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He had me at this statement:
“Unless you are a professional baker and an accomplished one at that, you probably shouldn’t try to make these. I’ve seen grown men brought to the brink of tears trying to make sfogliatelle.”
Thus was the introduction to the Sfogliatelle recipe in Buddy Valastro’s Cake Boss cookbook so I absolutely had to try it. I would be meeting Buddy Valastro at his Cake Boss tour in Raleigh NC, 2011, and wanted to tell him that at least I tried.

My son and I truly enjoyed the intensity of this recipe process. Buddy was right, it’s not for the faint of heart and you need a really BIG table. I covered our wood dining room table with a plastic tablecloth so we would have enough space.


Holding the sfogliatelle dough after it went through the pasta machine.

Starting Buddy Valastro’s “The Cake Boss” sfogliatelle dough. We put the sfogliatelle dough through the pasta rollers about a dozen times, sometimes folding it in half, until the texture seemed right.


Beginning to stretch the long strip of sfogliatelle dough.

Here we begin to stretch the sfogliatelle dough.


Continuing to stretch the sfogliatelle dough.

Stretching the sfogliatelle dough.


The dough gets thinner.

Stretching the sfogliatelle dough. The recipe is on page 175 of Buddy Valastro’s “Cake Boss” book.


Stretching sfogliatelle dough.

We had to be so very careful to not poke holes through the dough


Stretching the thicker edges of the sfogliatelle dough.

Stretching the edges of the sfogliatelle dough.


The sfogliatelle dough felt incredible, like cool, soft velvet.

It’s hard to believe this dough was made from just flour and water with a little sea salt. Amazing! It had a cold velvety texture and was super drapey and soft.


Checking the thinness of the sfogliatelle dough.

The dough is almost thin enough! We had to take that little strip from the pasta machine and stretch it to 7′ by 2 feet. It hung over the ends of the table.


Not too many holes in the dough. Yay!

Sfogliatelle dough, stretched and thin enough with not too many holes. My son Noah and I are elated that we did it.


Spreading shortening by hand and rolling the dough.

Beginning to roll the dough. Noah spreads shortening completely across the dough as I roll it.


Continuing to roll the sfogliatelle dough.

Continuing to roll the dough. We cut the two foot roll into two pieces and put them on a cookie sheet in the refrigerator to bake the next afternoon.


Slicing the long roll of sfogliatelle dough.

The roll of sfogliatelle dough is sliced 3/4″ thick for the beginning of Lobster Tails.


Pressing the dough out like a telescope to make the cones for filling.

Pressing the dough out like a telescope, the dough is formed into a cone.


Piping the pate a choux pastry into each cone of sfogliatelle dough.

Pate a Choux (Cream Puff dough) is piped into each cone of dough. It was quite a challenge piping filling into all the bent ones. They looked like mummy-strangled popovers, with filling oozing out all the cracks.
The suspense is building, isn’t it? All that flaky goodness is surely going to be something amazing? Well… see the next photo.


hahaha our super crispy and flakey sfogliatelle are all wonky!

Ha ha ha ha! All our Lobster Tails burst! They look seriously deformed. We were ROFL over them. But they actually are extraordinarily light and crispy with a blizzard of shattering crumbs with each bite.


A sugar-dusted, crispy, light, amazing Sfogliatelle, recipe from The Cake Boss cookbook.

Sugar-dusted Lobster Tail. Recipe from the Cake Boss cookbook. 3 days to make, 7 luxurious minutes to eat, 8 seconds to lick the fluffy, Italian Cream Custard Filling and last crispy crumb off the plate.

I took a small container filled with the best of the sfogliatelle to Buddy Valastro’s show. He was so charming and entertaining and awesome! A genuine good-hearted soul. After his show, we stood in line for our chance to meet Buddy and get a picture taken with him. The line moved fairly quickly.
As soon as it was our turn to meet Buddy, I opened my bin to show him my attempt at Sfogliatelle. The first thing he said was “Those smell good!” He picked one up and held it and studied it and said “It’s so light!” I was so happy! I asked him what we did wrong to make them all burst at the seams and he told me we rolled the dough too thin, to keep it thicker next time and to not push the cone out too much so there was more overlap of the strips. I got the impression that he would have loved to talk a lot longer about making good sfogliatelle but other guests were waiting in line for their photo with him. I would have loved to talk for hours about pastry! We got our picture and I walked out feeling so encouraged. It was a fantastic experience.

Meeting Buddy Valastro after his Cake Boss show in Raleigh NC 2011.

For years I kept one sfogliatelle in the freezer because “That’s the sfogliatelle that was touched and blessed by Buddy Valastro!” haha That was the only time I’ve ever made sfogliatelle but I’m thinking of giving it another go.

I raise a toast to the true Cake Boss.

Blue Willow Toile

I’m working on another fabric collection, Blue Willow Toile.
The original has motifs further apart. This rendition has smaller motifs closer together.
Even though the fabric collection isn’t finished, this fabric is available now. It is lovely printed on fabric or wrapping paper. https://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/8375701-mini-blue-willow-toile-by-juliamonroe?iref=clk-xs-fab-collection

Blue Willow Toile, available on Spoonflower.

The Kitchen tea towel

This cotton canvas tea towel was super easy to make with no sewing. I simply cut it out from Spoonflower fabric and then pulled threads from the border to create a fringe. I love the look of crumpled fabric. Crumpled on purpose. You can find this fabric on Spoonflower.
Vintage Kitchen Ads tea towel fabric
One fat quarter is one towel or four towels in one yard of fabric. They make sweet gifts. I gave three of these towels away and kept the fourth.
Tea Towel The Kitchen 1

Tea Towel The Kitchen 2

The kitchen ads were scanned from this lovely old magazine, The Delineator, circa 1902.

Tea Towel The Kitchen 3
Tea Towel The Kitchen 4

The little cake she decorated


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She turned 10 and had fun putting the royal icing fantasy flowers on her little cake at her party.

She even broke some petals from the flowers and used them so creatively. I love her style!

Icing flowers

I made these royal icing Fantasy Flowers a couple days ago and they’re almost ready to remove from the wrappers. My granddaughter is turning 10. She and her friends will have fun decorating cupcakes with these flowers, along with smaller flowers and sprinkles.


Matthew 11:28

Mt 11 28

Christmas at Sea Tablescape


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I hosted a Christmas Lunch for two of my daughters-in-law. The tablescape was Christmas at Sea, which featured an old ship that belonged to my dear father-in-law. I love the Christmas song “I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing in on Christmas Day” and that was the original inspiration for the table. I would need smaller ships to fit three on the table though so one ship was big enough. One of my daughters-in-law used to work on a cruise ship so the theme was all the more fun.
1 Christmas at Sea tablescape-0474
The ship was placed on a piece of fluffy white batting in the center of the table. Small glass balls in white and wintery shades of gray were scattered like bubbles around the ship.
2 Christmas at Sea tablescape-0476
Small crocheted snowflakes were hung from the ship’s sails.
3 Christmas at Sea tablescape-0490
I also hung several glass balls and glass icicles and chandelier prisms from the ship to add to the wintery icy effect.
4 Christmas at Sea tablescape-0487
The napkins were made from Vintage Christmas Carol sheet music fabric from Spoonflower. I had the design printed on Linen Cotton Canvas and it made lovely napkins.
5 Christmas at Sea tablescape-0483
On each napkin I placed a sugar cookie snowflake. They turned out pretty but are so fragile that I broke the royal icing on several even before the lunch! But I adore snowflakes so I’ll probably make these again, even if they do break easily.
6 Christmas at Sea tablescape-0485
Several of the smaller snowflake cookies were placed around the ship.
7 Christmas at Sea tablescape-0486
To light the ship, I used three strands of tiny, battery operated lights. The battery boxes fit perfectly under the ship and were hidden under the white batting.
8 Christmas at Sea tablescape-0484
Lunch was Potato Bacon Chowder, Ham Barbecue Rolls, Spinach Salad, and Cranberry Cheesecake Pie for dessert. We were sad that one of the girls couldn’t make it due to a sore throat. But now I have a good excuse to host again. It was too fun to only do once. Instead of Christmas at Sea, it will be Winter at Sea!
9 Christmas at Sea tablescape-0480
I wish we had a fireplace mantel in the living room. I’d love to style ships like this on a mantel. If you do, please post in the comments and share. I’d love to see it!
10 Christmas at Sea tablescape-0489




When all else fails, Gratitude.

When life throws you a curve ball that knocks you off your feet, Gratitude.

When you feel like hands have plucked out all the petals and you’re just a puddle of crushed petals on the floor… Gratitude.

Gratitude is an action. It’s something within reach. It’s doable. It’s that strange little vial of glowing substance that we can reach for when there’s nothing else.

It’s a collection of light that never dims, words and phrases that still hold true, even when we say them from the floor.


I’m thankful for photographs, like this one. <3
Ella 3 mo old November 9th

Today I got out the old book, the One Thousand Gifts book I made but haven’t written in for a while.
One Thousand Gifts book-0073
One Thousand Gifts book-0078
Today it’s good to think of blessings within reach.
One Thousand Gifts book-0077
Words add light where there was none. Gratitude IS within reach.

The Hot Air Balloon mobile has lights


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The Hot Air Balloon mobile I made for my granddaughter needed a couple more touches.
I added small paper flowers around the basket.

Paper flowers were glued around the hot air balloon basket.

I think another set of mini lights will be good but the softness with just one set of lights is so pretty!

The string of mini lights in this paper balloon add a lovely soft glow.

Hot Air Balloon mobile with lights.

Hot Air Balloon mobile made from a Japanese paper ball, lit with mini lights.

There wasn’t much contrast in the colors of this mobile. But once I added the lights, my baby granddaughter won’t stop looking at it. :)

Journaling in Coloring Books


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I quit journaling daily a while ago. Maybe a couple years. But today I felt like writing some words in a coloring book. I didn’t feel like coloring because I’m still dizzy with vertigo. Day 8. Bah. So I’m journaling in coloring books.

There’s a lot of blackness in vertigo because the eyes are kept shut. Open eyes, spin, close eyes, blackness. But even the blackness moves.

Vertigo makes you feel alone. But you’re not. You’re never alone. Even when your eyes are shut, there’s still Light and you’re not alone.

Journaling in coloring books. Seeing lines already on a page gives me comfort. And sometimes necessary recentering.