Saturday, April 30, 2011

Vintage Apron Giveaway

Giveaway UPDATE: 

So fun reading about all the great things you girls collect. I'm inspired to start a few collections of my own, beyond the dust bunnies that are currently at the top of my list. 

Congratulations to Lori who is our randomly selected winner of this vintage apron. Lori, contact me at to claim your prize. 

Happy May everyone!

Speaking of garage sale season, I stumbled upon this adorable vintage apron a few weeks ago on my regular Saturday morning outing.

It appears to be handmade from a bygone era. I feel in love with the darling strawberry applique on the breast. This is the perfect gift for a girl who loves vintage aprons.

Or at least I think it's an apron. It is not the traditional wrap around style. More like a dress really, with a zip up back. I find the most interesting feature of this little white and red number to be the itsy bitsy high waist line. It measures 20 inches around.

So, ever since I bought it, I've been trying to figure out who this was designed for. A housewife of a bygone era who measured 20 inches around? A tall chid? A life-size barbie doll?

Honestly, I can't figure it out. But I don't need to. I know that someone in your life collects vintage aprons, either to wear or display. I know you're thinking of her right now.

So go ahead, enter my contest to win this apron. Tell her to make a stop over to Dance While You Cook to enter for herself. Share this post on Facebook. Go ahead now. Don't be shy. I know there is a woman in your life who has a secret love affair with vintage aprons and she hasn't told you yet. So do her a favor and let her know about this giveaway.

Win it for display in your vintage kitchen. Win it for the dress-up box of your next door neighbor's daughter. Win it for yourself to fulfill all your homemaking fantasies. Leave a comment below and you'll be entered.


For a chance to win this vintage apron, simply leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite thing to collect. Ceramic mugs? Shoes? Dust bunnies? Any answer of any kind will get you entered to win.

(And if you can't leave a comment—because sometimes the system won't let you—just email me at judith@dancewhileyoucook with your response and you'll be entered to win too.)


One entry per person, friends.

I will choose a winner at random on Monday morning May 2, 2011.

Check back on this post that morning to see if you've won!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Garage Sale Season—It's On

Ahhhhh... the smell of spring.

In my house this only means one thing—Garage Sale Season is upon us.

It's been a long, cold winter my friends. I've been cooped up for far too long cleaning house and cooking exquisite five course meals for my family every night. Not really, but I do like to think of my one-pot dinners that way. A girl's allowed to dream, isn't she?

A couple weeks ago, I noticed a subtle movement—a rising in my spirit. I felt the call moving through my bloodstream touching my heart, soul and mind.

The love for garage sales is genetic, you know. Once it's burned into the cellular memory, it cannot easily be erased. For those of us who grew up garage sale-ing with mom and aunt and sis and cuz, it's the only proper thing to do on a beautiful Saturday morning in the summer.

So last week the garage sales began calling my name. And I answered, "Yes ma'am, I'll be right there."

There are always treasures to be had, but you have to know where to look. Stay-tuned: my garage sale-ing tips are coming in a future post.

In the two hours I spent digging deep into the well of passed along goods, I found quite a few items that bring joy to this little lady ~

Take for instance this insanely comfortable pair of Diesel jeans, just my size.

And this cool new pair of kicks. So sleek and fun.

Or how about this adorable pair of Seven jeans which will serve as my motivation to stop eating two full bowls of potato chips every night when the clock strikes 12.

And this brand new pair of sparkling bronze moon boots, tags still attached. Not exactly sure what I'll wear them with, but who cares, they're super fun. I'm sure I can find something.

But perhaps the best find of the morning was this little framed number. A vintage Susan Gantner 1978 offset lithograph of four hippos deep sea fishing.

Seeing this brought me back, waaaay back. I grew up with two of Susan Gantner's lithographs on the walls of every single bathroom I've ever called mine since the beginning of time. Well, not the beginning of true time, just my time.

Currently, these two lithographs have graced the walls of every single bathroom my children have called theirs since the beginning of time.

And now I have a third to complete the look. (Slightly different matte color, I know. But that can easily be remedied.) What a find!!!


Dixie Chicks - Lullaby

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Creamy Almond Breeze ~ Almond Milk

Dairy-Free Stream of Consciousness ~ A Poem

Going diary-free has left a big gaping hole in my tummy's well of satisfaction,
All my life I have lived for endless creamy action.

Far too long have I led a life of cream-less austerity,
For years I've been begging, please someone end this parody.

Cow's milk products give me terrible bouts of eczema which I cannot bear,
There must be a solution—somehow, somewhere.

Rice milk lacks the richness I so deeply crave,
Soy milk upsets my stomach, hence, to the loo I become a slave.

In my dreams a milk substitute did appear,
Almond Milk by Blue Diamond, alas, I no longer have to fear.


A Few Thoughts about Almond Breeze by Blue Diamond ~ Not a Poem

Almond milk is my go-to creamy alternative to cow's milk for most things in my dairy-free life. I add it to soups, use it in all of my bread and cookie recipes and cannot do without it for my morning chai lattes.

Finally, after months upon months of requesting it, most of the coffee shops around these parts have started offering it on their menu along with the soy and rice alternatives.

I have tried many different brands of almond milk and love Almond Breeze the most. Some of the other brands will do a strange separation thing when heated, turning what was intended to be a moment of creamy bliss into an unexpected coagulated funk.

Almond Breeze has withstood the test of boiling, baking and frothing and I will stand by my Almond Breeze to the end.

Monday, April 25, 2011

3: If I Had Three Wishes

With only three weeks left until that glorious day in May when my husband walks across the commencement stage and I jump for joy, I realize that I'm just now starting to allow myself to enter the dreaming phase of all of this...

Dreaming about the upcoming weeks when all the pressures of the schoolwork have vanished in one magical poof.

Dreaming about weekends where we spend the afternoon in the park as a family.

Dreaming about evenings when there are two parents at home to put their three children to bed.

Dreaming about attending family events as a family, instead of the lone adult wrangling three little kids by herself.

Dreaming about a yard that receives the loving attention it deserves from he who has the strongest arms in the house.

Dreaming about a bathroom that receives the loving attention it deserves from the woman who has the finest attention to detail in the house.

Dreaming about what normal might even begin to feel like.

When it comes down to it, I have lots of dreams. But really, if I had only three wishes, they might possibly be summed up in the songs my children came home signing today:

Bubba's Song
Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share
Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere

Little Bit's Song
The more we get together, together, together
The more we get together
The happier we'll be
'Cause my friends are your friends
And your friends are my friends
The more we get together
The happier we'll be

The Eldest's Song
There comes a time when we heed a certain call,
when the world must come together as one.
There are people dying and it's time to lend a hand
to life, the greatest gift of all.

We can't go on pretending day by day that someone,
somewhere will soon make a change.
We are all part of the earth's great big family
and the truth, you know, love is all we need.

We are the world, we are the children
We are the ones to make a brighter day
So let's start giving
There's a choice we're making
We're saving our own lives
It's true we make a better day just you and me.


My son prefers this version of We Are The World to the one I knew so many years ago. He'll be singing it at his concert performance tomorrow at school. I think I'll cry.

We Are The World 25 For Haiti

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo (Gluten-Free)

By now you may have realized that I am no longer letting my family's food allergies come in the way of enjoying my all-time favorite dishes. Fettuccine Alfredo is no exception. 

Many years ago, back when I was a young lass, my dear husband and I traveled Europe with nothing but packs on our backs and tennies on our feet. 

We were young lovers-at-heart soaking up the exciting world beyond the Atlantic at every turn. 

We spent months on the road—and sometimes on each other's nerves—making stops in London, Dublin, Paris, Chamonix, Milan, Cinque Terre, Florence, Rome, Ljubljana, Munich and Amsterdam.

There was no form to the trip. We took each day as it came. Deciding on a whim whether to stay or to go. It was truly the trip of a lifetime that—looking back—informed so much of who we have grown to be as husband & wife and world citizens.

Throughout our months of travel, we were on a insanely tight budget. Not an unfamiliar position. We made the most of it by eating bread and cheese for most meals. But when we desired something special we went straight for the Fettuccine Alfredo every time. The ingredients are simple. And widely available. The preparation is quick—25 minutes max. And the whole thing only requires two pots. The bottom line is this dish was the fanciest thing we could make for the littlest amount of cash. We celebrated our third wedding anniversary over Fettuccine Alfredo, wine and roses in a cute little hotel room in Holland.

It's no wonder why I've had a hard time letting the idea of Fettuccine Alfredo go forever from my consciousness. It just isn't right for gluten-free/dairy-free people to miss out on such a fabulous supper.

Recently, I went about changing that for my family and created this "just as I remember it" Fettuccine Alfredo recipe for all my dairy-free, vegan and gluten-free peeps.

Before we get into the recipe I have a few thoughts to share:

Now I know what you may be thinking, because I thought it too for a long time—dairy-free Fettuccine Alfredo—that sounds gross! How do you make something that is based entirely around dairy taste even remotely normal? Trust me, I've tried so many different variations of cream/dairy alternatives for a cream sauce and I'll be honest with you—they all sucked. Most tasted far from normal and a few were downright nasty. I couldn't get my family to eat that weird stuff if my life depended on it. But this my friends, this is different. My kids virtually inhaled their "macaroni and cheese" and hubs and I were brought back to our dear old memories.

That said, if you've been eating dairy products on a regular basis, you might know the difference right away with this sauce. But I can't be sure because I haven't had any dairy in a long time. I'm curious... if you try this recipe and serve it to the dairy-eating public, what are their impressions?

You should know that I stayed away from cashew cream for far too long for fear of it being too complicated for a busy woman like me. Now that I'm using it in place of cream for most recipes, I've found the opposite to be true. It is so ridiculously easy. You have to give it a try if you haven't already. Please, do it for me. Try cashew cream!

And one final note... Soaking the cashews is a very important step to making a smooth sauce. The longer they soak, the smoother the sauce. Soaking for twenty minutes will do, but will leave your sauce a little grainy. Soaking for at least five hours is highly desired so that the sauce is smooth as buttah.

Now let's get to it...

Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo (Gluten-Free)

2 cups raw unsalted cashews
1 cup plain rice milk
3 TBS olive oil (or 3 TBS butter if you're not the vegan type)
4 cloves garlic (equal to 1 1/2 TBS), minced
3/4 cup to 1 1/4 cup dry white wine, Pinot Grigio is perfect for this sauce (you determine how much wine makes it taste just right for your palate)
5/8 tsp salt
10 shaves of fresh nutmeg (or a pinch of ground nutmeg)
1 lb fettuccine noodles (we love Tinkyada brand for all of our gluten-free pasta needs)

Preparation Method:

STEP 1: CASHEW CREAM (5 hours plus 3 minutes)
Soak 2 cups raw unsalted cashews in water for at least five hours. Overnight is good too. Twenty-minutes will work, but will leave your sauce a little grainy. 

Anyhow, when finished soaking, drain the water out. 

Place the cashews in a blender with 1 cup plain rice milk. Blend until smooth, very smooth. Add a touch more rice milk if necessary. Set aside.

STEP 2: ALFREDO SAUCE (15 minutes max)
Heat 3 TBS olive oil (or butter) in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 1/2 TBS fresh minced garlic. Saute slightly until strong aroma arises from pan. Just about one minute or less. Don't brown the garlic.

Turn heat to medium-low. Add in all of the cashew cream from the blender, 5/8 tsp salt, the desired amount of white wine and the nutmeg. Stir well to combine.

Turn heat to low. Heat through, about five to ten minutes. Do not simmer or boil.

Serve over piping hot fettuccine noodles.

For the Visual Learners Among Us:

Get the water started for your noodles. Put them in as soon as the water has come to a rolling boil. Don't forget to treat the water with a hearty portion of salt and some olive oil.

Soak 2 cups raw unsalted cashews in water for at least five hours. Overnight is good too. Twenty-minutes will work, but will leave your sauce a little grainy. Anyhow, when finished soaking, drain the water out.

Place the cashews in a blender.

Add 1 cup plain rice milk.

Blend until smooth, very smooth. Add a touch more rice milk if necessary. Set aside.

Heat 3 TBS olive oil (or butter) in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 1/2 TBS fresh minced garlic. Saute slightly until strong aroma arises from pan. Just about one minute or less. Don't brown the garlic.

Turn heat to medium-low. Add in all of the cashew cream from the blender.

Add 5/8 tsp salt (that's 1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp for those of us who don't care to do complicated math while we're cooking).

Now add the desired amount of white wine. I like my sauce to carry a strong flavor, so I add the full 1 + 1/4 cup, but that might be too much for your palate, so I suggest starting with 3/4 cup and adding more until it's just right.

Finely shave a whole nutmeg 10 times. (Or simply add a pinch of ground nutmeg from your spice cabinet.)

Heat through, about five to ten minutes. Do not simmer or boil.

Serve over piping hot fettuccine noodles.

Buon Appetito!

Even though this song is about a person to person relationship, it kind of reminds me of how I felt when I first ate this gluten-free/dairy-free Fettuccine Alfredo :)

Colbie Caillat - Bubbly

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

4: My Hubs

I can hardly believe I'm writing this. Four weeks left. Four. Four weeks. One month. 

Holy-Moley, it's happening! 

The thought of seeing my husband again on a regular basis is enough to send me through the roof! I can hardly stand my own excitement.

In honor of this upcoming reality, I'd like to take a moment to celebrate the man whom I will soon be reacquainting myself with ~

Four Fabulous Facts About My Hubs

He's got a can-do mentality. This is helpful in many areas of life, but from my perspective, the most important is his willingness to adventure with the kids in areas where their mama certainly will not tread. Take this steep, death-defying, rocky mountainside for example. Mama said, "No." Dada said, "Why not?" Mama said, "Go." Dada said, "We're off!"

He's kind, gentle and sweet—all the while holding strong to his Marine Corps values and an occasional "Ooh-rah" thrown in for good measure.

He's the world to our kids.

And like good wine, he's getting finer with time.

I simply cannot wait for the next four weeks. Ooh-rah.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Away Weekend - St. Louis

Last weekend I had the good fortune of getting out of town. 

It was for a business event, but none-the-less, I left my three wild monkeys at home with their loving caregivers and I had more peace and quiet in one weekend that I've had all year. 

Every time someone texted to ask what I was doing, I proudly reported that I was sitting in my hotel room experiencing the wicked quiet that being by oneself affords. Thank God. Peace and quiet is an essential element of the human condition.

And when I wasn't sitting in the silent bliss of my room, I was doing other businessy kinds of things. Which, coincidently, is another essential element of the human condition.

And when I wasn't doing businessy kinds of things, I was dancing. Finally, the third essential element of the human condition. Go figure!

On Saturday night my colleagues and I took to the town. 

The next day my cheeks were sore.

Come on now, get your mind out of the gutter. It wan't the cheeks below the waist, it was the cheeks on my face.

I wish I had a picture to show you the perma-grin I had going all night long, but I left my camera at home in the good name of movin’ and groovin’.

Usually I come home from a night on the town with sore feet, sore legs and at times a sore head, but never have I reported sore cheeks. This was a first.

And what a first it was—a world music dance club in the Central West End of St. Louis called Club Viva. My girlfriends and I walked through a non-descrete side door, down the dark stairs and into another world. The dancefloor was small but the personalities were big. Men and women of all different ethnicities and nationalities, ages, shapes and sizes ripping it up on the beat-up hardwood floor.

Partner dancing was the name of the game in this basement club. I was finding it hard to believe that some of these folks were not professional Latin ballroom dancers in their day jobs. The moves. The grace. The sweat. The good cheer. All of it—blew my mind. These folks were incredibly serious about their dances.

It was hard to know who to watch. Every single one was worth feasting my eyes upon the whole night long. 

There was the young woman with infinitely long legs who moved like a majestic gliding swan in flight. 

And then the old woman, certainly older than my mother, dancing with a hip young man and keeping up with him every step of the way, pausing only to dab the perspiration from her brow and chest. Cute as a button.

The partner dancing wouldn’t be anything without the Spanish, African, Puerto Rican, and Mexican men leading the women around the floor with such strength and purpose. 

The lovely local friend who brought us to this spot told us the dancers ediquette is to clear the floor after every song. Without 30 seconds pause, the same dancers would be back, each time with a new partner, to tear it up for another round. As the night wore on, a charismatic Latin singer emerged from the crowd to belt the tunes and shake his maracas to the beat. Truly, I have never seen anything like it.

By the end of the night it became obvious to my friend and I that this type of dancing was clearly missing in our lives. It brings a certain richness that can't be described. What ever happened to dance halls of the past? How is it that I, nor most of my peers, haven't the faintest clue about how to partner dance?

What I loved most about this experience is that it brought my imagination back to a time in the US when dance halls were the thing to do for a night on the town. And dancing with a partner was the only way to dance in public. I could just picture my Grandmother and her peers out at the dance hall. I've made up my mind—we need more of this—I need more of this.

Hubby, get your dancing shoes on. We've got work to do.


Hands down, the most jaw-dropping dance of the night was the Bachata. I could not believe my eyes when every single person on the dance floor broke into this sexy number that has its origins in the rural neighborhoods of the Dominican Republic.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Brooklyn Bomb Sandwich

One of my favorite sandwich shops in town serves a hot turkey hoagie like I've never had before nor ever since.

Sadly, I haven't visited that sandwich shop in ages due to this little gluten-free dairy-free situation I've got going on over here.

In keeping with this year's motto, I had to ask myself why I haven't been making the sandwich for myself on gluten-free bread at home. "Why not?" No excuses. The sandwich is calling my name. I will answer the call.

So for you today, The Brooklyn Bomb, with a few minor adjustments to make it gluten-free and dairy-free.

Brooklyn Bomb

Serves 2-3


Sandwich Filling
1 TBS butter
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sliced button mushrooms
4 thick slices deli meat, turkey or chicken, diced
1/3 cup sweet banana peppers, thinly sliced
3 dill pickle spears, coarsely chopped

2 TBS mayonaise
1 1/2 TBS dijon mustard
1/16 tsp sugar

Sandwich bread. Best to use a hoagie roll, but any type of bread will work just fine.

The Preparation Method:
In a heavy saucepan, saute red onion, red bell pepper and mushrooms in butter over medium-high heat until soft, about five minutes or so.

While that is cooking, prepare the dijonaise. Stir together mayonnaise, dijon mustard and sugar. Set aside.

Once the onions, peppers and mushrooms are soft and have lost most of their form, add the deli meat, banana peppers and pickles to the pan. Mix together with onion/pepper/mushroom mixture. Heat through.

Prepare your bread by slightly toasting it, then smear each side with dijonaise. Place a hearty portion of the filling on the bread, drizzle with more dijonaise and scarf it down. Make yourself two, you'll be glad you did!

And for the Visual Learners Amongst Us

In a heavy saucepan, saute red onion, red bell pepper and mushrooms in butter over medium-high heat until soft, about five minutes or so.

While that is cooking, prepare the dijonaise. Stir together mayonnaise, dijon mustard and sugar. Set aside.

Once the onions, peppers and mushrooms are soft and have lost most of their form, add the deli meat, banana peppers and pickles to the pan.

Mix together with onion/pepper/mushroom mixture. Heat through.

Prepare your bread by slightly toasting it, then smear each side with dijonaise. Place a hearty portion of the filling on the bread, drizzle with more dijonaise and scarf it down. 

Make yourself two, you'll be glad you did!


Miles Davis and John Coltrane - So What (Live Video)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

5: Cookies Are My Only Saving Grace

I don't have a lot to say today...

Except that it's tax time—ahhhhhhhh

I went away all weekend only to return to mounds of laundry—ahhhhhhhh

Aunt Flow is due for a visit—ahhhhhhh

There are five weeks of our Grad School journey remaining but it feels like a lifetime—ahhhhhhhh

Not earth shattering, I know. But certainly enough to get a woman's stress hormones flowing.

My solution...

Eat as many cookies as I can get my hands on.

Jerrod Niemann - What Do You Want

Friday, April 8, 2011

Note To Self

Dear Judith,

As the old adage goes, "Organization at night makes exuberant mothers in the morning."

Yes, indeedy-do. You continue to make the same mistake every single day. You leave all the morning's prep to the hour before you need to leave for school. Tell me this... How realistic is it to wake up at 7am, arouse three kids from a deep slumber, get them dressed, with teeth brushed and hair combed, search the laundry bin for socks, feed them oatmeal, prepare three lunches, stuff backpacks, look for shoes, search for socks, look for shoes and look for shoes?

Good heavens, girl. You need a system. Let's start with something simple.

Ask the children to lay their clothes out the night before. Be sure they have located their socks and shoes.

Now ask them to make a little person on the floor with their outfits. 

This little person will wait patiently in its place until the morning sun rises at which time they can hop right into the outfit and—ta-da—half the battle is won!

Seriously Judith, try this one simple change in your daily routine and I promise you'll feel like this when you walk out the door in the morning...

 Or maybe even like this...

And then, because you're in such a good mood, maybe you'll feel like doing this...

All my love,

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spa Water

Hallelujah! The first backyard BBQ of the season has been had. 

It was a perfect 70 degree day—the kind that makes me want to stay out all night and ignore any logical bedtime rationale. 

Me and my crew stayed out until the meltdown alarm started ringing. Which surprisingly, was well into the night. 9:30 to be exact. I realize this might not be very late to you, but by our standards, we partied hardy.

I also realize that you might be asking yourself, "How did Judith and the three kids stay out that late and enjoy themselves through and through?"

The answer my friend is a certain beverage of choice that kept our energy up and stamina strong. 

The invite said BYOB—so we brought Spa Water.

Now call me out of the loop, but I hadn't heard of Spa Water until just a couple of weeks ago. Never in my life had I seen such a thing as floating cucumber slices and melon balls in a water jug. I was shocked and amazed at how delicious and refreshing this simple addition could be. And yes, my ignorance is certainly a reflection of the last time I spent any time in a spa. Clearly I don't frequent such locales enough.

Since I had never heard of it, perhaps neither have you. Please tell me I'm not the only hard-working woman not frequenting spas on a regular basis. 

I'd like to share this recipe with you today in an effort to share the goodwill and the party-hardy vibe. May you have many late night BBQs fueled by Spa Water.

Spa Water

Any fun combination of fresh items listed here (and beyond). Be creative. And please, if you know of the ultimate spa water combo, be so kind as to share in the comments below.

Cucumber slices
Mellon balls
Fresh mint leaves
Lemon slices
Orange slices
Lime slices
Peach slices
Grapefruit slices

Even if you're not spending a day at the spa, why not feel like you are each time you take a sip of your water!

Ani DiFranco - 32 Flavors

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

6: I Might Cry... Or Run Away

I might cry. Or run away. I haven't decided which, yet.

We're at that point in the semester where the chaos has escalated to the brink of breakdown. 

We're all ready for it to be done. Thankfully, this is the last semester of eight. And when it's done, it's done. I really don't think I could do another one of these.

Six more weeks left. Although I'm not entirely certain everyone is going to make it with their mental health in tact. 

And that's where the thought of running away comes into the picture. 

I saw this van today...

And decided that if I do run away, I'm taking it with me. Where? I do not know. But I rest assured knowing that I'll have a shiny red van and a girlfriend/mother (who is also running away) by my side. Kinda sounds like fun in my book.

And should I choose not to run away, I'll spend my time gazing at serene scenes such as this.

Or marvel at the divine delicate deeds of nature in the springtime.

Or ponder the metaphor that 'grad school is like a bunch of tulips popping out of the cold winter ground'. They push and they grow and they work hard long before any of their magnificent colors are revealed.

And at the end of the day, if I had any question remaining about why we do all that we do to keep this ship afloat, all I need to do is come right back to this here bloggy blog and take a gander at this pic. Then I'll know. 

But I still might cry.

This song is so ridiculously good. I could listen to it back to back to back. It keeps me dancing and smiling instead of crying at random times throughout the day.

Jack Johnson - Badfish/Boss DJ
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