Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Heart On My Sleeve (Surrender)

Disclaimer: If you credit yourself for having been a primary person in my life in the past few years, and aren't any longer, well, you probably don't want to read this. If you were on my email list, I cannot find the tab to remove you, so feel free to mark this as SPAM.

Made it past that point? Okay. Here I am, writing with an open heart. It's been a while (read, 8 years) since I've had the courage to be completely honest and raw. Is it a good idea? Who knows. But it's how I'm choosing to live.

Without being hurtful to others or getting into details that are best forgotten, I will share something that I've learned about myself that is begging to be spilled. It's the kind of thing that sits bound up inside the heart until it's told. After it's out there, I can put it to rest. This, by the way, is inspired by a quote I read on my friend Jamie's facebook wall (I've shared it with you, below).

I've spent the past few recent years slowly degrading. Dying, like a plant without water or sunlight, constantly dry, searching for nourishment. Occasionally, I'd get a bit of water and a hint of low light. Not enough to allow me to grow; just enough to sustain me. I always felt trapped by the boundaries that were set up around me, keeping me corralled in the same spot. Don't grow, they warned. Don't change. But change and growth are part of the process of life, and being stagnant is not something I've ever agreed to settle on. For years, I created something in my head that simply wasn't there. I followed the "law of attraction", focusing on what I wanted and thinking that it would magically appear. The thing is, the law of attraction works when you actually make it your reality, look for what you want, be who you want to be, and walk away from everything else.

And so, finally, I walked away.

For months, I focused on what I wanted my life to look like. What I wanted for my business, my family, my friendships. What I learned, to my surprise, was that being alone at home on a Friday night was far more rewarding than being out chasing something that I wasn't sure I even wanted. I got really comfortable being with myself. After a while, though, I started to miss the shared life. Little things, like sharing coffee in the morning, or laying in bed together talking about everything and nothing.

Choosing to take the next step, I've ventured out. While I am not exactly sure where I am going, I know that what I am ready for is something real, something honest. It should be simple, and it should be nice. It shouldn't feel like work.

I will not play the role I've played in the past. I will not live with unmet needs. The game serves no purpose in my life. I know my worth. While I am not perfect, I am many good things. I am honest, and caring. My heart is big. I take risks, laugh loudly, and am willing to walk to the top of the mountain and jump. I will no longer let my past define me. And I will never let anyone steal my sparkle.

This is what was posted by Jamie R. Allen:

Very little grows on jagged rock.
Be ground.
Be crumbled.
So wildflowers will come up where you are.
You've been stony for too many years.
Try something different.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Anxiety, and Danielle Jonas

After watching "Married to Jonas" on E! tonight, I was moved to write this post. If you haven't seen the most recent episode, while in Italy, Danielle Jonas shares that she has major anxiety, misses being home (though she is with her entire family), and has even resorted to going (back) on medication to deal with it. She responds and speaks honestly about how she feels.  See a teaser for this episode here.

Danielle, thank you for sharing your experience.

Those close to me know that I have major anxiety. I've had both anxiety and panic attacks. I've even gone so far, in years past, to have driven myself to the ER while in the midst of an attack. Anytime I hear anyone share their personal experience with anxiety, it helps me to feel better about my own experiences. Sometimes they aren't obviously anxiety attacks, and the physical symptoms can present as another issue. Racing heart, dizziness, sweating, nausea. And for Danielle Jonas to share what she is experiences, by way of a reality show, is truly commendable. She's definitely helping lots of people who feel what she does, but may be too ashamed to share their experience or wonder if it's even normal.

Danielle Jonas, on tonight's episode.

Anxiety can be frightening and isolating. I know the feeling of wanting to be home, even when everyone you love is with you. Every single time I travel, I get this feeling. Sometimes it's a momentary feeling, other times it comes and goes throughout the trip. When we used to drive to Rhode Island, I'd start to panic the minute we crossed the Tappan Zee Bridge. I cannot explain why. I wanted to go away. I was happy. But the anxiety takes over. Last summer, while in an unfamiliar hotel in Providence, I was feeling unsure and unsafe. My travel companion was parking the car, and my son vacationing in California. (My son being on another coast, that alone, had me completely unnerved.) The feeling started to overwhelm me. I felt uneasy and untethered. My heart was racing; the floor felt unsteady. At that moment, I saw a family (a girl who was checking out the place for her wedding, along with her sister and her parents) and I knew that talking to them might distract me enough to prevent a full blown panic attack. That is how desperate it becomes. You search for anyone that seems concrete, just so that you have a place to anchor, and a point of distraction.

While I am not able to help people with anxiety (I am not a therapist), I am here to say that it happens to the best of us, it's not as uncommon as you think, and you can get help. And to Danielle Jonas, once again, thank you for your bravery. We love you, exactly as you are.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fabulous Female Profile: Cindy Blanco of Saplings

I remember when I found Cindy on the Internet. I was looking for cool, independently owned stores in the area and saw a page for her shop, Saplings. On it was a video of Cindy giving a tour of her store. She has the greatest stuff. When I first visited last year at this time, she had huge sock monkeys, cool felt peace sign ornaments, fun vintage candy and all sorts of fabulous kids furniture, bedding and decor. But her shop isn't just for kids, although it is the focus. I love her extras, home decor, books, doggie items, frames, and she carries Domestic Goddess candles! I want to live in her shop. Her energy was similar to mine and I could tell that not only is she good at what she does, but she loves doing it. Go meet her at Saplings. You will love her, too. Tell her the Domestic Goddess sent ya!

name: Cindy Blanco

company name: Saplings est. 2003

favorite quote: "Just get it done."

what i do:  Create amazing rooms for kids and teens that do not look like something from a catalog! Got started 27 years ago in visual merchandising for every major specialty retailer.

i sell: In my shop, located at 74 Church Street in Montclair, NJ

contact: Cindy Blanco 973-337-6652. Visit the Saplings Montclair facebook page, or the website www.saplingsusa.com.

A section of Cindy's fabulous shop, Saplings, on Church Street in Montclair (taken from her facebook page). Don't you just want to sit and enjoy an afternoon snack at this table?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Limoncello & Arancello -- the recipes!

After posting photos of my new liquor lounge line (out in December), one of the comments under my Limoncello candle was in regards to a recipe for the drink. The woman who commented happens to make an amazing Limoncello. I asked her for the recipe, and she kindly allowed me to share it with all of you here on the blog, along with a couple of other similarly fabulous cocktails.

A big thank you to the beautiful, talented Dawn Jones Migliore for sharing with us! 

Dawn Jones Migliore knows how to make a Limoncello!

Limoncello & Arancello
A divine creation from the Amalfi Coast In Italy

It is made with 95% pure grain alcohol, lemons, and simple syrup. That is it! The same is true for Arancello. the beauty of this Italian original recipe is it only takes 8 days to make and is an authentic recipe tweaked from recipes I have gathered through the years as well as secrets from an Italian male friend whom I cannot mention who shared his secrets that have perfected my recipe.

Sorrento lemons are best, but since we're in Jersey, we will have to settle for good old Florida oranges and lemons (or you can use blood oranges when in season). When you sip Limoncello, it should be smooth with a little kick in the middle. You should never pour over ice, but drink chilled. Italians would cringe if you did it and they knew. Italians never use vodka; it is always made with Everclear. Yup, you heard me. Grain alcohol, the stuff that we were told in college would make us go blind. But it's crucial since during the fermenting process the sugar and lemons marry to a very lemony silky finish, leaving you with a jolt when sipped. Also, during the fermentation, it weakens the strength of the alcohol.

Authentic Italian Limoncello

Prep time 20 minutes
Fermenting 8 days

  • 1 liter (1000 ml) Everclear alcohol
  • 10 medium to large lemons*
  • 1 1/2 liters water (6 1/3 cups)
  • 3 pounds granulated sugar (6 1/2 cups)

* Choose thick-skinned lemons because they are easier to zest. The lemons must be yellow and not tinted with green.

Wash the lemons with a vegetable brush and hot water to remove any chemicals or pesticides. Pat the lemons dry. Using a potato peeler, take all the lemon rinds off of the lemons so there is no white pith on the peel. Place the rind-peelings in a large container with the Everclear alcohol. Cover the container and let it sit for seven days. You can also use a lemon zester; I find that brings the flavor out more if you zest, but it takes a lot more time.

On day 8, strain the peels from the alcohol and discard them.

In a large saucepan, make a simple syrup by combining the water and sugar; let it simmer fast for 15 minutes. Let simple syrup cool to room temperature. Add to alcohol.

It is now completed and ready to drink!

NOTE: This same recipe works for Arancello. Use 10 large oranges or blood oranges.

Makes about 2 1/2 liters.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fabulous Female Profile: Erika Domanico of Culture Cabin

As promised, you will be meeting -- on this blog -- some fabulous females who are in business for themselves. Today, meet Erika Domanico. I first met Erika close to ten years ago when she had a shop called Rustic Roots. We met once again, a little over a month ago, when she invited me to teach a candle making class in her lodge. I agreed, and the minute I walked into the space, I fell in love. It has handmade furniture (made by both Domanico and her husband), a faux fireplace with a hearth, carved wood art on the walls, and other heartfelt touches. It's cozy and inviting, just like Domanico.

name: Erika Domanico, designer/artist/teacher/trendsetter
company: Culture Cabin, founded March, 2011

favorite quote:  "Unnecessary failures are the ones where an artist tries to second guess an audience's taste, and little comes out of that situation except a kind of inward humiliation."  David Bowie, music icon

philosophy: Here in this quaint, intimate, enchanted cabin is taught some of the most unique classes at affordable prices for those who love to create! Creative Learning in a Classy Lodge, which also contains women's handmade accessories! 

Outdoor terrace at the Cabin reminds class participants that they are creative bound.
Leather holiday stocking class to be held 12/01. You can make your very own!

located at: 1017 Main Street, Boonton, NJ 07005 
contact information: visit us anytime at www.culturecabin.com for a look at future classes, browse our accessories, or simply to get inspired. call 201-274-6859 or Erika's email, boontonarts@gmail.com

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sisters Doin' It for Themselves

Over the past six months, I have met a slew of really amazing women who are in business for themselves. Most of them are here in America (though I found a few fabulous cuties who are living large in Canada), and they have all started their own companies, or opened shops, online stores, or created a space that offers really amazing services.

The thing about beauty is that it's relative and it fades. Real beauty comes from strength, smarts, confidence, and philanthropy. But still, what a beautiful cover.

As a woman in business myself, I realized that speaking to these women empowered me to focus, get inspired, and grow my business with confidence. When we help one another, we help ourselves. Supporting small business truly is the way to grow a solid country.

While I can tell you how I got started, and will do so soon, I wanted to take time to feature women who have personally inspired me. (Now, I am off to go make candles)

Our first profile will run tomorrow, so look for it, tell friends, and let me know if you'd like to be included in our fabulous female profiles. 

And for today, feel free to peek at what I do via my etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/DomesticGoddessLine

Monday, July 9, 2012

It's A Dog (M)eat Dog Kinda World

Dogs are meat eaters. It makes sense then, that we should give them meat to eat. All the kibble and wet canned food says "beef and barley" or "chicken and rice." Seemed about right, until I started asking around.

Why did I start asking around about her diet, you wonder? I want her to be as healthy as possible. After a trip to the vet for spotty hair loss, my vet said her immune system wasn't as strong, and had me add Omgea-3 fatty acids. But I knew that I could do more. Since my whole life is focused on eating healthy for both my son and myself, it made sense that my dog should have the best diet for her, as well.

I found out that most kibble (not all) has fillers (cereal, grain) and really, a dogs teeth are made for tearing meat. But raw meat? Thoughts of salmonella creep in. I talked to someone who knows a lot about feeding dogs, and learned a few great things. I am not good at retelling information, so I'll be brief.

A dog's digestive tract is the length of their body, and their stomach acid easily kills bacteria. (I am not a vet, so read this knowing that I am retelling information that I processed, so I may not be telling it exactly right.) The only thing you need to do is be sure that the person handling the meat cleans up afterward, just as you would preparing meat for yourself. No big deal.

Another thing was,  I thought the meat was store bought ground beef or steaks. What I didn't know was that there are a variety of brands to choose from, packaged meat for dogs and cats, and the whole process is super easy. I replaced a blend of Purina One kibble and a can of wet per day, with raw meat for Sugar. It's about the same exact price, but the raw meat is much easier to use, and much better for her. I don't have to leave a plastic bucket of dog food out, or a scoop, or clean and recycle 7 cans a week. I simply keep the meat in the freezer, except for the meat she is eating for the next few days. That, I cut into four equal parts and put in little plastic tupperware containers, and leave them in the fridge.

My freezer, L to R: a couple of Amy's frozen vegetarian meals for the humans, three rolls of Sugar's Blue Ridge Beef (purchased at Paws-itive Experience Pet Services in Rockaway), three bottles of vodka, and some frozen organic veggies. You see how simple it is to store her food? Easy freezie!

At feed time, I just transfer it to her bowl, mush up the meat, and add a little warm water (she likes it better like that). I add digestive enzymes and omega-3 fatty acids. Just today, I started adding dehydrated beets and carrots. Sugar was thrilled.

Here's the meat defrosting in the fridge (still in the roll), and some containers holding the individual portions I created. Super easy.

Sugar's dinner tonight. Blue Ridge Beef and Bone blend, with added dehydrated beets (and she has a couple bits of an anti-inflammatory in there, from her recent sprained ankle). This was GONE in two minutes.

If you have any desire whatsoever to try a raw meat diet for your dog, trust me and try it. It's made my life so much easier (ridiculously easier), my dog is both happier and healthier, and now I don't have horrible plastic buckets full of kibble sitting out, or can upon can of dog food in the cabinets. It's the best decision we have made for Sugar since finding doggie day care.

Paws-itive Experience Pet Services sells a variety of raw meat brands for cats and dogs, tons of healthy treats and supplements you can trust, offers doggie day care, training, and so much more. They also sell top of the line kibble for those who prefer to stay with dry food. is located at 114 Beach Street in Rockaway, NJ. Check them out at www.trainadog.comwww.trainadog.com.

Monday, April 30, 2012

How Paws-itive Experience Has Changed My Life

After adopting my dog, Sugar, in March, I knew that I needed to be trained on how to raise her. I wanted to be sure that I had a dog that was good around people, other dogs, and could handle children running up to her. I didn't want a dog who would bite, jump, growl, or be aggressive in any way. While I was lucky in adopting a dog who had a naturally kind demeanor, I still knew that without training, she wouldn't feel (or be) safe.

Everyone, I mean, EVERYONE that had a dog told me about a place called Paws-itive Experience Pet Services a few towns away. They said that the shop, the training, and all of the experts, were amazing. People seriously raved. I googled the website, got the number and called. Jane, a woman with an amazing British accent, gave me all of the information I needed for basic training, and I also got information about private training.

Sugar on my son Johnny's lap
I had a trainer from Paws-itive come to the house and evaluate Sugar, and the way that my son and I dealt with her. There were some things she was afraid to do, and she wasn't housebroken, so the trainer, Tina, came in and helped us with all that. She really got me started and put my mind at ease. 

I also signed us up for Basic Obedience 1, to teach Sugar the basics. In the time between when the trainer came and the first Basic Obedience class, I was invited to call with any question I had about Sugar. Jane always had answers for me, and put my mind at ease. Sugar didn't want to go in the crate, for example, and I had to leave the house. So I called Jane. Things like that. She was amazing. When I finally got to meet her, and put a face to her voice, I was elated.

Anyhow, the basic obedience program is behavior training. We humans are trained how to behave, and our behavior fosters good behavior in our dogs. We must be consistent, confidence, and firm. The word "no" isn't used in training, neither is yelling. Commands are soft and firm. 

John, the trainer who taught our Basic Obedience classes, is so good at what he does, that if participants actually do what he teaches (consistently), I cannot imagine a dog not learning. He taught us so much that we are returning for Basic Obedience 2, then 3, then their Out and About class, and their therapy dog class. Basically, we are taking as much training as we can get!

I learned that confidence and boundaries are important, and when I know what needs to be done and I do it with confidence, my dog will follow. I learned that dogs can sense the energy people send out (they sense fear, love, security). Oh, and she LOVES other dogs. Many days a week, I drop her at doggie day care (at Paws-itive) even though I don't need to have someone watch her. I do it because she loves it, she thrives on interacting freely with other dogs. The dogs always have a human in the play space with them -- all the humans there are fabulously kind and great with dogs, which makes me very happy -- and all the doggies maintain good social behavior. Sugar runs to the building, up the stairs, and into the door for both day care and behavior classes. She loves it there (let's face it, we all do). Everyone is so super nice, and they offer lots of great services for our dogs (even a do-it-yourself doggie bath). 

Paws-itive has changed the way that I view dogs, my relationship to them, and the understanding of my responsibilities as a doggie mom. Even more, though, I have learned the many ways I can enrich my dog's life so that she feels safe, has fun, and thrives. 

As she lays on her bed next to me, I am thankful for the four hours she spent playing at Paws-itive today, and I look forward to her returning. Knowing that on rainy days and in cold winter weather (or hot summer weather), she has a place to play and get exercise, makes me very happy.

If you haven't experienced Paws-itive yet, SERIOUSLY call them right now. They are a life-changing experience.

Paws-itive Experience is located at 114 Beach Street Building #5, 2nd Floor
Rockaway, NJ 07866. 973-625-2495

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Next Five Years

ISBN: 978-0-307-71977-5
While going through photos on Instagram, @ellymae had a photo of a 5 year project she was starting. It's this book called Q&A a day. Each day, you answer one question about you that is true for that day. Pages start at January 1, but you can start any day. There are five lines that are marked 20__ per date page (ie: April 12) and you write the current year next to them. So 20 __ will start at 2012 and end at 2016, if you start this year.

Mine came in the mail yesterday, in the midst of a huge emotional upheaval. I decided to wait to start the book until today, because yesterday I wasn't in a place to do much of anything. I'm not much better today, but the sun is out and, frankly, it's up to me to pull myself up by my  bootstraps, out of my own sadness.  Today I filled in May 12, then realized it was only March, so I went to March 12, then realized it was actually April. Long week...

Today's page

I filled in April 12, and I'm committing to doing a page a day. It's only four lines and I think that looking back at what has (and hasn't) changed as life passes, is a good thing. Available on bn.com, but cheaper on amazon.com. 

Make a five year commitment to yourself. It's the one thing you know that you are able to commit to for sure... unless, of course, you die :)

Not a bad quote for a cover page.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Get Out Your Pens... (doctors, dentists, vets, and a car doctor)

Over the past two years, I've had reason to find new doctors, and a new dentist. I searched far and wide to find providers that were both capable and sympathetic. Doctors have a tendency to make me anxious, so I always need to have super compassionate doctors. At the same time, my providers must also be very good at what they do, and be conservative in their approach. I want doctors who will do the least amount of procedures, prescribe medicine only when necessary, but who will also do what it takes to get me diagnosed, treated, and cured. I will drive great distances, when necessary, to see them.

I've been wanting to share my list with you all, but I've been so busy making candles that I haven't had much time. A friend, though, shared that her relative (who is in her 20s) was just diagnosed with colon cancer, and that was as good a reason as any to start this list.

Here's my list of doctors and dentist/specialists that I adore! If you want to know why I went to a specific doctor, or have a problem you need addressed, feel free to email me privately at tiffanypalisi@gmail.com.

Dentist (children and adults)
Dr. Kimberly Soares, Mountain Lakes

She did a crown lenghtening procedure on me that seemed effortless, and was pain (and stress) free. If you ever need a periodontist, a tooth pulled, an implant, etc., this is the periodontist for the job.
Dr. Michele Dimaira, Montville

Love, love, love our pediatrian's office. He knows what he's doing, doesn't over medicate, but definitely medicates when necessary. (Anti-vax people can contact me with questions.)
Dr. DeLorenzo, West Caldwell

I got many referrals, and this doc is hand's down, the best. I trust him with my life.
Dr. Russell Hoffman, Summit

Dr. Joanne Martin, Morristown

The best!
Megan Messina, LPC, Morristown

She's sweet, smart, and a woman (making it a little less embarrassing)
Dr. Julie Lorber, Summit

She works at Sloane Kettering, so she can spot skin cancer a mile away. For general skin issues, try Dr. Almeida in Parsippany. For skin screenings, and possible skin cancers, see:
Dr. Elizabeth Quigley, Basking Ridge

Susannah Pitman, Boonton

Dr. Chon

Car Doctors (okay, mechanics, but I really wanted to include them on this list)
Honest, good prices, kind people and they will fix any problem your car may have! I only take my car to Mt. Lakes Motors!
Mountain Lakes Motors, Mountain Lakes

Veterinary Doctor
I love Dr. Rao and her entire office staff, and so does my dog, Sugar
Park View Veterinary Hospital, Boonton

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thank God for Mountain Lakes Motors

I live in a small town called Mountain Lakes. There's literally one gift shop, one restaurant, then a  restaurant/market, a gym, a train store, builders and small offices, a library, and a post office.  There's a highway with a couple spots, but I don't really count the highway as part of town (though I do love Mountain Lakes Car Wash and Mountain Lakes Bagels). Then, there is Mountain Lakes Motors.

When I first visited this town, Mountain Lakes Motors was a place I wanted to visit. The building is an old stone building that really looks like an original Mountain Lakes building (it must be). Pudding stone and all. I knew I'd want to go there to get my oil changes, etc. just to be in the building. As a former Jiffy Lube enthusiast, this is a big deal). After being a client for 7 years now, I can tell you that it is my favorite place in Mountain Lakes.

A car servicing shop? Yes.

Here's why. Every time I have an issue with my car, they take care of it quickly and for a fair, competitive price. Oil changes are high quality, and when I go, they will tell me if they notice something (like I may need new tires in 6 months). They know me, they know my car, and pay attention. And I know that when they say work needs to be done, it's because it does. They care about the work that they do on our cars.

Yesterday, my neighbor noticed that my tire was near flat (it had 10 lbs. of air in it, and it takes 35). I was heading out to work, and called to see if they could just fill my tire up with air so that I could get to work. When I brought it over, they looked at it immediately, and saw a screw in my tire. While it may have stayed put, Tim (one of the three mechanics at MLM) offered to put on my spare tire for me, so that I could safely drive around without worry.

The whole thing took 10 minutes.

Being able to trust a mechanic is as important as being able to trust your doctor. Knowing that they do solid work, and aren't trying to make me spend money that I don't need to spend, is really amazing. Having the comfort of knowing that I can call because my tire is flat, and they can take care of my car right away so that I (and my family and passengers) am safe is even better.

If you live anywhere near the area (Boonton, Denville, Parsippany, Montville, Rockaway), and especially if you live in Mountain Lakes, you should definitely take your car to Mountain Lakes Motors. You will be so happy you did.

Find them on Facebook by clicking here: Mountain Lakes Motors.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Paleo Zone - Day 1

I am modifying the Paleo diet by way of what is called the Paleo Zone. It's pretty much the Paleo diet, but allows for dairy.

My first challenge was finding food that I could eat at Liberty Science Center's cafeteria. It wasn't easy, and I failed the Paleo part, but still managed to eat something healthy. I got grilled chicken with lettuce on a wrap, so the wrap part is the failure. Still, I did better than I'd hoped.

Tonight, I am having egg whites and spinach for dinner... strawberries for dessert. My son's having the same, and there is an amazing brand new tub of caramel swirl ice cream in the fridge that he will be able to indulge in for dessert. Will I miss it? Hardly. I am very focused on getting my life back on track, so if it means no sugar (no ice cream), that's a small sacrifice.

Anyhow, I'll be making Sugar Cookie & Strawberry Shortcake candles all night so at least I will get to smell something fabulous!

Monday, February 20, 2012

From the Heart (my heart, literally), Why We Are What We Eat

I just got back from an appointment with my cardiologist. I will be retuning again shortly, to do a stress test, so that I can be cleared for exercise. Having mitral valve prolapse, it's important that I have my heart checked regularly. My cholesterol is normal, and my blood pressure is a healthy 110/70. But there's the scale and a magical number that should grace the scale, but it didn't. Er...

Apparently, someone (my two thumbs pointing back at me) needs to get back in shape.

The last time I saw my cardiologist, back in 2005, I was 20 lbs. lighter than I am now. A size 2, who power lifted and spent two hours a day at the gym. I ate clean (read = Oxygen magazine clean), no added fats, dairy, carbs... veggie slices (fake cheese) in Pepper Jack flavor was the closest I got to egg whites with cheese. Dessert was a pint of strawberries with wheat germ and a swirl of Hershey's chocolate syrup. Decadent, to me, at the time.

That's me, the tan one in the swirly dress. Power lifting size 2. I want that back.

Now, I can't blame this added weight on having been preggers or anything, because by 2005 I had already been a mom for a handful of years. Thin came post-pregnancy. Here's what happened ...

I started spending less time at the gym. My life was fuller, my responsibilities greater, and I rested on the fact that I was in such great shape. I thought I could just level down to maintaining (which I could have, had I not started... eating cheese burgers and fries on a thrice weekly basis. Oh, and having two or three Stellas with that meal). I still worked out, less though, and maybe I gained 5 lbs. I wasn't as cut up as I'd been, nor was I spending as much time at the gym, but still, I was only a size (at that point) 4. Tiny.

First weight gain, 2006 and size 4 (blurry old cell pic). I remember taking this photo to remind myself that i was getting fat. Oh, how i'd love to look like this again.

Slowly, my gym time cut back less and less. Thirty minutes of cardio. Twenty minutes of lifting. Three times a week. Max. And my eating started getting worse.

Seven months later, I was a size 6. Okay, still not fat, but heavier than I was accustomed to being. My endocrinologist (I have Hashimoto's disease) told me to be careful. His concern wasn't that weight or size, but that it was climbing, which isn't good for your endocrine system. He asked me to restrict my diet and lose those 5 pounds. I restricted until the pounds came off, then ate them right back on.

I was bellydancing at an event, and remember thinking how fat I looked in this photo.

Summer passed, and I wore dresses and skirts the whole time. My bikini still fit, it wasn't pretty, but it fit.

I remember being in this bikini and seeing my belly (see it?) and knowing that I was no longer thin.

When autumn came, and I put on a pair of jeans, I could just get them buttoned (they used to be huge on me). 

This was the last time the size 6 actually fit with comfort. These were baggy two years before.

A year later, I had a condition that was being treated with steroids (Prednisone) so on went another 10 lbs. No more size 6. Ever since then, I've been fighting with those pounds. Now, straining in a size 8, I've had two doctors tell me to lose the weight. My cardiologist said it's not about appearances or fitting into a certain size jeans. It's because my heart doesn't want to do all the work of lugging those extra pounds around.

I cannot imagine what more I need to hear before it sinks in.

I have to stick to my good habits (the Greek salad with grilled chicken at the Denville Diner, the egg white omelets packed with veggies), and ditch the bad ones. My cardiologist is a woman who went through menopause and is a little older than I am, and she's thin. I asked her how she maintained her weight through it all and she said, point blank, she just doesn't eat the way she used to. She has to eat less.

Wish me luck. Now the only day I can have something fattening is FKF. No fried foods, grilled cheese, bread (except PB&J on wheat), bagels, pastas, cheese (except feta, goat, and the occasionally mozzarella on a slice (not three) of pizza.

And so it begins...

Yes, I Still Send Cards.

"Yes, I still send cards" is on a pin I purchased from a card company called La Familia Green. It's one of the best pins I've ever seen, so I bought a bunch of them. Letter writing is a dying practice, and I am determined to at least try to bring it back!


Today is Make or Mail Monday. Now if you know me, you know that I am a big proponent of writing and sending mail via the United States Postal Service.

I make my own cards sometimes, however bad they may be. Usually, though, I buy handmade cards or postcards and keep them in my desk drawer (the desk was once my grandfather's) to save for when the spirit moves me. Today is one of those days.

I am writing a letter to a friend who lives in Florida, who I haven't seen in a few years. Just writing to say hello and let her know I am thinking of her.

Might I inspire you to get in touch with an old friend today?

Exit 39, Denville card by my man, photographer Ward Vogt. Available on his etsy page.

Write a note or letter and mail it out today. It can be as simple as a writing a few words on a postcard, or as involved as making your very own card. You can go to your local, family owned shop, and buy a card, or send a postcard that shows your town. You can even just write on a piece of paper that you were going to recycle. Now you cannot mail it today, since it's a holiday, but you can put it in the mailbox to be picked up tomorrow...

Whenever I go on vacation, I buy a bunch of extra postcards that I don't plan on sending during my trip, and then mail them out to local friends just for fun. What's more fun than getting a postcard from Paris, with a postal stamp from NJ, sent by a neighbor?

Have fun with it. Write to someone who may need to hear your kind words. And if you haven't anyone you'd like to write to, go ahead and send me a postcard from the town that you live in. I'd love to receive it. Mail to Domestic Goddess, PO Box 243, Mountain Lakes, NJ 07046.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Files Are Back

It's been a while since I've written. I've started my own company, and running that (a hands on company, because I literally make my own candles) along with the company Ward and I have together, plus the kids and family stuff (sports, parties, cleaning), has kept me very (happily) busy.

But I've missed you. I've missed writing, and getting your responses. I've missed writing about things that matter to me, however large or small. I hope that you will receive me with open arms.

Starting today, I will post a "Domestic Goddess Do of the Day" on my facebook page. It will be something to do, whether it be fun, supportive, important, or silly. Each day will change, so if you don't like one of the dos, just don't do it. Come back the next day and see if you like that one. I will be doing each do of the day, so it won't be anything tough or expensive, but it may involve drinking (so if you don't drink, modify it), baking, exercising, writing...

Now, every day will have a theme, but the Do won't have to do with it. So Sunday Funday is a day to have fun in some way, but the Do might be unrelated. So really, you have two things to play with doing each day. Get it? I will remind you what the day is, and also give you a DG Do of the Day. Double the fun!

Monday is Make or Mail Monday. This could be make up, make out, make something, money making Monday. It could be mail a letter, pay and mail a bill, mail a postcard, sort the mail, throw out old mail.

Tuesday is Top It Off Tuesday (or take your top off Tuesday, if you want to get down witcho lover!). Top It Off Tuesday is your day to make sure your gas tank is full by topping it off. The idea is to always have at least a half a tank of gas in your car (unless you drive a lot) and it pairs with Fill 'Er Up Friday... but that's getting ahead of myself.

Wednesday is Whittle Away Wednesday. This is the day to clean out your junk drawer, or get rid of a pile of papers that have been sitting on the table, bag up clothes that don't fit, etc. Whittle away at something that's been nagging at you, just once a week.

Thursday is Throw It Out Thursday. Go around your space (room, apartment, house) with a small garbage bag, and throw away everything you can't find a home for, no longer want, or meant to trash but didn't. If it's something that someone else can use, you can put it in a separate bag for Goodwill, but PROMISE yourself that you will take it to Goodwill within the week. Otherwise, it will end up in a pile that will be (eventually) dealt with on an upcoming Whittle Away Wednesday.

Friday is Fill 'Er Up Friday, Fresh Flower Friday, and Fat Kid Friday. Fill up your gas tank, get yourself (or someone else) flowers, and eat something that is NOT part of your eating plan. It's all about indulging! For your gas, pay by cash to save money (most gas stations charge more when you pay by credit). What about Fat Kid Friday? Fat Kid Friday started and is celebrated weekly on Wake Up with Taylor!, the fabulous radio how on Sirius XM 109 (satellite radio). It's on every morning from 7 - 11 a.m. (I bought Sirius just to listen to Wake Up!) This means that on Friday you get to eat something you've been dying to eat all week: a donut, pizza, a chocolate shake. Go all out!  Expect that I will give you a food indulgence suggestion each Friday.

Saturday is Settle In, Settle Down Saturday. Settle in, settle down, just means to let the worries of the week fall to the wayside and relax.

Which brings me back to Sunday Funday. Have fun, whatever you do! PERIOD!

Download and print to remember the daily do standards, posted below!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dad's Post to Daughter on Facebook (commentary)

Last night, I saw a post on a friend's facebook page. It was of a father reading a post his daughter had written about his parenting, their family, and her life at home. 

It's been all over facebook since then, and people are either very opposed to what this father did, or love it.

The biggest criticisms have been that he calls her spoiled, and that her being spoiled is his responsibility. Other comments have been that he should have talked to her privately, rather than put this up on facebook. 

As a mother, whose child may be perceived as spoiled, I can say that there is a fine line between giving your kids every opportunity and gadget they desire because you want them to have the best, and spoiling them. This dad admitted to have been living on his own at 15, working, going to school, and volunteering for the fire department. It's my guess that he wanted his daughter to have more than he had at her age, not to spoil her. Giving kids things don't spoil them, so long as they are reminded that getting them is a priviledge, and I don't doubt this father did that (based on what he said in the video).

It's also my guess that he did talk to her privately, countless times, over and over, as all us parents do, and let me say that kids will push the boundaries to see where they begin and end. My 11 year old does it all the time. He's not spoiled and we all communicate with one another. Still, he tests the boundaries.

In my eyes, this father has had it with his daughter's acting out, and needed to make a grand gesture to let his 15 (OMG, 15!) year old know that he is paying attention and holding her to higher standards than she'd like to meet. And it would be my very big guess that she will NOT end up on any teen mom shows. He's not permissive, and he's not giving up. He's taking her to task.

I know that a lot of you will disagree with this post, but I thought long and hard about writing this. When I showed the video to my son today, I asked him if he agreed with the father, or thought that he was being unfair. Ironically, he agreed with the father. 

It took a lot of nerve for this father to post what he did, knowing that he would face tons of criticism. I believe he did it out of love. I can only expect that he is getting both kudos and criticism for what he did. Personally, I give him a lot of credit.

Here's the video. Please watch the whole thing from beginning to end before making a judgement. Thanks so much.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Leap Year Gives An Extra Heart Filled Day

I went back to the gym yesterday. After two years of doing nothing, pretty much, I returned 10+ pounds heavier, tail between my legs. Occasionally, over the past two years, I'd go work out for a day, or even a week, and then I'd just quit. To make matters worse, I am a certified personal trainer (maintaining my certification but not currently using it to train people) so I know exactly what I should and shouldn't do to get back in shape. But knowing and doing are two very different actions.

I've set goals (dates, important events, sizes, parties, weddings, etc.) that I have not met. I most recently blamed it on my menopause, and while menopause and hormones can have an effect on weight, I am more certain that it's the poor eating, beer drinking, and lack of exercise that has gotten me where I am today.

February is heart healthy month, so I've decided to think differently about health. Instead of thinking about the weight I'd like to lose (because when it does or doesn't come off, it encourages or discourages me), I am going to try and get healthy again. With my schedule being crazy (and not being an excuse), I have carved out three days to go to the gym. My fourth day will be squats, ham curls, and calf raises in the kitchen. La la la!

Regarding food, I am going to try and eat as whole and healthy as possible. Yogurt for breakfast (unless it's the Greek egg white omelet at the diner), salad or a PB&J on wheat for lunch. Dinner is undecided but cannot include anything fried. I can snack through the day, but am trying to limit my snacks to healthy ones. Tonight, I tried eating a cucumber with vinegar for a snack (used to do this when I was power lifting and a size 4). Um, you cannot eat an entire cucumber and still be hungry. It's not possible. I got some grapefruits, cottage cheese, and packed tomorrow's lunch. I am not going to crack the whip on myself, and I am still going to drink my beer, but I am going to be more mindful of what I am eating and why.

Label on a pint of fair traded blueberries at the market tonight.

It takes 28 days to create a habit. I figure it's the end of January now, and with leap year here, there's 29 days in February. So between now and the end of the month, I will have 30 days under my belt.

But let me tell you that this challenge is tough already. As I write this, my son has ripped open a big bag of Cheddar & Sour Cream potato chips, while sitting beside me. Laurie Cole, I need your help.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Get Your Luck o' the Irish on Friday the 13th

It's a little late in the day, I know, but I wanted to pass along some great info so that you can INDULGE yourself today!

In celebration of the opening of Thatcher McGhee's in Denville, Sugar Mommy Cupcakes delivered tons of Irish Cream mini cupcakes to the darlin' ladies at Dash of Thyme, who's fabulous gourmet shop neighbors the new pub.

Mini Irish Cream cupcakes by Sugar Mommy FREE at Dash of Thyme, today and tomorrow.

The mini cupcakes are FREE to everyone! Go on in, today and tomorrow, and get your free mini cupcake. (And when you want more, you can walk over to Sugar Mommy, where full-sized cupcakes available in her bake shop.) While at Dash of Thyme, check out the limited edition Thatcher McGhee's Irish Cream candles that I made. They are in an Irish Cream glass mug, and will allow you to take a little luck of the Irish home with you.

Thatcher McGhee Irish Cream limited edition candles, only at Dash of Thyme. While supplies last.
Dash of Thyme is located at 49 Broadway in Denville.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How Did You Meet the One You Love?

I've send W messages in a bottle, written him love letters, and thought over and over about the hows and whys of falling in love. I am curious to know what it is that brought you and your love together.

Write me and let me know how you met the person that you are currently in love with. Tell the situation, the story, whatever, and write it to me. You can email it to me at domesticgoddessltd@aol.com. The story that is most touching will be reprinted in this blog (you can tell me how you'd like to be listed, or if you prefer to be anonymous), and the writer will receive a Domestic Goddess candle.

Submit now through February 10th. Letter will be reprinted on February 14th.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Getting Pinned (and Kissed)

When my dear friend Shannon Penkrat told me about a website called Pinterest on New Year's Eve, she said that I would become addicted. Well, she was right. I uploaded the free app that night and applied to become a member. Though I had to wait until today to get accepted, I was able to poke around in the meantime, and guess what?

I am addicted.

I don't know how to explain Pinterest, and I am too tired to try, but I highly recommend you go and check it out. You can search for recipes, craft ideas, home and garden ideas for free.

I created a board (something you can do, and then pin other people's images (or yours) on it, about Love and Kisses. Ward and I have been talking so much about Valentine's Day, and our upcoming kissing booth event (details below) that I thought I'd make a board with people kissing. To view the complete board (that I really love -- 16 photos in all), click here.

Pinned on Pinterest (via tumblr)

After you read this, go find someone to kiss. Your bf/gf, partner, spouse, kids, dog, cat, someone. Kiss, kiss, kiss away, and feel how amazing it is! Next month, come to one of our kissing booth events. You'll have a blast. If you participate, you get a digital kissing booth image, a 5 x 7 print, and a limited edition Domestic Goddess votive (all for just $15) plus we will be serving champagne and chocolate. If you wear red, you get a free American Heart Association red lapel pin, and if you choose to purchase any Domestic Goddess candles that night, 20% of your purchase will be donated to the American Heart Association. For more info, contact me at domesticgoddessltd@aol.com or call 973-809-7880.

Have a love filled weekend.

Join us for our Kissing Booth event (photos by Ward Vogt of Ward Vogt Designs). 5 x 7 will be mailed to you (or you can pick up at the shop it's taken at), digital image will be emailed in 24 hours. Valentine's Day card options are available, and will be to you in plenty of time for Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 3 from 6 - 9 p.m.
Savannah Hope Vintage
906 Main Street, Boonton

Saturday, February 4 from 2 - 4 p.m.
Dash of Thyme Gourmet
49 Broadway, Denville

Monday, January 2, 2012

Pucker Up! Cupid's Coming!

Valentine's Day is on it's way. I know it's only January 2nd but still, we have just six weeks til the big love fest begins and it's something to look forward to! I love cooking and baking and letter writing, and all that good stuff (and now I'm living on pinterest.com for more ideas, thanks to Shannon Penkrat), Valentine's Day means a lot to me. It means that I get to bake heart-shaped cookies to mail to family and friends, and hang heart die cuts all over the house. I get to cook a special meal for W, and I get to send out Valentines. I always loved that. As a kid in the 70s, we had those super cute ready-made Valentines. I know that they still make them, with Spongebob and the like, but they never appealed to me. Since my son was born, I've made die cuts with his photo on them, and sent those out. Recently, I started doing a photo card with the three kids on it. It's fun, because everyone doesn't do them, so they stand out and are even more special. Plus, they celebrate LOVE!

Will you be sending out Valentines this year? 

My God, so many people I know are getting divorced. It seems that most of the conversations in town center around who is getting divorced or who is having an affair with who. I'm divorced myself, but I don't identify as divorced anymore. I identify as married, because I feel married. W and I have been together for a very long time, and to us, we are as committed as committed can be, so when I hear about all of these splits, it makes me sad.
If you have love in your life, why not celebrate it?

Celebrating love, and years of a fabulous life together, K + M kiss for Ward Vogt's camera. You can, too!

Maybe you are in the process of healing, or you haven't been struck by Cupid's arrow just yet. Still, there is love in the air. Non-romantic love like between friends, or parents and children, are joyful. All love is celebrated on Valentine's Day. That's the fun part of the holiday.

Julia Child once said, "Valentine cards had become a tradition of ours (hers and her husband's), born of the fact that we could never get ourselves organized in time to send out Christmas cards." That being said, if you didn't send yours out (or you didn't like the one that you did send), now's your chance. Each year, the Childs sent out Valentine's Day cards like this one:

A Child's Valentine's Day card.
On Friday, February 3rd, which is First Friday, a celebratory night, on Boonton's Main Street, Savannah Hope Vintage is hosting a kissing booth. Ward (of Ward Vogt Designs) is going to set up his camera for loved ones to come and smooch for a photo. It can be a romantic kiss, or one friend planting a kiss on the other's cheek, while the recipient looks surprised. It can be a child with parents, siblings, you name it. Ward will take a few photos, you pick the one you want, and then he emails you the digital photo and mails you a 5 x 7 print. We have also designed three different Valentine's Day cards for you to choose from (and you can personalize a message, or just have your initials in a heart like T + W), should you follow in the footsteps of Paul & Julia (like Ward and I) and mail out Valentine's Day cards.

Check out the Valentine's Day cards we will have available (and you will get them in plenty of time for Valentine's Day). We custom created each of these cards.:

Blue Valentine card.
The Conversation Heart card.

The Love on Hearts Wing card.
The Sweethearts card.

In addition, there will be champagne and strawberries in the shop, and each couple/group to participate gets one free Domestic Goddess La Cioccolata di Amore Bacia votive (named by friend and contest winner, Ginny Longo). It's going to be an amazing night and we are expecting a sell-out, so we are asking that you reserve your time increment to ensure getting your kissing photo taken (call me to reserve at 973-809-7880). It's such fun -- you'll have to join us.

La Cioccolata di Amore Bacia votive

Privately, Ward and I always do kissing photos. We usually do them impromptu, with his tripod set up, like the ones below. This year, we will kiss in the booth. Separately, we will have our kids doing it -- one in the middle, being kissed on either side by the other two.

Us, under the mistletoe...

...and in the woods. Next is the kissing booth.
For more information on the kissing booth, contact me or Ward at wardvogtdesigns@yahoo.com. Come join the fun! This event is being held at Savannah Hope Vintage, 906 Main Street, Boonton, NJ 07005, on Friday, February3 from 6 - 9 p.m. Schedule your appointment with us today or just drop in (reservations appreciated but not necessary).