Saturday, January 31, 2009

Fell in love in Key West....

...with sea kayaking!

Spent an amazing week down in the Keys at a Seminar then stayed on two more days, swam with dolphins, roamed around and landed in Pennekamp State Park (a coral reef park) and decided to head out on a solo kayak adventure in the afternoon. I'd never kayaked before but the fella at the desk assured me I'd be able to do it no problem. The second I sat in that vessel and started paddling, I felt like this was something I'd been born to do. It was so easy and fun and the perfect mix of Zenlike peacefulness and a little bit of danger (yes, alligators do live in mangroves and I was paddling the entire time through water trails in the mangrove...what are they...groves?). It was SO MUCH FUN! Oh and I ran in to a fisherman who told me to look down as I passed him and see the 2 foot stingray resting on the bottom of the channel.

You can see the solitude I was blessed with--hardly saw a soul the entire 90 min. I was out there

"the hand"
That Mangrove was trying to reach out and grab me!

Yes those are my girlie flip flops

Yummy post boating snack. What a gorgeous day.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I recently had a conversation with my father about how my "moneymaking" life has truly been charmed.

How I've never, not once in my entire life, interviewed for a job that I wasn't 100% sure I was going to get. That I always felt my employers were lucky to have me on board (I am typically not so cocky but this is just a true description of my emotion at the time) and I was curious what they were offering me.

Not that I've had such good fortune in every area of my life, mind you, but this area has just been easy. Thank God--I figure it's just one of those karmic "giveaways" that I have taken, but truly need to stop taking, for granted. A lucky charm is always a treasure.

In this vein, I was recently offered another part time job. Once again (as has happened to me at least two other times in my life) a prospective employer has seen a quality in me, unseen in myself, and offered to pay me for something I'd do for free.

In this case, I will be blogging regularly (3 times per week) for Phoenix New Times on "food treasures" I find around town. And they are paying me for it! And everything I purchase toward this will be a writeoff for me! Like finding a fun gadget at a food store, some lovely spices at Penzey's to write about new Samsung pink camera en route to me right now!! Yes I will need to take alot of my own photos to use in my entries. As in this blog, I will be taking photos of recipes I try out or food I enjoy in a local restaurant such as this amazing Cashmere martini I had the other day.

Once again, an angel has appeared before me, flung open a door and yanked me through it handing me a paycheck on the threshold.

If you're interested in reading me there, at least for now I will be generally blogging under the Chow Bella heading at

Or more directly:

Chow Bella

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Aha Moment

Woke up with one of those "oh so basic" but profound realizations that you almost feel stupid for not getting sooner.

When something is right, it doesn't feel like you have to work hard to obtain/maintain/sustain it.

Or to quote my teacher "if it feels like you're working too hard, you're working too hard".

Simple as that.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas 2008!

(my eggnog snowflake cake)

What a fantastic holiday season it's been so far. Filled with parties, cooking, fun with family and friends and a great mood all the way around (oh and a funfilled trip to Colorado upcoming for New Year's with a hot man! woohoo!).

Some photos, first of a holiday brunch in my home, then some cookie baking then the holiday brunch with the gals from the office. Cheers!

Galpals in my living room brunchin on down...

The beginnings of my "holly berry" champagne cocktail (secret recipe).

Dad creating a gorgeous shrimp cocktail.
There might be some taste testing going on there too.

The patio section--what a gorgeous day we had

Baking and decorating our family's favorite "Merry Christmas Cookies"

Brunch with the work gals at Top of the Rock. You should have seen the face I made directly after putting this raw oyster in my mouth (all I can say is thank God for the mimosa to wash it down).

A fun time was had by all....:)

And finally, our new tree topper--Marilyn and her flying skirt

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


My Hope O Lantern!

Well, not mine but I used this same template to carve my Obamalantern tonite at Amy's house.

I carved the same profile in the crescent moon but then the word H O P E down the side of it. I"ll take a photo when I find my camera and put my candle in it.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Flan...with champagne?

Being sick at home the last couple days has sent me doing too much surfing (I'm so bored with my own self I will read just about anything). Weirdly or not so weirdly, my stomach has been bothering me yet I find myself jumping from one food blog to the other.

Look what I found (one of the many yummies)! Two of my favorite things blended together in one recipe: flan and champagne! Wow, can't wait to try this. Sounds like a really fun ending to a wine meal--one of which I am planning in the near future.

Look at all the fun bubbles in the photo above.

Her Chef's note there is really helpful as I had this exact problem with the flan I made for my family this past summer--made it in the morning and the caramel was still in the hard stage when I went to invert the ramekins..great tip!

I snagged this delicioso from one of many gorgeous food blogs I've hopped on today. Here's the link to Melissa's right here.

Flan de Champagne

Fl_1 This flan is my variation of a classic Latin American dessert that is usually made with milk.

4 servings



  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, whole
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2-1/2 cups champagne
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground


  • 1 cup white sugar


Pre-heat the oven to 325F (170C). Butter 6 small custard cups 6 oz or one large and place in a shallow baking pan. Heat one cup sugar in a small pan until syrupy and golden brown in color. Pour syrup evenly into prepared custard cups. Beat eggs, egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar in a large bowl until thick and pale. Gradually add champagne, lemon peel and cinnamon; beat until combined.

Pour custard mixture into prepared cups. Make a water bath by pouring enough hot water into baking pan to come half way up sides of the custard cups. Bake 60 minutes or until a knife inserted in center of custards comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely. Carefully remove from the water bath. Refrigerate overnight or until ready to serve.

[Chef’s Note: This little custards benefit from a night in the refrigerator so that the hard caramel base can slowly melt into a syrup. They are the perfect dessert for dinner parties because you can prepare them in advance. After removing them from the water bath, let cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate until completely chilled before serving.]

Service Invert flan onto individual serving dishes, letting the syrup run down sides of the

Have a delicious Tuesday!