Month

June 2015

An Unexpected Recipe: Use Your Scraps To Make a Great Stock

Amazing Matriarch’s Recipe for Using it All in Two Simple Stocks

Th last time I was taking the final bits of meat off of a store bought rotisserie chicken (one of my favorite dinner cheats since it can become so may wonderful things with so little effort), I created a savory stock that was easy to store and was ready to use:

  • toss the bones into a big pot

Added

  • an unpeeled onion, chopped in half
  • 2 wilted ribs of celery
  • 2 unpeeled, limp carrots
  • a few cloves of smashed garlic
  • a bay leaf

Fill the pot with water and sprinkle in some salt and pepper (and any herbs of choice; I tied a bunch of thyme together because it was in need of use) then let it come to a boil.

Once it boils, reduce the heat to simmer, set a timer for an hour to 2 and walk away.

Letting the stock develop it’s flavor for the two hours I had at home while my 2 year old took a nap, the stock was ready before she woke.  I strained the mixture, saving only the stock, which I cooled that afternoon while at a playdate, poured into freezer containers upon our return, and put away until I was ready to use.

This simple stock was made from things I was ready to waste; it’s been used in an easy and excellent lentil soup:

  • Boil lentils in stock according to lentil package directions
  • Add a bit of spice with a pinch of red pepper flakes while boiling
  • Top with a dusting of grated parmesan cheese

And as the base of a sauce in a 20 minute, one pan, Pork Medallions with Grainy Mustard Sauce I found in the July, 2015  issue of Cooking Light that even my picky eater ate all up.

But the stock magic does not stop there as I found myself wondering if I could create a delicious vegetable stock from the stalks of broccoli, and cauliflower I was cutting, and use the entire vegetable rather than let it go to waste. This recipe tricked my carnivorous husband into thinking it was regular chicken stock in his favorite side dishes:

  • Put all your broccoli and cauliflower, or scraps from any vegetable of choice (leaves, stems, etc) into a large pot

Alter by adding any vegetables you have on hand; the broth’s flavor will alter based on what’s in it. I used:

  • A few ribs of celery (a great use for when it goes past its prime)
  • A few carrots (I like to use the ones that hid in the back of my produce drawer too long and go limp)
  • Several cloves of crushed, unpeeled garlic
  • One unpeeled onion chopped in half
  • One bay leaf
  • Salt and Pepper (and any fresh herbs you may have on hand)

Then I followed the same procedure as with the chicken stock and ended up with an equally as delicious, meat free broth at the ready. It’s been added to quinoa and couscous; filling my grains with flavor before adding any mix-ins.

This stock is ideal for #meatlessmonday or any day you want to be a vegetarian but don’t want to sacrifice flavor; or to get more nutrients into vegetable averse children or spouses.

Made in spare time; these stocks are an inexpensive and flavorful alternative to store bought that can be easily stored in your freezer, and quickly defrosted when you’re ready to use.

– Making it easy to make use of it all in the kitchen, Jess

Share your use the scraps stocks with us via Facebook: Amazing Matriarch, Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter: @AMatriarch;  Tag us on social using#amazingmatriarch

Fashion: Taking On Nantucket Wine Festival One Style at a Time

Nantucket Wine Festival is an annual island highlight taking place every third weekend of May. A mature crowd flocks to the festivities surrounding the festival that brings winemakers from around the world, along with top notch chefs, to an extra long weekend focused on food, fashion and of course fabulous wine. Here’s a style-guide to help you pack your bags full of looks you’ll love when you’re headed to Nantucket’s next Wine Festival.

Island dwellers come prepped to the nines in brightly colored Lily Pulitzer attire easily found at just off Main Street’s, In the Pink and a bit more trendy, but just as colorful, recently opened Shift. Men tend to get in touch with their Vineyard Vines side; dressing in seersucker, salmon, colorful pants and prints you don’t often see in big cities.

Those from off-island may find it hard to find attire that works for the variety of events they plan to attend and treads the line between island fashion and personal expression.

If you find yourself flustered and shopping without finding something that works for you stick with what you know and love.

Surprisingly enough the most compliments came while wearing a pervious season’s BCBG maxi dress (in the featured image of this post) paired with a gap denim jacket. A huge hit with shop owners, wine fest attendees and friends found along the streets; I tossed this go to outfit in my bag last minute when nothing felt quite right while shopping for new special pieces.

Another simple and timeless piece that turned heads was a cream colored boho shift dress with lace detail; paired with the same demin jacket and wedges from the day before, this easy to pack, not in need of ironing staple transitioned from day to night without a hitch. The combo of these comfortable “just me” pieces that I often toss on at home made big waves at Nantucket Wine Festival.

Rocking the same seersucker blazer and an alternating selection of t-shirts with light-weight pale gray and navy pants, my husband fit right in. His navy Lacoste boat shoes pairing with each look and adding a prepped up edge to his regular look that allowed him to still be comfortable.

However, there’s one event you should put a bit more thought into, the Gala. This kick-off to the festivities takes place Thursday evening at  White Elephant Hotel’s Brant Point Grill and spills onto their lawn.The Gala sets the mood for the weekend, and introduces guests to what’s to come, offering an endless sampling of food and wine, this cocktail party is the most difficult event to dress for. The word gala implies a need for cocktail attire if not black tie, but on Nantucket things are little more laid back, and the combo of cobblestones and expansive lawns will leave you teetering on high heels.

Slightly overdressed for the Gala
Slightly overdressed for the Gala

Donning a black Monique Lhuiller knee length dress, paired with a Nantucket- esque bright green statement necklace and a pink pashmina, I felt confident that I’d fit in among a sea of revelers who embraced all aspects of fashion. And I did, falling somewhere in between the formal and casually dressed (some in sequenced gowns, others more casually elegant in trousers).

Men were dressed in everything from suits with ties to jeans and sneakers. The best looks on the men in attendance were from those who wore a suit or blazer and slacks and opted to go tieless.

Next time, I’ll put together a look that’s a bit less fancy and go for something a little more flouncy like this J Crew  fit flare in a bright color, and for sure I’d pair my dress with wedges to add height to my 5’1″ frame. I’ll let my hubby leave the tie behind in favor of a print button down to sport under his blazer.

As for a purse, this is true cocktail party with little bites you won’t want to miss doled out by top chefs from Nantucket, Boston and beyond and paired with wines served by winemakers from around the world. Make sure your evening bag has a handle so you can enjoy every sip and nibble sent your way.

Then feel confident that you look fabulous because how you feel is what really matters when you’re at Wine Festival or anywhere.

-Reminding you that fashion only makes sense when you feel fabulous, Jess

Have you been toNantucket Wine Festival? Share your favorite fashion  photos with us at Amazing Matriarch on Facebook: Amazing Matriarch, Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter: @AMatriarch;  Tag us using#amazingmatriarch. 

Simple Hair Tutorial for the Waterfall Ponytail with a Twist

Part 3 in a 6 part series

Amazing Matriarch teamed up with Moselle Sath, creative hairstylist at Shag Boston, to help create some amazing hair styles that are easy to achieve for women that are always on the go.

The Waterfall Ponytail Twist

The waterfall ponytail with a twist is exactly how it sounds.  A fun take on the ever classic ponytail, this style will add a little flavor to your normal hairstyle routine.  Our 5 minute tutorial will break down how to create a topsy tail (remember those?) without the actual hair tool that our mothers used.  Perfect for those of us that require a little extra sleep in the am or just don’t have any spare time with the stressful morning rush.  This style is so easy that you can create it in the car while you are stopped at a stoplight.  You will end up with a fresh new look to sport in the office or at school drop off and no one will realize how little effort it took.

What you need:

  • 3 clear elastics (or more, depending on how many ponytails you want to create)
  • Comb

Step 1:

Gather a small section of hair from each side of your head to create a half up ponytail and secure with an elastic on the back of your head.  Note – you want the elastic to hold your hair in place but you also want to leave it a little loose.

Step 2:

Create a part in your hair just above the elastic to make an opening for your ponytail.  Next you want to lift your ponytail up through the opening you created above the elastic in your hair.  Pull your ponytail through the front opening down through the back.  Make sure you pull the entire ponytail through.

Step 3:

Push your elastic up into the twisted tail to secure tightly in place.

Step 4:

Now you want to gather a small section of hair that is still hanging to create a second ponytail.  Make sure to include the ponytail from the first section in this second ponytail.  Repeat steps 2 & 3 until you have created 2 twisted tails.

Step 5:

Repeat these steps for as many twisted tails as you want to create.  3 is a great number to use as a guide. Keep in mind to always include the ponytail from the previous tail to ensure a uniform look for your end product.

In 5 minutes or less, you have added a nice twist to your classic ponytail and you are ready to take on the day.  Have a little extra time?  Take this hairstyle a step further and add a regular or fishtail braid to the final ponytail.

– Just one snooze button addict sharing a quick twist for your morning hair, Thia

Try this look on you and your mini me!  Share your takes on this style with us via Facebook: Amazing Matriarch, Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter: @AMatriarch;  Tag us on social using#amazingmatriarch

Five Father’s Day Ideas That Require No Wrapping

If you’ve let time slip away and are panicking about what to give the father of your children this Father’s Day, then Amazing Matriarch has a few ideas you can pull off and look like a pro who planned well in advance.

1. 18 holes

Plan a round of golf with his best buds. Maybe it’s his kids or friends he rarely sees without them. If Father’s Day is not the time to let him freely hit the links, coordinate with the ladies in the lives of his foursome and book a tee time you know will work, pay for it when you call, and then let Dad play all day without the worry his phone will ring with a request from you.

2. Take something off his plate

Dad’s are busy people; take over a chore he dreads and give him some much deserved free time to spend with the family.

3. Plan an itinerary for his perfect day with the family

Think of what he likes and set a plan in motion for a day that’s all about him. Maybe he’s active and a morning hike followed by an afternoon bike ride with a cooler filled with his favorite “to go” eats in the trunk that ends with an ice cream at his favorite stand or parlor is just the ticket. Or perhaps he’s the kind who’d relish a day of peace and quiet vegging out on the couch; make his quiet time happen while you and the kids prep an elaborate feast. Perhaps he’s a foodie and a meal out is just the ticket; be sure to reserve a spot at his favorite clam shack, steakhouse, or burger joint. Whatever it is Dad loves, you do-without making him make a decision.

4. Divide the day

If your kids are still at home let each pick a special activity they want to do with Dad and divide the day into chunks so Dad can spend some one on one time with each; even if it’s just an hour to throw rocks in the neighborhood pond. It’s not often a parent of more than one little one gets to enjoy their kids solo, and it’s something every parent values.

5. Get his Dad to you to celebrate

If the father of your kids is close to his father get them together to enjoy the day. Even better if he’s far away.  Drive the many miles to pick him up, spring for a plane or train ticket and bring his Dad to your home for Father’s Day.

Then watch the smile hit his lips because nothing says I appreciate you more than a well thought out adventure.

-Sharing simple ways to show you care, Jess

Share your “unwrapped” Father’s Day got ideas with us via Facebook: Amazing Matriarch, Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter: @AMatriarch;  Tag us on social using#amazingmatriarch

5 Minute Ice Cream Sandwiches- A Recipe

There’s one thing I dread about pot lucks-being assigned dessert. I’m a great cook, but I’ve never been much of a baker so I typically try to avoid bringing dessert to any soiree. That was until I started making ice-cream sandwiches using Dancing Deer’s creative cookies and fun flavors of various brands of high end ice-cream. Now, I look for excuses to share a dessert that I can say I (kinda) made, following a simple recipe.

No matter how kitchen illiterate  you may be, you can make these easy to assemble at home treats to take wherever you may go.

Here’s how:

IMG_2104

Buy Dancing Deer (or your favorite pre-made cookie) and a pint of high end ice cream that pairs well, open both packages, place cookies on a plate, flat side facing up

IMG_2105

Scoop ice cream onto cookies, cover

IMG_2109

Press

Clean edges with a butterknife

Wrap in max paper or plastic wrap

Store in Freezer

Serve & enjoy!

-Taking the stress out of what dessert to bring to your next potluck, Jess

Share your ice cream sandwich creations with us via Facebook: Amazing Matriarch, Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter: @AMatriarch;  Tag us on social using#amazingmatriarch 

Repurpose Old Picture Frames with Nautical Burlap Art

Quickly Create a Cool, Coastal Look Inspired by the Waters of Maine Without the Hefty Cost

For under $15 (if you have frames on hand to reuse) you can make your own wall-art using easy to find items like: burlap, paint and stencils.  Without old frames on hand, I purchased new ones by cruising the sales and clearance sections of Home Goods and Kohl’s.  For $25, I found 4 frames that would work great for my project.  Less than an hour after starting these mini masterpieces (including drying time), I had an entire wall of art ready to hang.

Here’s what you need for your wall décor refresh:

  • Burlap Material
  • Stencils of your choice (Martha Stewart has some great templates)
  • Acrylic Paint color of your choice
  • Assorted sized paint brushes
  • Frames (if you do not already have them)

Step 1:

Take out the picture filler from the frame and use that as a template to cut your burlap to fit nicely into your frame.

Step 2:

Take your stencil of choice and place it on top of the burlap piece.  Grab a few heavier objects such as a paper weight, thick book or even a rock to hold the stencil in place while you are painting.

Step 3:

Grab your smallest paint brush, dip the tip into your paint color and then begin painting in your stencil.  I like to use a dabbing motion when painting on burlap because of the different directions of the material, I find that you have more control dabbing as opposing to regular brush strokes.

Step 4:

Once your stencil has been painted onto the burlap, remove the stencil and touch up any areas that you would like.  When you have finished, allow it to dry for at least 30 minutes.

Step 5:

When the paint is dry, take your burlap piece and insert into your frame.  This will look great with or without the glass in the frame.

This burlap art is a great way to create unique art on a budget.  Perfect for party, seasonal or holiday decor, try this project at home and transform your living space without making a dent in your wallet.

– Sharing design inspiration from my home to yours, Thia

Try this project for your home revamp and share your final product with us! Via Facebook: Amazing Matriarch, Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter: @AMatriarch;  Tag us on social using#amazingmatriarch. 

The Terrible Two’s Are Holding Me Hostage

I write this in a state of delirium. Countless nights have passed without quality sleep. Countless battles have been fought,  and lost as my sweet, two year old has waged war against me. Sleep is our main issue, she’s declared both going to sleep and staying in bed beyond 4am impossible. Yet she’ll nap in random spots, at random times when I cannot. I am now a fragile shell of myself who is set off by the slightest struggle, unable to rationalize and too tired to be productive.

This is not a blog of complaint; it’s a realization. Honest, and open; I know I’m not alone. Many have felt this way before me and come out the other side of the age 2. Many are in it with me.

I’ve come out the other side once before, but right now, in this state, the world is tilted. Jagged bits of self remain; mixed in I find who I’ve become and I’m not her biggest fan: a sad housewife who can’t seem to fulfill her job requirements (cook, clean, shop, provide 24/7 care to others, do laundry…) or pretend to enjoy it. I catch glimpses of the other side of 2 and know how great it will be; how I will became myself once again. But right now, I’m a hot mess.

I beg, cry and yell. None of these tactics work on a strong-willed two year old who responds, when locked in her room to clean the mess she inflicted in protest, by intentionally wetting her pants. I melt, truly just melt, into a heap on the floor hating myself for yelling-again, and frustrated that my sassy little lady won’t confirm.

But I’m also proud that she has strong convictions because her spunk will serve her well later in life; so I try not to crush her spirit all the while keeping mine. The contradiction astounding, but real and important in helping us both get through the toddler years.

While I sit here, my cute little lady requests, or should I say demands, yet another snack because beyond refusing sleep she also only eats snacks, not her meals. And I let her because I’m so tired of fighting. Her breakfast, that I consumed moments ago, hours after serving, was deserted just as many meals before.

Now she sits, quietly consuming a bag of sugary cereal (courtesy of a well meaning grandparent). Her teeth unbrushed, her hair wild, because I just don’t have the energy to fight right now. She’s watching  a movie at 9:30am, because playing with her seems like an impossible, miserable experience and I’m trying to avoid her.

I feel like a bad mom; in my irrational head a good mom would have rules she maintains without fail. A good mom’s  kids would behave with her well-planned warning system.  She’d have meal times and snack times set, and she’d be in control of her emotions at all times. Her two year old would sleep.

In moments of clarity I glance at my amazingly helpful, thoughtful, mature (beyond the potty talk) 5 year old son who did most of the caregiving when my husband and I were sick a few days back, and see things for what they are.

This is a stage; it’s called the terrible two’s for a reason. She will outgrow this stage; I may even survive it. And then in a few (not so short years) I’ll enjoy everything quite a bit more. She’ll become the helpful caring kid he is now, and maybe she’ll even let me sleep. Then I’ll look back and be thankful I have no more terrible two’s to get through.

-Keeping motherhood real in a world where perfection is expected, Jess

Find Amazing Matriarch on Facebook: Amazing Matriarch, Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter: @AMatriarch;  Tag us using#amazingmatriarch. 

Family Friendly Scavenger Hunt Activity for National GO Day

The warm weather is in full effect in New England and June is the perfect month to get outdoors and enjoy some active and healthy fun in the sun.  The humidity hasn’t yet set in and the kids are still in school so you are still limited in terms of travel.  Day trips to the beach and family hikes are a favorite pastime for late afternoons and on the weekends in our household.

In recognition of National Get Outdoors Day (GO Day), Saturday, June 13, 2015, plan a family excursion to the beach or an adventurous hike through the great outdoors.  A fun activity to do with your little ones is our Amazing Matriarch scavenger hunt.

Your kids will collect an assortment of natural treasures; they will learn about other habitats and the environment (hello, hands on science), and they’ll work on developing their math skills as they count their treasures.  Best of all they’ll remember what they learned, making this hunt better than any standardized test the powers that be deem a priority.

Here’s what you need:

  • Amazing Matriarch’s Scavenger Hunt List
  • A small bag or pail to collect and store your found items

Print up Amazing Matriarch’s scavenger hunt list (click on the beach edition or forest edition images below to download), cut the page in two and create little booklets so each child has a guide of their own.  For reference, I take a single hole punch and put a hole in the top left corner of the booklet and secure with a ribbon that can then be tied to a bag with handles, or held on their wrists for easy access.  A stapler, tape or glue will work for securing the pages together in your booklet as well.

Amazing Matriarch Beach Scavenger Hunt                              Amazing Matriarch Forest Scavenger Hunt

For a few glorious minutes, you’ll get to relax a bit and enjoy nature at its finest while your kids’ attention is focused on the thrill of the hunt.

– Just one adventurer adding a little learning to Family Fun on your next outdoor excursion, Thia

Try this activity with your family on National GO day and share your experience with us via Facebook:  Amazing Matriarch,  Instagram:  amazingamtriarch or  Twitter:  @AMatriarch;  Tag us using #amazingmatriarch. 

Meet Amazing MOM, Sera Anderson

Sera’s life story has the makings of a Disney Movie. Abandoned on a doorstep in South Korea as a baby, Sera was found miraculously alive and well. Adpoted by an American family in rural Vermont, Sera grew up on a farm with her parents and brother. Married to her very own Prince Charming, She’s a stay at home mom of a “spirited” son and a beauty queen. This stunningly beautiful princess’s tale just keeps going.

Sera when she was found in box in South Korea
Sera when she was found in box in South Korea

Staying in the northeast for college then settling in Vermont, Sera landed a job as a pharma rep, bought a condo and lived the dream of every 20 something. Weeks spent running around for work were followed by nights and weekends unwinding amongst friends. Until she met her prince. Seth Anderson entered her life several times before their romance bag. First in passing at a hospital, then while out with friends, and eventually these two connected sending their lives barreling full speed ahead to success.

You can usually say the woman made the man, but these two made each other. Changing so much through the years they’ve been together, the Andersons have always been in-sync. Sera says, “I still have a list somewhere of all the incidents and examples of how he and I finished each other’s thoughts and sentences. Literally. It happens so much I started writing it down. It was creepy.  We keep each other responsible for ourselves… We hang out and talk. Talking is one thing we never fail on..we talk about politics, religion, controversial issues, universe, pop culture, Caden, family worries, everyday negotiations. You name it. We rarely have nothing we can’t share or talk about… The ways we differ I feel we teach each other things about life. It’s a great partnership. Are we perfect? No. But I focus on the good.”

Allowing one another to truly be themselves, their relationship was solidified long before they tied the knot. Dating for five years, these two bought homes, changed careers and saw each other through tough times. They welcomed one another’s family and friends into their lives; embracing them as if they were the one who established the relationship.

Right before they married, Sera quit her pharmaceutical sales job to follow her dream of owning a Cafe, successfully running her business until after their son Caden entered the picture in 2012. Wanting to be a mom, was replaced with actually being one and Sera learned quickly that this was the hardest job she’d ever have. Desiring to focus on her little man full-time Sera sold her business and took off running; a mom on the move.

With Caden
With Caden

When Sera welcomed Caden into this world, after a truly horrific labor and delivery, everything shifted. Her love for him grew with each passing day and she set off on a journey of learning how to parent. Meeting this “job” with the voracity she’s put into every other venture, Sera struggled with shortcomings, especially where sleep was concerned.

For 15 months Caden kept her awake. Wreaking havoc on her circadian rhythms and her sanity. Sleep deprivation made her depressed and feeling hopeless. She tried it all, including hiring someone to help her sleep train-everything failed. Caden was the driving force in his sleep and once he started to sleep, so did Sera.

Once she was able to sleep again,  Sera found herself seeking a new challenge. Encouraged by friends who were planning to enter, Sera signed up for the Mrs. Vermont pageant in 2104.

Sera invested time into prepping for the Mrs. Vermont pageant. Gracing the stage as her husband and son cheered her on from the audience. Her small frame decked out in a lovely red gown, made up with her signature black eyeliner and her extra long, jet black locks styled perfectly to show off her exquisite features, Sera rocked the pageant and won. Being crowned Mrs. Vermont her life once again set off in a new direction.

A typically private person, and introvert who favors small gatherings with a few close friends over large parties, Sera did not realize how quickly her privacy would be taken away when she became Mrs. Vermont, 2014.

Taking part in the Mrs. America pageant and fulfilling her duties (think parade marching, volunteering and hosting a fundraiser) throughout the year taught Sera that beauty really does come from within. Inspired by the loss of those close to her from Cancer, including a close childhood friend and her mother in law, Sera wanted to do something symbolic. And she did.

Head shaving
Head shaving

In September of 2014, Sera set-up a fundraiser where she herself shaved her head. Teaming up with the Vermont Agency Foundation Sera set a goal to raise $25,000 to benefit the Vermont Cancer Center. And with grace and dignity, she made good on her promise to shave her head. Seated in the center of a tent, surrounded by those there to support her cause and her spirit, Sera took the first swipe herself. By the end she was just as outwardly beautiful as she was before.

As if a beauty queen shaving her head was not enough of a shocker, several friends attending the event jumped in and had their heads shaved as well, some with hair long an healthy enough to be donated to causes making wigs for those who’ve lost their hair to Cancer.

While Mrs. Vermont Sera even took a stab at writing, submitting a column for her local newspaper about her experiences with parenting. These wildly popular monthlies were the chatter of all her friends, who could relate to what she was sharing, but also popular with those who did not know her and were struggling themselves. sera reached another goal; that of connecting with parents in her community, if only through her words.

Now that her term as Mrs. Vermont has come to an end, Sera sets off on another journey, one that is now shaped by her experiences as a beauty queen, one of volunteerism, motherhood and of simply finding out where life will bring her next.

-Making motherhood look good one tiara at a time, Jess

Know someone who’d make a great Amazing MOM? Share her information with us via Facebook: Amazing Matriarch, Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter: @AMatriarch;  Tag us using#amazingmatriarch. 

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