Thursday, June 30, 2011

Road Trip

Recently I had the opportunity to head to the wilderness of upstate New York. One of my closest friends in the world (really, she's a sister to me) invited me to go along on a women's weekend. It was a retreat of sorts at the beautiful cabin she and her husband own.

Just what I needed, exactly when I needed it most. Isn't it incredible that someone else can see inside your heart and soul, understand what would benefit you the most and then just oh-so casually provide that exact experience?

Yes, I know. I am blessed.

So, there were five of us. I had the pleasure of meeting three new friends. All amazing women. All committed to making a positive impact on the world. Each a unique personality. I loved being surrounded by such smart, sensitive women.

We talked. Laughed. Shared. Discussed world issues as well as the more basic ones, like faith, family, friends. We stayed up late, ate far too much and giggled like schoolgirls. Then, we talked some more.

Some of us went to Sunday Mass at a sweet little church with gorgeous stained glass windows. I will remember that hour always.

Talking while chopping vegetables. Chatting while exploring a new-to-me town. Sharing beneath a picnic unbrella during a rainstorm while eating ice cream. Does it get any better? Not often.

There was never a moment when I didn't feel support, friendship, love and understanding swirling about us. A few times I stepped back, used my writer's objective eye, and witnessed the group dynamic.

Honestly, women rock! I returned home with my soul singing, a full heart and more peace than I've had in many months.

Thank you, Penny. Thank you Michele, Colleen and Jen. You helped create a memory that will sustain me. Your kindness will carry me many times, through the rough patches I know are still ahead of me.

When I'm feeling battered, I will recall the cabin retreat experience. I will put it out of my internal file, dust it off and let our laughter surround me. I will remember that we had fun, and although I feel like a completely different woman than the one I knew even one year ago, I am still me. I know how to smile, share and listen. I am still me. You four reminded me of that very important fact.

As I said, women rock. Especially the four of you!

Oh! Did I mention that Penny and I had our picture taken with a bear? That's right. We did! How cool is that?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Old-Fashioned Lemonade

Before I forget, I've added some new items to my Etsy shop, Sew Cherry Pie. I hope you'll take a peek! Thank you!

Just a fast, simple, yummy recipe this morning. I've got a garden to tend, so please excuse me if I dash. Hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

Old-fashioned Lemonade

1/2 cup to 1 cup sugar
cold water

Use one cup water for each lemon. We usually make five cups at a time, just because that's the number of cups our glass pitcher holds.

Roll the lemons on the countertop, then cut and squeeze the juice out. Combine everything and let chill. Serve over ice.

Hint: A dash of vodka in this, especially after a long, hot day of gardening, works really well!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Just a fast check in to say hi and let you know I'm still here. I've been busy, busy, many things to take care of here on the farm during the summer months, my head is spinning. It's good that I've running flat out; keeping busy has definite advantages. Also, the farm looks fab!

Dru asked how big the roll-up blanket is. I'm sorry, but don't know! I haven't measured it, and right now it's tucked into the back seat of the car so it's not nearby to measure. I made it long enough that I can sit on it with my legs stretched out in front of me. I love the convenience of it, and have been dragging it everywhere with me.

Oh, so to divulge the mystery content in the cake post. The liquid I added to the box of cake mix was--drum roll, please!--diet cherry Dr. Pepper. No fooling, that's what it was. And it was the only thing I added. Twelve ounces of diet cherry Dr. Pepper, one cake mix, a good stir and yum! Fast, simple and tasty.

Thanks, Mom, for sharing the recipe with me.

Not much new here. Weeding, mowing, writing, swing, baking. All the usual stuff, keeping me busy.

I hope you have a peaceful day!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

This and That

My sewing machine's getting a workout this week. So many things to create...

I don't know about you, but I like a little blanket to take to the park. That way, when I sit and read I don't have to worry some creepy-crawly will creep (or crawl!) up my shorts.

And since I'm not big into schlepping something huge with me, I devised a small, travel-friendly blanket.

On the surface, it looks pretty ordinary. Just another quilty little bunch of fabric squares.

But when it's folded in half, something altogether different happens.

Rolled and tied like a sleeping bag, the blanket becomes very portable.

Especially when it's tucked into its own matching bag!

I've already tested this out and it works just great. So happy with the results!

A new girly bag for the Etsy shop.

And a kitty tote for the Etsy shop, as well.

Now, to have time to list some new creations in Sew Cherry Pie. Maybe Monday. Or Tuesday. Or...

What about you? What has been keeping you busy?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mystery Ingredient

Too easy for words, this recipe. My mom clued me in and when I gave it a try I was blown away. Not only is it the easiest recipe ever, it tastes yummy, too.

Want to guess what's in the measuring cup? It's the only thing I added to the cake mix.

Still guessing? Hmm?

Some chocolate icing and this cake's a winner!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Larking It

Happy Friday! I hope you're having a peaceful week. Today I'm over at the Lark Journals. I hope you'll stop in and say hello.

Have a great day!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


This isn't the year for me to attend the RWA conference, even if it is close to home. I would love to be there, but really, this just isn't the right time.

I am, however, contemplating next year. Anaheim, California. Never been there. Who knows? Maybe it's something to plan for. Work toward. Establish as a goal. I like the idea.

I know it'd be so good for me to get to chat with other writers face to face. To learn at the workshops. To grow through networking. I'm not a great schmoozer, though. Honestly, my sweet husband was the bright star here. He had personality plus. Me? Just an ordinary woman doing ordinary things.

Still...I think I'd like to attend the RWA conference next year.

Yes, I would. I really would.

Okay, there's one goal to move toward.

What about you? Any goals you're making a conscious effort to achieve?

Me? Anaheim. Oh, yeah, and exercising about five pounds off my backside. That's on the agenda, too!

So, first, the backside. Then, "California, here I come!"

Hope you have a peaceful day! Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I'm going to come clean with you. The kitchen is still a trial for me. This cooking for one? It stinks. Really, I can't stand cooking just for me. And I'm finally getting tired of eating Amy's frozen dinners.

So, last night after yet another dinner of cold cereal, I decided to half cook. Half cook, is that a real kitchen-y term? Whatever. I figured that if I baked something halfway decent that I could grab and eat, maybe with a cup of chai or glass of milk, it had to beat cold cereal. Sounds logical, doesn't it? Alright, maybe it sounds half logical.

Still, it's progress.

The recipe I chose is one I've been making for years. My sweet man loved these muffins, and so do I. In fact, I doubled the batch last night so I'll have half meals for a week or so.

Fast, simple and yummy. It doesn't get much better than that! I hope you enjoy these, my half cook recipe for the week.

Applesauce Muffins

2 cups biscuit mix
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 t. cinnamon
3/4 cup applesauce
3 T. milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 T. vegetable oil
2 T. melted butter
½ t. cinnamon
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Lightly grease muffins tins.

In a large bowl mix together biscuit mix ,
1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1 t. cinnamon.
Add applesauce, milk, egg and oil and mix well.

Pour batter into greased tins.
Place in a pre-heated 400-degree oven
and bake for 12-15 minutes.
Cool to room temperature.

In a small bowl, stir together remaining cinnamon and sugar.
Dip the top of each muffin into the melted butter
then into the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Makes a dozen muffins.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gardening, Anyone?

Thank you for your kindness and support. I was lifted yesterday when I read your comments, and I appreciate the lovely emails as well. You've warmed my heart when I really needed it. Thanks!

Just a few days after my husband's funeral, one of his aunts told me that I'd hear things from well-meaning family and friends that would upset me. Her advice? Whenever someone says something that pushes me near the edge, just turn my back and close my ears! Smart lady. I should have remembered that when the "move on" moments came. Now you can bet I won't forget the advice again!

Anyhow, it was sultry here yesterday so the gardens needed watering in the evening. I love watering, so I took my time strolling through the garden areas. So many things are growing! There are small green tomatoes and peppers. Vines are vining, squash and melons are growing wide leaves and the carrot tops look so feathery. There are flowers on some of the potatoes and the eggplants look sturdy. Oh, I love gardening!

My one gardening flop this year--so far, that is!--isn't in the veggie gardens but in the front flower bed. I planted orange cosmos. I'd grown them from seed in the greenhouse and they were about twelve inches tall when I planted them out. Well, they apparently enticed a bunny to dinner. Ahh! They may recover but I doubt it. On the one hand, I'm happy Mr. Rabbit isn't devouring the vegetables. On the other hand, I'm sad to see the cosmos so munched up.

I know Vito's laughing in heaven. He's got to be amused that life here is somewhat "normal" and that I'm dealing with the wildlife! He'd always plant "extra" for the bunnies, so really, I can hear him chuckling over the Cosmo Buffet.

What about you? Are you gardening? How're thing growing in your backyard?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Weekend Update

Relaxing weekend here. Lots of time in the yard. Pulling weeds, raking grass and mowing up a storm. Trimming around trees that seem suddenly huge. Really, leave your house for a season and see just how much everything grows. It's amazing!

Did some sewing for my little Etsy shop. Will post the new items soon. Maybe tomorrow, even. I've got more ideas for a few new things swirling through my mind. Time to get them from mind to reality, that's the issue! Soon...

Saddened by the news that Clarence Clemons, the gifted sax player for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, passed away. Such a loss.

I baked cookies Saturday night. I don't know about you, but when I bake something I expect it to taste good. Really good. These cookies? Cosi cosi. For those who don't understand Italian slang, they were so-so. Me? I'm not crazy about so-so baked goods. I'll try the recipe again but I'm definitely going to jazz it up. I used Nutella for the hazelnut taste but I'm considering using actual hazelnuts as well. I'll let you know how it goes.

So, my weekend.

One question. Just one. Does this weekend sound like it belongs to a person who's stuck? I ask because, honestly, if one more person tells me it's time to "move on" I'm going to scream. Really. I'll scream. Then, who knows? I just might smack someone because really, this is as "moving on" as I'm going to get for now. Maybe for a long while.

Anyhow, moving on...

How was your weekend? What did you do? Whatever it was, I hope you had a peaceful few days!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

No Words

Most of us have had this experience: There are no words to adequately convey the emotion you're feeling. There isn't anything you can do or say that will tell the tale of your grateful heart.

That's what's happened to me. I have gratitude that can never be fully expressed. It just can't. I know no "thank you" will begin to cover how I really feel.

I will be forever grateful to an amazing group of people I've recently come to know. They are incredible, going above and beyond to soothe, support and encourage. They are rock solid at a time when the whole world trembles beneath my feet.

I applaud them, and always will. Their compassion and kindness knows no bounds.

Krista, Karl, Mike, Danielle and Sue, thank you. I know it's not nearly enough but it's said with love. You will all remain in my thoughts and prayers always. You held me up when I would have stumbled. You walked beside me on a final journey that broke my heart. You never faltered, never let me down and soothed my soul when it was shattered.

My gratitude? Like love, it is eternal.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Butterfly Dreaming

Wishing you a peaceful day.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant, filled with odd waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don't always like. ~Lemony Snicket

Maybe I have a warped sense of humor but that amused me.

Anyhow, last night I finished up some sewing. It's summertime--almost--so it seems appropriate to whip up some summer girl clothes. No, I'm not going to divulge who the recipients of these garments are, but I will say that I hope they like what I've made. It's so hard with kids, sometimes, to know what will appeal.

A pink seersucker blouse. I love the fabric!

And a summery, garden-y (is that a word?) play dress that's hopefully going to be as much fun to wear as it was to make.

So there you have it. That's how I've been spending my hours. What about you? What's keeping you occupied? I'd love to know...I'm open for suggestions!

Hope you have a peaceful day.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sunday Baking

Yesterday was on-and-off rainy, chilly and damp. Too wet to do much outdoors but a long-ish kind of day, if you know what I mean. I never had a problem with having too many hours to fill but the times have changed and some days seem made with extra hours. Sunday is especially crummy.


Not one to sit around and have a pity party, I decided to find something to do. Since I couldn't go outside and play (not without galoshes and a raincoat!) I did the next best thing. That's right, I got out my mixing bowls and raided the pantry. Baking has a soothing rhythm to it, I think. And it's one of those activities that has a solid beginning, middle and end.

Oh, the end... Let's just say I skipped dinner last night. Why? Well, let me share the recipe with you. If you give it a go, you'll understand why I was too stuffed for real food on a Sunday evening!


3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup dark molasses
3 cups sifted flour
1/4 t. salt
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. cloves
1 t. ginger
1 t. cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and molasses and beat well.

Sift together remaining ingredients, then combine with the butter mixture. Chill at least 30 minutes.

Form dough into small balls. Roll balls in granulated sugar and place on greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Have you noticed that there are people who know just how to spur you on to do all you can do, be all you can be and satisfy some of the yearnings of your heart? In short, have you seen how certain people can nudge you in a direction so subtly that you hardly realize you're being nudged?

Thank goodness for folks like that!

Me? My fabulous brother-in-law phoned last night.

Today? Getting back to work on my wip.

That's right. I've been nudged.

Hope you have a peaceful Sunday!

Friday, June 10, 2011

One of those days

We've all had 'em. A day filled with trials, a day when every time you turn around something is going wrong, a day where...well, it's just one of those days.

Today? You guessed it.

I hope you'll excuse me but I'm off to shower and climb into my pjs early. Then, some ice cream. A big bowl. Real big.

I hope your day has been better than mine. Really, I do.

And before I forget--I added a couple of new items to my Etsy shop. I hope you'll take a peek!

Wishing you a peaceful evening.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Thoughts and Prayers, Please

Someone we love very much is very ill. He's fighting for his life and while I won't violate the family's privacy by divulging too much information, I have to ask that if you would, please take a moment and send a good, healing thought or heartfelt prayer across the miles. We know a lion-hearted man who needs our well-wishes and prayers right now.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.


A couple of days ago a doctor asked if I drink alcohol. Honestly, I told her I was attempting to cultivate the habit--on a small scale, of course. She agreed that a glass of something fun now and again wouldn't hurt me a bit and might just do me some good.

So yesterday, when the temps soared and I sizzled, I decided to dig out an old recipe, drag the blender from the pantry and give the idea a whirl. Literally!

Got sweat? Why not have a splash of pineapple slush? It cooled me off. I just might do the trick for you, too.


Pineapple Slush

1 cup pineapple chunks, with juice
1 can frozen orange juice concentrate
1 cup rum
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a blender. That's it! Rum amount can be adjusted according to personal preference...a little more or less isn't going to change the consistency of the drink!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011


Let me be perfectly frank with you. I've got a lot of long, lonely hours to fill now. Life has changed drastically here at Casa Leone, so I'm learning how to adapt.

I decided a new hobby might help. So, I've begun doing something I've always had a hankering to do. It's fiddly work. But it's fun. And the hours? They fly by!

All good.

My new obsession, uh, hobby? Hexagon piecing. I plan to make something lovely with these little paper pieced flowers. A quilt, maybe. Or perhaps a smaller project, like a pillow or table runner, to begin with.

The first pile of hexagon makings looks so tidy, doesn't it? I've got a feeling that's a short-term condition. I can see these hexies invading the place!

Uncomplicated and undemanding. An ideal diversion.

The first complete flower.

So sweet!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


Isn't strawberry jam such a gorgeous color? An added bonus is the heavenly scent in the kitchen from mashing, boiling and canning all those lovely berries. Just all so yummy!

No berry business today. But tomorrow? Who knows!

What about you? Any plans for today?

Monday, June 06, 2011


Let's see if you can guess what I'll be doing this morning.

Canning jars and bands? Sterilized. Sugar? Huge bag waiting to be opened. Enormous pot for water bath? Ready and waiting. Large cauldron, ah, pot for mixing and stirring? Already on the stove.

Kitchen table? Covered with containers of strawberries. Give me a couple of hours and they'll be toast, uh, jam.

Better find a cup of joe before I begin the jam. If I don't I could end up with a very interesting mix!

What's on the agenda for your day?

Friday, June 03, 2011


Today I'm feeling my age. No, actually, I'm feeling twice my age!

Yesterday Vito's godson, Patrick, came to the farm to lend a hand. He's home from college and knows I've got my plate real full keeping up with all chores here. So, God bless him, Pat rolled up his sleeves and literally pitched right in to help. We had a wonderful day. My heart is so full right now I can't even begin to tell you how good I feel after spending time with Pat.

My heart is full. My muscles? Oh boy, that's another story! Vito's godson is twenty one and solidly muscled. I worked right alongside him all day and while I'm sure Pat is feeling fine today I'm moving very, very slowly.

We got so much done! Weeding, trimming, mulching, rearranging things in one of the barns. More importantly was the talking, sharing, remembering, looking forward. All good.

And the strawberry cobbler was a hit! Woo hoo!

So today will be more low-key. My fingers and wrists hurt, even, so really, I'm going to take it easy. Maybe I'll head to Dunkin Donuts, buy a chai and choose a free donut. That's right, it's Donut Day, so if you've got a hankering for donuts find yourself a Dunkin Donuts and indulge. Who knows? Maybe I'll see you there!

Hope you have a peaceful day.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Blue Plate Special

On the menu today...

Strawberry Cobbler

4 cups sliced strawberries
1 T. lemon juice
1 cup granulated sugar
1 T. cornstarch
2 cups biscuit mix
3 T. melted butter
½ cup milk
2 t. vanilla
½ t. cinnamon

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine strawberries, lemon juice, sugar and cornstarch. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and cook until mixture thickens. Pour hot strawberry mixture into an 8 or 9 inch square baking pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine biscuit mix, butter, milk, vanilla and cinnamon. Drop batter by spoonfuls over strawberry mixture.

Place baking pan in a preheated 400-degree oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Down and Dirty

Um... Did I get your attention? Sorry, nothing juicy or sordid here.

Just me, getting set to head out into the garden again. Hopefully I'll get most of the rest of the garden in this morning before it gets super hot out there. Yesterday I nearly melted so the plan for today is get down and dirty early. Then, a break during the hottest hours. Who knows? Maybe I'll even get some writing done!

What's on your agenda for this sweltering spring day?