Sunday, December 13, 2009

Its That Time of Year

Yes it is that time of year. I've given much thought to what I'd like to share with you during this frenzied month. You can relax this is not about baking one of the best cookies ever, or creating unique, must-have decorations, finding the perfect gift or looking spectacular this holiday season. This is about you and what you can do for yourself. Now isn’t that wonderful? Go ahead, get yourself a hot cup of coffee, tea or cocoa and sit back, relax and enjoy what lies ahead.

I have put together a little gift for you-the practice of self-care. I can imagine at this point at least half of my dear readers are questioning my sanity. “Now, in December?? Have you gone mad? Can’t it wait till January? I’ll make some resolutions for the new year”. Not a chance. If you don’t take care of yourself, who will? If you don’t make time to do what you love and what helps you be a better individual, who will make that time? Now that we agree lets move along to some ideas my research has turned up.

Sleep: Sleep is important for concentration, memory development and the repair to your body’s cells from the previous day.

Gratitude: Upon awakening each morning, take a few moments to express thanks for something that is important to you.

Stretch: A great way to get your body active, stretching awakens your mind, heart, circulation and metabolism.

Drink Water: A glass of water helps to re-hydrate you and awakens your joints and muscles, sending a message to your vital organs that its time to start the day.

Meditate: Take a few minutes to set some intentions for yourself each day and visualize how you would like to see your day unfold.

Are you still with me? From the time you open your eyes until this moment might total up to about 5 minutes. I think you can fit that in!

Eat: A good, healthy breakfast is the best way to fuel your body at the start of each day. Make time to eat within the first hour of waking up. My husband, John, creates some of the most delicious, healthy omelettes. He's always searching for the next perfect recipe.

Include Power Foods in your diet:

Cinnamon-lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Avocado-promotes healthy skin, rich in Vitamin E.
Garlic-boosts immunity with its antibacterial and antiviral
Japanese food-wasabi and shitake mushrooms both help to fight
cavities and the formation of plaque.
Vitamin D rich foods-oily fish, eggs, cereal and vitamins all
add extra D especially in winter when we are not often in
Honey-contains anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals and if you
can find local honey you will taste an amazing difference.
My son, Nicholas, is a firm believer in the healing
properties of Manuka Honey.
Green Tea-you know about the anti-oxidant properties of this tea
But did you know it’s the beverage of choice 10 minutes
prior to working out?
Bananas-good for regulating blood pressure, known as the “happy
fruit”, helps improve your mood.

Socialize: Make small talk, call a friend. Casual conversations help keep you sharp, improving mental function and memory. My dear friend Sheryl and I chat just about every day.

Walk: The more you walk the healthier you’ll be, physically, emotionally and mentally! My son, Christopher, has been heard to say that I (his mom) would walk across the country if they let me! He’s right.

Massage your feet: At the end of the day, place a tennis ball under one foot and roll the ball under all four corners for about 1-2 minutes for each foot. You will feel the difference! I learned this in a yoga class, it’s amazing.

Give Something Away: See what happens when you give away the simplest, easiest gift…a smile to a stranger. For more encouragement visit
My son Michael's group "The Deadly Syndrome" have participated in a fundraising Christmas Concert for the past 3 years. All proceeds go to charity. My step daughter, Donna Marie, grew her hair and then donated it to "Locks for Love", she looks great with her shorter hair and now someone else can enjoy her donation. My step daughter Francesca along with her boyfriend Jay, are a source of inspiration and support to the many people they come in contact with every day. My son Alex has donated much of his time to fundraising for the school he attends and spent a summer teaching English to members of a small village in Panama.

Find your Passion: This is no small assignment. The most challenging piece to this suggestion is to just let it happen. As mentioned in my earlier blogs, finding one’s passion usually happens when you’re not looking. Take a step back and voila! you are doing something you enjoy, then another layer is added to it and you are exploring another facet of what interests you. Moving through these various stages is more a spiral rather than linear process. Enjoy it; see where this adventure takes you.

My step daughter, Erica, has perfected her creative skills and presented us with a beautifully knitted blanket. She and her boyfriend Matt, have discovered how much fun golf can be. Jillian, my daughter in law, is great at photographing her 2 little sons and creating beautiful pictures. She's made beautiful books using her photography skills. Jenni, Michael's girlfriend, recently completed a world tour and has seen her success as a musician soar. Nicholas has focused on his passion for making music , my daughter Katina has pursued her love of horses in college. John Paul, my step son,has followed his passion for motorcycles while his wife Melissa brought her passion for nursing to life. My son, Christopher loves what he does for a living and is working on perfecting his golf game.

Yes, I do try to put in to practice most of what I have shared with you. I hope you can take away something new after our little visit. I hope our family's accomplishments inspire you to pursue your dreams.

Slow down, stay in the moment. Try to focus on what’s REALLY important; don’t dwell on the little things. Enjoy the people in your life for they are your treasures. Listen to the silence of the early morning, the quiet of your home late at night, or the sound of snow gently falling. Breathe and be thankful for all you have.

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

Friday, November 6, 2009


November is by all accounts my favorite month. It wouldn't surprise me if the rest of you raised your eyebrow and said "she's lost it, what's so special about November"? My love affair with November is well deserved.

November sneaks in on the tails of Halloween, all quiet and grey. Leaves that were vibrant hues of reds and golds are now a faded yellow. One look at a November sky and you know... heavy clouds, the sun teasingly peeking in and out, stark brown branches against a temperamental sky, that distinctively crisp bite in the air.

Its not just about the weather. This month graces us with 3 National holidays. Its about being able to have a choice, appreciating those who fought so we might exercise our freedom and being thankful for everything the year has brought to our lives.

On a personal note November is the month both my grandfathers were born. Antonino in Sicily in 1895 and John in New York City in 1899. I have fond memories of my grandfathers who both seemed to possess a certain twinkle in their eye. Antonino (Tony) taught me to speak Sicilian at the age of two. Nothing formal, he just didn't speak English so I really didn't have a choice. Sent to America as a young man following the death of his father in a case of "mistaken identity" my grandfather came to be known as the "Banana Man" of New York City's lower east side. He knew every fruit and vegetable dealer in the area and we seemed to walk for hours visiting them all. My grandfather was a tall man and I can only imagine taking his little granddaughter along must have slowed him down tremendously although I never once heard him complain. We were out for a good time! A field trip with him included a stop at one of his favorite haunts...the bocci ball court off 2nd Avenue and 5th Street. The excursion would end with one of his favorite snacks... a big, juicy red apple. My grandfather would place it on the table with a look of glee, admiring it and calling it an American lollipop. John, my other grandfather, was a practical joker who taught me how to juggle eggs, usually raw, much to my grandmother's dismay. We'd play dominoes, roll dice and travel the route from 9th Street to 14th Street to the old Con Ed building to pay the electric bill. We would stop at the park running along the East River and I thought it was the coolest thing to take the cross walk over while cars zipped by underneath us on the FDR Drive. Our favorite stop for lunch was the Jewish Deli on 9th Street and Avenue C. It was small and quiet, the floors were made of wood, and several tables for 2 were always available. I can still smell the steaming potato knish served with lots of mustard and of course a corned beef on rye to finish off the meal!

Those days are a wonderful memory for me and I'm sure as you turn your attention towards Thanksgiving you too can find a piece of your past to be thankful for. Thanksgiving is like a quilt to me. Its a time to become introspective, look at the fabric that is your life, the person you are today. Take time to notice your favorite colors, textures, and themes for they make up who you are. Appreciate the richness of what makes you happy, what makes you unique and respect that in others as well. Be thankful for the gifts and talents that make you who you are.

November will leave us with a fanfare showcasing a variety of fabrics, kicking off the festivities that will fill our lives for the remainder of the year. Enjoy what this month has to offer, quiet moments, walks in the chilly night air, settle in with a good book or a fun project you've been planning to start and a healthy cup of steaming hot chocolate.

4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder the darker the healthier (flavonol antioxidants to lower cholesterol)
1 cup skim milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of ground cinnamon
sugar to taste

Mix sugar, cocoa and 2 tablespoons cold milk in a mug until smooth. Heat the remaining milk in a small saucepan on the stovetop or in a 2-cup glass measure in the microwave just until steaming hot but not boiling. Stir in the cocoa mixture and vanilla.

Sprinkle cinnamon on top. (an anti-oxident and germ killer)


Sunday, October 18, 2009

All Things Autumn

The weeks are flying by and the temperature has dropped in keeping with what we have expected. The leaves that shimmered brilliant red on our foliage field trip last week have become muted shades of yellows and browns. Leaves swirl and merrily skip along the streets of this city and the roads leading out to more rural areas as the days on the calendar dance happily into the heart of autumn.

Our Town House hosted a lovely annual meeting the other evening complete with unlimited wine, sushi and hors d’oeuvres. We met many interesting folks and are constantly surprised at how many of our neighbors are from New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Massachusetts. It always pays to attend these meetings… you never know what you will learn! Those who know me well know my desire to be near a gym, especially one open 24/7! Well, wonder of wonders, we share a driveway with a world class hotel, and being the good neighbors they are their health club facilities…fitness center and heated pool…are available to residents on a complimentary basis. You can bet I was there the next morning….very nice, great machines and, I might add, boasting a lovely view of the lake and the snow-capped Adirondacks.

Yes, I said snow-capped. That day the highest peaks of both the Adirondacks and the Green Mountains looked as if a shaker of confectioner’s sugar was dusted atop them like a baker would dust powdered donuts. Rumor or legend (call it what you want) has it that once the mountains have snow the valleys can expect it in 4 to 6 weeks. That being said I appreciate the fact that I will be walking to work.

Work? Yes, work! finally….I decided to take a break from the world of education and pursue an interest I have had for many years. A management level position was offered to me at an institution that prides itself as being the premier specialty retailer in gourmet cookware, bake ware and food items. The invitation to work there was presented to me as “How would you like to have fun with us here?” Man oh man, it’s busy but it’s a great learning experience. I am in cooking heaven….but as my interests run, more like baker’s heaven.

Ah baking, yes I have made my fall specialty apple crisp this week and it was a big hit. I served if for dessert at a dinner party we hosted for some new Vermont friends. My husband is the food expert and he is happy to assign dessert to me as it keeps me from disrupting his kitchen operation. The kitchen remains his fiefdom if I am busy creating in my own little baking world. That man is happy and easy going but there is a reason he will relinquish the baking to me!

Here is my Apple Crisp Recipe. Feel free to add/subtract the optional ingredients to make it more to your personal taste. Most importantly, enjoy!

4 cups apples, cored, peeled and sliced

¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup brown sugar

¾ cup oatmeal

½ tsp. salt

¾ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. allspice

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

½ cup raisins

½ cup dried cranberries

1 cup chopped walnuts

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place prepared apples into a lightly greased 8 x 8 inch lightly greased baking dish.

Blend the dry ingredients; blend the butter in with a hand held pastry blender until it crumbles. Top the fruit with this mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Serve warm topped with your choice of ice cream or homemade whipped cream.

What would a blog about Vermont be without paying some attention to the “leaf peeping” season? Yes indeed, that’s what people who travel up north to view the changing colors are fondly referred to as…leaf peepers!

We decided to play tourist one day and travel the beautiful Route 100. Voted as one of the ten best roads to travel in the US, it’s worth the trip anytime of year but especially during foliage season. It’s a 200 mile road running south to north up the state taking the traveler on a delightful journey. Route 100 weaves in and out of small rustic towns, then winds through the Green Mountain National Forest, cutting through mountains and back over the edge to reveal breathtaking views of valleys and their villages.

Antique shops, country stores, ski slopes, mountain vistas and waterfalls are all part of the experience. Take time to stop along the way to visit the attractions and photograph the show nature is putting on for its visitors.

My blog is for you to enjoy as much as I do. I have had so many enthusiastic comments from last week’s cauliflower recipe with readers happily sharing their favorites. Please send along comments to share with the rest of us!

Monday, October 5, 2009


Yes, that's right... cauliflower. The recipe that follows is not only delicious but pretty healthy. My mother-in-law is a great cook and has passed down many excellent recipes to her son-my husband. The food co-op had a special feature of cauliflower artfully arranged in the produce section today. It was time to make Spaghetti with Cauliflower.
Here is the recipe:

2 heads of cauliflower
1/3 cup olive oil
1 lb. spaghetti
1/2 cup grating cheese (more if desired)
black pepper to taste

Core cauliflower by cutting in to florets . Fill a tall pot 2/3 full with water and bring to a boil. Place the florets in the water and return to a boil. Continue boiling 6-7 minutes until tender (easily pierced with a fork).
In the meantime heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Remove the florets from the water with a slotted spoon and place in the pan. DO NOT DRAIN THE WATER FROM THE POT.
Place the spaghetti in to the boiling cauliflower water and cook until al dente, 8-10 minutes. Drain spaghetti in colander and reserve 2-3 cups of the boiling water.
Return the florets and the spaghetti to the large pot adding the reserved water. Stir in 1/2 cup of grating cheese and black pepper. Enjoy!

The afternoon promised to be a mix of sun and clouds so it was ideal for a brisk walk along the water. We came upon an intriguing group of stones in all shapes and sizes...mostly huge! We had found The Burlington Earth Clock. Circles for Peace, a non-profit organization, built this project on land provided by the Burlington Parks Department.
It is worth a trip to the site, it promises to be a great teaching tool for all who visit.

The weather continues to play with the inhabitants of the city. On a recent walk to the library the sun was shining. I, however, was not to be fooled. I ventured out with my rain jacket and sunglasses. This might seem like an odd outfit but alas...I used both. The last comment the library clerk said to me as I was leaving was "are you sure you don't want a plastic bag to keep those books dry?" She was correct, off came the sunglasses on went the rain jacket.

Knitting, quilting, baking, hiking, reading, meeting many interesting people...I am doing it all and more and its fascinating!

If you are trying to find what you want to do, what your passion is, don't worry, its there. Perhaps if you don't look too hard it will appear where you least expect it!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Moving to Vermont

I've been planning this blog for some time, wondering what I would write and just knowing the story I tell will unfold at its own pace...its not like we are the first people from Long Island, NY who have ever moved up north to Burlington, just one hour south of the Canadian border, but that we made the move because we wanted to is what makes it exciting!

I am interested in writing about my experiences as each week unfolds, promising another chapter in our story. Perhaps encouraging readers to pursue their own adventure.

So many things have been accomplished. New driver's licenses, license plates for the cars, a food co-op to join, library cards, new stores to explore and new friends to meet. Happily, I discovered a gym in which to work out in when its too bone chilling cold for leisurely bike rides along Lake Champlain.

The mornings are chilly and sunny. The leaves are quickly changing from bright summer green to golden yellows and rich reds. Walking is the best way to learn about the neighborhood. One begins to feel like a mountain goat trekking up and down hills.

The bikeway is another exciting experience. It is frequently traveled by cyclists going to and from work in the morning or at noon by folks enjoying the fresh air on their lunch breaks. Judging how I feel while I am riding I have decided I am either :
a) grossly out of shape
b) older than I really am
c) deeply affected by the altitude
d) all of the above
If you selected anything but c) we can not be friends!

Cooking is another adventure. Healthy is key, produce is locally grown, and stores are within walking distance from our home so we can shop each day for our meals. Of course if you are in need of a treat, there are plenty of little shops that offer all sorts of temptations from ice cream to freshly baked goodies.

Are you still reading? I trust your curiosity is peaked and that whatever it is you are dreaming to do my little blog will give you the encouragement and support (ok, call it push) to get going. So visit often and come along on this journey with me.