Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking forward

This is my last blog entry of this year.

In the past I have always struggled with the end of each year, never appreciating the things that I had done but only looking at the things I had not finished or had never started.
Well, when I look back at 2012, a lot has happened.  Last February we moved across the country and started new lives in Michigan. My husband started a new job. We almost lost one of our friends. We made new friends. We visited lots of new places and, we lost our best friend. Loosing Pico was the hardest thing of all.

So, we did a lot of living last year and we made it through some tough times. I learned more about myself in one year than I think I have in the last 40 something.

My resolution for 2013 is to continue to move through this thing we call life and make as many good memories as possible, to keep looking forward to the future and never regretting the past.

Happy New Year

I hope 2013 is the best one yet.

See you next year!

Pico 1997-2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter gloom and food

Living in Arizona for a large chunk of my life, I have apparently taken several things for granted.
The first and most obvious is the sun.  I never realized until now that I could actually miss the sun and the heat. For the last couple weeks, the skys in Michigan have been grey. Sometimes the sun will peak through just long enough to taunt you and it seems to be mocking my sunglass collection that is in hibernation right now.
Today it finally snowed, as if the sky has been working on a stomach ache for weeks, and finally just purged. The weather channel said we should get less than an inch on our side of this state, which kinda bums me out. I would like it to really snow hard and stay until the winter is over. I don't really like surprises, this way, it puts it all out there right now.


Pretty holiday decorations

See how grey the sky is?

The second thing I have taken for granted is Ethnic food. This week I have been craving mexican food. All I can think of is eating a chorizo, egg and potato breakfast burrito. Damn, I miss those. Those breakfast burritos were so good and not good for you, that I reserved eating them to twice a year, when I went to Yuma, AZ to visit good friends, and when I was in Tucson at the Bead Show, again with good friends. So, not only do I crave the taste, but also the friendships that surrounded me while enjoying those greasy things. 

This week, I thought about things that would make this gloomy weather easier, and the first thing that popped into my head was to cook! Since I really wanted something to warm me up, I thought of Mexican food. Well, where does one shop for Mexican groceries in Ann Arbor??? I did end up finding 2 small Mexican grocery stores, with an emphasis on small, but I found what I needed and made Red Chili Colorado with beef and pork chorizo. The red chili sauce was so rich and spicy, it really hit the spot. But, the chorizo has to sit for another 12 hours before I can enjoy it......
4 heads of garlic made into puree, yes, heads.

Chili before

Chili after!

Chorizo resting before it's big day tomorrow- when I finally get to enjoy my BREAKFAST BURRITO!!!!

I am so looking forward to my huge breakfast burrito tomorrow, I only wish my friends were with me to enjoy their company too. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Finally...the cookies

I finally had some time to bake the cookies. I made 2 flavors of Biscotti from this fabulous cook book:

Hazelnut and Chocolate Biscotti

Almond and Orange Biscotti

 This year I also made something different. I am not a fan of fruit cakes, but I have always loved candied fruits. I guess I could blame it on the German or the Italian in me, so I tried Ina Garten's Fruit Cake Cookie recipe  Oh yum!!! They are shortbread cookies with dired and candied fruits that have been soaked in Sherry.  Did I mention they were yummy?
Here is a link to the recipe:

Happy baking!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like....Cookies

Here in Michigan, it's beginning to look a lot like winter, at least like winter that I am used to. There is frost on everything and it is cold, but no real snow yet. Other parts of the state have gotten snow that has stuck, but not the Southeast side. Yesterday, as I sat making new jewelry for the trunk show this weekend, there were large, soft, gorgeous snow flakes just blowing around outside. I felt like I was inside of a snow globe.

This year I decided to break out the apron and bake some cookies and other treats. As I went through my recipe box, I came across recipes from my childhood. Grandma Zimbaro made lots of cookies, but my favorite were her Church Window Cookies and the press cookies. They were not really cookies, but a chewy, chocolatey treat. They are basically colored mini marshmallows held together with melted chocolate chips rolled into a log and sliced to look like stained glass windows. The press cookies are a basic butter cookie shaped with a cookie press much like a calking gun. They were in the shape of trees, wreaths, and stars.
Grandma Kern made lots of candy. My favorites were Peanut Butter Bon Bons and Chocolate Covered Cherries. I have made these in the past, and they are not easy to make.
My mom carried on some of these traditions and added Sugar Cookies, Fudge, Biscotti, Zucchini Bread and Cranberry Orange Bread.

Reading these recipes not only made me hungry, but really home sick. This year we will be spending the holidays without our family, so I think making some of the family recipes will help.

I will take some photos, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My new city love

Some of you already know this, but for those of you who do not, I LOVE the city. Any city. San Francisco, New York, D.C., Phoenix....

I spent my childhood in both a city and the country. Living in Arizona as an adult, I felt I could have the best of both worlds. Phoenix is a large city, but is more sprawled out than San Fran or NYC, the downtown has been growing over the last couple of years and there are fabulous restaurants, coffee shops and bars. If you wanted something smaller, all you had to do was drive 1-2 hours away and you were in a small town or hiking in the pine trees or in Tucson in the low desert. Arizona really has a lot to offer, but it also has its politics....

Then there was living in the Bay Area, going to SF and feeling the energy of the big city, the people, the high rise buildings, the ocean, the bussle. Man I miss that. And yes there is the traffic, the garbage....

When we lived in AZ, we vacationed in SF every year, and even though it was another state away, I always felt it was just next door.

Moving to Michigan, I am saddened by the thought of SF being so far away. We have visited NYC and D.C. and absolutely loved it. I have taken comfort in the fact that they are very close, but sadly not next door.
I have been to Detroit a few times, and love it there. I have to spend more time there finding places to see and explore. Detroit is different though. It is hopefully in its recovery process, and will continue to get better. Only time will tell.

Sadly, we did not make it to San Francisco this year, but I have found my city love again!

Meet my new neighbor: CHICAGO!

And I look forward to many more visits to Chi Town..... I won't forget you SF, I will see you next year.

Just be

In my last post I wrote about change and how difficult it can be, this week I continue my quest for Zen.

One of my struggles with staying home is that I get distracted. This is something I have always struggled with. I think focus and follow through, like common sense, are something you are either born with or not. I have only been graced with common sense. Believe me, I am definitely not complaining, just calling it out so it has less power over me.

So, since my life needs some structure, I have created a schedule for myself. I have to report to "work" by a certain time and continue to work as if I was working for someone else. I have a job description, a lunch break and a set hourly schedule.
This means that I will be posting in my blog on a more regular schedule, making more beads and jewelry, updating my Etsy site, and working on a website.

And now for your moment of Zen.

I look forward to seeing what happens. Peace.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Every time I turn around, something in my life is changing. A big move away from friends and family, loss of a beloved pet..... Change is starting to be the normal around here. So, in keeping with the change spirit, I am back to looking for a "day job".  I have been having the hardest time finding something in my field, so now must be the time to try something new. 
In the mean while, I will continue to do things I know and love, making beads and jewelry.
Here are some of the pieces that sold at the last show in AZ.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Fall forward

Its been fall here for some time now. Almost all of the leaves have either turned or have fallen off. There are signs of the season changing everywhere. The entire state is blanketed in dead leaves, which are quite messy!

Squirrels love to eat pumpkins

Saying goodbye

Two weeks we said goodbye to the best friend we have ever had. Pico shared his life with us for almost 15 years, and as he took his last couple breaths, my heart broke.
Pico was living with multi organ failure for the last few months. We did everything we could for him and in the end made the decision to help him pass over the rainbow bridge. This was the hardest decision we have ever had to make but we know that it was made with love and gratitude for him.
He brought so much love and laughter into our lives. Every day was made special with him around. He would always greet you at the door like you had just returned from a long trip, he was so happy to see people. Everyone who knew him, fell in love with him.

Pico 1997-2012

Pico will live on forever in our minds and hearts.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Arizona visit

So, for my mom's birthday she flew me to Arizona and it was the first time I had been back in 8 months.
The first thing we did when I got off the plane was go shopping(my nephews were in school until after lunch)! I am not one that can shop for clothes online unless I try them on first, and I have had a hard time shopping in Michigan. The malls and department stores are smaller and the selection is different here. So, I got shoes, pants and a couple purses on my first day back.
Then I ran to see my nephews and family, something that I had been looking forward to for 8 months (since I left). I miss them terribly, and my nephews are growing so fast, its been really difficult for me to be away from them.
And of course friends and food!!! It felt so good to be around my friends, we caught up like I had only been on a short vacation. It's almost like we barely missed a beat.
I realized how much I have missed the restaurants that we frequented while living in Arizona. Its not surprising that MI does not have good sushi, but it is surprising that AZ does, and boy was it good.
On Saturday Teresa Robinette of TuttiBella Designs hosted our annual trunk show at her place, and all our friends came by to visit and see our new designs. I feel so lucky to have such amazing friends!
Wendy wearing both mine and Teresa's pieces.

Gary and Tara

Jen and Francesca 

The host and one of my dearest friends, Teresa

More dear friends: Carol, Anita and Gail. Some of the best bead friends one could ask for. This was taken after a fantastic night of awesome food, drinks and conversation. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Green tomatoes and the end of summer

It's hard to believe that it has been almost a month since my last post. I have been very busy with life and friends.

My last post was all about the tomato crop that we had this summer, well, fall is here and it has dropped below 30degrees F a few times and we still had about 30 pounds of green tomatoes on the vine that I did not want to throw away, so I searched far and wide for ideas and asked friends for green tomato recipes.  Here is what I came up with.

Thats a huge bowl of chopped tomatoes. 

I chopped 5 pounds of green tomatoes, 6 onions, 3 red bell peppers, 1 head of garlic, jalapeƱos, and cilantro, cooked them down and make salsa.

Here is the caned salsa.

And there was another 20 pounds of tomatoes left, so I pickled them.

Spicy dill cherry tomatoes.

And bread and butter tomatoes.

And still I had more tomatoes....... So the remaining green tomatoes are in the cool basement where they are slowly ripening. It was sad to see the tomato plants go, as it is a reminder that the winter months are upon us, but that means we can eat winter squash and pumpkin pie!
Good bye summer, see you next year.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Living in Arizona, the changing seasons were less obvious. It was pretty much hot and not so hot. Living in Michigan, I have become aware of the weather, trees and plants changing to get ready for the next season.
Right now the weather is brisk, you could be wearing long pants and a sweater, but I refuse, knowing that winter is right around the corner. The squirrels are gathering food and burying it for the winter.
Our tomato plants are still producing tomatoes, but I am not sure if they will ripen in time.
I have been so impressed by the growing season here, and I wanted to share a couple pics of our tomato bounty.

Cherry tomatoes
Homemade tomato sauce

We are so lucky to have a great farmer's market right downtown. Since we are renting right now, we cannot have a huge garden, only potted plants right now, and the market is a great place to get fresh, local and organic veggies throughout the summer.

Amish grown heirloom tomatoes with locally made mozzarella and basil from our garden. Yum!