My poor blog has reached out and said “feed me, Patty.” Well, blog, here you go. Most of my posts have been on hobbies and cooking. This one will be a bit different.

My life has taken on a lot of additional stress. There is increased new business which is good but is generating a lot of work. There are elderly mothers who seem to grow ever more needy. Sometimes it feels like all I do is work – for someone else, not myself. Which is interesting as I own my own business.

Being the rainmaker and key decision maker in both my business and my home means being stressed all the time. My family and business associates suffer because of this. It’s not my intention to be overly grumpy but at times there is no way around it.

The biggest issue for me is not having adequate support to shore me up when I feel especially downtrodden. A friend that I had hoped would be that support is more critical than helpful. My belief is they have their own demons and there is no room for me and my problems.

My family has their own issues and I, as the matriarch, should be giving support rather than asking for it.

That’s when it hit me – I am the maker of my own destiny and therefore should be the provider of my own support. I need to focus on handling the stress and finding ways to manage it rather than hoping the support will come from elsewhere.

Over the last year I have fallen in love with yoga and meditation. Looking back, I realize that when I am my most content and relaxed is during those times. That means I need to remember those feelings at the moments when I feel the most overwhelmed. Sit back. Close my eyes. Breathe. Chuckle – right.

Writing these words now is actually helping. It is up to me to manage the stress and how I handle it. People around me have their own stressful lives and are struggling to manage their own issues. If someone is overly critical or negative, I need to listen, but not absorb that negativity. I also need to make sure I am not the reason for the negativity – I need to channel my stress elsewhere.

Life is challenging. We live in a stressful world. That’s not going to change. What has to change is my reactions to them. And when a person is over stressed, trying to deal with things outside of our control is hard. However, that is the key thing – they are outside of our control. It’s our own inner peace that will rule the day.

Norman Vincent Peale said “The life of inner peace, being harmonious and without stress, is the easiest type of existence”. Now I just need to figure out how to live that life.


It’s the weekend.  The weekend before Thanksgiving.  That means braving the crowds in the markets to get ingredients for the coming Thursday dinner.

Walking down the aisles, gathering all my ingredients also means I get to see what’s fresh and different in the vegetables.  Today it was gorgeous leeks and butternut squash.  I immediately thought of a Butternut squash, leek, coconut and ginger soup to start the week off right.

We opted for a fresh turkey this year and it’s a nice small one.  I always prefer smaller turkeys.  They typically are moister.  If you have a large crowd coming, just buy two.  You won’t regret it.

Tonight I had some french lentils so I made the wonderful Warm French Lentil recipe by Ina Garten.  It’s got some unusual ingredients – you cook the lentils with an onion stuck with cloves and a turnip.  There is something about that combination that gives the lentils a lovely flavor.

A container of fresh Greek Yogurt came home as well and it inspired Greek Grilled Chicken with Dill and Yogurt sauce.  That will go great with the lentils.

Finally, I made the cranberry and orange relish along with a traditional cranberry sauce.  This will give them both time to age nicely in the fridge.

Helping me in the kitchen is a glass of Silk from Menage a Trois.  This is the first time we tried it and it won’t be the last.  It’s luscious and smooth. The name fits it.

After a tough week dealing with all kinds of crisis situations, the kitchen is my savior.  The smells are amazing. I already feel better.  Now, if only my sons could be here for the holidays all would be good in the world.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  Take the time to enjoy good food, family and hug everyone you can while you can.

Tonight my husband and I had a wonderful dinner. While traveling. That we cooked ourselves. And we sat back and realized that this dinner was part of a wonderful food journey we’ve been on now for several years.

My husband came from a long line of old fashioned, meat and potatoes cooks. I came from a family of amazing cooks. He has said I have dragged him into a new world of food adventures. I don’t think any dragging occurred at all. What happened is he discovered flavors. He discovered food passion. He found out it is possible to be utterly amazed at the smallest thing in the food world.

Tonight was an example. We are out of town staying at a timeshare while we work and learn. It has a nice kitchen and I always bring my “vacation cooking bag” with essential spices (in little packages that I learned to make from my friend Lindsay Garrison), olive oil, vinegar, etc.

When we went shopping for items to make lunches and a couple of dinners is when the fun began. Meat is so expensive any more that it was really fun to find some nice little lamb chops at a really reasonable price.

Then he and I walked around planning out the menu based on what nice fresh ingredients we found.

I passed the fresh pasta area and saw Roasted Mushroom Ravioli which looked simple and sounded like a good match for the lamb.

Garlic jumped in the cart – well because it was garlic.

A lovely French red wine joined the party because it looked nice enough to stand up to a nice piece of lamb.

I needed some fruit and there were fresh slices of watermelon. For me now, watermelon is not just the fruit – it’s also the the rind, which I turn into Chutney. And that also sounded like a good foil for the lamb.

Ok, fast forward to dinner. With the chutney now made and in the fridge, it was time to start the dinner.

We love to watch food TV shows and as I browned the lamb chops I thought of a show by Alton Brown where he pontificated about the Maillard Reaction – which to old cooks like me meant what happens when you brown meat. There is a fine line between browned to perfection (where you get the wonderful sugars and caramelization) and burnt. This lamb along with the four cloves of crushed garlic were close to that perfection.

While the lamb was in the oven to finish them off to a nice medium rare, I put on the ravioli and deglazed the pan drippings from the lamb browning with the lovely French wine we found for dinner.

Once it was all done, we sat down to eat and we both stopped after a few bites and realized we had created a perfect dinner. Everything went together. There was harmony in the tastes. Each bite demanded more.

We stopped. We looked at each other. And started smiling and laughing. It was a perfect moment. Just the two of us. A perfect dinner we created together. Amazing flavors that blended so well as to give you goosebumps.


There are several good lessons here. 1.You can create an amazing dinner anywhere. 2. Half the fun of cooking is sharing it with someone who loves it as much as you. 3. Sometimes the high price of one ingredient pushes you to another which turns out to be magnificent.

It was so perfect I had to blog about it.

2016-06-19 17.25.142016-06-25 17.28.50When I was growing up in the south, we used to visit our cousins in Alabama and when we ate watermelon, we threw it into the pasture for the cows to eat. I actually never heard of watermelon rind pickles until I was a grown woman.  It appears to be a southern thing.

Last week we got a nice small watermelon and I decided I wanted to try to make the pickles. But it meant soaking them in brine over night and patience is not one of my virtues so I started poking around for other recipes for the rind.

The Chinese and Japanese use them quite a bit and like them very crunchy.  Since I love foods from both cultures, I headed in the direction on Google searching for the right recipe.  In my travels, I discovered one for Chutney – which I love almost as much as Oriental cuisine.

This is the recipe I found and except for adding a bit more heat – in the form of more pepper corns and some little green chilies from my garden,  I pretty much followed it to the T.

Watermelon Rind Chutney

  1. 5 cups watermelon rind, tough green skin removed and cut into small pieces – or grated.
  2. 1 cup Coconut Sugar. (I used plain sugar)
  3. ½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar. (I used plain white vinegar)
  4. 2 inch ginger, minced or grated.
  5. 4 cloves garlic, minced or grated. (I used 6 cloves – there are vampires you know)
  6. ½ serrano pepper, remove seeds, minced. (I used two small ones from my garden)
  7. ½ tsp Fine Sea Salt.
  8. This wasn’t in the recipe, but I added a tablespoon of peppercorns.

Put all the ingredients together,  bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until the rinds are soft – about 2 to 3 hours.

Put up in jars and can, or keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.  The jar I put in the fridge didn’t make it to one week. Just ‘sayin.


Recipe source:

My husband and I dearly adore spring rolls. No cooking involved. Just assembly. Quite of bit of it in fact. But so worth the effort.  A friend asked me how we make ours, so I thought I’d post the process here.  Don’t really have a recipe so will try to make up one and post later.

First off, spring rolls are eaten by several oriental cultures – Chinese, Vietnam, Korea and Indonesia.  I guess the ones I make are probably more Vietnamese in nature – with a little southern twist occasionally.  Today’s demo has no southern influence except for the f2016-06-06 18.02.21act the mint came from my very southern garden.

Note – at least for me, the kitchen becomes a very busy place with everything set up to make the rolls.

Next, I quickly boil some shrimp and reserve the hot water to soften the spring rolls – which come in a package and feel like course paper.2016-06-06 18.02.26 They are very delicate so some people double them up when making the rolls.  2016-06-06 18.03.24The photo shows a package of them next to lettuce which I use to help hold the rice noodles.

Before I get started, I take a handful of rice noodles and cover them with boiling water to soften them. 2016-06-06 18.02.35-2 I drain them before placing them in the rolls.

I shred some carrots and find some mint from the garden.  I also add in bean sprouts because I like the crunch.  2016-06-06 18.02.29


Next I start assembly. I put the shrimp up at the top of the roll on top of the mint. The idea is to have the stuff all show through the transparent rice paper. I think you get the idea.2016-06-06 18.11.31

I then make a peanut sauce – there are bunches of recipes out there – but peanut butter is the key ingredient.

Spring rolls, yum!

Spring rolls, yum!

The finished product is then served with the sauce – no cooking, very fresh tasting and you can experiment with what you build in your creation.

2016-06-06 18.03.16



First off, it’s been a while and I promised my very few readers I’d start blogging on my cooking and crafts site again. So, here we go, the first article for 2016.

A friend of mine asked me for my lamb dressing recipe and when it came to the part of putting in the cinnamon, I said “till the rice turns brown.”  Or in other recipes, as my friend Anne says, “until it looks right.”  One of my favorites is sprinkle the salt starting from the back of the pot towards the front, keeping your hand level to the pot, and jiggling it just a bit.  Yes, really. That’s how my grandma taught me to add salt to a pot roast.  LOL.

Now I am trying to put together a cookbook for my family and I realize many many of my recipes are done a certain way, that I remember and was taught, and are not written down.  It’s going to take me hours of trying these recipes I’ve made for years, making  note of how much I am using, so I can put together a recipe for someone not near enough for me to show the “shake from the back to the front” technique and others as well.

This made me wonder how many other recipes have been lost to families because we were distributed all over the place and no one was left to show us just the right motion, just the right amount of seasoning, just the right touch.

The same applies to how long something cooks.  For me, many recipes are when it “smells right.” You know, those of you who bake, that the oven emits just the right smell at just the right time, and even if you have set a timer, that has not gone off yet, you know, and your nose knows, that the tasty item is done. You just know.

For those of you who cook “the way grandma or your mom taught you” my challenge to you is to go put those recipes down on paper. Especially if you are the last one standing who knows the secret wiggle of the hips, or motion of the arms, that make that traditional recipe come out right.  Your family will thank you!

We have cats.  We love our cats.  Our cats love us.  However….one of them is having some serious ‘sharing’ issues and his response is to spray everywhere in the house.  And he is our favorite cat. So, removing him is not an option.  I’ve tried every trick in the book to get him to stop but none have worked.

guiltyoreoThis has inspired tonight’s science experiment.  After spending quite a bit of time searching on Google for home remedies I came across several that talked about creating a spray made from vinegar, spices and herbs.  The herbs of “choice” are lavender, rosemary, and lemon grass, and the spice is cinnamon.

Taking several cuttings of the herbs from my garden and about 3 tablespoons of cinnamon, I boiled about 2 cups of water and poured it into a container with the herbs and cinnamon.

At this point, I performed an experiment.  I walked up to all the cats (we have 4 – don’t ask why so many – we are house sitting my mom’s cat) and showed them the container.  Always hopeful for a treat, they all walked up to the container and immediately raised their head and moved away very quickly.  Winner winner, we have a winner.

After straining the mixture through cheese cloth into a spray bottle, I added 3/4 cup of vinegar and will go around the house, spraying the baseboards and areas of repeated attacks by my annoyed male cat.

By the way, it doesn’t smell bad to humans at all.  In fact my husband thought I was making a curry. LOL.

I will report back later as to whether or not my humane treatment to deter my cat’s spraying worked. Or not.

2015-03-30 17.07.41How many of you use Google for dinner inspiration? I bet a bunch.  We own our own business and when 5:00 comes around I have already been making so many decisions that figuring out what’s for dinner is the last thing on my mind.  So, I turn to Google.

Tonight’s dinner was no exception.  Hubbie had pulled out a package of sliced pork tenderloin.  This is the first part of the “frugal” pieces of this blog.  We like to buy the huge pork tenderloins at Costco and cut them up into either slices or chunks.  This was one of those packages – 4 small slices.

This week, hubbie had brought back some amazing cheeses (we are certified rats) so I went to the internet and Googled “pork and cheese” to see what kind of inspiration I could find out in internet-land.  I found a great site (I’ve put the URL below) that talked about pork medallions stuffed with sun dried tomatoes and cheese. Winner winner.

Here’s what I did with that “inspiration” because to me, that’s typically what a recipe is anyway.  I took the pork slices and pounded them out and marinated them with some olive oil, garlic, salt and oregano.  Then, I went to the fridge and realized I no longer had my jar of marinated sun dried tomatoes.  But…I did have a package of my home grown tomatoes that I had dried.  I needed to re-hydrate them but I wanted to do it with olive oil.  Also in the fridge was a jar of mushroom stems that I had left over from mushrooms caps, that I had put in a jar with olive oil and a little vinegar because I don’t throw away anything.  The olive oil was congealed, so I put a couple of teaspoons of this mixture in with the sun dried tomatoes and microwaved them.  The smell was amazing.

Next, I took out the Mobier cheese hubbie had bought (soft cheese with Ash) and crumbled it together with the tomatoes and some fresh chopped parsley from my garden.  I rolled this mixture inside the 4 pounded tenderloins and closed them with some small wooden sticks.

Next I browned them on all sides, placed them in a 375 degree oven in the same skillet and roasted them for about 20 minutes.  I removed the skillet, put the tenderloins on a plate to rest and deglazed the pan with some sherry.

OMG – what an amazing dish.  I must be candid and say I am blogging about this tonight so I will remember what I did. The flavors were spectacular.

I used Google for the inspiration and frugalness to have the pork, sun dried tomatoes and mushrooms to add to the mixture.  Inspiration – not perspiration. My favorite way to cook.

Several of my friends who follow my personal blog have been gently and not so gently nudging me to be more regular in my posts.  I’ve been really tied up with family and business issues so I have been neglectful so I’m going to rectify that now.

I want to start a series of articles about being frugal by using things that are typically available in a household.  Today I used one of the tips I recently heard about and thought it would be a good start to the series.

As for being frugal, it goes back in our family a long ways.  Before the Civil War, my family was quite prosperous.  There was a large family Antebellum home in Louisiana and my grandmother was raised like a princess.  She never quite forgot that, but when the war depleted the savings, and money went out the door, the family had to buckle down and learn to do things more efficiently, while still maintaining the level of civility they were used to.  In other words, we had to learn to be poor but not trashy.  Chuckle.  My grandmother never quite got over that part of it.  She instilled in me a sense of “princess-ness” which means I appreciate the finer things in life, but know how to get them without spending a fortune – unless  I really want a good glass of wine – then money is no object.

But more about that later.  Today’s post is about being nice to yourself, but frugally.  I LOVE a nice pedicure.  It is a form of decadence to me to have someone wash and scrub my feet and give me an amazing leg massage.  But, they are expensive so I usually only get them done on cruises.  I figure, heck, I am relaxing on the ocean, why not.  Since I don’t cruise as often as  I like the pedi’s equally don’t happen as often as well.

But, I walk around barefoot probably more than I should and over the winter wearing closed shoes means my feet get really dry, so when summer comes around, and I want to have pretty feet for sandals, my feet don’t cooperate.

Well, today I tried something that still feels amazing, a good 2 hours after the project was completed.  My mom told me about something she saw on Facebook.  She raved about how wonderful it worked.  I, being the skeptical person I am, went to Google to research the process.  Basically, it’s a Listerine and vinegar foot bath.  The idea is it will remove dead skin easily and your feet are supposed to feel even better than after a professional pedicure.  Humpf, I thought.  Wrong, I was.

The instructions are 1/4 cup of Listerine and 1/4 cup of vinegar in a warm water foot bath.  You soak your feet for 15 minutes or more and then the skin rubs right off.  It turns out it actually works.  It’s tingly and the Listerine has an interesting smell.  Some of the posts said to use the blue kind, but other posts said it stained your feet. Since I wasn’t interested in looking like a Smurf, I voted for the plain Listerine I had in the house.  I also choose to use apple cider vinegar, well, because I use that for so many other things, I felt what the heck.  In addition,  I have this nifty wooden foot scrubber that is covered in two kinds of sandpaper.  A really nice manicurist on one of the cruise ships bought me one when we were in port in Jamaica.  At $5,00, it really is a frugal find.  They are not allowed to use them anymore on the ships, so I am really fortunate that I got it when I did.  Included at the end is a picture of this nifty device.  I may have to figure out how to make one when this one wears out – or go on a quest the next time we are in Jamaica.

To finish it off, I used my Dr. Scholls Cooling peppermint foot lotion and now, 2 hours later, my feet still feel amazing.  I am not sure if it’s the foot lotion or the Listerine or the vinegar.  But who cares.  It was inexpensive, and just the right thing to do for a relaxing Sunday afternoon.  Cheap.  Easy.  Frugal.  Satisfying.

So, that’s the first of what I hope to be several blog articles on other frugal things we do around here all the time.  Today’s frugal adventure was a new one, but I am adding it to my list of things I will do often.  If you have any frugal tips, please share them as well.

Ciao, y’all.


Homemade Dolmades - stuffed grape leavesI love Spring.  It’s finally warm enough for me to get back into my garden and get my hands dirty.  It also means I can start growing fresh vegetables again.  I love saying “I am heading out to the market – and open my back door to my herb and veggie garden.  Nothing tastes better than fresh herbs and vegetables.

In the same area as my herbs is my one and only grape vine.  I don’t have a lot of garden space so I use it judiciously.  My vine produces just enough grapes to share with us and the wasps – although I hope to deploy a strategy on that soon.  The other thing my vine produces is grape leaves.  And that means Dolmades – stuffed grape leaves.  Today is dolmade day around here and I thought I’d share some photos I took a couple of years ago of this process.  The only thing different from the photos is I am using ground lamb today for more of a true middle eastern flavor.

Here’s the link to the photos and below is a recipe I like – although like most things I cook – this is more of a suggestion.

INGREDIENTS:Makes about 50 dolmades
● 1 jar preserved grape leaves, drained 
- I use fresh – just pick young leaves, remove stem, soak in hot water a few minutes)
● ½ cup longgrain (Basmati) rice
● ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
● 1 onion, finely chopped
● 3 cloves garlic, minced
● ½ pound lean ground lamb
● 1 teaspoon dried oregano
● Salt and freshly ground black pepper
● 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled finely or grated (I tend to leave this out – not sure why, just do)
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
● 1 teaspoon sugar (I leave this out – and instead use cinammon)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 lemon sliced, for garnish
● Mint leaves, for garnish


Carefully separate the grape leaves, place in a large bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover. Let the leaves soak for 20 minutes, then drain and rinse to remove excess salt.
  2. Drain the leaves, snip off the stems (reserving stems), and lay the leaves on a towel to dry.
  3. In a saucepan, bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil, and stir in the rice. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook rice until water is absorbed, about 17 to 20 minutes.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet, add the onion and saute until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute one more minute. Add the lamb and cook until the meat is well browned, breaking it apart with a fork while cooking, about 15 minutes. Add the oregano, cinammon and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the feta and remove from the heat. Stir in the rice, parsley and mint.
  5. Place one leaf on a flat surface, vein side up, shiny side down. Place a rounded teaspoon of filling in the center of the leaf, near the stem edge. Fold the stem end over the filling, then fold both sides toward the middle, and form into a roll. Squeeze lightly in the palm of your hand to secure the roll. Repeat process with remaining leaves and filling.
  6. Line the bottom of a 3 quart heavy saucepan with reserved stems, trimmings and any leftover or torn grape leaves, and arrange bundles seam sides down, packing them close together in layers.
  7. Combine the remaining ¼ cup olive oil with 3/4 cup water, the sugar, and lemon juice, and pour over the stuffed grape leaves.
  8. Place a small, heatproof plate on top of the stuffed leaves, cover the pan and simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until leaves are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.
  9. Serve warm, or at room temperature, garnished with lemon slices and mint leaves
Enjoy. Ciao y'all.

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