Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Day!

I wish Feb 29th came around more often, because it has been a fabulous day! It is a GORGEOUS Colorado day... high 60s and not a cloud in the sky. I got a really good run in this morning. It is the first run that has actually felt good since I started back running a few weeks ago. This afternoon I took the kids to the garden store and picked out some seeds for our garden. I thought it would be fun to try some starts this year. I think the kids will have fun watching our seeds grow. After the garden store, we stopped at a local drive-in for lunch. It is a great place that sell local, hormone-free meat, but we just had grilled cheese! We ate it outside in the warm sun. Ah! Ran into an acquaintance at the drive-in who invited us to the park. After lunch we went to the park. The kids were thrilled to be outside running around, and I met a new mom that I really liked. Came home, the kids had quiet time, I folded my enormous stack of laundry, and now I'm going to prepare for my father-in-law's visit this weekend.

Really starting to look forward to spring. We have lots to do to prepare for spring. Only about 6 more weeks until we can start planting some cold weather crops. And have I mentioned that I got a worm composter off Freecycle? It is all set up and ready to go. Matt doesn't want it inside, so I'm going to wait another month before I order worms. Can't wait to blog about our pet worms!

ps - I'm not about to stop blogging... you can't get rid of me that easily! :)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Clarification

I am not a very good writer. I know this. That is one of the reasons I started this blog. Just so I could and would practice writing. It doesn't help that I am usually trying blog with kids underfoot. Literally. They are often sitting in my lap, pulling on my shirt for a snack, screaming in the back ground, or fighting under my legs. Makes it sometimes difficult to compose anything comprehensible, and I certainly rarely have time to really think about what I am posting.

I got a few not-so-nice emails (not comments - they are all good!) about my Synchronicity post. That post was supposed to be more about the synchronicity of my day more than anything else, but it was definitely not about working vs. stay at home moms! I am truly sorry if it came across to anyone as that. It was only describing my personal struggles and questions as a SAHM. I fully support working moms and have no issues with those who choose to work. Heck, I went back to work part-time after Kate was born. If I hadn't gotten pregnant again so quickly, I still had those connections and we hadn't moved across the country, I might still be working part time. While I am grateful to have the option to stay home, in some ways I am actually jealous of my friends and acquaintances that work outside the home. That time at work to develop themselves (and their paycheck!) seem really enviable at times.

The quote, "You can have it all, but not all at the same time" was not intended (by me) to mean that you can't work and be a mother. To me it meant that I can't literally have it all at the same time. I don't consider me on the computer working on projects and ignoring my children while they watch TV or beg for attention to be good mothering (I'm not doing that all the time, but it has certainly happened once or twice... or maybe three times...). I need to be more mindful of my parenting, not distracted by other projects. Matt and I have chosen that I be a stay at home mom, and if that is our choice, I feel that most of my time should be spent on my children. I sometimes forget the importance of really "being" with my kids during the day and thus the quote that reminded me that I am not in a holding pattern even while playing Candyland (seriously, can that game get any longer?!?). This doesn't mean that I can't/don't/won't work on my personal goals at other times, just not when I am supposed to be mothering and at the expense of quality time with my children.

The funny thing about that post, which I intentionally didn't make clear for fear of shooting myself in the foot, is that the "ideas" I was referring to relate mostly to my blog. I've been struggling for awhile with this blog. I love it, and I get a lot of personal satisfaction from blogging. Lately, however, I've been feeling a lot of "pressure" with it. I haven't had the time (without sacrificing my parenting or my sleep) to give it what I want. How many times have I said, "I'll post about _____ sometime soon" and never get to it? I've been meaning to update my blogroll for months. I have good friends with blogs that I haven't added yet! I also want to respond to all the comments/questions and email inquiries as well as comment on other great blogs, but I just can't seem to get it done which then leaves me feeling lousy and a bit stressed. I realize this is all self-induced stress. This blog is totally optional in my life. I'm getting only that personal satisfaction to blog. I am adamant that going forward I will not allow blogging to cause additional stress in my life.

I'm not saying that I'm giving up blogging. I'm just making a personal commitment about my priorities. Blogging is only going to be fun. If I get to it great, if I don't... oh, well! I am also making a commitment to schedule some time for working on my other personal goals. I alluded to that in my other post, and now it is really coming together. I am going to have a babysitter a few hours a week so that I can work more efficiently and in peace. Hopefully I'll have something to show for that time soon.

Hope that clarifies things a bit. And if it doesn't clarify things, can I blame it on the fact that I had 2 kids squirming on and off my lap while I wrote this?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Breastfeeding Is Green Contest

There is a Breastfeeding is Green Contest going on over at Nursing Mother Supplies. Send them your best phrase for explaining why breastfeeding is environmentally friendly, and not only could your saying be printed on a t-shirt, but you could win a $300 breastfeeding gift basket. I also love that all profits from the sale of the t-shirts will be donated to charity - 50% of the profits to a green charity that the winner chooses.

Also check out their link to facts about about breastfeeding is helping the environment.
Gotta start thinking of something witty... where is that creativity when I need it?

Works For Me Wednesday - Handy Homemade Breading

I pre-make a double batch of my homemade breading for fish and keep it in the fridge. It lasts for months, and when I need a quick, easy meal I pull it out, dip the fish, and bake. Add a veggie and a whole grain side, and it is a healthy meal in less than 30min.


Couple notes on storage

-Store breading in a glass, not plastic, container.

-Don't dip meat directly into storage container. Instead spoon whatever you need into another dish as to not contaminate the stored breading

-Make sure all the breading ingredients are non-perishable.

-Also works great for any breaded recipes. I usually keep some of the breading mixture for Tofu Fishy Sticks in the fridge as well.

This is the main recipe that I keep on hand in our fridge. We had it for dinner last night. It is adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Lowfat Favorites


Garlic Dill Breading
3/4 cup bread crumbs
3/4 cup toasted wheat germ
1 Tablespoon ground flax seed
1 Tablespoon dried dill
1 1/2 tsp ground dried mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder (or more to taste)
salt/pepper to taste


Mix ingredients together. Store in airtight container in fridge. When ready to make fish, put about a 1/4 cup in a flat dipping dish. Beat one egg in another flat dipping dish. Dip firm white fish (I like cod!) in beaten egg, then in breading mixture. Place in a baking dish drizzled with olive oil, drizzle fish with olive oil, and bake at 350 for 15-20min. Serve with lemon wedges.


Next week I'll post about bread crumbs! Check out other WFMW.




Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Just For The Record...

This was MY idea. Everyone who knows me IRL knows that I've been talking about what a great idea it would be to do this for years. I should have done more than just talk about it. My only consolation is that I don't have 250K of my own money to invest. And how come she can get it off the ground with twins, and I can't get dinner on the table (see post below)?!?

Synchronicity

I have been having an internal struggle lately with motherhood. Even though I know it is important for me to be home with my children, I've been frustrated by my inability to accomplish anything beyond getting us dressed in the morning and getting a meal on the table in the evenings (and to be honest, some days I don't do that great a job with either). There are so many ideas floating through my mind, but realistically I can't accomplish any of them at this time without sacrificing the quality of my parenting. Being a mother and raising my children is still my priority right now. So then I start to daydream about the future when kids are older, and I can accomplish more. I just want it all. Right now.

I was thinking about all this as I was driving the kids into the mountains last Friday (nothing like a drive in the mountains for some good thinking time!) and wondering if I had lost myself by becoming a mother. After settling the kids into bed, I picked up the March issue of Real Simple and started reading an article by one of my favorite magazine authors. Gail Blanke writes great motivator articles every month, and I have most of them saved in a binder. This month she was answering commonly asked questions, and there it was... #4 Can I pursue personal goals and be a good mother? Her whole answer is great (you can read the whole thing at the link above), but a few lines really spoke to me and what I have been feeling.

"You can have it all, but not all at the same time."
"Don't confuse giving yourself 100 percent with losing yourself."
"So don't think for a minute that you're circling in a holding pattern and that one day, when the children are older, you'll land and get on with your life. This is life."

I felt the synchronicity of the moment, and it has since helped me let go of some of the urgency I feel in accomplishing my personal goals. Not that I am giving them up - I'm even scheduling some time to work on them instead of trying to fit it in while simultaneously being a mom. It was just an "aha!" moment for me.

I had another synchronous moment reading that magazine. There was an article written by Jennifer Baumgardner who is the co-author the books Manifesta and Grassroots. Earlier in the car I had listened to a podcast interview with her. Never heard of her before, and she pops up twice in just a few hours. I'm thinking it is a sign that I need to read at least one of her books...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday Morning

We had a great weekend in the mountains. Lots of snow. Lots of skiing. Then lots more snow. Because of the blizzard, the drive home was horrible. It was white-out conditions most of the trip. I didn't drive faster than 20mph over one mountain pass. Couldn't see further than 50 feet in front of the car. Lots of cars off the road and even a few flipped cars. Thankfully we made it home safely.

Kate's birthday went well. It was pretty low key. A few gifts, a chocolate chip cookie cake, a balloon and a lot of admiring how big our 4 year old was. She also insisted most of yesterday that we call her "Birthday Ski Girl!" LOL

Back to the mile long TO DO list at home. I've hired a babysitter one afternoon a week so that I can get some work done on a few projects I have going. Also looking forward to my father-in-law's visit this coming weekend. I am planning some alone time at home while he is here.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008

Green Eating

Try this Green Eating Quiz! It is really quick and has some different perspectives on common beliefs about green eating.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Loss For Words

From the shower stall of the womens' locker room after swim lessons this morning...

Kate: Mom, I have to pee! Can I pee in the shower?
Me: No! Lots of people use these showers.
Kate: But Daddy said it was okay to pee in the shower.
Me: Well, Daddy was wrong!
Surrounding Shower Stalls: Fits of laughter

Photography Class

I went to my second photography class last night. We learned a lot about camera settings, aperture, and shutter speed. Since I know NOTHING about photography, it was fascinating to learn so much!

Our first class last week we discussed some of the elements of photography compostion. Our assignment was to choose several elements of compostion and bring in some of our best shots using those elements. We were to keep our cameras on auto and only think about composition. We also weren't supposed to fiddle with the pictures using editing software. I was lucky to be able to do my assignment on the beach...
Perspective Vs Distance

Rule of 3


Textures/Patterns


Unique Angles (the one I used for class is of Jack with a bare-bottom so I'm opting on my blog to show this one instead!)


Layering

Contrast and Juxtaposition


Pathways and Curves


A Few Others That I Really Liked - I took a lot of feet on our trip!

I Need A Vacation After Vacation

I'm still recovering from our travels home. I have laundry up to my nose. Jack got another ear infection. And lots of little things to do around the house. Just not in the mood to blog. I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Catch-Up

We got home late last night. The kids did great traveling home, and we had a great time on our trip. It was great to see my grandma, my Aunt Gwen, my Aunt Gretchen, and my mom. We played in the sand, played in the surf, fed the seagulls, played in the mud, swam in the indoor pool, and ate good food. More about it when I get some pics downloaded. Did you notice that I chose playing in the sand over blogging? It was a good choice.
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Less than 48 hours to enter the SIGG Giveaway! Thanks to 5 Minutes For Mom for featuring the giveaway on Sunday's 5 Minutes Around the Blogosphere post. They have a great blog and two mom-owned stores. My favorite is the store with rocking horses!
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On the creativity front, I took my first photography class last week. I really enjoyed it. Our assignment for this week was on composition. I'll post some of my "assignment shots" later in the week. The beach was a great place to practice! I also forgot to mention that I participated in MIFS last week at It's All for the Best. This week's MIFS is being hosted at This Wasn't In the Plan. I'm going to be hosting MIFS again the end of March and want to do a spring/Easter theme so start thinking about what you want to submit!
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Lots to go catch up on... email, laundry, errands...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Leaving For a Few Days

I'm taking the kids to Gulf Shores, Alabama for a few days to see my grandma. I have no idea if I'll have internet access so I have no idea if I'll be posting. If I do have access, I'm hoping to finish up and publish a few half-written posts like the plastic post I promised and one about a conference call I participated in last week with Brighter Planet.


Or maybe I'll just dig in the sand with my kids...

Valentine's Day

Matt and I don't celebrate Valentine's Day. It isn't that we are opposed to the holiday, and it isn't that we are trying to be "green" about it (although I probably shouldn't tout that on my blog!). We haven't even actually talked about not celebrating. We just don't.

Not that is has always been that way. I'm sure we probably did something to celebrate when we were dating but nothing of extraordinary significance. Our first Valentine's Day as a married couple, I suggested to Matt that we not buy anything for each other. I made him a steak and mushrooms dinner (not a typical meal for me to cook), and then burst out in tears after dinner when I realized Matt hadn't done anything for me. He said, "But you said we weren't going to do anything for Valentine's Day!" to which I responded, "I said we weren't going to BUY anything for Valentine's Day, but you could still DO something for me." I wasn't really that upset, but I got an enormous heart-shaped box of chocolates the next day. Matt always says that despite his goof, it was a good deal. He got the chocolate 50% off.
I haven't received a Valentine's Day gift since*, and I don't need any. Today won't be any different. We'll say, "Happy Valentine's Day" in the morning with an extra smooch, but no flowers, no candy, no fancy dinner out. We don't really celebrate our anniversary either. Maybe we will go out to eat but nothing fancy or out of the ordinary. Matt did give me a piece of jewelry for our first anniversary. I think we both forgot our last anniversary until the following day!
I know people that would be horrified by our lack of "romance," but I don't need romantic settings and surface displays of romance from Matt to know that he loves me. I know on a daily basis when he fills my car with gas when it is snowing, when he patiently listens to my daydreams about having chickens, when he goes out for crackers and soup at 10pm when I am sick, when he takes the kids out in the evening giving me a break despite the fact that he has also just worked a very long day, when he lets me warm my frigid feet on his toasty legs at night in bed, and when he presses me for more when I tell him that "nothing is wrong." I don't need a special holiday with grand gestures to know that my husband loves me. I know true romance.
My hope for Valentine's Day is that everyone has the ability to realize the myths of advertising and consumerism aren't evidence of true love, not for environmental reasons, but so that they may break through that shell of commercial romance and realize the real thing.

So remember, true romance - the enduring kind - often comes so cleverly disguised it's easy to overlook. - Nadine Crenshaw
*Irony? Right after I finished this post, Matt surprised me with a little Valentine gift! LOL

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I Love You Treats

Last year was the first year I had a child in school for Valentine's Day. I knew that there was going to be a party, and I got Kate dressed in a really cute, red smocked dress (from Ebay!)and took her to school despite the fact that she seemed to be getting a cold with a lightly snotty nose and junky eyes. I was really excited for her to go to the party.

When we got to school, all the other children in class had cute little bags and baskets of Valentines to pass out to their classmate. But Kate didn't. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that 2.5 year olds passed out Valentines to each other! Although I doubt Kate even noticed because she was so excited to be getting Valentines, I nonetheless felt like a horribly inadequate mother. However, Kate did pass around something to her classmates in an appropriate Valentine shade... pink eye!

So this year, I wanted to make sure I got it right, maybe even make up for last year. I'm severely lacking sleep from staying up too late, but I think I got it right! Handmade valetines and heart shaped brownies!
The recipe I used for the brownies is from my mom's friend Irene and is the brownie recipe my mom always made for me. No other brownies taste quite right to me. To adjust for altitude I added another 1/4 cup of flour and 2T of water. Then to make heart shaped, I poured batter into a little larger baking dish and used a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out brownies after they had cooled.
Irene's Brownies
1 stick of butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1 T baking powder
4 T cocoa

Melt butter, beat in eggs, add sugar and vanilla and stir well. Mix in flour, salt, baking powder and cocoa. Pour into a greased and floured 8x8 pan. Bake at 350 for 25-35 min. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Notes on this post
  • I made three batches of brownies over the last 24 hours... the first batch I didn't adjust for altitude and they came out way to gooey in the middle and dry on top to send to preschool
  • When making heart shaped brownies, a lot goes to "waste" so you may want to plan on making a second batch to get enough.
  • I ate "waste" for breakfast this morning!
  • I am very proud of myself that I did nothing to try to make the brownies healthier. Very unlike me.
  • Do you see the lollipops on the valentines? Those are the artificial-color filled lollipops that I have been trying to use up without giving to my kids since before Halloween!
  • I was actually in denial that Kate had pink eye (even told the preschool teacher that it was a plugged tear duct, not pink eye) until MY eye turned red and itchy. Not fun.

Works For Me Wednesday - Natural Peanut Butter

We love natural peanut butter (and almond butter and cashew butter...) in our house, but I hate trying to mix up all the oil that collects on the top when you first open the jar. It is so messy and prevents my preschoolers from being able to help spread the peanut butter.

It works well to store natural nut butters upside down in the pantry. When you open the jar, all the oil is at the bottom of the jar instead of the top. Makes mixing the oil back into the nut butter much easier!

And if you don't like my simple solution, I saw a helpful tool in the Febuary issue of Real Simple magazine - Peanut Butter Mixer!

This week check out more WFMW at Don't Try This At Home

And don't forget to enter my SIGG Giveway this week!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Up Too Late

Wanting to be as cool as Amy, I joined Twitter the other day! It is pretty fun and kinda addicting. Check it out, and let me know if you join.

Monday, February 11, 2008

SIGG100 & Giveaway!

SIGG - that company that makes all the super cute reusable bottles - is turning 100 this year. To celebrate, they are launching the website SIGG100.com through Earth Day The site has eco-moments in history, a global warming quiz (I'm not going to admit how horribly I scored!), and a schedule of live chats with other green enthusiasts. Plus they are going to be giving away a trip to Hawaii to celebrate right before Earth Day with Jack Johnson.

SIGG is also having a Greenstylemom giveaway! They have generously donated a mother-child package to be given to one blog reader. The package will include an adult sized bottle for mom (or dad!) and a kidz bottle for a greenstyle-kid. These reusable (love reusable!) bottles are made from a single piece of aluminum with a eco-friendly coating. And very important to me, SIGG bottles have been independently tested to prove 0% leaching. If all that doesn't sell you, all the cute designs will.

To be entered to win the water bottle package, just leave a comment with an email address on this post. Link to this contest in a post on your blog, and your name will be entered into the contest twice (be sure to let me know that you've linked in a separate comment). Please enter only once. The contest will close at midnight next Wednesday, February 20th. I'll announce the winner on Thursday.

Just for the record, it was VERY difficult for me to hit "publish post" this afternoon. I really don't want a lot of competition for the Hawaii trip, and I REALLY want these bottles for myself... I've been trying to decide if it would be against the rules to enter myself with a comment...

Blue Vinyl Blues

Sunday night I attended a monthly moms' film night. The documentary this month was Blue Vinyl about a daughter's research into poly vinyl chloride (PVC). It was very enlightening as I was aware of the problems with PVC (and phthalates often added to make it flexible) due to all the press coverage lately, but I was unaware of the dangers involved in producing and recycling PVC. Good film that got me thinking even more about PVC... not just about our food containers and toys. The discussion that followed the film made me think of blog post idea after blog post idea after blog post idea!

If you are like me, you may be working to eliminate (or at least drastically reduce) the amount of PVC and other plastics in your home. It can be difficult to know where to start. To make it even more difficult, it isn't always easy to identify what is made out of PVC. Sometimes PVC will be marked with a #3 recycle marker, or it make be marked with a "V" in a circle. The package label may say "vinyl," and PVC also often has that "new plastic smell" when taken out of the package. If you don't know, ask the manufacuter.
A good place to start eliminating PVC is with any children's items that come in contact with mouths - toys, teethers, pacifiers, and food and beverage containers, and avoid vinyl lunch boxes. In your kitchen, avoid PVC containers for storing food. Better yet, avoid or reduce all plastics for food storage. Also be on the lookout for PVC in shower curtains and rainwear.

Many companies are now PVC-free or are making the transition. The list includes Nike, Microsoft, IKEA, H&M, Johnson & Johnson, Crabtree & Evelyn, Timbuk2, and Eco-Gear (the providers of the awesome backpack giveaway that I did a bit ago). PVC-free toy companies include Brio, Lego, Sassy, and Tiny Love. This is not a comprehensive list, so if you know of others, let me know and I'll add them!

I'm planning on doing a follow-up post sometime this week or early next week on all the different plastics and their safety. So be sure check back. In the meantime, here are a bunch of links with more information on PVC.



Target Action - sign a petition asking Target to go PVC-free!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Monday Menu Plan

Monday - Salmon Cakes (recipe below)

Tuesday - Roast Chicken, roasted carrots, drop biscuits
Wednesday - leftover chicken, leftover carrots, baked squash, roasted potato slices
Thursday - Date night dinner out with friends - we went an English pup restaurant/piano bar with sing-a-long! So much fun!

Friday - Matt was working late so the kids and I had dinner out with friends whose dad was working late also - Noodles for dinner (I had the Whole Grain Tuscan Fettucine - Jack like it better than his macaroni!) and frozen custard for dessert - yum!

Saturday - Had really good intentions of fixing a kids' meal since Matt was working late, but we ended up at a neighbor's home with a glass of wine and the red lentil hummus I had just tried making. Added crackers, an apple and a glass of milk, and called it dinner for the kids!
This week will be a short cooking week since I am taking the kids to Alabama to see my grandma. I think we'll try a few new recipes. Spinach potato cakes and lentil stuffed spaghetti squash. I'll also be making some Chili Blanco for Matt and his ski buddy to eat while we are gone.

Salmon Cakes
This is a recipe from my college roommate Michelle. If I'm in a hurry, I use canned salmon. The cakes go great with a spinach salad.

-Broil salmon (brushed with olive oil), remove meat from skin and put in fridge
-Brown onions and celery in olive oil (not too much)
-Beat 2-4 egg whites until stiff
-Combine salmon, onions, and celery into mixing bowl Add bread crumbs until cereal like consistency Then add fresh parsley, cayenne pepper, s/p, and lemon juice
-Fold in egg whites (salmon needs to be eggy consisterncy
-Refrigerate 20 min at least
-Form patties
-Place in bread crumbs and fry in olive oil (try to flip only once)
-Serve with lemons

Felt Cupcake Directions

I promised I'd post about the felt cupcakes I was making. I still need to work on a more "finished" look, but I think that will come with practice. The finish doesn't seem to bother the kids... they love them!

Cut out felt pieces - 2 circles for top and bottom (make the colored one a bit larger than the bottom*), one large rectangle for the side, one frosting drip piece, one curvy frosting top, and one small red circle cherry

Using matching embroidery thread, stitch the cherry piece to the frosting top, then stitch the frosting top, to the colored cupcake top. Complete the top by stitching the frosting drip piece to the cupcake top. Stitch the side rectangle piece to the bottom piece. You'll have a top and a bottom for the cupcake.


Stuff the cupcake (the kids' job in our house). I thought it worked best to over stuff a bit. Put the top piece over the bottom piece like a lid and stitch together.Finished! Let the kids enjoy them for a tea party! My purple one (the last one I made) looked the best, but it was being eaten during this photo shoot.

* I didn't make the top larger on the blue cupcake, so it turned out a little mishappen. Still tastes good!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

CFLs vs Mercury

Thought this Slate article on CFLs and Mercury was a good article. Most of our local energy is derived from coal, so even more important that we use them in our house! To see how clean your local energy is, check out this old post.

Funny thing about the mercury... I remember when I was much younger, a mercury thermometer broke in our house, and my mom let us play with the mercury! I still remember how much fun playing that mercury blob was!

Valentine Meme

My friend Shannon tagged me for a Valentine's Day Meme...

1. Where/How did you meet?
Matt and I met at Parkland Hospital in Dallas on July 1, 1997. He was on a 6 week rotation through my department, and we were assigned to the same team of healthcare providers.

2. How long have you known each other?
It was 10 years last July.

3. How long after you met did you start dating?
After meeting and a few weeks of chatting while working, I knew that Matt was in to me. I went home and told my roommate that I would definitely have a date by the end of his rotation. The 6 weeks came and went, but nothing. I was stunned. I would occasionally run into him in the hospital, and he always went out of his way to talk for a bit. Still no date. Nine months after we met I came home to a message on my answering machine (I had been hiking up in Estes Park, CO), "Hi, Kristen? This is Matt. I'm that red head from the hospital. I was wondering if you might like to go out sometime..." Matt says that he had to do a lot of work to find my last name and phone number. Then he almost didn't leave a message because he thought I lived with a guy (my roommate and I had my cat's name Samuel on the outgoing message!). Ends up he had been in a relationship the previous summer. I still accuse him of being awfully flirtous for someone in a relationship! Our first date was the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. Our second date was Saturday. Our third date Sunday!

4. How long did you date before you were engaged?
We got engaged January 1, 2000 so a little over a year and a half.

5. How long was your engagement?
9 months and 2 days

6. How long have you been married?
We had our 7th anniversary in September

7. What is your anniversary?
September 3rd

8. How many people came to your wedding reception?
We had about 80 people, we wanted it smaller, but people surprisingly kept responding "yes!"

9. What kind of cake did you serve?I can't quite remember. I think it was a flourless chocolate cake with a raspberry filling. I do remember that it was beautiful. Very simple with fruit decorations.

10. Where was your wedding?
We got married on Matt's uncle's ranch in southeastern Arizona. Very remote, but very beautiful. You can see some pics on my last anniversary post. Once our friends and family made it to Arizona, we took care of the rest. We provided accomodations, meals, and activities from Friday evening through Monday morning (it was Labor Day weekend). It was a fabulous wedding weekend if I do say so myself!

11. What did you serve for your meal?
No clue - I recall it being sort of southwestern and maybe grilled veggies.

12. How many people were in your bridal party?
Eight. My sister was my maid of honor plus I had Matt's sister, my college friend Michelle, and my friend Krista. Matt's bestman was a good friend growing up plus he had 3 other college buddies.

13. Are you still friends with them all?
Yup.

14. Did your spouse cry during the ceremony?
Surprising to me, Matt was a bit teary when I was walking up to him.

15. Most special moment of your wedding day?
I don't think I can pick one moment. It was all wonderful. A bit of a blur, but wonderful.

16. Any funny moments?
Matt's cousins and my sister(?) decided to make our wedding night romantic so they put a bunch of lit tea lights from the tables in our room. It looked beautiful, but the room was so horribly smoky when we got there that we could hardly breathe! It had to be aired out for a long time.

17. Any big disasters?
Matt and I missed it, but one of our guests got pretty drunk and wandered off. The ranch is in the middle of nowhere so you can really get lost. Apparently my in-laws and others were up well into the night looking for her, even looking in some morbid places like around the edge of the pond. She was eventually found safe.

18. Where did you go on your honeymoon?
Another long story! I'll try to keep it short. We went to a "soft adventure resort" in Baja, Mexico with Baja Air Adventure. While it was a fantastic trip, and one we would like to do again someday, it was a bit rustic. (from the online photos, it appears to have improved 1000% since we were there!) It was brutally hot, there was no a/c, there were no showers, there were stingrays in the lagoon, we had 2 single cots in our "casita" which was barely more than a tent, and it was too hot to sleep inside, so we slept on the beach... with everyone else that was there! We were two of only 5 guests (the other 3 guys were filming a show for the Outdoor Life Network), the food was fabulous, and we did all kinds of amazing things. Fishing, clamming, swimming with sea lions, snorkling, hiking, sailing, etc. Really an amazing experience. Just not your typical honeymoon.

19. How long were you gone?
After a night in San Diego, I think we were in Baja for 5 days.

20. If you were to do your wedding over, what would you change?
I wouldn't have stressed over details. Nothing else mattered with a great location, a great caterer, and all our friends and family with us.

21. What side of the bed do you sleep on?
The side closest to the children. Right now that is the left side.

22. What size is your bed?
King sized, and it really isn't big enough.

23. Greatest strength as a couple?
What a great question! I think our greatest strength is our devotion to each other. We acknowledge that everything else in our life is secondary to our relationship.

24. Greatest challenge as a couple?
Matt. LOL

25. Who literally pays the bills?
I do, and I should be doing it now instead of this meme!

26. What is your song?
I don't think we have one. I don't even remember what we danced to at our wedding!

27. What did you dance your first dance to?
See above!

28. Describe your wedding dress:
Pretty simple, not expensive. It had a straight across neckline with thin straps and little bows. It had little bows on the bottom of the skirt which I wanted taken off but couldn't. I also wanted it to fit a bit tighter.

29. What kind of flowers did you have at your wedding?
Yellow roses.

30. Are your wedding bands engraved?
No, but my engagement ring was designed by Matt and the center stone is his great grandmother's diamond. Makes it that much more special to me.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Greener Running

Today is day #1 in my training for a 10mile race in June. I haven't actually run today, but I am going to. Yup, I am. No backing out of this one. I am going to run no matter how I feel. Yup. If I can find my Nike+ IPod attachment thingy, then I'll add a link in the sidebar to my latest runs and everyone can give me a hard time if I'm not keeping up like I should.

Running is a pretty green exercise habit. All you really need is a pair of running shoes. But running shoes wear out quickly, and then you need another pair of running shoes. I usually donate old running shoes to Goodwill or something similar, but I don't really know where my shoes end up. I hate the idea of all my running shoes filling up landfills, so I was excited to learn about the website RecycledRunners.com. They list donation sites where your shoes may be sent to those in need or recycled into surfaces for outdoor playgrounds, basketball courts, or tracks. Check out their drop-off map to see if there is a location near you.

And if you are a mom runner, you might want to check out the great blog written by one of my friends - Marathon Moms.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Picking Your Chicken

I roasted two chickens the other night (see previous post!). I love roasted chicken because it is more flavorful than chicken breasts and in our home, none of the chicken goes to waste. After we eat the meat, I use the carcass to make chicken stock for a good soup. I normally get our chicken from a nearby store that buys them directly from a local family. If I need to buy a chicken at the regular grocery, I usually get chicken that is labeled free-range and organic. Because labels can be confusing, hopefully some of these definitions will help.

Natural - Should mean that no artifical ingredients such as artificial coloring or flavors were added during processing. However, the term "natural" is not regulated. Natural chickens may have been fed antibiotics.

Organic - Means that animals were raised without antibiotics, were given only organic feed, and were not given any animal by-products. Animals must also have free range to graze (see "free range" below)

Certified Humane - Means the living conditions are above federal standards (which are really pretty low). They can not be fed animal by-products or antibiotics, except when ill.

Free-Range - Implies the ability for the chicken to roam free and eat a varied diet, but the claim does not have to be verified. Also, chickens are just supposed to have "access" to the outdoors. Doesn't necessarily mean they go out. Also, free-range chickens can be fed anything - conventional feed, feed treated with pesticides or chemicals, GMOs, animal by-products, antibiotics, etc.

Kosher - Chickens are raised and slaughtered following Jewish dietary rules which is often more humane. While these chickens are free-range and not given antibiotics or animal by-products, their feed is conventional and may have been treated with pesticides or chemicals.

One thing you don't have to worry about when purchasing a chicken is hormones or steroids. Federal regulations prohibit commercial growers from adding homones or steroids to chicken products.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Bringing Dinner

I've had multiple requests to write more about life cohousing, and I am going to try my darndest to do it. My problem is that cohousing has become such a way of life now that sometimes I forget that some of what we practice isn't the norm.

I often say that the greatest thing that cohousing has taught (or rather re-taught) me is to be more cognisant of the needs of my neighbors. The residents in cohousing are always ready and willing to pitch-in for a family in need.
One member of our community recently had surgery requiring a several month recovery period. Prior to surgery, other cohousing residents signed up to bring this family dinner. I am not talking about 1 or 2 meals. The community has fed this family for TWO WEEKS. Every night. And it wouldn't surprise me if the cooking extends longer. Last night was the night that we signed up to fix their meal. It really was no extra work for me since I was making dinner for us anyway. I just added a second chicken to the oven, threw in extra carrots, and doubled the drop biscuit recipe. I did make rice krispie bars which I would normally do although I bet my family wishes I did! So not much extra work for me, but what a difference for this family.

This isn't a infrequent occurence in cohousing. When babies are born, when someone is sick, when a spouse is out of town. It isn't always formally organized and often the rest of the community doesn't even know it is occurring. Our first night in cohousing, my not-yet-but-soon-to-be friend Nona brought us a homemade meal (and Nona is a GREAT cook!).
Even though bringing meals for those in need was not an unfamiliar concept for me, it wasn't one that I practiced regularly before moving into cohousing. Now I try to practice it regulary, and my practice has extended into my greater community of friends. I am much more aware of the needs of others and much likely to lend a hand for anything... babysitting, a meal, a loaf of zucchini bread, etc.
You don't have to live in cohousing to build this kind of community. Stay aware. Is there anyone in your life right now that could use a meal?

Winner

We have a winner! Commenter #308 (thank goodness I didn't have to count back too much!) was chosen randomly. Heather, send me your details, and I'll send you your EcoTech Backpack!

And stay tuned... there might be more giveaways coming soon...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

My First Crochet Project!

I've mentioned before that I am teaching myself to crochet. Up until yesterday I've just worked rows of different stitches to practice, but this afternoon I decided it was time to actually make something. I chose this easy (and free!) ice cream cone pattern (only I didn't use the plastic cup... I just stuffed it all) because I'm kinda on a handmade play food kick this week. It didn't take nearly as long as I expected despite losing my stitch count several times due to kids asking me questions (and, yes, I pretty much neglected my kids while crocheting!). I am pretty proud of how it turned out. You can't see in the photo that I messed up a little on the scallop edge. I'm also doing something wrong with my first double crochet stitch, but it doesn't really affect the outcome on this project.

In 10 days I'm taking the kids to Alabama to see my grandma. What am I most looking forward to? Getting some help from my Aunt Gretchen and my grandma who are both awesome crocheters!

And sorry this is becoming sorta a craft blog lately, but I'm having a lot of fun! Don't forget that today is another edition of Make It From Scratch!

So without further ado...


Monday, February 04, 2008

Don't Want To Jinx Myself, BUT...

I think it is safe for me to say that Jack is potty trained! Woohoo! We are on week 3 of wearing only big boy underwear during the day, and he has even been dry overnight a few times! We are still working on going in public toilets (they flush too loud - Kate had the same phobia), and I still have to be diligent about watching for signs of #2 so we make it in time. Still, 95% of the time he lets me know when he has to go. We have and will have the occasional accident for a bit longer, but I think diapers are now a thing of our past! Woohoo again!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Monday Menu Plan

Oh, the meals were pitiful at our house this week. I am embarrassed to report what we had, but I want to keep it real. Just remember that we were sick and sleep deprived all week!

Sunday - EV's Veggies
Monday - Dinner out - Greek food!
Tuesday - Relapse of my tummy bug and ate nothing, I have no idea what the kids ate!
Wednesday - Mix-n-Match of leftovers in the fridge
Thursday - My solo night out, Dad out of town, Kids had Mac-N-Cheese and a smoothie
Friday - Took the kids out for Greek food(again!)
Saturday - Amy's pizza and homemade applesauce
Sunday - Boca Burgers and roasted potato slices with Old Bay Seasoning

Now that we are all feeling better, we are going to be eating better. Planned for this week...
Monday - Salmon Cakes, roasted cauliflower, red quinoa
Tuesday - Roast Chicken, roasted root veggies, drop biscuits
Wednesday - Dinner out with friends
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Dinner out with friends

Check out more menu ideas at OrgJunkie!

Play Food From Scratch

Jack and I were at Pottery Barn Kids on Friday. I like to go there and look for room decorating ideas for the kids. Plus I always check out their book collection. Jack was having a fabulous time playing with a "cake" made out of felt. I was actually going to buy it for him until I looked at the price tag - $40! I knew I could make it home.

Since we were stuck at home sick yesterday, I pulled out my scrap felt fabric and started creating. I had looked for felt food patterns online but mostly found only patterns for sale. I knew it couldn't be that difficult to stitch up some felt food without a pattern, so we started with carrots. It was easy!
First I cut out 2 pieces of carrot shaped felt and stitched them together using embroidery floss and leaving the top open.

Kate stuffed the carrots with 100% recycled soda bottle fill that I had pulled out of our overstuffed pillows. I then stitched green felt to the tops and our carrots were ready to eat!

We also made a couple of strawberries and an orange slice (although the orange slice needs some design work!) The only thing holding us back from making more was our lack of the right colored felt. I can't wait to pick up a little more felt and fill our play fridge!

I'm also working on making some cupcakes. Hopefully I'll have those up later this week!

Sick, Sick, Sick

That's the story in our house. Jack really has the worst of it. He had croup last Sunday and Monday, a high fever Tuesday and Wednesday, a runny nose Thursday and Friday (but seemed to feel better - I even took the kids to the zoo Friday afternoon). Then Friday evening hit. Jack got really cranky and had a difficult time going to sleep. He got into bed with me about 11pm but tossed and turned (and kicked!) for several hours. At about 2am he was wide awake complaining that he was hungry and his ear hurt. I got him some milk, rubbed his ear, and finally got him to sleep about 4am. I couldn't go to sleep until about 5am. Luckily our pediatrician was in the office Saturday morning. Jack has a raging ear infection. We started antibiotics and numbing drops, but he was still really restless last night. I haven't gotten more than a few hours of sleep in over a week.

To top it off, Matt has been in Utah skiing since Thursday so I was on my own with one sick child and one stir-crazy child. I can't wait for him to be back in a few hours. I need a nap. I'm really cranky!

Because we've been stuck at home all weekend, we have done a couple of fun crafts. I'll try to post about them later today.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Crocs

I've had a bit of a green guilt complex over my favorite item this winter... my fuzzy Crocs! Actually, I've had green guilt about Crocs for a few years since it is the only shoes my children will wear. We have Crocs for all seasons and all occasions - regular crocs, hole-less Crocs, Mary Jane Crocs, Croc boots, fuzzy Crocs, etc. I have actually wondered if they could be recycled, and now they can! Crocs has launched an initiative called SolesUnited that will take worn Crocs and recycle them into new Crocs. Most of these recycled Crocs will be donated to those in need, but the everyday consumer will also be able to purchase the recycled SolesUnited Crocs as well. Goodbye guilt!

If you want to get in on the recycled Croc action, get free shipping from Crocs using code crocsavp08

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Problem With UnTruths...

Tonight as we were preparing for bed, another conversation between me and smarty pants Kate...

Kate - "I love this nightgown. Someone sewed it, right?"

Me - "Yes, someone sewed that nightgown so you could wear it."

Kate - "I wonder who sewed this nightgown?"

Me, imagining a child laborer sewing nightgowns, wondering if age 4 is really an appropriate age to introduce the concept of sweatshops, and opting for - "I would guess that someone at the store sewed your nightgown."

Kate, eyeing me skeptically - "But I thought Santa made this nightgown..."

Me - "um, er... was that nightgown from Santa? I didn't remember that."

She can't possibly be questioning Santa, can she? She just started understanding the concept of Santa bringing gifts a few months ago!

Bright and Right

On the way to preschool this morning...

Me - "What a beautiful morning! Everything is so bright!"

Kate - "No, Mama, it is right!"

Me - "Right?"

Kate - "Yes, Mama, everything is right this morning."

Yes it is.