Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mac N Cheese

Yesterday I embarked on cooking a dish for 75 people. It was Perfect Macaroni and Cheese or so Martha said. Well It was an adapted version due to the expensive price of Gruyere. It probably would've been fine with three times that recipe, but I multiplied it by six since it said it should serve 12. Anyway, not even one tin was devoured when I left at around 8pm. The 75 people didn't show up, and I was wondering if it had to do with having the wrong address on the evite or if they were just rude.... Anyway it was my MIL's retirement party. She was happy. That's all that mattered.

Now I have some mac n cheese in the freezer for Thanksgiving at the FIL house on a remote island in MD. And so does someone else.

This is certainly my favorite time of the year due to the frequent feasts and celebratory libations. My figure and my head the next day suffers, but it's all worth it. The weather is now bearable, but I must find my family some winter clothes.

After our party, my visitor from the Northland made some Halloween decorations, and then we drew and then painted which was unsucessful. I do love my pumpkin though. My husband just saw a pic of the "throwing up" pumpkin this year. Therefore I decided to pay homage to the sick pumpkin and put him on display amongst my "emotion" ghosts. My son and I made them from old milk cartons in hopes of teaching him the names of emotions. As a being of the male gender, I believe it's necessary to let him know that it's okay to express his feelings. Tomorrow we shall fill the jugs with orange glowing lights, and give out candy to the neighborhood children. That is after we get our own collection first!!! Mwahahaha!!!!

Monday, October 25, 2010


Here's how the costume looks on the little man. He wasn't too keen on wearing it at first, but changed suit once he realized that you received candy if you wore it.

I'm glad the final product worked out. There were many hours of painstaking cutting, measuring, and glueing. It was a lot of fun. The crowd reaction at "Boo at the Zoo" was self satisfying. Although some people didn't quite get it. A few people actually thought it was a hawk or a turkey or one person just said, "bird".

Another home made adventure was completed today. Don't be alarmed, it's not an animal brain. It's a vanilla cupcake with home made buttercream frosting with parchment paper piping. This technique apparently needs to be perfected. Hopefully by the time my son is all grown up, I'll have mastered the art of decorating desserts. Baby steps for now. First we did the monkey cake and cupcakes for his birthday. Now the brain inspired ones for Halloween. We'll have to plan something Epic for Thanksgiving. We'll be bringing these sweet treats to a play group Halloween party tomorrow. I hope they're not to unappetizing.

I can't explain how happy I am to have some time off with my family. Nothing makes me more happy. My head is clear. Although I felt somewhat crappy from the fatty foods I ate yesterday - foie gras on a burger and pork belly for dinner. Blech!! All I'm in the mood for is light and fresh foods. Perhaps a spinach and feta brown rice crusted quiche for dinner will be a little lighter, and I'll feel somewhat lighter. Two more days of fun planned, and then I'm only working two days this week. I'm feeling rejuvenated for now.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Time and time again I go back and forth in my mind about having another child. The reality is, I would if we could. Due to our present circumstances, its not the best time for us to produce our own child since I HAVE to work. My husband has been effected by the horrible economy yet again and is unable to find work. His unemployment runs out in 6 weeks not like I'm counting or anything. The company he's been working with has been unable to find financing. Things are looking bleak for him. I will work my little tail off to support our family.

Besides thinking about having our own child, fostering one has constantly been in my head. I was a foster child for a brief time, and I'd love to give a child a safe home. Josh and I have been going back and forth on the subject, and finally he's agreed to look into it. So I filled out the contact form this morning, and I patiently await a call back. I'm so excited to see what happens.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Moving right along - HQ - The

foot loose and fancy free

The muppets said it best. I'm trying to keep up with the positive pace. 7 days in a row I worked last week. Yesterday was mostly spent driving home so It didn't really feel like a day off. However I was happy to spend some time with my family. We went to the Indian buffet, and my little man and I napped together. My husband made a baked whole chicken for dinner which is leaps and bounds for him. Although he cooked it upside down.... I was carving it, and thought "this is the weirdest looking chicken with barely any breast meat." Then I turned it over, and there those luscious chest muscles were.

Anyway there's been some intense and hard living being experienced by myself, and I'm over it. I'm running myself into the ground. Everyday including working, drawing, driving, tatting, eating, sleeping, or some similar combination of the above. The intense lifestyle has been overbearing and aging, and I'm ready for some change.

Occasionally the work itself is emotionally demanding. The other day I tattooed a portrait of this gentlemen's son who took his own life at age 15 a little over a month ago. It was such a sad story to hear, and it seems all too common these days. Suicide is an epidemic right now. I feel the pain for this noble father. Despite his broken heart, he was being strong yet honest for his family. A few times I almost teared up. The best part of my job is when I can help someone's healing process by making art for them. In hopes that he can find some peace someday, and I can make a difference in his life.

Thankfully, there's a break in the near future for me after this Saturday. I only have one appointment on Monday night until Thursday and then Saturday. That's all the work I have to do next week. The excitement is boiling over. There's many things planned in between. My husband and I have an anniversary to celebrate. He had this huge and fancy plan, but I asked him to cancel and settle for a quiet night at home. I just want to be at home. There's so much to do. We have so much food here. I want to cook and relax and watch a movie, hang out with our son, and go to the zoo in the morning. I want to stretch my legs because my ass has been planted on the tattoo throne or my car seat way too much lately. I want to go to play dates and feel like a mom again. Ride my bicycle and toddler trailer again. I'm all cramped and stifled and miserable and depressed. I need to get out of this funk. Saturday can't come soon enough.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rummage sailing

Yesterday morning was just like the way old days from my childhood when my Canadian/ Ukrainian grandmother used to take my sibling and I out for shopping. At the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings, we were pirates yard sailing in search of treasure among everyone else's junk. My memories weren't all that fond except when we did find a nice toy. Yesterday I went out extremely early before I even brushed my teeth and found some useful and inexpensive goods that were on our wish list. I'm now a proud of being meager in my middle age.

There must be a frugal gene within my paternal family's bloodline. I've been fighting it for years, but these days I can't fight the internal prudence that lives inside of me. My father has certainly taken it to the extreme. There was an article in his local paper about his behaviors. The reality is, no one is more thrifty than my yard sailing grandmother. There's no doubt that she hold's the title for Pismo Beach, CA.

I'm all about trying to get the best quality for the smallest amount of money. You can't always get what you want on a short budget with instant gratification. This is completely against the present American way in which you want something, you have immediate access. We've begun to use some patience in our purchases, and sometimes you haveto keep searching until your item pops up. There are so many sites that can help you to do this on the internet. One of my favorites is, but you can also try ebay or freecycle too. There are too many to name. Yard sailing can be very disappointing, but I was as happy as if I was shopping at Nordstrom. Many things of my wish list turned up at the best price. A toaster for $1, a floor steamer for $5, corning wear, brand new 440 thread count sheets, a coffee grinder for $2, a Krups espresso maker for $10, and a 50 cent retractalble sword and Home Depot Ride in Digger for $3 for Talon. Not to mention an unused sandwich press for my husband for a whopping dollar. The saint of garage sales was on my side. I can't imagine what we would've bought those thing directly from the store, and some of the items were unused too! I'm still buzzing on the high of the penny-pinching high.

PS Check out my new reading glasses....

Friday, October 15, 2010

Autumn Harvest Gravy

On medium heat saute a couple of minced onions, garlic, celery, peppers, and a chopped butternut squash with some olive oil in a sauce pan stirring occasionally so that they all cook evenly. When the veggies begin to soften up, add a couple of tablespoons of champagne vinegar or something of the like. Cook off for a couple of minutes. Then add blanched tomatoes with the skins removed or a couple cans of stewed whole tomatoes, a small can of tomato paste, and then fill the tomato paste can with water and add that too. Spice it up with some sage and a bay leaf, salt and pepper. Stir well then reduce heat to simmer after it begins to bubble. Stir every 10 - 15 minutes checking on how much the sauce is reduced. After about an hour, it should be ready to add some fresh basil , thyme or whatever you have around the house. Remove the bay leaves. Then with an immersion blender or food processor, Blend the marinara into a smooth consistency. Serve with pasta, tortellini, lasagna, etc, etc.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Coffee makes a world of difference

My veins have been bereft of the sacred java been juice for a couple of days now. I've been lagging, and my energy has been at an all time low. Earlier this week I napped with my son and went to bed at an early hour. Yesterday I skipped the naps, but still couldn't keep my eyes open past 9pm. Perhaps this is due to the sun setting at 7pm. This tme of year the lack of sun messes with my head. This morning everything changed with two cups of coffee. The Energizer bunny has posessed me causing me to multitask before work.

After a morning of errands out with the whole family, cooking commenced. On the stove is some multi veggie red sauce including butternut squash. In the oven is an meatloaf with onions and peppers, and I also roasted some eggplant earlier for freezing. My three days off are over, and I accomplished more storing and cooking for the winter. However there's still piles of vegetables to work through - a seemingly endless supply of a plethora of squashes, potatoes, and peppers. As per the suggestion of a fellow following blogger, I'm going to make Sofrito (or my husband offered to do it...). After observing that the recipe uses ample amounts of peppers, I'm on it.

This work day starts yet another working marathon of 6 days in 3 states. Today 6.5 hrs in Philly, Friday and Saturday 20 hrs in NJ, 10 more in Philly, and then Monday and Tuesday in NH. I know that these days will be rewarding, but the anticipation is the worst part. Once it's over on the drive back, I'll be kicking myself once again. At least I won't forget to drink the java the to help me through it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Regardless of the tumultuous times that burden my existence, being creative can give a little relief. Well or drinking a gazillion drinks, but using my idle hands is the best way to forget. Be in the now.
With Hallow's Eve right around the corner, there has been a costume project taken on by yours truly. An Owl costume for my 26 1/2 month old son. I'm pretty excited with the outcome so far, but there's still some more hours that need to be out in. If I get it out as fast as possible, I won't lose interest. I gotta get it out so I don't get bored. Being impatient, I need to see that finished product asap. Check those pics out of my latest creation thus far.

I need a little patience.... ahhhhhhh.... ahhhhh... just a little patience.

It seems with a lot of things, I'm losing my patience. Then I blow a gasket, and the steam subsides for awhile until yet again a gasket needs to be blown. I wish I could be a calm, cool, and collected kind of folk. That's not me when I'm at the end of my rope. I can be nasty when I'm angry. The sharp words roll off of my tongue like butter. Then I have to deal with the damage I've done and help to rebuild the ego that I just crushed. Oops.

It's best I get back to my project. Maybe I'll yell at it for awhile and tell it how frustruated, overworked, and under relaxed I feel and why. But you know, I don't think that costume will give a HOOT!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mission complete

Well the head cheese experiment is finished. This morning I slid the molded delicacy onto a plate. I realized that the lard had collected at the bottom, so I removed it. The next step was the taste test. I sliced a piece, put it on some toast with mustard, took a bite, and spit it out. I almost threw up. After the long and tedious process, I knew what this was made of. Another bite was taken, and I mustered the courage to chew and swallow. That was it.
Tomorrow I'm bringing it to work for some brave souls to try it. One of my coworkers and a client seems excited to partake in trying it. I might experience this once again with company. We shall see.

While I'm glad I have the head cheese making notch on my belt, I probably won't be doing it again. Expanding my pallet is certainly one of my goals. Its nice to try things that most folks think that are gross. Adventurous eating has always been one of my favorite past times. I enjoy trying new things even if in the end I'm completely disgusted.

I redeemed my taste buds this morning with another batch of pumpkin muffins. While they didn't come out as good as the last batch since we were bereft of some key ingredients. Despite the substitutions, they were pretty good. I'm not sure what's in store for my next culinary adventure, but it won't be involving the head of a pig anytime soon.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Today was the last day of my unofficial vacation in which I had to cancel. Needless to say, I still had fun. My husband took my son to the zoo with his Mimi, and I got to do whatever the heck I wanted all by my lonesome. I didn't even clean. I painted some of the flash pictured. There's much work to be done espcecially on the blending on La Catrina. There needs to be a couple more little drawings added as well. This page doesn't seem to be going as smooth as the first one, but I'll be doing more work on it tonight. It's been nice to paint things that I want to paint. No one is telling me what to paint, and this feels great. It's also nice to experiment with another medium.

Well there won't be any artwork done until after I finish with the head cheese. I didn't have to do any sawing or cutting. Thankfully, porky pig fit into one of ours pots. What a relief that was. I thought it was done, but when I took it out the meat wasn't quite falling off of the bone. However, the snout is gone, and I can see the skull. Guess who'll be using that in a painting soon??? I just hope that this comes out good. It's become quite the process. I also have a pork belly in the fridge that I need to cut up and freeze. Yay, me. More work to do. It's taking a lot longer than expected.

More pics to come.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Making lemonade

Last week was a scary week. I would go into detail, but I feel as if I don't want the public to know every gorey and depressing details of my families life. Who knows who's reading. Let's just say that I felt like we reached a bottom. On top of that occurence, the reality set in that my husband is on his 10th month of unemployment with only a limited amount of unemployment benefits left. We never thought we'd be in this position in our lives since we'd always done well for ourselves. What a shock we've had.

Because we cancelled our vacation this week due to lack of funds, I had some time off to clear my head and take care of some loose ends. Some stress was relieved by painting up a storm the past couple of days and nights. Also cooking, hanging out with friends, going to the farm, and taking pics of nature and animals.

Today I made pumpkin muffins and spiced apple juice. The house smelt like fall, and I loved it. I always think it's weird that most pumpkin recipes require canned pumpkin. I make my own dang puree. It's mucho easy, and I don't eat out of cans anymore. Well we sometimes use glass canned products. We rarely eat anything that's pre made.

The other day when I was working, my husband bought a pre frozen meal and cookies. I was admittedly a little ticked off. It gives me the idea to utilize the freezer more, and make some our own home made frozen food for him to heat up. It's way too expensive to buy that crap. Not to mention it usually contains sub par ingredients and preservatives.

We're saving money in many ways, but I figure our health is nothing to cut corners on. We will always buy the cheapest, local, Organic products. I'd rather starve then eat poisoned food. That's why I'm psyched on the Organic farm share and buying our meat in bulk from a local farmer. Ideally, we would grow all of our own, and raise our own meat, but we rent a townhouse with a tiny yard. That's not even close to being feasible. We're cutting out hair cuts, trying to use our gas guzzling truck less, trying to sell the bike, and mending broken clothing to mention a few. I want to cut the TV out as much as possible too. We might potentially come to a point where we really can't afford it. This is the best way we can manage.

Tomorrow is perogie making day. I'm still working on utilizing our whole vegetable food share and storing it properly so that we don't waste food. The perogies will take up the potato collection we have going. I'm also debating on ways to preserve the patty pan and butternut squash, green peppers, and sweet potatoes. Maybe I can precut sweet potato "fries", and freeze them?? Or sweet potato perogies?? Or just freeze pureed sweet potatos? Seriously, what do you do with 20 green peppers before they go bad?? This share has been extremely cost worthy especially if you can't use everything right away and store it for the future. I recommend checking out Growing Home Coop if you get a chance.

My father is an extremely frugal man. He was even given the title "The biggest cheap skate in Charlotte" from a local paper for saving so much money. He's takes it to another level. He catalogs all of his finances, bills, gas and energy use, budget, etc. Perhaps I should be inspired by this, but numbers aren't my thing. I do what I "feel" is best as a victim to my left brain. What I do know is that the trips to Whole Paycheck are lessening, and that means we're spending less.

Thankfully my funk has been somewhat lifted. The only thing is, I'm afraid to go back into my regular routine of working to the bone again. At least my mind will be in a better space with a recharged battery.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

No joke

The autumn weather has decided to bless us with its awesome beauty here in South Jersey. It's even come to Philadelphia just in the nick of time. Despite the fact that life has been punching me in the face, this weather can rescue me from a depressing slump.

F* it!! I'm still well and not starving. I have my family here with me everyday. We are poor folks trying to make the best out of life. I'm going to work a ten hour shift today, and then I have some time off this week.

There will be a large effort to make the best use of time in the next 5 days. There are perogies to be made, squash to be vacuumed packed, and head cheese. You read it right! I'm going to embark on a disgusting project of making a gelatinous and meaty delicacy called Head cheese or souse. Perhaps I will vomit during the cooking or eating process. But come hell or high water, I'm determined to make it. I will be strong. If I'm going to eat meat, I've decided to try and use most or all of the animal. We've purchased half of a local, pasture fed pig. It was sent to the butcher to be processed last week, and we're picking it up on Friday.

I don;t even know how to make head cheese. I've never even tasted it. Call me crazy. It doesn't sound like the best time.

This tattoo mom might be sawing a pig's head in four.

Removing the eyes and brain.
Cooking it down in a huge pot with vinegar and spices
Removing the meat from the head and collecting the gelatin when it's done cooking.
Wrapping it in a cheesecloth, and hanging it for the night.

It sounds disgusting all around. However I've heard that head cheese is a lovely tasting treat. We will certainly see very soon. Pics to come!!