Blog Posts by The Succulent Wife

  • Holiday Gift Guide

    Holiday GG 12 small bannerFor many, the holidays are one of the most exciting time of the year - and one of the most stressful! Who wants to spend time in a crowded and hot mall buying the same old boring gifts year after year? That's exactly why you need the Gift Giving Advisory Board's 3rd Annual Sponsored Holiday Gift Guide - presented to you below. From the comfort of your own home or office, you can choose unique gifts that your recipients will love - allowing you to spend time with your family doing all of the fun things that come with the holiday season. Our gift ideas are special and the small businesses that present them are anxious to serve you. Enjoy this guide and please... share it with your friends and colleagues. Brelli HGG12 Brelli - Eco-Friendly Umbrellas

    A collection of smart sun, wind and rain umbrellas and accessories. A perfect combination of GOOD design, CUTTING EDGE technology, and CHIC fun! BRELLIs are 99% UV protective, 40 mph wind resistant and biodegradable (2-5 years). Shop here!

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  • Turning 50: 8 Pieces of Advice I Would Give My 20 Year Old Self

    By Audrey van Petegem, Senior Editor

    audrey sailingMy husband surprised me with a 50th birthday party this summer. He invited all my friends throughout my many stages of life to come and share pictures of me when they knew-me-back-when. It was really fun to watch the slide show and reminisce about the good times with old friends.

    There was one of me on my father's sailboat that my sister must have included. I have no idea who took the photo and only know that I was about twenty at the time. What I do remember is her! I love the fresh-face, carefree, braless, naive woman I used to be. Oh, how I wish I could give her some advice now.

    I would tell her to:

    1. Be present in every moment - don't waste time wanting school to be over or to be older than what you are. Take the time to enjoy yourself instead of waiting to start something new or go somewhere else. Embrace the now!
    2. Journal every day - You did journal all the way through University. You wrote down your dreams, poetry you wrote
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  • Hostess Gift Guide (Because You Want to Be a Good Guest)

    Hostess Gift Guide 2012 Banner

    My mother always told me to NEVER arrive empty handed when invited to a party. A bottle of wine, a box of fine chocolates and flowers are the old standbys, but if you want clever and unexpected gift ideas to woo your host or hostess and guarantee a repeat invitation, you have come to the right place. The Gift Giving Advisory Board is pleased to present the ultimate Hostess Gift Guide that guarantees to keep your name at the top of everyone's party list.

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  • My After Life Series - Sunshine and Cupcakes

    By Susan Keats, Contributor & Seize-the-Day Propagandist

    I want to share this story because it is true and I think it is a beautiful story on many levels. It also helps to explain another reason why your small gifts or moments of kindness can be so meaningful.

    I was still undergoing chemo, but with my family's blessing, I took the opportunity during my good week to fly to Maine, which is one of my favorite places on earth.

    Pemaquid Point LightOn this particular trip I stayed in a small town called Wiscasset. There is a bakery there by the name of "Treats" which makes home baked goods. This cozy shop isn't the kind of bakery that displays sheets of identical cookies or cakes. No, this shop bakes different things each day and you never know what you will find. There might be only 12 cookies of one kind, and only 12 of another. There might be only 2 kinds of pie. On a chilly Maine afternoon there is Mac and Cheese if you need comfort food, freshly baked bread, hot cocoa and a long rustic wooden table where you can eat and eat and get warm. They also make my favorite health food: Cupcakes.

    I was in Maine to feed my soul. Maine is my happy place. I love the crashing waves on the coast and the simplicity of a life that is outdoorsy and beautiful. I wanted to go to Pemaquid Point, which is a lighthouse sitting on a dramatic rocky shore. My plan was simply to sit on the rocks and feel the power of the ocean and just think. I couldn't wait to be there. I knew that somehow there would be magic for me there and whatever happened in my future, a few good hours on the rocks of Pemaquid would help me to feel strong and ready to weather a storm.

    I arrived in Wiscasset at dusk and planned to head to Pemaquid straight away the next morning. Then I spotted Treats and was drawn inside by the warmth of the shop to see what I might find that was delicious. Behind the counter the shop owner was chatting with a customer about the weather. A big storm was coming and it was supposed to rain very hard most of the entire next day. I was so disappointed! So much for spending my day at Pemaquid.

    I inserted myself into the conversation. "No! It can't rain!" I said. "I'm on vacation and I ordered only sunshine!"

    The woman behind the counter smiled at me and said, "Well then, you should get your sunshine! Tomorrow

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  • Greek Green Pie Recipe

    By Audrey van Petegem, Senior Editor
    Cooking at Rancho La Puerta 2When Anne-Marie and I went to Rancho La Puerta to celebrate my 50th we had the opportunity to attend a cooking class at the Ranch's La Cocina que Canta (The Kitchen That Sings) with famed chef Greg Patent. This hands-on cooking class started in the plentiful gardens of the Ranch where all the vegetables for the recipes were gathered.

    Twenty guests prepared seven recipes together. Although all of them were amazing, my favorite was the Greek Greens Pie. It is similar to a spinach spanakopita but made with a variety of healthy greens in a typical pie pastry. Although the ingredients and stages look daunting, the preparation for this recipe is pretty simple. I have made the Greek Greens Pie on several occasions. I have taken this to a potluck party, made it for brunch with friends and plan on making it for my next bookclub. It is so versatile and, if there are leftovers, it is great the next day.

    Greg Patent is a professional baker and I

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  • Diet Du Jour: Dukan

    The Succulent Wife's note: We are always wary of the latest diet fad and never pay much attention, but friends and family members seem to be raving about this particular diet. Really. Firsthand accounts. So we decided to take a closer - and scientific - look by asking our very own Dr. T to weigh on the merit of Dukan's approach. Seems valid but, of course, decide for yourself.

    By Mrs/Dr. T, Snarky PhD Scientist and Guest Contributor

    Dukan Diet BookWhat do Kate Middleton's middle, Pippa's rear, and J Lo's stems have in common? Purportedly, The Dukan Diet.

    If you haven't heard of The Dukan Diet, perhaps you're familiar with its other names: The Atkins Diet or The South Beach Diet. Sure, the book jacket is different and the "allowable food lists" vary slightly between the three diets, but strip away these nuances, and what you have is essentially another low carbohydrate, high protein diet. So if it's just a reincarnation of its predecessors, why is it one of the most popular diets in France

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  • My After Life Series - Hot Stuff

    By Susan Keats, Contributor & Seize-the-Day Propagandist

    Walking on Coal shoesEver wake up and think, gee, I'd like to walk over hot coals today, just to see if I can? There was a story in the news recently about a number of people going to the hospital with 3rd degree wounds and blisters on their feet because they were participating in some sort of inner strength and mind over matter seminar. These stories burn me up. Call me a hot head, but I just don't get it. Walking over coals, climbing deadly mountains or participating in grueling, body-punishing events do not demonstrate anything about you as a person. These sorts of activities may prove that you can push yourself to the physical or mental brink, but do any of these challenges really build character, make you a better person or bring any measure of good to anyone?

    I know that coal walkers out there are thinking that I just don't get it, and you are totally correct. I don't. You don't have to sweat yourself nearly to death in a dank hut to prove that your mind has power over your body. Rather than paying fees toward the next round of self-abuse challenges, you can funnel all of that energy and funding toward helping out another person. Wouldn't that also make you feel proud of yourself?

    There are so many difficult and challenging things you could do. How about spending the day in the hot sun pounding nails and building a house for someone through Habitat for Humanity? This would not only challenge your strength and stamina, but when it's over, you have a HOUSE rather than a piece of paper claiming to be a certificate of accomplishment. Your ACTUAL accomplishment would be that you

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  • Praline Souffle with Raspberry Sauce Recipe

    By Greg Patent - Guest Contributor and Baking Wizard
    SouffleDecoratedMainHere's a perfect light and airy dessert for summer. Over forty years ago I fell in love with a recipe called Praline Soufflé Fifi, a creation of the late and great Michael Field. You beat egg whites with sugar to make a meringue and fold in a homemade powdered pecan praline. After baking the soufflé in a hot water bath and letting it cool, you upend it onto a platter and decorate it with raspberry sauce, whipped cream, and fresh raspberries. The recipe appeared in the November 28, 1971, issue of The New York Times Magazine. Over the years I've tweaked it some, but the basics are intact. For your information, I have no idea who Fifi is.

    A soufflé (French for "puffed up") is usually made with egg yolks and egg whites and served hot from the oven. This soufflé, made with just whites, is a departure from tradition, and it is served at room temperature or even cold. There is tremendous drama in bringing a hot soufflé to the table before it has a chance to sink. This praline soufflé is supposed to sink - and it will begin to do so as soon as you take it out of the oven.

    You'll need an 8-cup soufflé mold and an electric mixer, preferably a stand model, which makes quick work of beating the meringue. The soufflé mold I use is made of tin and is 4 inches tall and 7 ¼ inches across the top opening. It has two heart-shaped handles. Similar molds are readily available at Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table, and other online retailers of specialty kitchen equipment.

    TIP: The most important thing to keep in mind when whipping egg whites is to use a grease-free bowl and whip. And make sure no bits of yolk find their way into the whites. Egg yolks contain fat and egg whites do not. Egg yolk fats prevent egg whites from whipping properly.

    Make the praline first. A day or two ahead is fine. I make more than the recipe calls for and store it refrigerated in a screw-cap jar. Once that's done, the soufflé comes together very quickly. Without further ado, here is the recipe:


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  • Turning 50 - 6 Lessons I Learned

    By Audrey van Petegem, Senior Editor

    Audrey at 50It has been six months since I started this series on turning 50 and, finally, the day arrived last Sunday, June 10th. It is official! I am half a century old. Woot!

    I am so thankful that I took this opportunity to celebrate my 50th every month this year. I highly recommend it. Why?

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  • Wello.Co - Personal Training a La 2012

    By Anne-Marie Kovacs, Chief Wife
    Wello LogoI have a little "inside scoop" here… I learned about the terrific service through my sister while it is still in beta mode. The sister in question, the über-talented Liza Kovacs, is a fitness trainer with the new company and, when she told me about Wello, I knew I had to find out more and try it out. So, with an advance introduction - thanks sis! - I got to try the service. FYI, is due to launch to the public next week.

    In a word, is a service that connects you, LIVE, with personal fitness trainers from all over the world (Liza is actually in Panama!) through a video-enabled private training session. Fill out a fitness profile, buy some credits, select your personal trainer and book your personal training session. The session in question takes place live, through the Wello video system, a proprietary Skype-like interface.

    My review: Ah-May-ZING! I booked two sessions with two different trainers for different types

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