Sunday, November 29, 2009

I just finished up a three day craft show at the Women's Festival of Crafts in Burlington. Thank you to all my wonderful customers! It was an amazing show!

I will be attending one last sale next Saturday Dec 5th. It is an open studio sale with a few artists selling their wares. It is a wonderful mix of items. Please stop by if you are in the area. Details are below.

Multi Studio Sale


Saturday December 5th 11-6
39 Front Street, Burlington
864-9360


Thursday, September 24, 2009

News

Two bits of good news:

1. I was recently accepted into the Women's Festival of Crafts. The now three day event will be at City Hall in Burlington VT November 27-29th. This will be my third year doing this show and I am very excited they have extended the days. The show will now open on Friday November 27th from 5-9pm and then all day Saturday the 28th and Sunday the 29th.

2. Trinket on Church Street in Burlington has sold out of my fabric necklaces. I will be dropping off more in the next few weeks. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Changes

Life has thrown me a curve ball and I have found myself back to work in the real world. I recently took a job as an eCommerce analyst which means I am once again a working mama. I have been home with my kids full time for the past 4 years. It has been wonderful and I have loved every minute of it but it was time for many reasons for me to go back to work outside of the home.

I have been avoiding my blog because it was a way for me to not deal with the big question hanging over my head. What will become of my craft business? I am currently still producing and plan on continuing but at a different pace. I look forward to the challenge or working outside the home and running my little business. The key to keeping it going is to finally decide what has been working and not working for me. I plan on sticking with earrings and fiber arts. I have had a great summer selling my wash cloths at the Burlington farmers market through the wonderful Missy Bly of Clean City Soap. She created a super cute display incorporating my wash cloths with her handmade soaps. My new fiber necklaces and scarves are selling well at Trinket on Church St in Burlington and the response from people has been great so I plan on keeping those going also.

I am excited to announce that I will have work from my fiber arts collection on display at the Art Hop this year as a part of the Burton employee show. Kick off the Art Hop this Friday 9/11 at the Burton reception from 5-8pm. Food, drink, music, and lots of art. Read more about the event here.



Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Blueberries

$40 later I have some blueberries. yum. on Twitpic

I picked a lot of blueberries today. I had my two kids with me but they ate more than they picked. I love freezing blueberries and having them for the winter. I did this last year and I had enough frozen berries to last me through March.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Weekend upate

I am back from a wild weekend away by myself. This was only the second time I have ever left my family since becoming a mom almost 8 years ago. It was a much needed break. Two nights of reconnecting with lost friends. Some I haven't seen in 15 years. As much as I missed my family it was wonderful to be on my own for three days. No kids to watch, no butts to wipe, no one to feed but myself. I missed them madly but it was worth it. The trip also made me miss home a lot. A place I couldn't wait to get away from when I was younger, a place I now find myself wanting to be in again. My life seems to sometimes be one of always living in the past and future. Never the present.

This weekend was all about living in the moment, enjoying, reconnecting, remembering, wondering, reliving, and just plain being.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Let there be lettuce


Let there be lettuce
Originally uploaded by subsixstudios
I harvested lettuce from my garden yesterday. I love lettuce. I wait all winter for fresh grown. There is nothing like it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

fabric and fiber




Tessuto is Italian for fabric. Fabric is not only a cloth produced by knitting, weaving, or felting fibers, but it also means a style or method of construction. To me it was the perfect name for my new line of accessories constructed using various types of fabrics and fibers.

Now selling at Trinket!
Some products from my new Tessuto line are now available at Trinket 32 1/2 Church St, Burlington VT.




Trinket is a new store located at 32 1/2 Church St (on the top block) in Burlington VT. Rachel Strules (owner of Sweet Lady Jane and Tribeca) decided to open this accessory only store in February of 2009.
I am proud to announce that products from my new Fabric and Fiber line of scarves and necklaces are now being sold at Trinket. Trinket also sells a lot of work from other local artists. Stop in on the top block of Church Street next time you are in town.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Fabric Necklaces

I have combined my love of jewelry with my love of fabrics and started making some fabric necklaces. Fabric necklaces can be worn long, they can be worn short, they can be worn as a necklace, accessory, or even a scarf by triple wrapping it around your neck. I have two styles and colors in my shop now. One version is made from 16 loops of fabric and the other is a lighter version with only 6 loops. Both styles are super versatile and can be worn in many ways. Keep your eyes peeled for more types of fabric necklaces in my shop as I continue to experiment with different materials.

Check out all the styles and colors in my online shop.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sale!

Everything under $25 is $10

I'm going to keep the sale going for a few days but it won't last more than that. There are a lot of products to choose from. Have fun! View all sale products here.


Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade
subsixstudios.etsy.com

Friday, June 19, 2009

Food, Inc.

How much do we really know about the food we buy in the supermarket and serve to our families?

I am very excited about this movie. Please watch the trailer, watch the movie when it comes out, and get involved. I truly believe that food (or the lack of real food) is the biggest health crisis we have in this country. We have to open our eyes, read the labels, educate ourselves, stand up and say no more!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Curve ball

4 year ago I wrote this post when I was about to quit my full time job to stay home with my children full time. I had a budding jewelry business and high hopes of getting my childbirth education certificate so I could start teaching. Here I am 4 years later contemplating the opposite. I am actually interviewing to go back to work outside of the home. How did I get here? Well the economy went to shit, my husband had to take a pay cut this year when his company had lay offs, house taxes went up, and the list goes on and on. We were skimming by for the past 4 years but now we are beginning to sink. I never finished my childbirth certification class like I wanted, my jewelry business gives me some spending money from time to time, I have had some consulting work on and off, but nothing that provides the steady extra income we now require. It sucks. I am sad.

I can't help but think perhaps if I had just finished the things I had set out to finish I would be in a different place. I am excited about new challenges, but nervous about all I will be giving up at home. At this point so much is up in the air. I am doing lots of interviewing right now for several very exciting opportunities. I am hoping that the right one will fall into place. I will choose to think positively and keep moving forward as I always do.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday harvest


CSA Farmshare
Originally uploaded by subsixstudios
I love Mondays now that summer is here because it means my weekly pick up of my CSA farmshare. This week I received two heads of lettuce, salad mix, garlic scapes, pint of strawberries, dill, scallions, and cilantro.

Ever wonder what to do with garlic scapes? There are many possibilities but my favorites are to add them to stir fries, make garlic scape mashed potatoes, or garlic scape pesto.

Here is a recipe for garlic scape pesto.

Garlic Scape Pesto

Ingredients:
1 cup garlic scapes (about 8 or 9 scapes), top flowery part removed, cut into ¼-inch slices
1/3 cup walnuts
¾ cup olive oil
¼-1/2 cup grated parmigiano
½ teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste

Directions:
Place scapes and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor until well combined and somewhat smooth. Slowly drizzle in oil and process until mixed. Scoop pesto out of bowl and into a mixing bowl. Add parmigiano to taste; add salt and pepper. Makes about 6 ounces of pesto. Keeps for up to one week in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mustard greens


Mustard greens
Originally uploaded by subsixstudios
It was time to harvest my mustard greens today. My first summer harvest. I love putting mustard greens in my salad. Gives it a nice spicy kick. In other garden news my starwberries are growing and turning red. I can't wait to pick fresh berries from my plants this year. I also can't wait for my garlic to be ready. I am really sick of buying garlic from Argentina.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Shop update

Lots of new stuff in my shop!


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Eat good food: Baked ziti with roasted peppers

The original recipe comes from the Moosewood Restaurant New Classics I have altered it slightly and put my version here.

Ingredients:

Tomoato sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 garlic cloves minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 28 oz can of crushed tomoatoes
1 tablespoon of dried Italian seasoning

2 Red peppers, seeded, and cut into long strips
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound penne
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups grated provolone cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano

Directions:

In a saucepan, warm the oil and saute the onions, garlic, salt, Italian seasoning, and black pepper on medium heat until the onions are very soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat the broiler. Lightly oil a baking pan. Breing a large pot of salted water to boil.

In a bowl toss the peppers with oil. Spread them evenly on the baking pan and broil for about 10 minutes, until soft and slightly brown. Set aside and lower the oven temp to 350 degrees.

When the water boils, add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. While the pasta cooks, stir together the two cheeses, the garlic, basil, and oregano. When the pasts is al dente, drain it and stir it into the cheese mixture.

To assemble, spread 2 cups of the tomato sauce in the baking pan. Layer on the pasta and cheese, the roasted peppers, and finally cover with the rest of the tomato sauce. Bake for 20-30 minutes until piping hot.

Monday, May 25, 2009

What a weekend!

Friday was my birthday. JB took the day off from work so I was able to enjoy a lot of gardening time. Later on we all went out for dinner at American Flatbread and enjoyed some delicious pizza and lovely desserts. I had originally wanted to have some friends over in the evening but because of the holiday weekend most people were away. Despite the lack of a big celebration I felt like it was a very satisfying birthday. I had a wonderful time with my family and received some lovely gifts.

lovely milk glass ring my husband bought me off of Etsy from this wonderful seller



Another gift: the new Neko Case CD. Love it!

JB enjoying a locally brewed beer at American Flatbread



Saturday was a busy day. My littlest turned 4 last week but we had to postpone his birthday party because the whole family got very sick. We recovered in time for this weekend so we had his party on Saturday instead. Just a few of his little friends, pizza and cake. He had a blast. It was low key and nice.

After his party we headed to a goodbye VT party. Some of our closest friends are moving to Boston so they threw an afternoon/early evening celebration that consisted of a keg of Switchback (local VT brew), good food, and great conversation. The weather was gorgeous so we rode our bikes to their house. they live right on the bike path so it is a quick trip for us. It was a lot of fun but very bittersweet. We will miss them deeply.

Sunday was a lounge day for us. We were all exhausted from the festivities the day before so we stayed low key for most of the day. We have become friendly with another family from my son's school and they had invited us over for a BBQ at their house so off we went again. I made a potato salad to bring and surprised myself by eating fish (blue fish) at the party. It was good! I am slowly trying to include fish in my diet (I have been a veggie for 16 years.


new bistro set

Today I splurged and spent some of my birthday money on a three piece bistro set for my deck. I recently lost my glass top table when a wind storm swept my umbrella up and then landed on top of my table shattering it to pieces. I couldn't afford to get a new one this year but thought this little bistro set would do the trick. I just love it! I also recently sold my chiminea pot and used the money to buy a metal fire pit today. I love shopping without really spending any money.

fire bowl

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Fairy House



My oldest son just finished the Spiderwick Chronicles and is obsessed with fairies and all the likings. It tickles me pick that he is so into the world of the unseen. I am reading the books now too so I can have a better feel for what is going on in his head right now. I welcome this new phase of imagination and play and I want to encourage it as much as I can. I figured since most of the family is home sick today it might be a good time to build our own fairy house in the back yard. My kids were very excited about this idea. We found some good info on fairy houses here.

The boys found a hollow log we were using for decoration in our garden and they thought it would be perfect. You can also start with sticks and bark or whatever else you can find. The more natural the better. Using glue and rope might be a sign to the fairies that the house is man made and turn them off from entering. We then used some bark, grass, pine cones, broken shells, and dandelions to decorate our house. The last step is to put a small gift to the fairies inside the house.

We had a lot of fun making the fairy house and plan on making more throughout the yard. I can't deny that I still believe in fairies. These houses are as much for me as they are for the kids.

Make one today. They are fun and easy and require no money. Back yard fun is free fun!

Yellow flower fabric earrings

New for summer! light weight fabric earrings. get them here. Lots of other colors available too.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Craft show recap




here is a picture of my booth

On Saturday I had the spring edition of the Queen City Craft Bazaar. It was my first time talking on the show myself. I had people working with me of course but it was my first solo show without my dear from Sara who started them. Since her move I created a craft organization in Burlington called Queen City Craft. Producing the show is one of the things I do. All in all the show was a big success I think. Spring shows are tough. Summer and the holidays are the biggest selling seasons for crafting. The hits of the economy can be seen at craft shows as well. People were buying but just not as much, and smaller ticket items. I had a great time and I think most of the people involved did as well. If you are interested in seeing pictures from the show click here.

I was thrilled beyond belief to find in my inbox on Monday these two reviews of the show. Not only did they review the show but each one also featured some of my products as well as other crafters from the event.

Not only am I happy for the great reviews, but also because I have found two new indie craft blogs to love.

Here are the two reviews:

Paper + Stitch

Cloth, Paper, Stitches

Sunday, May 03, 2009

fruits of my labor


fruits of my labor
Originally uploaded by subsixstudios
Here is a peek at my seedlings that I started indoors this year. I have been bringing them outside every day to harden them off. I planted Basil, oregano, chives, sunflowers, sweet pea, Italian flat parsley, zinnia, cosmo, and lavender.

I look forward to planting them in the garden in a few weeks.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Reusable Errand Bags


We all know we should be using reusable bags when we go to the grocery store. If you are like me you own the big sturdy kind that can hold lots of heavy food items. But what about when you go into the drug store, or one of the box stores to just pick up a few light items. I don't think to bring in my big rugged food shopping bags just to go pick up a new pair of socks. A lighter weight small bag is what you need. Introducing my new line of reusable errand bags made from recycled t-shirts. Making reusable bags from t-shirts is not a new idea. There are tutorials for how to do it all over the Internet. What makes them unique are the types of t-shirts you use. I have several new bags I will be selling at the Queen City Craft Bazaar on May 9th. I may throw a few up in my Etsy shop soon as well.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Welcome Odie!


Two weeks ago tomorrow we picked Odie up in NH. He made the long trek from TN on a truck with lots of other dogs waiting to meet their new owners. It was a crazy drive down because we did it in one day. We thought we would have more time to hang out but it was raining when we got to the pick up site so we just got him off the truck, bonded as much as we could in the rain for a few minutes, then loaded him up in the car and headed back to VT. I can't believe it has only been two weeks because I feel like he has been living with us for months. He is a super sweet and settled into our home immediately. He is very easy going. After our experience with Zimo I am now convinced this was all meant to be.


I have more tales to tell about this past week. I will fill you in this weekend. Right now I must go enjoy my deck because it is so warm out and the kids are in bed.

xoxo

Monday, April 06, 2009

Sorry for the slight disappearance. Things have been a bit hectic over here. My husband went away for work and of course I got hit with the worst migraine I have had in a long time. I think the last when was during another work trip of his. Pattern here anyone? Yes I know that stress is one of the many triggers of my headaches. They have been in control (somewhat) over the past few years. I still get them daily but I hadn't had one that knocked me on the couch for some time. Mostly I can just walk around with them and look semi normal. Since the death of our dog, John's travels, money problems (the list goes on) I have noticed an increase in my headaches. Luckily I have an appointment in May to see a new Dr at a great headache clinic. I am not holding out hope but I am excited to see if they have anything new tell me.

Odie

In some exciting news we have decided to adopt another dog. His name is Odie and he is between 12-15 months old. He was a stray and spent a lot of time in a shelter in TN before finding a wonderful foster home where he has been for the past 4 months. We went through the same organization where we got Zimo. Golden Huggs Rescue. I know I have said it before but the two woman who run this and their team of volunteers are amazing! If you live in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Maine or Vermont and are considering rescuing a dog please try this organization.

We were supposed to pick up Odie last Saturday but tornadoes hit TN pretty hard and he missed getting on the transport truck. We were sad to not be able to get him but we are glad he and his foster mom are ok. So he will make the trek from TN to NH this week instead and we will travel to NH to get him on Saturday. We are all very excited to meet our new best friend.

Besides getting the house and yard ready for Odie I have been planting more seeds (lavender, basil, and zinnias) and working on my garden beds. The garlic I planted last fall is now peeking out in my raised bed. I love growing garlic. Last year was my first attempt. I hope I get a better yield this time.

I have also had my head deep in planning a spring craft show. I run an organization called Queen City Craft and I will be putting on the spring edition of the Queen City Craft Bazaar on May 9th. 46 amazing indie crafters will be there selling their wares.

I am going to put S down for his nap and cuddle on the couch with a cup of tea. It is cold and damp here today. Bring back the warmth!

xoxo

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spring is in the air

The snow in my yard is almost gone. Once the afternoon sun warms up the ground my boots sometimes squish in the mud. I love that. The air smells fresh and the birds are coming back. Signs of spring are all around. Yesterday I got out in the yard to start some raking. I cleared out my front yard garden bed and discovered some tulips popping up. I planted a ton of fall bulbs last year so I am very excited to see what new treasures I will find this year.

my herb and flower flat


italian flat parsley


A few weeks ago I started some seeds inside. I planted Italian flat parsley, oregano, chives and snap dragons. I haven't planted from seed too many times before so I decided to start with herbs and flower this year and stick to buying my veggies from plant.

chives


I have been busy working on my garden plan. I want to add to more small grow beds for my kids to call their own. After reading this great book called Grow it, Cook it each kid decided what they want to plant in their gardens. I also plan on ripping up more grass (hate it) and putting in a new path way that leads to my grow bed area. I will be adding low creeping thyme between the stepping stones and around the edges of my raised beds.

Last fall I started working on creating a children's garden. I moved the sandbox and playhouse to one area of the yard and dug out a half circle of garden space around it. My plan is to grow tall bush like plants giving the area a wall creating a "secret" space for the kids to play.

I absolutely love this time of the year. I sit on my deck sipping warm tea, staring at my yard dreaming of what I can do this upcoming season.

Happy spring!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Moving on

Friday was a week since Zimo's death. Needless to say it was a very long week. The warm spring weather didn't help our grief. I found myself pining for his companionship. I missed taking him on walks, playing outside and trips to the dog park. I miss him. I surprised myself though and started looking through the list of available dogs for adoption. At first I felt guilty and then I found it brought great comfort to me for some reason. The experience of adopting a dog in need had such an impact on my life I now realize I will be involved with adoption forever.

The day Zimo died I swore I would never get another pet. I could not possibly go through this level of loss again. As the week went on and I had more time to reflect I suddenly realized I was thinking about it all in the wrong way. I could not let my fear of loss hold me back. I had in fact chosen to get pregnant again after losing my first baby despite the incredible amount of loss and grief losing "little" brought me. Loving and losing is hard but if we are so afraid of it why do we get married, have children, form friendships, or get into relationships when we know one day we will lose them all? We do it because we were meant to love. For this reason I have decided that adopting another dog is what I want to do. My family on the other hand might not be quite so ready. I will need to give them the time they need to grieve and heal in their own way and when we are all ready we will make the decision together.

The hard part is I actually found a dog from the adoption list that in my opinion seems perfect for us. I can't stop thinking about him. he is currently in a foster home but needs to find a forever home. When you adopt a dog out of foster care you are actually saving two lives. The dog you adopt and another one because once you rescue the dog out of the foster home it opens up a space for another dog to be pulled out of the high kill shelter and give them a longer chance at living. It is a wonderful thing.

My heart will always love Zimo but I know I have room to love again. I choose to believe he would want us to save another one of his friends from the South who so desperately want to be adopted.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Goodbye sweet Zimo


Zimo at about 3 months. This was the picture we saw in the Internet and fell in love with.

Our beloved Zimo, who we adopted last summer passed away on Friday. He was 11 months old. It happened within a matter of minutes. He has been healthy with absolutely no problems whatsoever. He had a normal day at home with me today as he always does. At around 4:00 as the kids were sitting on the couch and I was at my desk, Zimo was laying on his favorite dog bed in the middle of the living room and he started convulsing. I immediately called the emergency vet number but as I was on the phone with them getting directions in a matter of minutes his bowls went and the convulsions started slowing down. I knew at this point he was gone. I ran next door to get my neighbor to watch the kids so I could rush him to the vet but she confirmed he was really gone. I don't understand. He went from normal to dead in 5 minutes. We are told it must have been a genetic issue with his heart or brain. There were no warning signs, he did not seem to suffer at all. It just happened so fast. Before I could really understand what was happening he was gone.


Getting Zimo off the truck after his trip from Tennessee.


getting ready for the drive back to VT

Adopting Zimo was a long journey for us. We took a few years discussing the idea of getting a dog and researching what we wanted to get. Zimo came into our life on a whim. We adopted him from a local rescue organization called Golden Hugs Rescue. They rescue dogs who are homeless in the South and have them transported to the East Coast. We fell in love with his picture on the Internet and traveled to NH to meet him after his long journey from Tennessee.

He was young and crazy at first but quickly became a part of our family.

I miss everything. I miss his dog hair all over the house, I miss having to take him out go to the bathroom on freezing cold days, I miss our long walks, I miss taking him to the dog park, I miss playing ball in the back yard, and I miss his non stop need for love and attention. I miss him. This morning after dropping off the kids at school, coming home to an empty house was very hard. The house is so quiet and I just don't know what to do with my self right now. It just doesn't seem fair.

We are beside ourselves with grief. He was just about to turn 1 and was just way too young.

I don't know that I can do this again. A part of me wants to adopt again soon because life without a dog seems so strange now. The other part of me is so afraid to go through this loss again. I know what happened to Zimo was very rare but it hurts so much to think about it. I can't get the image of my puppy dying in front of me out of my head. For some reason I am finding comfort in looking at other rescue dogs who need homes. At first I felt guilty about doing it but now I see it more as an honor to Zimo.


enzo with his best pal Zimo last month.

I have no regrets about adopting him. He was meant to be on this earth for a short time for some reason but we rescued him when he needed a home and we gave him a wonderful life while he was here. Please consider adoption if you are getting a pet. We learned through this process that there are so many unwanted animals out there. Zimo had been found in a box with 10 other puppies. Just left by themselves. If you are in VT, ME, NH, MA please consider Golden Huggs Rescue. I cannot even being to explain how incredibly helpful they were to us from the beginning to the end. If and when we are ever ready to take on another dog we will absolutely rescue with them again.



Thank you Zimo for coming into our lives and showing us how much love we have to give. I regret that your last day with us wasn't the best. It was too cold and icey to play ball outside, I had too many errands to run to spend as much quality time with you that day as I normally do. I wish I had stopped and given you one last hug before you went away. I will continue to feel good about the fact that we gave you a loving home and you were able to be at home with me every singe day since we got you. I have learned to slow down a little bit more and make sure each day I have with my family is the best it can be. Life is short and unpredictable. Hug the ones you have in your life - human and non just a bit tighter today.

Yesterday is gone, tomorrow does not yet exist, we only really have today.

Goodbye Zimo. We love you very much.

xoxo

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Tea


Tea
Originally uploaded by subsixstudios
I am a lover of tea. I used to be a lover of coffee but we got into a big fight after I had my babies and we broke up. Since then tea has been my daily calm. My favorite tea right now is Yogi Tea lemon ginger in the morning and Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice in the afternoon. A good hot cup of chamomile is always the best way to end the day before bed.

Monday, March 02, 2009

looking for light

I feel like I am losing it today. Money, winter blues, it's all adding up.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

breaded polenta cutlets

This is one of my new favorite recipes. It is from the Moosewood Restaurant New Classic cookbook. (I have only changed the original slightly by omitting ground fennel.) I served these with potato parsnip gratin, green beans and a salad. The kids chose to dip them in ketchup (big surprise), and I found they were great as leftovers too.

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
2 1/2 cups water
1 cup cornmeal or dried polenta
1 cup chopped onions
1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 cup herbed bread crumbs
(to make your own breadcrumbs pulverize stale or lightly toasted whole wheat, sourdough, or french bread in a blender or food processor. Mix in 1/4 teaspoon of mixed dried herbs, such as basil, oregano, thyme, and marjoram, and add a dash of salt and black pepper)

Directions:
1. Bring the salt and water to a boil. Gradually pour in the cornmeal and stir briskly with a whisk until the polenta begins to thicken. Lower heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until the polenta tastes done.

2. Meanwhile, saute the onions and garlic in the oil on medium heat for about 7 minutes. Remove the cooked polenta from the heat. Stir in the onion/garlic mixture, and if using , the cheese. Add salt to taste.

3. Pour the hot polenta onto an oiled baking tray or 10 inch pie pan to about 3/4 inch thick. Spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. The polenta will thicken as it cools. *Side note - Polenta can be refrigerated for 3-4 days so you could always do this step one day and finish the dish another.

4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil a baking sheet.

5. In a large bowl, whisk the egg until foamy and then whisk in the milk. Place the bread crumbs in a separate shallow bowl. With a table knife, cut the cooled polena into squares, rectangles, diamonds, or other shapes. Line up in order the pan of cutlets, the egg mixture, the bread crumbs, and the oiled baking sheet.

6. Lift one cutlet at a time with a spatula and dip it into the egg mixture. A light coating of egg is best, so gently shake off the excess. Then dip each cutlet in the bowl of bread crumbs and coat well. Arrange the breaded cutlets on the baking sheet about one inch apart.

7. Bake for 35 minutes until golden brown on both sides, turning once after about 20 minutes.

enjoy!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

DIY Domestic - Changing up your house on the cheap.

I bought my little house 4 years ago and since then the list of what I want to do to it has grown. Being on a tight budget has taught me how to change things up on the cheap. The past few summers I have worked on the garden and yard. The house came with a well established perennial garden so it has been easy to transform my yard without having to buy new buy using what I have by creating new gardens, moving plants and starting new ones. It is a labor of love that I so thoroughly enjoy. This however only feeds my DIY domestic bug in the summer months. During the winter I am trapped inside going crazy. I have found several simple ways to make a difference in your home for not much money.

1. Reorganize your furniture. It is amazing what a difference this can make. It is very common in my house for my husband to leave for work and come home to a room that has been completely changed up. When the bug strikes I need to attack. Last week it was my kitchen that was calling me. First thing I did was move a few pieces of furniture around. I don't have a ton of options because of where my woodstove is but I was able to make pretty big difference by making a few small moves. I don't have a before picture but here are the afters:

after


The table used to be in the middle of the room and the hoosier cabinet was on the opposite wall where that large picture is now hanging. Before the it was even there it lived in our living room and was filled with office papers. I finally took down this large ugly wall mounted coat rack (where the picture on the left is now) and we started hanging out coats up in the living room closet instead. It is amazing how much less cluttered it looked. Next up in this room will be paint on the walls and one day (after I win the lottery) new flooring.

The next day I attacked the other side of the kitchen. The side I cringe at each day. The cabinets are very dark, it has an old built in oven and separate cook top (both almond colored) with very tired looking counter tops and hideous back splash tiling. My long term goal is to rip out all the cabinets, get a normal one piece range, add a dishwasher and create a free standing kitchen with no cabinets. I am addicted to free standing kitchens, but I will talk more about that later.

Since this won't happen for sometime my short term goal is to paint the cabinets this spring. I'm getting way off track here with my kitchen dreams. Back to reality. Number 2 on the list of easy DIY domestic changes to make to you home is:

2. Declutter. Decluttering your home makes it look bigger, cleaner, and gives you such satisfaction. So the next day I started with decluttering some of the cabinets. It felt so amazing to finally clean out the junk drawer that hadn't been touched in about 4 years.

3. Take a little here / Give a little there. This means take down a shelf you don't like or remove a door that makes the house more open etc.

My next project using #3 was creating a shoe/hat closet. One of my biggest pet peeves about my house is not having a porch or mudroom. We remove our shoes when we enter the house but I cannot stand piles of shoes and wet boots on the floor in my kitchen. I have tried it all. I had shoe rack, shoe box, shoe bucket, you name it and we tried it. It never satisfied me. The other day a light bulb went off in my head. Next to the side door which we use to come and go from the house is a large food closet that sits between the refrigerator and the door. When you swing open the first door a door with shelves then swings out to the right opening up to more shelving inside a very deep closet. We have been using this for food storage since we lived in the house. The swinging door has been bugging us so I decided to take it off, clean out the food (most of which could be thrown out of moved to other cabinets), placed a mud tray on the bottom and moved my hat/mitten baskets to the other shelves. Instant boot closet. Now the kids come in, take off their stuff and put it away in the closet. My kitchen floor doesn't look like a mess of boots and shoes anymore and all is good. Here are the before and after pics. The picture quality is crappy but you will get the drift.

Before as a food closet

After as a boot and hat closet

Other cheap ways to change up your house

4. paint
5. change up the pictures on your walls, make new art etc.
6. add plants

what have you done? anything else to add to the list?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Big step

I have talked about my love of writing poetry here before. I have been writing since I was very young. I was very active in college by reading and performing at special events, taking poetry writing classes, and I was even published twice in the literary magazine published by the school. Since college though I have not publicly read or submitted my work. I recently stumbled upon a local event happening here in Burlington called F@#* Valentines Day poetry night. I have decided the time is right. I am going for it. I plan on attending and signing up to read. Last night I pulled out some of my older notebooks and my final portfolio I did for my last poetry class. Reading my professors final words gave me the inspiration I needed to do this. Her final statement was "You will be a strong writer if you want to be. Keep reading and keep writing." I am not sure why I have put this on the back burner but it is time to move it to the front.

At first I started to stress about how I would pick just one to be my first. Then it hit me and I just knew. I have waited 15 years to read this one particular poem and I can't wait!

wish me luck!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Winter reflections

I have officially hit a slump. Call it the mid winter blues if you will but I have hit hard. I used to love winter back when I could actually snowboard. Two kids and no money makes that pretty hard these days. Everything seems harder in the winter. Putting on and taking off all the necessary layers multiple times a day, trying to find a way to exercise the dog, and trying to find a way to exercise me are adding up to my hatred of winter. I am a summer gal. I am a garden goddess. I need to spend at least part of every day digging in the dirt. I love taking breaks from working by sitting in the warm sun in my backyard with a cup of tea.

Now I sip my tea indoors, looking out my back slider at the mounds of snow covering my garden beds, covering my backyard living space, covering up my release. I feel stuffed. Stuffed inside this tiny cottage with no privacy, no air, no movement. During the summer my living space expands and I finally have more room to breath. My deck becomes my night time hang out - giving my husband and I space if we need it. I can talk on the phone in peace or build a backyard fire to relax and get away from the computer and TV.

I love my backyard. Every winter around this time I start planning my garden. What to plant in the existing beds, where to put some new beds, what part of the yard I can dig up and transform this year. I enjoy making a garden journal with my children. We list out what we want to plant, make a map, and then we take before and after pictures each season. It is also a great way to record what worked or didn't work in your garden.

Winter isn't all that bad I guess. I do welcome the slowness and reflection it brings each year. I am not quite sure I would actually want to garden all year long. It is nice to take a break from yard work and get refreshed for the next season. I love watching my kids playing in the snow. There is something priceless about the simple act of sledding, building snowmen, and sticking you tongue high into the air to catch a fresh flake.

I guess instead of letting the winter blues take over I will choose to enjoy the last few months where it is ok to slow down and reflect. Summer will be here before I know it and so will raking leaves, entertaining two kids on vacation, daily yard work, bike rides, trips to the lake, park adventures, camping, house projects - and the list goes on and on. See, I'm exhausted already just talking about it. Instead I will go start up the wood stove, make a pot of tea and enjoy the winter stillness.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

25 things about me

I was tagged to do this on facebook but I thought I would share the list here for my non facebook readers.


1. I suffer from daily chronic headaches. I am good at hiding it. You may see me acting normal but almost every day my head is throbbing.

2. My husband and I only knew each other for one year before getting married.

3. I love talking on the phone

4. I have been writing poetry since I was in elementary school. One of my dreams is to self publish books of my stuff.

5. I have never been to NYC

6. I miss living in San Francisco so much but I can't imagine ever leaving VT again.

7. All of my friends are from random times in my life. I hate how spread out they all are.

8. I love beer. I can't stand liquor or drink wine but the taste of beer is oh so fine.

9. My mother was diagnosed with MS this year and my nephew had his second brain surgery for epilepsy. It has been a tough year.

10. I love gardening. It is like therapy for me.

11. I love staying home with my kids but sometimes I do miss adult interaction.

12. Since having my kids I can no longer drink coffee. I used to drink it daily but now my body can't take it.

13. Sometimes I think the internet has killed my ability to write in my journal. When I pick up a pen now it is hard to actually write with one. I have been keeping a journal since high school but the pages are not filling up like they once did. It bothers me because blogging is such a filtered view on things. I am too afraid to be completely honest on my blog in fear of pissing people off.

14. I am very sensitive to music. A certain artist or song will bring me to tears.

15. I wear an eye mask to bed because other wise I see things in my room at night.

16. I haven't eaten meat in 17 years.

18. I am an Italian, Irish, Gemini who is typically fiery and loud.

19. I wear my heart on my sleeve.

20. I hate watching sports

21. One of the most delightful things in my life is when my two boys climb in my bed on weekend mornings and snuggle until we all get up.

22. I love my two kids more than anything in this world.

23. I have a super close relationship with my mother. She is my best friend and we talk almost daily.

24. I had an emergency appendectomy when I was 7 months pregnant with Sal.

25. I have had 4 different operations and have 5 scars on my body from them.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Playdates make me scream

I can't stand the term playdate. It really bugs me. I don't know what it is about that word but it makes me cringe. A playdate is a scheduled time of supervised play arranged at someone's house, the park or other family friendly place. It's not that I don't want my kid socializing with others it's just that it all feels so forced. I was introduced to the world of playdates once my oldest child started Kindergarten last year. Before that he just hung out with any kid that my friends happened to have. Once we hit Kindergarten the rules change and playdates begin.

I have been lucky so far that the friends he has made and wanted to hook up with outside of school we have approved of. The families are great and the kids are great so it has worked out well for us. He is in 1st grade now so we have a little bit of experience with play dates under our belts now. The problem is I suck at them.

I am not good at inviting kids to my house. I know it and I was reminded of it yesterday when I received an email from a mom who basically asked me if her child could ever be invited to our house since they have had my son so many times. At first I was taken aback by her honesty but she is right. I am totally behind in keeping up with my end of the play date circle. I owe a few people some dates at my house.

I can't really explain it and I know I will be better about it during the summer months but right now it is just hard for me. We are not an over scheduled family. We don't play organized sports. I like the kids to come home after school, do their homework and chill. Perhaps it is the way I was raised. My sister is the complete opposite though. Her family never stops. School days, weekends, whenever, those kids are maxed out with sports. They are always coming and going and just hearing about makes me not be able to breath. Every family is different though and you have to do what works for you. It works for them, but it could never work for me.

I am sorry to anyone who might feel our playdate circle has been uneven. I promise to try harder.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Just make it happen

When I was in high school in NH back in the late 80's early 90's Martin Luther King day was not celebrated. There was no day off from school or work. We didn't do much of anything to honor the day at all. One year on MLK day when I was junior or senior, a group of students including myself decided to hold a sit in to protest the fact that the school did not recognize the holiday. We skipped classes all morning and sat outside of the administration offices. By afternoon the administration decided to listen to what we had to say. They asked us to move into the library and gave us the chance to speak. Students stood up and spoke about why they thought the day was important and should be recognized. Some spoke from the heart and some read passages from books. I stood up and read a poem I had written. The school decided to listen to us and from that point on they held an assembly every year with speakers to honor the day.

Now the school has the day off as does most in the country but I can't help to feel a bit proud that a group of us decided to speak our voices and stand up for what we believed in. I was reminded of this event yesterday as the country celebrated Martin Luther King day and today as President Obama spoke to the American people about hope, change, and how it takes all of us to stand up unafraid and make that change.

I am sure I speak for so many people when I say that today was truly an inspirational day. I haven't felt this kind of pride for my country in a long time.

My 7 year old son watched the inauguration in school today. When I picked him up he said "Do you know what my favorite part was mommy? His speech. He is a really good speaker."

He might not fully understand the magnitude of today but I feel he walked away with a piece of something. I wish for him a better world. I hope we can all work together to make it one.

"We will extend our hand, if you are willing to unclench your fist" -President Obama

Monday, January 19, 2009

Garbanzo Bean Tacos

My family used to enjoy taco night by substituting meat for the Fantastic Foods Taco mix. In an attempt to cut out processed soy proteins and most fake meat products we have been going without tacos for some time now. I finally have a new reason to bring taco night back. I was a bit hesitant about whether this bean mix would fly with my kids but they devoured them up like crazy. Everyone seemed to agree these were far better than the ones we made with the boxed mix.

This makes a super quick and healthy meal. Garbanzo beans are packed with protein.

enjoy.

Garbanzo Bean Tacos

Ingredients:


2 can garbanzo beans
1 packet taco seasoning (try to find a natural version like Bearitos taco seasoning mix)
2/3 cup water
lettuce
hard taco shells or lard-free tortillas
tomatoes
onions
salsa or taco sauce
any other items you like on your taco

Directions:


Drain and rinse garbanzo beans. Stir together the garbanzo beans, water and taco seasoning pack to a skillet and heat on medium until sauce begins to thicken. Let simmer for about 10-15 minute or until sauce has thickened to your liking. Add more water if you so desire.

While the beans and sauce are simmering begin warming up your taco shells in the oven and prepping your toppings. Once the bean mixture is done it needs to be served right away so you want to make sure you have everything else ready to go.

Take a large spoon or fork and mash the beans while still in the pan. They shouldn't be as mashed as refried beans. Leave a bit more chunky.

Add bean mixture and other ingredients to your tacos, burritos or salads.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Rockless night out

Each year I feel my age creeping up on me. Each time I go out I feel it more and more. Last night JB and I went out on the town together. This is a big deal because we go out together maybe twice a year. We can't afford babysitters so we rely on the good will of our favorite neighbors who offer to hang out in our house for free. Because we don't pay them we feel we can only ask a few times. It was our friend's 30th birthday and her husband set up a surprise gathering at a local watering hole called the Red Square. Many locals don't like this establishment because the drinks are over priced (totally), and it gets super crowded with drunk college kids (it is a college town you know). I myself really like Red Square. The decor is dark and artsy, it always has live music, and the two outside seating areas it has in the summer months rock.

Yes I like the Red Square. Even though when you look at the drink menu whether you order local brews such as Switchback or Magic Hat, or you order Labatt Blue - you pay $4.50. I can look past this unfortunate pricing structure and still have a good time.

Last night was filled with good friends, good beers, and so so live music. The plan was to hang out at Red Square until 10:00 and then head over to Nectar's to watch a friend's band play. I knew the band really wouldn't go on at 10:00 - they never do. So we headed home without being able to follow our friends to the second location. Why can't bands just play when they say they are going to play? You know damn well when they say 10:00 show that really means 10:45. That's not right. It's not right that I can't stay up past 11:30 or I will have a massive headache the next day. It's not right that I am no longer able to see live music except for the free concerts in the park that start at 7:00 in the summers.

Do I have to give in to the masses and indulge in Rockband or Guitar Hero in an attempt to artificially feel the sensation of music rushing through my blood? I refuse, I refuse, I refuse

Monday, January 12, 2009

Asian delight

Peanut noodles, baked tofu, napa cabbage salad and green beans.


Have you ever wondered what to do with a head of napa cabbage? I just discovered the yummiest recipe that I want to share. Every two weeks I pick up a slew of veggies from my winter CSA farm share. The winter months are slimmer pickings of veggies they are able to store through the winter. I get carrots, potatoes, onions, root veggies, winter squash and cabbage every two weeks. It is so nice to be able to enjoy Vermont grown veggies all year. I have to admit though that when it comes to picking a cabbage I either don't or I do, and it goes bad in my fridge. This week I vowed to choose a napa cabbage and learn something new.

Napa cabbage salad seemed like the clear winner so I set out to make a meal around it and chose to serve it with peanut noodles, baked tofu, and green beans.

Napa cabbage
salad (adapted from a recipe I found on all recipes). I had to change the measurements of the original recipe because the amount of butter was about a triple the amount of what I list here and was just not needed. I also cut the sugar way down too. Here is my modified version.

Ingredients
1 head napa cabbage
1 bunch minced green onions
2 tablespoons butter
1 package ramen noodles, broken
1 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Directions


1. Finely shred the head of cabbage; do not chop. Combine the green onions and cabbage in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
3. Make the crunchies: Melt the butter in a pot. Mix the ramen noodles, sesame seeds and almonds into the pot with the melted butter. Spoon the mixture onto a baking sheet and bake the crunchies in the preheated 350 degrees F oven, turning often to make sure they do not burn. When they are browned remove them from the oven.
4. Make the dressing: In a small saucepan, heat vinegar, oil, sugar, and soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, let boil for 1 minute. Remove the pan from heat and let cool.
5. Combine dressing, crunchies, and cabbage immediately before serving. Serve right away or the crunchies will get soggy.

**side note - Spoon the dressing over the salad in small amounts. The original recipe made way more dressing than I ended up using. I just spooned some on until I like the consistency and the flavor. I think too much of this dressing can spoil it. Even though I cut the measurements down for the dressing I wouldn't go dumping the entire amount of the salad. This was a damn good salad. Even my kids liked it.

Peanut noodles
This is an adapted recipe. The original is called Karen's Sesame Noodles from one of my favorite cookbooks Feeding the Whole Family. I changed this up a bit to have more peanut butter and less tahini.

Ingredients


8 ounces whole grain noodles (thin spaghetti or udon noodles)
1 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons peanut butter (you can also use almond or cashew butter)
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
2 tablespoons tamari
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1-3 tablespoons water to desired consistency.

Directions


Cook noodles in boiling water according to directions on package. While noodles are cooking put ingredients for sauce in bowl and blend until creamy. When noodles are cooked, drain and rinse. Pour sauce over noodles and toss well. **These are good warm and cold.

Baked Tofu

Ingredients

1 package of Extra firm tofu
Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce
Garlic powder

Directions


Drain tofu. Cut the tofu cake making two cakes and place on a plate with paper towels under and over the cakes. Press down to get as much water out as you can. I usually put a heavy book on top to help the process for about 10 minutes.

Next cut the tofu into chunks and place in a bowl. Add the enough Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce to cover tofu and mix so all the chunks are covered with sauce. Sprinkle with garlic powder and mix again. Put tofu in a baking dish and place in oven on 350. Cook for about 20 minutes or so flipping the tofu every so often. Tofu should be brown when ready.

*Excellent warm with your meal and enjoy cold the next day with the left over peanut noodles.
** Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki is one of the ways I cheat in the kitchen. This stuff is so good and it makes it easy to spice up a lot of different foods. I use it a lot as a marinade on tofu, drizzle on rice and stir fries but I am sure it would be great on fish or other meats as well. It is pretty pricey in the store - over $4.00 a bottle but I have actually found it for half the cost at the Christmas Tree Shop. Check out the food section of the store and see if yours sells it. I have been buying mine there for a few years now. It is worth checking.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Rockin' Granola


I have been trying to wean my family off of store bought breakfast cereal. It is so expensive and the options are limited. I refuse to buy most store brand cereals because they usually contain a preservative called BHT that I am not a fan of and high fructose corn syrup which I think is one of the most evil ingredients ever to be added to our food. If we could remove that from our food I think our country would be a lot healthier. I won't go off on that now. Sorry for the rant. Ok back to cereal. So the other option is to buy the more expensive health store versions which I like a lot better but at almost $4.00 a box which only lasts in my house for two days it gets quite pricey. On the weekends I make eggs and pancakes but I can't manage to cook that much on school days. I have tried oatmeal and my kids won't touch it. John used to make batches of granola for us several years ago so I decided to give it a try. We love granola but again the store bought versions are even pricier than boxed cereal.

I made the following recipe this morning and tested it on the kids (and myself) for our afternoon snack. They both gave it the thumbs up while spooning mouthfuls of it mixed with rice milk.

The following recipe which I call Rockin' Granola is adapted from a recipe called Classic Crunchy Granola from the The Vegetarian Family Cookbook. My version adds combines honey and maple syrup and adds a bit more, plus I omit a few things and added a few things.

One last thing to note about my recipes. I am one of those people who don't always measure things so I will give an approximate measurement of somethings but I will keep it on the small side so you can add more (as I usually do). I will note these items which are not exact.

Ok ok here is the recipe

Rockin' Granola
makes about 6 cups

Ingredients
4 cups rolled oats (don't buy the quick oats)
1 cup wheat germ
1/2 (+) cup chopped pecans. ** I used a little bit more than 1/2 cup. Depends on how nutty you like your granola. I just happened to have pecans in the house leftover so I used those but you could use sliced almonds or cashews too. I might try more than one kind of nut in my next batch.
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup of honey
2 + tablespoons safflower oil
1/3 cup chopped up apple rings (optional. I personally don't like a lot of dried fruit in my granola so I stick with a smaller amount of the dried apples and I chop them small.)
Cinnamon to taste. I use probably almost 1 tablespoon of Cinnamon. I am a Cinnamon addict though.
Nutmeg - 1 to 2 dashes.

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 275. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
2. Combine oats, wheat germ, and nuts in a large mixing bowl. Stir well.
3. Combine the maple syrup and 2 of the tablespoons of oil in a small container.
4. Combine the honey and just enough oil to thin out the honey a bit. No more than 1 tablespoon in a small container.
5. Drizzle the maple syrup mixture into the oat mixture, stirring constantly as you go until well covered.
6. At this point I felt it needed more so this is where I add the honey mixture as well. Drizzle some or all of this mixture mixing as you go.
7. Spread on the baking sheet and bake, stirring every 10 minutes 30 minutes or until golden.
8. Let the granola cool on the baking sheet. Transfer to glass containers for storage.

**experiment with the amount of honey you add. I like how it binds everything together so I thought it needed some added to it instead of just the maple syrup. The measurement of the honey is not exact however. I wouldn't do more than I listed but you could do a bit less.

enjoy