Monday, August 29, 2011

begin again

New uniforms and clothes, the smell of freshly printed composition journals, the new pens and funky pencils, the excitement in their eyes ~ I love the beginning of a new school year!!!

My son, Schaeffer, is off and running as a new 1st grader at Frank Elementary. His favorite "class" remains recess and he's most concerned with the gift that his friend (hint: girl...) has given him and how to show appropriately express his appreciation. Will he give her back the gift (not suggested during our family dinner last night), will he surrender his new yellow motorcycle eraser, or will he purchase a new gift for her. The stress of it all!! It's been an ongoing love saga since Pre-K.

Madi, my daughter, is in her 11th year at Awty International and we now begin the serious work of the official IB program along with the journey of college selections. So this morning.... well, I couldn't be more blessed to have a teenager who sees me leaving a meeting at her school, waits for me to come out, and asks me to walk her to class just so we can "chat". Then, she willingly and without prompting gives me a hug and a kiss, and proceeds to yell out of the classroom door, "I Love You, Mommy!". Seriously???!!!! WOW! HONORED to be her mommy!!!

Speaking of Awty, we have a new headmaster and I couldn't be more thrilled!! He's an academic scholar I've followed for quite some time so one can imagine my excitement over his arrival. I'm like a kid in a candy store. I walk around the campus just hoping to run into him. No, I am not stalking him. I've not even officially met him just yet. I'm controlling myself. Thank you. Yes, it's hard. He's so smart and I just can't wait to hear what comes out of his smart mouth from his smart brain!!! Pitiful, I know. To justify my obsession, I'll say that it might be similar to a young monk awaiting his first meeting with The Dalai Lama. Yes, it's THAT cool!!!

Cheers ~ stef

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What's up, Cupcake!

EXOTICALLY flavorful and exquisitely beautiful...Pineapple and Coconut Cupcakes. Two secrets: add a splash of pure almond extract to the frosting which helps stabilize the extreme sweetness with a bit of earthy flavor. Finally, put the pineapple chunks on the bottom of the paper casing and then fill with the cupcake mixture. It's like a secret surprise at the end that just makes these little clouds even more delicious!!! These precious works of art took hours to make, but every single second was worth it! I so wish for a smellablog!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


A friend rescued me from a 48 hour crying session (a.k.a. our first makeover here on Gardenia Island) about a year ago with these beautiful white flowers. Facing the lack of proper flower holding space in the mess of a redo, she sat them upon this old and rickety ladder that was once my mother's. I thought they looked absolutely delicious in front of the new pale blue color of our living room walls. The old rickety ladder has its own story, which certainly deserves its own independent blog. Another time.

P.S. Thanks Alison for the pic!

Cheers ~ stef

Saturday, June 18, 2011


It's late and I am still awake. There's something about the house when it is sleeping that intrigues me. I'm not usually up at this hour, but when I am I find myself very interested in the nothingness of the night.

News: Schaeffer lost his first tooth on Wednesday and Madi is now an official driver! They grow up so so so fast!! My family set up Skype so that we can see Madi when she's in Spain. I can't believe she leaves Tuesday!!

This weekend is a no-kids weekend so Kelly and I will be working around the house on a few projects. In particular, I really need to finish recovering the dining room chairs.

This is a rather boring post, I know. Sometimes though, you just gotta blog.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thoughts and Spain

It's late. Well, for me it is late. It is almost midnight and I just revised a previous blog which means that I should really pull it down in the morning and look at it again. Awake.

My oldest child (OC) and I spent the day preparing for her departure to Spain with things like vision and dental appointments and a meeting with the banker. It was a grande day and yes, I'm nervous that she is leaving the country in order to study abroad, which was my idea. REALLY???!!! STUPID MOTHER!!!!!!!!! STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!!! No...good mother...good, good, good for the OC. Bad for the mother's nerves, but that's our secret. You see, I must NEVER let on that I'm actually scared shitless about this adventure...NEVER!!! I cannot send her across the ocean worrying about mommy's feelings so I must be BS2. BS2 is our little secret, and is NOT about bullshit!!!

We'll finish shopping and the what-nots next week, and then she'll leave the week after. OH MY GOD!!!! WTF have I done!!!????!!!! Okay, it's okay, she's going to an established school with an established program and it's all very established. So was the Bush administration. NO...I will NOT think negatively. I will NOT!

Till tomorrow...stef

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dead Chickens

Chicken soup...even though I am a vegetarian, it still smells really good! I definitely don't CONSUME chicken soup; but I do make it for my family come illness time and today is Kelly's day. Poor Thing!!! Kelly is yucky sick and has been in bed since yesterday, so chicken soup is definitely in order!!! I always make a different version of chicken soup so here's my recipe for today.

WAIT Before you read the paragraph below, read the SECRETS first!!! I will make "the difference"!! Yes, I could have placed the secrets before the paragraph, but that would have left one without the opportunity to use their mouse to scroll down and without the question as to which this sentence attempts to answer. How boring.

I begin by sautéing about 2 cups of chopped celery (stems and all ~secret: the stems actually hold the most flavor~), 1 chopped large yellow onion, and 4-6 (or 7-8!!!) cloves of chopped garlic in approximately 1/3 cup of EVOO (see secrets). After the veggies have sautéed for a few minutes (and that depends on the length of my patience, just don't burn them!!!), I add s/p (salt and pepper) to them because a little bit of salt brings out natural flavors in everything, and pepper...well, it just gives it that nice "peppery" flavor. Next, I add fresh herbs. See secret #3 about this because it is VERY important and one day it might make you feel hugged. After the veggies and herbs have had time to get to know each other (again, dependent on my patience, and the color of the veggies ~ secret: almost translucent~, and the herbs ~ secret: still greenish~, I add 32 ounces of vegetable broth. I make my own broth, but on a sneaky occasion I use an organic, sodium free, veggie broth from a paper-box-like container. Then, I add 4-6 cups of water, depending on how much room there is in the pot. Finally, I jump into my latex surgical gloves and very carefully add two or three large pieces of DEAD CHICKEN (~secret: important that it is bone-in, freshly dead, and organic). I then cover it with a lid and allow it to come to a boil. Once it's boiling I turn the heat down the low and let it cook for as long as my patience allow. At some point I add the lemon. You really need to read secret#4 about this process as it is not only….well, just read it!! Finally, I NEVER serve chicken soup without cooking it for at least 3 hours, but after that...good to go! O, I forgot…you have to pull the chicken off the bone and of course, discard the bones before you serve it. And I do that right before I serve it so that my carnivorous family enjoys the taste of the bone in their dead chicken. Thank you, carnivorous family.

If you choose to make this dish according to these suggestions, or any other recipe for that matter, please let me know how it turns out! I’d appreciate it. Thanks!


1. The EVOO is not just extra virgin olive oil, it is also first cold press...which is actually the most important quality of an olive oil.

2. Let's talk about s/p: Salt and Pepper. I use kosher salt for everyday cooking. I keep it out in a cute little bowl with a cute little spoon, and it’s just cute!!! It also enables whatever it is that I’m cooking to show its true colors, or flavors. I am completely and totally addicted to my peppermill and you will NEVER consume pre-ground or pre-contained pepper in my home. NO, NO, NO!!! I grind my pepper (either in a coffee grinder if I’m doing a BIG cook, or just from the peppermill for daily cooking) right before I use it. It really makes a difference that continues to amaze the consumers of my food. They take a bite and then look up with awe-struck eyes…how did she do that??!!??!! I really never simply say that it’s all about fresh, natural ingredients; instead I just blink my eyelashes and enjoy the compliments. Tacky. I know. Totally selfish. Sorry.

3. Now, about the herbs and the lemon... Listen, if you are brave enough to grow your own herbs, USE THEM!!! You can make anything with a variety of herbs. If you don’t grow your own, IT IS OKAY!! The grocery store and farmer’s markets will happily sell them to you for a fine penny. Today, I used fresh rosemary and thyme ~ a small handful of rosemary and a larger handful of thyme. Instead of stripping the stems of these 2 herbs I just dropped them in the soup because they fall off their stem. JUST REMEMBER TO TAKE THE STEMS OUT BEFORE SERVING!!!

4. The lemon: I just happened to be enjoying a gin and tonic with fresh squeezed lemon juice while making the chicken soup. I really don’t like to waste food (I compost, duh), and I needed to hide the evidence of my “almost noon” beverage; so after I cut the poor little lemon in half and borrowed some of its juice for my beverage, I dropped the 2 halves of the lemon into the soup. Seriously! It gives it just a hint of lemon/citrus flavor and it takes care of the evidence. Brilliant. Until you blog about it.

Finally, with all of these fresh, lively (except for the chicken) ingredients, one could name this dish a number of sophisticated names. Here are a few I’m considering:

Dead Chicken Soup with Lemon and Thyme (notice I didn’t include the rosemary in this title…it’s OKAY…no need to tell them EVERTHING!!!)

Chicken Soup with rosemary and lemon (sounds very official, doesn’t it!?!)

Chicken Soup (seriously? NO!!)

Soupe de gobble gobble with fresh herbs (silent h…that is…) Although, I think gobble, gobble represents a turkey, which you could sub for the chicken!
I’ve not settled on the official name yet, but one day it will come to me.

The Vegetarian who loves her carnivores,


Monday, February 21, 2011

Breezes and Compost

Today I feel the soft breeze coming through the open windows here on Gardenia Island. I am cleansed, refreshed, and renewed by the breezes. There is overcast in the sky, but no rain. YUMMO ~ life is delicious!!

Yesterday I began my first official batch of compost. Oddly enough, it smells really good ~ kind of like rosemary and clean dirt.

Life is good.