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

(Imagine me talking very fast.)  I got a flyer in a box of Christmas gifts I ordered from  It was for 20% off orders of $35 or more(RUCD13HS)  from  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
"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.