Thursday, October 28, 2010

15 Minutes to Spare

"Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that's the stuff that life is made of." - Benjamin Franklin

Good 'ol Ben also said: Time is money. To me, time is golden, priceless and fleeting. The most valuable moments are spent with my family but I still have a household to maintain and every evening I find myself wondering where the time went. Some days my Wrinkle in Time (i.e. a fold in the fabric of The Daily Routine) renders me incapable of completing something as simple, yet deceptively elusive, as the task of unloading the dishwasher. Such Wrinkle often occurs after a late breakfast...

"Breakfast time! Crap. Late again"
[Fast Forward] 
Ok. it's 10 am. "Naptime!"
[Fast Forward] 
The kids are awake. "Time for lunch."
[Fast Forward] 
Papa is home..."Enzo, say hello to your Papa (whew-it's about time)."
[Fast Forward] 
Is it 5 o'clock already? Holy COW. I have to figure out what to make for dinner. "Is that clothes still in the dryer?!"

I've compiled a list of things I can do in 15 minutes or less (when I can find the time):

Spot-clean the bathroom
Sweep the kitchen floor
Vacuum a room
Load/unload the dishwasher
Take out the trash
Make the beds
Pick up toys and put them away (several times)
Water plants
Discard junk mail
Sort laundry
Create a shopping list
Clip coupons
Purge the fridge of old food
Prep dinner
Set the table
Clear the table
Make a phone call
Meditate/take a "power" nap-whatever that means
Thumb through a magazine
Read a book
Water the lawn
Groom a pet
Bathe a kid
Play hide-and-seek
Sew a button onto a shirt
Upload photos from a camera/phone
File a bit of paperwork
Check and return e-mail messages
Clean out my purse
Take a shower
Write and send a thank-you note

Keepin' it "real": If I had 8 consecutive, uninterrupted hours of spare time (kid-free), I probably wouldn't do any of the above, except "blog"...and maybe take a nap. When spending time with the my husband and kids, I do my best to make sure we all enjoy every minute of it. After all, they are only young once and time flies.

"The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot." - Michael Altshuler 

Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Harvest Pumpkin Soup


1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 small potato, finely cubed
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 tbsp. butter
2 cups pumpkin puree
2 cups chicken broth*
1 tsp dried parsley (or 2 tsp fresh)
1/2 tsp thyme
2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream
Chives for garnish (optional)


In a 1-quart sauce pan over medium heat, saute the onion, potato and sugar in the butter until onion is transparent and slightly caramelized (about 8 minutes). Add the pumpkin puree, chicken broth*, parsley, thyme and bacon. Stir to combine well, bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm or serve immediately. Before serving, season with salt and pepper, to taste and garnish with a tablespoon or more of the heavy cream spooned onto each individual serving. Garnish with chives (optional).

*More or less broth can be used to adjust the thickness of the soup. The soup can be pureed in a blender or food processor before garnishing for a smoother texture.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Comfy Cozy

Ahhhhh, yes. My favorite time of year is finally here. Autumn has arrived, chock-full of holidays and activities that are near and dear to my heart. My personal favorite is Fall Wardrobe Day. I rummage around the closets looking for where I stashed the dozen or so sweaters I own. They're nothing special, really. Most were acquired either at a discount retailer or thrift store (I am one who needn't worry about potential moth infestations). Out come the hats, scarves, footsie pajamas and jackets for the little ones and warm blankies are stowed in the car. Oh, and yes--I actually do keep gloves in my glove compartment. Isn't that what it's for?

And then there's the food. Comfort foods like meat loaf and mashed potatoes are a favorite at my house. Soups and stews are relatively easy one-pot meals that can be prepared with little fat and lots of vegetables. Aside from all the usual Autumn fare, there's a myriad of recipes that call for pumpkin puree that I'm just dying to experiment with. I gotta get those veggies down their little hatches any way I can! Cooler weather calls for hot cocoa with marshmallows, herbal tea, vanilla lattes, and warm milk spiked with cinnamon and a teeny bit of sugar (if you've never had it, you really ought to give it a try).

Fall is a great season to encourage kids to use their creativity with food decor. They can help frost spooky ghost cookies, construct a haunted gingerbread house, or decorate sugar cookies with candy corn before they are baked. Sure, it's likely to create a huge mess, but it's very entertaining for little ones. Mmmmmm...Don't for get the Candy Apples. One can argue that these candy-coated delights are actually kind of healthy, right? Every year, in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, my mom creates a centerpiece using a whole pineapple decorated to resemble a turkey. She fashions a turkey head cut from red felt stuffed with cotton which she then attaches with pins to the fruit. It may sound unusual but it's really awfully cute! Why a pineapple you ask? That's a very good question...

Here is a great recipe just passed on to me by a friend. I have yet to cook it myself, as I just acquired this week and would need to borrow a larger crock pot but ingredients don't lie--it's chock-full of yummy stuff. I can't wait to try it! It is as follows:

Dawn's Potato Soup
In a large crock pot set to "low" add the following, combining well:
6 potatoes, cubed
2 leeks, sliced
2 onions, chopped/sliced
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 chicken bouillon cubes dissolved in 4 cups of water
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 tbsp parsley (fresh or dried)
2 tbsp butter

Cook for four hours on the lowest setting. One hour before serving add one can of evaporated milk
and garnish with chives.
Optional garnishes: bacon bits or minced garlic, chopped ham, whatever is on hand.

Gobble, gobble, gobble...