Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Geocaching is basically treasure hunting with a GPS (Global Positioning Satellite). There is a website that can give you local caches. Jupiter bought a GPS mainly for use in the car, but Geocaching allows us to use it to get outside and wander off trail. We went in search of a cache (i.e. treasure, booty, stash) in a local park. We had the GPS coordinates (latitude and longitude) and then you hunt; you also usually have a clue to where the cache is hidden. When you find it, you log that you were there and you can take something from the container and leave something behind. This is a pretty family friendly activity and definitely teaches about directions. It was fun and I am sure we will do it more once it is warmer outside and definitely when we travel.
We had a really special Christmas holiday in our home. Jove and I have been crafting, reading and singing for weeks and I have really enjoyed watching him get so excited.
- Our friends come over for a little NYC "brown couch," since we can't be with the rest of the Michigan family. See the picture above where Jove is playing with the baby present and the babies, of course, are playing with the ribbon.
- Jup's side of the family: sisters, cousins and kids all come over on Christmas day for playing and eating.
- We visit Santaland at Macy's and their amazing windows and Jove sits on Santa's lap, he really was more excited than he appears here. The good pictures cost way too much so we only have our mediocre pics. He asks Santa for a crane (probably because we drive by all of the construction on the way downtown) and Christmas morning he got a crane.
- Miranda being such a big girl: sitting and playing by herself, rolling around, calling papa "da da," enjoying the wooden eggs that Santa left in her stocking
- Jove and I finishing our gingerbread house and me finishing all of the origami I made for the kids in the family.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Humor me... What would I do if I didn't have to go back to work? Home school my kids; maybe have another child; grow a much bigger garden and can and preserve food for us; maybe get some laying hens; have good, loving energy leftover for my kids and my husband by the time 5pm roles around; read; exercise more; spend more time with friends; and maybe start to write.
So, moms out there, what would you do if you didn't have to work and if you aren't working do you want to work full-time? Are you conflicted?
Last year I learned too late that there are two types of gingerbread recipes: the one you want to eat and the one you build a house with. I started to search for a yummy recipe for gingerbread people online and I found that most people were not happy about the gingerbread recipes they were finding. Then I found a recipe on a blog where the woman made the recipe by trial and error and they are delicious.
Here is the woman's recipe directly from her website:
- 3 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature, softened)
- 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1 In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.
2 In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Mix in eggs and molasses. Gradually add the flour mixture; combine on low speed. (You may need to work it with your hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.) Divide dough in thirds; wrap each third in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight. Before rolling out, let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. If after refrigerating the dough feels too soft to roll-out, work in a little more flour.
3 Heat oven to 350°. Place a dough third on a large piece of lightly floured parchment paper or wax paper. Using a rolling pin, roll dough 1/8 inch thick. Refrigerate again for 5-10 minutes to make it easier to cut out the cookies. Use either a cookie cutter or place a stencil over the dough and use a knife to cut into desired shapes. Press raisins, chocolate chips, or candy pieces in the center of each cookie if desired for "buttons".
4 Transfer to ungreased baking sheets. Bake until crisp but not darkened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Let sit a few minutes and then use a metal spatula to transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired.
I made one batch of dough and divided it in half to roll out cookies on two separate occasions. First, I made cookies for Jove that he put sprinkles and colored sugar on to decorate before we baked them. A few days later, I baked the rest for a play date with our mom's group. I made icing out of confectioner's sugar, milk and food coloring and the kids each got to ice a few cookies. I put a small amount of icing into plastic sandwich bags and then tore a tiny hole in the corner, so the kids could squeeze out the icing as if it was in a pastry bag. You could also give them a small dish and a toothpick or small spoon for them to apply it with, but this could get a lot messier than the bags.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
So, I want to share two things that I found recently that tap into my inner goodness and keep me hopeful about humanity. The first is freecycle. Freecycle is basically a free Craig's List. People want to get rid of things they no longer need and other people want their stuff. You can also post stuff that you want and someone may let you know that they have one they no longer need. It reduces garbage, reuses valuable stuff reducing the need for manufacturing and makes good neighbors. So far, I have given away one old Halloween costume and received wooden blocks, children's magazines, outdoor play equipment and a microwave for my mother-in-law. Freecycle exists all over the US.
It also makes me happy to know that the Internet can be put to such good use.
Another such good use I just found out about and I plan to use it soon. Kiva is an online organization that allows you to directly loan money to entrepreneurs in developing countries and receive your money back while getting information about what the recipient did. I believe in empowerment not charity. The Kiva website also offers holiday gift certificates and I think a great opportunity to teach kids about the world and helping others. It is based on the principal of microfinancing, lending small amounts of money to people who otherwise would have no access to loans. The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, Muhammad Yunus, created the first micro-financing institution the Grameen Bank. He is one of my heroes.
So, be merry this Christmas season and do good.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Happy Thanksgiving to all!! I really enjoy Thanksgiving; a celebration of the harvest, kindness and generosity and a true American holiday. We don't really do a traditional Thanksgiving meal, no turkey or cranberry sauce. But we celebrate the season's bounty and being together with family, my own small family and my husband's extended family.
Our menu yesterday was roasted squash soup; lasagna; braised, lemony spinach and pumpkin pie for dessert. I made my first pumpkin pie and we took it over to be shared with my husband's uncle's family. It was great feeling to see my early morning work disappear into appreciative mouths. Jove had helped me make it and asked about it all day; he was so happy to finally eat it and tell his cousins all about the ingredients.
We went to a late-night Thanksgiving meal at my sister-in-law's house and I felt very grateful to be included in their family celebration. It was very traditional in terms of what was served, but a very festive celebration for Thanksgiving, a lot of dancing, singing and love. It seemed to me to be the best of both cultures, a beautifully prepared meal and then a clearing of the tables for a lot of dancing.
At our own meal and at my sister-in-law's house everyone shared what they are thankful for and I thought I would leave you with a few words of gratitude:
Jove's List (not in order of importance)
My List (not in order of importance)
A growing family
Amazing friends (chosen family)
Not working and being with my children
Friday, November 16, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Black Beans and Rice
Cabbage Salad with Cilantro Dressing
Fried Egg (optional)
When I plated up last night's dinner, the colors on the plate reminded me of mint chocolate chip ice cream. The flavors, however, reminded me of something else. I love the black beans and cabbage salad combination from my days living in Costa Rica.
Cabbage Salad Recipe
3 cups shredded or thinly sliced green cabbage (1/3-1/2 of a head of cabbage)
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/3 cup of olive oil
1 lime juiced
1 teaspoon salt
a pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Whisk together the dressing and pour over the cabbage right before eating. Toss to coat.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
but, back to where I live and what there is to love (remember, i live in the bronx- so "great restaurants" is not on my list)
so here's my short list:
- the public library system
- the cultural and ethnic diversity
- the botanical garden, bronx zoo and wave hill
- bridges, trains and construction seen through the eyes of my three-year old son
- orchard beach in any season except summer
This blog entry was prompted by the wonderful day I had today with Jove, Miranda and my mother-in-law, Tati. Because it is unseasonably warm (loving it), we headed out after lunch to Orchard Beach which is actually on the farthest west coast of Long Island Sound. In the summer it is a madhouse, but in the off season it is delightful. We never swim or wade in the water, just in case you were worried for our health.
Jove collected acorns (pin oak acorns are beautifully striped). Jove and I played in the sand and enjoyed the sunny, warm day. Tati pushed Miranda in the stroller, down the boardwalk until she fell asleep. The beach and the park (pelham bay park) that contain it were designed by Robert Moses, the famous architect who designed many of new york city's landmark engineering projects. The park is the biggest in New York City (yup, bigger than Central Park) and it has many different faces: the track where I run, our bike trails, a back road to work, jove's playgrounds and today's adventure, the beach. I am so grateful to have so much green space nearby.
Later in the afternoon, we went to a Chinese Silk Dance workshop at a local library where Jove twirled until he could twirl no more. There are really cool programs offered at the two branches near us and we go often. We have seen a lot of live theater, puppet shows and musical performances at libraries. We even have a library branch at the end of our block.
Jove fell fast asleep after his bath, tired from a fun day of playing in the sand, running down the beach and twirling silk ribbons to make water, dragons and rainbows. We are lucky. Right now, I can't imagine living anywhere else.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
We hosted our mom's group for a fall craft playdate which was lots of fun. We made decoupage pumpkins and marigold bracelets and I served the pumpkin muffins and some squash soup. I pureed some of the roasted squash to make baby food for miranda. she loved it (of course). if we start to turn orange in the pictures you'll know why.
Monday, September 24, 2007
1 lemon, juiced
Peel, core and slice apples into 1/4 inch slices. Place apples in a mixing bowl and toss with the lemon juice, sugar, flour and cinnamon. Pour into a lightly buttered 9 by 13 baking dish and spread out evenly.
In another large bowl, mix together the nuts, flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon and salt for the topping. using your fingers work in the butter until pea-sized lumps are formed.
Top apples evenly with the mixture and bake for 45 minutes rotating the pan once while cooking.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
here's this week's menu:
monday: peanut tofu with rice and veggies
tuesday: red beans and rice with cabbage salad and fried plantains
wednesday: veggie fried rice with soybeans
thursday: going out for pizza with friends
friday: eggplant lasagna and green salad
this week's menu is very easy, the only dish that takes more than 30 minutes is the lasagna. i write the menu on a paper that i post on the fridge. the friend that i got this idea from writes her menu in chalk on a chalk slate like you would see in a cafe.
this is the best new habit i have.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
so in honor of baked goodness, here is a recipe for au gratin potatoes. but first, let me clarify, gratin is basically french for what americans would call a casserole. but, casserole is really just the name of the dish you bake it in and has nothing to do with what is in it. for me, casserole has always been synonomous with a mysterious dish of baked processed stuff brought by grandmas to potluck dinners (no offense, grandmas). so, casserole is the name of the dish and gratin means something baked in the aforementioned dish with cheese or bread crumbs on top. yummy!!
Au gratin potatoes
4-5 medium sized yukon gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 and 1/2 cups grated white cheddar cheese
1 tsp of flour
1/4 cup of milk
1/2 cup of bread crumbs (optional)
preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
in a large mixing bowl, combine the potatoes, salt, pepper and olive oil. oil the bottom and sides of a 9" by 9" baking dish and layer 1/2 of the potato mixture, and sprinkle on half of the onions and half of the cheese. sprinkle the teaspoon of flour over the potatoes. repeat the layering and pour the milk evenly over the potatoes. top with bread crumbs if so desired. bake for 45 minutes or until bubbly and potatoes are tender.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
heather agreed to be miranda's godmother (kind of a funny thing to write, considering how non-religious we both are). godparents in latin culture have more of a social role, less religious; so it is in this spirit that we asked heather to be miranda's godmother. i want miranda to have a smart, cool and independent godmother that can guide and nurture her.
when jove woke up yesterday, he asked me if i was sad and i said, why would i be sad? he said, because heather left and then he told me not to be sad because i have him and miranda to keep me company. i am sad that heather lives so far away.
yesterday, jove started pre-school. he loved it and they said he did very well. when i asked him what he liked best, he said, the playground. he goes two days a week. it is a montessori school and so far i am very impressed.
i will post some more pictures soon
Monday, September 3, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
one nutrient that is a little harder for vegetarians to get enough of is iron. with that said, i have gone through two pregnancies/births and never developed anemia. iron is found in a lot of vegetarian foods, but it is not as easily used by the body in this form (non-heme). two ways to ensure adequate iron intake is to eat a variety of iron rich foods everyday and to eat foods rich in vitamin c along with the iron rich foods. for example, i always make my beans and rice with lime juice and red peppers to combine iron and vitamin c.
for more info, click here
- whole wheat anything
- beans and lentils
- raisins and dates
- cocoa powder (my fave)
- soy beans and tofu
Saturday, August 18, 2007
These recipes meet my three requirements for the food i make: yummy, fast and cheap.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
- jove playing in the sand at my parent's house on lake huron and driving grandpa's boat (he has since told us he wants us to have a house on the beach)
- my dad and brother meeting miranda
- mini-reunion with nan and fam and maggie and bruce
- camping in the catkskills with miguel and olga's family and cousins
- jove's 3rd birthday bug party
- jove being able to swim by himself
- jove spending a lot of time with his cousins
Saturday, August 4, 2007
The best part of gardening is including Jove in the process. He is my official tomato picker, but he tells me the basil is too hard to pick. He does help me turn the basil into pesto, which is one of his favorite foods.
So, if you have lots of tomatoes and basil here are some great ways to use them up.
2-3 big tomatoes or 10-15 little ones cut into bite-size pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 oz crumbled feta cheese
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 cups loosely packed basil leaves- rinsed and taken off the stem
1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (toast 'em in a fry pan on the stove, just don't forget about them or walk away or you will set off your smoke detector like I have many times)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup water
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
put all ingredients in the blender and grind, this requires stopping and stirring a few times to make sure everything gets ground. use the sauce on cooked pasta or as a sandwich spread