Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Homeschool Evolution

A poem in remembrance of simpler times....my rhythm and pentameter functions are a bit off this morning, so please forgive me...I am lacking sleep.


Ohhh I remember the days of finding all the colors and spelling their names-
Of finding the blue in our world!
And by blue I mean not the sadness and strife,
But of all the things hued azure in our life.
There were papers and toys,
before her little eyes
and many a stuffed animal as well.
The couch was that color
And our glasses were too
why, so much in our home then was blue!
My darling little girl 
her head was a whirl
she loved to see color and form. 
So much so in fact,
that without any tact,
she decided to bind all she knew.
Miss O found my yarn, 
'Twas a bright shade of blue
It called to her, and then she knew.
O went straight to work
Why, was only a moment, or so it seemed
that I left the room when nature's call deemed.
Upon my return, I got a surprise
O had done much with her new found supplies.
We found things tied to things
Paper bits to teething rings,
A dinosaur hung in a noose.
My new turquoise nightie 
no longer folded and tidy
was tethered to many blue blocks.
The dog, so it seemed, was bewildered and peeved
from her collar dangled a small toy.
Our living room had become a small web.
My cute little spider 
her grin had never been wider
and I had to smile in return.
So much blue to find, so much to unwind
To be honest, I didn't really mind.
She looked so proud of her work
I couldn't be a jerk
And yell at my little artful girl.
We hugged, laughed and cleaned up
And freed all our stuff up.
And then had a talk about not tying stuff to the dog.

The early days of homeschooling make me laugh with joy. It seems that I was much more relaxed back then. 

Nowadays I am overly concerned with transcripts, requirements, and quotas. High school is tough business! But this morning I was remembering how much fun we had that day when Olivia decided to show me how much blue she could find, and secure to one room. This happened when she was about three years old. Literally, I took a tiny bathroom break, (you know the kind when you pee quickly with the door open and listen so you can react to any crashing/skidding/climbing over baby gates/crying that may occur when you are relieving yourself. Because it invariably happens then) and upon my return found the entire living room woven together with blue yarn. I call it the Things Tied to Things episode, and when I describe it to new parents, they usually give me the deer in the headlights look. But of course every one else's darling children would never do stuff like that. 

We had so much fun that afternoon. Oh, I laughed my head off! Olivia has always had a great sense of color and humor. 

This High School thing has the potential to get so serious if I will let it-and I don't want to forget to have fun during this time.
I want Olivia to have the best education possible. I also want to help her to find the joy in everyday life. I fear that her creativity has the potential to suffer if we remove elements of our school that relax and recharge us. Choosing what is essential and what is elective is difficult. I like to encourage Olivia to take charge of her education, but I also like to guide her down paths that will assist her in her adult life-like learning basic accounting skills and such. More than that, I do not want to lose the spirit of our earliest homeschooling days-we consider Olivia schooled at home 'since birth' and we've had some really great, fun, goofy, creative times. 

With all this in mind, I've made some additions to my official 'Educational Goals For This Month' list:
-to be silly while the silly gettin's good 
-stock up on blue yarn

Have fun, eat well, and love lots!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Basic Classes

This has nothing to do with food!

Well, I've thought about it for a long time. I'm taking the plunge and offering a series of basic sewing classes at the Hobby Lobby store located in Westmont! Fridays from 9:30am - 11:30 am, I will teach basic hand sewing. This includes emergency repairs and basic seams, and each class students will make a small hand-sewn project to take home. I think it's gonna be fun! The staff was very receptive to my idea, and the classroom looks clean and well lit. Wish me luck!
Eat well, have fun and love lots!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Im A Food Renegade

Im A Food Renegade

Oh Yeah, you know it's true!

Happy happy joy joy!

Eat well, have fun and love lots!

Food Renegade | Challenging Politically Correct Nutrition

 I would like to introduce you to a wonderful website that is chock-full of rebellion, real food, and recipes!

As the link suggests, this is a site for those of us who really want to search out the truth about the food we put into our bodies. They also host a fun 'blog carnival', as they call it every Friday, called 'Fight back Fridays'. The goal is to share tips, recipes, real food facts, and basically anything else that relates to REAL food!

Get a taste of what's cooking at    http://www.foodrenegade.com/

Until then,
Eat well, have fun, and love lots!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


So I'm thinking of putting some videos up here, simple how-to's and demonstrations in the kitchen.

 This is me thinking in the kitchen...

With that in mind, does anyone have any requests? Ever wonder how to properly roast and carve a bird? Or do you want the art of bread making de-mystified? Perhaps you have an heirloom recipe for something, but never thought you could handle it without a little guidance? I'd love to step you through those kinds of things.

I'm always looking to broaden my culinary repertoire, so challenges are certainly welcome.

Eat well, have fun, and love lots!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Okay, this is important. Please check out the link below. I'm so stoked! And mad!


It has come to be commonplace to hear young ladies of all shapes and sizes declare such tired phrases like "I have fat thighs!" or "I'm too chubby!" even though they are still in the midst of adolescence and assaulted by growth spurts regularly.  I look at these young gals and think, 'Wow, if they consider their skinny selves to be too plump, what must they think of a healthy sized mama like me?'

But then I wake up and remember I'm astonishingly beautiful no matter what I look like. I wish those young ladies would realize how truly beautiful and special they are, and stop picking themselves to pieces. 

When did things like substance and curves become unattractive? And why the propensity to desire to be like a Barbie doll-excessively thin, impossibly large bust, plastic skin and all?  I betcha didn't know that Barbie was modeled after a comic strip in German publication Bild Zeitung that was about a fictional prostitute, did ya? Do a basic Google search on Bild Lilli and find out more!

Sorry. Rabbit hole.

And just look at all the stuff we have to 'improve' ourselves. Take a walk around your local drug store and let the selection sink in...it's amazing! The quantity, the prices, the serums, lotions, powders, masks, foundations, lipstains, creams, hair colors, it's simply mind boggling how we ever got along without it all.

I'm reminded of the old lament--if only people would spend as much time on improving their insides as they do their outsides, maybe the world would be a better place.

Of course, that's not to say that improving your looks is a bad thing. I'm all for good grooming, staying clean, well-trimmed, and fresh. But how far is the leap from enhancing one's looks to all-out reconstruction of the body? It's when we get to extremes like plastic surgery for teens who don't like the way their nose looks, or bleaching a toddler's teeth so she can be better prepared to compete for a pageant that I begin to inwardly curdle.

Anyways, it's been the fashion to despise one's outer self for as long as, well...forever, I guess. As long as beauty products have existed, there has been a drive to perfect the outer image.

I remember when I was little, my mom used to frequent thrift and antique stores...the motive was to entertain her passion for acquiring anything eclectic, beautiful and useful. We had inherited a little wall-hanging chest of drawers that her grandma had purchased at a bargain because it was missing a drawer. Just the thing to keep buttons, spices, and other important doo-dads in, it had a nice flat surface that was of course covered in tiny, eclectic, beautiful and not so useful knick-knacks. One of those was a silver tube that caught her eye at a thrift store. When she brought it home, I popped open the cap, and was surprised to find lip balm. From the 1890's. Still in there. Yum. My sister asked about the flavor of the balm, suggesting that the primitive beauty product manufacturers of the time probably made it in beef stew flavor. Gross! Mom ended up placing it atop the little chest of drawers along with an ancient compact and a fabric flower. We never did find out what flavor it was. Probably a good thing!
Another good thing to look at and absorb is the fact that the average sized woman of today "is 5′4″, has a waist size of 34-35 inches and weighs between 140-150 lbs, with a dress size of 12-14" according to an article written by Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP on her WebMd expert blog, part of the WebMD site.If that is true, then why do the fashion editors constantly choose only one body type to represent what clothes look like on women? I'm all for diversity on this issue-why can't the fashion people choose a wide variety of body types to model for them? Pretty comes in all shapes and sizes, and I for one, would love to see what the new clothing lines would look like on a body that's closer in shape and size to mine instead of a tiny pre-teen!

Sorry to rant. Or, no, I'm not sorry. I'm happy to have my little piece of cyberspace in which to position my soapbox, yell a while and shake my fist into the air, then return to my daily routine.

Now for a recipe of dynamic, voluptuous proportions. I did some research online, read a few cheese making books, and blended a few techniques and through trial and error came up with a way that worked for me. It's the basic science of separating the cream and the water that gets you to the point of cream cheese, and I'm not sure who has copyright on that process...anyways, here is the way we make:


It's a lot simpler than it seems. Trust me!

First, get yourself a carton of sour cream, I prefer the full-fat variety. You will also need a wire strainer (One of those little ones, I have one about four inches across, and it hooks across a coffee mug perfectly.) or some cheesecloth.

In a small bowl, pour out all the sour cream that will fit in your strainer, and add a little salt or other flavoring. You could use anything savory or sweet, I guess. Just don't use too much of anything-a little goes a long way here.
Some fun flavor ideas might be:
cinnamon and sugar
sea salt
chili or cayenne pepper or paprika

chives and garlic powder
parsley or thyme
or use a dried soup mix like Lipton instant tomato, or garden veggie, etc.
(What the heck, make one of each and use them on plain bagels!)

Stir a bit, making sure your salt or spice gets distributed evenly. Transfer the seasoned sour cream into your little basket strainer or a few layers of cheesecloth. Place the basket strainer atop the rim of a large mug or a suitable bowl to catch the drips of water that will naturally occur. Or if you are using cheesecloth, I suppose you could tape the ends to the side of the drip-catching container. The idea is to suspend the sour cream over something that will collect the water that drips out of the cream.

Place this little set up somewhere in your fridge so it won't be disturbed for a while. Just tell the kids it's mommy's little science experiment, and it is going to be velvety and delicious once it's done.

Then let gravity do it's work. Check the consistency in a few days. You will be surprised how thick it gets! Depending on the temp you keep your fridge at, you could have cream cheese in as little as a week. Yay!

Once it is of a suitable thickness and consistency, it's ready for spreading! Discard the dripped out liquid, and break out the bagels!

Eat well, have fun, and love lots!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Reviews and a Recipe

I just finished reading one of the best food-related books I have ever read.
I still hold The New York Times Cookbook high up on a pedestal, but it may come crashing down from it's gilded perch after I try some of the recipes and ideas from The Flavor Thesaurus, by brilliant author Niki Segnit. Niki presents food and it's flavors as an artist would her paints, color-wheel style. The individual colors are replaced by flavors-and it's a fascinating fresh perspective. She breaks down every imaginable flavor of food-using terms like woody, citrussy, earthy, and briny, among others, to describe how everything tastes. Then she goes ten steps further and suggests what seems like thousands of possible flavor combinations within her 'flavor wheel'. Nothing is exempt or forgotten-she devotes an entire section, for instance, to Anise, and how it pairs with all kinds of foods, many of which I would never have thought of or considered.

Segnit also offers some unusual stories and anecdotes on meals and preparation.The recipes, if you can call them that, are actually little gem-like stories of how she found or experienced food combinations, and tales of discoveries of impeccable joining of flavors. This woman knows hot to eat, and she's not afraid to say it.

The author presents a whole new way of looking at sustenance altogether-possibilities abound whether you are a meat-lover, vegan, vegetarian, have gluten concerns, are frugal or lavish, or just want to satisfy your appetite with something other than your regular rotation of meals. Well worth the read. I liked reading chapters before going grocery shopping. It got my mind whirling.

I have also fallen in love...with ceramic knives. I first spied them on the Simply Ming cooking show-he was slicing ahi tuna into paper thin slices or something-and I vowed some day I would try them. Ceramic made all kinds of prep tasks look effortless. My husband Bill recently found a small selection at, of all places, Harbor Freight, (known for it's selection of contractor-type tools) so he surprised me with a treat. They were ridiculously inexpensive, and very nice. I think the mid-sized one cost him about ten bucks.

 My new ceramic lovelies!

Slicing through a raw potato was like cutting room-temperature butter. They are incredibly sharp! Cutting veggies the other night, I had one of those 'oh that was close' moments. I somehow managed to just ever-so-lightly nick my open palm, quite by accident. Sometimes I get in my own way, it seems! At first I thought, I'm fine, just got the surface. Not! Further inspection proved a tiny, precision cut that indeed did qualify for a band-aid. These beauties can be very unforgiving with careless use, so I found.

Nontheless, I anticipate many years of faithful service from these svelte little knives. 

Today's food idea, then. Oddly enough, it does not require ultra-sharp knives, but it is fun to make on a cold day anyways. Since it's kinda gloomy out today, an homage to my Grandpa, Giacomo, who lived in the reigon of Italy called Tornimparte, L'Aquila. I believe the province or county, as we'd call it, was Abruzzo. Here is a reigonal dish that will warm your tummy. 

Scripelle M'Busse
Whisk the following together:
4 large eggs, room temperature
½ cup milk
½ cup flour (wheat flour yelds interesting results)
handful of fresh herbs, chopped (parsley, thyme or basil)
salt & pepper to taste
Fry 2 tbsp. batter at a time, forming small crepes. Fry until lightly browned on both sides and egg is set. Remove crepe from the skillet and fill with grated pecorino cheese, roll tightly, and place in a greased baking dish. Pour some dribbles chicken broth over, just enough to dampen, but certainly not flood your pan or dish. Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle more cheese on top and serve. Makes enough to fill a 9 X 9 baking pan. These are delightful with Italian sausage on the side. 

Eat well, have fun, and love lots!