August 30, 2023

Gluten-Free Peach Tart

Are you ready for Labor Day?  I'm torn between wanting summer to last just a little longer and wanting to dive right into my favorite season, autumn.  Either way, I'm going to try and enjoy this last long weekend of summer by being outside, eating corn, peaches and tomatoes, and hanging out with my family.

Yesterday, with some of the first tasty peaches of the season (seriously, why do I buy peaches that are dry and mealy?  There must be a secret to buying them), I made a peach tart, which I'm sharing over at a local-to-me blog, Lots to Eat Without the Wheat.
While my diet is not gluten-free, I do enjoy creating dishes that don't use wheat.  And this tart came out pretty tasty, despite its lack of butter and white flour.  Stop by and check out my recipe, and of course have a great weekend!

August 28, 2023

Kindergarten Blues

It's been an emotionally trying week here for my newly-minted Kindergartener.
It was to be expected, knowing how hard last year's transition to preschool was.  Despite liking school and telling me that he's eager to go back each day, separation anxiety often gets the best of my son.  Getting him on to the morning bus is a tear-filled event.

"I don't want to be away from Mommy."  "I miss Mommy."  These are his mantras.  And I acknowledge that he is having a difficult time and is sad.  It's a huge transition, for sure, especially that our kindergarten is full-day AND he's riding the bus to school (the bus literally picks up outside our door, it's only a 10 minute ride, and driving him there would be challenging given our one car situation).
My spirited child is having difficulty sleeping at night too. He's already running on a sleep deficit from the past week of early wakings and late nights (despite his early bedtime, he's been taking a long time to fall asleep).  Last night, he was up throughout much of the night, even though Chris slept with him for a few hours he was still tossing and turning.  And again, awake at 5am, scared and worried.  My poor boy.
As his parents, Chris and I just accept that September is going to be tough and that things will get better eventually (they have to, right?) and we just have to wait it out.  But I keep thinking about what I could do differently, could have done differently.  Did I not prepare him adequately for being away from me?  Should I have sent him to a camp or daycare this summer? 

Truthfully, I know it probably wouldn't have worked.  He's always been emotionally dependent on his parents, especially me.  Chris and I often remark that even since birth, Soren has viewed us as his security blankets.  He was never one to take a pacifier, lovey, thumb, or any other kind of self-soothing technique.  We are his comfort, and it's no surprise that he's having trouble adjusting to full days without us. 

Soren is the kind of child whom I'd characterize as intense.  He lives his emotions to the highest level--when he's happy, he's over-the-top elated, when he's angry, oh boy watch out.  So I know this is normal for him to have such an extreme reaction to kindergarten.  I'm just hoping that he's at least enjoying some parts of school and making new friends.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to suck my thumb and curl into a ball myself.  Or at least have one more comforting cup of coffee.

August 12, 2023

Apple Cider Vinegar Zucchini Pickles

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Heinz Vinegar. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and as a thank you for participating.
There are a few basics in life that I can't live without.  I'm not talking about the big things like family, home, health, etc.  Instead, I'm referring to the often overlooked items I take for granted like soap, flushing toilets, running water and my eyeglasses.

Apple cider vinegar is on my list of essential ingredients for my daily life.  I use it a lot, whether in cooking, cleaning, or as a health and beauty aid.  It's part of my hair routine, and adds a bit of reddish highlights to my auburn locks.
It makes kickin' refrigerator pickles, and I've even been known to make tea out of it with lemon and honey that helps soothe an upset stomach.  I read somewhere that it soothes sunburn too, but I haven't tried that since it's been years since I had one.

There's not much I don't use it for (it even works well in removing stickers!), and when I had the chance to try out Heinz Apple Cider vinegar and their new Unfiltered Apple Cider vinegar, I was eager to think of something to use it for.

The kitchen is the most natural place to start, so I thought I'd make a batch of Zucchini Pickles, since there are overflowing in my kitchen.
These are similar to my refrigerator pickles, but with zucchini instead of cucumbers.  I chose to use Heinz Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar because I find it has a slightly stronger taste, which I like.  It's cloudier, as it contains the "mother" of the vinegar (a compound created naturally during the fermentation process) and also because it's unfiltered and unpasteurized. 

I also have used it in salad dressing (my usual recipe is 1/3 vinegar, 2/3 olive oil, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp honey and salt and pepper) and it gives a tangier taste than red wine.  I'm eager to try it in other recipes, but for now, I'll share my refrigerator pickle recipe.

Tangy Zucchini Pickles with Apple Cider Vinegar

(makes 2 quarts)
  • 1 pound of zucchini (1 large OR 2 medium), thinly sliced on a mandolin or by hand
  • 1 small Vidalia onion, thinly sliced on a mandolin or by hand
  • 6 cups Heinz Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar (or regular Apple Cider Vinegar)
  • 5 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp celery salt (if you don't have this on hand, you could substitute sea salt)
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp pickling spice
Slice the zucchini and onion very thinly.
I used the 1/16 setting, but you could make thicker slices. I wanted mine to be thin for piling onto burgers and salads.
With clean hands, pack the zucchini and onion neatly into 2 clean quart jars.

In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients except for the zucchini and onion in a small saucepan, then bring to a boil for 2 minutes until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool to room temperature, then pour over the zucchini in the jars, filling up to within 1/2" of the top.

I put mine in the fridge for 5 days, and then tried them.  Tangy and delicious!  They should keep for a few weeks in the fridge.
You can find more recipes using apple cider vinegar, both for eating and for living, at the Heinz Vinegar website as well as on their Pinterest page.

August 6, 2023

Bloody Mary Bowtie Salad {+Giveaway}

O humble tomato, how I adore thee.  This time of year is especially ripe (ha!) with possibilities for incorporating fresh tomatoes into my cooking.  But who wants to eat anything hot?  Not me.
Last summer, I participated in the Summer Pastabilities recipe contest sponsored by Hodgson Mill, where my Southwestern Pasta Salad won second prize.  This summer, I'm participating again, since I'm always up for a creative challenge in the kitchen.

When I was pondering ideas for pasta salad, of course I had to look to the tomato.  I always chop them for pasta salads, but the typical Caprese pasta salad was sounding a little tired from the recipe index in my brain.  Basil?  Mozzarella? Time for something different.

When flipping through a cooking magazine, I came across a recipe for a Bloody Mary, that tomato-y drink spiked with vodka, often served at (or for!) brunch.  The spicy, tangy drink could certainly translate to pasta salad, hence, this recipe was born.
A gruesome name for a really tasty pasta salad.  Here's how you make it:


serves 4-6


  • 10 oz. box of Hodgson Mill whole grain bowtie pasta
  • 3 ribs of celery, sliced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and de-seeded, diced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped vidalia onion (alternately, you could shred it on a grater)
  • 2 mozzarella cheese sticks, sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • chopped celery leaves, for garnish
  • The juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp Worcester sauce
  • 1 small, ripe tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp Tabasco or hot sauce (or more or less, to your liking)
  • 1 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tbsp horseradish
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp of black pepper (or more or less, to your liking)
  • additional salt or celery salt, to your liking
Cook the pasta according to instructions.  Set aside to cool, slightly, then transfer to a large bowl.  Add the chopped celery, cucumbers, tomatoes and onion and gently toss to combine.

In another bowl, combine the ingredients for the dressing, adding the additional chopped tomato.  The riper the better!  This heavy purple one was nearly falling off the vine.
After you add it to the bowl, puree the dressing with a hand blender or in a food processor or blender to make the dressing.  If you don't have these items, you could mash it by hand and run it through a sieve.
You'll get a nice, rich red dressing, which looks a lot like a Bloody Mary.
Pour this dressing over your bowtie mixture (maybe save a bit for a real Bloody Mary--just add the vodka to your glass), toss gently and chill for 30 minutes or until it's cold.  Then add in the sliced mozzarella sticks.
Feel free to add a splash more hot sauce or Worcester sauce if you'd like a stronger, more pungent taste.  Garnish with celery leaves and serve cold.  Enjoy!
From now until 08/09, enter to win the Summer Pastabilities Gift Pack Give-a-way sweeps from Hodgson Mill! You could win a $50 prize pack filled with quality Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat pasta, a copy of the Hodgson Mill Whole Grain Baking Book, and more.

This summer you can also take $1 off any variety of Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat pasta! Coupon available at:
  • Want to receive Hodgson Mill coupons, offers, giveaways, and new recipes before they’re unveiled to the public? Join the email newsletter!
  • Need dinner ideas? Check out the Hodgson Mill blog for healthy, seasonal, and delicious inspiration.
  • Join the community on the Hodgson Mill Facebook page.
  • For more foodie inspiration, follow Hodgson Mill on Pinterest!
And for all of you lovely Katydid and Kid readers, Hodgson Mill is giving away $25 in their products.  To enter, just leave a comment on this post about your favorite item in their online store or what you'd like to make with their pasta.  Good luck!
Disclosure: I received samples of Hodgson Mill products to facilitate this recipe, and I'm participating in a chance to win a prize in this contest.

August 5, 2023

A Room of His Own

Compared to his brother's room, Soren's bedroom was pretty drab.  What had first been a guest room, then a playroom/sewing room (man, I wish I still had that space!)
then a make-way-for-the-new-baby bedroom, which was a fast and furious attempt at moving Soren out of the crib and into a twin bed.
Then it became a place of mismatched furniture, holes in the walls (I had to move that cute shelf, because it was being used as a monkey bar), bad paint color, and chipped baseboards.
Oh, this poor room.  It's seen a lot of changes, but never something lasting and complete.  But its time has come.
The paint color is Perfect Storm from Valspar. (I used the primer+paint, low VOC, which worked great in just two coats to cover up that grurple color that was there before.
The boys' rooms adjoin (and they have their own entrances too), so you can see Jude's room in this photo through the door to the left, just in case you were wondering what that was.  Old houses and their loveable quirks.
This color is a dark teal/navy blue, which is perfect for a room that will grow with my son.
Unless he requests it, I don't have any intention of painting it again for many years.
The focal point of the room is the map wall, which set the room's global theme.
A lot of the room's accessories were ones that I've collected over the years, like this bolga basket found on clearance because its handle was missing.
The mirror below is from NOVICA, the hex sign is from an artisan at a local festival, and the wooden Austrian pull-up doll was a gift to Soren as a baby.
(Side note: my photos here are not so hot, especially when the windows are in the picture. A lens filter is stuck on the lens, and it's not flush with the lens. I need to take it to the local camera shop to help me get it off. )
Many of his Legos are stored in the fabric bins above, which helps to corral them from their inevitable turn as objects-of-stabbing-foot-pain on the floor.
I kept the artwork pretty spare, dedicating one entire wall to this woodblock print from a local art student.
My attitude toward buying art work is that if you love it, it will fit into your home in any way and make you happy looking at it.
I sewed some simple valances out of some Robert Kaufmann Metro Living fabric. 
My intention was to make Roman shades from it, but I was worried I wouldn't have enough.  I'm planning to install some kind of shades or wooden plantation blinds when our budget allows it.
I truly hope this room inspires in Soren a love of worldly things and travel.  So far, he loves his room, and I hope that he has many happy memories of it.

August 4, 2023

Back to School Crate and Clipboard with Michael's

I'm excited for the beginning of the school year, and not just because my eldest will be in full-time Kindergarten (yay for some breathing room for me)!.  I've always liked the start of school, even as a kid; all those new boxes of crayons and pencils and the impending arrival of fall make me happy.

While Kindergarten doesn't require too much preparation or organization on my part, I remembered that when Soren was in pre-K last year, it was sometimes hard for him to keep track of where his school stuff was.  That made for some stressful mornings, when he couldn't find his shoes, hat, or show-and-tell item.

This year, I decided to change all that and eliminate some of my school-morning stress by creating a place to corral his stuff.  When Michael's challenged me to create a Back-to-School craft, I eagerly signed on.
I envisioned a crate of some sort to hold a backpack, lunch bag, shoes, jacket, as well as something to keep papers or other important school stuff visible.  Naturally, I wanted to personalize this with paint, decorative paper, or other items, and Michael's had no shortage of ideas in their aisles. I love how my project turned out!
I found a wooden crate for under $15, which was the perfect size and material (highly durability) for my project.  
To add some pizazz to it, I strolled the scrapbooking aisle and found some pretty papers.  I decided to go with an alphabet theme, and use the color scheme in this paper.  I bought 4 sheets for the project.
I found two other complementary sheets of paper, which I'd use for the sides of the crate as well as on the clipboard.

While wandering the store, I came across a cute wooden chalkboard sign in the bridal aisle that would look great on my crate, so I picked that up too.
Lastly, I needed Mod Podge, a clipboard
 and paint.  I settled on a light gray paint for the box.

While I tend to get a lot of the 40% off coupons from Michael's in the newspaper, I always seem to forget them when shopping.  However, Michael's has a great app that you can use to get coupons that the cashier can scan from your phone.  I scored one that was 20% off my entire order, which made this entire project less than $30 for me.  It took me about 2 hours to complete, not counting the time it took for the crate to dry.

Here are my SUPPLIES:
  • 1 wooden crate
  • 4 sheets of 12x12" alphabet scrapbook paper
  • 2 sheets coordinating scrapbook paper
  • 1 fiberboard clipboard
  • 4 2oz. containers of Folk Art paint in Dove Gray
  • Scissors/paper cutter
  • 1 wood chalkboard sign
  • Polyurethane for sealing (optional)
Paint your crate, inside and out with the Folk Art paint.  Allow to dry according to instructions on the paint tube.  If you're particularly fussy, you could sand and wipe down the crate before painting.  I'm just lazy and pressed for time, so I didn't do that.

Cut your alphabet paper into 2" strips to fit onto the crate's slats.  The paper is only 12" long, so you'll need some 2"x6" strips too, to finish off each slat.

Using Mod Podge, adhere the paper to the slats.  I painted the Mod Podge on the crate, then painted some more on the backsides of the paper.  When adhered, I painted a layer of Mod Podge over the surface of the paper (just check the back of the Mod Podge bottle for clearer instructions)
You can see that the 12" long piece doesn't reach to the end, which is why you need a few 6" pieces to fill in the gap.  I also staggered the seams where the papers meet so it didn't line up all the way down the right side of the box.

On the shorter ends of the crate, I adhered some of the coordinating papers in the same way.
Don't be alarmed at all the bubbles; they eventually went away as the paper dried.

While the crate was drying, I moved onto the clipboard.  First, I measured the paper so it would fit.  I wanted to leave a gap of brown around the edges and round the corners of the paper too, so I traced the corners of the clipboard onto it.
Then I unscrewed the hardware. I probably should have unscrewed the hardware first, but sometimes my mind doesn't work that linearly. 
Then I adhered the paper to it with Mod Podge (including a line of letters that I cut from the alphabet scrapbook paper), and coated the entire surface with a layer of it too.  When dry, I attached the hardware back onto the clipboard.

When the crate was dry, I sprayed the entire thing with a few coats of Polyurethane so it would hold up well.  A few layers of Mod Podge would work too.

I attached the chalkboard sign with two pieces of twine,
and placed my son's school stuff inside.  Hopefully he will consistently use it as his go-to place for his school things.
This project would also make a great storage container for a nursery or playroom.  The possibilities are infinite.  I hope this project makes our lives a little more organized and less stressful, and fosters some independence and responsibility in my Kindergartener.

Here are a few helpful things you might not know about Michael's
  • Michael's offers a 15 percent discount for teachers every day. Talk to a store associate during your next trip to learn more. 
  • If you need a large quantity of one back to school item but don’t see enough on the shelves, Michael's offers a bulk ordering program. You can order as many supplies as you need and save up to 20 percent. 
  • Michaels has an app. Download the Michaels app so you have the latest deals and coupons at your fingertips in case you need last minute school supplies.
Disclosure: As a participant in this campaign from Michael's, I received a gift card to cover expenses for this craft project.  All opinions and ideas in this post are my own.
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