Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Tradition: Make Homemade Cascarones (confetti eggs)

Easter is probably my favorite holiday with Thanksgiving being a close second. Imagine that, two holidays that really stand out with food and sweets! Growing up, I was very lucky that my mother held tightly onto traditions. She built these traditions into our family and I’ve now passed on those traditions to my girls. Easter dresses, chocolates, grilling, and cascarones (confetti eggs)!

The Goods

--Egg shells

--confetti

--food coloring/dye + white vinegar…to color eggs

--1/4 c flour + water…natural glue

--tissue/crepe paper (squares large enough to cover the egg)

The Process

To make your own you will need egg shells. This requires some planning—saving of shells or some epic baking. I decided to start saving our shells for the past month. This means you save the shell and the egg carton. You rinse off the inside of the shell, and let them dry until you are ready for use. My family eats a lot of eggs. Plus, I made some homemade goodies, so we had 11 dozen shells to decorate and fill.

Step One – Prepare Work Area

Have a decent sized work space and be sure to cover with newspaper, plastic wrap, etc. Also, have on hand, spoons, paper towels, refreshments (because this is gonna take some time), and some music. Also, wear some work clothes!

Step Two – Color Eggs

Lay out your eggs, boil your water, and measure out vinegar/food coloring for dyeing eggs. Need help with that? Check out these gals.

Note: Brown eggs DO NOT color as great as white eggs.

Step 3 – Fill Eggs with Confetti

When your eggs have dried, place them back in the carton and fill the shells with confetti! If you are NOT like me, you already have your confetti and have had it for a while. If you are like me, then you have to take your trusty Marta Stewart Fringe scissors and make some confetti! (see, now you know the REAL reason why it takes so long!) You give up making confetti and you dive into your decorative stash of flakey glitter and fill your eggs because your smallest one has gotten into the glue and decided to paint herself and the dog. Much excitement, for sure!

Step 4 – Cover Eggs

So you can use regular glue, but I like to get messy! Here is where I take my flour, add a bit of water until it is just the right amount of creamy. You don’t want it runny, but a thick creamy like regular glue. Dip your finger into the glue and line the top of your egg shell. Then cover with the paper and run a layer around the top edge again to secure. Gently put aside to dry. Go to the next egg. It took my eldest about half an hour to get through a dozen. In that same time, my smallest one successfully completed one egg. And managed to get glue on herself, the dog, and all over the workplace. It was fun times watching them and just giggling. Be prepared for much laughter and complaining.

Step 5 – Let Dry

Once you have covered all of the eggs, let them dry at least over night. They are so pretty! You did a great job, you deserve a glass of wine. But you can’t have one because you have to chisel off the homemade glue from yourself, your little ones, and your dog. By the time you are done, you will just want a long bath and a nap.

Step 6 – Crack on Heads

Now the hard part is over. Go out and have some fun. Chase each other cracking the eggs on top of the heads for good luck. When it is all over, witness the aftermath on the floor. A nice storm will help wash it all away. You can also sweep it up.

Hope y’all had a wonderful Easter!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sartorial Find at Nordstrom Rack: Cobalt Blue Diane Von Furstenburg Dress

Something magical happened at Nordstrom Rack.

What a random statement, but let me back up. On Sunday evening, our new puppy chewed up my youngest daughter’s  sneakers. Completely chewed ‘em up, to where they could no longer be used. I was sad because they were her first pair of sneakers she’d picked out herself. She wasn’t very happy about it because she didn’t have any sneakers that fit. I made it a point to go to Nordstrom Rack to pick up a new pair for her. (Did y’all know they have a wonderful assortment of kids shoes for not nearly as much money as you might think? I love them for this reason.)

When I arrived, they were having a HUGE clearance on Women’s clothing. ADD kicked in and  I wanted to resist the urge, but resistance was futile. “I’ll just look.” If I found something, I might get it. I wanted to reward myself for maintaining my size for more than a year now. I’ve fluctuated some, but I’ve maintained a shape-range I’m comfortable with. Browsing wouldn’t hurt. Immediately, I found two lovely cardigans for less than $15 each! My office remains perpetually cold, so cardis are a must. Plus, they are a great layer to add on to almost any thing. While I was browsing, there was a Diane Von Furstenburg dress misplaced in the area where I was looking. The dress was on clearance, but definitely the wrong size and definitely the wrong rack (instead of the shirts, blouses, tops area—I told you it was a giant clearance sale).

I’ve gotta back up again. I grew up thumbing through the pages of Vogue magazine at the grocery store. My grandmother was an expert seamstress. During my summer visits, we made MANY trips to Cloth World, where I’d thumb through the pages of the Vogue pattern book. It was here that I was introduced to “the wrap dress.” I found it so simple, yet the lines on it so delightful. DVF became an icon to me, just like Coco Chanel. These female powerhouses with such creative energy and beautiful clothes. “Mija, some day you will own a dress designed by her! Not because you couldn’t make your own, but simply because they are beautiful dresses for women and you will be able to get your own.” I never forgot about that remark. I’ve not bought one of her dresses, in all of the clothes I’ve purchased. Certainly, clothing inspired by, but not actually one of her own. Until…

I went to the dress area and began glancing through each frock, that familiar hanger on metal squeak as you pass each one by. I went through about 50 dresses before going to the second rack. Cobalt blue always attracts my eye. My eye was drawn to the color, the brain wanted to see more.  I found it! This one. A cobalt DVF dress! This beautiful dress in my size in a price point that justified dipping into my “what if” fund—still less than my normal dress prices. So very many possibilities with this! Even better…IT HAS POCKETS!!!

Today, I will call my Abuela and tell her of this dress. Tell her how her words lived inside of me for 30 years, then mail her a photo.

It wasn’t about the designer label. It was about the memory. It was about how someone who created something 30 years ago made my grandmother feel, makes me feel the same way. That’s timeless. Truly words have power and can lay dormant for years before they emerge. Grateful for my grandmother’s words.

*and yes, I did find a replacement pair of sneakers for my little one. She was even more excited about this pair.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Open Letter to my Sugarbaby on her 3rd birthday



My dear sweet Tesla Jane,

It is hard for me to accept that three years have flown by in a hurry! Last night, when I kissed you goodnight, I paused to stare for a moment. I took a deep breath. Three years. Wow, what a ride. And you, my sweet girl, embrace all that is given to you...in your very own way. You have quite a little personality, but can be incredibly shy. Your vocabulary and comprehension levels are outstanding. You say these unintentional puns or quote things that are quite fitting and absolutely hysterical. Once I was having a frustrating moment. You could tell. You just looked at me, and erupted into "Let it go!!!" yeah, I needed to let it go and you were a good reminder for that.

We welcomed a new addition to our family in the past 6 weeks. In that time, you and Diego Jack have become best of friends! He follows you along. Together, with your sister, you all have spent hours and hours in our backyard!

You also enjoy drawing, taking things apart, helping out with chores (you are a great helper!), and having fun. You play and play and play. "Little Einstein's" is your favorite show. You love it when I do your hair. You still enjoy playing with my hair. You know what? Every time you do, I melt! You've done that same things since you were a newborn. You don't clutch and pull on my hair, you just gently pet it or run your fingers through it. I've since made it a point to have my hair brushed so you can calm yourself with it.

Your soul is gentle. You enjoy singing in church with a loud and clear voice. You also enjoy dancing in church to the music. No, not just church. You very much enjoy dancing. Right now, you are 36.5 inches tall and weigh 32 pounds. You enjoy eating pizza, berries, and most any kind of sugar we will give you. You like the crunch of corn tortillas, but say they very much hurt your throat. We think you have a gluten intolerance like your father, so we've been limiting your gluten intake and have noticed much improvement in your eczema. Your hair is still very, very curly, your eyes, a bright brown with splashes of yellow/green.

Your daddy and I are so excited to see all of the awesome experiences you will share with us this year, witness first-hand your discoveries, and smile proudly in wonder!

all my love!
-Mama.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Open Letter to My Sugarbean on Your 6th Birthday

Dearest Marisabelle,

I write this on the eve of when you turn 6.  A while ago, you’d asked for snow as the number one thing to have for your birthday. You know what? You got it a day early. Because of the snow, we were also able to celebrate your birthday together as a family since Daddy’s class was canceled. Your second birthday wish was granted when we went to Richardson Bike Mart and Daddy bought you your very first bicycle. It is a Trek Mystic, white and purple, with a white faux wicker basket, flowers, a pink bell that says “I heart my bike,” and training wheels---that I’m sure will be off in a matter of months. Just like the night before you were born, we went to have dinner at Luby’s. You wanted macaroni and cheese. Because we were feeling nostalgic, we headed out there and had a quiet family meal laughing and smiling. All day long, unaware to you, you were getting virtual well wishes for your special day. You even had a few phone calls early from your Bisabuela, Nina Dani, and Nino Nono to wish you well!

When we were home, we rushed to get you ready for bed since tomorrow would be a long day. Right now you have a cough. This seems to be the case for you when the weather shifts to really cold temperatures. The cough stays until it gets much warmer and more humid. We give you honey and rub Vick’s on your feet and chest to help you sleep at night. This seems to work better than any prescribed medications. After lathering you up and giving you a spoonful of honey, Tesla walked in giving you your birthday dress. You see, we started this tradition long ago. Before Tesla was here, your big brother Guapo would give you a new dress to wear. This year’s number is a navy blue dress with hot pink/fuchsia lining and a fuchsia belt. You loved it! You can’t wait to wear it.

Tomorrow morning, I’m setting my alarm early to get up and capture your face to your room full of balloons and streamers! After we dress, hopefully we are early enough for me to take you for your birthday donut with a candle. Then, I’ll take you to school. For lunch, I will bring you your requested Chick-fil-a grilled nuggets, apple slices, and apple juice. I’ll hand over your darling cupcake/cake for your class’s afternoon snack. It is also the 100th day of school. You will be taking 100 gummy bears, as well. God bless your teacher with all of the sugar you kiddos will be devouring. That evening, we will have a girls night in, watching movies, and snuggling. I’m sure I will have fits of proud tears all day long, as I’m doing right now as I type this.

You are such a strong-willed child with quite the vocabulary. You have a very unique fashion sense and quite a personality, too! I’m humbled most days by you. “Though she be but little, she be fierce!”---Shakespeare That quote fits you. Your spirit isn’t crushed. No matter how much society’s hand tries to conform you to their standards, you shrug it off and keep going. Like when you get marked for not following directions. You look at me, smile and say, “But Mom, I had too much energy and I couldnt’ stop wiggling. It’s just what I do. I can’t help it.” or if you aren’t listening, you will tell me, “But Mom, my brain was going really, really, really fast and I was thinking and daydreaming, I couldn’t focus to listen because I was listening to my brain. It was talking to my heart. You told me to listen to my heart! It takes a lot of energy and that’s why my brain goes so fast. I tried to explain that to them.” You know what, I admire the fact that you don’t let it affect you. Even those moments when you openly defy me and question me, inside, I couldn’t be prouder. I hope you never lose that wonder. I hope you never lose that fight. I know one day you will continue to do astonishing things, surpassing any dream I may have had for you. I know all of this will not be without struggle, but it will be worth every single bit of it.

My darling daughter, I’m so very proud of you. I’m so very honored by the person you are becoming. I love the way your mind works. The stories you tell me, the imagination you have, the empathy you have for people, and the love you have for the whole wide world. Keep trying hard, every single day. Mommy loves you so very much!

signing to you,

-Mommy

mari6th

Monday, February 3, 2014

Recipe Monday: Tom Kha Soup


Goods:

1 clove garlic (sliced)
1 can heavy creamy coconut milk (I use the kind from Trader Joe's. It's perfect for this.)
2 cups of veggie broth (I use my leftover whey from this recipe and add a tablespoon of better than bouillon veggie-chicken flavor)
Bunch of cilantro (chopped)
1 bag of cremini mushrooms (some recipes use straw mushrooms, but I don't like the canned ones and dried are hard to find. I like the earthiness of cremini and they are more available)
1 tablespoon lemongrass (I use the dried kind. Fresh adds a great flavor, but a PAIN to eat/dig out)
1/2 tablespoon herbs de provence
1 lime
a bit of ginger (I don't usually have fresh ginger and inadvertently forget this step almost always)
2 tablespoons butter (unsalted)
pinch of salt
pinch of red pepper flakes (only if you want some heat. my girls don't like that kind of heat so I will skip it but add to my soup)

Process:

Medium to medium high heat, melt your butter in a pan. Add your diced garlic. If you like extra garlic, go for it. Add your pinch of salt and the mushrooms. Get those nice and coated. Saute it up until they are slightly soft. Squeeze your lime juice onto the mushrooms, then add your ginger, herbs, and lemongrass. Mix them up together and give them a good saute. Add your cilantro. Give it another saute dance. You just want the greens to be lightly cooked, not full on wilted. Now add the veggie broth. Spoon out the creamy coconut milk and stir/agitate until it mixes with the rest of the liquid. Cook until bubbling.

Serve up!

*You can add fish sauce, chicken, tofu, and/or chili paste to add different elements and flavors. When I use fresh coconut, I like to get a young coconut and cut the meaty flesh into strips and add to my soup for added texture. When my girls get older, I may use fresh lemongrass more, but for now, to prevent excessive chewing, whining, and yes, even minor choking, I use the dried kind. It doesn't add the flavor in the same way as the fresh kind, but it works well enough. If you can use fresh ingredients, it'll definitely make a difference in the way it tastes. You may not always have access to fresh, though, so in a pinch, this recipe will work to hold you over until you can get to your favorite Thai spot!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Gluten Free Mexican Chocolate Cake

This recipe modified from Gluten Free Goddess found here.

We loved this cake. It was so moist and delicious. If you like the cinnamon goodness of a Mexican Hot Chocolate, then you are sure to enjoy this cake! My recipe differs from the original because I just make it gluten free, not dairy-free/vegan, too.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease and dust a 9-inch cake pan with butter and gluten-free flour. You will need a bowl for your dry goods, a mixing bowl, a 9" cake pan and maybe a couple of cupcake liners for extra batter.


Dry Goods Bowl:
1 cup all purpose GF flour (found at Trader Joe's)
3 tablespoons tapioca starch
1/2 cup sugar (because I didn't have the brown sugar, egads!)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Scant 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon instant coffee or espresso powder (decaf is fine)

Sift all dry ingredients and whisk to distribute evenly. Set aside.

Brew 1 cup of VERY STRONG coffee. Break up a bar of your favorite dark chocolate and set in a glass bowl. Set aside.

In the Mixer:
1/2 can canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup milk
Splash of OJ
3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Let that mix until it looks smoothish. Your coffee should be done. Pour your hot coffee into the bowl with the chocolate bits and whisk away to mix them together. Wipe your drool because if you like coffee and if you like chocolate, you will wonder why you've never done this before at home. Seriously, don't drink it, you need it for your cake! That chocolate melted so wonderfully with the coffee, it's like they are doing this sweet, sweet dance....gahhhh!!

Pour into your mixer with the other wet ingredients. Slowly incorporate your dry ingredients. Mix until it looks smooth and cake batter-ish.


Instructions:
Pour the batter into the cake pan. Bake in the center of a preheated oven till firm- about 30 to 35 minutes. Please keep an eye on the cake.

Cool on a wire rack. Cover and chill.


Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Thoughts on Frozen

Back at the end of November of last year, Disney released their latest animated adventure, “Frozen.” Prior to that, if you’d gone to a child’s movie, you might have seen a teaser trailer for it featuring the beloved character Olaf, the snowman who loves warm hugs and Sven, the reindeer who loves carrots.

First, I must give you some background information. I have two girls, age 5 and 2 at the time we saw the movie. Growing up, I LOVED Disney films, but I couldn’t help but grow up wondering why movies told me that my value was in getting married and having children, to be saved or rescued by a handsome prince, and that my life would be happily ever after…until I discovered Mary Poppins, but that is a story all of its own.

Later, as I grew and had daughters of my own, I realized that I didn’t have much to pull from when it came to strong female characters in Disney animated films. I’m not a man-hater or anything. I’m saying it would be nice to see strong and mighty girls, is all.  I’m not knocking the Disney princesses, because in all honesty, I wasn’t familiar with all of them when I had my own daughters. First came Mulan, and I was ECSTATIC! Then came The Princess and the Frog (yaaay, a princess of color with dreams of her own!!), Tangled (wahoo, a girl who has a best friend, great hair, and can defend herself!), and a couple of years following was Brave. Yes, yes, yes!!!

With Merida and Elinor, Disney knocked it out of the park. They nailed it! Merida was wild and lovely. You saw her “prettied” up as a princess, and she was lovely, too. But when you saw her as her real self, unapologetic for who she was, that’s when she was beautiful. The relationship she had with her mother was real. Furthermore, her mother was present and in her life, not a monster, not absent, and especially not a doormat for her husband or anyone else for that matter. They had real arguments and real struggles and the element of magic and fantasy, that sparkle that makes Disney movies, well, special.

So when Frozen came out, you can understand why it had such a high bar for me. (Caution: Spoiler Alert) I expected less traditional Disney and more girl-power Disney. Which there were some elements to of that. Sister’s before misters, right? She didn’t need someone to save her, she saved her sister. Plus, so much of that music was outstanding. So fun, so rich, so catchy, so very classic Disney, that you wanna blast it in the car and sing along, and go right ahead, because I always try to sing a duet with Idina Menzel in my car as much as possible! Kristoff, mocking her choice of becoming engaged to Hans after just meeting him that day. Olaf was delightful and the kind of true and genuine spirit of optimism and innocent hope. Part of me thinks that Elsa put all of her hopeful childhood into Olaf’s spirit. Reindeer Sven was a great character, too.

In the early part of the movie, the two girls are playing. Wild and free, it was very similar to the way my girls play together. This was a huge, positive takeaway. What transpired after the injury and how Elsa excluded her little sister Anna. This was a teachable moment we have referred to for our 5 year old.

Then there was the rest of the film that had me chewing on things, asking questions, and wondering, what?? WHAT?? what?? wait, what? :: scratches head ::

These are the questions I’ve asked myself and wondered, was the script cut short? Was the budget too much? Did they just not consider these things? Am I really dissecting a Disney film like this? Seriously Bianca, hellooooo, it’s just a movie.

First off, what about their mom? Where was she, in the shadows, so to speak. She didn’t hardly have much to say. I realize the parents died, but really? That’s it?? And even beyond that, they live in a massive palace and NO “MOTHERLY” CHARACTER whatsoever?? They didn’t have anyone male or female to show them about love and compassion? Then again, she would’ve known love and there wouldn’t be a need for plot, so there you go. And speaking of parents, where were Kristoff’s parents? How did he go from childhood ice kid to human kid of the trolls? And why did he not remember the whole scene with Anna and Elsa? Did the trolls do troll magic on him?

Speaking of people in the castle, they lived and worked with these girls ever since their parents died. They HAD to have known that Elsa has special powers. And yet, SHOCKER…they were so fearful to have discovered what she could do that immediately upon recognizing something as different, they judged her and left it to the old, “We’re so afraid of what we don’t know.” No one stood up for Elsa but her sister. What? Really?

Elsa seems distraught and torn because of her skills. In the Faerie Tale Theater’s Snow Queen that I’d seen, that was what I loved about that character. She was so unapologetically wicked. Melissa Gilbert, the girl, sets off and rescues her male friend, so already it was a powerful statement for girls! A queen embracing her gifts. A girl rescuing the male. Friendship, friends, not romantic love…

Big sister Elsa creates this amazing castle and this fabulous dress showing off some va-va-voom curves. So she wasn’t apologetic for Anna is so very complimentary to her sister, wanting to show her sister love through her words and actions. Elsa is the snow queen and thus is too afraid of the harm that will ensue as a result of letting anyone close to her. You know, I have an older sister. While I may have been an utter pest to her growing up, she never once hesitated to pay me a compliment, even during the times when she loved me, but didn’t like me a whole lot.  Elsa couldn’t have written her sister a note?  Why did she have to be totally devoid of all feelings…numb? Yes, icy and cold, duh, she’s the snow queen and because, right, women can’t control their feelings and have to run off to some remote location to recharge and cut off the world in order to deal with their issues. Or, they have too many feelings and are in constant need for feeling validated by the people that reject them the most. In the end, if they would’ve had a dialog about their feelings and been taught that feelings were ok (and not afraid of them), but most of all, to use their words to express these emotions, then we probably wouldn’t have had a plotline. It wouldn’t have stuck to the story.

Love…oh love, sisterly love right, but laced with romantic love in the plotline. You have Hans fawning over Anna (albeit with ulterior motives), then eventually Kristoff jumps in. No one wants Elsa? Elsa is too busy being self-involved to care about a piddly thing like romantic love? Ok, that’s cool. Why can’t Kristoff just be their friend? Why does it have to involve a *gasp* kiss? Then that horrible “Fixer-Upper” song. Catchy and cutesy, but did you hear the words?? “You can fix this fixer-upper”---why fix? We are all inherently broken and with baggage, but the improvement goes on the shoulders of the person. It isn’t the responsibility of someone else to fix you. They finish off the song with dialog about true love and how it is applicable to just love all, father, sister, brother (no mother?? hmmm)…true love will fix the fixer-upper. But what if you are alone (or feel alone) and you don’t have that kind of true love. Sad, but true.

That’s why I didn’t love Frozen. I would even venture to say that I didn’t particularly like it either. I didn’t hate it, I just had more hope for it. I wish there was a movie for just Olaf and Sven. I wish they would’ve developed Kristoff’s character more. I wish that Kristoff would’ve only been their friend and didn’t have to have the romantic element. I wish that they would’ve been better able to convey the love that Elsa had for Anna in a better way than just a last few moments of ALLLL BETTERRRR now, everything is unfrozen and I love you. I wish they would’ve had the trolls to teach them about love early on, too. There were too many loops that I saw they were trying to go somewhere with it, but then didn’t. I know I think about it more, though, because of the questions my little ones will ask me afterwards. Also, the expectations they’ve created in their little minds because of these impressions.

As parents, we can guide only so far, equipping our children with whatever tools we can give them. It is for that reason that when I left the movie (and most movies we watch together---even if they aren’t “real”) I had so many questions than just the happiness of watching the film. With that said, we will probably purchase the film for the girls to have at home. We will probably watch it more times than I will want to. But I will enjoy it more because of the time we share together while watching and for singing along to it. Big kudos to the song writers because even my smallest one knows most of the words to “Let it Snow.” We will, however, not go to the sing-along in the theater.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Recipe Monday: Osso Buco Bianca Style

Osso buco is translated from Italian as “bone with a hole.” (Thanks Wikipedia!) I call it delicious! I first had this dish when I was in New York and saw it on the menu. It sounded tasty and whoooo doggies it was! It wasn’t cheap, but it also wasn’t a small dish. My plate could’ve been enough for two people. Most osso buco are cooked with white wine and served with gremolata. Mine is made with marsala and tomatoes, no marsala. Also, mine doesn’t have any seasoning, ok, bay leaves. Sorry, I lied. Yes, bay leaves, but that’s it. Everything else is the natural flavors of the foods. And who doesn’t love natural? (Why yes, that’s my Texas Tech snuggie taking a peek. Yes, this is 10:30 at night and I’m watching a recorded Downton Abbey under my snuggie in the living room. Yes, this was 2nd dinner. )

GOODS

1/3 cup flour (we used gluten free all-purpose flour)

salt ( a few tablespoons)

3 T unsalted butter

1 cup celery (finely chopped)

1 cup onion (finely chopped)

1 cup carrot (finely chopped)

3 or 4 cloves of garlic (sliced)

1/2 can of San Marzano tomatoes (I like that Cento brand)

1/2 tablespoon of Better than Bouillon (chicken or beef base, both are really good)

1 cup or so Marsala (yeah, I didn’t measure—you’ve never cooked with Marsala? That’s ok, it is a wine that you find near the Port wines. I don’t know if I’d drink it, but you could if you were desperate enough, I’m sure. It adds some great flavor, though. I use the Sperone Marsala brand that’s like $8 for a liter bottle)

Water (like a large glass or so, depends on how you like the sauce)

2-4 osso buco shanks

PROCESS

  1. In a bowl, combine your flour and salt, then dredge your shanks through the breading. Make sure all sides are generously coated.
    • Tip: I like to add a bit of salt to the shanks directly before dredging through. Set aside.
  2. On medium to low heat, add your  3 T of butter to a Dutch oven (or oven safe skillet). Once the butter is melted, add your shanks and lightly brown on all sides. Use some tongs for this. Once browned, remove from your dish and set aside on a plate. Now add the onion, carrot, and celery to the delicious brown butter and fat currently residing at the bottom of your Dutch oven. Let the veggies get soft. I could be about 5-8 minutes. Now add your garlic, your better than bouillon, tomatoes, and Marsala.
    • Tip: Feel free to take a generous swig of wine while cooking, maybe not your Marsala, but something else.
  3. Stir it up. Gently break apart the tomatoes with your spoon to give it a saucy feel. he he he…saucy-sauce RAWR!
  4. Mmmm…smells, good, huh? I let it cook for about 5-8 more minutes. You should have the beginning of a delicious looking & smelling sauce.
  5. Add your osso buco to the mixture. I like to place it in, then cover it generously with sauce. Now add your 3 bay leaves to the top. Go ahead, make it a fancy triangle, I won’t judge. It’s fun!
  6. Cover with your lid (or foil if you don’t have a lid for your pan) and let it bake for an hour and a half to two hours (check it at an hour and twenty minutes, because some ovens are speedy!).
    • Tip: Pour a generous glass of your wine you’ve been drinking and watch an episode of Downton Abbey or do a yoga for wine lovers workout.
  7. When your alarm goes off, check the awesomeness! If it is cooked (meat falling off the bone, braised goodness), then remove from the oven.
  8. Here is where some recipes will have you remove the meat, then reduce the sauce and blend it finely. Not me. I like the sauce to be chunky and feel like a veggie side dish with my meat.
  9. Let cool.
  10. Place meat with a generous amount of sauce in a large bowl and serve.
  11. Enjoy! (maybe with the rest of your wine!) Cheers!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Crocheting: Beginner Slippers Great for the Polar Vortex

The other evening, I was hanging out with my cousins and we were having a good laugh at my crocheting endeavors. (Hi Michelle in Japan! Remember that MNI you hosted and I couldn’t even make a circle?!?) I’m pretty good with scarves and bulky yarn, but that’s like saying you can draw a straight line with a ruler. At the time, I was wearing my new slippers from Beanies By Stacie and my cousin liked them. I told her that I would gift them to her if she would make me a replacement pair. She smiled and we made a deal. Then we started to talk about youtube and how you can learn so much there. Especially because you can pause, rewind, and start over. DUH!

I found myself with a bit of time the next evening and happened upon this gem by someone named Emi! The next day, we had some time before my Beloved had to go to work. We found ourselves at JoAnn’s picking out yarn, using a coupon, hurrying home to make some. I discovered, I needed his foot when I made it (because I didn’t measure it), so I made a pair for myself. I watched a movie and had one slipper completed. I put on a second movie to complete the 2nd slipper.  You can see that the right one is my “learner” slipper. It is looser on my feet than the one on the left. But they still work and are quite warm.

 

I’ve since whipped up a single slipper for my Beloved and my eldest (who wanted a pair with my yarn). I hope to finish those as I have time this week.

I used one skein of yarn for my pair (size 9 womens) and should have enough to finish up the Sugarbean’s (size 11 kids). I will go through 1 skein for my Beloved’s (size 12 mens). If you want to make baby booties, I highly recommend this video by Emi, as well!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014: Adelante

I was asleep by 9:30 PM on New Year’s Eve. By my side was my youngest daughter (my Beloved is a part-time server and was out working that evening), and my eldest was tucked in bed. At 10:45, my mother called me to wish me a Happy New Year…East Coast time. And the next hour and a half, the flood of love poured through my phone. Phone calls and texts flooded through. At 11:58, my Beloved called me and on the phone, we celebrated together. In that moment, happy tears, gratitude, and joy because I could hear the elation of everyone there in the restaurant. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

My one little word this year is Adelante. This word is very powerful and holds special meaning to me. In fact, is one of the title words in a book I’ve been working on for the better part of a decade, that I fully intend to revisit this year. For you non-Spanish speakers, it means forward. But more than just forward…

adelante2014

forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead…philippians 3:13

Moving forward, moving ahead, moving in the direction that you want to go. I’ve pretty much done this my entire life, but now…now my focus is less on self and more on raising those around me, helping to push them forward. I’m constantly making goals: quarterly, yearly, 5 years, 10 years. The new year is just another starting point, a frame of reference to guide along the way. Goals for this year include travel to both coasts and possibly one international trip, writing, trying new recipes, new product reviews, monthly dates with my Beloved, quarterly artistic dates with my Sugarbean, launching a new project, and being more involved with my faith.

Happy new year to all of you! May this year be filled with infinite laughter, love, and light. Let’s go have an adventure.

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