Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Butternut Squash

I bet you're thinking I'm going to give you some great butternut squash recipe to try just in time for Thanksgiving tomorrow, right?!?

Nope - nothing to do with food. What then you ask is Butternut Squash, if not a food item?

A paint color. A paint color I thought I wanted to use on my dining room walls. A paint color that looked really pretty on the swatch under the lights at Home Depot. A paint color I bought and now regret.

We decided a while ago we wanted to paint our dining area. The walls were disgusting already - filled with fingerprints from 2 little girls that love to paint, eat their dinner with their fingers, and use anything other than their napkins to wipe their hands with. Well, that white wall met its match and lost.

I was going for that earthy look. Every time I eat at Panera I notice how much I like their color scheme. The walls are a nice earthy yellow color, nice black & white photos hanging on the walls, dark wood furniture. I want that look for my dining area.

We bought the paint about a month ago and it's been sitting in our closet just waiting to be used. Since we're having Thanksgiving at our place this year, that's just the push we needed to get that room painted. That, and the fact that my in laws were coming. It's always different when your in laws come over, Ever notice that? My mom knows me. She knows I can be a "little" messy from time to time. Who am I kidding - ok, a lot messy, a lot of the time, but who's counting?!? So, there's a little dust here, maybe even more dust there, but she's OK with it. She's used to it. Now that my in laws will be coming, we have less than 24 hours to clean this place up!! So, why am I spending time blogging?? Oh, yeah - the paint.

Here's what the walls looked like just as we were getting ready to paint:


Try to ignore my messy kitchen please.


Let's open up that can now - nice - looking normal so far.


Until, we start to paint and I notice I need my sunglasses!!! What happened to the nice butternut squash color?? The hubbs wanted to put 2 coats. OK - maybe it will darken it.

Nope - still need my shades. As the light changes during the day, it goes from a "taxicab yellow" to "school bus yellow" and now even an orange color. My girls asked "Mama, why did you paint the walls orange? We want pink." I think I'd settle for pink now also.

Only 3 days until Turkey Day!! So, yesterday I decided I have to live with it until at least after Thanksgiving so i went out and bought a new tablecloth and candles.


It helped a bit but definitely not the look I want. My whole dining room needs a complete overhaul!! Too much to think about when I've got to start cooking.

And cleaning.

And I'm definitely not making butternut squash this year.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Splish Splash My Girls Are Loving Their Bath

I'm a big fan of a craft show on the HGTV Network called Craft Lab. It's hosted by Jennifer Perkins of Naughty Secretary Club. She's a super crafty, fun, successful jewelry maker. Definitely check out her blog. She always has lots of fun crafty projects and really useful info on having and running a craft business. I am a devoted reader!!

On one episode they had an artisan soapmaker named Debbie Chialtas from Soapylove. The soaps she made were so darn cute!! I just couldn't stand it!! They're called Soapy Pops because they are made to look like ice cream on a stick. How creative is that?!? After the show I immediately ran to my computer to do a search on her company. Her website was filled with so many colorful and yummy looking soap designs. I just had to have some!! I bought them, and loved them.

Now I am so happy to announce that we have them at Total City Girl as well, and can share them with you.

Here are the designs I currently have:

Mint Chocolate Chip (my little one's favorite)

Candy Carousel (my big girl's favorite)


Peace, Love & Soapiness

Nilla Sammie

and Candy Cane

My girls absolutely loved these soaps!! When my order came in I let them choose one each. They literally RAN to take a bath!! That's the power of soapy pops. :)

These soaps are great for all ages from children to adults. They would make great stocking stuffers, party favors, or what the heck, you can even get one for yourself.

Sounds like a plan.

If you want to score yourself some of these sweet treats, you can visit me at the next Holiday Fair I'll be doing this Sunday at:

Visitation Church
160 Van Cortlandt Park S.
Bronx, NY 10463
Sunday November 22 - 9am to 3pm

or shoot me an e-mail to They are $8 each. Sorry I don't have them online yet!!

Gotta go pry my kid out of the tub. She's turning into a prune!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thanksgiving Giveaway Winner


And the winner is...

Rita L said...
Going to my most wonderful sister-in-law, Lucille, and her family and then going to a hotel in the Catskills with some dear friends.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. Rita L.

Congratulations Rita!!

Check back again - there are more giveaways planned!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanksgiving Giveaway

I've been so busy lately that it wasn't until I actually took a break, plopped myself down on the couch, put on Foodnetwork and saw every show was about Thanksgiving, that I realized Thanksgiving was next week already!! How did that happen?

I LOVE Thanksgiving!! Thanksgiving and Halloween are my 2 favorite holidays. Mmmm - I can't wait to have my mom's turkey!! She makes THE BEST turkey ever!! So simple but so yummy! Stuffing too. What could be better than stuffing with gravy poured all over it?!? Only 9 more days until I'm in stuffing heaven!!

I'm doing Thanksgiving at my house. I always do. I like it that way. Can eat our own food, cook exactly what we like, and we don't have to travel. I like having lots and lots of people but this year everyone is spread out so I think it's going to be a small one. You know what that means...more STUFFING for ME!! YAY!!

To show how giving I am and to celebrate Thanksgiving, I'm having a little giveaway.

I'm giving away 1 dozen Thanksgiving themed personalized chocolate bars.

They can be used as place settings, hostess gifts, going around to your clients and wishing them a Happy Thanksgiving, or of course, just hoarding them all for yourself. That wouldn't be very "giving" though, would it?!?

The wrappers can be personalized on the front


and the back


so there's plenty of room to say your thanks.

Here's what you do to enter:

At the bottom of this post there is a link called "Comments". Click on the link and it will bring you to the Comments section.

Tell me:

What are you doing this Thanksgiving?

Are you cooking, going to a family member, going to a restaurant - whatever it is, I want to know.

Now, here are the rules:

One entry per person

Entries will be accepted through noon tomorrow - Wednesday 11/18.

Winner will be selected at random and announced around 8pm also tomorrow - Wednesday 11/18.

Make sure there's a way for me to contact you - an e-mail address or something in the comment.
(Chocolate bars are classic Hershey's© Milk Chocolate bars)

Can't wait to hear what you guys are up to!!

Good luck!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Button Up!

Did you know that today - November 16th - is Button Day?!? I bet you didn't know that. Well, good thing you have me to keep you informed of all these important dates. Stick around, there'll be more!!

I've been really busy getting ready for all the holiday gift fairs I have coming up. Got through one yesterday. Still recovering today. For these fairs, Ive been making lots of hair accessories - headbands to be exact.

Perfect timing - in honor of Button Day, I recently made this one...


What d'ya think??


I think it's fun and silly and happy.

Exactly what Button Day should be.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Peek At My Wares For The Fairs

I'm getting ready for a few Holiday Gift Fairs coming up in the next few weeks. This is an especially busy time of year for me. When I used to have my gift basket business it was absolutely nuts!! I'll have to dig up some old pics just so you can see what it was like. CRAAAAZY!!!!!

Now with Total City Girl, it's not as seasonal, which I like, but still pretty busy.

I like doing gift fairs because it gets me and my "wares" out in front of people and not just online. I also like meeting the other vendors, networking and starting up new friendships.

Here's a sneak peek of some of the things I'll have at the fairs.

I've been busy making lots of colorful headbands


TCG Headbands

and cool photo books - great for holiday gift giving.


Here's some sparkly goodness that I found on my shopping sprees that I just had to share with everyone!

Sparkly purse key chains



and fun rings. Great to dress up any outfit!!


These are just a few of the things I'll have. There's lots more but you'll have to show up to see them!!

Here's my upcoming Holiday Gift Fair schedule:

Sunday November 15 - 9am to 3pm
Riverdale Temple
4545 Independence Avenue
Riverdale, NY 10471

Sunday November 22 - 9am to 3pm
Visitation Church
160 Van Cortlandt Park S.
Bronx, NY 10463

Saturday December 12 - Noon to 4pm
PS 24
660 West 236th Street
Riverdale, NY 10463

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Carmine's Strawberry Shortcake

Last week was birthday week in my family. My sister's was on Wednesday and mine was Sunday. So, you know what that means...cake!!

I was in charge of making my sister's cake. Unfortunately for me, she's not really into the whole fondant, decorated kind. You know, the kind I actually like to make since the baking part isn't the big thrill for me. It's the decorating part that gets me going. Once I accepted the fact that I wouldn't be breaking out my fun decorating tools, I had to come up with a cake that she'd like. I know she likes berries so I instantly thought of Carmine's Strawberry Shortcake.

For those of you that have never been to Carmine's, PLEASE GO. GO NOW!!! It's a family style Italian restaurant. There are 2 locations in NY - one on the upper west side and the other in Times Square. It's always really loud and crowded so you'll probably have to wait a while for a table. But please do. It's so worth it!

The main thing that's so amazing about this restaurant is the garlic. I'm talking giant hunks of garlic! If you're a garlic freak like me, you will absolutely love it! I love going to this restaurant with my other garlic partners in crime - my buds John and Andy. We always have a great time and we are all equally garlic fanatics!! Best part, they even have mouthwash in the bathrooms!! See, they've got ya covered.

Although we're always busting from the dinner, we always have to order their strawberry shortcake. Oh My Goodness!! It is so amazing!! Which brings me waaaaaay back to the main point to this post.

I am fortunate enough to own the Carmine's cookbook.


If you have it too, please turn to page 269.


In the book they call it "Strawberry and Assorted Berry Cake".


In the restaurant, I've only had it served with strawberries. When I made it, I only made it with strawberries. When you make it - go crazy. Do what you want.

Basically there are 3 parts to the recipe - the syrup, the cake and the whipped cream and assembly.

The syrup is a simple syrup flavored with fresh strawberries.

The cake is like a pound cake recipe made in a loaf pan.

So, make the syrup first. Then make the pound cake. I decided to cut the cake lengthwise in thirds. Make fresh whipped cream by mixing up heavy cream, some vanilla extract and some confectioners sugar. Don't let it go too long (like I almost did) or you'll have butter.

Drizzle each layer with the syrup. Put a layer of whipped cream and sliced berries. On the top layer, drizzle some Amaretto and sprinkle with chopped pistachio nuts.


Next, get some forks and dig in!!


You'll thank me for it.

You're probably wondering what kind of cake I got in return, right?!? The hubbs made me brownies (Duncan Hines) - has to be the Chewy Fudgy kind!! My sis got me cupcakes from the Cupcake Cafe in the city. Same ones I had at my wedding.

They done good. :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Justin and The Secret Burger Joint

Last week I went to a 40th birthday party in the city for my friend Jason. It was a lot of fun! I just LOVE going out!! It was at a place called Bottega down on 16th and 9th. Jason has a brother named Justin. I'm also friends with him. Both are great guys but completely different personalities!!

Seeing Justin reminded me about a post Ive been wanting to write and just kept forgetting about. So, here goes...

I met my friend Justin for lunch a while ago. We've been friends for a long time now.

Here's Justin.

He's my "computer go-to guy". You know how you have a "guy" for this, and a "guy" for that? There's always a "guy" for one thing or another. Really, just think about it. Whenever I have a computer issues, he's the one I turn to. He's probably the smartest guy I know when it comes to computers. He's probably really smart about other things as well, but for me, he's my computer guy. He's the one that told me years ago to register for my gift basket business. Wasn't that smart?!? I sold it last year at an auction on Thanks Justin!!!

We were going to meet in the 50's on the west side near his office. I waited on the corner across from Radio City. Of course I had my camera with me so I started snapping away. I felt like such a tourist but at least it gave me something to do while I was waiting.

Here are some pics I took...

Radio City

Street vendors

Even a couple of guys asked if I would take their pic. I think they thought I was a professional photographer. I just love that! So, I obliged.

Justin arrived and said there was a burger joint in the nearby hotel Parker Meridian. Burgers? Sure, why not. When we got to the hotel, I didn't see any restaurant. What's going on?? He started walking towards this wall that was covered with burgundy drapes from floor to ceiling.

This was weird, but I still followed.

Then all of a sudden he almost looked like he was walking INTO the curtain but instead goes around the corner and there I see it - the neon burger sign.


To me it just looked like a decoration.

We walk towards the neon sign and around the corner, There it is - The Burger Joint!! That's the actual name! It was a very small, crowded place filled mostly with guys in suits and women most likely on their lunch break. It felt so secretive though that I started looking around at the people and started making stories up in my head about them. Nah, they couldn't just be here for lunch, right?!? Why go to such a secretive place? Could the burgers be that good? I don't know, we'll have to see.

I really liked all the hand written signs around the place.



I especially like this one..


There was even a special way that you had to order. As a newbie I had no clue so I just told Justin what I wanted and he ordered for us.

Everyone is eying everyone else to hurry up and eat so you can get their table. It's a fight to the finish. Who's going to get the table first. Score! We got one!!

We each had a burger, shared fries, he had a shake and I think I had Sprite or something. The burgers were good but I wouldn't say it was THE BEST burger in NY. I guess others disagreed with me.

So, there you have it. Do you go to the Burger Joint for the burgers..or the secrets??

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Blazing Pumpkins

I love Halloween. I wish it wasn't over. It's one of my favorite holidays. I just love the creepiness sf it all.

This weekend we went to an event up in the Hudson Valley called The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze. It was on the grounds of Van Cortlandt Manor. As we were getting off the highway you could see the sea of blazing pumpkins from the road.

With my 2 girls, the hubbs, and camera in hand, we followed the crowd and the bright orange lights ahead of us. Wow!!! This was amazing! Hundreds of pumpkins intricately carved and positioned to create different forms. My older one wasn't too impressed. Wanted it to be more scary. "But look at those carvings. Aren't they amazing!!" I squealed. "I'm hungry" was the response I got. My little one was just off that night. You know what I mean? You can just tell when something is up with your kid. Yes, the event we had been waiting for for weeks now, and my little one decides to get sick, and cranky, and tired, and sick, and cranky, and tired. "Pick me up!!" was all we kept hearing. I don't even think she knew where we were! Completely oblivious to her surroundings. Why didn't we think to bring the stroller??

Well, I did manage to take a bunch of pics. Thought it would be fun to share with everyone. It absolutely doesn't even come close to seeing it in person, but I think its worth a look. Keep in mind, this was just me and my camera. No flash, no tripod, no mono pod. Just me, steady as I can, holding my breath and hoping for the best. This is what I got...

Hello there...

flying above us in the trees

OK - here's when the rainbow of lights started. I swear I didn't change the color of these photos in Photoshop. This was really how it looked - the lights on the manor kept changing to give different effects. Cool!!

This one is my favorite. It has a ghostly effect. Extra creepy!

My older daughter liked this one the best. "Pink Mama!" I say purple, she says pink. We settle on purplish pink. That works.

Look who we found lurking in the corner...

The part I actually like best about this next one is the blurry lights in the background. Love the bokeh!!

X-Files anyone??

I know this one is super blurry, but this spider web was amazing in person!! I couldn't resist.

Now we head into Jurassic Park...

followed by a snake pit,

pirate ship,

and of course, a pirate. What's a pirate ship without a pirate?!?

Peace, baby.

Finally a send off from this guy. Bye!!

So, what did you think?!? Did any of you go and see it? Would love to hear about it.

If you want to catch it in person next year, make sure to order your tickets early. They sell out really quickly!!

And, don't forget the stroler.

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