Thursday, April 30, 2009

Adventures In The Kitchen

Lately, I haven't been doing a lot of "formal" crafting...but I've
been doing a lot of cooking, which I love.
I enjoy ethnic foods. Period. I love the spices
and flavors of all regions of our world and I find it very exciting
to be able to prepare some of these foods at home.
However, I am just a wee bit partial to Indian food...especially of the vegetarian variety; homecooking and street-cart snacks, too. Yes.
After a long search to find a source for these types of recipes,
I was thrilled to find Manjula's Kitchen. She is the Indian auntie I never had--
the one who would teach me how to cook all sorts of wonderful dishes.
I have been watching and learning a lot. She's the best!
So far, I've taken one trip to the local Indian market and prepared Chola Tikki...But I was so excited to eat them, that I forgot to take a photo.
Here are some papadum for you. Delicious and tasty "crackers" (for lack of a better term). They are made of lentils and spices and they can be deep fried or cooked over the flame of one of your stovetop burners. They are a bit salty, too.
...So good if you happen to be having a before dinner cocktail. Yum.

Then there was my gluten-free pizza. I have been flirting with gluten-free cooking since Cub was a baby. I suspect she has some type of wheat "sensitivity." She never really goes for bread unless she is super-hungry. Until recently, she didn't eat pizza! (What?) Yes, I know.
But she did love this gluten-free pie. I used Bob's Red Mill (gf) pizza dough mix. It was sticky and strange to put together, but it turned out beautifully.

And then last night's creation. I was proud to know this meal cost so little to make but was so tasty. It was even better served cold the next night as part of an appetizer medley I served
before dinner to Cub and her grandparents.
-Spiced couscous (tumeric, pinch of curry, and herbs) alongside
a red kidney bean salad.
The beans were just out of the can, rinsed, etc...I added chopped tomato and yellow pepper, too. Then I added some olive oil,
apple cider vinegar, and spices (cumin, garam masala) to taste. Those fresh herbs from my
windowsill garden have been heaven. They really brighten up a dish.
I highly reccomend fresh herbs to everyone!

What do you enjoy cooking and/or eating lately?

Monday, April 27, 2009

First Beach Days

Growing-up in Long Island, I spent A LOT of time at the beach. There were so many and I loved (and still love) 'em all. Give me my Long Island beaches any day...especially the ones
all the way out east. Ohhhhh yeahhhh.
Back to reality. Back to Staten Island. Yes. I will go to a beach, any beach, and
frequent it regulary, and if it's this close to our home, definitely.
Luckily, my cub appreciates the sand, sun, and breeze just as much as I do.
With this unseasonably warm weather, we have just naturally gravitated
towards the shores of "la Isla de Staten."
This is South Beach. We love the boardwalk and of course, the view of
our awesome bridge. Love it.

We have gone the last two days during my favorite time, "magic hour" as photographers call it...between 4pm and 7pm. We both love looking for souvenirs to take home.
Right now, we are in the process of finding different types of containers to hold
our treasures.

Since last year, I've had a real thing for sea glass. I love its soft edges and muted colors...
and the fact that something so sharp and dangerous was smoothed over by
the gentle yet powerful movements of the water.
I love to look at it in the light and hold it in my hand.

Today, Cub had a visit with her Daddy at the beach.
I enjoyed relaxing on a blanket and
just breathing
and being.

So happy to return to one of our favorite places.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Third From The Sun

There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth.
We are all crew.
~Marshall McLuhan, 1964

What a beautiful planet we're living on!
Happy Earth Day, Everyone.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mountains of Goodness-Part III

Scrapbook of Our Spring Vacation


Lunch picnics at our special place along the water.

Best quote of the day (as she ran down the hill ready to collect bits of nature)

"Look out! Here I come with my basket! I want to put the whole world in my basket!

Afternoon lunch, movie, and then dinner, dress-up and Tinkerbell

(All in one day!)

with a much-loved friend.

A couple of baking sessions throughout the week.

...with pink buttercream icing.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mountains of Goodness- Part II

Before we get too far away from Easter- I just wanted to share our sweet morning;
which started out with some banana waffles. This recipe is so easy and really delicious. My waffle maker has been very busy on weekend mornings lately. I served them with melted butter and powdered sugar.

Cub was blessed to receive two Easter baskets-One store-bought. I couldn't resist
The Golden Books. That pokey little puppy was a huge hit. The candy was thrown away when she wasn't looking. Except for the Bottle Caps, which I found half eaten behind the couch.
The other basket was filled with some homemade goodies from Mama and a new paint set.

Here is the dollhouse furniture I made for her. I just took some small cardboard boxes, painted them, then covered them with various papers.

Here is a blurry photo of the finger puppets. They really came out cute-too bad you can't tell from this. There was a red-eyed rabbit, a blue bird with an orange beak, and a yellow chickie.
She really loved all of her handmade gifts and played with them all morning.

There's nothing like making gifts for my girl!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mountains of Goodness: Part I

This vacation has been so wonderful that I've hardly noticed the emergency
tooth extraction, the pain, and the unexpected "recovery" time I would need...Like any wounded Earth creature, I ended up just wanting to be close to home, spending time
with my sweet girl and our dear ones, getting into the season of spring together.
Thus, I cancelled our travel plans and just settled into being here
and being in these moments.
This time has made me realize even more how blessed we are
and how much goodness surrounds us.
I have so much joy to share from the precious days we've spent together.
I'll start with today, and work my way back...
Take a look at this proud Mama's windowsill!
This was so much fun for the two of us. From the nursery to the actual planting, Cub was completely immersed in the entire process. She loved it. May it be the first of many planting experiences for her.
What a simple sweetness we've gifted ourselves with...fresh herbs at our fingertips added to all of our meals. I went with our favorites and have already used the chives!
Later in the afternoon, we finally got around to painting those rocks we had collected on a beach picnic earlier in the week.
There is nothing like the pure color of paint in a palette.

Our buddies downstairs and their Mama joined in the fun, too.

I took the liberty of embellishing some of their solid rocks with
spring flowers.

I wish these days never had to end.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Vacation Luvs...

-Sleeping late and very lazy mornings.
-Working out EVERY day and feeling strong.
-Board games and tea in the evenings with my girl.
-Fun pizza and movie afternoons with Cub and friends.
-Treating ourselves to (perhaps too many) meals in restaurants so
Mama gets a break from cooking and cleaning.
-Coffee runs before jumping and playing in our new favorite park.
New favorite spring shoes for Mama (luv, luv, luv!!!!)
What's not to love about purple espadrilles made out of recycled rubber
and organic cotton?
Not much!
We are enjoying every minute of our vacation. We've been just the right amount of busy, too; the happy buzz-along has been the perfect pace.
Hopefully, it's off to Philadelphia tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Movie Night!

I can't wait until Cub is old enough to watch all of my favorite movies with me.
This one has been one of mine since my teens.
I love all of the brilliant color, characters, and camp of this film.
Not to mention, Vivian Leigh (who, it has been said, had much in common with her character, Scarlet) is a favorite of ours (Grandpa and me).
Tonight, I will settle in with homemade popcorn at 8pm as TCM airs...
Scarlet, I don't care what anybody says;
With all of your strength and underlying vulnerability--
you remain an idol and an inspiration.
In the face of all adversity...
you would not be defeated!
"You go, Girl!"

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter, Happy Spring...

Happy, Happy, Everything!

With Love and Blessings to All,
from Mama and her Cub.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Back to Crafting

In the middle of all of the holiday preparations, baking, and packing...I decided I would make Cub an Easter basket filled with handmade goodies. I guess it has become a bit of a tradition around here. I want my daughter to grow-up appreciating handmade gifts; the feel of something made with mama's own hands as an expression of my love for her.
There have been so many cute projects out there lately; like these
sock bunnies, for example! Yes, it's difficult NOT to be inspired. So...first in the basket will be a mama bunny and her baby; complete with pipe-cleaner carrots and a felt blanket. (The mama, blanket, and big carrot still to come!) Yes, I'll be crafting at my Grandma's until the last minute!

I used one of the many singleton socks at the bottom of Cub's sock drawer to make Baby Bunny.
I sloppily embellished the ears with fabric scraps and I was tempted to do a lot more with this, but it was 1am and I was supposed to be packing...and sleeping!
Here's a rear view...loose threads and all.

I'm also including three of these finger puppets that I whipped up while she slept late this morning. They were super easy to make while having coffee, too.
And because I have been wanting to make her a set of mini-furniture for one of the many dollhouses around here, I'm crafting a mini-bed, dresser, and bookcase out of some old jewelry gift boxes I've been hanging on to. The bookcase is being made from a raisin box. Oh, I almost forgot the jellybean bracelets. I think this will be the only candy gift in the basket.

Here's to a peaceful day, Everyone.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A New Love to Share...

(Film still by M. Engel)

"The concept of making the film almost unnoticed among crowds seems to be working."
- Morris Engel on Little Fugitive

Last night we returned home from a fundraiser/dinner with friends at about 9:30. The dinner began at, you know. While Cub was tossing and turning in her bed, singing and talking to herself- I channel surfed because I was just too tired to do anything else.
And then I stumbled upon the films of Morris Engel, a man who is said to have influenced two indie-film pioneers who I love...John Cassavetes and Francois Truffaut.

The artistic, crisp black and white photographic images were what first captured my attention, so I watched, riveted-the rest of the film Lovers and Lollipops. Appropriately, the NY Times review referred to it as a "picture film," because that is exactly what it is. This film mysteriously contains a little piece of my soul.

After that, TCM aired Weddings and Babies, another Engel film, which was not as focused on photographic aspects (not as stylishly slick) but naturally realistic, and creative just the same.
I noticed both films were set in NYC and I immediately assumed only a native New Yorker could capture the compelling beauty of the city. Turns out, Engel was born in Brooklyn and lived and worked in NYC for all of his 86 years.

At midnight, I did some more research on Engel and found out that he collaborated with his wife, Ruth Orkin (and another man, "Ray Ashley") on another film Little Fugitive, which is set in Coney Island, Brooklyn. I hypnotically watched the trailer released at the time (1953) and after much scouring on the internet, finally was able to secure a copy through the NYPL website. I can not wait to watch this one!

...I just wanted to share the unexpected gem we occasionally stumble upon
during the stroll through ordinary existence.
These films reconnected me to my love and attraction
towards natural images; the ones of
people and places we see throughout
an ordinary day.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Some Windowsill Love...

Since I was bit by the gardening bug right after Cub was born, and we have never
had a proper yard to create a nice space...I've decided to take matters into my own hands and do some creative problem solving.
I have been planning for months and now the time has come, tah-dah!
-To plant our very own WINDOWSILL GARDEN!
We are very excited. I have done my homework as far as the herbs...and today
there was this awesome link (via Craftzine) on how to grow your own wheatgrass by
Design Mom. Not only is wheatgrass healthy to drink (yum!), it looks downright gorgeous, too.
I love the idea of snipping some of my own herbs for all of the fresh & healthy food I plan on preparing during the warmer months ahead. So economical too, as herbs can be costly and they never seem to last that long, either.
(photo courtesy of design mom... )
Today marks the beginning of ten blissful days of vacation. Planting our windowsill herb/wheatgrass garden is first on a long list of plans for the days ahead. Tomorrow, after an early breakfast, we will hit-up our neighborhood chain store for the pots, seeds and soil, then we will get to planting. I think I will let Cub paint and embellish some of the pots, too.
Our kitchen window is perfect...plenty of sun and plenty of room on a
perfect window ledge.
I found lots of great information online for planting the potted herbs.
I'm planning: basil, chives, oregano, and lavender.
I'm on the fence about parsley and I don't care for rosemary in food.
We do use the oil in Cub's homemade shampoo recipe.
Any good resources or suggestions as we embark on our first gardening experience?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sunday, April 5, 2009

My Grandfather, The Sage

This is one of the most important people in my life, my Grandfather Steve. He is 93 years old!
God bless him!
There is so much I could write about him; about the profound impact he has made on my life. But that is not what this post is about.
I think I mentioned before that my mother's parents raised my brother and I...
Well, about ten years ago, I decided to write them each a letter of gratitude. I mean, why wait, right? I wanted to make sure both of them knew how much they were adored.
One of the things I told my grandpa was how much I admired his respect for all living things. He has been a great role model for me; always taking excellent care of himself and his family.
He is and has always been progressive and open-minded, especially when it comes to
caring for one's health. He is a firm believer in alternative medicine and nutrition and has a library of books on the subject. So, today while we were visiting my grandparents, I sat among his books looking for information on how to deal with my latest flare-up of allergic asthma and other symptoms. After some research, note-taking and discussion with Grandpa, I went off to the local vitamin shop to stock-up on just a few key players.
Here is the "prescription" if anyone else is suffering and wants a more effective (in my opinion) cure or to supplement a (barely working) medical one:
AM: Take 500mg of Vitamin C
50 mg. Pantothenic Acid (also called B5)
In the afternoon take another 500 mg. Vitamin C...Yes, it seems like a lot, but the body gets rid of it, too...and besides Vit. C is a natural and powerful antihistamine.
PM: 500 mg. Vitamin C
50 mg Pantothenic Acid
1 teaspoon lemon and/or orange zest with 1 tsp. honey
Well, after two doses, I can definitely tell you I feel better. I know, it seems too "early" to feel results, but even the book (the title which I did not write down, sorrry) said that it is possible!
At least I'm feeling more hopeful that there is something that will possibly ease the discomfort.
Thanks, Grandpa...for opening the door, again.

To Fitness

I figure since I'm spending extra money on organic food, I have made the decision not to join a gym. With a little discipline, I can exercise at home using the In Demand feature on our cable television station. So far, I've managed to work-out on both Saturdays and Sundays for the past month. It's been a lot of fun. I can vary the workouts as I wish...not to mention I don't have to add commuting and changing time at a gym. I just hop right into the shower when finished and start the day!
Often, Cub will join in whatever exercise I've chosen. I've noticed she has a particular interest in yoga. Her teacher at school does yoga with the kids before naptime, which I think is brilliant.
At the end of my workout today, I thought a little wind-down would be nice. I chose Kids Walk because I thought she would love it. What a nice idea to get kids moving. It was actually a great low impact workout. I challenged myself by holding weights the whole time
and I really enjoyed it.
Turns out, Cub is not a walker. After about five minutes, she went into her room to lay down!
We need to work on this before we go hiking this summer!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

To Health

So far, this spring has been one of the worst allergy seasons for me in like ten years. Seriously.
I have all of those terrifying symptoms back again, too-ranging from (what I know is now called Oral Allergy Syndrome) throat swelling to chest tightness and asthma. My appetite has been funny, too. I'm afraid to eat certain foods because of the OAS-which is basically when foods cross-trigger allergic reactions. I am on more medicine than I am comfortable with and I am still not symptom-free by a long shot. It just really sucks.
I recently watched the documentary The Beautiful Truth, which expanded
upon and brought home many ideas I already believed in. What an incredible film. But you must be open to receive the message believe in a new way of thinking about healing the body.
The Food:Health connection just makes sense to me.
So, I've decided to baby my body. Maybe if I treat it exceptionally well and ever-so-delicately, it will be nice to me and start to function normally again.
Tonight I decided as a little experiment-I would do about 90% of my weekly grocery shopping in the health food store. Yikes. I knew I was most likely going to go over my weekly food budget, but it wasn't terrible actually. I went over about $30.00-but I did buy extras including coffee, homeopathic allergy meds, and honey.
On the plus side: I was able to shop the awesome bulk food section which allowed for small purchases of yummy snacks like crystallized ginger, carob chips, and pumpkin seeds.
When I arrived home I was wondering if it is really worth it. Yes, it did cost a little more- and I still need to buy paper products, but if we feel better, if we get better than overall, it is a small price to pay.
Here's to our health, Everyone.
It is so very precious.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Keeping It Natural

It's difficult to think about celebrating spring when our allergies are on full blast over here.
Funny, Easter has never been a holiday that I craft or decorate for. I don't exactly know why, but I figure the allergies have a lot to do with it. All I'm doing lately is taking lots of medicine, inhalers, and herb teas so that I may at least breathe comfortably.
Lately, I have noticed the traditional Easter egg dying kits popping up here and there.
I figure, that's an easy and fun activity for us to do together.
Then we'll have some more fun with a little egg hunt. It's a nice tradition. One I would like to continue to share with Cub. Two things have been holding me back a bit: The fact that we never eat all of the eggs and of course, the dye. I have been thinking about natural dye alternatives and so I was thrilled this evening when I discovered a great post on Natural Dye for Eggs by Make It From Scratch.
Now, I'm thoroughly inspired!
I think we'll be brewing up the following with ingredients we always have on hand:
Tumeric= Yellow
Pickled Beets= Pink
Grape Juice=Purple
Brown (?)=Coffee
I just might have to cheat a bit, though. I have a thing for that lovely sky/robin's egg blue color that comes in the dye kit. It was always a favorite. I think I'm going to buy a packet of Kool-Aid for that one!
Can't wait to play next Saturday. I'll post the results, too.