Thursday, January 31, 2008
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
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
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
Organize your makeup at a nice price with Meg at the Bargain QueensAnd 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
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
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...
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
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
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
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
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
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
- 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.
- 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!
- Most of our bills and banking are electronic.
- 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.
- 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: 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
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
Friday - Fish with lemon and basil, baked acorn squash, quinoa with olive oil
4 ½ cups water
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups coarse cornmeal (polenta)
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.
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
(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
Friday, January 11, 2008
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!
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.
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.
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
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
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
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
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!
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.)
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
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Saturday, January 05, 2008
- 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
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?"
"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!"
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
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.