Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Oh Sandy....

I hope this finds you all safe and sound in the aftermath of Sandy's visit. I'm fortunate that we made it without losing power, and the only thing she left in her wake were extra branches to be picked up and some flashing needing to be replaced on the house. I'm sending loving thoughts to those who didn't fair as well.

While we waited for Sandy's arrival, I felt it was vital that I was prepared for my kiddos. Not only must we stock up on essentials ( you may have read this post;) I must be stock on things to keep the kids busy.  Busy kids make happy kids, which makes a very happy mommy.  Being confined inside the house can be very trying.  So after a quick trip to the store, we were stock with a couple new crafts. 

Playing with shaving cream can keep my son busy for hours.  Driving his truck and diggers through the foamy stuff is great fun. And inexpensive! :)  It's also great to practice vocbulary or spelling words.

Slime!  A great, economical activity!
1/2 cup corn starch
1 cup water
Food coloring
Put corn starch into a bowl.
Slowly add water to the corn starch, while mixing constantly.
Add food coloring, amount depends on desired color richness.
Have Fun!

This kids had a blast with this!

                  It was fun having daddy home with us.  Mommy really appreciated it too! :)
A Spooktacular Castle!
Mama even had time to knit up the cowl she promised for Sophia.

                          And a stormy day wouldn't be complete without some hot cocoa.
1 1/2 tablespoonGhiradelli cocoa
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup milk
Mix cocoa and sugar together in a mug.  Heat milk in saucepan over medium heat.  When hot, pour milk into mug, stir and enjoy!
Makes 1 serving.
 I'm greatful to have my family home safe and sound.  How did you and your family spend time with Sandy?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Something wicked this way comes.

Apparently we're about to get a bit of rain up here in the north east.  City offices, schools, etc are closed.  Trick or Treat has been postponed, much to the dismay of my cowboy and cowgirl.  But to be honest, I'm really not fazed by it.  I'm not rushing to the store to stock up on bottled water, loaves of bread, batteries or generators (which I hear are sold out at the area box home improvement stores) or candles.

My fridge it stocked with the necessities (wine included :) ).  We have city water and sewer so we can drink water from the tap (gasp) and flush the toilet.  My kiddos are bathed and the wood box is full. We have our headlamps and candles ready. 

I still wonder, is this another storm that the weathermen live for?  Are they just inflating it as they always do?  I'm not sure.

I do feel that we're as prepared as we can be.  By chance we do lose power, I will post again when I can.

Until then..... Be safe.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mummy Pizzas

I was so excited to find this Halloween themed food idea to share with my little ones.  Friday nights are usually pizza and a movie night at our house.  So this time we made Mummy Pizzas.

The english muffins are the perfect size for small hands. 
My kids LOVE cheese sticks, so making the mummy faces were great fun!
The recipe calls for green olives with pimentos.  Roman doesn't like those so we switched out black olives for his Mummy.
These cook up quickly, a total of 8 minutes in the oven!
These were a BIG hit!
Mummy Pizzas
serves 2
2 engish muffins, cut in half
8 teaspoons pizza sauce
2 mozzarella sticks
3 green olives with pimentos (or black)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Place the english muffin halves on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes.
Remove the muffins from oven and spread 2 tsp of pizza sauce onto each muffin half.
Peel the mozzarella stick into strings and decoratively arrance them on top of each english muffin.  Slice the green olives into 1/4 inch thick rings and place them on top of the cheese to create the eyes.
Bake Mummies for 3 more minutes or until the cheese is melted.
What are you cooking up this Halloween?

Friday, October 26, 2012

In this moment...

In this moment, this mama is tired.  Tired from a very full day of Harvest festivities, Halloween costumes, parades and parties.  So much to do today and no time to post my In the moment photo.  But what I've learned, and to be honest still learning, I must go with the flow.  Things don't always go the way we plan. And that's OK.  I know my day was filled with memories being made.

Hope your Friday was a memorable one!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Knitting away.

As the temperature begins to fall, I'm reminded of how much knitting I have (or would like) to do.
Handmade knits for my little ones; a cowl for Sophia, hats and mittens for both, maybe another hat for the mister and oh how I'd love a sweater for me. I can not forget about the holiday gifts I'd like to give to friends and family. Oh boy...this mama needs to get moving.

Before I begin all the other knits; I need to finish my current project and get that off the needles.

I'm at the tale end of a very lengthly (maybe not too long, but seems like it) project; a pillow cover.  I've been wanting some throw pillows for our couch in the living room.  I thought a knitted cover would be nice, different from the usual sewn variety.  I found the pattern here.  I picked the simplest pattern.  Simple meaning, it got a bit tedious because that pattern is nothing but a garter stitch.  But the yarn I used, Cascade 220 Peruvian Wool in Heather is simply gorgeous!  The yarn is the star of this project.
Over the summer you could find me knitting away at this project.  Knitting anywhere I could.  In the waiting room of a doctor's office, in the car (passenger seat of course),  on the "side street" while watching my little ones ride their bikes.  And it just seemed to go on forever.
But now my friends, alas, I am finished!

An envelope closure and a backstich and tada..... my pillow!
Only two more to go.  But this time I'll make something with a pattern....just to keep it interesting!
What do you have flying off your needles these days?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Healthy Appetites #3!

We've been moving right along in our little cooking class.   The kids are having fun. Eager to cook, learn, help and discover.  Having fun is the most important piece, I think.  I'm also finding that these kids like to be engaged all the time.  At times, with a class of 12, this isn't always possible.  But busy hands make happy kids (and a happy teacher ;) ). So this week I've decided to take on 2 recipes; Apple-Peanut Butter Pizzas and Cool and Light Fruit Shakes.

Apple-Peanut Butter Pizzas

2 Large Golden Delicious or Granny Smith Apples
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
Flaked coconut, dried cranberries and granola (I'm using this granola) about 1/3 cup of each

Using an apple corer, core the apples. Cut each apple crosswise into 6 or 7 rounds.
Using a small spreader, spread about 1 tbsp of peanut butter on each apple slice. Sprinkle each slice with the coconut, cranberries and granola.  Serve

Cool and Light Fruit Shakes

Fruit sorbet or frozen yogurt (we're using raspberry frozen yogurt) about 3/4 cup per serving
Fruit juice, any kind (we're using OJ) about 1 cup per serving
1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)

Put the fruit sorbet or frozen yogurt into a glass. Fill it halfway.
Pour the juice into the glass until it is just a little bit higher than the sorbet or yogurt
Pour into a blender.  Blend until smooth.  (Add a little more juice if it seems stiff).  Pour back into the glass.
Taste it.  If it's too sweet, add 1/2 tsp or so of lemon juice.  Stir and enjoy!
Each recipe makes 1 or 2 servings.

Happy Cooking everyone!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Toast and Jam

You may remember from a recent post I'm on the search for healthy breakfast options.  During my search I stumbled upon this recipe.   English muffin bread is delicious.  All it's little "nooks and cranies" goodness.  So many little divets for just the right amount of butter (and tabasco for some people) to puddle itself into. Yum!  So needless to say, I was very excited to give this recipe a go.

It's always a good day when I get to bring out the Kitchenaide! This was another wedding shower gift given to me 13 years ago and it's still as wonderful as ever. You can read about more of my Wedding Shower favorites here.

There are only 5 ingredients needed for this recipe: water, flour, yeast, sugar and salt.  That's it!
AND one recipe gets you loaves of bread!  How economical is that!  I am all about being frugal these days.  Being a stay at home mom means living on a tight budget.  But I also want to give my family healthy foods.  Making my own breads, for example, is one way I know what's exactly in the food they are eating; and not paying inflated prices for commercial brands.  Ok, I'll digress about the economy for now. :)
In making one batch of the bread, you need 11 cups of flour.  I don't think I've ever seen my Kitchenaid so full!
The dough is VERY sticky!
I couldn't help but laugh at myself and the dough while getting it out of the mixer and into the loaf pans!  Sorry this picture isn't quite focused, but you can imagine how tricky it was getting this shot!

Once I got the sticky dough into the well greased pans, I covered them with a towel and let rise for about 2 hours.  The recipe doesn't state exactly how long this process is, I just timed it.  This is the only time you need to let the bread rise ( as long as you use the rapid rise yeast) ; in the pans.
Once the dough has risen to the tops of the pans, it's time to put them in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.

When there is only 10 minutes left of baking, brush the tops of each bread with butter.  I used Earth's Balance to keep it vegan.  Look how gorgeous those loaves look!  And the aroma coming from my kitchen...I can't even explain it.  So good!

 Look at these 4 golden beauties!

A slice, or more, of this toasted with jam or honey.... or butter and tabasco.....and a cup of french press coffee.  I, for one, am ready for breakfast!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A family that runs happy together.

Yesterday my family an I ran in the 2nd Annual Road Race for their elementary school.  A beautiful fall day brought nearly 450 participants!  That's an even bigger turn out than last years 287!  It's events like these that make me so incredibly proud of our community.  A small community doing big things for a great little school!

We all ran 3.2 miles yesterday.  We ran some...and we walked some.  But we crossed that finish line!  We met our goal.  This was the first "long" race my kids have ran.  And they were amazing!

As we bask in the post race day afterglow....I smile.  I smile at Roman who wore his medal to school today. Smile because he is so proud of himself.  I smile at Sophia who complains that her thighs hurt.  Smile because she moved her body in such a way, she is reminded of that.

I am such a proud mama and wife today.  We did this as a family.  And family is the most important thing.  Don't you think?

Friday, October 19, 2012

In this moment

A Friday ritual. A single photo-no words- capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

13 years ago

13 years ago my husband and I said "I do".   It was a gorgeous summer day. Blue sky, mild temperature...perfect!

Oh the reminiscing that cooking can bring.  What?  Well you see, I got out my crock pot to make a nice pot of chicken soup for my family.  That crock pot was given to me by my Nana and Grampy as a shower give 13 years ago.  And it still works!  Mind you, I touch the sides every time I use it just to make sure it's still working. Rivel, there is something to be said of your craftsmanship!

I used another one of my favorite shower gifts; my clay pot made by Scheurich-Keramik. It's excellent to use when making Calico Beans.  It's even more amazing roasting a chicken!  The chicken comes out incredibly moist and tender.  No need for a knife, your fork will do just fine!
I didn't add anything to the chicken. I just put it into the pot.  Covered and roasted for 1 hour and 10 min at 350 degrees.  Look how beautiful that bird is!  And I'm a Vegan!
I didn't follow any particular recipe for my Chicken Noodle Soup.  I simply roasted a chicken.  Used some chicken stock, frozen veggies, fresh rosemary, one leek, some corn we canned this summer, and egg noodles.  I let that cook up in the crock pot for the afternoon and that was it.
But I really can't enjoy a steamy bowl of soup without warm homemade bread to go with it.  C'mon who could, really!?
So I thought a loaf of Rosemary Olive Oil Bread would be a perfect addition to the meal.

That's some good looking dough!
 We ALL devoured this!  It was amazing! 
I'm always amazed at the power of cooking.  The smells, textures, sights....It's such a powerful thing, cooking.
You never know where a trip down memory lane will take you. 
What are some of your fond wedding shower memories?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Healthy Appetites #3

Everything tastes better with Dip!  This is what my own children tell me.  The students are also telling me as much.  Last week in class we were able to eat carrots fresh from the school garden.  While snacking on carrot sticks, the frequently asked question was: "Do you have any dip?"  Unfortunately I did not.  This sparked an idea for our next class; making Ranch Dip!

The forecast for this afternoon is sunny and mild.  You may remember that last week the kids were unable to harvest the veggies due to the rain.  I will keep my fingers crossed that the weather holds out and our class can head out to the garden for a little Crudite :)

I have made this Ranch Dip for my little ones at home and it was a hit.  That alone makes it a winner to me. But I also love that you use greek yogurt and 1% milk in the recipe; making it very healthy.

Ranch Dip

1 cup Dannon Oikos plain nonfat greek yogurt
1 packet hidden valley ranch (dressing, not dip)
1/2 cup 1% milk

Whisk together in bowl and chill for 1 hour before serving.

To keep the kids busy, I'm thinking that making a batch of hummus would be a nice addition.  Gives the kids variety and a chance to try something new.

I'm really enjoying this class.  It's great watching the kids work together, share their own opinions and eating what they've made.  Very gratifying indeed!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


There's something quite yummy about a warm toasted bagel.  I like mine with Earth's Balance and green Tabasco.  Really it is quite good, you should give it a try.  My children prefer theirs with cream cheese and my husband, peanut butter.  With all of us each eating so many bagels (no we don't really count our carbs), we go through quite a lot of bagels.  A friend of mine sent me a link to making my own Boiled Bagels; and I thought I'd give it a go.

At first, the idea of making my own bagels seemed a bit daunting.  There are quite a few steps, such as kneading the dough then letting it rest.  Shaping the dough into bagels and letting them rise.  But it really was actually easy.
The dough, after kneading, was a bit stiff but shaped into smooth balls.  Poking a hole into the center of the ball and enlarging it created the uniform bagel shape.
After boiling the bagels for seven minutes, turning halfway, the bagels had an almost "dumpling" feeling.
Look how golden and lovely these are after baking!  And they were so airy and light!
One recipe yields 12 small bagels.  The size of the bagels are much better, in my opinion, than the overly large bagels we purchase in stores or bakeries.

My daughter proclaims they taste better than the ones we buy.  I think I'll be making these again...and again!

Monday, October 15, 2012

A girls day.

Yesterday I had the pleasure in spending quality time with Sophia.  We went on a Mother-Daughter Yoga Retreat at our local yoga studio.

During these busy days of school, work and activities, it's easy to loose track of time and disconnect.  The class is designed to foster trust, mutual respect and positive communication for both mother and daughter.   All three of these are extremely important to me.  I try on a daily basis to instill trust, respect and positivity in all of my family members.  But the bond between mother and daughter is something quite special, don't you think?  I want my daughter to always trust me, to come to me knowing that I will listen.  I will not judge or turn her away.  These three important aspects, Trust, Respect, Positivity lay the ground work for future relationships.

Sophia and I had a wonderful time.  We practiced some of our favorite yoga moves such as, Child's Pose and Down Dog. We meditated and gave each other massages.  We were able to write down feelings that are not giving us peace and then tearing up those pieces of paper and throwing them away. Letting them go.  It was such a powerful and emotional experience.

Sophia and I left the retreat with a new perspective of one another.


Friday, October 12, 2012

In this moment....

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words- capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
(Adapted from Amanda Blake Soule)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Healthy Appetites...class #2

My children are so fortunate to have a vegetable garden in their school yard.  A garden bursting with familiar veggies such as tomatoes, beans and carrots.  But also with veggies I've never even heard of before such as, Kohlrabi. All of this brought to fruition by the school community.  Absolutely wonderful!

My plan to go out to the garden as a group was foiled by down pouring rain.  So I, geared up in my rain coat and BOGS, headed out to pick tomatoes for our recipe; Pizza Kabobs.  This was an easy, no cook recipe that kept their hands busy and their mouths chewing! :)

You may have noticed that this is the second class where we've made something that was a no-bake or no-cook recipe. You may be asking yourself "I thought this was a cooking class?"  Well let me explain.  First, yes it is a cooking class.  My intention for the class is that it's a time for the kids to create in the kitchen.  This can be done with or without a heating element. :)  Also I will add, I'm a bit limited as to what I can make as I don't have access to an oven or stove.  I do have a toaster oven and a hot plate but I'm working with what I have.  And to be honest, I think it's working out great!

Pizza Kabobs
Makes 12 Kabobs
1 pint cherry tomatoes
24 small basil leaves
24 small mozzarella balls
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Have ready 12 short wooden skewers.  Working with 1 skewer at a time, alternately thread 2 tomatoes, 2 basil leaves, and 2 mozzarella balls onto each skewer.  Or divide the ingredients among the skewers as you like.

Place the skewers on a serving dish and drizzle with the olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and serve.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Granola time!

Many mornings I find myself asking my kids "What would you like for breakfast?" And in return I always get "What do you have?"  My run down is always the same....bagels, pancakes, waffles, toast... Blah, Blah, Blah.  Not very exciting day in and day out.

So today I went to one of my favorite cookbooks; Feeding The Whole Family by Cynthia Lair for a little inspiration.  One of our favorite recipes is: Maple Butter Nut Granola.  This is absolutely heavenly!  The smell of it coming from my kitchen is like Autumn to me. The maple and nut...I can just picture us eating it with yogurt or soy milk and some coffee (for mama only of course ;) ).

Maple Butter Nut Granola
Makes 8 cups

3 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon nut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees
In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, seeds, almonds, cinnamon and salt; mix well.

In a small pan melt butter; add syrup and nut butter and stir to blend. Remove from heat and add extracts.

Slowly pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients, using a spatula to fold and evenly coat the dry mixture with wet.

Spread on a cookie sheet or shallow pan and bake until granola is dry and golden (45 to 60 minutes), turning granola every 15 to 20 minutes so that it toasts evenly. Store in an airtight jar.


What are some of your breakfast favorites?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Reading together...

Every evening at bedtime my husband and I read to our kids; switching who reads to who.  Sophia is the oldest and now reads to one of us most evenings.  But I also think it's important for us to read together as a family.

The book I've chosen for our family read is: The Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren. You may recognize her, she's the author of the Pippi Longstocking books. It's a tale of six children living on a group of three farms in the Swedish countryside

Why this book, you may ask? It's the title of the book that stopped me in my tracks. I swear we live in Noisy Village!  Our village consists of ten noisy children; all within yelling distance to each other.  While we don't live in the Swedish countryside, the similarities are striking.  Our ten children play together EVERYDAY! Many a morning this summer (now on the weekend) you'll find one of them riding their bikes on the street and that starts the steady stream of the nine others out to follow.  My two have used walkie talkies as a form of communication with two others when getting outside just wasn't an option.  They've all shared lunches outside when stopping play to eat was just unheard of.

It's a wonderful thing!  I feel very lucky that my children have such wonderful friends.  Friends that at times feel more like family.  And sometimes they may fight like family.  One may be "mean" because he or she doesn't want to play what the other wants to. Or sometimes the Village really is too noisy and one (or more) of the ten need some quiet time.  And they all "get it".  They all have it figured out, because really to be a child should be that simple.  Like a storybook.

I'm excited to read this book together; and look forward to reading many others as a family.

What are you and your family reading these days?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Harvesting the last of it....

Fall is settling in nicely here on the East Coast. With it brings cooler temperatures and threats of a frost for the next couple of evenings.  It's time to harvest what is left of our summer garden.


We've had a plentiful garden this year.  We are so grateful for all the nourishment it has brought to us, the ability to share our bounty with friends and family, and the full shelves of jarred food we have to sustain us through the winter.  It's with a sad heart, though, to see it coming to an end.

I saw it only appropriate to make a large pot of vegetable lentil soup for this chilly, harvest day. There is something so comforting, other than the soup itself, in knowing that I stepped out my back door to make our dinner.
And there is very little you need to add to brussel sprout goodness. These gems are quite close to perfect as is; but add a touch of olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for half and hour and they're even more amazing! I added a sour dough artisan bread for added measure. :)
Even though the garden season is ending, plans for next year are already being made.  Plans for additional veggies to be grown (kale, swiss chard, grape tomatoes, garlic, more beets) and scaling down what we just had way too much of (zucchini and large tomatoes).
I look forward to next year and will enjoy all that this year has brought to our table.