Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Another year has come and gone. I have cried, sighed, laughed, and loved in 2008 and I plan to do more of it in 2009. I went to the dentist for the first time in a very long time yesterday. I am embarrassed at how long it has been. I realize that I take care of everyone around me before I take care of myself. Going to the dentist was the first step in changing that. It is such a simple thing to do but when I run around taking everyone else to their appointments it is easy to forget about my own. I was so nervous to go but I did it. I wish I could say that was it for the next 6 months but it will take a few more cleaning trips and some fillings to get me to where I need to be.

It feels good to have made the step though. It was the first of many steps of self health I plan on taking in the coming year. No more putting this mama on the back burner.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Holiday unwrap






Highlights of Christmas day:
*Enzo got an Irish whistle from his Aunt Catherine
*Sal ate ham for the first time ever (he has been a vegetarian his whole life - tried turkey on Thanksgiving but said it tasted like air).
*Sal got a new hand knitted sweater from his Alaskan grandmother
*Enzo got a new lovey.

My parents couldn't make it for Christmas as planned. First the weather and then health issues with my mom. We did share a wonderful feast with John's Aunt and Uncle who also live in VT. We enjoyed sweet potato strudel, baked ham (yuck), stuffing, rolls, veggies, and John's famous pecan pie for dessert. I missed my parents being with us but we had a good time anyway.

Two days before Christmas we took down our real Christmas tree and put up our fake one. We have had a fake one for the past two years because of a suspicion that I am allergic to them. This year I begged to get a real one so we gave in and tried it. Ironically enough the week we put up the tree my headaches started to get worse than normal and in general I started to feel awful. After a trip to my doctor who then sent me to my chiropractor the day before Christmas Eve, I came home and announced we were taking it down. While unwrapping the lights I broke out in hives on my hands so I think my suspicion was right. Needless to say the kids loved putting together the fake tree and decorating for the second time. As sad as I am to admit it I must let go of having a real tree for the holidays.

I love the holidays but even as hard as I fight it the stress sneaks in. For me it is the pressure that gets to me. Pressure to have my children experience the same excitement I felt as a child and pressure to have everyone stay healthy so they can enjoy the day to the fullest. I know these are both beyond my control and the best way for me to stay healthy is to try and let go a little bit and let it be. Yeah right - we'll see how well that goes next year.

happy holidays to you all!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Remembering / reliving the past

That was then



According to Wikipedia "A Hoosier cabinet (also known as a "Hoosier") is a type of cupboard popular in the first decades of the twentieth century."

I was lucky to inherit one that had been passed down from my grandmother. After it was passed down to my parents it lived in their dining room as I was growing up. It was always one of my favorite pieces of furniture in the house. When my parents had to downsize and sell our family home a few years ago the piece was passed on to me. I was beyond thrilled to welcome it into my home. We moved it into our family room and it acted as our office.game storage. My dream has always been to move it into my kitchen where it truly belongs. This week I was able to fulfill this dream.

This is mine






After removing a large shelf/coat rack from the wall and moving our mound of shoes I had finally found a spot. It took less time than I thought to clean out the years of paperwork we had thrown in there. It was such a relief to finally tackle the piles of paper and stuff growing inside. I was like a giddy child when I finally had it set up in kitchen and began adding cloth napkins to the drawers and tea boxes to the cabinets. I stood back and smiled as I knew my grandmother would be so proud. I am excited for my parents to see it when they come up for Christmas this week.

My kitchen is my other craft studio. Cooking is my other creative outlet. My hoosier is a reminder of the past and how much I love pouring passion into my home made food the way my grandmother did before me.

Happy holidays everyone! Here's to remembering the past and living a bit better in the present.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Get out of my school

Enzo came home today all excited because he got to go to the library today and pick out a free book to take home and keep. When I opened up his back pack I was shocked to find a book on spies and war, a pencil, and a bookmark all marked with the logo of General Dynamics which is a defense industry contractor located here in Burlington. Hey I am glad to know they care about the future reading habits of our children but I find it completely inappropriate for them to be sending their propaganda to elementary schools. I don't want their branded pencils and bookmarks. I don't want their free books. I just want them out of my school.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Snowy day reflections

With warm tea in hand I watch the snow falling outside. After a hectic, anxiety filled day yesterday, mother nature has forced me to slow down and reflect. Burlington was the only town in Vermont not to have a snow day today. Ok, maybe not but it sure feels like it. The snow hasn't stopped falling, the roads are terrible but of course Burlington has school. Oh well.

Our Christmas tree is up and our presents are bought. With my crazy holiday craft show schedule behind me I am focus on celebrating the holidays with a warm heart. I have a lot to be thankful for this year. Most recently my oldest son Enzo (age 7) was selected to participate in a new program at his school called Project Explore. This program was designed this year to meet the needs of a few of the students who showed a unique interest in learning. It is a cross-curricular exploration of math, literacy, and science, using a visual format. The program takes place once a week for half of the school day. I are so proud of him for being chosen. Students needed to meet and exceed standards in all curricular areas, exhibit initiative and leadership in academic areas, and proceed with assignments easily even if they miss instruction. The last being very important since the students miss half of their class to attend the program. This program is perfect for him. I am thrilled to know the school is thinking out side of the box and creating these programs.

My other son Salvatore is learning and growing so much at preschool. It has been wonderful to watch him interact with other children and come home with stories of play and learning. He is changing and growing so quickly.

I have been loving my adventures in the kitchen. Cooking is another creative outlet for me. I love making good food from scratch. It is cheaper, healthier, better for the environment and easier than one would think.

As you might have noticed I have been posting more recipes lately. I can't give a lot to my friends and family this year but I thought I would give the gift of good food to all. I hope you enjoy the recipes. There will be more coming.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Today I am sharing my all time favorite butternut squash soup recipe. It has the addition of apples to give it a slight tartness I find delicious. This recipe comes from my cookbook bible The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas. If you don't own this cookbook - go buy it. You won't regret it.

**The original recipe calls for 2 cups of milk (cow, rice, or soy) I choose to not add it when I make this soup so you will not see the milk listed below. I added it the first time and then never again. I prefer the soup without.

Ingredients:
1 large butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 med-large red onion, chopped
4 cups peeled, diced apples, any cooking variety
4 cups prepared vegetable broth, or 4 cups water with 1 vegetable bouillon cube (my preferred method)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmet
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400

2. Halve the squash lengthwise with a sharp knife and scoop out the seeds and fibers. Place cut side up in a shallow baking dish and cover tightly with foil. Or, if you like a more roasted flavor, simply brush the squash halves with a little olive oil and leave uncovered. Either way, bake for 45-50 minutes, or until tender. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

3. Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and saute over medium-low heat until golden, 8-10 minutes.

4. Add the apples, broth, and spices. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer gently until the apples are soft, about 10 minutes.

5. Once the the squash has cooled, peel and cut into chunks.

6. In a food processor (I use a blender and it works great) puree the squash with some of the broth you have simmering on the stove.

7. Transfer the apple-onion mixture from the broth into the food processor and puree until smooth. I do this in batches with the squash until is smooth and then return it to the soup pot and stir well.

8. Bring soup to a gentle simmer, then cook on low heat until well heated through, 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This soup is great on it's own with hearty bread and salad or serve it along side of a casserole, macaroni and cheese or black bean quesadillas.

enjoy!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The coolest playhouse


My husband sent me a link to this awesome company called This Little Piggy's House and they made this amazing eco-friendly playhouses designed and manufactured in the USA out of 100% recyclable materials. If that isn't enough they also donate 5% of their profits to charities that feed hungry little piggys around the world AND it costs only $39.99. Comes with a chimney, a mailbox and a window flower box.

SO much better than those ugly expensive plastic things.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Almond Pancakes

I have tried many pancake recipes and this one has become my favorite. We make these every Saturday.

Taken from Beyond the Moon cookbook.
makes 9 large or 12 medium pancakes

1 Cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup ground almonds (optional) *I usually make them without but would give a good strong almond flavor if you add them.
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups of milk (soy, cow or rice)
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 tablespoons canola or safflower oil
butter for cooking
maple syrup for serving
** add blueberries if you so desire. I do and it is good!

Stir together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ground almonds (if using) in a medium sized mixing bow.
In another bowl, beat the eggs with the milk, almond extract, and oil.
Pour wet ingredients into dry, stirring just until blended.
Melt butter in pan and ladle batter into pan. Cook until the tops are bubbly, 3-4 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until the bottoms are lightly browned. Serve with maple syrup.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Garlic pesto grilled cheese

Here is my solution to making a simple grilled cheese sandwich a little more adult and tasty. This comes from my own recipe box. When I make the boys a grilled cheese I make one of these for myself. It is one of my favorite lunches.

Ingredients
2 slices of good bread
1-2 slices of real cheddar cheese (I highly recommend Cabot)
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon of pesto
Salsa for the side of the plate

Directions
Peel and slice the garlic clove into thin slices.
Spread the pesto on the inside of both slices of bread.
Place the cheese on one side with the garlic slices on top of the cheese
Slap the two pieces of bread together and cook in fry pan with butter as you would a regular grilled cheese until both sides are brown and the cheese is melted.

Add a side of salsa on your plate for dipping.

Yum.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I'm a Gemini. What do you want?



Call me crazy, call me fickle, call me irritating that I keep making you change your link names, just keep coming back.

Yes I have changed the name of the blog once again. I have had this blog since 2005. When it first started it was called MamaSpeak. At the time this name was a true reflection of what I was writing about. I had just had my second child and quit my full time job to become a SAHM. Writing on the blog became a needed release to get through my day. As the kids grew, and I grew, I took on more roles than just mom. I started my craft business, and eventually my book business, and I found myself writing less personal posts. So at that point I changed the name to Upon Being. This past weekend I was a vendor at a two day craft show. Doing these shows is always very eye opening for me. I have a lot of time to sit and reflect on the work I have done, what I want to do next, and the status of my craft business in general.

I realized a lot this weekend. I realized I need to expand and push the boundaries on the jewelry I have been making. I am ready to learn something new. I realized I need to stop questioning where I am going with Queen City Craft and just make it happen (as my future boss in CA used to tell me everyday). I realized I need to focus on being myself. So this blog is now officially named Rockergirrl which has been the actual url since it started in 2005. Rockergirrl has been my online name since I first jumped on the Internet back in the day. Ok for s short while it was famousone (a nickname from an ex). So there you go. Yes I will be asking you to please change the link name if you have so nicely decided to link me on your blog. I promise I won't change it again.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Since I am a looney tooney super fickle Gemini I have also switched my online shop back to Etsy. I drive myself crazy sometimes. It was a lot of work moving my stuff back. Again, the reason is I feel like I left a good thing hoping the grass would be greener on the other side. It wasn't. So I moved back. Nothing you need to do. All the links on my website and blog now point to my Etsy shop. Just give a peek when you have a chance. It isn't fully stocked yet. I still have a lot to do.

Monday, December 01, 2008