Thursday, May 24, 2012

Chocolate makes everything better!

Tonight at the Tearoom we started planning for a high tea for tomorrow.  Angie, one of my crew, mentioned something that she saw online.  So we decided to give it a whirl... Cheesecake filled strawberries!

That alone sounded fabulous to me, but I always try to tweak things a bit.

So, what if after we fill the berries we dip the top in chocolate so the filling would be a surprise.   You know chocolate makes everything better.  So we did.  The cheesecake end was dipped.  Then I thought -  OK wait a minute what if we left the stem on the berries, cut the top off about 1/4 of the way down, fill the berry then put the top back on and then dip the berry above the cut line to look like a regular chocolate covered strawberry.
We experimented with all of the above and then, another idea...  If after we fill the berry and dip it, like we did on the very first one (stem removed) set aside and let that chocolate harden, then dip the other side so the whole berry is covered. When the berry was sitting with the point side up completely covered with chocolate it reminded me of a giant Hershey kiss!

I then made  a little tag that said kiss and wrapped the chocolate covered strawberry  in foil.
So the next time you want to make chocolate covered strawberries why not fill them, personalize your own tag with anything you would like to say and wrap them up for a special kiss?

I love it when we have time to try and make fun things at the Tearoom BUT I also  make sure to send all of the experiments home with the staff or else those chocolate covered cuties would surely be calling by name at 2a.m.

Here's the filling recipe if you would like to try...
8 ounces of softened cream cheese
3 - 4 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla.
Cream till smooth, after you fill the berries dip the end with the filling in graham cracker crumbs as if that were the cheesecake crust.  Serve after this step or try some of the chocolate ideas given.

This is super fast and super easy.  You never know this may be  "Another Exciting  Episode" on the Souper Woman page of my web site!  Watch for my next adventure.

Monday, May 21, 2012

But she is my baby!

I have a sign hanging in my restaurant that says..."If your dog doesn't like someone you probably should either."  I couldn't agree more.   If my little dog Daisy shies away from someone it usually gives me reason to pause.   I have never understood people that don't like animals.  I get the fact that there are dog lovers and cat lovers, but not to like either, that I just don't get. 

If you've ever been to my restaurant chances are you've met Daisy.  Often times she's in the garden and loves to run to meet the customers either as they come or go, but she always has to say hello.

We even have customers that ask, "If you aren't too busy can you go get Daisy?" She really is the Garden Gate Tea Room mascot.  Daisy and I live in a house across the alley form the tea room.  I like to tell everyone how I have to walk to work (the whole 50 feet or so).  So it's pretty easy to check on her or bring her to the garden throughout the day.

BUT there was this one time a woman came out of the tea room and kicked at Daisy and said, "I hate dogs." Really?  The only thing I could think of was...  Hey Miss Gulch - You wicked old witch, I'll bite you myself!

How can you hate animals, especially cute little Daisy?!

I may not have given birth to a child but Daisy really is my baby!  So for those who feel the urge to tell me I probably should get another dog now because Daisy is getting up in age and won't last much longer, that's the LAST thing anyone ever wants to hear!

Daisy was a Valentine gift several years ago and has been the best gift ever.  She was so small that when I cupped my hands she fit in them. She usually always has bows in her hair and I believe she may even have a better wardrobe than I.

So, some people can think I'm crazy, that's OK - because Daisy really is my baby!  


Saturday, May 19, 2012

One of THOSE days!

What started out as good day turned quickly to a day that almost causes blood to squirt from my eyes!  What has happened to customer service with companies today? 

It was three o’clock and I should’ve been thinking about wrapping it up for day BUT oh no!  We loose power.  Are you kidding me? We just got over the hailstorm - now this!  What could possibly cause this?  Overloading the grid – boy I hope not or we’re really in trouble come July and August.  So I call to find out when it may be back on… that was my first encounter with costumer service.  Needless to say it didn’t go well. 

Now - I am the first to admit that patience is not my best virtue, but come on!  If I hear one more time “we’re sorry for your inconvenience” without explaining why this continues to happen.  Or, if one more person says “it’s probably a squirrel and it’s not our fault”

 “I’m getting worked up again just thinking about that conversation!”

So, after three unsuccessful calls I decided to go to the art supply store to pick up a few things to finish the illustrations for my children’s book. Maybe that would take my mind off things.

I started feeling a little better. As I gathered some of the items, I couldn’t find the weight of paper that I needed.   I saw a sales associate and asked; her response was a finger pointing in a vague direction and said, “It’s over there.”   

Oh lord, here we go again!

I kept looking till I found what I needed – and oh, by the way, thanks a lot for all of your help.

I stand in line to pay and of course ONE checkout line (that’s another rant)

Finally, the end is near.  I put my items on the counter and wait…  No eye contact, no “Hi, did you find everything you needed?”  No nothing! 

The only thing she said to me was the TOTAL!

I knew then the only safe place for me was home – power or not – because if I encounter one more rude person in the state I was in something ugly was going to happen and my only defense would be temporary insanity.

It’s days like these that make me want to eat something really sweet, salty, or greasy.  After today it may be all three!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Lost Track of Time

I had every intention of writing an insightful post this evening (Well one can always hope) But I sat down, read a few emails - Thanks Mary for the kind words about the site - and then decided to spend just a few moments on my children's book that I've been working on.  Well you know how it goes... moments lead to hours and all of your other plans get thrown out the window because of loosing track of time.  So, maybe the insightful post will have to wait for another time.  BUT the children's books is really cute.  At least I think so, in a month or so maybe I can get your opinion.  I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Learning the Truth

The other night my nieces, who are cousins,  had a sleepover at my house.  They like to stay in my basement as if  they were in their own apartment.  When I watch them it reminds me of when I was small. I use to turn our front porch into my kitchen with a little metal stove.  I would sweep with my very own broom and dustpan.  I love to watch as my older niece Gabby patiently does makeup and all of the girlie stuff that Emma loves to do.

At the beginning of each of our evenings together the girls and I set out to the store to a little shopping. This night we were looking for supplies for a craft project. As we drove we chatted about what’s new with everyone - when Emma with her deep voice, which reminds me of Great Garbo said, “Hey- Aunt Brenda guess want I learned today?”

 “What?” I asked.

 She continued with a sad look on her face… “Dandelions aren’t really flowers, they are weeds!” 

“Really” I asked, “who told you that?” 

“Grandpa” she replied.

“Well I think they are flowers,” I told her. 

“They aren’t”, she said softly as if she was the one who had to break the bad news to me.  “But” she added “Mom said I can call them flowers if I want to.” 

“Yes you can!” I added.

Wow, I thought to myself – this to her was like learning about Santa, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy!  Sometimes learning the truth isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

The next day after the girls had gone home, Daisy and I (Daisy is my dog, that’s another story) were walking around the block.  As I looked at my garden at the tearoom I thought holy smokes will you look at all of the dandelions.  How am I going to get rid of all of them?  But, by the time we had made our way back around I had already decided to think of them as Emma would.  They aren’t weeds they’re bright yellow flowers blooming proudly! 

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Perils of Pushing 50 with Poor Eyesight

Let me preface this little tale with the explanation that when I was 20 I thought 30 was old, 40 was ancient and 50 had 1 foot in the grave!  Also, I would hear people say… just wait till you turn 40 your eyesight won’t be the same.  Not me, I thought confidently! Well guess what?  Here I am turning 50 this year and wearing magnifying glasses as a headband; just in case I need to read something.  (I still say that print is smaller than it used to be.) I don’t feel like almost 50; and how it 50 supposed to feel anyway? I certainly don’t feel like what I thought 50 was, when I was 20.

But anyway here’s the tale…. I’m driving to treat myself to a pedicure after a long day and drive past a small boutique that had just opened in town.  I remember that opening day feeling; so I turned my car around to visit their store.

I walked in to the well-stocked store but soon realize that I might be too old for most of the things in there. AND oh great it’s dimly lit - so I pull down my handy dandy always-ready reading glasses perched on my head.   So here I am like Mr. Magoo - I can’t see.. trying not to look out of place as I try to find something to buy.  I decide lipstick and nail polish would be a safe bet.  I pick up several tubes of lipstick, moisturizers, polish and such.

I purchase my goodies then make my way to relax at my pedicure.

While driving I think, “my lips are chapped, I’ll use my new stuff” so I reach in the bag for the moisturizing lipstick.  You know there’s defiantly a difference in the way we apply lipstick and chapstick.  Lipstick we make sure everything is neat and perfect and chapstick we just smear it all over with multiple coats.

So that’s what I did.  “Boy this feels smooth and silky,” I thought, so naturally I should put a little more on.   I drive a little further and think maybe I should put even more on, so -  I really slather the stuff on.

I parked, turned the car off and was just about to get out when I glanced in my rear view mirror and literally shrieked.

What I thought was moisturizing lip balm was what we had in the early 80’s called mood lipstick in changes colors once applied.  I had the brightest pinkest stuff smeared everywhere!

I looked like I had neon pink duct tape on my mouth.  I scrambled for tissues, napkins or even my sleeve - ANYTHING to try and get that stuff off.  Now here I am driving around (in personalized plates I might add.  I couldn’t deny it was me even if I tried) looking like the women with the coral lipstick all over their face, you know the ladies I’m talking about – the ones that had lipstick about a quarter of an inch around their lips.  The ones I snickered at when I was younger.

I just know everybody and their brother saw me either driving looking like I don't know what - or saw me in the parking lot looking like a crazy woman trying to get that stuff off.  I might add that even when I got the lip stuff off I had a slight stain on my face.  I bravely go in.   Call me paranoid if you want, but as soon as I walked in they stopped speaking English!  I'm sure they were saying " look at the crazy lady with pink all over her face."  

So, as I sat there trying to relax and act like nothing is wrong I thought to myself... maybe all of those corral clad lipstick wearing old ladies weren’t that at all… maybe they were just pushing 50 with poor eyesight too! 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Vanity vs. Memories

What a great day today.  My brother and niece, my youngest sister, her husband and youngest son, (Her oldest son is in the Navy but he called to talk to his grandma – what a awesome kid) and I met at our parents’ house to spend Mother’s Day together.

After a great meal and great conversation we sat down to watch old home movies.  And I do mean old! Maybe you’re too young to know the kind I mean, the 8mm kind.  I remember when I was a kid dad would run the films in reserve.  We laughed and laughed as we ran backwards in the rain or at Christmas time after we unwrapped the presents we wrapped them back. 

Today we laughed and even cried a little.  Not sad tears but happy tears.  Seeing our parents when they were many years younger than I am now, or seeing our loved ones who are no longer with us.  Even seeing the toys that we loved as kids brought smiles to our faces today just like when we first unwrapped them.

 “I loved that doll” and “oh I remember that little kitchen blender” – I said as I watched myself holding my toys up to my dad so he would film them. We all laughed because of the funny look on my face.  I was squinting because that bright light from the camera was blinding me
We laughed at my brother because it looked like he was crying in almost every shot.  Of course he said, “because of my mean sisters!”  He’s the only boy can’t you tell.

As we looked through the boxes of film I noticed that after so many years the films just stopped, I asked my dad why.  “You kids didn’t want your picture taken any longer,” he replied.
How sad – Those were great movies. 
We are now in the process of getting those old films transferred to DVDs. I wish we had more.  But I’m as much to blame as anyone for our family films ending.  I’m forever saying, “Not me don’t take my picture my hair’s a mess” or “I don’t have any make-up on”. Or my all time favorite “Don’t get my body in there” Really how can they not get your body in there!
Not once while I was enjoying these home movies did I or anyone else say, “Hey don’t you think Grandma should’ve put some make-up on!” Or “What’s up with Grandpas hair?”

 Maybe we should all be a little less vain and be more concerned about preserving memories.  

Friday, May 11, 2012

Way to Go!

One of the many perks of my business is meeting so many great people.  What’s even better is when your customers become your friends.  That has been the case for me; many of my customers are now my best friends so I dare not mention them by name in case I leave one out.

BUT I have to mention Seth McDowell.  You see he and my restaurant are the same age.  When he first came to see us he was in a pumpkin seat.  Now he's a young man.  My staff and I have enjoyed watching him grow.  Seth has become the official Garden Gate idea guy.  He and I always talk over ideas for the business, we even have a dish named after him, and he always promotes the tearoom by telling everyone about my lobster bisque soup.  
Last night Seth came in and proudly showed me the letter that he earned in music.  He’s a member of the jazz band, - he knows how much I like jazz music.  We couldn’t be more proud of him if he was our own, but come to think of it - he is part of our family.  Way to go Seth!       

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Go Figure

It’s that time of the year.  The flowers are blooming; the temperature’s perfect, what a glorious day.  BUT I can’t breathe!  I can go all winter long without so much as a sniffle; and then on a beautiful day like today I feel like my head’s in a vise and someone is poking my eyes out.  

Go figure… a gorgeous day and gargantuan headache.

 I have tried every over the counter sinus – allergy medication, to no avail. 

With my handy dandy reading glasses (for over forty eyes) I'm trying to read the smallest print imaginable on the sinus medication.  Hopefully I have the right stuff, one that will help me get a good nights rest; if not. I'll be up all night buzzing around the house.  In that case, maybe I could clean the house but then again maybe not!   

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Week in Review

It’s been a week since my new website – blog went live.  I’m thrilled with all of the feedback and how well the cookbooks have sold. But this is what I’ve really learned…

·        I have amazing friends and family

·        I can’t do all I do with without help from lots of great people

·        This blog thing isn’t as scary as I thought it would be

·        Spell check is only your friend if you use the correct word.

So… with misspelled words, wrong words, and all - I’m enjoying this new adventure I hope it’s a long one and thanks for coming along!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I Hate Shopping

When I was younger I liked shopping – meandering around looking at everything - even though I didn’t need anything, but the older I get the less I like it.  At this stage in my life, I’m in and out with a list - quick, fast and easy.  

 The thing I hate shopping for the very most is a vehicle and that’s just what I have to do.
The claims adjustor came yesterday and gave me the news I was dreading most.

He very politely said, “Your car is totaled.”  Gees Louise that’s the last thing I wanted to hear.

Now I have to start the process of finding a car.  I would almost rather be beat instead of going car shopping! So today after work this new adventure begins.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I find what I need at the first place I stop! 


Monday, May 7, 2012

A Lazy Day

It’s Monday, the day my restaurant is closed.  This is usually a really busy day because of all of the errands that I have to run.  But today it’s raining and I can’t drive my car.  Why? You ask - because the hailstorm last week smashed the windshield wipers among other things. 
Today I’m waiting for the 2nd of 3 adjustors that I’ll be dealing with.  So, while I’m at home I really should take advantage of this time to organize the closets, that I keep putting off, or the thousand other things that I’m sure I can find to do; but on this lazy day I can’t seem to get started. 

 It’s eerily quite here, not much traffic outside, the phone isn’t ringing off the hook, and Daisy my little dog is sleeping.  Daisy is so frightened of storms. The flash of lightening and the crack of thunder sends her into panic mode.  It was a long night last night for both.   If Daisy can’t sleep -I’m certainly not going to be able to sleep, she may be small but she’s persistent.

 So, today I think I’ll just be lazy while I’m waiting for the adjustor.  I may as well relax, maybe watch a movie or even take a nap.  The closets have waited this long, what’s another week or two.

  So much for a nap now, somebody’s at the door, I hope it’s could be the adjustor.  I’ll keep you posted…

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Watching People

Last night was a great night for people watching.  I went to the Fabulous Fox Theater to see Memphis  (amazing performance).  This was a new show for me and I certainly wasn’t disappointed in the show or in the people that were there. 

 I saw young people that dressed for the occasion; he in is suit and she in her cute summer dress, obviously close to - if not on their first date.  Then the darling little couple that had to be in their 80’s holding each other’s hand and when they smiled their eyes sparkled. 

There were people from every socioeconomic class. Some dressed in their finest and some in jeans; and while we are on the whole dressing thing… Ladies just because they make it in our size doesn’t mean we should wear it! AND hey designers I know we are all supposed to love our bodies and that whole thing, but is it too much to ask for sleeves?  Not all of us have the arms of a twenty-year old!  - Enough of that  

I think its interesting to see how some people shy away and stand back almost not wanting to be noticed at all, and how others do all they can to be noticed.  And speaking of noticing, have you ever noticed, more often than not - when a group of couples are out together the men pair off and the women do the same; almost an us against them thing, funny.  Anyway the next time you’re out - anywhere: the mall, the theater, or just walking down the street, watch people - they really are entertaining! 

Friday, May 4, 2012

My newest addiction

Just what I need another addiction as if chocolate, shoes, and chocolate (oh I already said that) weren’t enough I’m NOW addicted to youtube.  Like any addiction is starts out innocently and before you know it you’re hooked.  I don’t sleep much anyway so staying up to 3 or 4 in the morning watching old shows and performances may not be the smartest thing to do.
You know how it begins - you see one thing and then think - I wonder if this is on here, before you know it 3 hours have passed.  Just like last night, Thursdays and Fridays are my late nights at the tea room, we close at 9 so by the time we’re finished with everything it’s 10 or 10:30 then I have to unwind a bit so…. What do I do? I started watching musical clips of Anita O’day then for some strange reason I thought of a made for TV mini series from 1982 called Bare Essence. 

Was I surprised and thrilled - every episode is there, I felt like I had hit the mother load. I had to force myself go to sleep! So I can’t wait for my next day off with nothing to do (which doesn’t happen often) I’m spending the entire day on youtube – a marathon of mini series from the 80’s - Bare Essence, ThornBirds and maybe even the original Salem’s Lot.  But then again I may start watching them tonight right after I close the restaurant!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

All the world's a stage

I love the arts - all of the arts but my favorite is musical theater.  Tonight reminded me why.
I just left rehearsals for Annie that’s this year’s summer production by our community theater company Summerstage.

 Even though I personally may have seen or been involved with this perennial favorite many times over the last 30 plus years, tonight for some little girl or even an adult is their very first time. The first time they have been blocked in a number or perhaps even been on a stage.  That’s the beauty of theater, even though it may be a classic it’s always new to someone.  I loved watching the little girls as they hung on every word of the directorial staff.  As they listened intently to direction then sang and danced to “It’s a hard knock life” over and over till they got it right.  I loved watching them smile at each other when they realized that they had gotten it.  

As I looked around the auditorium I couldn’t help but get a little misty eyed, I was looking at people who I went through school with, people who were my teachers, and people who have become by friends.  I saw mothers that I remember as children now bringing their children to be a part of the theatrical experience.

I watched three generations of people that I admire passing their love of theater to the next generation.  That’s what community theater is all about. I’m thrilled that I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of what I love for so many years. 

All the world’s a stage – and who knows, tonight in one of the shy little orphans there may be a future Tony award winner that got her love of theater right here in our community.  

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Really, Is this how it's going to be?

I love shoes and purses; I get that from my mom.  All of my life I’ve had a love affair with accessories.  Like my mom says, “shoes can make an outfit.”  As a little girl I loved clomp-ping around in her high heels.

I honored that love affair when I did bathroom makeover.  I created my dream closet.  A wall full of shoes, rows of purses within reach, and of course “Cher” is close by.  Cher is what I affectionately call a dress form that is heavily adorned with every piece of jewelry that you can think of.  There’s so much glitz dripping from it; it looks like a drag queen, hence the name “Cher.”

I can’t seem to part with my accessories, even if some of my earrings are from the eighties and look like wind chimes.  I’ve always known that no matter what clothing size I wore, which seems to be ever changing, that my accessories would always fit.

This year, like so many times before… I’m trying too lose weight, a never-ending battle for me.  Over the decades I have lost and regained more pounds that care to mention; hopefully this time it’ll be different; it takes me awhile to get my head in the game.

So, this evening as I was getting ready for a City Council meeting I put on a dress that I bought on sale, now - when I bought it – it was too small (Gosh I hope I’m not the only one that buys “maybe one day” wardrobe pieces) and yippee it fit.

I ran around taking Velcro rollers from my hair, applying my lipstick, and slipping on my brown heels.  I ran up the stairs and my foot slipped out.

What? I thought as I tried to walk, and yep my shoes didn’t fit.  So I tried another pair, I even tried putting something in the heel and then the toe, no luck – still slipping. So, I tried another and another and finally the fifth pair fit.

Are you kidding me I thought to myself, feeling like a little girl again trying to walk in my moms heels, I finally lose a couple of pounds and I lose it in my feet!

Really is this how it’s going to be?

All of a sudden reality slapped me in the face… OH NO- my glorious wall of shoes and over half of them no longer fit.  This can’t be happening!  I’ve always had shoes and lots of them.  What’s a girl to do?  After a brief pity party I thought; I can look at this one of two ways.  I can either mourn over the shoes that I’m losing or I can look forward to the shoes I’ll be getting; besides I still have Cher and my wind chime earrings – BUT, if the next place that I lose weight is only in my ear lobes – that might just put me right over the edge!