Autism · Cricut · DIY · life · New England · recipe

Welcome to “Miss Rita To The Rescue!”

 

Hello and welcome! 

My name is Ritamarie Cavicchio.  I’m a blogger, a Cricut Product Expert, a homemaker, a corgi lover and a mom (not necessarily in that order).

Everything on my site is FREE for you to use, although not for commercial use.
I do need to support myself, which I do with selling my wares locally and on Etsy (http://www.etsy.com/shop/MissRitaToTheRescue).
I am also an affiliate for the Cricut brand, which basically means I get a small percentage of your sale on Cricut.com…but only if you use this link–> My Cricut Affiliate Link
As a “thank you” for using my link above, you can also use my code MISSRITA1 on your order of $50 or more and you will receive an additional 10% off and free shipping (some exclusions apply)
I’m here to help, so feel free to reach out!
A little more about me:
I blog about my beloved Cricut machines, FOOD, corgis and, of course, my wonderful 13 year old son–affectionately known as MO online–who is on the Autism Spectrum.
I am a Boston native (Shout out to Somerville!), but I was raised here on the North Shore of Boston.  After a few years away, I was drawn back to Peabody and I own a beautiful old home in the Emerson Park section.  MO and I have always lived with corgis.  Maybe you’ve seen us around town with Ted E. Bear?  He’s super cute!
After many years in the corporate world, I decided to stay home and raise MO.  While raising a child with Autism is tough work, I do also find time to take care of my home and do lots of crafty things.
Back in 2012, I was introduced to these amazing machines called a Cricut.  When I couldn’t find help on how to use it, I decided to create my own helping groups on Facebook.  Today I am the founder of four Facebook Groups called “Cricut Newbies & Pros”.  In 2014, I was invited to join the Cricut Product Expert program and I am very proud to help people to maximize their experience with these awesome machines!

 

I craft a LOT! On January 1, 2019, I began a Cricut Access Challenge, which has become a regular feature on my blog and in my groups.  If you’d like to see all of my projects from my challenge, you can find the index at this link:  Cricut Access Challenge Project Index

 

I also love to cook and craft other things, too.  I am enjoying cooking with a Dutch Oven especially, which includes baking bread and frying!  I’m hopelessly old fashioned and I love to cook all those Italian and New England recipes from your childhood.  If you are interested in my recipes, you can find them all here: Recipe Index

“Go forth and Cricut, my friends!”

Best always,

Miss Rita

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life · New England

Peabody Pop Up Market: Kids Day

Kale Yeah Market Bag
Kale Yeah Market Bag

The Peabody Pop Up Market “Kids Day” was yesterday, July 10, 2018 at the Leather City Commons off of Lowell Street in Peabody.

It could have been the heat or something, but there were about half the vendors there. But–no harm!–more shoppers for the rest of us! Haha! It sort of worked out for me, because I got to set up at one of the park’s entrances, which allowed for more attention. I abutted two great new vendors.

It was hot, but there was a lot of shade and I got my NEW tent up with a little help from my neighbors. I was also able to give my “old” tent to a local artist named Lauren, whom I met through a GreenPeabody friend. She was so excited to have a tent and the old one wasn’t any worse for wear, so that was a real “win win”! My tent weights–which are compact, horseshoe style square weights–have been ordered, but didn’t come in time, but the tent stayed put.

One of my abutters was Reni (pronounced Ree-Knee) Wilson from Tumbled By Time.  Reni has been collecting sea glass only from the beaches of Marblehead (birthplace of the American Navy and famous pirates, too!) for the last 28 years. Recently she decided to figure out how to make her found treasures into unique jewelry pieces. She doesn’t use clasps, but slip knots to make the necklaces and bracelets and she uses black fishing twine, so you know you can never wear her pieces out!

I got a little sea glass lesson from her, too, and told her all about my glass collecting friend from Canada. I chuckled when she told me the beaches in Canada aren’t good for sea glass! What beaches were she talking about, Deb Reid? Reni is able to tell exactly what type of bottle the glass originated from on most of her pieces and she was a font of knowledge about all thinks sea glass. She was originally from Ohio, but got lured here to our Atlantic Ocean beaches in her early years. They really DO lure you, don’t they?

To my right was a curious man named Adam who was wearing a fruit-adorned shrubbery on his head and handing out samples of “shrubs”. I was curious so I just had to ask what a shrub was…it’s flavored vinegars that have healthy/probiotic and culinary uses. Go figure!! Very keen hipster dude, who helped me out in the end when a certain someone whom I avoid IRL sauntered by.

I got back in touch with my friend, Michael Lucas from back in my days as CSM and VP of a local catalog company.  Michael is retired from most of his other jobs, but he is still doing his Justice of the Peace gig, but also is selling the most unbelievably tasty flavored olive oils and vinegars–real authentic Greek oils! His son-in-law and he have a store at the North Shore Shopping Center (we old “locals” still call it that!) called The Branch Olive Oil Company.  After trying his Fig Flavored Balsamic Vinegar yesterday, I can tell you he can keep his JP skills and just hand me over a bottle of that Fig Flavored Balsamic Vinegar for my salads!!

P.S. I guess there is life after working at a certain local catalog company! Go figure!

I also ran into several GreenPeabody members, including Sheila D’Ambrosio back from Maine, Pam Paine and, of course, Janette, who also runs the Tillie’s Community Herb Project over on Tillie’s Farm on Lynn Street.

Pam was headed to the Salem “No Place For Hate” Meeting…sure do wish we had one of those committees in Peabody, but she said she was turned down when she proposed it to the mayor. It may be something to revisit, Peabody?  What do you think?

Not that many produce/farmers, which I think was the reason why the original farmers market outside of City Hall didn’t do well. Lisa from Bella & Harvey–the event coordinator–has done an outstanding job of getting and keeping interesting vendors and activities. For clarification, this is Peabody’s version of the traditional farmers market, which I think is great, because it allows people like me with natural and/or handmade products to have a booth. Anyone have any ideas? Are you a vendor and want to show your wares? I can point you in the direction of the woman with all the knowledge!

Because it was Kids Day at the market, I gave away some coloring sheets that I did using my Cricut, of course! Full sized pages were also for sale and in about a dozen FREE designs from Cricut’s Design Space.

Coloring Page
Sample coloring page drawn and cut using my Cricut Maker

And because I use the creamiest, thickest white card stock, it elevates your coloring experience all the more.

This was the first market that I had some soaps for sale and I did sell a few bars. Lip Balms were the other purchases. I had a load of really fun market bags, but I think I have to display them better. Oh! And it didn’t help that the DJ was giving away free market bags around the corner.

Of course, I’d like to have sold more, but the benefits still far outweigh the difficulties! ❤

The NEXT Peabody Pop Up Market will be on Tuesday, July 24th from 3-7pm. I *think* the them is Crafty stuff…so I won’t need to make anything “special” for that….cuz everything I have is crafty! BOL!

Here are the vendor details from this post.  If you visit any of them, be sure to tell them you heard about them from my blog!  Thanks, loves!

 

The Branch Olive Oil Co.

  • North Shore Shopping Center, 210 Andover St., Peabody, MA
  • (978) 531-1920
  • The Branch Olive Oil Co.
  • New store coming to Pickering Wharf, Salem, MA in 2018
  • Also on Facebook at /thebrancholiveoil

 

Tumbled By Time:

  • Studio located at 28 South Street, Marblehead, MA
  • (617) 510-1846
  • Tumbled By Time
  • Also on Facebook at /TumbledbyTime,  Instagram and Twitter

 

Peabody Main Streets:

  • Pictures are posted on Facebook.com/peabodymainstreets
  • E-mail newsletter at: Live Peabody
  • (978) 538-5704

 

La Diva Bella/Miss Rita to the Rescue! (that’s me):

  • Miss Rita to the Rescue! The Blog
  • On Facebook at /MissRitatotheRescue and /LaDivaBella
  • Also on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Quora under my name: Ritamarie Cavicchio

Art with Lauren:

  • Sit and paint events, bachelor/ette parties and private art lessons
  • on Facebook at /ArtWithLaurenNoyes

 

Peabody Pop Up Market:

  • On Facebook at /Peabodyfarmermkt

 

 

 

life

Leftovers

Let’s talk leftovers.

I came from a far away place called the 70’s. During that time, most moms were “stay at home” and many didn’t have cars. Our moms did their marketing once a week and usually purchased enough for breakfast, lunch and supper for the entire family, which usually included a special meal for Sunday after church. Yes, in that far away place, we all went to church on Sunday morning, even if you weren’t feeling like it!

We rarely went out to eat as this was reserved for “special occasions”. Furthermore, the idea of “ordering out” was just foreign to those of us that came from the 70’s…and I am being totally serious here! On rare occasions, my dad might suggest getting a pizza–for example, if it was just “too hot to cook”–but, even then, he would drive to the local pizzeria, order and bring it home. Keep in mind microwave ovens were just being introduced in most homes then and they were still strange and possibly dangerous, too. One of my neighbors insisted that we do not stand in front of theirs while it was “in use” because, well, “radiation”.

The 70’s was a strange place, indeed. 😉

But–getting back to my point–when I was growing up, food came from your kitchen and was usually produced by moms. Sometimes you’d be lucky and have a mom that was a really good cook or even a bit inventive. Sometimes not. Sometimes moms would have a rotating schedule, similar to a school lunch menu, but usually without an alternate. Your alternate was “take it or leave it” usually. My point being she would churn it out and we would all sit and eat at the same time…no tv, no devices, just conversation and eating. Isn’t that weird?

Invariably there were leftovers. Sometimes it would be just a tiny amount of food, but it was food and we never threw it out; it would be saved. Maybe it would be a spoonful of peas & carrots. A slice of ham wrapped in tinfoil, perhaps. Occasionally there might be some rice no one could eat.

And we kept it all! What’s weird is we never ate these leftovers the next day, because it was Wednesday and it was spaghetti day. So she would collect all these bits of leftovers in tiny Tupperware or Pyrex fridge containers, which would sit in the fridge for a couple of days. And, on Saturday, she would take all the leftovers and heat everything up to go with our hamburgs (you heard me…that’s what we called them) which were cooked in the broiler on a tinfoil wrapped broiler pan that no one liked to clean. It was a potluck of sorts and, I have to tell you, it was our version of being adventurous.

These days I am hearing and seeing dinner being handled in far different ways and it’s sort of scary and strange. What about the leftovers? Where are those weekly “pot lucks” of days gone by? Do people actually throw food away now? What do you eat with your Saturday night Hamburgs?

As a single mom of one child, I must admit I have struggled with the idea of “family meals”. It seems odd making a full meal that your child won’t eat and I have no desire to eat what he does most of the time. Lately I might cook something big–like a pot of soup–and eat that every night for a week, while–at the same time–being a short order cook for MO. It sort of works for us right now, but it does change my ingrained beliefs about leftovers.

I suppose that’s why I get really excited when Thanksgiving or Christmas rolls around. Suddenly I can have a conversation with an adult! I can show off my culinary skills! I can have…LEFTOVERS!

Dutch Oven · life · recipe

Crusty Bread in a Dutch Oven

I was “gifted” with a Dutch Oven for Christmas, which I am thinking might be one of the best gifts I’ve ever received…and I’m not just saying that because the giver of the Dutch Oven reads my blog…because I’m not sure if she does. Let’s check: “Thank you, Tre, for the fabulous gift!”

Let’s see if she responds…I’ll let you know later.

Anyway you might be asking what a Dutch Oven is and thinking about why you might need one, too, so let me explain. A Dutch Oven is an enamel-coated cast iron pot that, when heated, maintains amazing temperature much like a slow cooker. I’ve been using a crock pot for years and years, which is why I never got myself a Dutch Oven before, but I will be the first to admit this was a silly mistake.

Slow cookers may *do* Everything a Dutch Oven does, but there’s something more “down home” and heart warming about using your oven to bake bread! It amazes your kids, too!

I know, I know…the gluten! But to be totally honest, unless you have a known allergy to gluten (aka celiac disease), I am just not convinced that gluten is a big horror. Perhaps it’s bad in processed/commercial breads, but even then I’m not sure the gluten is the culprit. Yeah, I’m talking to you high fructose corn syrup!

And while I’m on the subject of HFCS, can I just agree now with my European friends that American bread is SO sweet! It’s too sweet! IMHO, we’ve ruined our palates eating these over sweetened commercial breads.

Before you think I am pointing a blame finger, I’m just as guilty as anyone. I could never envision eating the New England classic Fluffernutter without fresh Country Kitchen Canadian White bread. By the way, the idea that there’s a different kind of bread called Canadian White is just a myth; my Canadian friend has confirmed that there is no such thing! (The horror!!)

Okay I hear ya. I’m done preaching, so I’ll get off my soapbox now and back to the subject: making wonderful and easy homemade bread in a Dutch Oven.

This is a great BASE recipe! Which means, you can experiment with variations. I myself am envisioning a nice Italian loaf with rosemary (my fave!), basil, oregano and a nice cheese blend of Romano and Parmesan. Doesn’t that sound awesome? Drool!

Also…Did I mention this is so easy to make? There’s no kneading and only one (overnight) rising! Couldn’t be easier!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 5.5 quart Dutch Oven
  • An oversized bowl
  • Six cups all purpose flour (I always use King Arthur, because it’s unbleached)
  • 3 cups room temperature water
  • 2 tsp. salt (adjust to your taste)
  • 1 tsp. Active dry yeast (this is about half an envelope if you are using the packets)
  • Extra flour for the pan and your hands

Instructions:

  • The night before, combine flour, salt and yeast in a big bowl then add your water and mix with a wooden spoon until thoroughly blended
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then a dish towel and let it sit for between 12-18 hours in a warm part of your kitchen
  • In the morning, put your Dutch Oven (with its lid!) in your oven and then preheat both to 450 degrees
  • Remove the plastic wrap from the bowl and gently shape the dough with floured hands. Don’t knead the dough, you want the yeast bubbles!
  • Remove your Dutch Oven from the oven, remove the cover, sprinkle a bit of flour in the bottom and place the dough inside
  • Replace the cover and put the entire pot back in the preheated oven. Bake covered for 30 minutes, then remove the cover and bake uncovered for 20 minutes more
  • Your loaf will pop right out of the pot. Cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing the round loaf in half. Cool completely before slicing the loaf or storing it in plastic, because the steam will make your bread soggy

See how crusty it is outside but fluffy inside? That’s your objective!

That’s all there is to it. REALLY!

Now go on and make yourself some bread! You’ll be glad you did!

P.S.

Teresa: Did you read all the way to the end? Just checking. Thanks again for my beautiful aqua colored Dutch Oven! I love it…obviously!

P.P.S.

My next post will Be how to use your bread to make these Open Faced Meatball Sandwiches, so do come back soon!

DIY · life

Potato Pancakes for Hanukkah

I’ll start off by saying, I am not Jewish and I don’t even like making potatoes. But in honor of my friend, Mark Titelbaum–who does celebrate the Festival of Lights (which begins tonight!)–I unfroze my leftover Thanksgiving mashed potatoes and whipped up my version of potato pancakes (aka latkes).

Mark might disagree, but I happen to like my version, because they are creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Being a somewhat old-fashioned dude, Mark informed me that fresh potatoes are best. Only I didn’t have any fresh potatoes. Luckily I did freeze the mounds of leftover mashed potatoes I had from Thanksgiving.

My defrosted potatoes were prepared with butter, milk, a smidge of cream cheese and salt and pepper. If you want to duplicate my latke recipe, just reserve some leftover mashed potatoes in your freezer as I did. Otherwise I suppose you could use prepared mashed potatoes often found in the market this time of year. Or start from scratch.

Combine the previously mashed potatoes–whichever kind you have, of course–with some flour, and egg, salt and pepper and some browned, chopped onion and garlic. Your “batter” will look like egg salad and be fairly firm. So sort of like this:

Now I’m not going to give you measurements, because it sort of depends on the potatoes you start with. Drier mashed potatoes might need an extra egg. Looser potatoes might benefit from a bit more flour. So you’ll need to eye-ball it a bit.

You’re looking for a thick but gooey mixture that will hold be firm when you go to fry them up…see how these hold their shape?

I know…they still look like mounds of egg salad…but they won’t soon I promise!

In a large skillet, heat some olive oil and then spoon three (or four, if you can fit four) big globs of your mixture in. Flatten them slightly with a spatula.

When the bottom is browned and crispy, turn them over and brown the other side. If your skillet is hot, this will go pretty fast and you can expect something like this:

After you flip them, make sure to flatten them down so the inside is about maybe a 1/2 inch thick. We’re going for a browned, crispy latke with a warm, creamy center…much like the next photo here:

And all that’s left is serving! I enjoy my latkes with sour cream:

So delicious!

Enjoy the Festival of Lights, my friends!

Oh…and Mark! I hope these meet with your approval!