10 Essentials To Make Travel Easier #TravelTuesday — Simply Marquessa

I always travel with these 10 items. From personal experience, they have always made my trip run more smoothly. Sealable freezer-type bags, large and small: I place my “leakables” like sunscreen to avoid ruining my clothes (this happened once and I was not a happy camper). I also use smaller bags to organize cosmetics and […]

via 10 Essentials To Make Travel Easier #TravelTuesday — Simply Marquessa


The Greatest Soup In The World

We Are Chefs

By Ana Kinkaid

How does a soup gain such acclaim that the likes of Craig Claiborne declare it to be the most elegant and delicious soup ever created?


If the soup is France’s beloved Billi Bi Soup, also known as Cream of of Mussel Soup, the tale of its unique creation and enduring fame involves American millionaires, Greek princesses, racing boats and, of course, legendary chefs.

The story of Billi Bi Soup began in ancient Brittany where the residents of coastal towns have for centuries harvested big, beautiful mussels from the sea. They added these mussels to a variety of their regional dishes, all hardy and savory, but certainly not haute cuisine.


Centuries passed. By the beginning of the early 1900s, France had gained fame as the culinary capital of the world and America as a leading industrial power. One nation offered elegance and style; the other offered…

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Book Review: Mountain Berries and Desert Spice and Spiced Apple Samosas

Yes, please! ❤

I am probably the first to admit that I often overlook desserts and sweet things. In the case of cookbooks I also tend to find that the obligatory sweet recipes are placed in the back, often as an afterthought and the centre stage is given to the savoury dishes.

Coming out this April, however, is a beautifully evocative book that focuses exclusively on sweet inspirations from the Hunza Valley to the Arabian Sea, written by food writer and cookery teacher, Sumayya Usmani, author of ‘Summers Under the Tamarind Tree’ – I wrote all about her first book here. It’s actually rather refreshing to have a book solely dedicated to all manner of sweet delights from Sumayya’s homeland, Pakistan.

Photography © Joanna Yee – Mountain Berries and Desert Spice by Sumayya Usmani is published by Frances Lincoln, an imprint of The Quarto group

She interweaves stories of her childhood and memories…

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My Sweet Tooth is Calling… For Popcorn

I don’t know about you, but I love popcorn. Usually just plain, air-popped, salty, buttery popcorn, but I could go for some of these recipes. I bet they’re really fun to make with kids, too! Like rice krispies!

Have I ever told anyone that I love cooking in general? And I’m a big-time foodie. Just so you know why I decided to post about popcorn, rather than my usual daily struggle. Ha!

Here’s the recipe blog I was looking at:

Snacking Doesn’t Have To Be Boring! 12 Popcorn Snack Mixes To Satisfy The Snacker In All Of Us http://forkful.com/whats-hot/12-popcorn-snack-mixes-to-satisfy-the-snacker-in-all-of-us

Dazzling vs. Baffling

“If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them with bullshit.”

This comes from my mother, who, as I am unloading a frustrating school experience, is sitting next to me and flipping through the day’s mail, listening nonchalantly. I had been talking about an essay I needed to do, but it was on a subject the class had not yet studied. I like to be prepared, so I had started the project a week ahead of schedule. Not only did I have to write an essay and make a Power Point for it, but, because it was an online class, I was required to do a voice-over recording of the topic, as if I was giving a speech to the class. It was a waste of my time, and another needless added objective to the course curriculum (in my opinion). I told her that I had gone and done my own research and everything, and I was not sure that it was on the right subject or not, but I was doing it anyway. That’s when Mom put her two cents in the pot.

I don’t know if you laughed at that introductory line, but I sure did. For one, there is something oddly funny about expletives to me; probably because when I was growing up, I had never heard one obscene word until I was fourteen years old. By then, I knew they were “bad words”. Secondly, my mother said it so factually– so casually— that it caused my brain to get off of its current track and consider the thing she had uttered.

In a split second, I went from exasperated to laughing hysterically. I still giggle a little bit when I think about it. I’ve come to this conclusion: We, as the human race, learn the art of “faking it” throughout life. We do it all the time. Too much. That’s sad, isn’t it?

We all learn the art of “faking it.”

We do this in relationships  with people of whom we are not particularly fond. You can be as friendly as sunshine toward that person on the outside; but inside, you are gritting your mental teeth and devising a strategy for slipping away. Everybody has a family member that we love dearly, but we’d rather not see them when it comes to family reunions or Thanksgiving dinner. We come up with a plan to avoid that bear hug or pinch on the cheek from those personal-space-invaders.

You can fake to your employers that you really do like your job and work hard at it. In reality, it makes you want to rip your hair out on a daily basis and throw yourself out a window.

I have to fake it a lot when I have panic attacks. At home, it’s not so bad. My family knows I’ve been having them (they didn’t know for a long time, until recently). But when I’m out in public, in my car, at work, in the middle of a massage session or a conversation, I have to pretend that nothing is wrong. I have to pretend that my insides aren’t screaming to get out and I just became as scared as hell over nothing. I am calm, happy, and confident. I am still massaging, or driving, or talking. I have to stifle tears and make sure I do not curl up into a ball to hide from myself.

If you’ve ever given a public speech before, you know how nerve-wracking that can be; but what do we do? We put on a happy face and welcome our audience. We learn to hide the anxiety. It is said that most people have a greater fear of public speaking than death. (I’d rather give a speech than die, but that’s just me.)

So what’s the difference between dazzling them with brilliance, versus baffling them with you-know-what?

Example 1: Baffle Them!

When I worked at A.C. Moore, I was forced to come up with solutions to customer’s craft problems within a few minutes. People would come up to me with ideas that they found on Pinterest or Facebook and say, “So how would I make this?” Having never made or seen the item before, or the type of material for which they were looking, I would suggest ideas off the top of my head that may or may not have been the best solutions. If you watched their faces, you could see whether the light was coming on overhead, or if it needed a new it needed a new bulb (or just a different idea). If I had absolutely no clue what they were looking for, I would ask somebody else on the sales floor.

In short, you just made your way through the Swamp of I-Don’t-Know-Jack-Squat without stumbling into the muck. Maybe, just maybe, that bulls**t actually turned out to be something worth more.

Example 2: Daring to Dazzle

When you dare to dazzle them with your knowledge, your brilliance, or your expertise, you take considerable risks. Those risk can be your fear. You are afraid that maybe you have learned all that you can, but in the long run, you really don’t know anything. Perhaps if you are put to the test — even with all of your practice and repetition — you will stumble and cause chaos. You will fail. You will not make it to the other side. Getting dirty is inevitable when you trip, but you have to move. Keep going.

This, too, is a lesson we learn throughout life.

It takes courage to dazzle people. It takes strength. Hard work gets put into the outcome. You learn along the way. The result means  reaching your goal, as well as the dignity  and honest reputation that come with it. Gaining self-confidence is also a win.

In short…

All that said, different situations call for different choices. Sometimes “faking it” is necessary. Consequently, choosing to be courageous, honest, and use what you know is paramount to being successful.

Your turn. You decide.

Sorry nobody clapped for you, people suck


Bridgette Tales

It is pretty much always the same. Lines of kids in caps and gowns, flowers, balloons, crying moms and fussy babies, speeches about the meaning of life, scattered bursts of applause and snapping cameras (mostly cell phones now).

Every time I attend a graduation, I’m proud and happy for the graduates. I never get tired of seeing all that hopefulness.

But it comes with equally strong feelings of hate for the human race.

I try to suppress it.

I focus on the mom with the tissues in front of me that screams out, “I love you baby!” as her boy walks across the stage.

I focus on the dad beaming two rows down who is videotaping the entire thing with due diligence.

I focus on the grandmother who is overcome with such joy that tears run down her face.

Then it happens again, another name is called that is met…

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Remembering Memorial Day

Nobody wants to hear that they can’t use their extra day off to enjoy BBQ, the lake, and hanging out with friends. But in times where I have seen multiple people and groups thanklessly and abusively burn and walk all over the flag of my country… this makes it all the more important to me to take care of our veterans, our soldiers, and to honor the fallen who were protecting my right to freedom. Just as with every other holiday, we have lost the true meaning and purpose of it. Thank God for the veterans, thank God for brave soldiers, and thank God for the freedom we hold. God bless the USA.

True Boots

Memorial Day ceremony on the deck of the USS Intrepid, 2009 Memorial Day ceremony on the deck of the USS Intrepid in 2009, where veterans of many generations unfurl an American flag to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice

I have to admit that I bristle every time I hear someone say “Happy Memorial Day” or see an ad for Memorial Day car or furniture sales covered in American flags.  On one hand, it’s great to have a long weekend where a large share of American working families get to have time off together–we work hard, we sacrifice, and we build the best quality of life we can in this country.  We love the beach, the lake, the river, the backyard, or wherever we choose to celebrate that.

But it’s also well worth taking some time to remember why Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States.  This isn’t the same as Veteran’s Day, where we honor and…

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