What We Expect "It" To Look Like...

When I was younger, I had a vision of what my life would be like... I thought I would be an actress living in New York City in an apartment with furniture that all had wheels so that I could easily rearrange. In my vision I shared that apartment with my then gay best friend from high school.

Today, I am a writer, not an actress (thank god), I am more country mouse than city mouse, my furniture does not have wheels and it turns out I prefer sex to living with gay men. Suffice it to say that it didn't turn out the way I thought it might when I was younger. But then again, I wasn't tied to the way I thought things ought to look, either. 

In relationships, though, we do tend to get more tied into what we think things ought to look like... it probably has something to do with movies. Romantic comedies are so alluring with their dramatic lines and grand gestures. We have these notions about love and how it needs to look or feel and rather than approaching it as we do the rest of our lives, with fluidity and a morphing picture, we remain so tied to this vision we have that sometimes we miss the picture entirely. 

This becomes especially true in marriage. 

Why people are obsessed with presenting perfect marriages probably has something to do with societal expectations... but rarely is there ever a marriage that is perfect and in fact I don't even aspire to have a perfect marriage. I like my imperfect marriage. While we are always striving to be better people (because that's just how we are) we know that no matter how great we learn to be, we will never be perfect and that is okay. 

Perhaps in the beginning, it wasn't always this way. I wanted people to think that we had it all together--that we had it all figured out. But the truth was, we didn't. We didn't know sometimes how we were going to learn to live together with all our faults and annoyances. We didn't know what our careers would be. We didn't know, but even still we held on to this notion that we should keep up appearances that we did know. And then one day, we stopped. 

The truth is when you let go of how you think things ought to look and trade them for how they really are, they really are okay--heck, they might even be great. These things come with age...and not necessarily your age as a person, but the age of your relationship....or the age of your mind. 

There are all different kinds of love and relationships in life. They tend to all look very different. What they have in common is a deep commitment to that love--one that is unwavering. It's not always easy, it's not even always fun... but if you expect it to fit in a box, you have probably already lost. Someday your box will crack into a million tiny pieces and be left ashes at your feet. If you don't know how to live outside of it, you might be doomed.

So the next time you start thinking about how life doesn't look the way thought it might, think about whether that is necessarily a bad thing. Don't be attached to what others think and instead focus on your happiness and how your life makes you feel. 

I Have [Yogurt] Issues

I have yogurt issues, and apparently they run deep. Months ago, I confessed to all of you out there about how my old yogurt in the fridge was just for show... Well thankfully my husband placed that yogurt in the trash, and I should probably be embarrassed that it was just recently, but I don't care all that much because I was too busy moving on to bigger and better yogurt problems.

This summer has been wicked hot... and for that reason (obviously) we have been gravitating toward ice cream. It's just so good and creamy and yummy, but I hate the way it stays on my tummy. So when I saw those greek yogurt pops in the freezer aisle of my grocery, I thought that they would be a great substitution for the Klondike bars I had become so fond of. I know what you are probably thinking...I shouldn't BE in the frozen section of my grocery. You are right. Nothing good ever comes of that section.

But the point is, I was in the frozen section and see those Yasso frozen greek yogurt bars I did. But I didn't want to pay full price. So I bought them at my local bulk goods store, and got a whole bunch more than if I had bought them at the regular grocery. And I had a coupon. Still? Big mistake.

Given my previous issues with yogurt you would have thought I would have better insight into the issue of yogurt frozen on a stick. But I feel like I like frozen yogurt; the funny part about that is that I couldn't tell you the last time I actually had frozen yogurt. Maybe as a child. So maybe I don't like it, after all.

What I can tell you definitively is that I do not like frozen greek yogurt on a stick by Yasso in either strawberry or blueberry. My husband says the strawberry tastes like children's medicine, prompting him to believe that "Yasso" is greek for "Dimetapp." Me? I was disappointed when I opened the wrapper to see that tell-tale sign of freezer burn.

I love blueberries, but the pop itself just fails to be creamy or blueberry-like and so I am left with the distinction of calling it "purple" and I hate the flavor "purple." Maybe greek yogurt just doesn't freeze well and it's not just me. Maybe people just say that they like these chalky pops because they are so invested in their healthy lifestyles that their tastebuds have given up. I would go out and buy Skinny Cow products... but I feel like buying anything "diet" is like buying chemicals to eat.

All of these thoughts from one god forsaken box of frozen greek yogurt pops. I should have known, but because I am a yogurt-idiot who failed to convert "I don't like yogurt" into "I don't like yogurt frozen either," I wanted to share my yogurt issues... like a yogurt support group.

If you don't like yogurt, you might not like yogurt in it's freezer form, either. Just sayin'. And if you happen to like yogurt, you still might not like Yasso's frozen greek yogurt pops because they lack flavor or that creamy nature you might be expecting from a creamy frozen treat. And now that I have come this far into the blog post busting on some company's sub-par yogurt pops, it occurs to me that if you are going for the ice cream, just go for it. It might save you a lot of yogurt heart ache. 

Quick Fix: Salad Caprese

One of my favorite salads is tomato and mozzarella salad in the summer. The ingredients are so fresh and lovely and best of all.... it takes only several minutes to make. It's easy, it's yummy, and it includes cheese. What else could a gal ask for?

Originally I had so hoped to use my own, homemade mozzarella for this recipe... but alas, that ended in disaster.  So I bought some mozzarella and that worked out just fine.

This recipe serves 2-4, depending on how you want to serve it. You don't have to stack it like I did, but I wanted the pictures to look pretty and also stacking things is so much fun. Anyway, here we go!

I have to make mention of the fact that the colors of this salad are also the colors of the Italian flag. It's pretty cool huh? 

We've once again got simple ingredients that make a great dish. That is one of the things I love most about Italian cooking--simple and easy and tasty. 

Cut your two tomatoes into 5 pieces each... 

And your 8 ounces of mozzarella into 8 pieces. 

This is how we stack: 


Fully stacked. YUM! End with tomato. 

Now add some nice salt and pepper to the top. 

Then drizzle with oil. 

This is going to come down to preferences, really. If you prefer more oil, use more oil, if you prefer less oil, use less oil. 

Then some balsamic vinegar. This is the same, you gotta do it to taste. No rules! This is free-form drizzling at it's best! 

YUM! Check it out... good right? 

To serve: remove some from the stack and enjoy! 

Salad Caprese 

Time: 5 minutes | Serves 2-4 | Difficulty: Easy 

You Will Need:

10 leaves fresh basil 
2 ripe tomatoes (small to medium sized) 
8 ounces fresh mozzarella 
Extra virgin olive oil (to drizzle)
Balsamic vinegar (to drizzle) 
salt & pepper (to taste) 


Cut your tomatoes into five slices each. 

Cut your ball of mozzarella into 8 slices. 

On a plate you are going to make two stacks of Caprese salad. For the first: lay one tomato slice, then one mozzarella slice on top of that, then a leaf of basil on top of the cheese (see picture above.) Repeat until you have a stack with five pieces of tomato and four pieces of cheese. 

Repeat the same process to make a second stack with the remaining cheese, tomato and basil. 

Salt and pepper both stacks. 

Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar on each stack until you get the desired consistency. I like mine heavy on the oil and lighter on the balsamic, but that is totally my personal preference. 

To serve, remove some of the stack to a plate and enjoy! 

Bossy Italian Book Review: A Feast For Crows (Book #4- Game of Thrones)

Some people said that the third book was their favorite, so going into the fourth book, I was a little worried I wouldn't like it as much as the third. I don't know what I was worried about!!! I really enjoyed this fourth book, maybe even more than the third to be honest.

You will notice new characters in this book, but I noticed that I liked them almost immediately, and because we have so much information now their stories incorporated easily. You will also notice some missing characters in this book.... where's Tyrion or Dany? They are in the next book as the author tells you at the end.

These books are long and the characters are complicated, but the author wanted to tell complete stories, as he says, so he split the book in two; that is why some of the characters are "missing."

I loved seeing the perspective of Cersei...that was a great addition to this book. I also really enjoyed how the names changed for some of the characters. Like how Arya became Cat of Canals or Sansa became Alayane. It felt like the characters and the book were getting really deep and I enjoyed that aspect of it.

Oh and the return of Caitlyn Stark is chilling...as is Biter. Holy hell that guy is terrifying. And who among us didn't enjoy Brienne of Tarth's story. She really is a great hero. Oh and let's not forget Tommen's new wife... it's all a great story building and building up to the fifth book, which I now can't wait to read.

This series just delivers on so many levels. I feel like I really sink my teeth into it, and it takes me so many places. I DID miss Tyrion in this book but since I know I will see him next time, I am not so worried. I have to say that there is a lot of genius in the intricacies of the series, and I think that from the four books I have read so far, this is one of those series you could really read again and again.

Fifth book: A Dance With Dragons is going to be a great read!!!!!!!! 

Penis, Penis, Penis...Whatever

After not ovulating for ten years in a row, (because I was on birth control) ovulation feels like a kick in the ovaries... all I can think about of days leading up to ovulation is "penis, penis , penis....whatever." Everything that is not having to do with a penis is like background noise. I see a man, I think about penis. I see my husband, and I practically attack his. Wait a second, not practically, actually... I actually attack his penis.

This is becoming a little bit of a problem. People are talking to me, and all I can hear in my head is the word "penis." And my husband can always tell when I am ovulating because I turn into a dirty talking, man eating, sex machine. One month my husband told me I was making him feel like a piece of meat. My husband...a piece of meat. You know what I told him? I told him he needed to "shut up and perform."

I feel like a beast, unleashed in the middle of a hot dessert and I am furiously looking for something to drink. I feel hungry, full of heat and without a single rational thought...unless you count "penis" as a rational thought. (Which, in those moments, I do!)

In the midst of all this ovulation and penis-centered thinking, it recalled that very public fight the state and church were having in the not so distant past. Remember the one I am talking about? At the time, I was shocked by the fact that church members didn't want the women employees at their establishments to have birth control paid for by their health insurance. I was outraged! Now I understand it: they want their women ovulating because it turns them into horny monsters, which only leaves me to assume that people who go to church must be very horny these days.

That and there is nothing more dangerous than a woman on birth control because she is isn't susceptible to penises. It all makes sense now. Women who ovulate are ten times more crazy than a woman with PMS and the church aims to keep 'em that way. But here's a tip: if they really wanted women to be without sex drives and kept docile, birth control would certainly be the way to go. It can make a woman drier than the Sahara Desert in a matter of months whereas ovulation will do the exact opposite. Just my personal observation, of course.

But even in the midst of this very logical thought process I am having during these bouts of ovulation, I have to say I stand in awe of mother nature. She is one powerful lady if you ask me. Because despite the fact that I know that once a month I am turning into a wildebeest-sized ball of sexual energy and that I should tone it down a little, I am powerless to stop it.

The funniest part is that before I ovulated, no one even warned me about this. No one was talking about ovulation at all... and why is that? Do women not know when they are ovulating because no one taught them what to look for, or is there some sort of ovulation secret society I don't know about? Or are all my friends on birth control? Ladies, let's talk about it...

Leave your comments in the section below... but know that if I read them when I am ovulating, all I will see is penis, penis, penis, whatever.

Blueberry Jam

The canning season is basically in full swing for my mother in law and I. We already tackled strawberry jam and it tastes so awesome I have been eating it on toast every morning. Now that blueberries are in season, we wanted to try our hands at blueberry jam as well, especially given how easy it is to make jams in general.

A local farm has you-pick blueberries so we put on our sun hats (well, my mother in law put on her sun hat, I didn't actually have one) and we headed out into the July heat to pick ourselves some fresh blueberries. We needed a big bucketful to get our desired amount of jars, but I was surprised by how quickly it went by!

The only downside? I got a bee sting! I reached for a few berries and there on the berry as a bee I couldn't see and it stung my thumb goooood. Other than that, I have to say that I found canning blueberry jam to be even easier than strawberry jam, which is mostly because you don't have to cut the green tops off. You really only have to wash them good and mash them.

I am not posting Ball's recipe on this blog because it is basically the same as the strawberry jam. Ball's pectin calculator is GREAT and I highly recommend it (click HERE to access that!) My mother in law and I use the low sugar because fruit is sweet on it's own. It's a great way to go to add a touch of sweetness without overpowering the fruit.

Fresh-picked from the bush! The beauty of these berries is quite apparent, but I also want to say that they tasted amazing, too!!! 

The regular potato masher was no match for these berries, so we used this pastry mixer instead. For the berry jams you have to mash the berries in a single layer before measuring them. It helps release them juices as well as making the pieces perfect for jam. 

Mashed berries getting all measured out! 

When the berries are mashed you add them with some water and lemon juice into the pot. Then you slowly stir in your pectin. Once it all comes to a rapid boil, add your sugar and then boil hard for one minute. 

Then let the canning begin! 

You can see from the outside of the jars that it can get a little messy. It's important to wipe the tops of the jars clean before putting on your bands and lids. 

Putting on our lids! 

Once you have your lids and bands all secured, you process your jars in your water bath canner for 10 minutes. Then you let them rest for 24 hours. This is always the hardest part for me... the waiting. I always want to mess with the jars, but I have to be patient and not touch them. Do. Not. Mess. 

Ooooooo....Aaaaaaaaah. Looky there! 
We got 16 jars total, and these are just a few of them. 

The Last Piece of "Single Me"

I have been with my husband for 8 1/2 years, married for two. Suffice it to say that I have been attached for a long time...long enough that "single" barely enters my mind anymore. I have had my passport since I was 12 years old. My first trip out of the country was at 13 to Italy--a right of passage that my mother gifted me.

For some strange reason, when I got married, I dutifully switched over everything--except my passport. Let's not talk about the fact that I haven't been out of the country in over 3 years.... but I didn't switch it. When my sister in law moved to Scotland, I knew the time had come to make the big change.

Still, I waited. I wasn't rushing in to change my passport. Though I was longing to see her--to hit the open air and land at her doorstep--I hadn't done the one thing I needed to do in order to make that happen. But finally the time came.

I went into the post office and asked to make an appointment for my passport... they had something available that same week. For some reason, this disappointed me internally as I accepted the appointment they gave me. When I showed up, let's say that they were less than organized; they weren't sure which form I needed, their camera was broken, and I was simultaneously thinking of running from the building screaming "FREEEEEEEEEDOM" Braveheart style.

It didn't help that at the point of my greatest confusion in the post office, a random woman approached me to let me know that when she had married and changed over her own passport, the government called her to let her know how legally her name wasn't actually changed....

I was upset about giving up that little piece of paper that bore my maiden name. It wasn't really a secret by that point. In fact the night before I turned to my husband and said, "The last piece of my former self disappears tomorrow." It was so hard, but I went to the UPS store, got my new picture, called the applicable department to find out what form I needed, and forked over the amount of money to ensure that my passport would be processed.

It's been years since anyone has called me "Ms. Nichols" but somehow it felt like I was really "Mrs. Criswell" that day in the post office. Ms. Nichols died with the swipe of the pen two years ago and walked down the aisle with her man in hand as a Mrs. Why then this feeling of loss...

The funniest part was that I was doing all of this to go and see my sister in law in Scotland, who didn't change her name on her passport when she married. Instead she opted to carry around her marriage license. I could have done that. But I couldn't do it.... I wanted to dissolve that piece of myself, but it was still hard.

I have written about the hardships and joys of taking your husband's last name--and it's certainly a name I am very proud of--but to revisit that old name, well, it made me feel sentimental. It made me think of all the things that came before my husband, my fiancee, my boyfriend.... everything else that came before.

And there it went;  in an envelope to the government and beyond to be returned to me as a new person. That was it--the last piece of "single me." 

Quick Fix: Summer Pasta

Summer vegetables make me smile. They just taste so fresh. I know that I have been harping on beet greens for, like, weeks on end, BUT they are in season and they incorporate so well into so many dishes, including this one.

Now I don't want anyone feeling intimidated about the veggies in this dish. You can totally interchange your favorites with these...take them as suggestions. For instance, if you wanted you could trade the beet greens for spinach or the squash for zucchini or the mushrooms for eggplant. Whatever. Anything goes.

But if you are into following recipes and you like beet greens and you like mushrooms and you like yellow squash, this is going to be a great recipe for you. It makes one heaping plate of pasta, which is perfect for me because I am a pasta hog. If you are feeling generous, you can share this with someone else. I was not sharing.

YUM YUM! Check out all those veggies! And some fresh basil, too, for good measure.... picked fresh from my garden! 

Did I mention this is a great way to use up leftover pasta? It is. I had to boil some, and in this case I used 1 cup of dried rotelle. But you can use farfalle, spaghetti, or any other variety you please! 

While the pasta is boiling away, I cut up my veggies.... 

And I drizzled some oil in my pan (twice around should do it) and I added some freshly pressed garlic to the pan. 

Turn that heat on medium high and add those veggies! 
Cook 'em about five minutes. 

After the five minutes, add your basil (no need to chop!).... 

And a handful of beet greens! 

Cook and stir until the beet greens are wilted (about 2-3 minutes). 

Drain your pasta and then add it to the skillet. 
Stir to combine.... 

And put it on a plate! Of course, adding salt, paper, and parmesan cheese to taste! 

Billie's Sumer Pasta 

Time: 15 minutes start to finish | Serves 1, maybe two if you are feeling nice | Difficulty: Easy! 

You Will Need:

1 cup of pasta 
4 mushrooms
1 small tomato 
1/2 of a small yellow squash 
handful of beet greens 
5 leaves fresh basil 
1 clove of garlic, minced
extra virgin olive oil 
salt and pepper (to taste) 
parmesan cheese to garnish (optional) 


Boil a small pot of water for your pasta and cook according to the manufacturer's directions. 

Meanwhile, cut up your tomato mushrooms and squash into small pieces. 

Drizzle some olive oil in your pan (twice around the pan should do it!), and add the garlic, tomato, mushrooms and squash. Cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes. 

Add to the pan of veggies your basil (no need to chop) and beet greens. Drizzle a little more oil right over the veggies (once around the pan should be great!) Cook until the beet greens are nice and wilted, about 2-3 minutes. 

Drain pasta and add it to the skillet. Stir to combine. 

Move to a plate. 

Top with salt and pepper to taste and some parmesan cheese. ENJOY! 

Fifty Shades...of Embarrassment

With all the hoopla over the Fifty Shades series and women being all liberated and talking about domination, I thought I would share a sexy, funny, and embarrassing story of my own regarding domination. The names have been changed to protect the not so innocent.

Even back in high school, I was quite an adventurous lover. I had a boyfriend, we'll call him Steve Martin, and once upon a time I bought a pair of handcuffs that I thought we should try. Steve Martin used to feed the fish at grandparent's house when they went out of town, so we had our venue. With the handcuffs in my purse, a pair of pleather pants, platform shoes and my sexiest undies on, we made our way over there to delve into our first bondage experience.

Back in the bedroom of the house, Steve Martin was situating the handcuffs on me, and once he did, he began taking my pants off. I feeling my very first tinges of the domination experience! I couldn't wait to feel all those wild sensations.... but then, as my my buns were completely exposed mid pantsing, we heard the most terrifying sound a handcuffed, bare bunned teenager can hear: a door in the house opened. Someone was there!

So what does Steve Martin do? He doesn't even pull up my britches, but instead he whispers "someone's here!" and he takes me by the arm and stuffs my handcuffed, naked butt into the nearest dark closet. So there I am, handcuffed and trying to pull up my own pants in a closet. This was certainly not the type of domination I had in mind; this was a little more kidnap fantasy, a little less sexy.

As I am quite blind in the dark closet and handcuffed to boot, I tap into my other senses. That is when I hear his mother come into the room and ask Steve Martin what he is doing... of course, Steve Martin is a terrible liar, and so he says that he is "taking a nap." This might have been a plausible lie had it not been 8:30PM in the evening. They leave the room and I hear more talking and then a bunch of doors close....

Then silence.

And I am still handcuffed, still in the dark closet and wondering what in the heck to do. Do I come out of the closet? What if they are just arguing very quietly in another part of the house? Have they left? Are they coming back? Will I still get to have sex? These were the questions running through my mind.

Instead of doing anything at all I just sat there, in the closet, and I waited. I waited nearly 45 minutes in that closet. And then, without warning, the closet door flew open and there was Steve Martin, exasperated and looking like he had just run a marathon. "C'mon!" he practically yells in my face. And like we are in some action movie, he un-cuffs me and practically forces me to run through the house, through the garage and into his car--like the building is going to explode on us.

I had so many questions for him....like, does your mom know? Where is she? Why are you out of breath? Where were you for the last 45 minutes while I was stuck in the closet like that bad R Kelly movie? Why couldn't you just have called my cell phone (which I had in the closet with me)?? You know, stuff like that.

Instead, all I manage to ask is, "Where is you mom?" to which he replies, "She thinks I am following her home." Oh Steve Martin. You silly man. Do you really think she thinks you are following her home at this point in the game?

When he deposited me home I recalled this entire tale to my mother who thought it was quite possibly the funniest thing she had ever heard. To which she offered, "You know, Billie, you could have just called me. I would have picked you up." Sheesh.

The next day, as told by Steve Martin, when he woke up, his mother was sitting on the end of his bed. She looked at him and simply said, "I hope you are using protection." And then got up and walked out of the room.

And that is "my first domination story." It didn't go so well, and it was really embarrassing, but in my estimation, it could have gone worse. Imagine the shock on poor Steve Martin's Mom's face if she had opened that bedroom door and actually found her son having sex with a handcuffed me instead of him feigning sleep in the bedroom alone?

The moral of this story? Don't try to catch your kid having sex otherwise you might catch an eyeful for something really raunchy. 

Cheesy Cauliflower Recipe

This recipe comes to us courtesy of my friends Paul and Jamie. They introduced us to this delightfully easy recipe and now that I have made it a few times and found how delicious it is, I wanted to share it with all of you!

Cauliflower is one of those veggies that some people aren't' crazy about. Perhaps this recipe can change all that! This is also great for when you are having 4-6 people for dinner because it feeds a crowd for a little bit of money and effort, making it a winning side dish. I also feel this is a great recipe no matter the season, making it even more extra special to keep in your repertoire!

So, about these pictures. I am not really into apologizing, but they aren't the best quality. I made this in the evening (which normally I don't do because I hate the darkness of the photo quality) in the middle of a heat wave with no air conditioning. So you will have to excuse that and just bear with me--I have air conditioning now and therefore won't be acting crazy like that again!

Four ingredients. Four. A head of cauliflower, cheddar cheese, mustard and mayo. 

Take off the green part of the cauliflower on the bottom, like so.... 

And place it in your pot fitted with a steamer. Cover and let that sucker steam for about 30 minutes or until it's fork-tender. 

Now take your mayo... 

And your mustard.... 

And mix 'em up, buttercup! 

When your cauliflower is fork-tender, remove it [carefully] from the pot and place it on a pan. Cover it in your mustard/mayo miracle of goodness. 

Then top with cheese! 
Then you are going to pop it in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted..... 

HOLY MELTED CHEESE! Don't she look purdy?! 

Slice it like a pie... 

Yes. This is what cauliflower was intended for. 

Cheesy Cauliflower 

Time: 40 minutes | Serves 6 (as a side dish) | Difficulty: Easy 
You Will Need:

1 head of cauliflower
2 tablespoons mustard
2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1 cup of cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Set up a large pot with a steamer (the pot will also need a lid). Add enough water to come up to the steamer but not flood it.

Trim the bottom of the cauliflower so that the stem is detached (see picture above). Place it in the steamer, cover, and steam on medium high heat for about 30 minutes or until the cauliflower is fork tender.

Mix mustard and mayonnaise together in a small bowl.

When the cauliflower is tender, remove it to a baking pan, being sure to be gentle (so it doesn't fall apart). If it comes apart, don't panic--you can just set it back together.

Cover the cauliflower head with mayonnaise and mustard, and then cover it with the cheese.

Put it in the preheated oven and bake until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.

Slice pie-style (see above picture) and serve!


Since You Asked: What Do I Do With All This Mint?

I am an "urban gardener," I have a small patch of land that I grow a variety of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce and herbs on and I am stumped on what to do with all of the mint that I grow. I've made various compilations of mojitos, teas and even have tried a couple of salad recipes with mint but I still have a plethora of this refreshing herb.

My question to you is what can I do with all of this mint??

-Abundance of Mint 

First of all, I want to say that I am impressed with your urban gardening--I love it! SO COOL! Bravo! I wish more people had the ambition you have to grow their own food. I, too, do potted plants as well as some in the dirt stuff. I do all my herbs in pots, though,and I just love my potted garden!

As you can tell, mint is one of those fast growing herbs that leaves you starching your head. I feel the same way. Googling the problem may leave you feeling a little mint-weary, too.... some people love, love LOVE mint and throw it in nearly everything and others are more deliberate cookers, like me, and find themselves with a ton of leftover mint.

It sounds like you are doing lots of minty things already which is awesome! Offhand, there are two other things you can do:
1) Mint ice cubes. They are perfect for both nonalcoholic and alcoholic beverages. Just put a few shreds of leaf in each ice cube slot (in a tray), add water and freeze. It's a great way to use it up.
2) Stomach stuff. No lie. Mint settles the stomach and last week, I found myself with an upset tummy that was lingering. I broke off two mint leaves, washed them and chewed them slowly each time I felt a little nauseous and it eased my hurt belly!

Beyond that, I am not even gonna front, I had to do a little research on your behalf. Turns out that greek food has a ton of mint in it. So one solution would be to buy a greek cookbook, or google some greek recipes to help you expand your mint repertoire. Tabbouleh incorporates mint (and is delish!), and there are yogurt sauces that you can make as well. Also, if you make a ground lamb burger, you could throw some mint into the ground and it would taste amazing.

Some of the solutions for using up extra mint sound a little ambitious, if you ask me... or maybe it's just the heat getting to me. Haha. There are a plethora of mint ice creams out there that call for fresh mint. If you are feeling really frisky and want to make ice cream, it seems like it would be a great solution!

I know you said you made mojitos, but have you tried the mint julep? That was another recommendation.

Finally, if you find yourself with a ton of mint at the end of the season, don't fear--freeze it! You can pick your harvest and vacuum seal it up and freeze it for year-round use. Don't worry, though, you aren't alone in your mint conundrum. I too find that my basil and parsley go way faster than my mint!

Do you have a mint suggestion for our reader? Please leave it in the comments section below!

How To Be A Perfect Italian Wife

I'm not even joking when I say that people google this term and end up finding my blog. "How to be a perfect Italian wife." Sheesh. It makes me think that there are a lot of demanding Italian-American men out there expecting perfection from their white bread wives; but that is just what I made up in my head--who knows if it is true at all.

Be that as it may, I wanted to give an actual post so that those googlers could find a better answer, something more direct if you will. The only way to do this? In list form, of course! Here. We. Go.

How To Be A Perfect Italian Wife:

#15- Cook like your life depends on it. When anyone comes near your cooking pots, swat their hands away and tell them to mind their own business.

#14- Lick your fingers and smooth the nearest man's hair down muttering, "you have a hair out of place."

#13- Ask invasive, intimate questions of EVERYONE, but especially of people you don't know or just met. For instance, "So are you married yet?" or "Is that a gray hair?"

#12- Give opinions no one asked for.

#11- Make your own fresh pasta.

#10- Do everyone's laundry and fold it and put it away for them.

#9-Look really sexy doing everything and wear red lipstick. THINK: Sophia Loren

#8- Drink too much wine on the regular.

#7- Don't ever apologize for your bad habits and when your husband points them out, tell him he should love them.

#6- Listen to Italian music while cooking and sing really loudly (even if you don't have a great voice.)

#5- Host huge family dinners whenever possible.

#4- Laugh a ton and very loudly!

#3- If you are gonna get mad, go big, yelling, stomping, slamming doors--the whole nine. But if you are REALLY mad, don't say a word. Not. A. WORD.

#2- NEVER question your mother in law.

#1- And the number one way to be a perfect Italian wife? Throw the whole list away and just do it your way---because a true Italian wife would never let anyone tell her how to be a wife! 

Quick Fix: Summer Salad

One of the best things about summer is the produce. You may have noticed I have taken a short break from my heavier Italian dishes and traded them out for some lighter, veggie-centric ones. It's summer, and if there's one thing I really enjoy it's cooking seasonally. It makes me happpppy.

This dish happens to be a favorite of my husband's. It's also one that Mom mom Johnson used to make (who was my father's mother), so I think of her when I make it. It's also really easy and cheap to make. Get your cucumbers and tomatoes at your local farmer's market or, if you are a lucky dog like me, the farmer down the street's veggie stand!

So here we go: 
Celery salt, pepper, onion (1/2 red and 1/2 white) tomato, cucumber, sprig of oregano, several leaves basil, sugar, oil, and vinegar. 

Of course, as always, you can substitute dried herbs for fresh. However, I highly recommend that you start your own herb garden. It's easy and you can do it in pots, making it great for the city or the country! 

I like cutting my veggies into half moons. You do this by cutting said vegetable in half and then slicing away! So do your cucumber. 

Then your tomato.... 

...and your onions. 
A note on the onions: you don't have to use 1/2 red and 1/2 white. You can use a whole red or a whole white if that is what you have. Heck, get crazy, use a vidalia onion! I like lots of color in my salad, so I used a half of each. 

Throw them in a bowl along with your chopped herbs. 

Add a couple heaping teaspoons of sugar. (Notice I am not using a standard measuring spoon. You know why? I didn't care to. Don't worry about the exact measurements on this one, use the rough measurements and it'll all come out fine!) 

About half a teaspoon of celery salt... 

A few tablespoons of olive oil... (Here I did break out my "official" measuring wand!) 

Then your red wine vinegar. Give it a nice stir..... 

And HOORAY! You've got a great summer salad! 


Billie's Summer Salad 

Time: 5-7 minutes | Serves 4-6 | Difficulty: Easy 

You Will Need:

1 large cucumber 
1 tomato 
1/2 small red onion
1/2 medium white onion
5-7 leaves of fresh basil (or a teaspoon dry) 
1 sprig fresh oregano (or a teaspoon dry) 
1 heaping teaspoons of sugar 
1/2 teaspoon celery salt 
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
1/2 cup red wine vinegar 
pepper to taste 
salt to taste (optional) 


Peel your cucumber and cut into half moons by slicing the vegetable in half and then cutting (see picture above.) Do the same with the onions and tomatoes. Place them all in a bowl. 

Chop your herbs, if using fresh and add them to your veggies. 

Add celery salt and sugar. 

Add olive oil and red wine vinegar and pepper. 

Mix evenly. 

Chill until ready to serve!