Sharing and enjoying my small-town life with my darling husband, family, friends,
faith, two adorable Ragdoll cats and one very sassy Yorkie!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


OHMYWORD, a friend sent this to my husband and me, and it *CRACKED* us up. (Thanks, Mary Ann!) British humor at its finest - just HAD to share.

Be sure your volume is up... and ENJOY!

Monday, December 13, 2010



I know -- sick, sick, sick!  
But you gotta admit -- it DID make you laugh, didn't it?!     ;o)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Shoes *SO* cute!

OK, not to be whiner, but I have been having some footie troubles. Nothing serious, but definitely pesky and hurty! The podiatrist recommended the usual: Motrin, heat, ice, and a shoes with an anatomically correct footbed and exceptional support. Now SHOE shopping is NEVER a hardship for me... (see HERE for proof that my love affair with shoes goes back to age 3!) but I really didn't expect to find shopping for shoes that THE FOOT DOCTOR recommended to be so darn much fun!

I had never heard of ALEGRIA shoes... but a friend of mine has a pair, and when I saw them, I was *HOOKED*! The foot doctor likes 'em because (and this is from the website):

 ...The Alegria Classic has an anatomically correct patented interlocking footbed system with arch support that is loaded with latex, memory foam and cork to create a "perfect fit" every time by forming to the natural contours of the foot, giving each user their own customized fit. Footbed is removable and available in medium and wide widths.  Engineered to roll naturally, the rocker bottom outsole propels you through the gait cycle, rocking you from heel to toe in a natural motion, resulting in less tired feet and body at the end of the day.

I like 'em because they are so stinkin' cute I can hardly stand it! Just look at some of the DARLING colors and patterns that they come in.   And this is just a sampling -- visit Alegria's website for all their styles, patterns and colors, OH MY!  

Following are some of their "Classic" (clog) style: 

For my first order, I went pretty "safe"... got this pair of black ones....

And this darling pair of brown ones.  (Here are a few different views of these brown ones to show you.)

Now I am not typically a "butterflies" kind of a girl, but I think these next shoes are simply 100% adorable!  Look at those colors!  YES. They. will. be. mine!

Every girl should have a pair of ruby red shoes in her closet, no?!
There are several different styles.  Following are a few examples of their "Mary Jane's". 
First up, LEOPARD PRINT!!!

Flower garden!

Gold paisley!!!   Who knew?!

ZEBRA PRINT!  Now how cute is THAT???!

Now if you are a dress-to-the 9's, pointy-toes-and-stilettos kind of a girl, you are probably groaning audibly  by now (if you have even managed to read this far!!!)    But if you are like me -- a casual jeans-and-flip-flops kind of a girl, these shoes may just be right up your alley, too.  Picture them with dark skinny jeans... or your favorite worn, torn, and faded jeans... or cords and a bright sweater... or a denim skirt and tights... ahhhhh!  Sooooooo cute, I tell you!    AND did I mention comfy?  OH SOOOOO comfy... like walkin' on air.  Really.  I. LOVE. THEM. 

So go ahead... pick a pair.  (Or two!)  You don't have to have sore feeties to appreciate and enjoy them.  I promise!

Photo credits (except bottom two photos): HERE

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hear ye, hear ye! Semi-annual All-Clad factory sale Dec 3 & 4.

These last few posts would probably make a new reader think this is only a cooking blog - but believe me, it is far more than that -- and any quick cruise through older posts would probably dispel that misunderstanding. But I did want to make this brief All-Clad post now, even though it is following on the heels of two recipe posts, because of the time-sensitive nature of it.

But first of all, I freely admit it -- I am an All-Clad junkie.  I *LOOOOVE* the stuff!!!  Nothing (IMHO) performs quite like it.  Yes, it's pricey, but it honestly is the LAST cookware you will ever need to buy.  Buying it piece by piece (like I did) is as a gradual way to build up a collection of beautiful, functional, KILLER cookware that is simply a joy to use.

I have the stainless collection, in both regular and non-stick.  Some of my All-Clad pieces are over 15 years old, and still look brand new.  And believe me, they get USED!  All-Clad comes with a no-questions asked lifetime warranty, and the stainless pieces (except for the non-stick) are dishwasher safe, too.  Always a plus after busy weeknight dinners.

What you may not know is that most All-Clad is made right here in  PA, south of Pittsburgh in Canonsburg.  And twice every year (in June and December) there is a "factory" sale, and oooooooooh baby, is THAT ever fun!  I have gone MANY times, and each time, I have scored BIG.  At the sale, every piece in every line is usually available, at discounts of 20-80% off MSRP.   It's a great opportunity to see, hold, and handle in person all the various pieces, and get great bargains in the process.  Yes, most of the pieces (although not all) are considered "seconds"... little scratches or "dings", but nothing that affects performance, and the usual All-Clad lifetime warranty still holds.  And honestly, probably nothing that won't happen anyway after some good, hard use in your own kitchen!  

So if you are into quality, premium cookware, and you LOVE a bargain... then you need to be HERE:

WHERE: Washington County Fairgrounds, Washington, PA
WHEN:    Fri & Sat, Dec 3 & 4, 2010; 9 am - 4 pm

(Photos from All-Clad website.)


We love soup.  All kinds of soup.  And especially in the winter... hot, delicious, homemade soup just seems to warm us up from the inside out.

Well, I made a new recipe yesterday (Italian Sausage and Squash Soup) that just may be my new favorite soup recipe. Really!  So easy, yet so *different*.  And simply perfect for these c-c-c-cold PA nights!  (Served with hot, crusty artisan bread, I think I could've eaten the whole pot myself!)

My husband LOVED it, too.  Gave it his ultimate compliment: "It's cruise ship good!"  LOL!

1lb. bulk Italian sausage
2Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 1⁄2cups diced onion
2Tbsp. minced garlic
1butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch chunks 
1⁄2tsp. red pepper flakes
2cups low-sodium chicken broth
2cups water
1cup diced red bell pepper
1⁄2cup heavy cream
1tsp. ground dried sage
1tsp. sugar
2cups packed baby spinach, coarsely chopped
3Tbsp. brandy

Salt and black pepper to taste
Brown sausage in 1 Tbsp. oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate; set aside.

Sweat onion and garlic in 1 Tbsp. oil in a large pot over medium heat until soft, 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add squash and pepper flakes, and saute 5 minutes.

Stir in broth and water, bring to a boil, and simmer until squash is very soft, about 10 minutes. Puree soup with a hand blender (or in batches in a standard blender), then add bell pepper, cream, sage, and sugar; simmer until bell pepper is tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in spinach, brandy, and sausage, and simmer until spinach wilts and sausage is heated through, about 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper.

1/14/11 ADDENDUM

So my tricky big sister, Laurel, had a great idea that I just had to share,
She used Trader Joe's butternut squash soup (in the box) as a short-cut base for this soup.  Then stirred in all additions as per the recipe.
I tasted it myself and I must say, it was good -- darn good! 
So tuck that li'l time-saving trick under your cap, and if you try it, think of my oh-so-smart sister!   ;o)

Recipe and photo From Cuisine at Home

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


It's starting to get *COOOOLD* here in PA and for us, that means warm, hearty, comfort food.  For weeknight dinners, nothing fits that bill (in my opinion) better than a casserole.  Combine a few fresh, delicious ingredients; bake in the oven, and then relax while the warmth and the aromas fill the kitchen.  Mmmm, mmmm! 

I made the following recipe recently and we LOVED it.  Of course I tweaked it a little (I'm notorious for that!)  I added some kielbasa and crawfish along with the shrimp, I increased the "heat" level with additional ground and fresh hot peppers, and I used brown rice instead of white.  But other than that, I followed the recipe "as written", and the reminiscent-of-jambalaya casserole that we were rewarded with was simply wonderful.  Serve with a simple salad and hot crusty bread. 

2 pounds large fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined.
1/4 cup butter
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups fresh or frozen sliced okra
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of shrimp soup (or cream of mushroom)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups cooked long-grain rice
1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese

Melt 1/4 cup butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and next 3 ingredients; sauté 7 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in okra, lemon juice, and salt; sauté 5 minutes. Add shrimp, and cook 3 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Stir in soup and next 4 ingredients until blended. Pour into a lightly greased 9 x 12 inch baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese.
Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes or until casserole is bubbly and cheese is lightly browned. Garnish with fresh cilantro, if desired.

Recipe (and photo) from   

Monday, November 1, 2010

PITTSBURGH - #1 Best Place to Move (WooHoo!)

As a Pennsylvanian (and native Pittsburgher) I was pretty jazzed by this recent article which names Pittsburgh as the #1 American city to consider moving to! 

The article reads, in part:

What people are looking for when they relocate changes from time to time. In the 90s, it was a city with low crime. Then, it was places with good schools.

"These days, you want a job and to make sure you can get a house there," said Bert Sperling of, which helps people find the best places to live, work or retire.

Sperling crunched the numbers to find the 10 best cities to relocate to today. The list takes into consideration all kinds of data points from cost of living to crime rates, the number of colleges and how healthy the population is, as well as access to museums, shows, sporting and other events. Plus, one you might not think of - stability.

"We're a big believer in the concept of stability, where there is modest, controllable growth," Sperling explained. "Big booms lead to disruption, and ultimately big busts. Neither is good for livability."

Here are Sperling's Best Cities to Relocate to in America - Why they're the best and who's hiring there.

Pittsburgh, like Buffalo, has also made a major transformation from an industrial town - in Pittsburgh's case, steel -- into the 21st Century as a hub for education, health care and the arts.

Yet, it's still surprisingly affordable: The cost of living is 12.2 percent below the national average and the average home price is $116,400, well below the national average of $171,700.

It's repeatedly ranked as one of the most livable cities: The crime rate is low, it ranks high on both arts and colleges, and it's at low risk for a natural disaster such as an earthquake, hurricane or tornado.

It's also repeatedly ranked as one of the best sports cities, with the six-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team and the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team. You would be hard-pressed to find a city with more loyal sports fans - a fact that should not be underestimated when it comes to quality of life.

The unemployment rate is 7.8 percent, well below the national average of 10.2 percent. has named it the No. 18 job market, with two applicants for every job available.

Companies that are hiring now: HCR ManorCare, BNY Mellon, PNC Bank, Ernst & Young, Westinghouse Electric Company, and UPMC, according to

As for me, I happen to LOVE Pittsburgh.  I think it is a beautiful, culturally diverse, exciting and just-plain-*FUN* city.  We live about 2 hours away now (out in the country) -- but going to Pittsburgh for the day (or the weekend) is still one of my favorite things to do!

Sooooo, anyone out there thinking of relocating?  Well then, I urge you to consider PITTSBURGH!

Oh FYI, the other top 9 "best cities to move to" are:
# 2 Buffalo/Niagara Falls NY
# 3 Omaha, NE/Council Bluffs, IA
# 4 Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas
# 5 Austin-Round Rock, TX
# 6 Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA
# 7 Madison, WI
# 8 Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN
# 9 Denver-Aurora, CO
# 10 Indianapolis-Carmel, IN.

(Pittsburgh at night photo credit: HERE)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Talented Young Artist...

*Fair warning!*  This post is going to be a shameless plug for a talented 13 year old artist and animal lover in Ohio named Linda.  She is currently offering to draw our favorite pet (cat, dog, rodent... you name it!)  for a VERY reasonable fee.  Don't you just LOVE an enterprising, enthusiastic, hard-working young person?!  I know I sure do!

Linda recently drew pictures of Bentley and Boo, and I couldn't be more thrilled.  I excitedly share them with you below:



I think she really "captured" the personalities of my boys in her drawings ( -- just look at Boo's EYES -- amazing!)  Along with the fun backgrounds, she also included the quotes, which I thought was an adorably whimsical touch, and I simply couldn't be more pleased. 

If you would like to talk with Linda about possibly drawing your own special pet(s), she can be reached at: 

I hope you enjoy Linda's talent as much as I have! 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My (Handmade) Dog 'n' Cat Quilt !

I was rooting through a closet the other day and ran across this quilt, and realized I had never posted pictures of it before. I made it a few years ago, and it is one of my favorites. A menagerie of  pups and kitties (two of my favorite things!) -- and sooooo whimsical and cute!  (BTW, that bumpy *LUMP* under the upper right hand corner is my own real kitty, Boo, playing hide 'n' seek!)

This quilt was SO much fun to make.   Using "scrips 'n' scraps" of some of my favorite fabrics, and a piecing method called "paper piecing" or "foundation piecing", it's a little "different" than most of the other quilts I have made.

And OH -- no two blocks are the same, and all the critters have little round black beads sewn on for eyes, and the dogs have real button noses!

So, wouldya' like to "meet" some of the individual "kids" on the block?! (LOL, no PUN intended!!!)

Well, lookie there, even the real fur-kid approves!  Actually he and Boo have been trying DESPERATELY to CHEW OFF all the button noses!!!  (GAH!  BAD Raggies!!!!)   ;o)

(For additional posts featuring my handmade quilts, please look HERE and HERE.  Thank you!)

And PS... I have gotten a lot of requests for the book that this pattern is from. Please see "Comments" below for all info. Also, feel free to message me through the "contact" link on the blog's home page with any questions not answered there.  ENJOY!