Things happen when you are persistent.

I was reading success stories this weekend, in particular author success stories..the stories of those lucky souls who have gotten their books published. To tell the truth at first I was discouraged. It seemed like the book publishing dream was all up to chance…a 1 in a 1,000,000 shot. Then I saw the light…the key…the common link. The people who have gotten their book published wrote, rewrote, sent in submissions, got rejected ….over and over again. But they never gave up. They were persistent and it paid off.

Persistence is hard because it means facing failure …it means being patient …it means knowing results may not come right away…it means work. Three years ago I lost 30 pounds–thirty pounds I had been trying to lose for years. What changed is I realized the workouts..the healthy eating had to be day out…for many many days. Change wasn’t going to happen unless I determined each day to work out and to eat right. What is crazy after a few weeks, eating healthy got easier…and easier…now it’s habit. (But I still enjoy cheese covered fries every now and then…gotta live a little! =) )

The BEST things in life usually don’t happen overnight. They are grown, cultivated, worked for. It has been said that the harder the work, the sweeter the victory. Some of the people I admire the most are people who don’t give up easily…who are persistent. Being persistent can change your body, your job, your relationships…and your life.


Coffee House Insider, New Oxford Coffee Co.

Coffee House Insider, New Oxford Coffee Co. 

Location: New Oxford, PA

The New Oxford Coffee Co. is one of those places you just dive past over and over again if you aren’t looking for it. IMG_20150421_180339Have you ever driven through a roundabout? If not, it’s typically a four way intersection with no stop signs or lights, just yield signs and a giant circle you drive through around to get to your destination. (I love and hate roundabouts; nearly every job I’ve ever had I have always ended up driving through one of these to get to and from work. They are great if everyone knows how to use them. If not, well let’s just say I’ve almost been side swiped one too many times.) New Oxford Coffee Co. is set on the side of one of these roundabouts, as if it is almost part of it. I can’t tell you how many times I have driven past this place before that one magical night I made out the word “COFFEE” glowing in neon glory. BRAKE! Not really…I just circled the roundabout again (btw it’s kinda fun circling the roundabout over and over again) and pulled in.

Right when I stepped through the old French style doors, my heart just melted. This place was old; at one time I imagine it might have been a drug store or soda shop. One of the first things I noticed was the tin ceiling with little designs in it(Love these!) and that the dark wood floors creak under your feet. Little round tables, stuffy chairs, bar stools and a leather couch provide lots of seating. The smell of fresh ground coffee hit my nose, pulling me further in. The menu isn’t enormous, but provides all of the essentials: espresso, coffee, tea, tea latte, iced coffee, frappes etc. and of course features a glass case filled with desserts–desserts dusted with sugar, filled with chocolate, covered in crumble.

IMG_20150421_173602My favorite drink: When I go to coffee places I usually, nine times out of ten, get tea. I LOVE TEA! There is just so much variety when it comes to teas and so far I have liked most of everything I have tried (except Earl Gray…bleh). They had a tea blend, I can’t remember the official name of it, but I saw it contained strawberries. OH MY WORD…divine goodness! The tea definitely was harvested from some kind of strawberry heaven.

Extra features: I noticed the shop had a doorway which led to another room, it was already a decent sized coffee place so I was thinking, “Wow, there’s more? Impressive…” I walked through to discover this isn’t just a coffee house. It is actually a bakery; you can get wedding cakes, desserts that are more than brownies and scones, breads all fresh baked. If this wasn’t enough, connected also to the coffee house through the bakery is a doughnut and sandwich shop called “Holey Joe’s”. It is pretty much the Marble Slab of the doughnut world. You can create your own doughnut. You pile on the toppings (there were a ton of options–bacon the real deal, chocolate chips, crushed waffle cone, etc.), pour on the glaze (once again, lots of options); you could add ice cream, whipped cream, frosting, etc. AWESOME! I haven’t gotten a sandwich there, but the menu looked mouthwatering.

The last thing which makes this coffee shop extra special is they give proceeds to and support different areas around the world where disasters have happened or where poverty is prevalent. A corner of the shop has jewelry, handbags, scarves, etc. which are products all made from mothers, fathers, children from around the world and directly support them. New Oxford Coffee Co. is doing more than just providing eats and treats; it’s trying to make a difference in the world…even if it is just a small way.

Ever in New Oxford, PA? CHECK IT OUT! 

It’s April 1st everyone

Hello Everyone!

Wondering about the April Fool’s jokes going around today? Anyone up to no good? 😉

If you need a good joke to play here’s one I did last year: 

What you need: Reese’s Peanut Butter Easter Egg Candy, chocolate chips (just pop them in the microwave for a few seconds to get them melted), and cherry tomatoes.

People love chocolate. And typically chocolate covered things are flat out irresistible (unless you are like me and can’t have too much sugar!). So I thought, why not cover something nasty with chocolate? I went to the store and bought Reese’s Peanut Butter Easter Egg Candies and I also bought a little box of cherry tomatoes. I melted down some chocolate chips and dipped the cherry tomatoes in the chocolate and then put them in the freezer so the chocolate would harden. I unwrapped about six of the Reese’s eggs, this was the tough part, keeping the wrappers from ripping, and set the wrappers aside. I pulled the chocolate dipped tomatoes out of the freezer and carefully wrapped them up in the Reese’s Easter Egg candy wrappers. I put them in a candy dish along with some genuine Reese’s eggs…and waited. Yeah, watching someone take a bite out of one of those was a pretty good moment in my life. 😉

What’s the best prank you’ve played on someone? What is the best prank someone has played on you? 

Photo Friday: BIG

Today’s photo Friday was inspired from the State Fair. One of my favorite things to see at the fair is none other than the GIGANTIC FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. These things just leave me speech less…and grateful that I don’t have to eat them. Any awesomely huge vegetables or fruits you’ve seen? What’s your favorite thing at the fair?

This picture is of an enormous cabbage grown by expert farmer John Evans of Alaska!

This green cabbage is MASSIVE! Grown by expert farmer John Evans of Alaska!

This green cabbage is MASSIVE!

Ever wonder what $160,000 dollars looks like? Well, just take a gander at this 3lb Truffle. Found in Italy, the truffle sold at auction for $160,000. I am thinking about becoming a truffle hunter as a side job….

photo credit: pinterest, Every day Health

 photo credit: pinterest, Every day Health

The last picture is of a 17 POUND ONION. Talk about bad breath! The onion was grown by Peter Glazebrook of Newark, England. The onion earned a World Guinness Record.

photo credit: Everyday Health

ummm….is this for real? photo credit: Everyday Health

Photo FridayThat’s Photo Friday!

information/research credit: Everyday Health, Buzzfeed

Coffee House Insider: Montagues

Although Starbucks is a place that holds many fond memories of hanging with friends, having great conversations and the guarantee of good tea, I like to find coffee & tea houses “off the beaten path”.

For me a good coffee house must have good tea. When I go to coffee houses, I always get tea, always(I am very particular about my coffee, and I really do like tea better). Unless I am getting the Blueberry Coffee from Dunkin Donuts, but Dunkin Donuts isn’t a place I go to hang out with friends or write. It is the place I run in and out. The atmosphere doesn’t really scream “writer’s inspiration”…if you know what I mean.

I love to find new and unique coffee & tea places just like I love to find little cool bookstores. So as I find a really awesome place to get your joe or tea, I will share it on my blog!

Montague’s Coffee House

Location: Colorado Springs, CO

Montague’s is a place that was “my coffee shop” back when I lived in Colorado. When you go inside

The counter full of desserts at Montagues  photo: urbanspoon

The counter full of desserts at Montagues
photo: urbanspoon

you feel like you just walked into the Victorian Era. There is fancy wall-paper, antique chairs and couches and tables(each piece of furniture is unique and different! I love this!), a fireplace, old paintings, and fancy tea pots and cups. The menu offers a large variety and LOTS OF HOME-BREWED TEAS. My favorites so far are “Cupid’s Arrow” (vanilla undertones) & “Blueberry” (if you can’t tell, I really like blueberry flavored things). When they serve the tea you get your own tea pot! So you don’t just get one cup of tea…you get many cups of tea.They also offer coffee, desserts, smoothies, sandwiches, soup and breakfast items. In my book they have the BEST PESTO in the world! Yes, in the world. If you read my blog about pesto, you already know I am obsessed, for those of you who didn’t, well now you know, I am totally in love with pesto. The service is great and the people that work there are friendly and laid back. This place attracted crowds that ranged from high schoolers to members of the Red Hat Society.

What I love the most about Montagues is all the memories. This was the place where I wrote random short stories and novel ideas. This was the place where I had a ton of laughs with friends. I often ran into people I haven’t seen in years here…that was interesting sometimes! This was a place where I became friends with the people that worked there. This was a

Inside view! I guess they have some matching furniture now!

Inside view! I guess they have some matching furniture now!

place where you just didn’t pull out your phone…I don’t know if it was just the atmosphere…but you could just get lost in inspiration or in conversation here and forget about the time or social media.

One of my favorite memories:

We heard there was a certain table with a drawer filled with random thoughts from random people. People could write a little something on a note and put it in the drawer. We heard the drawer was filled with these hilarious little notes and drawings.
We never knew for sure if the drawer existed because the table the drawer was rumored to be in was ALWAYS taken. Finally, one day we nabbed that table with it’s mystery drawer. We opened it and sure enough there were bunches of little scraps of paper. We began reading through them and it was hilarious! Some of them were outright hilarious, some of them were creepy and some of them were quotes (I always love me a good quote). We ended up adding our own notes, I think I drew something…but I can’t remember! It was such a fun night. I hope the table still exists!

If you are ever in Colorado Springs, CO, check out Montagues!

What’s a cool coffee house in your area? What makes it stand out? Any favorite memories that took place there?



Bullet Proof Cheese…a story of cafeteria food

Over the weekend a group of friends and I got to discussing the evils of the cafeteria food at the 1-grated-cheesecolleges we went to.

The college I went to, the food wasn’t really terrible, they tried they really did! But for someone who loves to cook and loathes microwave dinners & the like, the options were limited. Most of the time, I made up a big salad from the salad bar; it was always stocked with mostly fresh ingredients so for me it was the best option. One day I created my usual salad: spinach, sunflower seeds, chicken, black olives, croutons and topped with cheddar cheese. As I chopped it up I noticed the cheese really didn’t want to give way, like it was frozen in some kind of mold. Huh. Weird. I took a bite…started chewing…and something was off. I took another bite. Something was definitely off. As the days went by, I discovered the cheese was different. For one, it was no longer a vibrant cheery orange. It was dull orange, faded as if it had been sitting in the sun for years, which of course, I knew was not the case. I took an individual bite of a pile of the cheese without anything mixed into it, and it tasted like….I don’t even know.But I did know one thing…this was not cheddar cheese. This was an imposter!

At dinner one day, one of my friends made a quesadilla. She stuffed the quesadilla with the imposter cheese and popped it in the microwave. After two minutes she pulled out her quesadilla and the cheese looked EXACTLY the same. It was still in it’s individual shredded state, not one piece had even started melted and turning gooey. At first, my friend thought the microwave wasn’t working right…she

photo credit: Google images

WHAT IS THIS STUFF??? photo credit: Google images

put it in for TWO MORE MINUTES. By now, her tortilla was hard and crunchy…and the cheese….WAS UNCHANGED. She brought the quesadilla back to our table and announced that the cheese did not melt, would not melt. HHHHORRRORRRR!!! The question now was, what was this orange stuff they were serving us??? We decided to call the cheese “Bullet Proof Cheese”, because of it’s indestructible qualities.

 I ended up working in the cafeteria ( =( I had to wear a hair net…it was awful!) and one way ran by the salad line to discover what the heck the stuff was. I found a clear bag full of the shredded cheese…I looked for a label, or nutrient label, or list of ingredients. The only thing I found was a white label slapped across the front that said in big black letters “IMITATION CHEDDAR”.  No way? Are you serious?  I never found out what exactly were the special ingredients that made this cheese that could survive a nuclear blast, but I knew sadly I was going to have to say good bye to cheese on my salad. So sad.

One day, they randomly brought back REAL CHEESE…the line that formed to get just even a shred of the real cheese looked like one of the lines at a department store check out on black Friday. We thought the people that ran the college would get the point, but no, they still served the fake cheese until I graduated from college. I wonder if they still have it now? YUCK!

The bullet proof cheese was at least good for one thing…laughter (or perhaps, protection?). Every time anyone brings up memories of that cheese, you can’t help but laugh!

Did your college or high school ever serve any “mysterious” food?

Family Traditions, Waffles and Supertasters

Having family traditions is important. They make you feel more like a team. They can bring families together. They are memory makers. I thought I would share one of my families traditions and I would love to hear about yours! 

For our birthdays, my Mom would make something she called a “Royal Breakfast”. About a week before, Mom would have us make an “order or wish list” of our desired menu. It could be anything: bacon, omelet, biscuits and gravy, cookies, cake, sausage, waffles, pancakes, whatever! On our birthday or a weekend day closest to our birthday, I remember waking up to that to die for smell of bacon and sausage frying, and waffles baking. A few minutes later you could hear the “Happy birthday” jingle coming down the hall, towards my room. My entire family would be there (except Andrea…she and I have the same birthday!) singing and holding a breakfast tray complete with our fanciest dishes, a flower in a vase, and a candle to blow out. Oh! and I forgot to mention a “bell” to ring when we needed a refill. That’s what I call a royal breakfast. My Mom would set the tray on my lap and we got to feel like royalty for a day. I love this tradition, and I plan on doing this with my kids…someday!

One item that was always on my “Royal Breakfast Wish List” was my Mom’s waffles – crunchy, fluffy, buttery, mouthwatering goodness. She usually made them on special occasions (like our birthdays) or on the weekends or on days when we all got down on our knees and begged her. Her secret ingredients that made the waffles stand out were using oatmeal in the batter (makes the waffle have more of a crunch) and adding a touch of Mexican Vanilla. When I was a teenager, I went on a Mission’s Trip to Mexico where we bought bottle after bottle of real Mexican Vanilla. I think we had like 15 bottles! This stuff is beyond amazing, it literally sends whatever food it is added to over the top. But my Mom’s real secret weapon to making the best waffles known to man was a special waffle iron that was over 50 years old! BTW…isn’t it amazing how some things really had been made with that kind of quality? It was a bulky and heavy square thing that dished out four waffles in one use. This waffle iron made the waffles cook evenly and gave them that perfect, soft crunch. The only thing you had to be careful of when using it was not greasing the iron enough. If you didn’t brush the iron with olive oil or some other grease, you would end up with waffles glued to the waffle iron! This is the biggest hassle to clean out…uggh…memories…


an old waffle iron…ours was similar to this! photo credit: Google images

For my entire childhood and up till I went to college our 1950s waffle iron served us faithfully, producing batch after batch of perfect waffles. There were a few times towards the end of its life that the cord would send out some sparks. That was kinda scary. But otherwise, it was still kicking.
When I was in college, hundreds of miles from home, I heard some horrifying news on the phone. My Mom casually said that she had made waffles for my younger sisters, using a new waffle iron. WHAT? A NEW waffle iron???
“Just giving the old one a break?” I asked, telling myself not to panic.
“Oh, no…didn’t I tell you? I threw that old thing away!”
It was a crushing moment. And the waffles have never been the same since! RIP Waffle Iron.

How do you top your waffles? What do you top them with? What are your family traditions?

I am really, and I mean really, weird about sweet things. I think it’s called a “Super Taster”; (learn more about it at, “A Matter of Taste” by Mary Beckman; if you read about it-I have no problem eating vegetables…fruits are what I have a really hard time eating!) Basically I have a bunch more sweet taste buds on my tongue than most people, so when I eat a bite of cake it tastes like I just shoved a gallon of sugar down my throat. I like the flavor of sweet things but it is literally impossible for me to eat them. My twin sister, Andrea, is the exact same way! Weirdies together! So my waffle is topped with butter and a squeeze of lemon juice. Ya, totally weird, but delicious!

I am a foodie. I love to cook, try all sorts of food, and learn about food. And I have to say, if you have never been to The Cheesecake Factory…you have never lived.

As I was looking up information for the upcoming Baltimore Book Festival at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor,

photo credit: Google images

photo credit: Google images

my mind wondered to the restaurants on the bay, one restaurant in particular lodged its’ way into my brain and I haven’t been able to stop thinking of it since. (imagine angelic music playing) THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY. Glorious! I love this place, and yes they do serve food other than cheesecake. Their menu has so many options, it comes in a book form with a spiral binder. Everything looks AMAZING. (My brother-in-law got a mac & cheese burger…it looked like…heaven) But, I only ever get one thing from the cheesecake factory: Chicken Bellagio. It’s a crispy chicken that sits in a bed of pasta dripping with pesto sauce and then is topped with arugula, Pancetta (Italian Bacon), and fresh shaved Parmesan Cheese. Mouth watering. I am a pesto fanatic. I love it on sandwiches, pizza, pasta, for breakfast, lunch or dinner (well…perhaps not breakfast).

Traditional Pesto is the combination of basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, black pepper, Parmesan Cheese and a dash of salt.

*fact-did you know basil is often called the “King of Herbs”?

Pesto is Italian in origin, with its’ name’s basic meaning being “to crush”, referring to how all of the ingredients are blended together (in Italy the ingredients were first crushed with a mortar and pestle). It is similar to a spread the Romans ate called, “moretum”. It is usually paired with pasta but makes a great flavor addition to sandwiches, chicken dishes, pizza and I’ve even tried it tossed with a salad.

Where can you buy pesto? I don’t recommend the stuff you buy in jars in the store-it is nasty! The only store bought pesto I like is Bertolli’s Pesto. It is bright green in color and the flavor is excellent. You can

find it at Wall mart near the Deli in the refrigerated specialty foods section. 

If you are like me and like to make things from scratch here is a good pesto recipe to follow:

2 cups of fresh basil

2 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup pine nuts

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

a dash of sea salt and black pepper

1/2 cup of fresh shredded Parmesan Cheese

Blend the first three of the ingredients together in a food processor with a small amount of the olive oil. Once the ingredients are crushed, add the rest of the olive oil, the pepper and salt, and the Parmesan Cheese. Bon Appetite!

I suppose you can guess what I’m having for dinner! Have you ever been to the Cheesecake Factory? What is your favorite thing to order? Do you have a family pesto recipe?

pesto facts credit: “A Brief History of Pesto”, Wikipedia, and The Food Network

Photo Friday: Amazing Art made of…. Food

Today’s photo Friday  blew my mind in the best of ways! The artist who creates these amazing art pieces is Malaysian artist Hong Yi, who is nicknamed Red Hongyi. Red believes in using natural elements to create art. “She wants to continue to use mundane, ordinary & often overlooked objects to make beautiful art & through her art and the internet, connect people throughout the world.” -from her website (CHECK IT OUT and BE AMAZED!) It’s not about the tools and supplies…it’s about what  the artist can do with his tools!

I also checked out her blog and you should check it out to: She has lot’s of awesome artwork using the most simple elements. The blog post I read she was creating a picture of Jackie Chan (MUST SEE!)

I hope you enjoyed this Photo Friday!

photo credit: Artist, Red Hong Yi

photo credit: Artist, Red Hong Yi

louis vuiton

I love Louis Vuitton!



Photo FridayThat’s….Photo Friday

thoughts on leftovers and “Chopped”…

One of my favorite shows to watch is “Chopped” where chefs battle against each other by trying to create awesome dishes out of the various (often weird) foods that they pull out of a basket. I just watched a “Chopped” episode where every food is a leftover. Some of the foods the chefs had to work with were leftover french fries, chili, German chocolate cake. Wow! I couldn’t imagine with making something delicious out of those items.

My Mom has a strange ability to use and re-invent leftovers. Probably because our family has 8 people in it! My Mom’s best leftover remake was using all the basically empty salad dressings and sauces and sour cream and cream cheese and dumping all of these ingredients into a bag along with chicken breasts and ….making it into a marinade. I remember watching in horror as my Mom’s unholy mixture flavored our dinner. But, it was amazing how it tasted. You would never think that many ingredients or different flavors would create something so delicious!

Other things I like leftover: mac and cheese…so good!

I was wondering if there any dishes you prefer to eat as a “leftover”? Do you have any awesome ways you reinvent a leftover dish?