Thursday, October 28, 2010

Muddy Buddy

Yesterday was a wet, soggy, yet warm October day.

Although we have all been sick with a cold- with what seems like forever now- I decided we all needed a little fresh air yesterday. As quick as I could turn the corner around the house- Moses had already spotted and made is way into a knee-deep puddle.  So I let him go to town...

and ohhhh- his shoes- they are currently trying to dry out on the table outside- it might just take weeks...

As he was stuck in the mud, having a ball,  Zella stood back and watched, as I snapped away.  I asked her a few times if she wanted to join him- even offered to help her take her shoes and tights off.  She politely declined-
"no Momma- I don't want to get my tights all muddy- I'm just fine"

Here's a sneak peek of the Halloween costume (we call it sparkly pink mermaid princess)-This is MUCH more her style!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What's For Dinner?...Ina's Eggplant Gratin, and Double Chocolate Cupcakes

This dish should not be made by the health/figure conscious- it loaded with fat- albeit- delicious fat:)
This recipe, I saw Ina Gartin make on her show The Barefoot Contessa- back in the day when I actually had time to indulge in the viewing of the Food Network- I'm thinking it was either when Z was a bitty baby or before children...the dinner looked divine then- and I've made it many times (especially when I'm over run with eggplant from the farm)- and I can truly vouch for it's amazingness.
Here is my improvised version- a copy of the real recipe can be found here, and I typed it out at the end of the post.
I first combine the eggs, ricotta, salt, pepper, whole milk, shaved parm.- this creates a divine custard that will be layered with the eggplant and marinara.
Then- you slice the eggplant- I do it about 1/4" thick
Then fry it in some goooood olive oil. (I do not "bleed" the eggplant first as some recipes suggest)
I fried mine in batches- about 6 min or so until both sides were browned.  Then I drained it on paper towel and sprinkled it with S&P.
Then comes the layering part... I did a little marina on the bottom, a layer of eggplant, some of the ricotta mixture, a sprinkling of parm, more marinara, more eggplant, more ricotta, and then some more cheese, and salt and pepper.
The pan on the right is D's special casserole- I added sliced grilled chicken breast to his- because I am occasionally a sweet wife;)  I also topped both with fresh mozzarella- just because I had some that needed to be used- and also because I am always up for a little extra cheese!
Here's the finished product.  It's gooey, and cheesy, and totally indulgently delicious!!!  Perfect with bread (a must for dipping), and a nice salad- DIVINE!
Oh- and I almost forgot the dessert...

Martha's one bowl chocolate cupcakes (I've posted this recipe before), topped with
Granny Beth's Chocolate Frosting, my first time making the frosting- and it was fabulous!-like- eat it straight out of the bowl fabulous!

Eggplant Gratin
(I doubled this recipe, and improvised some of it along this way- but this a good baseline- oh another suggestion that I've used is added roasted red peppers into the layering)

Good olive oil, for frying
3/4 pound eggplant, unpeeled, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 extra-large egg
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper 1/2 cup good bottled marinara sauce

Bake at 350 for 30 min, or until it's golden and bubbly.

Chocolate Cupcakes
I like this recipe because its quick and easy, and I had all the ingredients on hand- here is my improvised version- you can find the original by following the link above.

3/4 cups cocoa powder
11/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
11/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
3/3 cup warm water
3/4 cup plain yogurt
3 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla

Line 18 cupcakes pans with lines- bake at 350 degrees for 18 min., rotating pans 1/2 way through.

Granny Beth's Chocolate Frosting

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
2 cups confectionery sugar
1/4 cup soft butter
 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup evaporated milk

(I doubled this recipe and had some left over).  First you mix the cocoa and sugar- then cream in the butter- it was a little dry so I slowly drizzled in the evap. milk, then added the rest of the milk and vanilla- and whipped it at my mixers highest speed for a couple minutes.  It's a great recipe!  Thanks Beth!!!

Random Treasures of the Bookroom

I was not working this weekend- nor did I have anything "really planned" that would take up my time- so I decided to tackle the neglected Bookroom- a.k.a the upstairs playroom in our house.  It did used to be one of my favorite rooms- it was one of the first rooms I tackled decor-wise when we moved in (almost 2 years ago now....)
But- as many of you know, a lot changes when you have children- especially, when you have more children!
The Bookroom title came about because we could not decide between family room, sunroom, library, study, etc.- so bookroom it became!

I will say- there was a time that the bookshelves looked really nice...color coded, organized, not piled high with games/toys/miscellaneous C-R-A-P:)
Here are some of my favorite things on the shelves!

This painting was made by one of my favorite ladies in the world- college friend Ghilly.  We went through the art program together for 4 years and built quite a bond!  This was made for D and I as a wedding gift- so special- it makes me smile every time I see it!

These are the memory boxes that we created for our angel babies on their special baby blessing days!  Instead of a baptism, we had a baby blessing celebration for them.  Z's was on her first birthday, for M's we waited until warmer weather so we could have it outside!  It was a memorable day both times.  Close friends and relatives gathered to celebrate the life of our children.  People wrote cards, made special mementos, and brought time-capsule-like gadgets.  Grandparents gave speeches, "god-parents" shared kind words.  It was  a wonderful day.  We use the memory boxes to store things from that day- and important things from days following.  I think it will be nice to share with them as they get older!

This vase was a gift from my parents when we bought our first house.  I love the colors!

Moving on to the toys- here is one of the best gifts ever- thank you Grammy Sheila!!!  This has been a blessing on rainy wet days- the children LOVE to bounce!  I highly recommend one if you have the space.  One slight issue- we put it together upstairs, planning on storing it in the basement- and cannot fit it down the basement stairs!  So- its a bookroom toy.

The daybed is a spot where guests sleep and stories are read- it was originally in Zella's nursery at our old house.  Its a fabulous IKEA find- it has storage drawers underneath, and it pulls out and turns into a king (I think- 2 twins side by side= king right?) bed.  Great purchase!, and when we got it it was $100 less than it is now- I guess we weren't the only ones who liked it;)

The details:
curtains: Pottery Barn, 3 years ago, online purchase- 8 yards found in their clearance section under "fabric by the yard"- I will never tire of this pattern! (although I do wish I was able to make the curtains floor length- but this length is more practical because of the radiators located on either end of the room!
mattress cover: Premiere Prints Cadence in Corn Yellow/Linen- we are also having a photo made with this as the background fabric for our bedroom- (then I will reveal the makeover!)
toss pillow on daybed: also Premiere Prints Victoria print in Eaton Blue/Linen
large bolster pillow: not sure?  I picked up this discount bolt remnant at a design store a couple years back.
wall color: I like to refer to it as Mac&Cheese- the Kraft variety. It's actually a Behr paint color called Squash. It is a VERY bold hue- but because most of the room is windows or built in bookcases- I think it works!

There is also a chair in the room that has a seat cushion covered with the large yellow floral print, and toss pillows in the Cadence print, and white.

The afghan was crocheted by my fabulous Auntie as a birthday gift a while back.

Oh- and here's a shot of the inspiration for this post:

This is what I found on the daybed as I was furiously cleaning.  It is as it seems.....a rock with 2 band aids attached to it.  Strange...yes.  A sign of a physician in the making....perhaps!

Monday, October 18, 2010

If I were an animal...

I would be a cat- more specifically, my cat!

This is an opening exercise I like to use to start up groups at the hospital: 
"If you were an animal- what would you be and why?"
My typical response is actually a flying squirl. The reason for that seemingly odd response is that I love trees- I really love to climb trees (although that doesn't happen much anymore), and I love being outside, and I would love to live in a cozy little nest.

With the recent fall weather- I've been longing to trade places with my dear kitty Frida- just for one day couldn't she be the Mommy and I could do this all day?????

Why, you may ask am I feeling this's one great example:

I was emptying my bladder for the first time all day at 12:23 pm, while the children were eating lunch when I heard a loud "BANG!"- "what was that noise?" I asked- Zella responded "it was Mosie making a mess Momma!".  I go into  the kitchen to find this-

It was a hummus explosion- literally.  all over the walls, all over the curtains, table, chair, him.  UGGGGHHHH. I do so love being a mom- but some days, are tough!

On a another note, I had mentioned in a previous post that I had 3 projects to tackle this month- the update is that 2 are done, and I have 1 to go (Zella's costume).

Project #1: Mei Tai style baby carrier

My good friend/neighbor Claire is having a baby soon!  Very exciting!  So, for their shower gift I made them a Mei Tai style baby carrier.  For those of you who don't know- D and I are baby wearing enthusiasts.  Not only do I believe its good for a baby to be as close as possible to their parent for building a sense of security and a strong sense of attachment from birth, I believe its soooo much easier for the parent.  Both of our babies were strapped to us from birth, be it in the sling (birth to 5 months or so), the Mei Tai (4 months-1 year or so), or the Ergo (which I still use for both children now on my back).  I can honestly say that my carriers were the most used baby items to received/purchased hands down.  I cannot imagine my life as a mother without them!  and- as D is VERY quick to point out- we have successfully avoided the dreaded "flat headed baby syndrome":)

Here are a couple pictures of the carrier I made them- I modeled it after the Mei Tai that we bought when Z was born.  It has a comfy padded waist band with a large adjustable clip in back, and I added a big pocket on the front.  It's reversible and can be worn on both the front and the back.
You may recognize the fabric- It's Anna's Drawing Room Sketchbook Ivory (also the curtain fabric in Zella's room)

Another thing I added to the gift was one of these fabulous blankets- I LOVE them- although I didn't discover then until Mosie was around 6 months or so- but I highly recommend them!

Project #2: Painting

This weekend we were away (thanks you auntie Emy!!!) for our dear friends Alexa and Alex's wedding.  It was a beautiful event! They are so in love, and I was honored to be their guest! The wedding took place at this lovely lodge in Stowe Vermont.  The lodge was surrounded by gorgeous mountains- which were even topped with snow.  I did not take very many pics (left that to the professionals)- but I had to take a pictures of a couple things that were super inspiring.

These insane trees were all over the place- built into both the interior and exterior architecture of the building. They are dried out and stripped of their bark- possibly polyurethaned from what I could guess. I am convinced that we will figure out how to hook one of these suckers up in our basement playroom- how fabulous would this be for Mosie and ZZ to climb on all winter????

A very special touch were these great hand carved letters that Alex's dad made for them.  They sat on the table where the place cards were.

and last, but not least- I made a painting that was displayed as guest enteredd the living room for the ceremony.  To me- this painting represented all the things I know Alexa to love- trees, fall, Vermont, nature, and Alex of course!

I only wish I had a picture of the INSANELY delicious fall spice- gluten free cupcakes with buttercream frosting- they were unreal!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What's for Dinner?.....Stuffed Delicata Squash!

This meal was inspired by a recipe that I came across the other night in Mothering Magazine- the original recipe is for stuffed acorn squash.  The great thing about this recipe is that it's versatile- plus, it's super-healthy!  I've listed some substitution suggesting/ideas at the end of the post!  Enjoy!

I started off by washing, cutting crosswise, seeding, placing cut side down in a water bath, and roasting at 375 degrees for 45 min., 2 Delicata Squash from our farm.

While they were cookin', I made some quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), a super delicious and nutritious grain.  It's gluten free (for anyone who doesn't do gluten) and packed with protein- great for us vegetarians out there!  I cook it like I do rice- boil 2 parts water, add in 1 part quinoa (in this case I used 1 cup quinoa, 2 cups water) reduce to simmer with lid on pot, and cook for about 16 min.

The one thing that I do occasionally add- is some seaweed- yes- you read it right- seaweed! I read this fabulous cookbook after I had Mosie and was so inspired by the fabulous recipes- the layout is ideal- (it's seperated by season). It is based on the movement to eat locally and seasonally, without using super-processed foods. I do strive to make foods like this!

Kombu is the seaweed I use- I basically just break off a 2" piece and add it to the grains as they cook and remove it when they are done. Why you ask????? Because it adds a nice flavor without using extra salt. Give it a shot! Oh- it also naturally high in the mineral iodine which is a necessary part of  a healthy diet.

Cooked quinoa is light and fluffy with a little crunch to it (sort of), and it has a great nutty flavor- it's probably my favorite grain!

Then I sauteed my veggies ( I used 2 small onions, 3 cloves of garlic, kale, and 2 bell peppers).  I cooked them down in olive oil after chopping them, then I added 1 Tbsp. of cumin, 1 Tsp. oregano, salt and pepper.

Then I added 1 can of rinsed black beans, the quinoa, and about 1 cup of frozen sweet corn.

Then I filled the squash with the delicious mixture.

Then I added some nice sharp cheddar cheese on top. And baked it at 350 degrees for 40 min- until the top was browned and it was heated through.

I sprinkled a little more cheese on top (parm this time), and paired it with a romaine salad, with apple slices, candied almonds, and cheddar cheese.
DELICIOUS!  The combination of the tender, sweet squash- with the smoky filling=  a really good meal- and D even gave it 2 thumbs up!


2 delicata squash
1 cup dry quinoa (cooked in 2 cups water)
1 can black beans
1 piece of kombu
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 onions
2 peppers
1 bunch of kale
1 cup corn
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tsp oregano
salt and pepper
cheese  (optional)

Roast squash until tender (cut, seed, place in water bath).  Saute veggies and spices in oil until tender.  Cook quinoa (2:1 ratio- water to quinoa) 16 min., add to sauteed vegetables, add in corn and rinsed black beans.  Fill cooked squash with mixture.  Top with cheese- bake 350 degrees for 40 min.

1. This meal can be prepared completely vegan (although I chose to throw some cheese on top:)
2. Instead of Delicata you could roast and stuff any winter squash (acorn, butternut) or even peppers or potatoes!
3. You could put different veggies and/or different spices
4. You could use rice, couscous, or another grain instead of quinoa
5. For you meat lovers out there you could saute ground pork, turkey, chicken or beef and add it into the mix.
5. You could use white beans, chick peas, or red beans rather than black.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thank you Shuggie!!!!

I may have mentioned before that my Mom is like Martha Stewart....she cooks, bakes, sews, cleans, refurbishes, photographs, knits, embroiders,...the list goes on.

So when she called to tell me she was "sending a bag of stuff for the kids" along with Pop (my Dad) when he can over yesterday to watch the angels while I went to work- I knew it was gonna be something good!  When I finally had  a second to go through the bag of goodies this morning-grateful does not even start to explain how I felt as I took out each item.  Not only did she buy the children each a beautiful winter coat- but she made them each a hat to match their coat, as well as mittens, socks, and Moses even got a beautiful sweater vest- so sweet.  How special that we have these beautiful hand knit items for years to come.
Thank you so much Shug!!!!  We love you- we are so blessed to have our wonderful parents in our lives!

Z was more than happy to model her news diggs- in fact- she kept coat on for hours:)

The Mosie-Monster on the other hand- well, he took a whole lot of convincing to even get just the hat on:(  He refused to wear anything else- he is modeling a  sweater that Shuggie made him last year though!
(... the purple spray bottle in his hand is one of our daily rituals- every morning after I spray down Zella's hair- I give him the water bottle- he walks around the house spraying himself in the face and sucking the water out of the keeps him occupied, and I say- whatever works!:)

and it's off again.....

and it's on again (thanks to my assistant)...

and,'s coming off!

What a nice treat- the children love all of their new stuff- thanks Mom! xoxo