My Casa Bella







-Thomas Osbourne Davis

Welcome To My Casa Bella

My Casa Bella- means-my beautiful home- but it can mean so many other things. How you make your home a home. The sounds of children or pets playing. The aroma of scones in the oven or a lilac candle burning. The flowers blooming in your garden. The home grown vegetables ready to be picked. Grandma's quilt at the foot of the bed. A fire to curl up to with a good book. Or just a family spending time together with love, laughter and a good time.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Chillin' on a Sunday Afternoon

The weather here today was absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!! It really feels like Fall is just around the corner, and eventhough I love Fall, I don't like what comes after that, WINTER!! Which means no more Chillin' on a Sunday afternoon on the swing, reading one of my favorite magazines, Where Women Create. No more iced tea or lemonade on the swing taking in the fresh air. So I have been loving our summer. Its been unusual here, but I'm not complaining. So I took the afternoon and read, until I had to go in and get a sweater. Yes, a sweater in August.
After relaxing on the swing, I walked around my garden and picked flowers and I made a beautiful bouquet with sweet pea, black eyed-susan, coneflower, roses, lavender, mums and one other flower that I can't remember the name of, I'm having a mind block. It'll come to me later. Isn't it pretty??

Then I came in after picking more tomatoes, to make homemade salsa. YUMMY!!

I love my food processor. I've probably mentioned this before, but its one of the best gifts given to me by my parents. I use it for almost everything. It's wonderful, I don't know what I did without it, oh yea, I chopped by hand. This is a timesaver. They bought me a bread machine one year, well, I no longer have it. I made bread so much, that I wore the poor machine out. It died!! I was devastated. So now, I have a food processor. Such a loyal companion.

Margaritas please!! Time for chips and salsa!

Getting Ready for Sewing

I received these fabrics in the mail last week and was so excited when I opened the package and saw how adorable they are in person. I love them. The top one is so much fun. I'm going to use it to make an apron out of. The colors are fun, the pattern is fun. I love the polka dots that match it perfectly. Its going to be alot of fun to make. I'm also going to make a bag with the fabric as well. Can't wait to show you the finished product.
The other fabric is one of my favorites as well. A Parisian kitty with the Eiffel tower and a bistro table. Too cute, and it makes a nice apron. I made one just like it in a light blue some time back, I wish I could find my pictures of that one, but it sold pretty quickly. So I thought I 'd try it again.

These are only a few of my fabrics. I have some also hanging over a clothes drying rack. I have some hanging on a hanger ready to cut for aprons as well. I love collecting fabrics, ribbons, buttons, trims, things I'm going to use for my projects.

Well, I've got my fabrics and liners ready for sewing. I know the craft show is in October, but its amazing how quickly it arrives. I'm still waiting for another pattern to arrive in the mail. I'm going to try a different pattern as well and see how it does at the show. Although I don't make my own bag patterns, I take others and tweak them to suit my needs and the needs of other women. Some of the bags will have cloth handles and some will have pre-made wooden or metal handles. I chose a few different ones to break up the style a bit. Its fun experimenting. So we'll see.
As I start sewing them, I'll be posting pictures. Thanks for looking. Remember, you can always purchase my bags at I'll also be putting the aprons on there as well. I've sold all my other aprons so I don't have any on my Etsy store. But that'll change.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Computer Buddies

I was sitting at our computer desk doing some researching and reading and my babies wanted to join me so as you see, they both squeezed in behind the computer and curled up together while I typed and read. So cute! As you can also see, I was having a cup of delicious Paris tea by Harney and Sons.

Our friends in Upstate NY introduced us to this tea and now I'm addicted. It is so delicious and I also love their Indian Nimbu tea as well. If you love tea, then you have to check out this site and order samples if you're afraid you may not like it. Good to the last drop!!(I know that's Maxwell House, but I thought it appropiate for tea as well..:)Their cans are pretty too. (For some reason its not adding my link to the site, so here it is

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Getting Ready for Winter

I love kale, especially in soups. So I thought I'd try to grow it myself and see what happens. Well, it is beautiful. It's growing so beautifully. My mother-in-law came by sometime ago and picked some, she couldn't believe how pretty it was and that there weren't any worms on them. WORMS!!! Kale attracts WORMS??!! She told me it always did when her mom grew it. Had I known this I would not have grown kale. I'd grown broccoli once before, and I couldn't believe the worms it attracted, it grossed me out. UGH!! The white ugly fat worms that look slimy. After doing the broccoli that one summer, I swore I'd never do that again. I will buy broccoli from now on. Then she tells me Kale attracts worms, but for some reason my kale did not attract worms, thank goodness!!!!

I did some research online searching for the best way to freeze Kale. So I washed it well, let it soak, watched a few spiders appear in the water, they were small, good thing...LOL. So it said to add Kale to boiling water, let it cook for no more than two minutes.

Then add it to ice water to stop the cooking process.

The kale should have a bright green color and it did. It made the house smell good cooking it.

So before freezing it I wanted to dry it a little. So I place it on a clean towel...

And started to roll it...

I rolled all the way to the end.

And bagged it for the freezer. It made three good size bags, but I have more kale growing so I'll be doing this again.

You all saw that I made sauce a week ago, well, like I said, I may make another and I did. I had enough tomatoes to make two and a half pots this time.

As you can see, it made plenty. I counted this morning, I have 24 containers in my freezer of sauce. My husband asked me last night, "do you think we have more sauce here than we can eat?" I said" NO WAY!!", You can never have enough sauce. Last winter I ran out, so not this time.

This is my favorite Peach Pie recipe. It took me awhile to find one, and here it is. Its delicious, sweet and comforting. So this year I decided to buy local peaches and freeze them for the winter.

Aren't they pretty??

I have a friend who made and sold pies for a living and she told me I can either make up the pie, don't bake it though, and freeze it or I can make the filling and freeze that. So I chose to make the filling and prepare it so it'll be easy to thaw and then bake.

After tossing the dry ingredients in, the smell was wonderful and I didn't even bake it yet, temptation!!!

I bagged them and labeled them. I had enough peaches to make two pie fillings, thank goodness. I already have two bags in the freezer from two weeks ago, but I think I may make another batch. I'll be taking one of these with me to NYC when we leave in two weeks to visit family. We'll be going to an uncle's house for dinner, so I'll make a peach pie and either an apple pie or a cake, haven't decided. Jane's Sweets and Baking Journal blog (you can find her on the right side of my blog page) she has some yummy looking desserts on there, I may have to choose one of those to make as well. We'll see.
I have thoroughly enjoyed doing my kale, corn, sauce and peaches. It's alot of work, I was exhausted last night. On my feet all day, but I know when winter has arrived and I go into my freezer and see all my hard work, and cook all the yummy stuff and when we're sitting down eating, it will all be worth it. So satisfying.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Movies On Friday

Valerie and I went this past friday and saw Julie and Julia, LOVED IT!! Laughed out loud in some of the scenes, I got hungry during the movie watching her cook all that yummy food. It was a great movie, part of it was based on "My Life in France" by Julia Child. Great book, I could not put it down. Before we went to the movies, we stopped in at Borders, and they were having a sale, one of them was 30% off all cookbooks. We found "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" both volumes, which I have been trying to buy for weeks now, but it was too expensive, but at Borders the price for it was amazing plus the discount, I left there VERY HAPPY. If you haven't seened the movie, you must.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Spaghetti Anyone??!!

On Friday, when I came home from grocery shopping, my husband asks me if I've seened our garden today? No, I have not. When I walked out there, I had to come back with a large enough bag in order to carry all the tomatoes that were screaming to be picked. So many, it was great. I knew then I'd have enough to make sauce on Saturday. The bag was so full and heavy I needed to hug the bag against me so it wouldn't break. I was so excited. My bestfriend, Valerie, her husband gave me his mom's recipe for homemade sauce. I was so happy, there is nothing like homemade sauce, nothing. Now I would never of known this if it hadn't been for another dear friend of mine in NYC. (see further below for that story). But ever since then, I was determined to one day make my own sauce. But so many times I've heard how much work it is. The peeling, chopping, so many hours. But this recipe he gave me has proved that wrong. There is peeling and chopping, but not near what I thought. I will make this again and again. So worth it. Well, now it's time to make sauce.

Ok, I think I have all my ingredients ready. Everything needed to make this wonderful sauce. As I started to chop and process, I realized I needed to go back out to my garden and pick parsley. This is the most exciting part for me. Besides making the sauce, it's going out to my garden to pick out the tomatoes, basil, parsley, and onions. Such a satisfying feeling. Knowing that I can actually grow veggies. Me, a girl from the city. This is wonderful.

I started out using one large pot, but quickly ran out of room, which is a good problem to have. More sauce for us.

Now adding the tomato paste, which gives it a wonderful flavor and beautiful color.

All that hard work is now done, it's been cooking on the stove for over two hours, making my home smell like you just walked into an Italian home. Isn't the color just beautiful? It brings back memories of living in NYC and every Wednesday I'd go over to my girl friend's house where she rented from her in-law's. They were from Sicily, and on those cold winter days she'd have either fresh pasta made with her homemade sauce or some soup which she'd make with her sauce, waiting for us when we entered into her home, then she'd take parmesan cheese, which she'd receive in the mail from family back home, and grate it right over our dishes. OHHHH the aroma, the flavors. I would slowly savor every bite and make noises that you probably shouldn't make at the dinner table, but she seemed to enjoy our reactions. Wish I had some right now.

So this is the finished product. Twelve pints of homemade, delicious sauce. Can't wait to use it this winter. Lasagne or meatballs.......MMMMM.Everytime we open up a container it'll be a great reminder of the hard work put into it, and it'll be worth it after every bite...I can taste it now. Wanna come over for dinner?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Craft Project

A couple of weekends ago I experimented with these Mini Composition books that I found at Wal-mart. I bought several to add to list of crafts that I'll be selling at the fall fest in October. I bought several of these plus two extra to play around with. The one above I made for myself, and I just love it. It fits in a purse or glove box of your car, anywhere you'd like to have paper available, plus I think it's cuter than just the old black and white look. I think I'll be adding these to my etsy shop. It was alot of fun to make, it makes you use brain a little more in order to come up with a unique and fun look.

The one above I made for my dearest friend and craft show partner Valerie. I surprised her with this one. She actually is the one who told me these come in a mini book which I had never seened. So when I found them, I had to make her one as well. She keeps hers in her purse. I've got to get to work on my sewing and craft projects. October will be here before you know it........sheesh!!1

Monday, August 10, 2009

I Did It Again!!

So you all know my "addiction" to ribbons. Well, on Friday I went to a warehouse where they sold ribbon, LOTS AND LOTS of ribbons. I was so excited that started to get a headache from taking it all in. Rows of ribbons, boxes of ribbons, bags of ribbons. WOW! Where do I start? There was so much to look through, I took my time, but I could of spent at least two hours there. But I didn't, I had to run errands, and I kept telling myself that, we need food in the house, my kitty's need food, we all have to eat!! So, I looked through the bins and bought some ribbons, I didn't stay too long. I put them on my Etsy shop to sell. Since the ribbons come in yards and yards that you have to purchase, I will use them for my crafts and sewing and if anyone would like some, I will be selling them on my Etsy shop as well.
So, my addiction was satisfied for now....LOL. But I got some pretty ones and I'm excited to use them.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

All Staked Up

Ok, I realize I need to have three seperate blogs, one for my sewing/crafting business, the second for cooking and family and the third for gardening. But I guess if "My Casa Bella" means My Beautiful Home, then gardening plays a role in that and so does family, right? Well, I think so. Yesterday my poor husband and I spent in total 3 1/2 hours in staking up our 12 tomato plants, or is that 15, I don't remember I lost count. But I did not realize how time consuming it was to do all this, and how much it was going to cost us to purchase the stakes that better last us years to come. Our neighbor even commented that by the time we get done purchasing these stakes we might as well have bought tomatoes at the markets.....LOL. Well, she is right in one way but it would take away the satisfaction of going out to our own garden and picking the tomatoes, besides these are heirlooms which you can't by at a store and if you do they charge too much. So yes, we spent alot of money, but the seeds were a gift from a friend so the tomato plants were free. And they are delicious. I'm now waiting for the bountiful of tomatoes so I can make sauce......YUM.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Blogging Partner

I had to share this with all those kitty lovers out there, every time I come into our home office to work my Latte, comes in to join me. She finds the perfect spot behind the computer to curl up. She will lay her head on our adding machine which looks so uncomfortable, but she doesn't seem to mind. Well today, I thought I'd lay a blanket there for her. As soon as she saw that, she jumped on the desk and curled right up. My poor little girl, I've been forcing pills down her throat since Tuesday, and it is DRAMA!!! I have to wrap her in a blanket tightly, place my one leg over her and pry her mouth open. She will let out a scream for every pill I give her. It's pretty dramatic, but she gets lots of kisses after all that and then a treat. She's never been sick before, so this is pretty tramautizing for her. So now she's exhausted from me giving her medicine. So as I do a blog surfing and typing in my post, she curls up on the desk, very loyal to her mean "nurse", purrrring!!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bountiful Veggies

Well, I wouldn't say they're bountiful, but its just the beginning. We've been slowly picking cucumbers, peppers and little tomatoes these past couple of weeks. But there are two problems, we're getting TOO much rain!! My poor tomatoes are not growing very big and they're rotting. The other problem, I must confess, I haven't been paying much attention to my veggies. The tomatoes need staked up terribly, because of this, they're not getting sun, not enough sun, so I'm adding to the rotting problem. I'm ashamed, I took such good care of them when I first planted them, and I've let them go wild. So this evening, my hubby and I staked up only 3 plants, out of 12!! I didn't buy enough stakes, STINK!!! So tomorrow I'll have to go and buy at least 10-15 more stakes. But I'm certain, once they're staked up, they'll do much better and I'll have tomatoes growing out of my head! One plant is taller than me staked up!! I've never seened such a thing before.
So I have lots of plans for this tomatoes, I hope they hang in there for me, I'll never neglect them again, Well, I'll try.....LOL.
By the way, all those little green ones fell off as we were staking, poor babies, they'll have to ripen on the windowsill now. Any one say, Salsa!!!??