Saturday, September 27, 2008


The weather here is gorgeous and in the low 80's. I guess you would call it our Indian Summer. The air though, truly smells like fall. Sadly, this morning, I picked almost the last of my heirloom tomatoes. There are just a few still green on the vine, smaller than the rest and slowly taking their time to ripen. I think, like the rest of us, they are hanging on hoping for a bit more summer.

3/4 pound day-old crusty peasant-style whole-grain bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
4-5 large heirloom tomatoes (about 1 pound), cut into 1 inch cubes
3/4 cup sliced peeled cucumber

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
10 fresh basil leaves, shredded

8 0z. fresh mozzarella cut into cubes (optional)

In a serving bowl stir together the bread, the tomatoes, the cucumber, the onion, the oil, the vinegar, the basil, the mozzarella, and salt and pepper to taste until the salad is combined well.

...strawberries in September.

What a treat to find these in my garden at the end of summer. No bigger than my thumbnail, they pack a huge punch and taste like a burst of strawberry candy. Mother Nature is proof that big things really do come in small packages.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

..."some pig."

Whenever I see a spider web, I think of Charlotte's Web. I read it over and over again, well into my teen years, until the pages were worn from turning. I remember Fern saving Wilbur from a runt's fate, of her brother Avery and his love of frogs, how Fern's father let her raise Wilbur for that one important summer, the Zukerman's, and of course, Templeton the rat.
A great villain in a young child's eye but who in the end, really did save the day.
But most of all
I remember Charlotte and her unfailing friendship with Wilbur.

How in his hours of need her simple words,"some pig", "terrific", "radiant", and "humble", saved his life.

It reminds me as an adult that it is often when we stop to notice the simple things in life that great things are accomplished.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

...Sausage and Grapes.

About this time of year, when grapes are in abundance and fall is starting, I will make "Sausage and Grapes". I have inherited this recipe from my most dearest friend Bob, who sadly passed away far too early in his young life. He was a wonderful man, full of humor, insight, and was blessed with the cooking talents of his Italian grandmother. All of his friends, who have made this dish on many occasion, will always send him, wherever he is, a wink, a nod, or a toast thanking him for passing this "family recipe" on to us. What I have held secret for many a year and never divulged, was that his grandmothers recipe came straight out of the pages of Sunset Magazine, Sept. 1989. I know Bob would forgive me and most probably has a chuckle each time he sees us carefully trying to recreate this most sacred dish. I pass this on to you all now in memory of Bob, and as a opening to the Fall Season.

Sausage with Grapes

8 mild Italian sausages (1 1/2 to 1 1/2

1 cup water

1 quart (about 1 1/2 lb.) green seedless (or red seedless) grapes, rinsed

1 small cluster green seedless grapes

Prick sausages with a fork and place in a 10- to 12-inch frying pan. Add water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 10 minutes. Drain water and fat from pan. Add the 1 quart grapes to pan; cover and simmer until grapes are soft, about 10 minutes. Uncover and cook over high heat, turning sausages and stirring grapes occasionally. As liquid reduces, lower heat to medium; stir often until sausages are well browned and grapes are soft and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer sausages to platter and spoon grapes over them. Can be served with soft polenta. Garnish with cluster of grapes.

Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 239 cal.; 12 g protein; 15 g fat,- 16 g carbo.; 510 mg sodium; 43 mg chol.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

...the last blooms of summer.

I can smell Fall in the air and even though it is my all time, hands down, favorite time of the year, I will miss the flowers in my garden. They still have a few weeks left to show off their magic, but I can tell that some of them are hanging on just to please me. Maybe they knew I had started this blog and wanted to somehow be a part of what is "me". Here are a few of my special favorites.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

...what's in a name.

Ok, so here's how the name Lulalina was born. A little over a year ago I became the third and last "person" to my dog Lexie. My Yellow Lab of nine years,Tyler, had past from a tumor in his heart, broke my heart, and I knew I needed a new heart to love. After many trips to the shelter, nights on rescue sights, and countless stacks of adoption papers later,

my dear friend Coleen (trainer,walker, and female "Dog Whisperer") came across "Lucy" on Craig's list. Long and the short of it, one look and I knew she was mine. But what about her name? Her first person called her Sandy, which conjured up a head of red curls and "The sun will come up tomorrow..." Her second people named her Lucy, which was my sister-in-laws name. Now I love my sister-in-law dearly but couldn't see calling her name out on a trail, or telling her to "SIT and LAY DOWN" at Thanksgiving dinner. And so the search began for the perfect name, one that would suit her personality, make her stop
dead in her tracks on a trail, and look cute and sassy on her daisy dog tag! Voila! "Lexie" was born. Now for anyone who has a dog (or cat) you know that once you find the perfect name you very rarely use it. So very quickly the nick names began. Lexie Lu, Lulabella, Bellalina, Lulabellalina, Lu, Lulabel, and when Coleen needs her to turn on a dime and pay attention on the trail..ULLAS BELLAS, Latin for "get your canine butt over here and listen to me!"
When I was thinking up names for my business my first choice was Bellalina, which I quickly found out was already taken by a Greek Escort service! Not quite the image I had in mind for Christmas cards and Birthday invitations. Once again...Coleen to the rescue. Move a few letters around and... LULALINA.

In case anyone's wondering, she's four years old, part Yellow Lab, part Viszla, and 100% love!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

... the very beginning.

After years of making my own cards and invitations, I've decided to start a new venture. So let's all pour some imaginary champagne and have a toast to the very beginning! Huge "computer- blog-website-learning curve", but tons of creative ambition. I'm thrilled with my self that I even got this far. Here's a sneak preview of the name and I think, logo. Still toying around with all of that, but figure I need to put it out there first, and the rest will come. Curious about the name?...more about that later.


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