Friday, December 21, 2012

Recipe Friday: Spiced Warm Milk

My throat hurts.  It's snowing outside.  Something warm and soothing to drink sounds good to me.  I found this recipe in The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook by Cathe Olson.  I realize that warm milk might sound pretty gross to some, but I love it.  This recipe is kind of like a vanilla version of hot chocolate.  It's quick to make and it's great for just a little something sweet after my kids go to bed.  I wanted to give you a warming, holiday recipe before I sign off until after the new year and I think this one is what I was looking for.  So have a Merry Christmas (even if you don't celebrate, you can still be merry on December 25th) and a Happy New Year.  Enjoy time with your family.  I will.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Visit To Santa

Evan and I aren't in the Christmas spirit.  We're doing our best, watching Christmas movies (Evan considers Die Hard a Christmas movie.  It's amazing that even after watching Bruce Willis walk on broken glass in his bare feet I don't feel in the Christmas mood!) we went to look at the Christmas Lights in Monument park, we've decorated the house, the tree, the lights are outside.  Our shopping is done, gifts are wrapped, the advent calendars are nearing the end, but for some reason it just doesn't FEEL like Christmas.  In the past we've done lots of Christmas activities, the Zoo's Breakfast with Santa, the McKinley Museum's Christmas event, Christmas at Hoover Farm--it seemed like every weekend we were doing something Christmasy.  But this year we didn't do any of that.  A big part of it is wrestling, which takes up every Monday, Wednesday and Friday night and all day Sunday.  It's also because we're now 6, which makes something like going to the Akron Zoo's Breakfast with Santa unreasonably expensive, whereas before it was pricey, but manageable.  In veering away from Holiday activities, we've also lost the opportunity to visit with Santa. So last night, for the first time, we took the kids to the mall to see Santa.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Reuseit.com

(Imagine me talking very fast.)  I got a flyer in a box of Christmas gifts I ordered from diapers.com.  It was for 20% off orders of $35 or more(RUCD13HS)  from reuseit.com.  The coupon had a picture of a reusable alternative to paper towels so I thought I'd check it out. Pretty cool site!  It has TONS of different reusable options, like produce bags, stainless steel thermoses, shopping bags, WRAPPING PAPER!! (MAGEL!!)  straws and lots of other cool stuff.  Check it out!  There! I said it!  I have Caden home sick today and we're "sharing"the  computer.  While I type he's "watching" Olivia.  This is a potentially dangerously long blog post!  Of course  the computer keeps  freezing and the c key is sticking. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Green Christmas

I had a request to blog about having a greener Christmas. SO, if there is some confusion, and we end up with a green Christmas, as opposed to a white Christmas, blame the other the requester, not the blogger..  Got that weather?   White Christmas.  People.  Green Christmas.
National White Christmas Forecast
There are a few ways that I could address this question.  First, is the way I've seen it presented.  Second is the way that I actually see people doing it, realistically.  The way I've seen greening Christmas suggested in other soures I've read, I always think, REALLY?  Do you really think that people are going to do this?  It's much greener than what I'll suggest, but I think it's too big of a jump for most people.  I'm going to blog about greening Christmas in a way that I think YOU would do.  (And by you I mean Magel.  She's the one that asked for suggestions and I think she's a pretty good representation of a "normal" person.)  I'm not going to tell you to make your gifts using items you have around the house.  I'm not going to suggest that in lieu of a physical gift you donate to charity.  I'm going to do the best I can to suggest ways that you can take what you're doing already and tweak it to make it a little greener. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Perspective (#Todayistheday)

I was going to blog about a reusable product website I found.  I thought about blogging about how my hair is falling out like it always does after I give birth.  I thought about blogging about preparing for Christmas.  But I'm not going to blog about any of that.  Because it doesn't matter.  All that matters is that my kids got off the bus on Friday.  I didn't care if Caden got in trouble.  I didn't care if Ellie came home with food from someone else's lunch and her's entirely uneaten.  They came home.  Alive.  I'm lucky.  20 other parents weren't so lucky. 

I felt helpless.  I lied to Ellie, again.  When she asked me if this could happen at her school I told her no, but it could.  I'm using it as a learning experience for Caden, who seems to think guns are super cool right now and really wants Call of Duty for Christmas. (He's NOT getting it, by the way.)  I'm trying to get across to him that guns aren't cool.  Guns cause death.  Period.  There's no other reason to have a gun other than to shoot something, or someone.

President Obama said, "Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?"  I said no.  Other moms have too.  If YOU feel helpless and if YOU fear for the safety of your child, my children and millions of other kids, sign the letter to the NRA and congress at www.momsrising.org
"We are parents.  Many NRA members are parents.  And none of us want to live in a nation where children are gunned down.  Today is the day for the NRA and for Congress to step up and start proposing laws that protect children and all people.

*Sign on to our open letter to the National Rifle Association (NRA) and to Congress urging them to make today the last day that they block common sense gun regulations that protect all of our families."

 I don't want to lie to Ellie to tell her that this can't happen at her school.  I don't want to be like any of those 20 parents.  I want my kids to come home every day from school.  Alive. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Recipe Friday: Warm Millet Cereal

Maybe it's because I've been thinking about making baby food, or maybe it's the cold weather, but for some reason, this has been sounding really good to me.  I've been too lazy (we'll call it busy) to make it.   It's kind of like a cream of wheat, but made with millet.  It's kind of a nutty flavor, and I like to add honey to my cereal to sweeten it.  (Of course!)  Here's a shocker, it's from The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook by Cathe Olson! 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Doubting Ellie

Ellie:  "Mom, do you lie?"
Me: "No" (lie) "Why?"
Ellie: "Because if I ask you if you move Christoper Pop-In Kins and you say no, and you don't lie, he must move by himself."

She's struggling.  The other day she pointed out that the back of his ear was green, like his hat.  He has a tag.  He looks plastic.  Thank God for Toy Story!  I explained that Christopher is like Woody and Buzz.  He's like a toy when you're not around, but when you leave, he comes to life.  This seemed to appease her.  It definitely worked for Vince, who touched him the other day, making him leave and go back to the North Pole.  V was very upset and I don't think his little fingers will come within a foot of Christopher again. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Repeating Myself

I was all set to write a blog today about what "All Natural" means on packaging when I realized I already did a post about that.  I considered writing yet another post about it, but instead I'll just link to the last one and expand upon it a little.  (OK in linking I realized that I actually already did TWO on it.  I'm losing it!)  I was just shopping at Wal-Mart (I really hate that I'm shopping there.  It's the holidays and I'm trying to cut corners where I can...even if it means comprising my values a little.  Wow, that sounds bad!)  and I was looking for an organic peanut butter. I know Smuckers makes one so I was hoping that they at least carried that, but they don't.  Although they have a TON of all natural brands.  As I've said before, that's kind of a bogus claim.  "The Food and Drug Administration, the agency that oversees packaged food labeling in the United States, has no definition of what counts as "natural." As long as a food labeled "natural" doesn't contain added color, artificial flavor or synthetic substances, the agency doesn't object."  I was kind of disillusioned with the availability of organic products.  I thought that because Target and Giant Eagle were carrying more and more items, so would other stores.  I WAS able to get organic apples and Stonyfield yogurts, but I was sad that there weren't more options out there. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

It's Not Who You Are Underneath, But What You Do That Defines You

I've been watching a lot of Batman.  A lot of Superman and a lot of Spiderman.  All of them.  I think I can say Batman Begin's is my favorite.  So as I was thinking about having my kids pick a charity to donate to this Christmas, this line popped into my head.  I think it's pretty true.  I can sit here and blog all day about getting rid of toxins in your home and food, lessening your carbon footprint and protecting the planet, but unless I also DO something, I'm not making much of a difference.

I always have the kids pick something for each other and go shopping to get it, but this year I just can't brave the stores.  Two of them are in school, which makes it hard to get away with only one or two to shop for the others, we're in the height of wrestling season which sucks up all day Sunday and 6 hours during the week....blah blah blah, I'm busy.  So I've been shopping online for almost all of the gifts this year.  That, of course, means that picking out a gift for your sister means telling mom something while you're playing Angry Birds.  It's not *quite* the gift giving that I'm trying to cultivate this holiday season. SO, I'm going to select 3 charities that I think the kids would be interested in, let them choose one, then donate somehow-either just money or goods.  (Not time.  I don't think there's an organization out there that wants me to bring my 4 kids to "help".)  In the book, Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, I read that 80% of children's dreams are about animals.  This was in reference to a study done by ad agencies, trying to gain knowledge about kid's psyche to help sell to them, but I think it's also a good indicator of which charities they may be most interested in supporting. So I'm going to make a case to the kids for 3 different animal charities.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Recipe Friday: Wheat Berry Pilaf

I made this dish last week and as I was eating it for leftovers for lunch yesterday (warmed with milk, as the author suggests---fantastic breakfast!)  I thought it would be a good one to share.  WARNING: This takes awhile to make, but it's just simmering time, not hands on time.  Hands-on time is actually very minimal.  I like this because it's slightly sweet, due to the cinnamon stick.  It comes to us from my favorite cookbook, The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook by Cathe Olson.  This was my first experience with wheat berries, and I found them in bulk at the Raisin Rack.  I'm not sure if they carry them at "conventional" grocery stores.  I wasn't really sure what to look for, since they do sound like a fruit, but in fact,  wheat berries are the whole grain form of wheat - the whole complete grain before it has undergone any processing. How's THAT for whole foods?!?!
 What are wheat berries? Wheatberry definition


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Olivia's Doctor Visit: Time to Revisit Babyfood

Miss Olivia had her 4 month doctor check-up yesterday.  She's average for height and weight and got all 4 vaccinations.  Nothing too exciting there.  However, the doctor did tell me that it was time to start "playing with a spoon."  Uggg.  Are were there ALREADY?  I think I started Caden on solid food around 3 months at the suggestion of the doctor.  I was eager to try this new stage of babyhood with him and looking back, struggled where I should have just given up.  He wasn't ready, but I didn't realize it and continued to make a mess of both him and me at our nightly "feedings".  Now, this will shock you if you know Caden, but he was kind of a difficult child to start on solids.  He was a horribly messy eater. 

We used to strip him down to his diaper, feed him, then take him directly to the tub.  (He's still a sloppy eater.  He manages to get food all over his face at almost every meal.  He's almost 8.)  I needed rules and guidelines with him and there just aren't really a whole lot when it comes to starting solid food.  I was baffled when he was done with baby food, but not quite ready to eat exactly what we were eating.  There wasn't a shelf of "toddler food" and I didn't know what to do.  So when it was time for Ellie to start solids, I was dreading it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Meghan's Post...For Everyone Else Who Doesn't Know Where To Start

A few weeks ago my friend Meghan said that she'd like to try to go greener, but she doesn't know where to start.  It's all so overwhelming.  I get that.  I was there.  I'm STILL there!  That's the whole reason I started this blog!  So I thought I'd go a little back to basics and write a how-to blog on "Greenness for Beginners."  It's really not that hard to get started.  It's not that hard to keep going.  In the green world, every little bit helps, both you and the Earth.  So here's my easy guide to going green.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

MY toy catalog came!

As it's Christmas time, our mailbox is brimming with catalogs.  The kids love to sit down with pen and circle everything they want.  (Last year Ellie circled the doll as well as the model.  "That's a real person, Ellie, not a toy."  "I know."  Santa did not bring Ellie a human.)  Among the multitude of Nova Natural, Toys R Us, Target and Fisher Price catalogs appeared Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds!  I requested this catalog a few months ago when I was looking for some kale seeds.  It's 210 pages long and FULL of all kinds of fun fruits and veggies and a few flowers.  I was SO excited to look through it and plan what I was going to plant in next year's garden.  I had mentally added about 4 raised beds, taking about 1/4 of the kids's backyard playspace, when I realized, I don't really know enough about gardening to get all these seeds.  I did a great job last year getting the sprouts that I bought at Lowe's in the ground, and planing the lettuce, carrot and bean seeds, but a whole garden, started from seeds indoors, I'm a little out of my element. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Recipe Friday: Bean Dip

I wanted to give you a good holiday recipe this week.  I thought of lots of cookie recipes I have, but none of them can even remotely be considered healthy.   I thought this bean dip recipe might work as a holiday dish because it's great to dip veggies in and it an also be used with a Mexican dinner (I'm going to use it on quesadillas tonight.)  It's from my trusty The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook by Cathe Olson.  It's called Easy Bean Dip, and it truly is pretty easy. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ready or Not..Here It Comes!

I have a tradition the day after a holiday.  I take down all the decorations and put up the next holiday's decorations.  Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas.  (Yes, December 26th, all my Christmas decorations come down, including the tree.  We had some guys out to put in new windows a few years ago a few days after Christmas and they assumed we were Jewish because we didn't still have our decorations up.  To be fair, we do decorate with a menorah every year, a remnant of the kids' Jewish preschool days.)  So the day after Thanksgiving, while everyone else is battling each other for Black Friday deals, I'm taking down my few Thanksgiving decorations and putting up Christmas lights.  It's my tradition, but it just didn't FEEL right.  I'm not sure why.  I've been thinking about Christmas.  Every toy catalog that comes across our threshold has circles around different items that the kids want on their wish lists.  But despite the garland, elves and snowmen all around me, it just doesn't FEEL like Christmas time. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

SparX Candy--Healthy?!? Candy?!?!

I was selected for yet another blogger trial through Kiwi Magazine's Green Mom's Meet.  This time it is candy.  My children were, of course, very disappointed that I needed them to try candy so I could blog about it.  It took all of 10 minutes for it all to be gone. 

I applied for this sample because I was intrigued by the product, Xlear SparX  Candy because it contains Xylitol.  I had heard of Xylitol and knew that it was sweet and had something to do with your teeth and it was positive, but I wasn't actually sure what it was. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I threw a party and nobody came

Last weekend I threw a Healthy Baby Home party.  I applied to have the party through Healthy Child Healthy World.  I got free samples of baby lotion, baby wash, baby laundry detergent,  toddler fruit snacks, Luna bars and a full size of bath soap, bubble bath, baby wash and moist facial towelettes.  Plus lots of coupons.  I was supposed to show a DVD, play bingo and give out some of the full sized products as prizes.  I blogged about this already, I know.  It was sponsored by Seventh Generation (mostly Seventh Generation products) and they wanted me to have it by Thanksgiving.  So I planned two weeks out and sent out evites for last Sunday.  I got a few "maybes" a few nos and a lot of no replies.  It was a bust. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I've failed as a parent

I don't know what we did wrong.   We dressed the boys in doggie outfits.  We own (ed) two dogs, Evan and I are both dog people.  I watch dog shows and can name almost every breed of dog in each group (ASCOB stands for any solid color other than black-- dog show nerd, right?).  Yet Caden's first word was "kitty", Ellie and Vince both said last week that if they could have any pet it would be a cat.  What did we do wrong?!?!  Evan and I discussed it last night and we blame Meg. 
Please to see us as usual

Monday, November 19, 2012

KM's CSA

I'm back!  I took last week off, mostly because I couldn't get to my computer.  We had most of our house painted and when I wasn't out, trying to keep my kids and dog out of the painter's hair, I was holed up in my bedroom, the only room upstairs not being painted.  So this week, I'm going to try to make up of my week of slacking.

Last week, while jammed in my bedroom with a dog, cat and two kids, along with tables and other items from the rooms being painted, I got an email from my friend Kristin, asking my opinion on CSAs (community supported agriculture) and one in particular that she had found.  I was kind of flattered that she asked me.  I have a little experience with CSAs, but by no means am I an expert.  I was actually really excited that she brought this CSA to my attention because it seems very different from the one I did a few years ago.  I was first struck by the fact that its a WINTER CSA!  Super cool, right?  It's not hard to find summer CSAs, obviously because that's the Ohio growing season, but this winter CSA struck me as really cool.  Let me back up.  I should probably tell you the name and all that stuff.  It's called the Fresh Fork Market.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Recipe Friday: Thanksgiving Turkey



Ok, this isn't really a recipe for a Thanksgiving turkey, but it might be an actual Thanksgiving turkey!  I got an email from Slow Food USA and it has a Thanksgiving quiz about the foods traditionally used to make Thanksgiving dinner.

 "If you're celebrating Thanksgiving and reading this right now, chances are good that you do your best to enjoy a thoughtful — not just full full — holiday. It isn't easy — but we can help! Take our quiz to find out how to make sure you're preparing a meal that is as good, clean and fair as possible. AND, every day until November 20, we'll draw a name from our quiz-takers to receive a turkey from a farm that has achieved certification to Global Animal Partnership's 5-Step™ Animal Welfare Rating from your neighborhood Whole Foods Market."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fast Food Nation

 I mentioned before that I'm reading Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser.  I'm only halfway through it, but at this point it's safe for me to say, I REALLY recommend this book!  It's not quite the expose I thought it was going to be.  There ARE lots of shocking facts and HORRIFIC data on the safety of food at fast food restaurants, but I was also fascinated by the background of the industry and how it's shaped not only our country, but also our world.  Here's a YouTube clip I found that summarizes the book pretty well. (Actually it just hits some highlights, but it's still a pretty good synopsis.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Healthy Baby Home Party

Thanks California.  You blew it.  Proposition 37, that would have mandated labeling food containing GMOs,  didn't pass.  I'm very disappointed in you.  I'm starting to think maybe Superman shouldn't have foiled Lex Luther's plot in Superman 1.  (Ok that may have been a little harsh.)  I was really exited to really win one for the "Green Team".  We lost a battle, but we'll keep fighting the war.

So on a polar opposite topic--I'm having a party!  I "applied" to have a Healthy Baby Home Party sponsored by Seventh Generation and Healthy Child Healthy World.  I'm really excited to do this party, both because it will give me an excuse to invite over some mom's I don't always get a chance to really talk with and because they'll bring their kids and we'll have a massive playdate! 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fall is For Planting: Garlic

My garden is officially done for the winter.  Sunday I pulled out all the dying marigolds, the dead pepper plants and the brown vines from the butternut squash.  I used my garden fork (I don't know what the real name of the thing is.  I even checked lowe.com to see if I could find one.  It has 3 prongs and a long handle.  I use it all year to weed in the garden.  It's my favorite gardening tool, yet I don't really even know what it is!) an turned all the soil over, picking out any stubborn weeds.  I used the garden rake to smooth out the soil and Evan tossed some mulched leaves on top of it all.  I have my kale still out there, but that's supposed to be good all winter long, and I want to test it out, so it stays.  I'm done gardening for the fall and I'm kind of sad.  Once I really started to garden, instead of just pull weeds that had overgrown my beds, I really enjoyed it.  But as the signs in front of the nursery up the street say, "Fall is for planting!"  So that's what I'm going to do--cling to my hobby for as long as I can!  I read on Twitter (@eartheats tweeted it) how to plant garlic.  It seems SUPER easy so I thought I'd give it a try. 
aaaa

Monday, November 5, 2012

Tomorrow is THE day!

Tomorrow is the day--election day. (or as I like to call it, the day the political calls stop!). Here's your reminder to get out and vote tomorrow.  I don't really believe in telling people how to vote.   Vote your values.  If, by chance, your values are similar to mine, you might want to check out the website I got from Ken Cook from EWG.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Recipe Friday: Pumpkin

Yesterday I made Butternut Squash Soup and while I was roasting my butternut squash, I decided to roast the pumpkin that's been sitting on my counter for weeks.  I've blogged about pumpkins before, but I'll say again, be sure you're buying pie pumpkins when you're getting one to eat.  These are not the same as the ones you carve!  Pie Pumpkins are smaller and have deeper ridges. They're also generally darker in color than carving pumpkins.
Pie Pumpkins

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Poetry

I'm not a huge fan of poetry.  I did ok with it in school, but the truth is it always made me feel stupid. I could see the symbolism when it was pointed out to me and I was always ok with the other elements of poetry, alliteration, onomatapoeia, similie, metaphor, meter, you know all that good stuff.  I always thoyght I disliked poetry because I was never allowed to just read it for pleasure. It sucked all the beauty out of it when I had to analyze everything I read.  That's why I liked teaching poetry to my first and second graders.  Analysis consisted of finding sight words or words in the same family, rhyming words, but mostly we read for meaning.  I was finally able to enjoy poetry and my kids did too.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Well today's the day!  October 31st!  Halloween, otherwise know as Kristin's birthday!  Happy Birthday KM!  How are you celebrating today?  Like me?  Doing the exact same thing as you always do, with the added fun of planning to take down the decorations tomorrow?!?  That's why I really hate having trick-or-treat on a Sunday.  It takes away from Halloween.  It's just another day now.  For the last few years we've carved pumpkins on Halloween night, but this year Ellie and Vince have swimming and Caden was supposed to have his first wrestling practice (Sandy moved it back).  There's just too much going on to really "celebrate" the day.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Powerless

They said to prepare for 3 days without power.  They said to have one gallon of water, per person, per day (18 gallons for our family).  They cancelled school.  We braced ourselves for Sandy to hit Stark county.  And last night it hit.  Well, I wouldn't really say "hit".  "Bumped into" maybe?  We never lost power, thank God I didn't do the water thing (because THAT'S what you need in a flood--MORE water!) and now I have 4 kids at home, watching TV and fighting for a turn on the internet (I get first dibs!) and devouring Halloween candy every time I turn my back!  I know that no one really could predict how Sandy would hit Ohio.  It was hard to tell how it was going to make landfall, then how it would slow and move once it got to land.  Turns out it died down way faster than they thought before it hit my house.  Kind of like I thought it would, but then last night I got scared.  3 days without power? 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

I actually read the back of shampoo bottles.  It's because I'm a direction-follower.  I read the entire back, the little blurb about how great the product is, how to use it and of course, the ingredients (this is of course, a new addition.  I didn't always that last step.) Sometimes it's just the usual stuff, but sometimes, you get a special treat--like the bottle that for directions said, "Come on!  You know how to wash your hair!"  This also extends to hair care products, although this, I think, is a little more common.  I think most people read the back of a new kind of product--do I use this on wet hair, on dry hair, before or after I blowdry?  Anyway, I was reading the back of a new product I bought.  I decided to try to wear my hair curly again and I needed something to help hold the curl.  It was an impulse buy--I don't really have too many of those.   I didn't even research it on EWG's Cosmetic Database. (I'm trying, but it's been down for a few days.)  So I grabbed a Garnier Fructis Curl Shaping spray.  Of course I read the directons.  Then down at the bottom, I noticed a Green initiative I'd never heard of before "TerraCycle".  Of course I checked it out!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Recipe Friday: Creamy Parsnip Soup

It's Friday!  So here's your recipe!  It's from The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook, by Cathe Olson.  I love this soup because it's warm an comforting and slightly sweet, which of course I love!  The down side is I can't seem to find organic parsnips so that's the one ingredient that's not organic when I make this.  But, as I've said before, I'm doing the best I can!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Underbuying

As I mentioned before, I just finished reading Happier At Home, by Gretchen Rubin.  It's a sequel to The Happiness Project that I read a few years ago, and also enjoyed.  It's actually the reason I started this blog.  One of the things she talks about in this book is the way people shop.  There are underbuyers, who always buy just enough of what they need and are always frustrated because they don't always have what the need when they need it and overbuyers, who buy too much and end up with lots of things they don't need.  I am an underbuyer.  An extreme underbuyer.  I'm so glad I've learned this about myself.  It's helping me to change.  I wear clothes with holes, I am constantly doing laundry so I don't run out of pants. (Perfect example, after Ellie was born and I lost a lot of weight, I owned one pair of pants.  Not one pair of good pants, one pair of pants.  Including pajama pants.  Underbuyer.) 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Out with the Old, In with the New

Today is our last day with our table, chairs, sofa and loveseat.  Tomorrow the new furniture arrives!! While I'm VERY excited to sit on furniture that doesn't sink down half a foot when you sit on it, have a faint dog odor (ok, let's be honest, it's not so faint) or doesn't have stains from I'd-rather-not-know-what, it's also a little sad.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Adventures in Grocery Shopping!!

Today Vince, Olivia and I went grocery shopping.  I really hate to go grocery shopping.  Usually there's some kind of catastrophe involving one of my children, it takes way too long and I hate how much money I spend in an hour.  My new friend, vine.com, is helping decrease the amount of time I need to spend in the grocery store, but it's still a chore I do weekly.  Each week I plan a menu for the week.  I look at the calendar, plan around after-school activities (which days will I have a lot of prep time, which days require that there's little clean-up, etc) and draft a menu and corresponding grocery list.  Then I shop. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Recipe Friday: Butternut Squash Coffee Cake

OK, apples are over.  Now we're moving into more fall, which to me, means squash.  I LOVE winter squash, which I didn't really learn until I was in my mid-twenties.  I wish I had realized this sooner, since winter squash is really healthy for you.  "This food is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Folate, Potassium and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Manganese."  I love to eat winter squash, roasted and pureed, which, yes, is basically baby food, but it's SO good!  We (Ellie, Vince and I) like to add a little brown sugar and cinnamon or, Ellie's favorite, pumpkin pie spice.  This recipe takes the puree and "hides" it in a coffee cake.  It's from another one of my favorite cookbooks, Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Only 67 days left!!!

I was at a friend's house the other day for a playdate and she mentioned that there were only 72 days until Christmas.  I like to take my holidays one at a time.  I'm counting down the days until Halloween (13), then I'll count down until Thanksgiving, and THEN I worry about Christmas.  The thing is, EVERYONE is thinking about Christmas then so it's kind of hectic.  If I want to order gifts I need to do it early because the mail is slower, I have a million other holiday related events going on to worry about...so I'm starting early this year.  (I still won't decorate until the day after Thanksgiving though!)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Update Edition

I end a lot of my blogs with, "I'll let you know."  So this is the one where I do just that. I also promised pictures, so I'm adding those too. 

First, my apple pie.  I finally got my pie made this weekend.  It was one of the best-looking pies I've ever made, so I took a picture.  I used Jonagold apples from Arrowhead Orchards and I wasn't impressed.  Next pie I'm going to use a different kind of apple. 

Gopicnic taste test was a success yesterday!  Vince LOVED every last piece/drop of everything in his lunch.  He, like his mother, ate the dessert first (gummy airplanes) but he really liked the peanut butter on crackers.  It came in a tube so I could do a dot on each cracker, which for some reason, seemed "cooler" to him than spreading it on.  Even though it was expensive, I still think I'm going to grab another one to try at the store. 

My kale experiment is coming to a close.  I got them in too late, as expected.  (This just goes along with everything in my life!  I can't be on time for ANYTHING right now!)  I have cute little baby kale, which will be great to add to salads and I already used some in a recipe (egg salad), but we've had a few frosts, one I think I missed covering them, and I think they're done growing.  I'm still glad I did it.  I know now how easy it is to grow kale and how fast it grows, even in cooler weather so I'm DEFINITELY going to plant a lot next year. 
Curly kale

The Russian Red didn't grow as well


The willow isn't really something I ever promised to update on, but I was watching it sway in the fall breeze yesterday and it made me think of the post I did about the willow in the spring.  As I looked at it again, I realized it's yet again, showing me the changing seasons. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Trip to the pumpkin patch

This Monday we finally made it to the pumpkin patch!  Every year we go to Kingsway Pumpkin Farm.  They have hayrides out to the pumpkin patch to pick your own pumpkin, animals to feed and pet, a barn with a cornbox (think sandbox filled with dried corn) and a hay bale maze.  There's also a giant corn maze, but we've never done it since the kids are still pretty small. I wanted to go last Monday, I even invited two mom-friends and their kids, but things didn't work out.   It's always so crazy there on the weekends and I thought a weekday would allow us to relax there a little more--and not wait in line for the hayride to the pumpkin field for half an hour. So since the big kids didn't have school again this Monday I thought we'd go.

Monday, October 15, 2012

gopicnic

While shopping the the natural food section of Giant Eagle yesterday (with zero kids, so I had time to actually LOOK at what was on the shelves!) I found an interesting prepackaged product called gopicnic.  They're natural, shelf-stable, prepackaged meals containing products from other natural brands.  They looked interesting and I was about to buy a few to send with the big kids for lunch, when I looked at the amount of food you get and the price ($4.99).  I then decided to buy one, try it with Vince and see how it goes.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Apple "Recipes"

Since it's Friday I owe you a recipe and since I've been yammering on about apples, I thought I'd stick with the theme.  However, be warned, these aren't REAL recipes.  They're actually just ideas for using apples.  I think we can all agree that the healthiest way to eat an apple is to buy an organic one, wash it well and eat it.  However, that can get a little boring, so I'm giving a few suggestions of other ways to eat apples.  One of the things I like best about Cathe Olson's book The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook, is that some of her recipes aren't really recipes, they're just this-ideas for throwing food together.  So here are my two apple ideas for today. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Breastfeeding Center and Cloth Diapers

Last week, my mother-in-law (a.k.a. Meema) and I went to The Breastfeeding Center to get some more cloth diapers for Miss Olivia.  They were Meema's gift to baby Olivia since, being the 4th, she pretty much had everything else.  I used cloth with Vince since he was a newborn until he potty-trained and I'm planning on doing the same with Liv.  Because I used the diapers SO MUCH with Vincer, some of them had to be retired, so I was in need of a few more so they'd last for more than a day.  I was expecting to just get a few more of what I already had (BumGenius 3.0) plus a diaper cover and a few Snappis (new version of diaper pins) to use with the multitude of prefold cloth diapers that I used a burp cloths for the other kids.  WOW!  A lot changes in the cloth diapering world in three years!  It was like I was new to cloth with all the different kinds they have now!  I was there WAY longer than I expected to be (sorry again, Meema!) trying to decided which ones would work for us, then picking out the prints. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Vine.com

My dear friend Cecilie, who was chastised  in yesterday's blog for moving to LA, sent me a link to a new site she thought I might be interested in.  It's vine.com and it's a sister site to diapers.com, wag.com, soap.com, casa.com, yoyo.com, and beautybar.com.  I actually have know about diapers.com for a long time.  It's a site I really loved when Vince was little because it did have so many green products that were hard for me to find around here (a plus to living in a larger city, like LA).  I got an email from then when they were launching soap.com, which is kind of like a drugstore online and also wag.com, which is an online pet store.  I never heard about the other sites via email but I've checked them out individually.  Yoyo.com is toys, casa.com is home products and beautybar.com is higher end beauty products, similar to a Sephora.  Vine.com is the green site, which I assume, pulls all the green products from the other sites to one place.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

O-H-I-O

The Heart of It All.  Beautiful Ohio.  Birthplace of Aviation, and all the other license plate slogans.  I love Ohio! (Not OSU, the actual state!)  This blog is for all of you who don't have the pleasure of living in Ohio or for those of you, not to name names Cecilie and Lindsay, who have deserted our fine state. 
This is not actually my photo.  Just for the record, I did not take pictures while driving with my two small children in the car!

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Apple Orchard Trip

Sunday we went to the apple orchard.  This year we went to Arrowhead Orchard in Paris.  As we were leaving the house, it started to rain, but we decided to tough it out.  I hoped that it would stop by the time we got there.  No such luck. It was 45 degrees and rainy, the PERFECT weather for an outdoor activity!  We were lucky enough to happen to go on their 80th Anniversary Harvest Festival celebration, which was also part of the Stark County Farm Tour.  Because it was the farm tour and harvest festival, there were some additional attractions, like the tour of the inside of the apple building where they wash the apples.  They were giving out samples of different apple varieties and apple butter and of course, CIDER!  There were representatives from Aultman Hospital and someone at a booth with MyPlate info.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Apple Pie

After I blogged about how great Honey Crisp apples are, I feel I owe you an apple pie recipe.  It's pretty basic, just out of a cookbook actually, but it feels like early fall to me so I thought it was appropriate for this week, when the weather has been warm, but with that cool fall breeze. 
My crust STILL doesn't look that good, but it's getting there!


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Amazing Ellie

I have 4 children.  Ella Katherine is #2.  She is 5 years old and in Kindergarten.  She loves girly things, nailpolish, makeup, jewelry, playing with small dolls and My Little Ponies, candy, dresses, riding her bike and whatever her older brother is interested in at the moment.  She's going to be a pink Power Ranger for Halloween.  She loves to read these "books" that she's made to you.  They're really only scribbles in a small notebook, but she "reads" them with a fantastic inflection, just like she's actually reading a story.  She's good at school, follows rules, doesn't struggle academically, makes friends easily. And she's deep.  Before school started I had to talk her out of a meltdown because she was afraid to die.  She's always asking if kids can get cancer, what happens when you're legs hurt, what happens if your stomach gets too full of water...will you die?  What 5 year old dwells on their mortality?  Yesterday, she was supposed to be in bed, but she was out in the kitchen as I cleaned up.  "Who were the first people, Mom?"  She's supposed to be in bed so I just told her I didn't know.  "Where did they come from if there wasn't anyone for them to be born from?"  Again, I don't know, go back to bed.  Where did THAT come from?!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Honey Crisp Apples

I accidentally found THE BEST apples the other day!  While shopping at the Raisin Rack, I turned by back, only to find that Vince was walking over with his arms full of apples.  I usually just grab a bag or two (that's per week.  Yes, we go through that many apples!) and they're usually granny smith, gala, fuji or red delicious.  Vince had grabbed some other variety, and I didn't really take notice, until I got them home and actually tasted one.  FABULOUS!  I'm not a huge apple fan.  I like apples, but I don't really just pick one up to snack on, like Caden and Vince.  But I've eaten a ton of these because they're THAT good!  I've been sending them for Caden's snack at school and last night Evan tasted one and agrees that they're SUPER good!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What did I do today?

Today was hectic for me.  I was running around all day and when I finally got home an hour before the bus comes I had done nothing on my to do list.  Then I saw this poem in the back of a craft book I was looking at while nursing.  It made me feel a little better about all the items that aren't crossed off on my list.

"What did I do today?"
Today I left some dishes dirty,
The bed got made around 3:30

The diapers soaked a little longer,
The odor grew a little stronger.

The crumbs I spilled the day before
Are staring at me from the floor.

The fingerprints there on the wall
Will likely be there still next fall.

The dirty streaks on those windowpanes
Will still be there next time it rains.

Shame on you, you sit and say,
Just what did you do today?

I held a baby til he slept,
I held a toddler while he wept.

I played a game of hide and seek,
I squeezed a toy so it would squeak.

I pulled a wagon, sang a song,
Taughtba child right from wrong.

What did I do this whole day through?
Not much that shows, I guess that's true.

Unless you think that what I've done
Might be important to someone,

With dark brown eyes and soft briwn hair.
If that is true...I've done my share.

Author Unknown

Monday, October 1, 2012

Happy October First!!!!

Yeah!  It's here!  The "Official" Start of the Halloween Season!  This is a family tradition that goes back, literally decades.  Every October first the Halloween decorations come out and are put up and we "Officially" start celebrating Halloween, no earlier.  For the past few years Nana has gotten the kids special Halloween shirts to wear to commemorate this festive day.  Traditionally, Hazel the witch also comes to visit the kids (she also scared the hell out of me by hiding in the shower when I was in high school) and brings them little treats.  (Caden got a grow-your-own-skeleton.  Ellie got a pumpkin paper punch and American Girl Halloween clothes and Vince got Halloween sponge capsules.  Oliva got a card.)  So today I will put up my Halloween decorations, (which greatly outnumber my Christmas decorations),  don Abby's glow-in-the-dark skull and crossbones collar (and reverently pack away Brodie's Howl-o-Ween collar) and forgo being Green for today.  Today I'm all orange and black! 
Vince's shirt has a cape that says "Drac is Back", Caden's skeleton is wearing sunglasses and Olivia's butt is a pumpkin.  Ellie's outfit is the only one you can really see. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Growing Vegetable Soup

Here's your Friday recipe!  It's a really good vegetable soup recipe that I got in the back of a children's book, of all places.  It's from Lois Ehlert's Growing Vegetable Soup, a cute book about kids that plant a vegetable garden and how the plants grow until they're ready to be harvested and eaten in a vegetable soup. 
Growing Vegetable Soup (Voyager Books)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dusting off the sewing machine

I had to get 3 things at the craft store.  I came out $60 poorer.  This always happens to me.  I didn't mean to buy the other stuff, but there it was.   I was looking for an applique butterfly for Olivia's Butterfly Fairy Halloween costume and I got lost in the wrong aisle.  I stumbled upon a gold-mine of do -it -yourself baby stuff.   It's called Babyville Boutique. (@ babyvilleboutiq)  There were two guides, one for cloth diapers and one that had lots of other pictures of projects, like headbands, diaper pail covers, burp cloths, placemats, etc.  I THOUGH I was going to get the patterns for the cloth diapers too, but I didn't read carefully so after I attempt my first project from the book, I'll have to go back to get the diaper patterns.  The company makes fabric (PUL, polyurethane laminate), appliques, elastic, snaps, everything you need to complete the super cute projects in the book. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sage Creek Organics---Surprise!

This past Sunday my book club had a surprise baby shower for me/Olivia.  Being the fourth, I didn't really expect to have a shower for her.  She had all the big stuff and I'm fine with having her wear the same thing over and over.  I was ready to leave her "shower" baby book page blank.  But my book club girls gave me a pink and green polka dot shower so now her baby book will be complete.  I was really touched that they planned the shower for me, but I was almost cried when I realized thet went meat-free for the meal and even had organic iced tea.  It was just so thoughtful!  I know you don't want to hear about the whole evening, but I wanted to mention yet ANOTHER sweet thing, someone gave me organic baby clothes!!!  It's really hard to find organic clothing so I was super excited not only to receive the clothes, but also to learn about a company that makes them.  It's called Sage Creek  Organics.(@organic_clothes)
Click to Enlarge
Sage Creek Organics Monkey Business Non-Footed Playsuit  $38.50


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's Fall!!

I'm sure everyone had it marked on their calendars and took note, but Saturday was the first day of autumn!  It's my FAVORITE season!  I was outside brushing Abby and as the breeze blew (and whirled all the dog hair around) it had a different smell to it than it did in the summer.  It smelled like FALL.  Have you seen the trees!?!  There's one on my street and a few more I've seen around town that are starting to turn.  That's the sign that it's REALLY here.

I love fall because my mother has conditioned me since I was a small child, but also because there's so much fun stuff to do in the fall.  We always go to an apple orchard, to a pumpkin farm and try to squeeze in as many Halloween activities as we can.  I usually try to do the apple orchard in September so I have 4 weekends in October to focus on Halloween activities.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Jack Frost

Last night I had to get up out of bed at 12:00 to take care of my babies.  Not the babies, you're thinking of, my baby kale. 
I'm fanatical about checking the weather.  I check the weather app on the iPad or Ellie's iPod at least twice a day.  Yesterday, I noticed that there was a frost warning for last night.  I was originally worried about my peppers that were still on the vines, but then I realized my baby kale plant would stop growing once it frosted and while baby kale is supposed to be very tender, I don't think the 1/4 inch sprouts I have in my garden are what they mean by baby kale. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Chocolate Fondue

Here's your Friday recipe!  It's not TOTALLY healthy, but it's a healtier option than the traditional chocolate fondue. Ellie LOVES it!  (Shocking, I know.)  We dip strawberries (Caden), banana slices (me), graham sticks (Ellie) and fingers (Vince).  It's from Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious cookbook.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Family Bed

This blog post came to me this morning at 6:30.  I was cramped, almost falling off the side of the bed, when I opened my eyes and realized there were three other people in the bed with me.  Evan was in the shower.  Three tiny people had managed to kick me out of my own bed.  This is not something you read about when researching co-sleeping.  Everyone's arguement is the safety of the child.  What about me?  I'm the one who wakes up with my arm in an unnatural position because I'm avoiding Olivia's head.  I'm the one who wakes up to the sound of Mario in my ear because Ellie's playing DS.  Evan and I both have sustained injuries from sleeping with Caden, who flails about as much when he sleeps as he does when he's awake. 

We never planned to co-sleep with our kids.  When Caden was born, I did everything in my power to stay awake in the middle of the night nursing him.  I propped myself up, using pillows and the boppy and tried to focus on staying awake.  The option of co-sleeping was still a no-no to me from all the experts I had read.  Plus the dogs were still sleeping in our bed.  We were already cramped.  (If you have known me a long time, or if you have lived with me, Kristin and Cecilie, you understand that staying awake is not my forte.  My college friends love to tell how I would fall asleep, face down, on my textbooks.)  When Ellie was born we lived in the new house and I had a rocking chair.  I spent MANY hours at night sleeping in that rocking chair, with Ellie propped on the boppy.  Vince was he same story, until I realized I was sleeping more in that rocker, which at this point had seen much better days, than I was in my bed.  So when he woke up at night, in his crib, we always started in the crib, I just took him back to bed with me to nurse.  I didn't roll over on him.  I didn't smother him in his sleep.  I just woke up a little later, carried my sleeping baby back to his crib and went back to bed.  As he got older, he would just get up by himself in the night to nurse (I nursed him for a LONG time).  Before he weaned, I  was pretty sure he was nursing to cuddle rather than actually get any food.  Before Olivia was born we only had kids in our bed when beds were wet, dreams were scary, there were storms (thanks for that Meema!) or someone was sick.  And it was fine.  With three little kids, that was almost every night we had someone in our bed.  Ellie came to bed almost every morning when she woke up.  Sometimes, she'd grab the iPad and play for an hour or more, while I got to keep sleeping.  I was comfortable with our version of the family bed.  Then Olivia was born.
Miss Olivia has never slept in the crib (actually the pack N play because we're still working out the bed situation here).  The first night we brought her home it was after midnight.  I had to be up by 6:30 the next morning to get the kids off to the HOF parade and I was tired.  I layed her down beside me to nurse and that's what we've done every night since.  It works for me.  People keep asking if she's sleeping through the night.  She's not, but it's not a big deal for me.  She makes little noises, I take her to the girls room to change her diaper, then we both lie back down to nurse and sleep.  Whether it's from cosleeping or not, she's never had a night where she was just wide awake and I had to pace the floor with her.  I remember these sleepless nights that everyone talks about with the other kids.  Maybe her's are yet to come.  But as for now, she's content to snuggle down with me at night and sleep.  I plan on putting her in a crib at some point.  I'm not one who really WANTS to whole family bed thing, but I've found that it's easiest to do what works, and right now, the family bed seems to be working. 
You'll notice that I didn't mention Caden in the bed this morning.  He used to be in my bed every morning, but now, if he gets up before me, he plays Wii.  I kind of miss holding him.  It's a sign he's getting bigger and needs me less, which is good, but still a little sad.  If I have to put up with getting kicked and smushed against the edge of the bed, I'll do it, because now I know it's just temporary and I'll miss having a little hand on my cheek in the morning when they're all up playing Wii, or worse...DRIVING!
Evan and Ellie.  It's as close to a co-sleeping pic as I could get.  It's a little creepy to take pictures of people in their bed at night!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Challah

I think I've mentioned before that my two oldest kids went to a Jewish preschool.  I loved it!  I thought they got a great academic education, but I also loved how they learned about Jewish life, mostly through food and holidays.  Fall always reminds me of the Jewish Center since there are so many Jewish holidays in the fall.  Of course every Friday night is Shabbat.  The center would send home a "Shabbat Box" with each student once during the school year.  Inside was everything you need to celebrate Shabbat at home.  My kids LOVED their turn with the Shabbat Box so much that we started to do our own Shabbat on Friday nights. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Happy Birthday Vince!

Today my little man turns 3!  I've been telling people he's "almost 3" for a long time, so it's actually harder for me to believe that yesterday he was still only 2.  He's a big kid, not heavy, just tall.  He's looked like a 3, even 4 year old for awhile now.  Of all my kids, he's the cuddliest.  He's sitting on my lap right now, which make it hard to type, but it's fun to have him close. 



Now that Olivia's here, I think about this time 3 years ago a lot.  I remember how it was with a newborn Vincer trying to get Caden and Ellie to preschool.  I remember how much time he spent at the YMCA Gymnastic's Center while both kids did gymnastics and Ellie did dance.  I tell people he learned to walk in the mezzanine there.  Back and forth, back and forth, trying to avoid the lethal stairs.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Controversial Dip

Awhile ago I blogged about how I couldn't get Ellie to eat fruit, so I was going to try to sneak it into foods.  It was a bust.  Everything I tried got a thumbs down.  I even had her help me make some things, hoping THAT would make her interested enough to try them...not so much. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Spanakopitta

I've decided to make Friday "Recipe Day" on my blog.  I'm always on the look-out for good recipes so I thought I'd share them here when I find them.  This one is a Greek spinach pie.  It's pretty fast and easy to make and I love it!  (So does Vince.)  It's from The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook by Cathe Olson. (One of my favorites!)

Spanakopitta

2 tsp olive oil
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1lb fresh spinach, washed and chopped
2 eggs
1 tsp dried dill or 1 TBSP fresh
1 C crumbled feta cheese
black pepper to taste
8 sheets of phyllo dough

Preheat oven to 375.  Warm oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add green onions and saute 2 mintues, or until soft.  Add spinach to pan.  Cover and cook 5-10 minutes or until spinach is wilted.  Transfer to a colander and let it drain.

In a bowl, beat eggs and dill.  Stir in cheese and spinach.  Season with pepper.

Lightly brush a 10 in pie pan with olive oil (I use a spray).  Place a sheet of phyllo in pan.  Spray with oil.  Place a second sheet over the first but position it so the corners don't match up.  Spray with oil.  Repeat until you have four layers of phyllo.  Spread the spinach filling evenly in the pan.  Turn the corners of phyllo over the filling.  Layer 4 more sheets of phyllo over the filling, spraying each with oil as before.  Tuck corners under pie.  Bake 40-50 minutes, or until golden brown. 

This is from Google Images--NOT what mine looked like!