Thursday, January 31, 2008

Meme

Everyday Yogini tagged me with a meme. Today is a good day for a meme since we are still recovering from the plagues. We've had it all this week - bad colds, croup, high fevers, upset tummies, and horrible epigastric pain (that was me - ucler? gall bladder? indigestion? Just a tummy virus? Whatever it was, it was horrible!). The only one who seems immune is Matt which has been great because I needed him to take care of us.

Enough about our woes, on to the meme...


In the Past year (I'm using 2007):
What was your most embarrassing moment?

Not too many really embarrassing moments in 2007 although I could be blocking them out! Probably last summer when I was riding my bike and my shoe fell off in the middle of a busy intersection. Had to turn around (not easy while pulling the kids!) to retrieve it admist many, many onlookers.

What are you proudest of achieving?
In the past year I am most proudest of running my first 5K. It isn't very far for a "runner" but it sure seemed like a long way when I went on that first run!

What would you do differently with the benefit of hindsight?
For anyone around long enough to remember our cohousing drama, I probably wouldn't have fought the fight. I would have just moved. It took too much out of me. I'm still having my own emotional issues with it.

What did you love about last year?
I'll be honest, 2007 was a pretty sucky year for us, so it is a bit difficult for me to look past all the negatives to see the positives. But when I do, there were really so many wonderful things about 2007. What do I love the most? Probably all the new people I have met. It was a good year for new aquaintances.

In the Next year (I'm using 2008):
What do you want to say you accomplished next year on this day?
That I completed the 10 mile run that I am planning on doing this spring.

What are you looking most forward to in the next year?
Travel! I don't know if I've made it public on the blog yet, but my father has taken a job based out of London. My parents will be living in Europe at least part time for a few years. I can't wait to take our kids on their first trip abroad!

What goal of yours are you most tantalized by?
Oooo... I can't go into details yet on my blog, but I have a few endeavors (both personal and professional) that are really exciting to me. I just need to find the time and energy to make them work.

If you knew you only had the next year to live, what would you make sure to do? What is stopping you?
I'm not sure I would do much differently. I would want to spend as much time as possible with family and friends, but that is already a constant in my life.


I am passing this meme on to Shannon, Ashlee, and Meredith

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday - Baby Washclothes Instead of Cotton Balls

I loved participating in Works for Me Wednesday last week, so I've decided to participate weekly and share some of my little green ideas that I would normally feel silly writing an entire post about.

Toner isn't supposed to be necessary for cleaning your face, but I love it. (for the record my favorite toner is Burt's Bees Garden Tomato Toner) I don't, however, love all the cotton balls it takes to use toner. Instead of cotton balls I've been using the excess of little baby washclothes that we own after two babies. Regular washclothes absorb too much toner, but the baby washclothes are just perfect. I use one corner for every application, so a single washcloth makes it through at least two days. I throw the used washcloth in the laundry and use it again when it is clean. I'm recycling an item for a different use, I'm reusing that item over and over, and I'm reducing my waste by not using cottonballs!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Make It From Scratch Blog Carnival

Welcome to Make It From Scratch! I love this blog carnival because making anything from scratch is usually much more "green" and good for the soul. So let's get on with it...

Recipes
There is something about starting out your day with a good breakfast made from scratch. GP at InnSide Montana has several recipes to in Fit and Fast to Fuel Your Day. Lynnae at Being Frugal fixes pancakes for Frugal Breakfast From Scratch, or visit The Soujourner for The Best Pancakes Ever.

Another breakfast and all day favorite at our house is yogurt. Kate at Our Red House makes Easy Yogurt in a Vacuum Flask which would be really yummy with the Apple Pie Muffins from Amy at Mom Advice.

For afternoon eats you might want to see The Guide to Planning a Tea Party–Winter Edition at Tea Party Girl or for a snack for the kids, With All That I've Been Given makes homemade crackers in Wheat Critters.

Need some ideas for dinner? At How To Me there are directions for How to Cook Herb-Crusted Venison Tenderloin Roast and Pasta, or Kris at Cheap Healthy Good has a great recipe from one of my favorite cooking publications Cook's Illustrated is My Hero: Light(er) Maque Choux with Chicken and Turkey Kielbasa. Cook and save money with Reducipe - King Ranch Chicken at A Penny Closer. Or if you are Cooking for a LARGE Group - aka "The Soccerteam Dinner" you can get a couple of recipes at Life Lessons of a Military Mom. Or try several new recipes at The Miller Way in Adventures in my Kitchen...

Want to go a little simpler for dinner? Katie at Novel Experiences shares one of my favorite combos in Cheap, Easy Recipe # 3 or learn how to make Fantastic Deep Dish Pizza Dough over at Diary of a New Old-Fashioned Gal. You can top your pizza with Simple Pizza Sauce from Heather at the Fat Bottomed Girl.

Maybe soup and salad? Suzanne at Adventures in Daily Living has a recipe for make Broscht with a KitchenAid or check out the butternut squash soup recipe at the Simple Nickle - Cheap Eats: Recipes for Around $1 Per Serving. On top of your salad you can have Honey Mustard Salad Dressing from JoAnna at Sunflowers in My Kitchen AND Make Your Own Croutons from Laura Williams' Musings.
For dessert try the Apple Pie Cake at Remodeling This Life or the Easy Chocolate Dipped Pretzels from Karen at ThriftyMommy. For a special occasion dessert take check out a Birthday Cake from Scratch from Stacey at Uncomplicated Happiness. What is dessert without Make Your Own Irish Cream from MIFS founder Stephanie at Stop the Ride.

How about something non-edible Made From Scratch?
Betsy at Money Changes Things shows how a seamstress can take souvenir shawls purchased in multiple countries to make a beautiful quilt in World Fabrics Unite

Whitney at Crafty Tutorials uses a video (I love online videos for learning new skills!) demonstrates How to Make Adorable Cupcake Earrings

Robbyn at the Back Forty makes bath salts for the first time in Scratch Two, Bonus One, Add Another.

At Mommy Crafter you can learn how to Make Padded Hangers (I'm thinking of making some for my daughters sweaters)

My Recycled Bags is getting ready for Valentine's Day with a Recycled Denim Heart Purse

I am a huge fan of Sundance jewelry so I can't wait to try this Frugal Crafts Friday: How To Make Upscale Jewelry at Funny about Money.

Parenting Squad shows us how to make and give homemade play dough in A Homemade Gift for Little Hands

Check out this great idea for kids - the Buckle Board at Jenny 'n John!

Or try you hand at Make a Living with Ebooks by Frederic Patenaude Talks

Make It From Scratch - Around the House

Hearth and Home has some Homemade Laundry Soap while Tara at Walkabout shares some health treatments with Apple Cider Vinegar to the Rescue... Again!.

Organize your makeup at a nice price with Meg at the Bargain Queens

And we can't leave out the dog! Sarah at To Motherhood and Beyond makes Homemade Dog Food?!?! Yes, I Did!

36 Participants in MIFS this week! What fun! Be sure to check out next week's carnival at Harvest of Daily Life, and if you make something (anything!) from scratch, be sure to join in and share!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ecogear Giveaway

I'm joining in on the Bloggy Giveaway Carnival!

I am giving away a blue SnowLeopard EcoTech backpack from EcoGear. This backpack has an MP3 player pouch, padded straps, moisture wicking mesh, internal organizing pocket, and much more. Even more important to me, EcoGear uses a special coating called ECO-WEAVE that is PVC free. Their bags are made with non toxic coatings on zippers, non toxic dyes, and the eco-friendly materials. (Check out their kids' backpacks made from organic cotton!)


To win, leave a comment with an email address where I can contact you. I'll randomly pick a winner next Wednesday, February 6th. No international shipping please.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Monday Menu Plan

Monday - Rosemary Garlic Spinach Cakes

Tuesday - Leftover Spinach Cakes with an Amy's Pizza

Wednesday - More leftovers - baked chicken, steamed beets, spinach salad, Trader Joe's mixed grain pilaf

Thursday - Dinner out and a documentary movie with friends; kids had rice and squash balls from Deceptively Delicious (I'm going to work on this recipe a bit and eventually publish my changes)
Friday - Chili Blanco from the freezer

Saturday - Alone and sick at home... brown rice with butter... one of my favorite comfort foods!

Sunday - EV's Veggies

Ideas for meals this week - salmon cakes, black bean soup with cornbread
Visit OrgJunkie for more ideas!

Bummer...

Matt and his mom are up in the mountains with Kate and Jack. I was supposed to have the last 24 hours all to myself so I could get projects done around the house, but instead I got sick with a tummy bug instead. Ugh! I cleaned my craft closet out before I got sick, but then I just stayed in bed with crackers and the remote. I finally got to watch the movie What the Bleep Do We Know about Quantum Physics which was awesome. More about that when I feel better...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Deceptively Delicious Day!

We are having a really good day today. Well, except for the kids waking up over an hour early this morning and then both throwing tantrums at swim lessons because they were super tired, but after all that and a catnap for both in the car, we are now having a great day!

After lunch, Kate asked to make cookies. We haven't made cookies in awhile and I've been wanting to try the chocolate chip cookies made with chickpeas from my Deceptively Delicious cookbook so we pulled out all the ingredients.

I was pretty excited when I first heard about Deceptively Delicious being published. I had it pre-ordered on Amazon last summer at least 3 months before it came out. That first week I tried a bunch of recipes... gingerbread spice cake with pureed broccoli for playgroup, tortilla roll ups with yellow squash and carrot for a play date, etc. I had planned to review the book on my blog, but it seemed like everyone else was talking about it. And, honestly, I was a bit disappointed in the recipes I had tried and wanted to try more. I don't know what I expected, but I definitely expected more bang for the buck for the work involved in hiding veggies. I don't consider a tablespoon of broccoli puree worth the effort of hiding it, esp when making broccoli puree isn't the easiest process.

I am certainly not new to hiding healthy things in my cooking. My kids eat really well as it is, and I tend to gravitate towards the philosophy of my friend Shannon who said that even if a cookie is "healthy," she still doesn't want her children thinking that it is okay to eat cookies all the time (only Shannon was much more eloquent when she said it). Still, I have fond memories of baking with my mom growing up and want to do the same for Kate, and if I can make the cookies a little more healthy when we do make them, why not?

Even with a "healthy" recipe, I can't leave it alone. I decreased the amount of chocolate chips (and used mini), used white whole wheat flour, increased the oats, added ground flax seed and added a few scoops of canned pumpkin. Plus I never know what to do with baking cookies at altitude.

So Kate and I hopefully made some memories in addition to our cookies this afternoon. The memories were good... the cookies... eh... we'll keep working on it...

Big Green Rabbit Giveaway

If you live in Colorado and get Rocky Mountain PBS you probably noticed that Big Green Rabbit is back! I was pretty happy with the new show. Kate was dancing to the music and and making a "rhino nose" with her hands in front of her face making two horns (as a side, our babysitters name is Rana and at first I thought Kate was telling me that she was making a "Rana nose!" Now Rana has a cute little nose, but I was still horrified! LOL). This show was about dinosaurs, and even though I'd like to see even more of an environmental message in the show, I was happy when the end of the show had a message about taking care of animals and the places they live so that other animals would not become extinct. It was an easy intro to discuss taking care of the planet with both kids.

I have two Big Green Rabbit t-shirts to give away. I'll give one to the first commenter who can tell me the name of the Big Green Rabbit, and the second I'll give away randomly. I'll announce winners on Monday, January 28th.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Works-For-Me Wednesday

How many times have you started a load of laundry, gotten side-tracked, and forgotten about the wet clothes until they are all stinky? In our home, Matt often "helps" by starting a load without telling me. I discover the icky-smelling clothes a few days later. Until recently, I thought I had no choice but to waste another load-worth of water, electricty, and detergent (and I usually put in extra detergent to make sure the mildew smell is gone!).


GreenStyleMom Tip - Add a few tablespoons of white vinegar to the washer and run on a quick rinse cycle. Your clothes will be clean, the smell will be gone, and you will have conserved resources!


This is my first time particpating in Works-For-Me Wednesday - check out others at Rocks In My Dryer

Celoso

That's Spanish for "jealous" as in I am really jealous that my sister left today for eleven days in Nicaragua. She spent two years in Nicaragua during here stint in the Peace Corp. I was able to visit, and what an amazing experience she seemed to have. This trip she is scoping out locations for a bat workshop.

I am really getting the bug to start traveling again more. I know everyone is going to say that I do travel a lot... and I do... just not to the places I really want to visit. As much as I love my parents, Dallas isn't all that exotic. Plus I grew up there so it hardly seems like travel. I am looking forward to my trip to Alabama in a few weeks, but again, not really the travel I imagine.

Children, even though they are worth it, have put quite a damper on travelling. I always said that my kids would just travel along with me... of course, that was before I actually had children. And then I had two just thirteen months apart. Goodbye, Vietnam!

All in all I realize that the "difficult to travel with the children" time is fairly short. Kate and Jack are actually very experienced and very good little travellers, so it won't be long now before we can start doing more intense trips with them. We have some bigger trips on the horizon (the kid have their passports ready!), and since my sister told me about her Nica trip, I have been researching Spanish schools with children's programs in Latin America. But until then, the kids will just have to watch The Jungle Book on the Spanish setting on our flights to Gulf Shores.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Make It From Scratch Blog Carnival

I'm participating in the Make It From Scratch (MIFS) Blog Carnival again this week which is being hosted by To Motherhood and Beyond.

Next week, I am going to be hosting the MIFS Blog Carnival here at Greenstylemom! If you would like to participate, check out the guidelines (they are super easy), post to your blog, and complete the submission form. So get cookin' and craftin' - I'd love to see some new friendly places particpate!

Monday Menu Plan

I have a confession... the Monday Menu Plan is not going well for me. It is too structured. Not enough room for spontaneity if I see something really fresh at the grocery store. I know it is only going to get worse as summer comes, and I'll want to use what is fresh from the garden that day. At the same time, I need to have a few ideas for upcoming meals otherwise we'd end up doing takeout every night, and I enjoy sharing our meal ideas. I'm going to change up my own format and post what we had for meals from the previous week. I'll also hopefully post some of my tentative plans for the upcoming week. This way you'll get a better idea of how we actually eat in this home!

Monday - Matt worked late - took the kids to Panera Bread for dinner

Tuesday - Dill crumb breaded tilapia, baked acorn squash, Trader Joe's mixed grain pilaf

Wednesday - I can't honestly remember what we had for dinner...

Thursday - Tough day on the home front - take-out pizza plus we rented Lady and the Tramp and watched as a family after dinner

Friday - In the mountains with just the kids - baked chicken breast, steamed cauliflower with butter and Parmesan, steamed beets

Saturday - Chili using Watkins Chili Seasoning - we like shredded cheese and diced avocado in our chili.

Sunday - Matt & I went to a dinner party, the kids had leftover baked chicken, baked acorn squash, and leftover steamed beets

Coming Week Ideas - Polenta Lasagna (gotta use all that spinach I bought last week!), Rosemary Garlic Spinach Cakes, Salmon cakes

Visit OrgJunkie for more meal ideas

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Travel Felt Board

Remember when I said that I picked up a felt board for Kate at a local sale? She loves it. It is the best $5 I've ever spent. Watching her play with it, I thought that a felt board would make a great travel toy so I set out to make a smaller version.

I cut the bottom out of an ordinary cardboard box and cut a piece of old felt that I have leftover from an old project just a few inches larger than the cardboard piece.








Using a glue gun and pulling the felt snug, I glued the felt to the back of the cardboard. Don't put glue on the front of the cardboard or you may see the glued areas. When I make my second one (for Jack!), I also plan to trim some of the corner felt... it got a little thick.








I then cut and glued another piece of felt to the back and glued ribbon trim to hide the edges. I had intended for this to be the back, but it is Kate's favorite area to play.








I then cut out varied shapes in varied sizes. I'm showing my snowman "kit," but the kids like to play more with the plain shapes. I cut out a bunch of green, leaf shaped pieces that Kate loves to shape into trees.












Now all we need is a trip!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Venti Your Frustration

I had to copy the title to the article Venti Your Frustration that my sister sent me about Starbucks no longer offering organic milk to customers. I'm not a coffee drinker nor a Starbuck's regular, but I still would like organic milk in my Chai!

This Old Woman

Yesterday and today I feel like being the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe... you know the one who had so many kids she didn't know what to do so she spanked them all soundly and sent them to bed?

In honor of my frustrations, I thought it would be a great time to share how much I have been enjoying my daily parenting email from The Daily Groove. Mama Om recommended it awhile back, and I have been enjoying it ever since. I love the perspective on parenting and am trying to keep it in mind as we get through each day.

I'd share some of my favorites from the daily emails, but I need to go feed my children some broth without any bread...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Five Ways To Go Paperless

Jennifer at Alai Vani tagged me for a meme on five ways I've gone paperless. I admit I had to think a bit...
  1. I don't do Thank You notes. I've made a deal with many of my friends not to send thank you notes. Not only is it a waste of our time, but it is a waste of resources. I'll drop a quick email to say thanks if I didn't do it in person, but that's it. For the kids' thank you notes (which I haven't exactly started from the holidays yet), I've been recycling school artwork and sending it as a thank you not.
  2. No phone books. I look up everything online. If you are still getting phone books, call the customer service number and ask to have it cancelled. And don't forget to recycle the ones you have!
  3. Most of our bills and banking are electronic.
  4. I say "no" when asked at ATMs and self-pay gas stations if I want a receipt. I can't remember where I read it, but the receipts from ATMs printed daily could circle the earth... or something crazy like that.
  5. I'll be getting my May issue of Yoga Journal in digital format. For every issue that is converted from print to digital, Trees for the Future will plant a tree in India. To convert your issue or to try the digital issue for free, check out Yoga Journal Digital Edition.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

New Year's Resolution #2

Mid-January and I'm just getting around to writing down my second New Year's Resolution. My first resolution is going pretty well*. This one is not going so well, so I thought I had better make it official.

New Year's Resolution #2: Get It Together

After Kate was born, I did a really good job getting it back together. I had a full routine modeled on the FlyLady routines. The house was fairly clean, meals were cooked, thank-you notes written, phone calls returned plus I was working part-time from home! We moved to Colorado 3 months after Jack was born, and I haven't gotten it together since. That's almost 3 years. Sure, I've had moments of togetherness, but all in all, I don't have life together the way I want. (I can't even seem to return phone calls!) I am a pretty organized person so this hasn't been easy for me. But for 2008, I am going to get-it-together again! Here's what is going to be involved...
  • Stick to our budget. Thanks to my friend Jennifer and to the Dave Ramsey talk show, we've decided to get our budget in order. We don't really money problems, we just don't know where all of our money is going every month.
  • Along with our budget, I also want to start tracking our utility usage to see if we can make some improvements. Our utility bills are relatively low since our home is "built green" and really well insulated. Still, there is always room for improvement.
  • Get the daily routine in place. Organize my Control Journal. I need some direction.
  • Hire a babysitter. I need time without the kids to stay in control.
  • Plan ahead. More on this after I get a little bit of control.
  • And probably the most difficult step of this resolution... limit my time on the computer. I don't know exactly what this is going to entail or how long it will last, but I need the extra time if I am going to get it together.

*I'm on track with NYR #1. Last week we made peanut butter/birdseed hangings for out trees and bushes to feed the birds. The kids LOVED it. I LOVED it despite the mess. We were all pretty happy. I participated in the MIFS carnival again - check out this week's edition at Walkabout. Oh - I'm also teaching myself to crochet!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Menu Plan Monday


Last week's menu plan fell apart... what little of it there was. Starting fresh this week! I'm going to try to keep it simple.


Monday - Matt works late - taking the kids out!


Tuesday - Polenta Lasagna (recipe below - from a neighbor. I can't figure it out, but always tastes better when she makes it!) with side salad


Wednesday - Leftover lasagna


Thursday - Kids' Meal - baked chicken, mashed sweet potatoes, drop biscuits


Friday - Fish with lemon and basil, baked acorn squash, quinoa with olive oil

Polenta Lasagna
4 ½ cups water
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups coarse cornmeal (polenta)
Tomato sauce
1 cup Neufchatel or cream cheese
1 large egg
2 cups rinsed, stemmed, and chopped Swiss chard, kale, or spinach
1 ½ cups grated mild provolone
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring water & salt to a boil. Slowly add polenta with whisk, reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, for about 13-15 min. Pour polenta onto a lightly oiled baking sheet. Use a lightly oiled spatula to spread it ½ in thick or less. Refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil a 9x13 baking pan.

Soften the cream cheese in the oven for 3-4 min. Lightly beat the egg and stir into the softened cheese. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet or saucepan and sauté the greens until tender. Remove from the heat and set aside. Remove the polenta from the fridge and cut into manageable 4x6 pieces that will fit together to make a single layer in your baking pan. A few gaps won’t matter.

To assemble the lasagna, spread a third of the sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking pan and top with a layer of polenta. Add the greens to the remaining sauce and spread half of it on the polenta. Spread the softened cream cheese over the sauce and top with the provolone. Make a final layer of polenta and top with the rest of the sauce. Dust the parmesan cheese evenly over all.

Cover and bake for 45 min. Uncover and bake for 15 min more until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for10 min before serving.

The "Me" Weekend

Other than the fact that I didn't see my husband nearly at all, I had an awesome weekend! What qualified it as an awesome weekend? Lots of "me" time!

Kicked the weekend off with playgroup moms' night out on Friday evening for our 2nd annual Christmas-in-January party. Everyone came, and it was so much fun to gab without the distraction of kids. We ate (far too many French fries for me!), drank, and exchanged gifts. I love the fact that my kids will know these kids and I will know these moms probably forever.

Matt had to work on Saturday, so I called a babysitter for a few hours that morning. Did I run necessary errands? No. Did I do holiday returns? No. Did I grocery shop? No. I went "me" shopping. I hit the Container Store (one of my favorite places!) to get some organizing ideas. Picked up some of these so I don't have to pack Kate's lunch items in plastic. And since the mall was right there, and I never get to go to the mall, I hit Nordstrom, Anthropologie, Sundance, William-Sonoma, J Crew, and Pottery Barn. The only thing I actually purchased was a half-price, cozy, wool sweater from Sundance. I didn't really need anything but still enjoyed the leisurely shopping.

Sunday night I went to a film night with a group of neighborhood moms. While snacking on appetizers and desserts, we watched a short French clip called Merci which was very uplifting followed by the documentary The Farm about life in the Louisiana prison Angola. While very difficult to watch, it provoked a good conversation about racism, the death penalty, and politics. Film night was a lot like a book club... only you don't have to read a book! I'm already looking forward to the next one.

I have another "me" weekend coming up soon. My mother-in-law will be visiting, and she and Matt plan to take the kids up to the mountains for a weekend of skiing while I stay home and do whatever I want!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Mountain High Hot Chocolate

One of my favorite things about being in the mountains in the winter is hot chocolate. In the afternoons when we are all feeling a bit groggy, the kids and I will make some cookies or some muffins and enjoy them with a mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows.

At the beginning of each winter, I make a big batch of hot chocolate mix to be stored in a glass jar on the counter top. When anyone wants hot chocolate, we add hot water and marshmallows and enjoy. My mom used to make a similar hot chocolate mixture, and I remember loving to eat it dry. I won't let me kids do that yet, but I'm sure it won't be long before they figure it out.

Here is my recipe for hot chocolate mix...

Hot Chocolate Mix
(makes about 13 cups - I usually make it x3-4)

¼ cup cocoa powder
1 cup powdered sugar
2 cups powdered milk
1/3 cup powdered creamer
1/4 cup malted-milk powder

4 T of mixture to a mug and add 6-8oz of boiling water

And here are my babies enjoying their hot chocolate... although Kate won't cooperate with photos lately...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Misc Musings

I am very proud of myself for doing a mass clean out of stuff the last week or so. I donated it to a rummage sale to benefit a family in our greater neighborhood community that has hit some tough times. I found it much easier to let go of our stuff when it was going to benefit a specific family rather than just dropping it off at the Goodwill. I gave aways clothes, pots and pans, toys, stuffed animals, accessories, misc house goods, etc. We even donated an old stereo and our old 300 CD changer since we have pretty much gone digital with our music collection. I also managed to thin out my "to Ebay" pile knowing the few dollars I would have made would better benefit this family.
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I further helped out this family this morning by buying way to much stuff to bring back into our house! Ugh! Actually I scored pretty well. A few Hanna Andersson and Patagonia pieces for both kids, a felt board for Kate, and a new-in-the-box wooden train set for Jack. Oh - and a bunch of Disney VCR movies for 50 cents. We still have a VCR, but I'd like to figure out how to copy them on to DVDs so we can watch them on our portable when we travel. I could get into thrift shopping if I had the time... and no kids!
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I also picked up a few wool sweaters to try my hand at felting. They are in the washer now. We'll see how it goes.
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My friend Gretchen is my inspiration for trying the felting for crafts. Check out her new blog Knitting Colorado Style. She is the one who made the awesome felted coffee cozies that I gave away in the Pay It Forward. And if you want to get into the Pay It Forward action, both Shannon and Geggie are continuing the tradition.
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Has anyone else noticed how outdated my blogroll is? One of those things I've been meaning to do for a long time. I'm going to try to update over the next few days. If you want to trade links, let me know!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

How Clean Is Your Electricity?

Compare your regions electricity to the national average at the EPA Power Profiler. I was a bit horrified when I saw how my region compares to the national averages. Part of my second New Year's Resolution (which I haven't posted about yet) is to track our utility usage and attempt to decrease it. More on that later...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Our Favorite NonProfits

I really enjoyed the Charity Giveaway and am already looking forward to doing it again next year. I found it interesting to see what nonprofits others support, and I thought I'd share the organizations that Matt and I support regularly.


St. Olaf College (my alma mater)
Bucknell University (Matt's alma mater)
Parkland Foundation (hospital where I worked and where Matt and I met)
St. Jude's (my cousin received his leukemia treatment there)
Christian Medical College Hospital (where I did my nursing studies in India)


We give randomly to other organizations, but the above tend to be the ones we give to consistently. Others we supported in 2007 are Kids on Bikes (after listening to Lance Armstrong), our local zoo, our local art museum, our local children's museum initiative, Komen Foundation, Trails and Open Space Coalition, Newborn Hope, Catholic Charities, and our local hospital foundation. Hopefully we'll become regular supporters of some of these other charities.

I did notice that we don't support many environmental organizations. I want to put my money where my mouth is. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

New Year's Resolution #1

So I'm a little slow in posting about my New Year's Resolutions, and I'll probably take another few weeks to actually post about all of them even though I have had them formulated in my head for quite awhile.




Resolution #1 is to be more creative. I consider myself to be a fairly creative person, but since becoming a mother, I find that I do not express my creativity as much. The odd thing about that is that I find I enjoy being a mother more when I am creative both on my own and with my children. So starting 2008 I am going to schedule more creative time. Here are are some of the steps I am planning on taking to accomplish my goal...
  • Participate in the weekly blog carnival Make It From Scratch. The carnival was started by Stephanie at Stop the Ride, and today's edition is being hosted by The Common Room. Check it out!
  • Take a photography class (I'm already enrolled and will start in February!)
  • Plan at least one craft with the kids every week
  • Take an art class with Jack while Kate is in preschool (Already enrolled in this also! I did this with both kids this summer, and we all really enjoyed it. Nothing like making a big mess and not having to clean it up! Jack and I start in a few weeks)
  • Bake more with the kids and try not to get frustrated when they fight or spill flour...

Monday, January 07, 2008

Another Thought About Food

While I am thinking about food...

A friend and neighbor made a comment to me last summer about eating that has really stuck with me. She pointed out how fresh fruits and vegetables "heal themselves" after you take a bite out of them. She showed me an apple that she had taken a bit out of a few hours earlier. The edges of the bite were curling in and the apple had developed a brown, protective layer over the creamy flesh. Then she asked me, "Why would we NOT want to have all those healing enzymes in our bodies? Why do we not eat mostly fresh fruits and vegetables?"

I thought it was pretty profound. Simple yet amazing.

Monday Menu Plan

While driving back and forth from the mountains this weekend, I was catching up on my Hip Tranquil Chick podcasts and listened to podcast #111 (Dec 2nd) interviewing the author of The Hip Chick's Guide to Macrobiotics (Nona told me it was going to be good, and it was! I can't wait to read the book!). I am not one for any kind of strict diet, but I do think that most "diets" have positive changes that can be incorporated into my own diet. After listening to this podcast, I realized that I need to add more whole grains to my family's meals. The author was very clear that whole grains don't mean whole wheat bread or whole wheat pasta, but true whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, spelt, etc. We probably eat more whole grains than the average family, but we certainly don't eat enough. I am going to try to change that by trying some new recipes this week and continue it through all my meal planning.

Monday - Red Lentil Patties with Cilantro Sauce (recipe below), mixed green salad
Tuesday - Breaded Garlic Dill Fish (from Moosewood Low-Fat Favorites), Harvest Grains Blend (from Trader Joe's - a gift from my friend Krista - it is a combo of Israeli Couscous, Orzo, Baby Garbanzo Beans, and Red Quinoa), steamed broccoli
Wednesday - EV's Veggies - my favorite standby healthy meal!
Thursday -
Friday -

Jack needs me... check back later in the week for Thurs/Fri. And I'll try to post the Fish recipe also!

Red Lentil Patties
(this is from an old, old Organic Style magazine - does anyone else miss that magazine? I even liked it after it went main stream, but I'd like the old version back - I haven't made this recipe in years so I thought I'd pull it out again. I have a note to try it with goat cheese and add more salt.)
Patties
1 cup basmati rice
1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 tsp turmeric
3/4 tsp salt
2 T plus 4 tsp light sesame or peanut oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 cups finely chopped onion
1/4 tsp red-pepper flakes
1/4 cup arrowroot powder

Cilantro Sauce
1 cup cilantro
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 jalapeno chile pepper, stemmed and seeded
1 garlic clove
1-in piece fresh ginger
1/4 tsp salt

To make patties


  1. Place rice and lentils into a med saucepan with 4 cups of water, the turmeric and the salt. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 min. Remove the cover and simmer, without stirring until the water is absorbed, about 15 min.

  2. Meanwhile, heat 2 T of oil in a skillet over med-high heat. Add the cumin and cook, stirring frequently for 1 min until fragrant. Add the onions. Cook over med heat, stirring frequently until well browned, about 12 min. Add the red pepper. Remove from the heat and add to the lentils and rice. Combine well. Spoon the mixture into a bowl and let stand until cool, about 20 min.

  3. Spread the arrow root on a large plate. Form the lentil-rice mixture into 8 patties. Evenly coat the patties with the arrowroot and set aside until ready to cook.

  4. Heat 2 tsp of oil in skillet over high heat. Cook 4 patties until golden, about 2 min per side. Heat the remaining 2 tsp of oil and repeat for the remaining patties. Serve warm, drizzle with Cilantro Sauce.

Cilantro Sauce - put the cilantro, coconut milk, lemon juice, jalapeno, garlic, ginger, and salt into a blender, blend until smooth.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Lettuce Edged Tights

Want that Hanna Andersson look without the price? Have a good pair of tights with holes in the feet that you want to make last a bit longer? Have a child like mine who wants to only wear dresses, but who doesn't like to wear the tights because she likes to be bare foot? This is the project for you!

I made these for Kate awhile back and have been meaning to share them because they are so freakin' cute. I can't take credit for the idea. My friend Tess had them on her girls and told me how to make them. Tess also used the same technique on onsies when she didn't want the snap bottom. My mom also helped a bunch. She new just what to do because I guess lettuce edges were very popular back in the day when she and all her friends took the popular Stretch-N-Sew classes.
Step One: Find a pair of tights. I practiced on a few pairs of tights that I bought at Target for fairly inexpensive. In the future I plan to use the tights which already have holes in the toes and/or heels.











Step Two: Cut off the foot of the tights. Don't worry about it being exactly straight.







Step Three: Turn the tights inside-out. While pulling the fabric fairly tight, sew a wide zig-zag stitch along the cut edge.







Step Four: That's it! As the fabric regains its shape, the edge will lettuce. They are ready to be worn. (see I also made a pair of socks from the cut-off portion?)






Saturday, January 05, 2008

Gratitude Practice

I'm a little late on my gratitude practice today, but I want to squeeze it in while I have internet access. Today I am grateful for...
  • Good friends that volunteer to watch my two stinkers all morning long so Matt and I can ski together (a rarity since we usually switch off skiing and parenting)
  • Foot warmers to keep my toesies from becoming ice cubes
  • Fresh, untracked snow on the edges of my favorite run with no one else in sight
  • Hot chocolate with my favorite marshmallows

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Sibling Translation

This isn't an uncommon occurrence in our home, but it still baffles me...

Yesterday Jack came up to me and asks, "Mommy, I wan vlbjustu." Now Jack supposedly has a great vocabulary for a 2.5 year old (as per a pediatrician friend of mine) and can link together several sentences. And supposedly his pronunciation is also very good even though I often can't understand words he says. It is mostly when words are out of context that I have a difficult time.

So I ask Jack, "Tell me again what you want?"
"vlbjustu"
"A glass of water?"
"No, I wan vlbjustu!"
Huh? I try a few more options with no luck. I'm stumped.
"Jack, I can't understand you. Can you show me?"
"NO! I wan vlbjustu!"
"I'm sorry, Jack, but I can't understand what you want..."

Just then Kate comes upstairs. I ask Kate, "Do you know what Jack wants?"
Kate looks at Jack and asks, "What do you want, Jack?"
Jack responds, "I wan vlbjustu."
Kate looks at me like I'm crazy. "He wants veggie straws."
Jack smiles, "Ya! Vlbjustu!"
I could almost here both of them thinking, "Duh, Mom!"

Organic Cami

I'm not big into bras... probably because "big" isn't a term that is frequently used when referring to my bras! I had some nursing bras when I was well endowed, but I didn't even really like them. I have lots of sports bras, but those don't really count. I do have one Victoria Secret bra, but only because I needed a little oomph for a dress I wore to a party last summer. For everyday I like to wear a cami with a shelf bra, and my favorite one is on sale right now. Check out the organic cami at Athleta. I can't justify any more right now (although I thought about buying a few extra to put away until my current ones are worn out), but thought maybe some of you might be interested.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Charity Giveaway Winner

Sorry I haven't been online. No internet access in the mountains. I'm not complaining... I relax better when surfing the net isn't an option!

Because there was no internet, I was a bit late choosing the Charity Giveaway winner. So instead of making my last donation of 2007, I made my first donation of 2008 to the nonprofit chosen by commenter #44. Heidi chose The Northern New Mexico Midwifery Center (as did so many others!). I opted to change my donation to $2 per comment and donated $104 this morning.

I loved seeing all the nonprofits that bloggers support. Sometime this week or next I'll share the nonprofits that Matt and I support regularly. I enjoyed the charity giveaway so much that I plan to do it again next year. Hope you'll be back to support it again.