Tuesday, April 24, 2012

There's a piece of Maria, in every song that I sing.....

When I was 17...I had my whole life ahead of me, and I dreamed of it often.  Most of my future thoughts were of college, but some were beyond that.  It was easy to dream and back then, the life I saw in my day dreams seemed so possible.  My absolute favorite times were on the late bus, coming home from an away basketball game.  It would be dark and calm, the routiness would have just calmed down from the win earlier in the night, and all we would have is a 2 hour drive home in the Arizona night.  That's when my best friend, Maria, and I would talk about our "plans" .....our plans for the future.  You see, she and I were inseparable in high school and we just clicked from the moment we met.  She ALWAYS looked out for me and I feel like I always did the same for her.  She was more outgoing than me, and I think it really helped me to open up and come out of my shell more.  We loved to talk about all of the things that high school girls do, of course, but we also talked about so much more!  We told each other everything and it was just an incredible bond.  On these late night bus trips, our topic of conversation was about anything and everything.  The conversation usually led to food and the future mostly. Ha!  Our talks ranged from planning our monthly spa weekends when we graduated college and about the collabrotive book we would write after we reached our goals and conquered the world, to the way a tomato sandwich was so simple, but so delicious and how we'd kill for one after such an intense, draining night of basketball. We'd talk about how we would go to college, have amazing careers and buy houses next door to each other and be best friends forever.  We'd devise plans on how I would get Mr. "teacher" to dance with me at prom and how she'd talk her parents into letting her go to prom.  No matter what...the conversation was always fun, and always gave me a warm fuzzy.  I'd tell her all the stories of my "teacher crush," and no matter what, she would always listen and say something back that would make me feel....hopeful....and hopeful to a 17 year old girl with a crush on her teacher was the greatest feeling to have!  She would predict that I would go on and play college softball and that she would travel the world  and then become a pharmacist.  There was always something so organic and artisitic about her.....I would have predicted her to become a a writer or an artist.  (She is an amazing artist now by the way).  I love how she was ahead of her time, but an old soul at the same time...and just an incredible friend.  A lot of people probably don't remember that her and I were such great friends, but I do and I remember that we were so inspired and upbeat when we got around each other...that we thought we could change the world. 

That was in 1997 and 1998...such a long time ago, but I can still smell the school bus and see the Arizona mountains breezing by me in the dark.  Somedays, it feels like it was yesterday.  I can still remember what it feels like to have such a wonderful friend in my life.  Life didn't turn out quite the way we expected and infact, we hardly ever see each other at all.  She's in North Carolina and I'm in Arizona.  We aren't rich, we don't live next door to each other and we never did write that book.  But, I must say...there's still such a warmth and kindness that exudes from her everytime we talk or write.  Back in 2002, when I was away at college in Tennessee....I was going through a pretty rough patch with money, boyfriend problems and just all around stress.  She didn't know I was feeling this way, but still, somehow one day I received a care package full  ofyummy snacks, adorable stationary and $50.00.  It's like she telepathically knew I was down.  And now, 10 years later....thousands of miles away from each other, she did it again.  I'm going through a very hard time for several reasons, and today I received a care package from her.  She is so generous and selfless and just made me realize that even though life may be impossible to face sometimes....there are always the people there that care for you the most.....the ones that are there in good times and in bad and the ones that will forever remain your very best friend.

This is us our senior year...a few days after graduation.

Our favorite time of year....Basketball season.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dreaming of Cupcakes....

I have a small cupcake business that started out as a hobby.  My mom designed my website and I took a couple months testing recipes and creating my variety of cupcakes.  Soon enough, I had orders from friends and co-workers almost every week and eventually started getting orders from my website and facebook page!  My flavors are unique and have significant names....and I must say, they are all pretty tasty! 

My most popular flavors are definitely Nolan's Strawberry Patch and Kevee's Peanut Butter Chocolate.  I get constant requests for those two flavors.  Since I'm temporarily relocated to Sausalito, CA, I am not able to run my business.  I ran it locally at home and lets face it....my kitchen was not a pretty site on cupcake making nights.  I can't do that here....for so many reasons.  So, I just came to accept that I would have to place my business on hold for the time being and just use this time to come up with new flavors and recipes. 

Since I've been out here, my sister Ginger has been getting better and better at cookie making!  She's always been the top cookie maker in the family and she is actually making a little business out of it.  I cannot wait to be home, so we can have our businesses combine!  Me with cupcakes, and her with cookies!  It will be the family business we always wanted...(kind of). :)  My mom designs our websites and keeps them up and my sisters and I do the baking!  Maybe one day we can turn it into a full time job, with a store front and everything!  (I can still dream...)

Here's some pictures of my cupcakes....I can't wait until we meet again. :)

These were for Christmas.  They are David's Churro Cupcakes....(Named after my husband)

 I did a wedding for my good friend Jess....there were a variety of cupcakes all in her colors!

From Jess's wedding, these are Kevee's Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes.  (Name after my brother-in-law)

More From Jess's wedding....these are David's Churro Cupcakes.

Nolan's Strawberry Patch Cupcakes....(named after my godson, Nolan)

More Kevee's Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes, for a 1 year old's birthday party!

These are Mom's Favorite Cupcakes (Chocolate with Vanilla Buttercream, usually topped with crushed walnuts, but this customer wanted candy.)

These are my new item...Tiny Tootsies (Or Little Tillies)...These ones are Bean's Vanilla...(also named after my husband)

These were so fun to make!  They were for my father-in-law's brother's birthday.  They are hunting cupcakes made with a churro cupcake and topped with a vanilla cake ball covered in chocolate!  The antlers are pretzels and the rifles are chocolate!  My good friends Anita and Teresa helped me with these, and they came out great!

Superbowl Churro Cupcakes!

These are Robin's Triple Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes....(named after my great, long-time friend, Robin.)

Glo's Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes!  (Named after my good friend, and my little sister's best friend, Gloria)

This was an order for a graduation...as you can see.  They were made with Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcakes.  I used a mini reeses cup and chocoloate dipped graham crackers for the hats and sour licorice for the tassels!

More Tiny Tootsies!!

Terri's Chocolatey Heaven Cupcakes...with walnuts!  (named after my wonderful Aunt Terri)
These are one of my favorites....Jess's Chocolate Malt Cupcakes...(named after my best friend in the world...Jessica)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Finding Harmony in the Kitchen....

While living here in Sausalito, California, I have been experiencing, somewhat, of a lifestyle change.  Nothing drastic, but there are nightly rituals that occur here that weren't really the norm at home.  Dinner is definitely a breath of fresh air in this household.  For someone, (me), who loves to cook and has learned a lot from watching Food Network for 9 years, I really don't do a lot of dinner experimenting at home.  On the rare occasions that I do decide to cook a "gourmet" meal, I end up turning my kitchen upside down and making enough food to feed the whole neighborhood.  Although I love to cook, I have just never seemed to pull off a delicious meal with much grace.  And on most nights at home, our meals are consumed on our laps, in front of the TV.  Even when I shop...I always seem to buy too much of one thing, and not enough of the other...I don't know what it is!  That it is not the case here...and I love it.  Here at David's Aunt and Uncle's house...it is altogether different.    David's Aunt cooks with fresh ingredients and quality food that is both healthy and delicious...every night!  She cooks the way I wish I could.  I know I can cook the food...but it's just having the knack down the way she does.  She always has fresh fish and chicken in the house....and it all gets used!  She uses the fresh herbs from her garden in almost everything she makes. ( I love that!)  She hardly messes up the kitchen when she cooks, and everything is perfectly seasoned and prepared.  Just to name a couple meals, we have had grilled salmon with tons of grilled veggies and crusty bread and one night we had a homemade mushroom and herb pizza with a mixed green salad. The meals are always paired with wine...(and juice for David and I.)  Everything has been absolutely delicious!  I cooked dinner 2 times and actually did pretty well.  I made a cornbread pie one night... and another time I made lemon-garlic chicken and meyer lemon pasta that we bought fresh at the farmer's market.  Tonight her and I made dinner together and we had fresh sol.  It was yummy!  It was crusted with an herb breading and a lemon caper sauce.  On the side were fresh green beans and orzo pasta...and of course a green salad dressed with garlic balsamic vinaigrette.  It was very tasty. We eat dinner at the table every night...with candles burning, and dinner music playing.  The conversation is always delightful and interesting.  The simplest things can bring a certain calm and peacefulness to end your day...and I am learning that it is worth it.  I am also learning that I can cook more at home, even though there is just the 2 of us.  I also know, that we should eat our dinner at the table....with conversation instead of TV.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A little North of San Francisco....

So, I've now been living in the, what do they call it...oh yeah, the "Bay Area" for almost 3 weeks.  This is my temporary home while my husband, David, waits for a liver transplant.  To go into detail of how this has come about....and to explain what we have been through for the past year, would take a novel....so I will just write the basics.  David has liver cancer...Hepatocellular Carcinoma.  The Dr.'s believe the cancer is there as a result of all his chemo and radiation treatments as a child.  He had a form of liver cancer as a child, and underwent excessive amounts of treatment in order to save his life.  Well, after being in remission for almost 24 years...he has cancer again.  The doctors call his liver a "fertile field" for tumors due to the side affects of his treatments.  The tumors will just keep coming back....unless he receives a liver transplant.  Needless to say, he's been on the transplant list at UCSF (San Francisco) for a little over 6 months now.  It was tough finding a hospital that would take his very unique case and we are very pleased that this is the hospital that did.  The transplant program is among the best in the nation.   He is currently #1 on the list for his bloodtype, for this hospital.  There are, however, 5 districts in the US and several hospitals in each district.  But #1 on any list is still a great place to be while waiting to be transplanted.

I intended this post to be about my experiences, thus far, in the "Bay Area", but I realized a little background info was definitely necessary.  Speaking of "Bay Area..."  I can't really stand it when people refer to San Francisco that way.  So, I don't know why I've referenced it that way twice already.  Probably to be a smart ass.  I guess I need to re-think my opinion of it, since I will probably find myself saying it now that I basically live here.  No, never....it's so stupid.  It's like when you are on vacation and you say to your husband or friend....well, it's time to get back home to "Southeast Arizona."  Like, why say Southeast Arizona?  Just say Sierra Vista.  It's where you live and it's so annoying to say Southeast Arizona when the people you are speaking to either know what Sierra Vista is, or they live there, too.  And....the for that matter....if you're talking about living or going to Oregon...just say Oregon, stop saying "The Pacific Northwest."  Seriously.  Also, the term "back east" applies here too, come to think of it.  Just name the state you are referring to.  Geez.  I could go on and on, but I think I'm just grouchy and homesick and extra annoyed. 

Sausalito, California is where I am residing at this point in time.  It's about 11 miles North of UCSF (David's hospital) and just across the Golden Gate Bridge.  David and I are living with his Aunt and Uncle, who have a home here.  They have really stepped up big time, in our time of need, disrupting their own lives to accomodate us.  They are both retired, but still lead very busy lives.  Having 2 people move in with you for an unknown amount of time isn't easy...and I will never be able to thank them enough. 

Since my job has arranged for me to still be able to work from a laptop out here, it's really nice to be able to keep somewhat of the same routine that I have at home.  I am working from an adorable little library here in Suasalito, where there is free Wi-Fi and plenty of tables and space for my temporary workstation.  I still work from 8 to 5, M-F...and I've never been more appreciative of my job.  David hasn't worked in almost a year, so having 1 income has been very challenging for us.  Unfortunately, it's hard to look to the future with such a life-changing road ahead with this transplant.  I can honestly say that I can't remember the last time I looked forward to anything. 

We have tried to make the best of our situation and have done a little exploring.  We've been to the city, San Francisco, a few times for his doctor's appointments, etc. We have gone to a couple artsy bookstores and tried a few restaurants.  We have also done some driving on this side of the Golden Gate Bridge, which we are finding quite a bit less overwhelming.  But, I do have to say that San Francisco is a very intriguing and, sort of, artistic city that I really want to have the chance to experience more.  The things that I like aren't necessarily the "touristy" parts of the city.  I would love to find little cafe's that have live, local music....or maybe go into little charming shops and bookstores that hold vintage and unusual things.  I would love to take an entire day just to take pictures.  I'm not a photographer at all...but I would really enjoy a day in the city with my camera and nothing or no one rushing me or bothering me.  That would be an experience to remember.

David's cousin, Amelia, lives in the city.  She's a scientist and an incredible girl.  She could be president if she wanted to and I'm not just saying that...,.I truly mean it.  There's only a few people like her that come along in your life that will amaze you in such an effortless way...and she is definitely one of them.  Everything about her is interesting.  She's a very passionate person, without being aggressive or assertive at all.  She is super intellegent and unique.  She is the sweetest girl you will ever meet and is always a wealth of information in the humblest of ways.  David adores her, too.  She will always be his "little cousin," but his little cousin is one amazing young lady.

Most of all, I miss my family terribly.  When bad things happen and hard times occur in your life, it's great to have those people in your life that love you unconditionally.  Someone once told me that unconditional love only exists between a parent and a child...well I disagree. I absolutely do agree that it exists between a parent and child, but I also 100% know that it also exists in other relationships. 

When tradgedy strikes, you do find out who truly cares about you.  It's just a fact.  It's nobody's responsibilty to care...it's just natural.... and if it feels unatural to lend support or care...then that's the moment you know what your relationship really is.  I know now, more than ever, that I should believe what's in my heart and that the admiration and ultra-high regard that I hold some people to, aren't always right.  I had to learn that the hard way.  But, actually, while I had been second guessing my feelings and my decisions lately....I'm not anymore.  The most hurtful and outlandish things can come from the most unexpected of people...and that is what gave me the confidence and confirmation that I needed to know that I should always trust my feelings...and know that what I believe in my heart is right and true.  And after all is said and done...it will be so clear and make so much sense to you.  It might still hurt...but simple clarity is what it will be.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye....

At a certain point, we are all in search of beauty in this world. We have all felt those times where it's like there's nothing but big, dark clouds, day after day... and all we want to see is some sunshine,...and a blue sky.

When life isn't exactly how you pictured it to be....you find yourself lost in phases that take you away from all the harsh realities of life. I hate to involve music in anything negative, but I must admit, I use music A LOT for that. TV and entertainment also do that. To be in a movie theatre for 2 hours feels like you're in that world, away from your own, for that time and it's just an escape that everyone needs every now and then. I love to read for that reason, too. Books are like art to me...so is music and so are those select few other forms of entertainment that keep us occupied and away from all the hurt and all the pain that life can throw at us sometimes.

One show, or "masterpiece" rather, has done this for me over the course of several years and the levels it has taken me to are unreal. The show is called One Tree Hill. I have blogged about it before. I won't even try to go into detail right now about how this show has changed my life....that's for another time. (And...it's in the works, believe me!) I want to wirte about Wednesday night...the night it was all over.

The series finale came after nine amazing seasons. I have been a true fan of several TV series in my day....Friends, The Office, Law and Order-SVU, Gilmore Girls, Sex and the City, Brothers and Sisters....the list goes on and on. However...One Tree Hill is altogether different. It holds all the things I love. Music, literature, art, and sports! The storyline is so infectious. It's loving, exciting, heartwrenching, haunting and so, so creative. The implementing of art and music in the show are beyond words. The voice-over is such an important part of the show and it really adds to the depth of the story. The sports play a roll that really, ultimately and unknowingly, become the heartbeat of the series. Even the titles of the episodes are named after a song or a song lyric. I love that. Throughout the series, the music in the show has been more than incredible. I have pin-pointed all the episodes to when they play a song by one of my favorites...like Counting Crows, Ryan Adams, and my absolute favorite.....Patty Griffin. It's been many times! I can tell that the director/creator has such a passion for music.

Haley, on the show, is a singer/songwriter (In real life, too), among many other things. On the finale, she performs, for last time, at Tric (the famous music venue in Tree Hill). Now, just when you think your favorite show can't get any better than a heartfelt performance by your favorite character......you are proved wrong when she opens her mouth to sing, and out comes "Blue Sky," a Patty Griffin song. I mean I was amazed in Season 2 and in Season 4 when they just played a Patty Griffin song in the background of a scene......but..OMG this just blew me away!!!! This was Haley, my favorite character on the show...actually covering Patty Griffin live!! I got so many chills through my body and was brought to tears. (My husband teased me, even though he secretly loved how happy it made me). I don't think anyone can ever know what that meant to me. This might sound silly, but it's been so long since I felt that happy and excited about something. It was almost like a sign telling me that everything was going to be ok. I can't explain it....it was just the most amazing ending to the most incredible series ever created. But, it was even beyond that.....It made me feel that there will be good times ahead, no matter how far away they seem. And most importantly...it gave me hope of two important things in my future....happiness and a blue sky.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


I'm supposed to share a website for today's post. :)  I am excited to share several!  My mom and sisters and I are really into arts and crafts.  We enter several craft fairs each fall and it's the absolute best time of the year!!  Here's our websites!!





Also...check out:

http://www.thankq.com/ and


Amber :)

Photo Challenge....Food!

Hello!  So, I haven't done a photo challenge in a while, but I love this one's theme!  I love making cupcakes....I have a small cupcake business called Tootsie Tillie Cupcakes...

These ones are Jess's Chocolate Malt Cupcakes!

Thanks to "A Ray of Sunshine" for hosting the challenge!

They are not you....

There's probably a lot of things I do differently, whether it be better or worse! Here's a story that will fit today's topic pretty well. :)

College was a great, adventurous (well adventurous for me) time of my life. I went to school out of state for 5 years and I met some of the most incredible people in my life during those years. I experienced the usual things that someone does when they go off to college. Everything from living without my parents for the first time, to having my new bedtime become 2am! (dorm life!) I will always remember the adventures I had while attending school in Tennessee my junior and senior years. My best friends and I got to work at a place, as bartenders and cocktail waitresses, that had the most amazing live music every weekend. We got to know the bands and, most importantly, came to LOVE their music. Our favorite band was a group of college guys that were so incredibly talented! They were called Hoosier Daddy and they played mainly classic rock. For the next 2 years, we caught their show every chance we could. :)

Ok, so besides following the amazing, life changing, band.. I was definitely not the "going out to clubs and bars" type of girl. The very thought of a party gave me a stomach ache and "clubbing" was definitely not something I ever looked forward to. All of my friends absolutely loved all those things, which makes complete sense...they should! That's what college is for..to experience those things...to go out, drink, dance, flirt....have fun! I just never liked it and actually found myself dreading it. I did not ever judge my friends for wanting to do it, and in no way did I think I was above it, I just wanted nothing to do with it. I was a very social person, not a loner at all....it's just the whole getting drunk and partying that took me out of my comfort zone. My friends were (and still are) incredible. They accepted me for who I was and I did the same for them. Id have fun helping them get all prettied up and ready for their night out.. I just would hardly ever go with them.

I'm someone who doesn't drink and hates going out just for the sake of getting drunk and socializing. I'm someone who will stay out all hours of the night for late night wal-mart trips with my friends..laughing until we practically pee our pants! Singing on the top of our lungs on pointless country car rides. Those are the memories I made in college. Or, following a great band to a tiny venue 5 hours away, just to hear their 3rd set....our favorite "60's and 70's" set! Or the fact that when everyone is going to college night at the local bar while I stay in the dorm to watch chic flicks and read all night. That's just me..and it's so nice to be able to be me with unconditional friendship and support. That's what I had! College was great...I met my maids of honor in college....and I found true friendship...sisterhood in college. I was truly myself and discovered more and more who I truly am....even if I am a little different.