Summer Resolution. And on to Fall.

Top Five best things about fall, in no particular order

  1. Apples

  2. Sweet Potatoes
  3. Autumn Leaves
  4. Halloween
  5. Layering Clothes: Sweaters, Scarves, Hats, Over-the-Knee Socks, and Boots

This summer has been an exciting mix of family travel and developmental growth for Biddi, complemented and punctuated by produce and new recipes.

The wild finale of hurricane season made for some unseasonably warm weather up North and even some record-breaking heat; Indian Summer provides closure and I am really looking forward to some cooler evenings soon.

I have a massive backlog of summer recipes and pictures but I was having so much fun that I never pulled myself together long enough to post them! Better late than never, and if I actually try to type out recipes, these pictures will sit, gathering virtual cobwebs in the cloud. They are pretty self-explanatory even without recipes.

The weather can’t decide if it is summer or fall, but since school is back in session, summer must be over.  Another clue: we have been eating fresh apples again. After mealy old ones during the spring and summer months, I always look forward to nice crisp ones that haven’t been in storage for months.

Eclipse ShadowsMy latest obsession is making Buddha Bowls with avocado rosettes plopped right on top, inspired by all the amazing vegetarian food the family enjoyed in Asheville and Sylva, NC when we visited for the Eclipse in August. I am still perfecting the rosette technique, but now that I have cleared my phone of old food pictures, I can start taking new ones again!

Frozen Blueberries in Record-Breaking Heat, Common Ground Fair, MEWe also just returned from Maine and found a couple of vegetarian spots that offered a respite from the lobster rolls. And visiting farmers’ markets in new cities is always fun, especially the enormous one at the Common Ground Fair in Unity, Maine. The frozen wild blueberries were amazing, since we missed the end of berry season by about a month and it was almost 90 degrees. That may become an annual stop for our family, it was really fun. I wanted to find something wool as a souvenir but I couldn’t even look at the blankets and sweaters without breaking into a sweat–the poor sheep!

And “the baby” is now calling herself a Big Girl, it’s bittersweet but she really is growing up! We are potty training now after reading a few books and blogs we are making progress…except she is trying to not have bowel movements. She runs and grabs diapers when she needs to do #2. And runs around yelling “rainbows,” when she really has to go–referring to her rainbow underpants–which may be the funniest thing anyone could say to signal a poo is coming. In the Trolls movie, they fart glitter and poop cupcakes so it is almost like she is a little troll, and that very well may be her Halloween costume this year if I can get her hair to stand up straight like the dolls’ hair.

We made homemade Play Dough one day and it is amazingly soft and easy for her to manipulate. We added a few drops of essential oils so the dough is scented, which is a nice bonus sensory experience. She made up a way to decorate the hearts with polka dots, then said, “mommy and baby.” How cute? Too cute.

Biddi’s main interest these days is art projects. She made some sponge painted fish this summer in her summer camp, which are now framed in her room. She even found burnt charcoal on the shore in Maine and drew all over a boulder! Coloring with markers is her new go-to activity and now she is getting in to painting. There is no going back now! Paper Bag PuppetsShe had leftover non-toxic paint from the wooden car and train we bought and decorated about a year ago. The black paint is finally off my floor, so I figured we were good to go make another mess today. We made puppets from paper bags! I even managed to let her paint them herself (for the most part) instead of hovering over her and telling her what color to put where. She was really focused and stayed in the lines I sketched remarkably well!

Farmers’ Market Haul

We have been over scheduled and having tons of fun, but Biddi may be done with naps. At just 24 months, it seems early from everything that I have read on the subject. This seems very unfair, but she won’t sleep anymore during the day. It is probably karma because I only slept 6 hours a night from age 12 until I was 30 and I think she inherited my aversion for sleep. My coping mechanism in reaction to my loss of quiet time in the afternoon has been to eat a cracker whenever I hear her not sleeping when she should be. This morning I woke up feeling like I haven’t had real food in days!

We made an emergency trip to the Farmers’ Market and practically bought one–or ten–of everything. My haul includes: raspberries, golden raspberries, black raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, portobello mushrooms, lion’s mane mushrooms, broccoli, garlic, zucchini, squash blossoms, spring onions, heirloom tomatoes. Sunny days plus rain make real food. And since I am paying a premium for the good organic stuff, I leave on a little bit of that expensive soil with its premium microbacteria whenever possible.

*Speaking of sunny days, we had a wonderful time yesterday learning about food and edible plants at Biddi’s first day of summer camp. The theme was gardening and the kitchen. We planted a cherry tomato plant, watered zucchini and watermelons, and she learned to cut up fruit, which was her absolute favorite thing ever! I might have to copy this idea so she can prepare her own snacks from now on. It was so cute and she is so intense learning new things–she has been dying to use a knife for months, after watching me in the kitchen her whole life; we might never be able to unring that bell!



Back to my produce haul, buying the food is easy. My challenge is, of course, to prepare and eat all this great food. The fruit is never hard to eat at this time of the year, and if it starts to seem too soft, the freezer is attached right to the fridge! In my opinion, trying new foods is vital for Biddi to have the best nutrition possible and a healthy relationship with food. I have been thinking and rethinking my options…and I have a plan of attack that encompasses a few different styles/ethniticies of food and utilizes most of the produce I splurged on this morning:

Since I have a few orange peppers already at home, tonight we will have mushroom-squash blossom-stuffed peppers and a side salad. Tomorrow I need to use a couple of avocados and soem poblano peppers I just roasted because they were on the verge of going bad, so probably some mexican food for lunch. Dinner will be bruschetta I plan to make tonight so it can sit overnight to let the flavors meld. We have friends in from out of town, so that can be a late night snack. The zucchini might become noodles with pesto probably, although that almost seems like a waste–the zucchini is so delicious looking and fresh I might just eat it raw as a snack!

This weekend I made a delicious Vegan Pesto based on a New York Times recipe, but used garlic scapes instead of boring old garlic. And my daughter “Biddi” and I harvested our Basil plant. Three cups of basil and it did not even put a dent in those plants! We toasted the pine nuts together, but I made the mistake of letting her try one while they were still too hot and she lost interest in helping me in the kitchen altogether. Since I did not use cheese, the flavor was a little bland so I added 1/8 teaspoon fresh grated pink Himalayan salt. So there is a downside to not having cheese, but also a benefit: without the cheese, it can also be stored in the freezer if it isn’t all gone within a week.

Vegan Pesto (makes about 2 cups)

  • 3 cups Basil
  • 4-5 garlic scapes, chopped
  • 1/3 cup toasted Pine Nuts
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • Salt to taste

Cooking Method

  1. Add the first 3 Ingredients to a food Processor
  2. Pulse 5 times and then turn it on, streaming in the olive oil until it is the right consistency.
  3. Add salt to taste
  4. I leave my pesto slightly thick and then thin it with olive oil for various recipes, if needed.

The pesto has been great and we are using it on everything from pasta to tofu and even the fingerling potatoes I bought at the market for lunch today. I haven’t had potatoes in ages, they were a nice treat. I just tossed them with about 1/4 cup pesto and a tablespoon of olive oil and a few cloves of extra garlic and cooked on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper for 30 minutes at 375 degrees, turning once halfway through.  I also tossed some chopped broccoli–with their stems–and garlic scapes and a tablespoon of pesto in a small skillet and served that along side the potatoes. It was really filling and since we had been eating fruit all morning it was definitely enough food.


Launching the Catapult: the ittyBIDDI Shop

My intention for the week, set during yoga yesterday, is to take more risks. I have gotten really comfortable in my routine and am feeling like I have mastered this “mom” thing for the moment. Although the “baby” is mere days away from entering the official Terrible Twos so perhaps I am premature in seeking a new challenge. I bought fresh fava beans and green garlic today, which are both pretty intimidating, so I think I am on the right trajectory.

In terms of trying new things outside the kitchen, I have decided to get my Etsy shop up and running. I have a backlog of inventory (toddler dresses) and corresponding blog posts that I need to get online so I can figure out my customer and get “feedback,” a less intimidating way to talk about what my time and design aesthetic is worth on the marketplace…could be $0.00.

It is so scary to put myself out there, but writing this blog has been a great way to try and expand my boundaries and take a risk. So I am really looking to catapult myself to the next level. And that is a really apt metaphor- quick, efficient, fast, and once that cord is cut there is no going back!

I am trying to bring all the familiarities of my normal day to the new scary venture. I have made a to-do list and a skeleton of a business plan to hold myself accountable, anything to make me feel in control when I am really so overwhelmed.  I am trying to set up the checks and balances so that I keep on track, and I know in theory what steps to take, but it’s been so long since I had an independent project!

As a tutor specializing in executive functioning, I typically help students to manage their workload by doing these exact things: setting mini-goals, chunking assignments into smaller deliverables, avoiding procrastination. And that is the real problem; I set up my Etsy shop in November but haven’t done anything with it!

This blog has even become a comfortable way to evade sewing and costing garments, and especially actually putting them up for sale. There is so much to do and learn so I know I will make mistakes and that is scary. I know the long-term earning potential of the Etsy shop is pretty limited by what I can do manually and what I value my time to be worth. The next step would be bringing a sewing production facility into the equation; that is almost too overwhelming to think about. That goes takes my venture from medieval catapult to jet-powered rocket–way more dangerous and in a whole different league. And putting the cart before the horse is another great way to procrastinate.

Food Goals

I found this food poster from the 1940s a few years ago and I was smitten. Those 6 guidelines for food should replace the food pyramid, my plate, USDA guidelines without a doubt. I love that buying local was a recommendation from WW2–those proto-hipsters! Then somehow the McCarthy era convinced Americans that consumerism was patriotism. I want to do better than I have been as far as these 6 rules go.

I adore this poster and I have wanted to frame it in my house, but the wall space in our kitchen is already spoken for. I think having this visual around daily would be a great nudge in the right direction those nights when I am thinking of “treating” myself to some grubhub.

Of those food rules, I have especially been trying to make less waste, so some hybrid of 5 and 6. I watched a few documentaries on freegans and food waste and was totally disgusted by myself. I stopped buying milk because that is the one thing I always buy “just to have it” and never use, and then toss the second the expiration date is close. I really like unsweetened almond milk as a substitute and it stays good so much longer. A third of food is thrown away. Once a “biodegradable” food product gets buried in the anaerobic landfill, it just sits there, entombed but not decomposing. So to do better for myself and for Biddi less of my food should end up there.

Immediate-Term Goals


This is another amazing 1940s WW2 poster, although my idea of “food as a weapon” is more like abstaining from meat, processed foods, and only buying organics whenever possible. So I guess my wallet is really the weapon I am wielding in that scenario.

In an effort to live up to my grandmother’s generation, I make sure to use food instead of tossing it when it starts to have a blemish or look not-so-fresh. I am cataloging my produce daily, “one more day until I should wash and freeze those peaches/berries/bananas if I can’t eat them,” says the depression/war era housewife in my head.

With herbs and lettuce, a quick rinse in COLD water perks them right up, as long as they haven’t really started to decompose. If there are bugs in my broccoli or mold in my tomatoes seeds, I cross that bridge when I come to it. For the broccoli: a good wash is good enough and maybe I get a little extra protein? Dark tomato seeds I just remove, as long as there is no mold growing. I usually seed my tomatoes anyway. One thing I really will not eat and exchange is a red pepper if it is mold.

Because food waste starts in the grocery store, I am trying my best to buy the first piece of produce I pick up: no inspecting each pepper or pineapple; just grab and go. It has actually made shopping so much more enjoyable, better.

Short-Term Goals


A short-term goal of mine is to get a worm composting bin to address my own food waste. Biddi will love watching the worms eat scraps (if not because it is inherently entertaining, then because I love it) and its science…and she is getting sick of learning about the planets and water cycle, so this could blow her mind. No I am not joking, I have gone through several iterations of the solar system and ice-water-steam monologues to a 23 month old child. My immediate term solution for my food waste is the garbage disposal, since our pipes are on a sewage system, not a septic system; I consider that a poor man’s compost.

Living in the midwest does present a particular set of problems for Rule #4: Buy Local Foods. In the winter there isn’t much local food to buy. Although our Whole Foods carries Mighty Vine tomatoes from a local greenhouse all winter, and I swear they are as good as any midsummer tomato from the garden. The 1940s patriotic solution from the US Food Administration was canning.

Long Term Goals

And my long term goal is more of my “dream space,” where I live on my own produce year round and I do canning in summer…And I make my own soap à la Fight Club…and I recut old clothes into new ones every season like women did for generations (or “wear leather clothes…” à la Fight Club)

But maybe this is all BS because the sugar ration was like 2 lbs per person a month, which is totally excessive. Also, the same masterminds that create all those other insightful and inspiring food rations posters also made this:




These posters are from Library of Congress and another free site are in the public domain

Living a Healthy Lifestyle: Making Healthy Choices

Mondays, I usually go to hot yoga class. I used to attend a heated yoga flow later in the afternoon, but my toddler, “Biddi” insisted on moving her nap time to right in the middle of my class when she consolidated to one-nap-a-day!

The heated class is nice because it’s about 80 degrees and I don’t need to spend 10 minutes warming up my muscles, I just arrive 5 minutes early, take a seated position, and by the time class begins I am ready to go. The mild heat is wonderful on freezing midwestern winter days, especially because I don’t get the chills when I leave the studio and go back outside like with a super-hot yoga practice.

Biddi’s nap shift actually worked out really well, because after about a year of heated yoga, my core had 100% recovered from pregnancy and I felt up to a new challenge. My former class was amazing with lots of Vinyasa and a chance to practice inversions and attempt crow pose each week. I got the full wheel pose and gained confidence with some fun poses that were new to me, like dolphin pose, my weird new favorite!

The new class has more chair pose, camel pose, but fewer inversions. It is a nice change and I find it more introspective and inspiring. In the past, I would typically set my intention at the start of class along the lines of opening my heart or finding my voice. Recently I have switched it up and I have been focused on living a healthy lifestyle. I find that taking time to focus my efforts and energy on Mondays sets the tone for a very positive week.

In terms of my yoga practice, I try to push myself out of my comfort zone without being reckless. I am flexible for whatever reason, so in the hot room it’s tempting to push too far and risk injury. I always have to remind myself to stay engaged and strong, rather than absent-mindedly relying on stretchiness to complete a posture without actually doing yoga.

My slow-but-steady mindset has paid off in a very rewarding way–I did a tripod headstand this week for the first time ever and it was the coolest thing. I was terrified and asked the instructor to help. She didn’t act as a spotter or guide me by picking my legs up, like I pretty much expected. Instead she stood beside me and walked me through the steps. I did not get my legs extended vertically, because I was a scared and my abs just aren’t there yet, but it was a really solid first try. So basically for a year and a half I have been envious of everyone in class who can do that pose and I did it. I love surprising myself! It’s like when my husband cracks me up with some hysterical anecdote I have never heard before. Like, “Yes! After all these years we can still learn something new about each other!”

As I feel myself aging and turning into an old fuddy-duddy, I have expanded the idea of pushing myself out of my comfort zone without being reckless beyond the yoga studio. In the picture above, for example, when my husband finally convinced me to put Biddi in a kid’s seat on the back of his bicycle last summer. I was freaked out. She loved it and it opened up our days in summer so we can do more things on the weekends with Biddi’s mobility, since she is now independent of a carseat or stroller, weather permitting.

In the interest of making healthy choices and living a healthy lifestyle, I usually leave the gym and immediately head to the supermarket to load up on produce. On days that I rush home to put Biddi in to nap, I inevitably end up eating something frozen or from a can. I can justify it by saying it was reduced sodium or vegetarian but I don’t think it lives up to the mantra of living a healthy lifestyle. Biddi has been my inspiration: rediscovering actual food was a direct result of making her baby food. I had to start making an effort to care for myself after years of flying on auto-pilot, because I realized that my example is more impactful and long-lasting than just feeding her pureed cauliflower.



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