Tasty Tuesday: Wicked Good Spice Mixes Eggplant Caponata

Another YUMMy recipe from Rachel at Wicked Good Spice Mixes.  I love eggplant but hubby isn’t a fan so I haven’t tried this personal but it has gotten rave reviews from friends
Ingredients:
  • 1 large Vadalia onion, diced
  • 2-3 tbs. of GARLIC EXPLOSION
  • 2 – 3 tbs Tuscan Bistro
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes diced
  • 2 cups plum tomatoes, diced
  • 3 tablespoons BALSAMIC VINEGAR
  • 3 tsp drained capers
  • 6 – 8 fresh chopped basil
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 cup olives (mixed and pitted)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add eggplant, onion, and garlic explosion,  sauté until eggplant is soft and brown, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add diced tomatoes with juice, then red wine vinegar and drained capers.
  4. Cover and simmer until eggplant and onion are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes.
  5. Season caponata to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Mix in fresh basil.
  7. Transfer caponata to serving bowl.
  8. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold. (Caponata can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.)
The main reason the company was started was to show people how easy, healthy and fun it can be to make a delicious meal at home!  Rachel always thought the hardest thing about cooking is how much of this spice and how much of that spice you should add.  So go ahead and throw all of those spices you use infrequently and start using our spice blends! They are fresh and economical!  Our blends are perfectly formulated to use for just about everything you like to cook.

The farmer’s market may be closed until the end of May BUT you can get these awesome products at the following locations:

502 Baking Company, 502 Brick Blvd, Brick, NJ 08724 (732) 477-4502

Berry Fresh Farms, 151 Brick Blvd, Brick NJ 08723  (732)477-0606

Cream Ridge Winery, 145 Route 539 (PO Box 98), Cream Ridge, NJ 08514 (609) 259-9797

Dearborn Farm Market, 2170 Rt 35, Holmdel, NJ 07733  (732)264-0256

From The Garden, 353 Fairfield Road, Freehold NJ 07728 (732)866-1745

Cedar Post Farm and Garden Center, 147 NJ Route 70,  Lakehurst,NJ 08753 (732)270-8833

Delicious Orchards, 320 Route 34, Colts Neck, NJ  (732) 462-1989

New Egypt Marketplace, 53 Main Street, New Egypt, NJ 08533 (609) 458-7900

The Lusty Lobster, 88 Bay Ave. Highlands, NJ 07732 (732) 291-1548

Twin Ponds, Rt 9 Howell, NJ 07731

Lovelandtown Grocery and Provisions, 219 Bridge Ave, Point Pleasant,NJ 08742  (732)903-6855
Princes Farm Market , 1123 Mountain Ave, Mountainside, NJ 07092
(908)358-3311
Have a great recipe you want to share?  We would love to feature YOU!  If you try this, let us know what you think…
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Will You Splash Into Spring?

Today’s blog post is from Janet Kinkade who is the creator of JK by Thirty-One jewelry. She joins us with a mutual passion to inspire women and help them recognize their own beauty and potential.

Who doesn’t love a great novelty print?  You can’t get much cuter than a bunch of playful critters on your go-to tote! So in the spirit of springtime fun – and all of the wonder and whimsy you love from Thirty-One – allow me to introduce three new friends (and three new trends) just right for your warm-weather adventures.

Lovin’ those llamas

With their long necks and toothy grins, llamas are the quirkiest bunch in the barnyard – and they put a smile on our face, too! Native to the Andes in South America, llamas also give a subtle nod to the global influences we’ve been seeing in accessories and home goods. Whatever it is, I’ll be the first to admit: I’m lovin’ llamas!

You’ll see our Llama-Rama print on several Thirty-One styles this spring, but I can’t stop looking at his cute little face on the Thermal Tote and Littles Carry-All™ Caddy! (Speaking of Littles, did you know a baby llama is called a “cria,” pronounced KREE-uh. Adorable, right?) And with embroidered llama personalization, you can choose your own colors and make any tote or bag llama-mazing!

It’s a flamingo frenzy!

They say everything old is new again, and the kitschy 1950s flamingo lawn ornament on your grandma’s lawn is  BACK, too – and he’s making a fashion statement!

Today’s flamingoes are a must-have trend for the season: vibrant, fresh and playful. Flamingoes are all over – from party themes to cell phone accessories to pool floats and fancy drinks!  Is their popularity because of the happy place they remind us of, with palm trees, a sandy beach and a fruity drink? Or is it the gracefulness of this instantly recognizable bird with its pink feathers, slender neck and legs that go on forever?

Be sure to check out our new print: Let’s Flamingle. Everyone is going to want the structured new Small Utility Tote or super-portable Foldaway Tote covered in pink flamingoes! And who can resist the ever-popular Cool Zip Snackers featuring our flamingo friend wearing some cool green sunnies?

Mermaids make a splash

Mermaids have always captured our collective imagination, and they’re back in the pop culture zeitgeist this spring: There are mermaid swimming schools, mermaid hair, shimmery make-up and even a new mermaid emoji!

This season, mermaids are also making a big splash here at Thirty-One. So if you’ve ever dreamt of living that mermaid life, then you’ll love our new Foldaway Tote in Mermaid Lagoon – and you must have the Cool Zip Snacker featuring a shiny, shimmery mermaid’s tail!

Check out more of Thirty One’s spring and summer collections at my website: www.partywithHope.com.  If you LOVE getting FREE products ask about our 5 different ways to earn them.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

#TBT: Bullying – The Visible vs the Invisible

I can hardly believe it has been 6 years since I started this blog.  For those of you who don’t know, it was started as a result of a challenge by Vanessa Coppes as a way to grow my business.

For those of you who have ever thought about blogging – do it!  It hasn’t just been good for my business but it has been good for my soul.  Sharing my strength, hope and experience with others has been amazing.  I’m not sure what the future holds for my when it comes to blogging since my MS plays havoc on processing thoughts BUT I will continue in some way!

So, as I celebrate heading into year number 7, here is a throwback to my very first post:

I wanted to share how “bullying” can be hidden by our children. It doesn’t mean you are a bad parent, it just means you may have taught your child coping skills to help deal with the bullying from school mates. Bear with me as I share some background information..

I was a single mom for 14 years who worked full-time trying to provide all of the things I had when I was growing up and give my daughter, Belinda, more. Isn’t it every parent’s wish – to give their child more?  We lived in a double wide trailer in a trailer park in an area with a good school district, lots of children my daughter’s age and affordable.  My daughter was involved in a lot of activities outside of school – first competitive gymnastics, then field hockey then all-star cheering. This was my way of making sure Belinda stayed away from the “wrong crowd”. She went to public school until she was a Sophomore in HS when she asked to change to a private Christian school where our Pastor’s family taught and went to school. Her reasons made sense so we juggled the budget and Belinda graduated from Pilgrim Academy – smiling, happy, ready for college & still living in the trailer park. Belinda traveled 13 hours to go college – Western Carolina University. I was heart-broken she was so far away but after the first semester, she excelled – graduated with honors in the Honors College program.

It was then, the “clueless mom” found out what had really been happening…My daughter is a social worker who loves working with troubled kids (she now works for the State helping disabled individuals). As she was preparing her applications for grad school for her Masters in Macro-Social Work, she had to write some essays as to why she felt she would belonged in this field. Since I am a grant-writer, she asked me to review her essays (like she usually did) to check grammar, etc. This is when I found out the “horror” of my daughter’s school years….

Belinda recounts many tales of verbal abuse from school mates because we lived in a trailer park which as the years passed became like the “projects” of the Township. She only invited her closest friends back to our house for sleep overs, parties, etc. I never really thought about it since I was working, juggling her activities and making sure her homework was done. The truth was very few parents wanted their children to come over because of where we lived – not necessarily our home but the neighborhood. Belinda talked about how people used to call her “trailer trash”. The outside sports activities along with my example of what a strong woman could do is what she attributes to her success. Some called her a “snob” because she was involved in outside sports.  Then when she became active in church, more verbal abuse came.  Some of her friends from the trailer park fell into the lives people expected – sexually active, lots of unsupervised parties, drugs, alcohol and more. I was blessed, Belinda didn’t head in that direction. 

Many believe if I was clueless about the verbal abuse, I would be clueless about everything else…My daughter and I had and still have an amazing relationship. When I asked her why she never told me, her response “I didn’t want to hurt you because I knew you were doing the best you could. The material things didn’t matter because you were always there for me”. My daughter has amazing attributes – self confidence, speaks her mind (sometimes without tack) and is forever looking to help the underserved youth in her community.  She tells me on a regular basis how she hopes to accomplish all I have both professionally and personally. 

I wanted to share this to let people know bullying isn’t always visible, it can happen to any child. As I travel back to our old hometown, I look around and ask my husband – was I “clueless” about what life was like. His response is always the same – “You did what you had to do to make sure Belinda had everything she needed even if it wasn’t always what she wanted. As a result, she is a bright, intelligent and confident woman who wants to take on the world to make it a better place”.

Since signing up to be a part of the Family Wellness & Beauty Day for Kickin’ It Kids AntiBullying, God has pressed on my heart to share this story. 

I know this was a a LONG post but it will always be a part of my story.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

#MSWillNotDefeatMe


Over the last month, I have reconnected with people I haven’t seen in years (27 years for one)…. It should be a time for excitement as we reminisce about past adventures, unfortunately, it has been a struggle.  I’ve shared my diagnosis and the most devastating part is not being able to remember….

When they ask “What’s it like living with MS?” Uhm…there’s just not a simple answer.  To those who don’t see me every day, they don’t know the subtle changes taking place.  They figure all must be well since I am still walking.  I mean isn’t MS all about not being able to walk and constant pain?  The truth is there is so much more to it….

When I try to describe the occasional physical and daily mental difficulties I experience because of MS, it is often met with some interesting responses. They have stemmed from “eat healthier”, to “eat more potassium” for the spasms in my legs, to try those pills on TV to help with memory, to “take B12” for the exhaustion. When I explain, I do some of those things already but they simply don’t work, They look at me like I have 12 heads!   After all, it works for them so it should for me too.

Some people just don’t seem to understand that those of us living with MS aren’t like them. We have a damaged Central Nervous System and our immune system is in chaos causing our own body to attack us. Some of the damaged areas to our nerves have healed well over time but some haven’t and new damage appears all the time.

The exhaustion I experience isn’t always because I didn’t sleep well the night before or because we aren’t eating nutritionally. It’s a debilitating symptom which isn’t always remedied with natural herbs and better sleep. Those things can help, but it’s not a “fix”. Catch me between 1PM – 3PM and you might find me falling asleep mid-sentence.

The loss of memory is something i will have to live with FOREVER!  Some things come back – you know those random things – but maybe only a snapshot instead of the whole movie.  LOL.  I’m learning to be honest about it and thankfully most people understand.

A trip to the mall is exhausting!  Some days just making my way across the parking lot of the grocery store presents a challenge.  When I am with my mom I always say, I wish I could walk as fast as she does at 82!

Through it all, I have learned to look this disease of MS square in the eyes and say, “I am not defeated because of you and regardless of what happens in life I am thankful for each new day I am given.”  A friend said to me recently, “God has a plan for you through all of this, just remain faithful”.  My recovery and working the steps has helped tremendously with this process.  I am turning things over and waiting for God to tell me what to do!

We will never understand all the why’s in life. Why MS? Why now? Why me?

No matter what the storm is you are going through; face it and be determined to be thankful as you go through it. Yes, it is possible to be thankful even in the most horrible of circumstances, but it’s a choice; and you have it within you to make the choice. You can stand up (even if only on the inside) and say, “I refuse to be defeated by MS (or whatever storm you are experiencing).”

Strength isn’t measured by the amount of things I can do or by how big my muscles are, it’s determined by the attitude I have while going through the difficult times in life. You are doing it. You are making it. Square your shoulders back and hold your head up high today because you are STRONG even though your body is weak!

This is MS Awareness Month and his has been my mantra lately.  I’ve had more days then I can count where the reality of MS has hit me. From struggling to walk with an ache in my legs, to brain fog which never seems to end to not be able to process thoughts, words or sentences.  God has placed loving people in my life who help me through the struggles.  It is his plan and even though some days I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel…. I will hold onto my faith.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

How Do You Define Success?

positive thoughtsIn the dictionary, success is defined as : the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame; and the correct or desired result of an attempt.  

I love when someone asks me this question because on any given day, I don’t FEEL successful.  The “no’s” have out numbered the yea’s.  The goals set seem unobtainable.  Satan is having a field day and Doubtful Debbie has crashed the party.

Most days my success is not about the exterior things, it is about the interior changes I am making as I walk the road of recovery.  Don’t get me wrong, all of the “stuff” is great but I find when I get into all of the material aspects, I forget about the interior success I am making in my life. I lose focus and the world begins to spin.  For some, a success journal or gratitude list help them to celebrate keep their success – large and small keeping it in front of them on a daily basis.

Here is a fun tip from Party Plan Divas:

Keeping a success journal  will help to motivate you when Doubtful Debbie comes to call.  Takes only 10-15 minutes a day to write down your achievements and the tasks you’ve accomplished. I bet these 15 minutes a day have the power to transform all your life.  I know you are saying – “When do I have 10 minutes to myself?”. Find them – sitting in the car as they fill your gas tank, waiting to pick the kids up from school or an activity or even in the bathroom.  I know that may sound crazy but for some, that is the ONLY place to get a few minutes of peace and quiet.

By writing down your achievements you will be able to feel the progress. You will see how by small steps you’re moving closer and closer to your goal.  Remember that writing things down makes us accountable and keeps us on track.  Just like tracking your food when dieting – a success journal will help you to eliminate temptation.  A Success Journal will also help you to keep Doubtful Debbie and Negative Nellie from paying an unwelcome visit.  Believe it or not, it will help to simplify your life (that is what they say – but I am not so sure about that).

However you should be aware of three rules of keeping a success journal:

1. Write only what you’ve done.  Don’t write what you still haven’t done and what you still have to do tomorrow.  List only accomplished tasks and achievements.  Keep with the POSITIVE and a voice the NEGATIVE.

2. List even small things.  Everything counts! A phone call, an email blast, or your decision to pass by the chocolate cheesecake.  This could help on so many levels.

3. Make it a daily habit.  Don’t skip days! Even if you’re exhausted make sure you write at least 1-2 sentences in your success journal. Even if the only thing you did that day was think about your goal.  In 30 days you wouldn’t possibly be able to live without it.  Remember that it takes 21-days to make it a habit!

Who has a success journal?  How has it helped you?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!