Archive for the ‘General Blog’ Category

Win an Amy Kahn Russell Necklace

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Statements by Amy Kahn Russell Bronze Carved Gemstone Pendant with 24″ Beaded Necklace

This beautiful and exotic Foo Dog Pendant by Amy Kahn Russell features hand carved artistry in lush green Aventurine gemstones. Foo dogs are known as guardians and are believed to bring luck and protection to their owners. One lucky winner will be wearing this lovely good luck piece compliments of Amy Kahn Russell.

To enter, please leave your name, email address, phone number and “like” Colleen Lopez on HSN on Facebook or “follow” ColleenLopezHSN on Twitter. One entry per person. Winner will be announced on Thursday, November 8th.

Amy Kahn Russell is a good friend to all of us here at what wouldmomsay.  It is our pleasure to introduce to you our very talented and accomplished friend.

Amy is a famous designer and jewelry maker who is featured on HSN and many boutiques and galleries around the country.  It’s impossible to not receive endless compliments while wearing an original Amy  Kahn Russell piece of jewelry.

Take advantage of this opportunity to get acquainted  with this extraordinary jewelry designer, and good luck!!

Tomato Soup Time

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Since Joanna has been harvesting her tomatoes, it inspired me to make some homemade tomato soup. Tomato soup is probably the easiest of all soups and  paired with a grilled cheddar cheese sandwich, it’s hard to have anything better. I didn’t have any ripe ones from my own garden so I had to resort to store bought. When using fresh tomatoes, dunk them in a boiling pot of water for a few minutes until you see the skin split.  Drain and refresh with cold water. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, gently peel off the skin, split and remove the seeds. Don’t stress about getting all the seeds. I then chop them through my kitchen aide while sauting the garlic in olive oil. Add to the pan and cook down for 15 minutes. I needed to add a large can of crushed organic tomatoes since I didn’t have enough fresh tomatoes.  Finish with fresh chopped basil and cheese. I made this version with garlic, basil and parmesan cheese but you can have lots of variety with  a tomato base. If you like a creamier version, simply add a little cream or half and half.

Tomato Basil Soup

1 lb fresh tomatoes plus on large can of crushed organic tomatoes

4 garlic closes chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 fresh basil leaves chopped

1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup vegetable stock to thin the soup

1/4 cup of cream, optional

Visit our cookbook for other super simple soup recipes!

Squash Ratatouille and other Foods for Fall

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

I wish I could say that I’m a super gardener like our Garden Maiden, Joanna.  But I’m not.  I’m ok with flowers but terrible when it come to having lots of bounty from my vegetable garden.  It’s September and the only thing I’ve harvested were cherry tomatoes, chives and spearmint. I’ve had to rely on the local farm markets to bring in the fall staples, zucchini and squash.  I really get my renewed interest in cooking with the fall produce.  Such beautiful colors to add to dishes.Tonight we’ll trying Squash Ratatouille.  I added nutmeg and curry as well as some of my spearmint from the garden to enhance the favors of the squash.  If it’s soup you want, our Butternut Squash soup is super simple!Lots of zucchinis in the garden? Try cutting them length-wise and scooping out the seed and make zucchini boats.  You can fill them with a variety of foods.  The coconut milk in the Stuffed Zucchini with Jasmine Rice gives the vegetable a creamy sweet texture. And how could any resist, Cindy’s Famous Artichokes? While you’re waiting to cook these beauties off, arrange them in a bowl with limes and dried hydrangea for a table centerpiece. Before you put the grill away for the winter cook up some veggies and toss them with a dressing for a light dinner.  It’s hard not to mourn the end of summer but our colorful fall veggies sure give us something to look forward to in the kitchen.

If you have any recipe suggestions or question, please email us at or visit our cookbook and kitchen how tos on

Botswana Baked Polenta

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Botswana is not only known for it abundance of elephants but their many fabulous chefs.  While we were traveling on safari this summer we were treated to some delicious locals foods. They are tasty and inexpensive.This baked polenta recipe is from Kwetsani Camp in the Okawango Delta, part of the Wilderness Safari group. Since it’s a water based camp, the staff needs to plan their meals carefully and load up on pantry items.  This recipe uses instant polenta and a jarred relish (but I’ll include a homemade relish too).Botswana Baked Polenta

Chef Olivia and her trusted assistant

Serve the polenta hot with a green leafy salad and ginger lemonade. Simple and delicious!

ITS Tomato Time Again

Friday, September 14th, 2012

I was lucky to have my tomatoes come on and get beautiful and plump at the end of the season. I was getting ready to leave town and I saw that I had baskets of them and  I realized that I really wanted to can them this year. It had been probably ten years since I had last canned tomatoes. I was worried that I might have forgotten some secret, but it is very straight forward.

Get your equipment together.

Your quart jars and lids( use fresh lids every time you can unless you have those pretty glass lids that I haven’t tried yet but want to use because of their elegant beauty)

The large enamel pot for the boiling water bath, the jar caddy that helps to set the group of jars into and lift the jars out of the water bath

A tea kettle of boiling water to pour over the lids to sterilize them

A pot to boil water in for the removal of tomato peel

Colanders for your washed tomatoes and peeling tomatoes both

Drop the tomatoes into boiled water for one minute only… a little longer if the skin doesn’t readily peel away from the fruit, but watch it closely as too often I have forgotten and then the fruit of the tomato just isn’t as firm and pretty in the can or I should say JAR. You end up cooking it a little. It is easy to forget as you are peeling the tomatoes that you just put another batch in the hot water. I try to remember to put on the timer so I don’t let them sit too long in the water. Notice how long it takes yours. It can vary with the age of tomato and the variety all have their individual traits. Yes every variety of tomato has its own personality. Some are delicious and firm to slice, some are super watery and have so many seeds that they aren’t very good to can because your later soups and sauces made from them will have too many seeds. If you are making tomato sauce or soup, you can strain the seeds out or even squeeze them out of the tomato when you are preparing them for cooking…. So when you take the tomatoes out of the hot boiled water to loosen the skin… then you want to put them into a bowl of cold water or I often put them in a colander and run cold water over them.

As you are going along you are putting the lids of your jars in a bowl and pouring boiling water on them to sterilize them. You can let them sit until ready to screw on the filled jars. Do not take them out of their hot water bowl before or they start becoming non sterile immediately.

You get ahead of your self with the peeling or skinning of the tomatoes and filling a bowl… Then when you have them ready fill the jars. You can fill the jars to the brim with the tomatoes. Fit as many in as you can because after they are canned and out of the ” boiling water bath” they will be taking up much less space. See in the finished photos how much the tomatoes deflated and left space in the jar. Those jars were packed full.

The time in the water bath depends on the size of the jar or the type of vegetable. For tomatoes in quart jars it is about 45 minutes. After you take them out and set them on the counter to cool, you may need to tighten the lids. Do so CAREFULLY as these jars are boiling HOT. The lids will become concave as they become sealed in this vacuum cooling process. The ones that don’t seal you can process again in the bath. If you just can’t get one to seal, change the lid and if that happens to you again like it has for me for some unknown reason( I blame the redwood forest Elves), then just put it in the refrigerator and use it as soon as possible.

If you have enough after your harvesting projects are done, home grown and home made products make great gifts for the holidays. Take a jar of your canned or dried and oil and garlic soaked tomatoes to a friend for a gift. There is a lot of love in that jar.

9/11 Memorial

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Soon after the attack brought down the twin towers, my husband and I visited the site to pay our respects.  It left us deeply saddened and upset.  We hadn’t been back again.

Last Saturday, first thing in the morning, the whole family took the subway from Brooklyn and visited the memorial.  There is still a sense of sadness and loss, but it is tempered with hope.  There are long lines, that move quickly and quietly.  No NY hustle and bustle here, people from all over the country and the world have come to honor the memory of those who died here.

You will have to pass through security, much like in an airport, but more civil, and no one complains or rushes you.  Once inside there is something that unites the visitors,  I heard so many different languages, you’ll see people of all ages and nationalities sharing a deep sorrow and finding peace.

Peace, you won’t find answers here, you’ll find a place to make peace and to reflect.  So many selfless men and women gave their lives here in an effort to save others. The memorial is a beautiful tribute and a reminder of that which makes us human, which makes us one.

If you’re planning a trip to NYC this summer, pay a visit, it’s a very different element of the NY experience. It is still a work in progress, the museum is not yet open to the public, and there is still a lot of construction going on around it, in some ways, that makes it all the more meaningful.

Admission is free, but you will have to get a visitor’s pass.  You should do this on-line, although you can get them at the visitor’s center.  Bring an ID.

Fall Foliage Trips

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

It’s almost here, the most incredible time of year.  The leaves are just beginning to change, by the end of this month, they’ll be in full color and probably peaking around mid- October, so start making your plans now.  In Vermont, the season is short, but, spectacular.  I’ve had many friends ask why? Why move to Vermont?  The answer, spring, summer and FALL.  Many of my friends visit this time of year, and I have found that having trips on tap is not a bad idea.  In the past, we’ve done walking trips in Jamaica State Park, visited the Southern Vermont Arts Center, Northshire Bookstore, (the best in the country), and driven Route 100 to Weston and  The Vermont Country Store. This year, I’m ready to venture a little farther.

Jamaica State Park

My friend, Kathy, had a wonderful suggestion, visit the diners!  She sent me a link to the diners in Southern Vt. that serve up local produce, what a wonderful, inexpensive way to tour the state.  I’ve only eaten at the Blue Benn, but I can assure you that if this is a sample of the diners on this tour, you are in for a treat.

Northshire Bookstore

If you visit Quechee, stop by Simon Pearce,   Have you seen “Sweet Home Alabama”? Simon Pearce did the glass products that are showcased in “Jake’s” store.  They also have a wonderful restaurant.  Call ahead, they were hit by Irene.

Woodstock, Near Quechee

If Brattleboro is where you end up, shop the vintage shops, Twice Upon A Time for furniture, and Boomerang for clothes.  Brattleboro also has Amy’s Bakery and multiple ethnic restaurants that are great. If  you are a mystery lover, there is Mystery on Main, a bookstore that specializes.

near Brattleboro

If you decide to visit Birdseye Diner in Castleton, and have the time and the money, keep heading north, up 7, to the Shelburne Museum. I’m so in love with this place, I’ve written a couple of blogs already. You won’t be disappointed. You will want to stay overnight, So look for lodging in the area, The Shelburne is, at least, an all day adventure.

The Shelburne

Don’t miss this,time of year in Vermont, it’s Mother Nature at her best.

How To Boil A Lobster

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

So this week lobsters were on sale at the supermarket for 5.99 a lb.  This is hard to beat but you may be intimidated about cooking a live lobster.  It is actually quite easy but you do need to be fearless when it comes to dropping them into that pot of brisk boing water.  Fast is always best.  The main thing is the lobsters must be alive. If you can’t cook the lobster right away you can wrap it in wet newspaper and keep it refrigerated up to 2 days.  If you think you can’t bear cooking them live very often fish markets and supermarkets will steam them for you.

Chick, cull, bullet…all words you may need to know when buying lobster.  A chick is a pound or less, a cull is one claw, and a bullet is no claws at all.  There is always debate on which is the tenderest.  The biggest lobster I ever ate was 13 lbs.  and everyone loved it.  The littler lobsters are easy to serve..figure one to two lbs per person.  Baked potato and corn on the cob make great sides for this festive dish.

The easiest way to make a live  Boiled Lobster is simply drop it  head first into a pot of salted boiling water for 10 minutes for the first pound and 3 minutes each additional lb.  So if they are a pound and a half…..eleven and a half minutes should do the trick.  Do not over cook lobster as it will get tough.  If you have some sea water go ahead and boil that up.  Otherwise salted water is fine.  You can add wine and bay leaf for extra flavor.  Serve with melted butter and lemon.  You will also need a nut cracker and lobster forks are very handy for getting those hard to get sections of meat.

You can also steam, grill, or bake a lobster.  You can stuff the tail traditionally with crab meat and some breadcrumbs and butter.  Leftover lobster is great for lobster salad or a dip.   You can find this recipe in our online cookbook.  Enjoy.

Summer Olympics… Inspiring

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

The opening ceremonies were full of tradition and surprises… Countryside scenes, traditional, historical music, British humor, British legends, and Royals. I thought the filmed scenes of the queen with the James Bond character was sensational. What fun and whimsy! Good for her to allow that and be part of a fun joke at her royal highness’ expense! Good show! Thank you Danny Boyle and England!

London is a fabulous city. It looks as though it was well planned. Good job! What was Mitt Romney so concerned about anyway? A city that moves people and a central location for all events. I have heard that they didn’t have the crowds of people they were hoping for. Evidently that is a recurring problem with the recent, past 10, 15 years of Olympiads. They plan for hoards of people to attend, even building new hotels and restaurants hoping for boosts in business and hiring more staff in anticipation and in the end the people stay away and the locals leave town fearing the discomfort and inconvenience. I guess now is the time to go. After the Olympics are done and everyone is leaving and the rush of the excitement is still present. Rooms are discounted and air fares are also low to encourage the end of summer travelers.

I miss the Olympics. It was great to have so many choices for entertainment in the evening. I love my Tivo and recorded the daily events and could go back to anything. The swimming and the gymnastics were exciting. The track held me amazed at the incredible feets in just second… A flash of time and records are broken. The human being at a physical peak takes their body to the edge… and then does it again…

The Beach Volley Ball….

To think that Beach Volley ball is an Olympic sport! This speaks to present times not the past. It was introduced at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games, a demonstration event, and has been an official Olympic sport since 1996. We, the USA teams, have won gold in either men’s or women’s since 1996. Right on team.

I personally find the uniforms rather revealing, almost sexually exploitive for media purposes. I am sure there are those at home watching for reasons other than athletic interest now. They do look very containing, and supportive. I would say that of all the sports now. The athletic attire has become rather like extreme costuming. They were joking on TV about a man’s penis and whether he was aroused for the medal ceremony… Well so what if he was, or perhaps he just has a larger one… just like women’s breasts, they come in different sizes and shapes and these things are hard to hide in the skin tight minimal clothing specially designed for the teams… It was an exciting moment for him and with all the men and women in such evocative attire how could he help it in that moment, and with the snug fitting, form revealing uniforms how was he to hide it. Where? Really!

But then the Olympics of ancient Greece and Rome were done naked! The human body being celebrated and the athletic prowess rewarded.

Of course, I love to watch the sports that I have enjoyed doing myself. As a young girl in gymnastic class, didn’t we all imagine ourselves at the Olympics… Remembering Nadia, Kathy Rigby…

Cathy Rigby went on  to acting and you could find her guest staring in a role on a TV series for a while. Then she really blew up on stage with her teaching Peter and Wendy to FLY on Broadway in Peter Pan.

On the diving board when a child is asking her mom or brother and sister to rate their dive, we play at our own little competition with ourselves, wanting to do our best. The crazy fun I had with my sister when we would attempt the synchronized swimmers upside down movements or the apparent lack of above the water as they hold a pose gracefully never showing the manic paddling that it takes to keep a leg poised upward and then jut it up suddenly in synchronicity with others on the team. Wow! Remembering the old movies with the swimmer movie star, Esther Williams! I haven’t been to any of the Sea or Ocean amusement parks since I was young.. Oh no I forget the bay area Marine World  Africa USA in Vallejo, California. I think they call it something else now. Surely there is an ocean theme park that employs these amazing anonymous athletes that spend much of there performance time holding their breath. I am thinking in Florida.

While we play at our sports, some are taking the play seriously and making it a life passion, direction, and later profession. I do miss the days when the Olympic athletes could not be professionals. that when they would only become endorsed or advertised after they decided to leave the amateur status and that had to be a big decision whether to pursue another 4 years of intense Olympic aspiration driven training with out the financial backing of any large business. In history many Olympic athletes were working a day or night job while striving to find time to train. I am sure there are still many who do, but so many of the athletes today are supported by the sporting companies.  The rock stars of the Olympic games are able to support their training and have major contracts with their sponsors well ahead. I wonder what the past athletes would have accomplished if they were able to have an extra 3 to 4 hours in the pool, while their mother looked on, free to drive them and spectate because she didn’t have to take a job to support her gifted child’s pursuit of the coveted Gold, Silver, and Bronze. I am sure families still have a challenge to deal with the intensity and demands of supporting and encouraging the gifted athlete, but the ability to now have the financial support of commercial sponsors is powerful.

I do miss the simpler times of the amateur athlete at the Olympics. It seemed to be a more pure sense of competition. Just the athletes without the business and money behind the advertising. Many would retire from Olympic pursuits just so they could cash in while the offers were still there for them. Now we have Olympians who return for 3 even more games. Amazing that you can, but also wonderful to stand back and feel your success and open the door for others to experience the opportunity after you, the same glory.

I would list the names of all the US Olympians, but that would take more time and we know so many and we just watched them. I was amazed daily with the athletes from all over the world…. The swimmers, runners, vaulters, jumpers, racquet swinging, shot put hurling….You know who you are inspired by.

I imagine the work and skills that are developed by these athletes and in some way covet their incredible abilities… Their natural ability was a gift of birth and their dedication and perseverance to perfect their moves and pursue an excellence such that few will ever achieve at anything in life. Bravo… I admire and applaud you.

DNA Pregnancy testing

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

This was a question from one of our readers last week about an unwanted pregnancy.  We’d like to also hear from our readers on their thoughts and help for this young man.

NYC DNA mobile testing truck

I met a girl through a dating website some months ago when I was in another city for an extended period of time and we quickly became good friends. After a few dates we ended up sleeping together, but we were both very communicative that neither of us wanted a long distance relationship and that communication helped maintain the friendship. A few months later she came to visit me for a week and we continued as “good friends who happen to have benefits” while I played tour guide. Three months after that I was in her area again and we had planned to meet up, but upon arriving she stopped responding to me and I never heard from her before heading back home. With no explanation as to why she was ignoring me I reached out to her intermittently trying to see what changed. Yesterday, after two months of no responses to my attempts at communication, I received a massive (but vague) text message including an apology and her requesting me to call her so she could offer an explanation. I happily called her as I had been more worried about her than anything else and she very hesitantly told me that she had been afraid to talk to me because she was pregnant. Every time we were together we had used both condoms and birth control. Since the last time we had been together she had moved (involving heavy lifting), drank alcohol bimonthly (her doctor said it wasn’t a concern), and eaten sushi. She also has a condition which regularly gives her irregular periods so missing hers wasn’t out of the norm. She had no morning sickness, no bladder issues, and other then slight weight gain (of which she attributed to lack of gym time due to a new job) she had no symptoms whatsoever. She eventually started to sense something was going on (hence the hesitation to talk to me when I was in the area) and took a home pregnancy test which showed a positive result. She went to the OBGYN the next day who confirmed that she was in fact 20 weeks pregnant. I’ve been Googling non-stop and see two options: adoption (open, semi-open, or closed) or keeping the baby. We’re both in our twenties, just out of college, and focusing on our careers. Neither of us are able to support a child financially, mentally, or emotionally. I already told her that I wouldn’t be able to be present as a father and pointed out that she wouldn’t be able to be present as a mother either – therefore recommending adoption. She continues to tell me that (for all intensive purposes) that “it’s not my problem” and is kind of passively preventing me from being involved. I think we’re both still in shock, but have no idea as to where to go next. Neither of us have been able to broach the conversation with our parents yet and are tying to figure out how to have those conversations. Part of me keeps doing the math of when we slept together (3/20), when she stopped talking to me realizing something might be going on (6/5), how long it took to get the courage to take a home pregnancy test (8/30) (combined with the fact that she was able to get an OBGYN appointment the next day) … despite her insistence that she hasn’t been with anyone else it is still sitting at the back of my mind as a possibility, but a distant one at that. I’m freaking out and have no idea of what to do. Help!

Sally’s answer:

Wow! I’m very sorry for the situation you are in.  Having children is emotional enough without the question of whether or not you are the father.  The fact that you were using condoms and other forms of birth control makes me wonder if you are the father.  Since she has decided to have the child, I would suggest getting a paternity test.  This can de done in the prenatal stage and there is a non invasion option.   This will protect your rights as a father.  Get the correct information before you start to freak out.  If in fact you are the father then the decison should become a joint one.  Is she getting good prenatal care.  I am concerned that her doctor says the drinking is a non concern? I guess he hasn’t had much exposure to fetal alcoholism. I think it would be a good idea to get counseling on adoption and parenting. Have you spoken to your own parents about the pregancy? Sometimes, parents can surprise you and be supportive in your decision process.  I regret that I am seeing this question just now and hope that you have gotten some support in the meatime.  You sound like a mature and senitve man and will make the right decisions for yourself and the baby.

Here are some other informative websites; Planned Parenthood, US Gov, Catholic Charities