Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

This month has been a bit crazy for me, thus … my blog has suffered some.  However, I have been able to keep up with my Facebook page, so if you haven’t signed up for that, please do!  That way, no matter what, you’ll have access to all of my freebies, updates, and info.  I have actually posted quite a few Freebie Fridays there, but you can find all of them on my Pinterest page, so I urge you to follow me on Pinterest so you can look back through all the Freebies I’ve given over the past months.

This month we are learning from Katharine Hepburn.  I have had a wonderful time getting to know her.  She was something else, and an inspiration regarding the strength of women.  Her mother was a Suffragette and her father a physician (urologist) who tried to promote awareness of sexual disease and health.  With this type of liberal and strong background, it’s no wonder that she led such an influential and extraordinary life, filled with fortitude and lack of concern for what “normal” women were supposed to do or not do.  She had no idea that there were boundaries that couldn’t be crossed, or barriers that couldn’t be broken.  And because she believed in herself, she became the number one top screen legend of all time by the American Film Institute in 1999 … quite a tribute!!

So, in honor of Katharine, here is your Freebie Friday (click for the full size, and then right-click to save to your computer … personal use only), I hope you enjoy!!

One of Katharine’s four Oscars (out of 12 nominations) was for the movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” – and it is easily one of my favorites, hands down.  So, without further ado, and with Memorial Day (for my American friends) in mind, I thought I’d share a recipe with you that is one of my favorites for summer and cookouts.  I’ll be sharing several recipes over the next several days.  What do you usually have for your Memorial Day or Outdoor gatherings?  Here’s one of our family favorites:
TOMATO BASIL FETA SALAD,
courtesy of Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa:
Ingredients
4 pints grape tomatoes, red or mixed colors
1 1/2 cups small-diced red onion (2 med. onions)
1/4 cup good white wine vinegar
6 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 1/2 pounds feta cheese

Directions

Cut the tomatoes in half and place them in a large bowl. Add the onion, vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, basil, and parsley and toss well. Dice the feta in 1/2 to 3/4-inch cubes, crumbling it as little as possible. Gently fold it into the salad and serve at room temperature.

*In a pinch, because, let’s face it, sometimes we just don’t have time, or are lacking some ingredients, I have done the following with the same spectacular results:
  1. Parsley is not imperative, but you will want to add a little more basil if you don’t use any.  It will have a stronger flavor, but in my opinion, you can never have too much basil (personal preference)
  2. I have used a vidalia onion or green onions in place of the red.  I do not recommend a white or non-sweet onion.  It will be too strong in relation to the other flavors.
  3. I have used Paul Newman’s Balsamic Vinaigrette when I realized I didn’t have enough white wine vinegar from the last time I had made the recipe.  It was still heaven!!
  4. I have used flavored feta with great results.  My favorite:  feta with sun-dried tomatoes in it.
  5. I have tried not cutting the tomatoes when I was in a hurry … wasn’t nearly as good, I promise it’s worth the time, otherwise the flavors of the dressing just don’t do their “thing well enough.”
  6. It is CRUCIAL that you let the salad sit at room temperature for least 30 minutes, if not 45 to an hour.  When serving this for a barbeque, I make this salad first, cover, and just let it sit on the counter until we are ready to eat.
Bon Appetit!!
**For more recipes by Ina, please feel free to go to www.foodnetwork.com

Spreading our Wings

For this week’s Freebie Friday, I wanted to explore a subject close to my heart … that of overcoming our fears and forging ahead. You might ask … what does this have to do with beauty?

Well, quite a lot, I think. Have you ever seen someone who cannot look you in the eye, who is a little hunched over into themselves, or perhaps who denigrates themselves by making excuses or apologies for either their looks or their actions? Do they seem beautiful to you at the time? Probably not. It is definitely difficult to see beauty in a person who has no confidence.

Likewise, I have always had a very difficult time seeing beauty in a person who tears others down in order to make themselves feel better about themselves. They might have beautiful features, but their attitude is not beautiful and it shows in every negative word or vibe that they radiate.

In either instance, the person is obviously not comfortable with her true self. She does not appreciate or see the beauty she has inside and therefore either tears herself or others up … and in the process her true self cannot shine through. That is so incredibly sad to me.

The fact is … we need to find the courage to see inside ourselves, to see our real selves, and to love her.

I love a quote by Oprah Winfrey that says:

I was once afraid of people saying, “Who does she think she is?” Now I have the courage to stand and say, “This is who I am.”

Isn’t that a wonderful quote? But I think it’s almost putting the cart before the horse. How do we even get to the point where we worry about someone saying “who does she think she is?”

We have to decide that we are going to fly and spread our wings. That’s the first step. Have you ever watched butterflies? I have several beautiful and large lavender bushes in my yard, which I love to watch everyday. They attract beautiful little white butterflies (at least I think they’re butterflies, I’m definitely not an expert). I love to watch them flitter and fly their delicate individual dance. They seem so free, light, and have such grace and beauty as they flit from one lavender stalk to the next.

They are free, light, carefree, and going about the business of their lives as they were intended to do. I believe that is how we should live. Living without fear, living without the weight of the world on our shoulders, living with a joie de vivre, going about our lives with the purpose that we are here for. I believe that each person has a beautiful purpose, that only he or she can know. It is inside of you and you were born with that specific purpose. However, you, and only you, can have the courage to look inside, see that purpose, and find the courage to live passionately and to the fullest and not let fear keep you from doing it.

When you do that, once again, and I can never say this enough … the very unique beauty that is yours will shine through.

So, why do we not do this? I believe it is because we think we have to be the perfect person that others think or perceive us to be. here’s another quote that I love:

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” ~ Anna Quindlen

So, mes amies … that is my challenge to you (and myself) this week. Take some time, just for you, to look inside your heart and see the “real” you. What is holding you back from being that person? What can you do to release those fears? Contemplate on if you could … then you would …

In other words take the time to figure out that if you spread your wings, where would you fly? What would your carefree dance look like? Where would you flitter with grace and beauty? We can’t know how to get where we want to be, if we don’t know where we are going.

And, to give you a reminder of this challenge, I have created a wonderful quote by Vincent Van Gogh that I hope you will enjoy. All you need to do is click on the picture below to see the full size, and then right click to save to your computer.

Please feel free to print it out and display it to remind you. Or, you can use it as a desktop wallpaper to remind you of your challenge this week. All I ask is that you not mass distribute or use for any personal gain. You may, however, send any and everyone to my website for them to download their own personal copy.

So, au revoir, mes amies. Spread your wings and fly!!

Bisou Bisou,

Lorraine

P.S. Thanks to the Graphics Fairy for use of the Swallow Print.

Bravery

I thought I’d share some thoughts about bravery today. As we are getting ready to watch the Olympics, I’m always reminded of the bravery of those who dedicate their all to perform at such a superior level. It’s almost mind-boggling to think about how many hours the athletes have spent preparing for (in some cases) just a few minutes of a performance.

It truly is a fascinating thought. But, every 4 years, these athletes will attempt once again to break their own personal best record, and hopefully beat all of the other participants in their own field. And in so doing, they bring honor, pride, and joy to their homeland.

While I will be watching along with everyone else, I have to admit that while I find these athletes most admirable, there are so many other people who are brave in their own way, of whom I admire even more.

I love the thought of all of those who perform quiet acts of bravery every day. The child who stands up for their friend. The mother who gives her all, so that her children will not go without. A husband who goes out every day looking for a job to take care of his family, even when the economy is slamming doors in his face. The teenager who says no to peer pressure. There are so many brave people in the world, but we don’t always honor them. To me, bravery is beautiful. It is never out of fashion. It is always something to aspire to.

So, for my Freebie Friday, I’ve created a printable by Alphonse Much. He was an incredible artist and illustrator, who pretty much created the Art Nouveau movement. I hope that you enjoy this printable. I love the quote by William Makepiece Thackeray.

As always, please do not reproduce this printable en masse or for commercial gain. However, you are more than welcome to send anyone to my blog to download their own copy.

Now … create your own beauty by being brave … in whatever small way that you need to.

Au Revoir,

Lorraine