loaf of French bread and cut into wedges for toasting and dunking!

Oh the Comfort of Pasta Fagioli

pasta fagioliLast night as the rain came down and I was enveloped in the comforting sound of falling water, I went to my second favorite room in the house; my dining room.  As I sat alone with a great cup of coffee, and the latest issue of Southern Lady Magazine, a warmth began to stir in my heart.  It’s during these times I like to be quiet and take in the sounds, flavors, and beauty of the moment.

I can liken it to childhood memories when a warm bowl of soup or eating my favorite dessert was both comforting and soothing.   Come to think of it,  everyone has their staple comfort foods and memories of them.  For me it is Pasta Fagioli!  This recipe has been handed down from generation to generation in my family and in my opinion is the most uncomplicated dish to make.

From the rich tomato sauce and savory garlic to the special herbs and cannellini beans, everything about this dish says delicious.  When making Pasta Fagioli it’s always best to prepare a great foundation, and garlic and olive oil are the staples here.   And lots of cheese!  To give a little spark to this everyday living recipe you can add fresh basil leaves and hot red pepper flakes for more flavor.  Our family always made this dish very basic.  But if you like, carrots  and kidney beans are a nice addition.

Enjoy the recipe and send let me know what some of your favorite comfort foods are and why!!

Ingredients:  2 cans of tomato sauce, 1 cup of water, 2 cans of cannellini beans, 2 garlic cloves, bunch of fresh basil, olive oil, 1lb. of Ditalini macaroni, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, ramano cheese

  • On medium heat, sauté garlic, salt , pepper and fresh basil in olive oil.
  • When everything is soft, add your tomato sauce and let cook until it boils.
  • boiling pasta fagioliAdd one cup of water to the tomato sauce.  In the meantime, get your pasta going on another burner and cook until soft.
  • Add beans to the tomato sauce and water and let cook for another 30 minutes.
  • This dish tastes best when seasoned well with garlic, salt and pepper so be sure not to spare. I always like to top it off with another teaspoon of olive oil before taking it off of the burner.

When sauce is finished pour over a cup of ditalini and boiling water pasta fagioliseason with the rest of the fresh basil, Romano cheese  and hot pepper flakes.  Soothing and delicious!

Paint it for Panache

black deskI

I was talking with my friend Sherry today and where thinking that we need a change.   We get tired of our same old wardrobe, home furnishings, and jewelry.  You know, the boredom that sets in from the same old same old.    That piece you’ve been staring at for months that needs recovering or that old piece of furniture you thought was so cool when you saw it on the side of the road, but is now sitting in the garage.  Change it!  Not everyone has the budget to buy new, so you would be amazed at how a fresh coat of paint or a new piece of fabric can add a little panache to something tired and bored.  AND that goes for your wardrobe too.  If you can’t afford to replace it, try buying a few new jewelry pieces to refresh the look.

I know a cool young couple who have a great sense of style and flair, but refuse to spend a lot for it.  They are masters at taking “challenged” pieces and restyling them into works of art.  They are not artists by trade, but do possess a sense of creativity and adventure.

When the weather cools, I move my “tired” pieces into the garage for a little transformation!  This chair was restyled recently with a new piece of fabric my mom had sitting  in her closet.    It had a huge red nail polish drip on the cushion I kept trying to hide it with a pillow.  Thank goodness that’s over.desk chair

This chair was bought for $15.00 at a thrift store.  Three coats of off white spray paint, new upholstery and you have this fantastic leopard print accent chair.  My favorite chair!leopard chair

The server you see here was actually a plain old piece of pine we bought 16 years ago…a little green paint, red/brown details, and new hardware give it a completely different look.  It sits in my foyer but would also look great in a kitchen.server

This cute little black “desk” was mine when I was a teen. It’s traveled with me everywhere I’ve gone and has been painted over many times.  It is now a server that holds my coffee cups and candy in my office… a little black paint and new hardware and it surely looks elegant.black desk

There’s No Place Like Home

homeThere are days I wish I could click my heels and go home.  My home was my sanctuary and we loved every nook and cranny of it.  We didn’t love it  because it was spacious or large, but mostly because it was” us.”  A sanctuary of peace, beauty and rest.   It’s the place my daughter grew up and our best doggie friend grew old.  Much ministry happened around our table and it’s where family gathered.  On a fall night we would open the windows as a cool breeze would envelop every room and the fireplace had a warm glow.  Dinner would be cooking, our daughter playing and my husband walking through the door with a smile on his face.  These were my most favorite experiences.2010 tea and home 007

There were many places in my home to burrow with a cup of coffee or tea.  We had a beautiful staircase where I would sit with my coffee and reflect.  I would feel so content just letting the quiet and beauty warm me. What I’ll keep close is how the house spoke of dreams cherished and plans unfolding.    I remember the last thing I did before we left our home for good.  I sat on that same staircase and cried.  “Will I remember” , I thought?  Of course I do…the memory is very vivid as if I’m there today because I carry it with me in my heart and will always remember my home.

Everything we love and cherish is connected to a memory.  It’s the untold stories and vivid pictures we create in our homes that follow us wherever we go.  Much like God’s presence is always with us.  Which leads me to this sentiment, “Home is in the heart is, wherever He is and you are.”