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.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Can't Believe We're Here Already!!!

Where in the world has the time gone?
I know everyone is
wondering that same thing today!
This morning I woke
up to this lovely white fluffiness.
today is the last day. I still recall
the craziness when it was the
end of 1999.
Now its going to be eleven
years later!!
So much has happened this year.
Its been a good and a bad
year, I think many
of us could
agree to that. But we can  always
hope for a little better next
year. I know I am.
I have lots of goals next year and
I plan to accomplish them.
But right now
I have lots to do for tomorrow evenings
I have to bake a homemade chocolate cake
from scratch, cake and icing.
I'm defrosting some
chicken as well.
I will be making Coq Au Vin
(chicken in red wine with onions, mushrooms and bacon)
Sounds yummy, huh? Never made it before
So I hope it turns out good,
I'll let you know.
I'll have potatoes and a green salad with my
We're expecting 12 people, maybe a few more.
I'm looking forward to it.
So I'll go around my home today and just touch
up, since I cleaned on Monday.
And I will bake the cake
probably brown
the chicken today, I don't want to smoke out the house
the day of the dinner.
Hope you're all having a good day, wherever you're at.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Irish Pub Special....I'd like to think

                                        Today was a great day for a warm, yummy,
                                                                 comforting stew!
                                               So yesterday I prepared the meat to
                                                                marinate overnight.
                                               Now I attempted to sear the meat, as it
                                                                          says in
                                                  Mastering the Art of French Cooking
                                                   But little did I know, that when you
                                                       place meat in a very hot pan
                                                                 you will have oil
                               I mean, I knew it would pop and make
                                                         some kind of a mess.
                                                I tried quickly to grab a cover for
                                                                       my pan.
                                               Julia never states that you should
                                                    have a lid handy for splatters.
                                               Not only did I have oil all over my
                                              also my cabinet with the glass fronts,
                                                          even my floors!!!!
                                              I was slipping and sliding all over my
                                                                 kitchen floors!
                                             So once I did my searing, which made
                                                       my home also very smokey,
                                            I then added the red wine and beef broth.
                                                      But I had to open the windows,
                                                 and sliding doors. The smoke was so
                                                       thick in the house that my cats
                                                       were in awe I think. They kept
                                                                  sniffing the air and
                                             looking around. It was pretty comical.
                                                             So the meat marinated
                                            overnight. And this afternoon I started to
                                                                 saute the veggies.
                                            First, cook some bacon for flavor and fat.

                                              Got them nice and brown, and smelling
                                            Next, time to saute the mushrooms, and
                                                             no overcrowding them.
                                            Just like Julia said, otherwise they won't

Then I added the chopped garlic,
oh, the aroma of that!
Next the veggies!

After those cooked for a few minutes,
then I added the meat and some broth.

Let it come to a boil on the stovetop.

Once it boils then you put it in the oven.
Bake it for two hours,
Yes I know two hours! Who has that
kind of time?
Well, I was home today,
otherwise it would of been in the crockpot.
But today the wind was blowing and I
swore I was going to be Dorothy
for the day!
It was freezing out, and it still is freezing out
and the wind
still will not let up.
So today was a great day for a stew, right
out of the oven.

The house smelled so good after the
first hour. And the stew
looked amazing.
I removed the meat and veggies so
that I could thicken the gravy.
I wanted to make mashed potatoes.
So after gravy was thickened to perfection:

It looked like the picture above.
Yummy, could not wait to dig in!

My hubby says I could put a Pub to
Isn't he so sweet?
He's a keeper!
This recipe was a combination of
actually two
recipes from my cookbook:
Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
This is by far my favorite
and my hubby's favorite beef stew.
And we have leftovers,
It should be even better tomorrow.
Can't wait.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


As I sit here relaxing on my loveseat with my DH and my kitties looking lazy watching old movies, I'm daydreaming. I'm on the laptop looking at pictures online of different decorating ideas. Either on Better Homes and Gardens site or Country Living. And I found some pictures of rooms that are calling out my name:

To wake up in the lovely room

Waking up under those soft, warm sheets on
a beautiful bed.
Don't you just love how cozy and feminine it looks?

Now its time to freshen up:

Do I take a warm bath or shower?
Maybe not this morning but
tonight, definitely,
with candles,
Michael Buble in the background
glass of wine
and a
good book.
Sounds wonderful.

Now I need coffee:

Who wouldn't want to make a cup of coffee
or tea
in this beautiful space?
Don't you just love the colors?
HMMM, ideas!!
I can picture myself rolling
out dough
for a warm apple pie
on that beautiful
marble island.
Or making a delicious
on that gorgeous stove.
Can you smell it?

Now time to relax:

Need my book,
a cup of tea,
maybe a scone as well.
Curl up on the loveseat
with a warm
with nothing but quiet
and probably a cat or two,
can't forget them.

It all sounds lovely.
One can daydream.
But I have to say, I do have a cozy home,
comfortable loveseat where
I curl up with a good
book or magazine
put on a good old movie.

My bed is wonderfully comfortable,
Can't get up in the mornings,
I enjoy making coffee
in my semi-new
But, every once in awhile, its ok to dream..............

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Winter Here Already? New Handbag

I woke up this morning and the temperture gauge said, 13 DEGREES!! Right now its 25, still very very cold, BRRRRR!!
I've had a busy, busy week. Actually a very crazy month. Starting the month out not feeling well, for about two weeks. I was getting behind some work that I gained this month. I had a sewing project to finish as well that should of been done at the beginning of this month. I had another Doctor's appointment this week. So its been a little stressful. But I got all my work done, finished it yesterday and just got done putting into their site this morning, YEA!!! I finished my sewing project last night as well, double YEA!! The Doctor's appointment went well, eventhough it didn't start out so well. But we had a nice talk and came to an understanding. So now I need to back down to Baltimore again for one more appointment before things can FINALLY move along for me. So there is hope at the end of the tunnel??? I'm told there is, so I am very anxious about it.

But let me show you some things I've been making and sewing. I have alot of fabric scraps. I could not bear to throw any of it away, just in case there was something that I could use them for. Well, I searched the internet for ideas. I looked at books online and there were a ton out there. So I went to the fabric store, bought some items for my new craft. Came home excited and I started cutting these cute little shapes, then put the shapes together and Voila!
Courtesy of Blair Peter a really neat blog where she goes step by step on how to make this:                                      
I made a brooch. I actually even added a pin to the back of it. How cute is that!! I will add this to my black coat. I made another one, more of a summer look to it, but its not finished. And yesterday I received my order of books. I ordered two books on how to make different types of flowers with scraps. There are another two books I'd like to get but one of them will not be published until Spring. But one of the books I ordered looks like so much fun. I forget the name of it and the book is in my sewing room which is attached to the garage which is not attached to the house. It is 21 degrees out, and I think I will freeze to death if I go out there....LOL.
My other project has been this lovely thing:
This is the special order that should of been finished earlier this month, but unwanted circumstances hit me and it was delayed. But I finished it last night. When I start putting the fabrics together and start seeing it all come together I get so excited. Its one of my favorites. Do you like it?
So, that is the update. We still have plenty of snow on the ground. Its been so cold that it hasn't melted, and now they're calling for ice to hit tomorrow morning, which I do not like, I'd prefer a blizzard anytime. Ice is too damaging. We've lost power many times because of it. Thank goodness for our gas fireplace which works manually if there is no power and my DH brought the grill to the back porch in case we have no power. Never know!!
So pretty, this was taken from the neighborhood across the street from our home.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Our First Winter Storm!!!

The view you see above is behind our house. I zoomed in to the farm behind us. Isn't it pretty?? All white and snowy. There will probably be many posts this weekend from anyone living on the east coast. It is a huge storm especially for those living in Washington DC and Baltimore MD. They're getting the worst of it.

But we're going to get hit pretty hard here in Sounthcentral PA. Up to 12 inches. We haven't seened snow like this in a long, long time so it is pretty exciting. I will be doing some crafting today, great day for it. We were suppose to have a dinner party tonight, but that's cancelled. Our roads here are pretty bad so safer to stay indoors. I have to sew which means walking outside to my sewing room where it is attached to our garage but I'm afraid to get turned around and end up walking towards the farm, which looks like it's close, but actually its at least a two mile walk, maybe a little less. The wind is blowing so hard, we have snow drifts here at the house that are already 12 inches high. But I may venture out there to my sewing room, we'll see. If you're snowed in today, enjoy it. Let me know where you're at. Don't need addresses, just an idea of where you're seeing this beautiful snow from. Stay warm!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Need to be on a Diet??

Well, today I spent the day recuperating from my procedure yesterday. The miserable procedure!! When we arrived at the Urologist office, I then found out that what I was having done was considered surgery!! As I read some of the paperwork they were giving me to sign, I got more and more nervous. I was already scared, and now I was freaking!! My husband gently kissed me on my cheek and told me it'll all be alright and over before I knew it. In the meantime, behind us in the waiting room someone kept popping their gum out loud!
How rude, why doesn't the parent do something?

As a nurse came out and called someones name, I turned to find out the "child" popping their gum was a WOMAN in her late 40's along with her husband.
Are you kidding me? So obnoxious.
Anyway, as you can see I was easily irritated yesterday. Remember I've had nothing to eat since 9:00pm and it is now 11:30am.
Well, as I went into the surgery room the Anesthesialogist is trying to find my vein by taking the needle and playing catch me if you can with my small vein. I asked him to please stop doing that, so he removed the needle and placed it by my wrist. He's fortunate I didn't slug him, I tried hard to be nice, especially since he had the weapon.
Well, when I finally woke up, I came to find out the news I was hoping not to hear " you have Inerstitial Cystitis."
The Urologist told me before they took me in that there is no way I would have that. My symptoms were not consistent. During that procedure evidently I moved when they filled my bladder, so they increased my anesthesia which made it difficult to wake from.
After that news, this afternoon I did some more research and in order to control it, I have to take medication for right now, four pills a day, and I will have to change my diet. The diet is not fun, and I'm not happy.
Right now eating is not fun, the medication is making me sick. Everything I eat burns in my stomach. Food right now I'm not enjoying and I love to eat. But I made a yummy dinner:
                                                   Eggplant Parmesan

So I started out with a nice looking eggplant. I defrosted my homemade sauce and started slicing up the eggplant. You'll see pictured on the left Almond Meal bread crumbs. From Trader Joe's. It is so good. Since I'm avoiding gluten/wheat I use this to coat my meats and veggies with. Its not Gluten Free because they process it with wheat products, but I can tolerate that ok.

When you fry with the Almond Meal after two batches you need to wipe the pan clean and add fresh oil. The crumbs burn easily and you don't want that burnt taste in your food.

There is my Eggplant Parmesan, all baked and smelling yummy!!

I made Quinoa Pasta (gluten free) and delicious. I ate every bit of it and practically licked my plate. My stomach burned right after. I had wine with it but after two sips my stomach was screaming so I had to stop drinking that and get good ole water.
The diet for my condition doesn't allow me to have alot of foods and drinks that I enjoy. I'm trying to figure it all out. I have my Fibromyalgia under control, so thankful, my endometriosis is getting worse but I'll be dealing with that soon to get it under control, but the Inerstitial Cystits is out of my control for right now. I'll figure something out.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sewing Withdrawals

Well, the month of December has been an overwhelming month already and a frustrating one for me. Many reasons. One, I haven't been feeling well. Over a week of feeling miserable is an aggravation. I get behind on so many things. My house isn't the way I like it, sure, my Hubby does all he can to help me and he does such a good job, but you know ladies, its not the same. There are just some things you like a certain way, but I accept his help anytime, he's wonderful that way. Second, I'm behind on my part-time job this month. Thankfully its a very flexible job. I set my day and hours, just as long as it gets done before the last week of the month. Which I normally do, until my health decides to act up in the beginning of a month. On top of that, I gained extra work this month, which I encouraged, I just didn't plan on being sick for so long, so I'm a little stressed. And thirdly, I'm having sewing withdrawals. I haven't sewn anything for sometime now, and I don't like it. Right now I have an order for a purse, I ordered the fabric, it came in, but I haven't had the chance to sew it yet. Don't worry, I haven't forgotten you, really I haven't. Thanks for your patience, you know who you are.
BTW, that is my Timmy sitting on my lap last night as I was going through Julia Child's cookbook, trying to come up with a meal plan for this weekend. Its amazing how your pets know when you're not doing well, they give you more attention than normal. My cats want to cuddle with me when I'm not feeling well. Gotta love them.

I made myself some English Breakfast tea and a homemade scone. Love scones, can't get enough of them, but because they have gluten/wheat, my stomach starts to act up. I know there's a recipe for a gluten free version, I just have to try it out. But I love my scones with Trader Joe's Blackberry jam, YUMMY!! Then I feel better after having my tea, a little better.

This morning when I woke up at 6:20am, BTW, that is way too early for me, but I had to go to a job early this morning and it was going to take me 45  minutes to get out there. So I had to get up early, eat breakfast, ummmm, what else did I do? Oh, I had to get gas before getting on the highway. But the advantages of getting up early is being able to see this gorgeous sunrise. There were pinks and purples in there as well, that was actually a little earlier so you don't see it in this picture. But isn't it gorgeous?
I'm up later than I normally am tonight because I"ll need to sleep in as late as I can tomorrow since I have go and have a Cytoscopy done. Horrible!! They won't let me eat past midnight, so I've been snacking. Those who know me know that when I'm hungry the world has to stop for me until I get something to eat, right Valerie??? LOL So I figured if I'm up late, I'll sleep in, and get up in enough time to get showered, dressed and out the door, but I don't need to be there until 11:45am, who's idea was that? So I'll be nervous and hungry, not a good combination, poor nurses who will have to deal with me tomorrow.
But, I am dreading this procedure. Its one of many tests I've had done for the past several months. You see, I have endometriosis and its getting worse. So the Dr. is making sure there isn't anything else going on because my symptoms are showing other issues as well,
    great thats all i need, urrrrr.
So, we're, no I am having this done tomorrow and they have to sedate me since it is a very unpleasant procedure. Painful and uncomfortable. Why do they tell me these things? I don't handle pain well,
                                                             at all!!!
But that's why they're sedating me, thank goodness for drugs!!! Then next week I go for another follow up to determine my future. Well, that's the latest. Hopefully, I can get back to sewing, it'll have to be just special orders right now because of how busy I'll be, but, that's ok. I'll deal with it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dinner and a Movie

For the past few days I have been under the weather. Pretty much layed up for three days. Today I was actually able to get up and prepare a light dinner and marinate a whole chicken for tomorrow's dinner. But my hubby did a sweet and thoughtful thing on Tuesday. He went out during lunch and purchased the movie "Julie and Julia" for me. He came home with dinner in one hand and the movie in the other, and I was so happy and surprised. I was having a real bad day that day and he wanted to put a smile on my face and it worked. So today he was off work and it was real cold out, it still is, and we curled up on the couch with the fireplace on and watched the movie. It is my second time seeing it, but his first and he got some good laughs. Thank you honey, for putting up with me on these tough days and for being so darn sweet. I love you!
If you haven't seened the movie yet, then what are you waiting for!!!???

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Our Weekend Getaway

My hubby and I went away this past weekend with our good friends, Tim and Valerie. Its been so long since I've been to D.C. even though we live an hour and a half away, its been several years. We really wanted to go down to see the Terra Cotta Soldiers that were found in China buried. Very fascinating. If you Googled it you'll find more information on it. But little did we know, that it is suggested you purchase your tickets online before coming. Why? They sold out!! So we couldn't get in. If I remember, they were sold out until January. So we need to get back down there because it ends in March. But I took pictures, from a poster....LOL. We read a little on the history of these soldiers, but I need to go back online and read a little more.
In the meantime, we went to the other museums and toured around. We entered into the Stone gallery, I wouldn't mind a piece of jewelry out of every one of these stones! A girl can only dream, huh? They had some gorgeous pieces of jewelry but I couldn't take any pictures because there were people hogging up the areas.....sheesh!
But what I REALLY wanted to see was, Julia Child's kitchen!!!! Here's her certificate for Le Cordon Bleu:
Now, her kitchen. Taking pictures was very difficult, since the kitchen is encased in glass, so it was frustrating. I took a ton of pictures in different settings, and I got these. I was trying not to be like the others who would hog up the areas for pictures so I was trying to be quick. Sorry for the stinky pictures:
She had a place for everything. So organized and took such good care of her appliances and her wares:
Look at her knife collection:
Then some history of her, it was fun. They had all of her cookbooks there, plus her own collection of cookbooks she kept for herself.
As we continued through the museum, we came to this gallery, "Within these Walls" I think it was called. They have a real house in the museum that is over 200 years old. I now can't remember the whole story, but I do remember that this house has been lived in for 200 years by different families.:
Then on our way to our hotel, I saw this building and I just liked the architecture of it,
We then went to see the mammals. Sometimes I have mixed feelings about this area because I'm not sure how many of these animals are real and are not. You can tell which ones aren't but not too sure about the others. I am an animal lover and do not like the idea of killing animals in order to stuff them and place them behind glass, especially when some of them are just wee little babies. There were some fascinating animals in this area, some I have never seened. Like this elephant, imagine him running towards you??!!!! I would faint.
And this one, well, he's just a bad kitty!! This is something my kitty once did when he got outside, I managed to get the poor little birdie out of his mouth by holding the extra skin at the back of his neck and telling him to drop the bird NOW!! He did, and I picked up the poor fellow and took him away somewhere safe. He got his bearings and flew away. But I have a feeling that wouldn't of worked with this cat.
As we walked around the museum we came to the door and saw that it was snowing out. You can't see it here, but it was, and it was beautiful.
This is taken in one of the train stations, there was shopping and restaurants inside this place. It was so pretty.
And after walking all over the city in the snow, then rain, we came to this wonderful Irish Pub. It brought back memories of London. We ate at a local pub in London just about every night, and when we entered this place I thought we were back there again. The atmosphere was great and the food was wonderful.
We had a nice time and plan to go back soon to see the Terra Cotta Soldiers and probably go back to the pub again. It was a short weekend but relaxing. Now back to work.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Victorian Life

As I sit here watching the movie "Oscar and Lucinda" or any movie that takes place during the Victorian era, I sit here and wonder, what would it have been like to live during that time? How many times I tell myself I was born during the wrong era. So many things seemed beautifully done back then. The homes were beautifully crafted inside and out. Can't you picture a horse drawn carriage pulling up to the house to pick you up for a dance or to attend a dinner party? But what to wear?
As a woman contemplates what hairstyle would go with the dress she chooses. The intricate details of just the hair alone were beautifully done. The right curls, the right pins to hold up the hair.

To pick the right dress for the evening. A woman needs to look her best you know. But the one thing that would be difficult for me is wearing a garment of this sort and it being about 100 degrees out, I would die!!! You laugh but I am serious, I would be the woman who would cause a big stink at a dinner party because I would sacrifice comfort over beauty. What a scandal that would be.....
Now to pick out the right bonnet to wear. Although these seem to have been worn more throughout the day as oppose to an evening out. But I do love these.
What's happened to women these days? Why do they walk out in public as if they just got out of bed. Hair looks like it hasn't been washed for several days, clothes may have a hole in it, or they're just plainly wearing their PJ's out? Women were so classy at one time, even up to the 1950's. Now, they don't seem to care what they look like. I know there are days that you just don't feel like fixing the hair, or wearing make-up, but do we need to look like death or as if we walked out of a shelter? This is my opinion and I may have stepped on some toes, sorry, but women and men I must say, just don't care. I know many don't feel well, physically and so don't bother either, but I tell you, if I dressed the way I felt, I would look terrible, but a little makeup and some perfume and a nice pair of jeans or a dress make me feel better.
There I go ranting and raving again, well, back to dreaming and wishing that just for one day I would love to step back in time.