Valentines Day

Yesterday I received an email from the boy's class mothers that let me know that the class would not be celebrating Valentines Day and would be replacing it with a Friendship day in a few weeks because of religious reasons and the fear of alienating children. I did a double take and quickly called the Chef. 

The minis and I had worked all day Tuesday on their Valentine's Day cards and reading that the boy wouldn't get to share his love pissed me off. One of the best childhood memories of mine (and almost every single person I could yesterday to talk to about this weirdness) was Valentine's Day. Especially in grade school. It meant so much to collect those little cards (the candy was nice too) and race home to see all the people who gave them to you. The Chef felt weird about it too. Neither of us could figure out the religion aspect (we did eventually learn that Orthodox Jews do not support Valentines Day & that Valentines Day has roots in Catholicism) and the alienating part seemed like a no brainer. There are so many creative ways to celebrate love, it doesn't have to be candy & cards. It could be a book exchange, it could be a RAKE day or they could cook together as a class. They could all write poems about love and share with the class. Something, anything to say that Valentines Day is important. In the crazy world we live in, I can't help but believe that LOVE is truly the only way to celebrate our amazing lives here on Earth. 

Although the boys class won't be celebrating, the girl's class will so at least she will have that experience. Now to figure something out for the boy...

Years Past

We base our lives on the years that we live. At the end of each year we look back and judge what we accomplished or what we missed.

I'm not gonna do that this year.

Professionally 2013 was a year I will work my damndest to forget.

Personally though, 2013 was a year that reminded me how lucky I am to be married to a man who fights for what he rightfully deserves. 2013 reminded me that my partner is someone who pushes for honesty and truth even when he's surrounded by liars. The Chef is a man who puts our love and family before everything else and even in the darkest moments of 2013, I saw that part of his self shine. 

We can always choose to perceive things differently. We can focus on what’s wrong in our life, or we can focus on what’s right.”
— Marianne Williamson

Tomorrow starts a new year, a new day, a new chance for change. Tomorrow when I wake up and see my husband's face it will be easy for me to embrace the new year and shut the door on the years past.  There is only forward. 

May your door open to dreams, desires, and strength to become who you want to be in twenty fourteen. 

6 year old Louisiana sings her original song "New Years clap clap New Years"

Gather Here with Grateful Hearts

After a tumultuous year of ups and many downs I still find myself thankful for so much. We are a blessed in a million and one ways:

  • I am thankful that I married my best friend who also happens to be the hardest working man I have ever know, a sincere and adoring father, and someone who inspires me every single day.
  • I am thankful that after 7 years of marriage we still like each other and laugh at each other's jokes. 
  • I am thankful that my son is so sensitive. He takes my hard shell and has gradually softened it over the past 8 years. For this, I am grateful. 
  • I am thankful my daughter makes me laugh almost every single second of the day. She is no doubt adding on years of life to mine that I probably took off while in college. 
  • I am thankful for Potato the Pitbull because he is the best goddamn human dog I have ever known. 
  • I am thankful for Vito because he licks my feet at night. 
  • I am thankful for our chickens because they provide us with beautiful all natural eggs. They are also silly catty bitches who are super fun to watch. For this I am grateful.
  • I am thankful for my father in law. Without him, this year would have been waaaaaaaaay worse. 
  • I am thankful for my dad. His daily phone calls make me sane.
  • I am thankful for my stepmom for being the yin to my dad's yang. 
  • I am thankful my brother is sober.
  • I am thankful for my mother in law who continues to teach even though she could be enjoying retirement because she loves the kids. 
  • I am thankful that after 14 years of nasty letters from my mom, I finally got a nice one. 
  • I am thankful that everyday I am able to cook a from scratch meal for my family. 
  • I am thankful that our restaurants continue to grow and thrive. It feels good to work so hard for something (and someone) you believe.
  • I am thankful that I am happy.
  • I am thankful that greed, money, control, and power have no role in our life and neither do people who embody those traits. 
  • I am grateful to reconnect with an old friend. 
  • I am thankful that in some states people are finally recognizing that love is just love no matter who it is.
  • I am thankful for my best friend of 29 years who stands by my side and listens to my sob stories on the daily. 
  • I am thankful for this blog for introducing me to so many wonderful people. 
  • I am thankful for you.

What are you thankful for on this wonderful day?

 

 

How To Dye Easter Eggs That Won't Make Your Children Act Like Cracked Out Mini Humans

I'm not much for processed foods. They freak me out and deep down I think they are the source of all our health problems. My kids eat from scratch every day of their lives whether they like it our not. I'm sure they wish I would buy them Danimals or Lunchables, like our parents did, but I refuse to be a part of the problem and I absolutely refuse to play a role in the demise of my children's health That being said, I don't use food dyes. I have had an aversion to food dyes since the boy's first birthday when I made him a Blue's Clues cake. Diaper changing was not so pleasant that night, I learned the hard lesson that the only people who should poop blue are the smurfs.

With the recent controversy (again) regarding food dyes and it's ADHD behavorial effects in children, I knew I made the right choice that day the diaper turned blue. But making the right choice regarding food dyes really, really screws you on Easter. Food dyes are the heart and soul (sorry Jesus) of Easter. How can you celebrate Easter without the colorful array of hard boiled (dyed) Easter eggs? More importantly, how can you make the eggs without making your children sick?

The answer, like most answers, are right in front of us. This time we find the answer in our Earth. Better yet, we find the answer growing from our earth:

VEGGIES, SPICES, & ONION PEELS!

Hold onto those Easter baskets kids, Chef's Widow is about to blow your mind.

How to make cancer & behavioral problem free beautifully colored Easter Eggs that the kids still like LOVE:

You can use the following recipe with beats, cabbage, turmeric. The only thing that changes is the amount of veggie or spice used.***

Red Cabbage for BLUE Easter Eggs

Cut up a head of red cabbage.

Have an adorable helper add cabbage to a pot of boiling water (about a quart).

Add 3 tablespoons vinegar and one table spoon salt. Bring to a boil again. Then cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Strain liquid (this is now your dye) out.

Wait to cool.

Once cooled, find some mini's to help drop the eggs. Let stay in the natural dye overnight. We put ours in the fridge so the kids could actually eat the eggs the next morning.

Again, make sure you let the eggs soak overnight. We did these eggs at 8pm and this is what they looked like at 8am:

 

Came out pretty nice right? In fact I happen to think they look way better than these freaks of nature.

 

***For other colors like pink and yellow, use beets (for pink) and turmeric (for yellow).I use about 3 lbs of mini beets and 3 tablespoons of turmeric in each recipe. Be careful with both of these as they seriously stain. You can also use onion peels to dye your eggs. We haven't tried this recipe yet, but it seems like the eggs come out pretty nifty.

****Update: Today I experimented with the onion peel recipe and I think they ended up looking awesome!

Doesn't it look like a face is on the egg? Totally random design from the peels.

 

Hoppy Easter!

 

Festivus for the Restivus

Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack 'Cause when I leave for the night, I ain't coming back ~Kesha

Five years ago, the Chef and I were brand new parents.  Our son, the boy, was permattatched to my boob and neither the Chef nor I remembered what sleep felt like.  We were so googly eyes in love with our little man that neither of us gave a damn.

Until the holiday season.  New parents + holiday season + chef at Lolita = VEP...very exhausted peoples.  We knew we need to let loose.  We needed a moment to feel like we were still in our twenties.  Festivus was born.

We weren't ready to let the boy leave our sight overnight yet so we decided to start the festivities late night.  That year, our party was with pole but without theme.  Over the years we have celebrated Festivus for the Restivus in ugly sweaters, yacht rock style,  and full on glam rock, good times always had by all.

This year was our fifth Festivus, a pop star potluck  and by it was by far the best.  See for yourself.

PS. Don't judge the McD's yo. It was a potluck.

The Giving Season

Inspired by my friend Becky, I decided to adopt a family this year over the holiday.  The Salvation Army has a fabulous program that allows people to provide a holiday season for those who cannot provide their own. Our family is not wealthy by any means but we do have a community.  I have a community here in blog world and the Chef has his own food & cooking community.  I thought that this year I had to step it up a notch.  I spoke to Patty at The Salvation Army and our staff at the tavern, and decided that instead of me just adopting one family, the tavern would adopt 2 families, 2 seniors, and a whole lotta veterans.

When I received the wish lists, my heart broke.  The first family, a family of five asked for one thing, and one thing only.  A bunk bed. The three children, ages 5-14, all shared one twin bed.  When I shared their list with my staff, I only shared the smaller items like soap and TP, I did not want to ask for their hard earned money.

Turns out I didn't have to.  When I went into the restie yesterday I saw that our amazing staff had begun raising money to buy the bunk bed.  They are absolutely lovely.  We are so lucky to have them as part of our family.

There is a lot to gather for the ones in need, and the tavern and myself are asking for your help.  The vets are in serious need of basic, basic items and I was hoping that my FANTASTICALLY WICKED AWESOME readers would be able to help a widow out.

The tavern is collecting the following items (gift wrapped) for The Louis Stokes Veteran Hospital:

After Shave Lotion

Baby Oil

Combs/Brushes

Deodorant (Roll-on/Spray)

Disposable Razors

Ditty Bags

Emery Boards (nail files

Gum (regular/sugar-free)

Hand Lotion

Shaving Cream

Shower Shoes

Slipper Socks

Soap

Socks (White)

Shower Shoes

Sweatpants (L, XL, 1XL, 2XL)

Sweatshirts (L, XL, 1XL, 2XL

Toothbrushes

Toothpaste

Women Night Gowns (L, XL, 1XL)

Checkers/Chess/Dominoes/Backgammon board games

Coloring Books

Crayons/Colored Pencils

DVD Movies

Hand Held Video

Magazine Subscriptions

Pencils/Pens

Playing Cards

Portable DVD Players

Puzzles (100 Pieces or less)

Travel Sized Games

Word Search/Crossword/Sudoku Books

If you feel like making someone's life just a little shinier this holiday season, YOU CAN!  Drop off or mail any item at The Greenhouse Tavern by Wednesday December 15th, 2010.

Thanks as always for your unwavering support.  xo

The Greenhouse Tavern

2038 East 4th Street

Cleveland, OH 44115

Holiday Tradition

He pulls them slowly through the aisles of pines as they shout out their favorites in unison.  They love the tall ones, fat ones and skinny ones, sometimes even the dead ones.  They hold no judgement when deciding on what tree will become a part of our family for the next 30 days.  They just pick one.  It seems so simple and  soon our toes are frozen, icicles have formed beneath our noses,  and we have found our fir.  The Chef pulls out the saw and looks at the boy for help.

Moments later, we have a tree, our tree.

We head home with anticipation of the day that's to come.  First, a rest is needed.  We bake bread, drink cider, and lounge. Together as one. Once our bellies are full it's time for some fun!  The Chef walks the strands of blue  white around the tress as the mini's take hold of the ornaments.

Tuckered out with squinted eyes they admire the work they've down.  They admire their Christmas tree.

This is our family's tradition.  We repeat this day year after year, and today, when the boy told me that today was the best family day he's ever had, I melted. Our tradition cemented in our family's history forever.

One day a year we bundle up and embrace the holidays to the full extent.  We cut down trees, we bake, we eat, we laugh, and play, all side by side.   The tradition we have created of this day has turned into the best gift we could ever hope to receive.  Our day spent together as one.

Does your family have a holiday tradition?  What are they?  Was the tradition passed down in your family or is it a new tradition? Leave me a comment telling me all about your family's holiday traditions and on Friday I will pick 2 (two) lucky winners. Winners you say?  What can you win?

The 2  winners will each receive a Hallmark Prize Package which includes The Night Before Christmas recordable storybook, a Hallmark Keepsake Photo Ornament, & a Displayable Greeting Card.  Very cool (tradition starting) stuff.

Bon Chance.

A Delorean Trip

Punk Rock Biggie Smalls Gets Ready for the Bubbly!

In the time old tradition of looking back and figuring out what you will do different next year I have found that there is not much I will do differently.  Maybe lose some weight.  Do more yoga.  Workout.  Blah Blah Blah.  But I did compile some old posts that I truly enjoyed.  I hope you do as well!

My 2 Year Old Drops 'F Bombs'

To Be a Chef's Widow

Another One Bites The Dust

A Thunder Hating Robot Lives in My House

The Family That Sled Together

The Weight of a Woman

May Day Rocks

500 Posts Ago

Absinthe Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

One Lucky Mamma

Champagne Sabering Takes Over

The Most Beautiful Girl in The World

Louisiana Celebrates in Style & Pasta

Come Quickly, I Am Tasting the Stars!

Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself

December is the Most Funniest Month Ever Mommy!

Widow'Mas 2008

While writing this list the Chef (who now stands over my shoulder when I write) told me I should compile a lit of how many posts I had about Ewan McGregor 2008 vs. 2007.  Here you go honey!

 

2008                                                                                                       

9 Posts   10 Posts (including this one)        

2007

4 Posts                               

 

More than DOUBLE!!!!       

Catcher's smile rarely disappears, something I look forward to in '09

 

****A moment of thanks to you my readers.  I would never be able to do this on the daily if there was no YOU!  Also to my amazing husband Jonathon.  Starting a new year without you would be like starting a day without thumbs.  I heart you.  And to Catcher & Louisiana, I hope this new year brings you a new adventure each day.  I hope that our laughs destroy any sadness we may encounter.  My children, my life.  My heart is yours.

Peace & War Bitches.

Widow'Mas 2008

We had a spectacular Christmas week filled with friends and family, Festivus, and food.  

We have certainly been blessed this year with so many new great friends and so many great times.  The Chef's last night at Cento was sad, fun, and enormously busy but we got to hang out with some of our favorite people, Mike & Liz, Julie & Steve, Roni & Kevin, Billy & Barbara (and Henry too!).  We are a lucky family that seems to be getting bigger and bigger with each new venture the Chef & I take on.  Life is good.

No,

Life is fucking awesome.

I hope that you & yours had a special Christmasukahwanza!!!

 

Cheers Bitches.

Bakugun is not Religious

The holiday season is upon us.  TV has turned into a giant toy commercial.  Walmart is a war zone.  And all my son can talk about is this weird ass card game that I have never heard of.  Tis the season. In trying to spread education and respect for all I am putting forth my best effort to teach my kids about all holidays that occur in the next month.  Let me tell you, it has NOT been a cake walk.

I have been taking books and books and books out of the library all year round that focus on different cultures, celebrations, and peoples.  Now that holiday season is here I have made a serious effort (we're talking 3 times a week library trips) to find the perfect books to inspire, educate, enlighten, and heighten interest in the boy.  So far I have had no luck.  The Hanukkah books are D-R-Y.  I'm not Jewish so I don't really know the staple books.  But I know they can't all be super boring.  It's the festival of lights man!  The Kwanza books are ok, at least the ones I found, but I am renting them from a library in a town with a population of 20 African-Americans.  Probably not 20, but not 20,000 either.  The selection is slim.  And the winter solcitice books, NON EXSISTENT.  I've got Christmas covered, I think.  We usually do The Night Before Christmas & follow up with The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Although I don't really have any books that explain the whole Jesus thing in a fun non boring & dry way.  I guess I'm not covered.

SO...

I have decided to buy a holiday collection for our library (built of wine boxes) but I desperately need your help.  Any suggestions pertaining to ALL holidays, cultures, astrological will be considered and appreciated!

 

***The first five readers to suggest a GREAT HOLIDAY BOOK will receive from me (and the Cuyahoga County Public Library) the award winning & beautiful illustrated Great Books For Kids 2008 book.  Just make sure to leave me your email.  Peace & War.

 

****CONGRATS MICHELLE V!