Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sandy Stinks

That Frankenstorm, Super Storm, or whatever people are calling it was horrendous.  It's aftermath left NY in shambles and left me feeling helpless.

It's not about it ... it shouldn't be, but I'm emotional seeing what my home is going through... for many transplants that left NY ... NY will always be our home.

It irks me how people are calling it a joke... the people who are saying that... I'm quick to delete.  I don't need to associate with people who have zero compassion.

I'm just venting.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hunkering Down For Sandy

I imagine everyone in the US, Caribbean & most of Europe are well aware of Hurricane Sandy.  I'm sure all the people on the East Coast, particularly in the North East are well aware that as Hurricane Sandy travels North West and is expected to hit land today before it travels up the Eastern Seaboard there is another storm approaching.  A Winter storm from the North that will collide with Sandy creating what Meteorologist have now coined the Frankenstorm.

This is a storm with pressures that the East Coast has never before seen or experienced (at least since such events have been measured & recorded).  I'll be honest - that's what scares me the most.

The part that bothers me the most is my proximity to my family... or lack thereof.

My family is located in Queens, NY.  Thankfully they are a few miles outside of the evacuation zones.  The part that scares me about this is that on Saturday, my Grandma was discharged from the Rehab she was staying at for 1 month, while her broken arm healed.  I don't want her to experience any discomfort or lack of necessary care at home.... that includes losing power or not having enough to eat.  On the good side, she's within very close proximity to 2 of her cousins & 1 of her sons.  The other son is a bit further away, but given decent weather conditions, he would find it easy to get to her if she needed help.  And the saving grace is that my sister & brother in law are in the house with her.  If I was in NY, I'd have definitely hunkered down for the storm at her home with her.

I also worry about my mother & my baby brother and sister.  They live in Putnam county... in lake country surrounded by large trees.  I worry less about flooding because they live at a high elevation compared to the lakes, however, the trees.  Even the smallest storms seem to fall trees causing them to lose power (and thus the ability to cook or have heat!)  A Fireplace only warms the livingroom and even then, only barely.  Thankfully this is the fall and not the winter.

My Mother in Law lives alone... close to my Grandma.  She has a giant tree above her bedroom.  We urged her to sleep in the guest room - because you never know.  I hate that she's alone.

In the end I just hope everyone is safe!

We are prepared here in Boston - Paul & I are working from home.  I made banana bread last night, I bought a case of water and filtered a few pitchers just in case.  I made tuna pasta and a salmon salad - you know, in case I can't use my stove - which I think I still might be able to even without power.  So I think we have what we need... the only thing we don't have is family.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pomegranates for Chreap

Today I stopped at Aldi to get some staples before the storm And for the week. They had pomegranates for about $1 each so I picked up 2. I never opened one before. They are so weird. This one was on the dry side but still tasty. Paul and I are snacking on them while watching the Giants game.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Seasons: Why I love the North East

I've never lived anywhere other than the North East, but I've traveled quite a bit.  One of my favorite things about home - whether that home be in NY or in MA ... are the seasons!  I don't necessarily LOVE all the seasons, but I do love having seasons.

My favorite is probably early Autumn... I love the cooler mornings and still sunny warm afternoons.  I love the bulky sweaters and thick socks.  I love the colors of the leaves.  I love pumpkins & spice & apples!  I love the afghans sitting on laps while sipping tea.  I really love it all!

Soon comes winter - and I love the quiet of the winter.  Even when living in Manhattan - a snow storm would quiet the whole city leaving a blanket of clean white.  In the country, the snow lasts for days, fluffy & inviting.  Snowboots and wool socks, winter hats & mittens.  The hot cocoa & a treat with a blanket & a book.  The baked pastas & roasted hearty vegetables, the holidays & of course ... the Snowboarding!  I love almost all things winter... but it's a love hate affair.  I hate the mucky slush the day after snow.  I hate the dark mornings & dark nights during the work week.  I hate the draft from our old windows.  I hate digging out my car to get to work.

Spring's longer days become inviting and energizing.  The lime green beginnings of leaves & grass are cheerful.  The warmer days encourage activity and socializing.  But the allergies stink, taxes stink, and the end of snowboard season double stinks!

Summer then comes with it's sweltering humid heat.  This is by far my least favorite season.  Though, beautiful and green, I feel lazy and tired during the heat of summer.  The beaches aren't as entertaining as they were when I was a child.  However, the camping trips, and bike rides & hikes & boats ... and even the beach still excite me during this time of year.  And lets not even get into the fresh produce!  LOVE THAT!

I could never be happy living anywhere else - because I truly enjoy our seasons... I love the change.  I love the cyclical nature of it all.  I love that I know what's next.  I love the variety.  It keeps life interesting!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Butternut Squash & Parsnips Baked Pasta

Last week's CSA share included a butternut squash, parsnips, shallot & leeks... among other yummy vegetables!

My boss mentioned how excited she was to make her favorite pasta dish with her share.  It is a butternut squash baked pasta dish and is a cooking light recipe.  I asked her to share the recipe and it turned out pretty good.  As usual I didn't measure anything - so when the parsnip flavor was a bit overwhelming, I really had no one to blame but myself.

This recipe reminded me a lot about a recipe my friend Jerry made for me a few times.  It was so good and he has taught me to make it but I rarely do because of the thick fattening cream sauce.  While making the recipe from Cooking Light, I realized I can use the same technique in Jerry's recipe & cut much of the fat.  This was a very exciting revelation because I love baked pasta dishes, especially when those pasta dishes consist of squash or sweet potato.  I may just leave the parsnips out and roast those to eat solo from now on.

This is a terrible picture but... at least I took one.... AFTER we ate 1/2 the tray haha

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Finances & Budgeting

Have you ever taken a real hard look at where you spend your paycheck every month?  Paul and I recently hired a financial advisor and he made us do just that.  We had to break up our cash flow for an entire year.  When we saw how much was supposed to be left and how much was actually left - we got a good picture of how unrealistic we saw our spending.

Since then, we've both taken a serious effort in being aware of where we are spending money.  By doing this, we've been able to curb our spending quite a bit.  It forced us to look at our cell phone bills, our car insurance, our utility costs, and even our gas costs.  The place we've been able to make the biggest impact on spending has been on groceries & clothing.

I never grocery shop unless I need things that will fulfill a few days worth of meals.  Otherwise, I adjust what I had planned to make for what we have currently in the house.  I'm mostly able to do this because we participate in the CSA providing us with 24 weeks of fresh produce.  Without this, I'd likely need to make at least weekly trips to the market for produce.  We regularly dig into our freezer and stretch our meat proteins as far as we can.  We primarily drink water. 

We also never go shopping for clothes or house goods unless we truly need them.  Granted, we occasionally have an event we'll want a new shirt or dress for, but even then, we look to our closet 1st.  We replace old worn clothing with new, but try and buy on sale and we don't buy things just because we like them.  We only grab them if we know we need them.

Even with these changes - we've still fallen short on saving the amount we are expected to save based on our model.  It's been a lot of work but we've come pretty close.  My goal is to save a particularly large sum in 3 months.  Its pretty aggressive, but I think we can do it by continuing to be smart about our spending.  I hope setting a hard and firm sort term goal will hold us accountable and get us there.

Do you practice any good budgeting practices?  We could use any advice you are willing to dish up!

Patience and Tolerance

“I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strangely, I am ungrateful to these teachers” - Kahlil Gibran
I lack both patience & tolerance.  Some days I do better than other's but I do know that I need to work on this.  I have many weaknesses, but the most noticeable is most definitely my intolerance & impatience for others & my inability to relinquish control.

I tried to look deeply within myself to think about why I might be like this and I came up with many possibilities during this self reflection. 

1 - all the women & many men in my family are like this... is this a learned trait?

2 - I fear that if I relinquish control, things will not move the way I intended ... but does that really matter?

3 - I always think that I'm right and therefore other's are wrong... no not always, but enough times?

4 - I like the feeling of other's looking to me for help and support when it comes to particular topics... possibly though I'm not certain this is a reason.

I have no idea what makes me like this but I know I am.  I think that my patience & tolerance levels are so low mostly because I fear losing control.  Am I like this with everyone?  Most likely.  I know I've been this way with my husband, my family & my friends.  I've likely been like this with God.  Who knows how many times I stopped something great from happening because I was so busy making sure something good would.

I think I need to learn how to take a step back - and breath - and have patience and allow other people to come in, to allow God to do His thing, and most of all, be at peace when things don't happen as I pictured them. 

Now for my intolerance of certain people & their opinions and views - that is a whole other ball game I need to work on.  With the rise of social media came the rise of spewing ignorance and or opinions.  I shouldn't judge people by where they stand on topics ... especially topics that are so unimportant.  I have been so turned off by my friends & family because of the BS they post on FB and other social sites.  Should I really care about what they write?  No - I shouldn't.  But sometimes I read the negativity that is constantly coming out of their mouths or seeing the hypocrisy behind what they & how they live and it makes me want to call them out on it... but what good would that do me?  What good would that do them?  Then I'd be just like them... spewing negativity while complaining about theirs?  It's like a stupid cycle of ... stupid!

I need to snap out of it.  I need to update my FB so I see only positive feeds lol... which honestly I did start to do - if you see the # of people I'm friends with but are blocked from my news feed, you'd laugh... it's at least 1/2.

Anyway - here is to recognizing 1 of my weaknesses and hopefully making myself accountable enough and encouraged enough to change!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What to do with all our apples?! - Apple Butter & Sauce

Do you have a slow cooker?  If you do - you are in for a treat!  Homemade apple sauce is easy on the stove top but even easier in the slow cooker!  Apple Butter is a long and tedious task on the stove top but with a slow cooker it makes it a cinch!  Try it for yourself!

Apple Sauce 

6-8 medium apples
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon (may omit)
1 cup water

  • Peel, core & roughly dice your apples.  I fill my crock pot until it is 2/3 full.
  • Add sugar, water & cinnamon & stir 
  • Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours
You can use less sugar if your apples are sweet or add more if necessary.  Extra apple sauce can be frozen.  If you are using glass containers, me sure to leave head space for expanding.

I also made a batch sugar & spice free to use for baking!

Apple Butter

6-8 medium apples
1 cup sugar
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tps freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp clove
1 tbs lemon juice
dash of salt

  • Peel, core, & roughly dice apples.  I fill my crock pot until it's 2/3 full which can take more apples if they are on the small side.
  • Add lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove & salt - stir
  • Cook on low for 12 hours - remove cover & cook another hour to allow liquid to evaporate.  You can cook this up to 2 days with no problems.  I usually don't time it and cook it until I have the time to process it.  
You can use less sugar if your apples are sweet or add more if necessary.  Spice can me adjusted for flavor preferences (I sometimes add more cinnamon & all spice).  Extra apple butter can be canned or frozen - leave head space for expanding.

Apples - ready to begin cooking!

Apples after about 12 hours of cooking

Apple Butter with buttered toast or cream cheese on crusty bread for breakfast... mmmmmm

That's it for my apple recipes so far.  If you have any ideas - share, please!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cloth Pad & Diva Cup Update - TMI ALERT

This will be talking about my menstrual cycle - if this turns your stomach I suggest you stop reading now!

I recently wrote about how I purchased my 1st set of cloth pads here & have written a bit about my experiences using a Diva Cup here and here

Diva Cup Update

I've been using the Diva Cup since August of 2009 and could not be happier with the switch.  I find that I feel cleaner, more confident & less limited while using a menstrual cup instead of a tampon and/or pad.  I still find that on my heavier days I'm able to fill the cup quickly and need to empty it & wear a panty liner or light pad for just in case.

The Diva cup has changed the way I travel, snowboard & camp.  All the activities that became very difficult during my cycle are now within reach.  The clear downside is the cramps! 

Snowboarding with my Period - then and now
In the past I'd load my snowboard outerwear pockets with tampons and many times find that I'd get to the bathroom just too late.  I'd have a mess, no easy way to get out of it, and feel damp and nasty.  Not to mention - the tampons would be crushed 1/2 the time from falls or awkward movements.  Now I don't have to worry about that.  During my heaviest days I still take a few more breaks than maybe necessary just to make sure I don't have any accidents.  I also wear a pad or liner just in case. 

Camping & Rafting with my Period - then and now
I love camping and a rafting trip is always part of the itinerary.  In the past I had to make frequent trips to the camp bathroom which was always damp, dirty & the opposite of private.  After washing my hands of all the camping grime, I'd have to change my tampon.  Before I knew it, I was back in the bathroom doing it all over again.  During rafting trips I regularly found myself hiking my way through poison ivy looking for a private place where I could fish the zip lock baggy of tampons out of my lunch sack and do an exchange.  It was gross and the opposite of ideal.  Now I'm able to bring 2 Diva Cups with me.  I wash 1 while wearing the other and store it in my toiletry bag for when I'll need it next.  If I have access to a bathroom, I empty my cup, rinse it and pop it back in... if I don't, I remove it, clean it off with toilet paper & keep it to clean more thoroughly later while popping in the clean one.  During rafting trips - I just don't do anything at all.  I haven't found the need to change it during the 4-6 hour trips!  It's great!

Traveling with my Period - then and now
Traveling used to be such a hassle... I'd never know if I was going to have my period or not.  I'd take a bag of feminine products only to not need them... then on other occasions have nothing and need them desperately.  Now I have my diva cup (2 in fact) and I just pop it into my toiletry bag and I have it wherever I am.


How I clean it
The directions say to boil the diva cup at the end of your cycle to sterilize & to wash it during daily use in the Diva Cup soap ... or a non oil based soap that is unscented.  I almost NEVER do this.  I use some unscented Dr Bronners baby soap and water... that's it.  I've been doing this with the same bar of soap I purchased in 2009... and I still have about 1/2 left.  I've seen no degrading of my Diva Cup and the cost savings are obvious.  I know that the website discourages this but many people have used it finding it to be fine!


Why I do it
I use a menstrual cup for many reasons and I will list them below:
  • I am reducing my carbon footprint and my contribution to landfills
  • It does not contain leaching chemicals, synthetic materials, dyes, etc.... that have been identified by some as a carcinogen (read here)
  • I feel cleaner & it makes my life easier
  • I'm more comfortable
  • I have less accidents
  • I save tons of money!

Cloth Pad Update

I am immensely enjoying my cloth pads.  The only down side is that I wish I had more of them.  I purchased a starter pack from Pleat on Etsy for about $24.  They came with an overnight, a regular & a liner.  I've used all three and have found them to be very effective.

I used the regular during the day during my heaviest day in conjunction with my Diva Cup.  It stayed in place and was very very comfortable.  I did not get any discomfort that I usually get when wearing a maxi pad (especially with the dry weave).  In the evening I wore the overnight pad and found it to be absorbent enough, but a little short.  I leaked a bit similar to how I leak with a disposable.  I found that I'd need an extra long pad for over nights.  The light pad I used during the day to supplement my Diva Cup during a moderate flow day.  I found that it helped up quite well.  There was a tad more shifting compared to the regular & overnight sizes, but still found them comfortable.  The biggest down side was not having enough.

Today I put in another order with Pleat for 2 more liners and 2 more regular pads.  I believe these will be great to use in conjunction with my Diva Cup during the day and for the tail end of my cycle when I prefer just to use a liner.  I did not choose to order another overnight pad as I felt they were too short.  Instead I will look at longer pads through other vendors.

I am currently looking at the Pink Lemonade Shop at Etsy for their 11 inch over night pad & their 13 inch post partum pad.

How I use them
I use them no different than you would a normal pad.  They law on top of your panty and have a small snap to attach underneath.  I don't even feel it there.  When I need to change it, I rinse it under cold water and throw it in the garbage pail that I use for my family cloth wipes in the bathroom.  I find that because I use them to supplement my Diva Cup, I do not have to change them while I'm at work.

How I wash them
Because I rinsed them, they are usually a bit damp.  I throw them in the wash with the rest of my family cloth & run them through a regular cycle.  I use my regular homemade laundry soap & vinegar as a fabric softener rinse aid.  Then I line dry them like I do mots things.


So far I've been beyond satisfied.  Would you try any of these things?  Do you think they are just crazy?


What to do with all our apples?! - Apple Puff Pastry!

Apple Galette Recipe

Apple & Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash


I felt like desert but I didn't feel like doing all the work.  The galette dough I made ahead was in the freezer and I wasn't up to thawing it out.  So while at the grocery store I bought some puffed pastry.  With some inspiration from The Pioneer Woman & Martha Stewart I made my own.

This is definitely the no brainer cheat recipe!  And I called it a tart and get bombarded with people asking if it was a puffed pastry... bah - its good!  Who cares what to call it!

So here is what I did ....

1 sheet of store bought puff pastry
3 TBS homemade apple sauce (or a good quality store bought)
1 Apple - cored and THINLY sliced
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 TBS Sugar
1 egg - beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

  • Thaw your puff pastry sheet on the counter or refrigerator according to the box directions.  Slice the thawed dough in 1/2 and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
  • Toss thinly sliced apples with sugar, cinnamon & freshly grated nutmeg in a large bowl
  •  Brush edges of puffed pastry with egg wash being careful to not let it drip down the edges of the dough.
  • Spoon apple sauce into center of dough and spread up to egg washed edge
  • lay sliced apples over apple sauce
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown and puffed up

I liked it better hot right out of the oven, but if you prefer to let it cool - enjoy it cool.  Or ... hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Monday, October 15, 2012

What to do with all our apples?! Apple Galette

To see What to do with all our apples?! Apple & Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash click here

We of course made another Apple Galette!  They are so good!  Of course we made this immediately!  I was lucky enough not to have to work during the Saturday of our quarter close however everyone else from my team did.  So I made one for them and dropped it off while it was still hot.  They were all grateful and they loved it... even with the whole wheat crust.  To see the recipe check here on last year's post!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Green Onion

You will not believe when I bought these green onions!  I bought these for 99 cents at Aldi back in August.  It's now mid October and I'm still using these green onions!  All I had to do was throw them in a jar with some water and they re-rooted and continued to grow.  I change the water at least every other day.  It makes me feel good that I'm not being wasteful, I rarely have to run to the store for green onions, and I saved money!  Why not!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

What to do with all our apples?! - Apple & Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash!

So far we've thought of many many delicious things to do with our apples!

I found this recipe for Sausage Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash over at and felt utterly inspired.  I had very few of the ingredients on the recipe so I made my own adaption and it turned on great!

The Acorn Squash
I lightly rubbed olive oil, salt & pepper on my halved acorn squash & placed them face up on a baking sheet to roast for 40 minutes at 400 degrees.

The Filling
Again I used what I had on hand and I did not measure anything so these are guestimates!

1/2 bulb of fennel
1 1/2 - 2 Sausage Links - Mild Italian
1 Clove Garlic
1/4 Finely diced onion
1 Apple - peeled, cored & diced
3-4 TBS Panko Breadcrumbs
1 Egg
Parmesan Cheese for sprinkling

Brown the sausage without casings until fully cooked.  Drain off oil and add onion, garlic, fennel & apple.  Sautee until tender.  Add sausage to vegetables & heat through.  Take off heat and stir in panko bread crumnbs and 1 egg.  Stir to combine.  Stuff inside cooked acorn squash & sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Return to oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Enjoy!

This recipe was soooo good & a definite hit for Paul & I.  We will be making this again - possibly this week! =)

Apples Galore!

We go apple picking annually and some times a few times a season.  We don't particularly love apples, but I grew up going apple picking with my grandparents & mother and cousins and siblings... and basically anyone who wanted to go - we packed the car and went.  We'd spend the whole day at the orchard picnicking with Filipino Fare.  It was so fun, so good, and just loaded with memories.

When Paul and I started dating, I introduced him to this tradition and it's quickly became one of ours.  We've managed to go every year... including a year we decided to go in Kentucky, where he was living at the time. They are always filled with smiles, apples, apple treats & of course apple pies once we get those babies home!

This year we went to Smolak Farms  not once, but twice!  And we've been using our apples ever since!

Here are the photos from today's apple adventure!

This was the sign on the road to the "Secret Orchard" - yes that's it's name.  It's the last orchard they pick from of the season and that's where we were.  They only had Cortlands and Macs left... and that was good enough for me.  I kind of wish I could be a resident though... imagine living on a private road with no neighbors save for a farm... oh wait - and the 100s of weekend warrious there to pick their own at the farm?  Scratch that.

Last time they let me drive the apple truck - this time we thought it'd be fun if Paul got a turn

He always smiles when he gets a good apple!  This smile is how he stole my heart!

 This is his I'm a serious guy face.  I don't believe it much either.

 I told him to stand in the sun so the shadows don't ruin the picture... apparently Paul can't open his eyes when facing the sun... woops!

Yes, he does crazy things like this... and this is only 1 of many awkward public poses he performed at the orchard.  (Picture him crouching and flexing imaginary muscles in the farm store to convince me that buying 1/2 a dozen cider donuts would be bad for his physique!)

Yes, sometimes Paul takes my picture too.  It was a balmy 40 something degrees this morning.

There is our mid-sized carving pumpkin.   It's speckled with green and mostly round with a great curved stem.  I thought it was great.  I think Paul wanted one triple it's size!

I love this farm.  I love the set up, the people & the homey feel... but most of all - I love the view!

 Didn't you know that pumpkins grow on trees?
no you don't believe me?
here is proof!
 Pumpkin tree!

 I liked the Oregon Trail esqueness of this photo haha
No one died of dysentery in the making of this photo

Don't lie... you live in the North East because you love all of the seasonal changes too right?  No?  You don't?  Well screw you and move to Florida!

So many delicious apples!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Our Wedding

Today I thought back to our wedding and jumped onto our wedding website for the 1st time in FOREVER!

643 days since we were announced as Man & Wife in front of Family, Friends & God.


Monday, October 8, 2012


We have so many apples - apple pie, apple gallette, apple sauce, apple butter, apples apples and more apples!

we also have TONS of cabbage.

And Kale

And Lettuce

And raddishes (I don't like raddishes that much)


Send me recipes & ideas

Most of the other goodies I already have ideas for - many many ideas =)