26 November, 2009

Celebrating...family, friends and all things to be thankful for

Happy Thanksgiving!! Today is the day that we all reflect on the things that we are grateful for and the day we celebrate with food, food and more food. Folks plan for weeks and months all of the special dishes they will make for the gatherings they will host or attend. Me? My Thaksgiving tradition is my favorite---Gino's East pizza. I stopped by yesterday and picked it up so that as soon as the hunger hits, I can heat it up and indulge.

Here are a few pix of me. First in a rainy downtown Chicago on my way to Gino's.
Here I am on the side, ready to walk in.
Can you see the pix of the pizza? YUM!!
But before indulging, it is most appropriate to reflect on all of the things that you are thankful for. I am thankful for family and friends. I am thankful for the blessings and the lessons that God has given me. I am thankful for health, wealth and happiness. I am thankful for all of the smiles that outweigh the tears. I am thankful for the experiences and the chance to live life. I am thankful for bug spray (ewwww...spiders!). And I am thankful to you for reading and supporting my blog---my small attempt to try to help show people that there is so much to be celebrated.

As you celebrate your day of thanks, I would like to share with you something to make you smile (or even laugh). This is something that I remember seeing in my childhood and I hope that you enjoy. (Isn't it funny how cartoons can be entertaining for children and in a totally different way entertaining for adults?)







Celebrate it all!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Luv Ya!!
Pixxa

20 November, 2009

Celebrating...a really cute cupcake

In case you don't know, one of my fav blogs is Cupcakes Take the Cake. As I was catching up on their posts, I saw a pix of a really cute cupcake that I just had to share. The cupcake is from a cupcakery in New York City called Crumbs Bake Shop. And the name of the cupcake...

Love at First Bite of course!!

Not sure if it's the wax mouth or the name or a combination of the both, but this is one of the cutest things I've seen in a while. Hope it brings a smile to your face too! Now...if only I could get to NYC to get one!!!

Celebrate...things that make you smile!

Luv Ya!!

Pixxa

17 November, 2009

Celebrating...pre-Thanksgiving

This weekend, I was watching a marathon of Everyday Baking on PBS. There was a show on cupcakes, a show on cookies and more. Boy was it enjoyable to watch. It made me want to get up and bake something.

With Thanksgiving coming up, I was looking for some new items to add to the list of old favorites when they introduced an Orange Cornmeal Cake. This cake is a cross between a coffee cake and a regular cake and supposedly is good as a dessert or even as breakfast with coffee or tea. It's supposed to be light and not too sweet.

I thought this might be one of those interesting recipes to try. The recipe and photo below are from Simply Recipes. But I've noted a few differences that I remember from viewing the Everyday Baking segment.

Orange Cornmeal Cake Recipe Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. (Click this link to see a video of this cake being made)

Ingredients

1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan (*make sure it's regular olive oil not extra virgin, which is stronger)
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar, plus 1/3 cup for the topping (*Everyday baking recommended Sanding Sugar for the topping)
1/2 cup orange juice (or dry white wine)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal (make sure it's finely ground)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 large orange

Method

1 Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush the bottom and sides of an 8-inch round cake pan with oil (can use butter for this too); line the bottom of the pan with wax paper or parchment paper, and brush the top of the paper with oil.

2 In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, 1 cup of the sugar, and orange juice until smooth. Add flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and orange zest; whisk lightly to combine.

3 Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan; sprinkle the top evenly with the remaining 1/3 cup sugar. Bake until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25-35 minutes.

4 Cool the cake in the pan 20 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake to separate it from the edge of the pan. Invert the cake gently onto a plate, and remove the parchment paper. Re-invert the cake onto a rack to cool completely before serving.

Serves 8.

Seems perfect to have as a light breakfast before taking off for those wonderful Black Friday sales. Enjoy!!

Celebrate...and get ready for the food time of the year!!

Luv Ya!!

Pixxa

14 November, 2009

Celebrating...back to basics

Ever go to an elegant dinner and not know which piece of silverware to start with? I know that in grammer school I learned the “proper” way to eat and with what, but decades later, who remembers? And to set a table…who knows!

The one thing that I do remember is that as a general rule, when eating you start with the outside utensils and work your way in. But suppose you are planning to give an elegant dinner party and want to set an extravagant table? I found some helpful hints from The Emily Post Institute:

The placement of utensils is guided by the menu, the idea being that you use utensils in an “outside in” order. For the illustrated place setting here, the order of the menu is:
Appetizer: Shellfish First Course: Soup or fruit Fish Course Entrée Salad

a. Service Plate: This large plate, also called a charger, serves as an underplate for the plate holding the first course, which will be brought to the table. When the first course is cleared, the service plate remains until the plate holding the entrée is served, at which point the two plates are exchanged. The charger may serve as the underplate for several courses which precede the entrée.

b. Butter plate: The small butter plate is placed above the forks at the left of the place setting.

c. Dinner fork: The largest of the forks, also called the place fork, it is placed on the left of the plate. Other smaller forks for other courses are arranged to the left or right of the dinner fork, according to when they will be used.

d. Fish fork: If there is a fish course, this small fork is placed farthest to the left of the dinner fork because it is the first fork used.

e. Salad fork: If salad is served after the entrée, the small salad fork is placed to the right of the dinner fork, next to the plate. If the salad is to be served first, and fish second, then the forks would be arranged (left to right): salad fork, fish fork, dinner fork.

f. Dinner knife: The large dinner knife is placed to the right of the dinner plate.

g. Fish knife: The specially shaped fish knife goes to the right of the dinner knife.

h. Salad knife: (Note: there is no salad knife in the illustration.) If used, according to the above menu, it would be placed to the left of the dinner knife, next to the dinner plate. If the salad is to be served first, and fish second, then the knives would be arranged (left to right):dinner knife, fish knife, salad knife.

i. Soup spoon or fruit spoon: If soup or fruit is served as a first course, then the accompanying spoon goes to the right of the knives.

j. Oyster fork: If shellfish are to be served, the oyster fork is set to the right of the spoons. Note: It is the only fork ever placed on the right of the plate.

k. Butter knife: This small spreader is paced diagonally on top of the butter plate, handle on the right and blade down.

l. Glasses: These can number up to five and are placed so that the smaller ones are in front. The water goblet (la) is placed directly above the knives. Just to the right goes a champagne flute (lb); In front of these are placed a red (lc) and/or white (ld) wine glass and a sherry glass (le)

m. Napkin: The napkin is placed on top of the charger (if one is used) or in the space for the plate.

In general:

  • Knife blades are always placed with the cutting edge toward the plate.
  • No more than three of any implement is ever placed on the table, except when an oyster fork is used in addition to three other forks. If more than three courses are served before dessert, then the utensil for the fourth course is brought in with the food; likewise the salad fork and knife may be brought in when the salad course is served.
  • Dessert spoons and forks can be brought in on the dessert plate just before dessert is served or they may be placed above the dinner plate with the spoon facing left.

    (information from The Emily Post Institute )

Hope these hints help you when you create your next fancy dinner party!!

Celebrating…formally!

Luv Ya!!
Pixxa

12 November, 2009

Celebrating...realized dreams

Okay, so maybe the title of this post sounds a little deep and profound for what it is, but there is a lesson that can be learned.

It all started as a joke. Ellen DeGeneres instead of making a new year's resolution this year, started her "O Yes I Can" campaign to be pictured on the cover of O Magazine with Oprah. At the time, no one had ever shared the cover with Oprah, so it really seemed like an impossible feat. But then the April issue was released and The First Lady, Michelle Obama, appeared on the first shared cover with Oprah. Obviously Michelle Obama was featured for different reasons than Ellen could be...First Lady vs talk show host/comedienne, but Ellen persisted.

It took dedication, persistance and a really creative staff who made several mock-up copies of magazine covers, but about 2 weeks after the Michelle Obama cover was announced, Oprah popped in on Ellen's show (via satellite) and invited Ellen to join her on a future magazine cover. Ellen was genuinely excited! But who wouldn't be? She set a goal and worked her hardest to make it happen.

So while making the cover of a magazine might not seem like a deep or profound goal, the lesson to be learned is that anything can happen...you never know until you try...and any number of other appropriate clichés that fit here. The bottom line---set a goal and work your hardest to achieve it. You never know where it might take you!

Oh and since Ellen won't be the first to share a cover with Oprah, Orpah decided to try another first. This will be the first issue where there will have 2 covers. Newstands will have one cover and subscribers will receive another cover. To check out the two covers, along with 2 others that were shot, see below. If you are a collector, you might want to pick up your copy early. They are expecting this to be the highest selling issue of O ever. The December issue of O Magazine is available on newstands today or you can order thru Oprah's website or Ellen's website.


Newsstand Cover

Subscriber Cover

Optional Cover 1Optional Cover 2

Celebrating because dreams can come true!!

Luv Ya!!
Pixxa

11 November, 2009

Celebrating...our freedoms

Honoring and celebrating those who have fought for our freedoms...

Happy Veterans Day!!



Celebrate the honor and respect!!

Luv Ya!!

Pixxa

07 November, 2009

Celebrating...sheer artistry

I consider myself a bit of a creative person, but when I see people who do things past the "crafty" stage, I get excited. But this...I was completely in awe of. Sometimes I wish I'd gone to school so that I could do stuff like this, but for now, I invite you to grab a cup of coffee or tea and take a peek. The artistry is great and the story good too...it is all about change. It will take a 10 minute chunk of your time, but if you can afford it, enjoy!! Oh...I must warn you that there is an "R" Rated scene around the 6 minute point, but it only lasts for a few seconds.

Sweet Dreams by Kirstin Lepore


Celebrating...the art of it all!

Luv Ya!!
Pixxa

05 November, 2009

Celebrating...just because



Google has some of the cutest pix on their website...and this one was just to fun to not share!! Happy 40th Anniversary Sesame Street!!!

Celebrate...everything cute!!

Luv Ya!!
Pixxa

04 November, 2009

Celebrating...MAJOR Sugar Rush

It was my intention to talk about caramel apples today, but I just came across something that was just too good to not share! I was reading an e-newsletter that I get, Serious Eats Recipes, and there was an entry for Leftover Halloween Candy Pie. Well, since Halloween just passed, I was intrigued (especially since I LOVE candy), so I clicked the link and as they say, the rest is history.
The recipe is from Cakespy and it's really super easy! So gather up all of your candy (or if you have kids, grab them and their candy), get or make a pie crust, throw in your candy, bake and serve. (for exact directions check the instructions on the link)

The direct link is:
http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2009/11/cakespy-leftover-halloween-candy-pie-recipe.html

It might be tricky mixing flavors and candy types, but all in all it looks like this is a win-win situation!! Enjoy!!

Celebrate...SUGAR!!!

Luv Ya!!
Pixxa

02 November, 2009

Celebrating...helping others, one person at a time

I must admit that I love commercials. Most people flip the channels or fast forward, but unless I've seen them before, I am glued to the commercials too. I especially love those commercials that tug at my heartstrings and bring a tear (or two) to my eye.

The latest commercial that has captured my heart is the little girl who loses her dog, Sara. The commercial is for a phone company advertising their wireless phone features, but it brilliantly combines their features with social networking and a college campus. The result is that as the little girl is walking around posting flyers for her dog, the technology has her dog waiting for her on her front steps.

Are people really this nice? I look back to my college days and yes, I do think that college kids would do something like this to help a little kid get their dog back. But today? I'm not sure. People are so "busy" with their lives...do we really, as a society, take the time to help our fellow man? Would we even take the time to read a posted flyer about a lost dog?

I look at this commercial and there is a spark of hopefulness ignited. And I think, what can I do to help steer mankind in that direction? Well, I have a blog that is here for the world to read, so I decided to write about it. So here is my small effort that I am hoping will somehow help to make a difference to make the world a better place.

Take a look at the video...


Ahhhh...now don't you have a good feeling?

Celebrate...helping others!

Luv Ya!!
Pixxa

01 November, 2009

Celebrating...a new month Happy November!!

Halloween is over and it's now November. There are still a few beautiful leaves clinging to the trees. So now it's time for me to turn my focus to my favorite time of the year (yes, this is probably another reason that Autumn is my favorite season)...the pre-Christmas season!!! You'd better get busy because there are only 54 shopping days until Christmas!

It's time to start thinking about the turkeys and the cranberries and the pumkin pies...and then putting up the Christmas tree! Christmas is a magical time for me. I love it from the religious aspect and I must admit that I also love it from the commercialism standpoint. The closer that Christmas gets, the nicer people get. It's the time of year when people actually step back and think of others more than they think of themselves. And I also think that people in general are just happier for some reason.

Whatever the reason is, I love it! It's like you go the entire year, which starts off dark and drab and cold and snowy (at least here in Chicago), and and the year gets better and better until the climax of Christmas (and the after party, New Year's Eve/Day).

So you've been put on notice...time to start turning your thoughts to Thanksgiving and Christmas. But as you do, take a little time to enjoy the last remaining leaves on the trees. Happy November!!

Celebrate!

Luv Ya!!
Pixxa