Pretty Blue Rose

life musings and inspiration



To compliment my tea of the month post, I figured I’d share my everyday/go-to teas:

Vanilla Almond from The Republic of Tea. I first had this at the Borders book store in Madison, WI and I’ve never turned back. It got me through cold Madison winters and the long days of “studying” at the book store (which really meant reading all of the magazines and sipping tea with some breaks for studying).

Vanilla Almond Black Tea Bags


Wild Sweet Orange from Tazo. This tea will brighten any bad mood. It always makes me happy.


Throat Coat from Traditional Medicinals. This tea is ridiculous! Every sore throat (or wanna be sore throat) I have is instantly gone after drinking this tea.


Chai tea. This tea has been reintroduced into my weekly routine. I find it helps my creativity, so on late nights working on my posts, I’ll drink Chai–even decaf– and I’m ready to go! Funny, now my daughter likes it–so I have a four year old asking for Chai tea. How cute!



I almost forgot Earl Grey! (I’m drinking it now as I’m typing this). A former econ professor introduced me to Mr. Grey and I’ve hardly strayed. The title sounds so stuffy, but once you smell the orange bergamot (it’s in many perfumes) you won’t be sorry. The added caffeine (it’s a black tea) is a nice pick-me-up for cold and dark fall/winter mornings.


Enjoy the weekend!


Stay inspired and enjoy each sip of tea




Who doesn’t love candles? Although I must admit my use of candles has dramatically decreased now that I have a little person in the house.

Here are my go-to scents year round:

1. Annapolis has this great store called Candles off Main that carries A Scent of Scandal candles with naughty names. My fav is d-cup melons–it’s a fruity spring/summery scent.

2. Williams-Sonoma’s Fleur de Sel epitomizes all things nautical.

Williams-Sonoma Essential Oils Boxed Candle, Fleur de Sel | Williams-Sonoma

As a lover of beach homes and lake houses, and this scent takes me there every time. I even have the hand soap and lotion (and my hubby even likes it!!).

3. For Fall/Winter I like to go with vanilla and spicy scents.  Oh Snap! and Sugar Daddy from A Scent of Scandal are good bets.

4. In my younger days, I loved Bath and Body Works’ Sweet Pea.Sweet Pea® 14.5 oz. 3-Wick Candle - Slatkin & Co. - Bath & Body Works

So there you have it, some scents that make life smell a bit better. What would you add to the list?

Stay inspired and enjoy the (good smelling) journey.


The best day to shop

I’ve come to the conclusion that Tuesday’s must be slow for most businesses. My hair dresser takes $10 off every service on Tuesdays and my daughter’s hair dresser does the same. My local Message Envy gives free aroma therapy on the first Tuesday of the month and I saw a Wall Street Journal article that discusses purchasing airline tickets on Tuesdays for the best deals. So it looks like Tuesday’s are a really good day to shop–I thought I’d share to see if anyone noticed anything similar.  But, Shhh! We don’t want to let on that we figured it out!

Stay inspired and enjoy the (cheaper!) journey.


September Tea of the Month

I am an avid tea drinker.

From the health benefits, to the fact that I am usually cold, tea is the perfect pick-me-up.  I love the process of making tea as well– boiling the water, selecting the tea I’m in the mood for, and the first sip, after it’s steeped for the perfect amount of time,  just makes me happy. (My friends also laugh because rather than microwave my tea water, I boil it in my cute green tea kettle, but it’s more sophisticated and part of the process!)

I know I am a creature of habit, but I want to push myself to step out of my comfort zone and try different teas. Starting a tea of the month will encourage variation in my tea drinking.

For September, I have selected the first mix from Teavana that I fell in love with called the Blueberry Kona Pop Tea Blend.

It blends Blueberry Bliss Rooibos tea with Pineapple Kona Pop herbal tea–and it is spectacular!  The addition of Teavana’s German Rock Sugar makes it out of this world. The blend is delicious both hot and cold and for me it’s been able to replace lemonade and other juices that I’ve tried to cut down on.

To go with the tea, I decided to make tea-shaped cookies. It was a fun (and messy!) project with my daughter this past weekend.

We went the semi-home made route and used the Krusteaz sugar cookie mix from Costco. (I get everything I can from that store…you know that !)

My husband was kind enough to make the dough earlier in the day.


I added the blue food coloring–I couldn’t help it!

All done!

[I’m having trouble editing my pictures, so my daughter’s orange ring and the salt shaker in the top left corner are really bugging me–lesson 1001 in learning to let go of the small things.]


stay inspired, cherish the journey, and sip your tea!


I’m so in love…

My love affair with Costco began long before I had a membership. As a lover of all things for the home, each time I walked through that warehouse and ate the bountiful food samples I would just fall more and more in love.

My husband and I were at Costco so much that my daughter (before the age of 2 and to my parents horror!) would ask to go to Costco every weekend–it was sort of a family tradition. She would enjoy the samples and there was plenty of space to run around. Since it’s located close to our home, if we needed to make a quick exit we were home in a flash.

After looking at last year’s Costco spending, our visits have slowed down a bit. But before that, we were at Costco at least once a week, and if we were hosting family, I’ve been known to go as many as three times in one weekend! (My husband is an equal partner in the Costco addiction.) I fully acknowledge that we are not raising a family the size of the Cosbys, the Brady Bunch, or the Duggars, but there is something comforting knowing that I will never ever run out of paper towels, laundry detergent, or baby wipes. 

Since I’ve been in PA for the past few weeks, I now have an excuse to head to Costco this weekend and stock up on “essentials”.

Enjoy the weekend!


Pretty Blue Plates

My cooking style varies.

Sometimes I am on a pure health kick, other times I am all about quick (I know healthy and quick aren’t mutually exclusive), and other times I am channeling Nigella Lawson, Giada D., or Ina G. with sophisticated dishes, it all just depends.

(Only a few) Years ago, in graduate school, when time was abundant (read: major procrastination) the food network and I became fast friends. I’d frequent the grocery stores of Madison, WI locating semi-exotic ingredients for my next Giada inspired dish. Fast forward to my long(ish) work commutes and even longer work days, I don’t cook as often as I’d like. Although I rely on my wonderful hubby to prepare dinner most nights, something in me longs for my grad school days of cooking for fun.

Pretty blue plates is the section where I will document the process of selecting recipes and my execution of cooking them.  (that sentence sounded so analytical—I can’t help it!) I’m looking forward to getting back to making food that I love and conquering the recipes I find interesting–even if I am the only person in my house to eat it. Lord only knows how many cookbooks and Cooking Light issues I have!


Now on to my next post about French onion soup…


French Onion Soup

My first memory of french onion soup (FOS) was at a restaurant called Hess’s Patio in Center City Allentown, PA.

Now this was in the mid-80’s, but I recall my mom (who LOVES french onion soup) encouraged me to order some soup. She said it was the best she’d ever tasted. Boy was she right! Hess’s Patio served ridiculous sized portions and the bubbly brown cheese served in a ramekin was to DIE for!  Unfortunately, Hess’s has long since closed, but I will never forget my first introduction to FOS.

Now fast forward 10-15 years, I recall my grad school days in Madison, WI where I became reacquainted with FOS, it was at a little known place called Panera Bread.  I would order the you pick 2 and FOS was always one of my picks. It wasn’t Hess’s Patio quality, but it made me miss home less and kept me warm during those cold Madison winters.

For some reason, until recently, I never attempted to make FOS at home.  Although it’s summer, I am a soup junkie, and I can eat it all year—even if it’s 100+ degrees outside.

I looked at a few recipes to get the general idea of the main ingredients.

I had a great time making the soup and eating it was even better! It’s not nearly as hard as I thought.

Ingredients: individual size crock pot, vegetable stock, balsamic vinegar, beef broth, red wine (around $9), Worcestershire sauce, onions, thyme, bay leaf, unsalted butter and Gruyere cheese. [Note: You don’t see a baguette, but see my later comment on why the baguette is needed]

Onions sautéing…


After all the broth and seasonings were added and simmering, the soup was for the cheese and the oven.



What the pictures don’t tell:

So I skipped the toasted baguette because I rush in a rush to leave the grocery store (let’s blame the kid for story sake…) — for some reason thought I could just add the cheese to the top of the broth. Well the cheese kept falling to the bottom of the mini crock pot while melting. I panicked, and then I realized the purpose of the toasted bread! It’s to keep the cheese afloat allowing it to brown in the broiler (duh!). So…the dish I photographed has very light colored cheese in the middle because I added toasted bread after I tried to brown the cheese without it. Thought I’d share so others don’t do the same thing…

stay inspired and enjoy cooking!