Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Runners Strength

Today I am cherishing my children just a little bit more, hugging them a little tighter and holding my tongue and using patience as much as I can. When tragedy strikes I usually want to hide in the basement; I am not one to stand up first or run to help, I wish I was but I wont lie I'm not strong enough yet. My heart is lighter knowing that there are better people out there than terrorist. There are stronger people working to pave the way for our future, to help without a thank you.

A favorite blog of mine, Tomboy Style, did a nice profile on the first woman Boston Marathon runner, Katherine Switzer. She ran with a spirit in her heart to finish, not thinking of the implications she would have on women in sports. I have only recently started running myself, accomplishing two 5ks, one this past Sunday. The strength I feel after running is amazing, something I didn't believe when people spoke about it. I feel like I can conquer the world and that life's road blocks are but trivial details along my path to victory. So, I am not surprised that those marathon runners were the first to run towards the disaster and help out. It is a strength I am just now developing that a runner has, a fearlessness. To know that you can run for 26 plus miles without stopping, and then run straight into the smoke to help, to the hospital to give blood is a strength only few will know.

I hope that we do not dwell on all the recent tragedies that have struck our nation.  I hope that like a runners strength we will lift ourselves up and run straight into our disasters without fear and help.

*updated: a runners response

Friday, April 12, 2013

Enjoy Your Weekend

I've been really stressed out with the kids lately, this little list was a nice refresher course to remember the little things. I decided last night to take all that stress and put it to some good use! I emptied out some of our more junk filled cabinets and organized them. It is far from perfect but it was a refreshing start. If you are more OCD about your organization, I Heart Organizing is the best site for tips and ideas.

I have a daughter with BM problems. One of the contributing reasons to why we went to no processed food. Eating whole foods has helped but she still struggles to keep her rhythm in check. I could write novels on the subject but Raising Healthy Eaters addresses the issue nicely.

Two recent posts about independent kids... do you let your kid cross the street by themselves? Do you let your kids play outside?In our neighborhood we are firm believers in letting the kids "do their thang" They play outside with little to no supervision and check in as needed. Yes an adult goes out to check on them, we live on a medium traffic cul-da-sac and I feel confident that this little bit of leeway we give the children makes them better and stronger.

A couple of my favorite bloggers are hosting an awesome giveaway right now from Consumer Crafts, check out their great up-cycle tutorials!  Dana Made It, Make and Takes, Prudent Baby, and Petit Elefant

Do something more this weekend...COOK, CRAFT, ORGANIZE!

You can thank me for it later ;)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Musings about Nothing

I don't know what I'm writing about today.

I had such a wonderful weekend and I just wish that it wasn't over. The week is hard for me, I work full time but I am not very satisfied by what I am doing. The kids are busy with their own schedules and I feel that I am constantly living for the weekend or the three hours I am home from work at night. I know that it is just a funk and that in a week or two I will be busy again at work and motivated, but these slow times make me want to quit my job and stay home with the kids and work on them. These slow times also make me think of the million and one projects that we still need to do at home...uggg

Today I will revel in the fun that was had and try not to plan too much for the fun I still want to have.

Boo the Dog Tower
My kids are obsessed with this Boo the Dog and their Peek a Boo Blocks

Chasing the mating ducks from the pond

Stole Picky Palate's delicious idea for a late night treat since we have let some processed foods into our lives

I think I will make pop tarts this week just to liven things up a bit.

Also I would love to make this passport idea for summer. Have one for each child with ideas that they come up with and I do so we can check them off as we go. They could be adventures as big as going to Kings Island or as simple as painting outside...hmmm

Stay Focused

Friday, April 5, 2013

Enjoy Your Weekend

So how's your weekend shaping up?
I am heading to Indy to pick the kids up from my parents house. I have definitely missed them this week. It was nice and quite around here and bit easier to get things accomplished, but having kids is half the fun! I will judge just for a second, single people or couples without kids cannot complain about having no time. This almost alone week made me realize just how much of my time is preoccupied by those three little kids. 

Whhaaat?! You can freeze an avocado?

There is a lot of space in a small apartment if you style it right.

Made these asparagus this week, kids verdict was don't make them again, shame too cause I LOVED them, back to a drizzle of olive oil with balsamic, sea salt and a squeeze of lime to finish.

Try my yummy recipe for chewy, non processed, like Quaker, oatmeal bars.

We are huge Walking Dead fans over here so this little diddy about 33 frustrating things had us rolling, I always wonder how Carol's hair never gets longer?

And now that AMC has moved on to my Mad Men, season 6 premier this Sunday!

And a nice remembrance of Rodger Ebert...

Enjoy your weekend!

No More Noise! Genius

Do your kids toys make phantom noises? The hubs and me find sometimes we can just be walking threw the house and if you step too hard a toy will go off in the other room. It can be very creepy. Actually Guys With Kids did a whole episode about it.

Some toys are nice enough to come with an off button, very nice. But some sneaky toys have that little pull tab that once pulled you can never turn the darn thing off again! Mister has this lovely Sassy suction toy that is great for popping him into the high chair and keeping him entertained. It spins, it rattles, it sings to him; he loves it. Mommy though does not always love the constant sound of the music coming from it. I tolerate it at home, but I wanted to take this toy on the road with us for our dinner date. The other guest at the restaurant may not tolerate the noise as well as I do...so I fixed it! Genius moment!
I cut off a piece of a plastic bag (paper does not work) inserted it into the little hole and then taped it down tight. Now no noise! He doesn't seem to mind too much and I can always take it back out for him to play with at home.

Another toy Genius moment.

Silence is golden :)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Review: M. in East Hyde Park

Since two out of three kids are staying at my parents house for spring break the hubs and I decided Mister (6 months) would be fine to take out for a much needed date night. The weather was wonderful outside so we decided to walk to one of the local restaurants on Erie.

We are fortunate enough to have at least 6 restaurants within walking distance of our home. We strapped Mister into the stroller and went for a walk. M is a new place that just recently opened. It was the home to a great Chief Owen Maass, but sadly they let him go and I think the restaurant is suffering because of it. When we first ate there we loved it thinking it would be a staple in our date nights. I was hesitant to go there only because of the drama of letting go of such a great chief but the hubs wanted meat, and he knew they had meat.

Our second go around with this place was not as impressive at all :( they flaunt their wood fire oven and yet very little is cooked in there but the pizzas. And our server while very smiley was SO slow, maybe the kitchen was backed up but everything took forever to come out. I'm all for a long meal but then bring out things in order, he ended up bringing our salad with the meal? Ok on to the food...

We each ordered a drink and quickly decided on the daily bruschetta; pea puree with goat cheese and bacon. I actually make a hauntingly similar version of this for parties. Verdict straight from the hubs, "Yours is way better!"

We then ordered truffle fries (not as good as Senate's), the caprese salad (boring), purple gratin (soupy and under cooked) and the pork shank with polenta. None of these items are not something that could be made at home and the flavors were not elevated enough that you would want to pay to go out and get them.
The Gratin is supposed to be what they are known for. A wood fired delicious mix of purple cauliflower and brussel sprouts in a thick cheesy sauce baked to perfection. Sadly we got a soupy mix of mostly white cauliflower and those poor brussel sprouts were so under cooked. I would have sent the whole mess back but our food took so long to arrive that we were famished and we just wanted to eat so we could leave. The pork shank (looked like something Fred Flinstone might eat) was very delicious with the polenta and gravy. It was actually the saving grace of the whole meal. Mister devoured a little pork and cauliflower and we enjoyed just spending time together. Overall I don't know if we will be rushing back. I did like the price point, about $60 for everything, but I would be willing to pay more for better food.

This dinner was good for us in that we took the extra time for just us even laughing over bad service and food. Also getting to fawn over only Mister this week has been perfect. Many dinners remarked at how cute and well behaved Mister was, which always makes me smile.

Photos courtesy of M's facebook page

M Wood Fired Oven on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Chewy Yummy Granola Bars

Too much Easter CandyWell Easter is all done and so is our Lenten Promise of no processed foods. It was a much easier promise to keep then I had expected. I think we were already eating pretty healthy, this promise just pushed us to try more new recipes and alternatives to snacking. It was easy to rely on all the premade grocery items available; boxed dinners, mac & cheese, seasoning packets, quick snacks like granola bars, waffles, and chips. You don't realize how much of these items you are ingesting till you take them all away.

I think that was the big revelation, we didn't realize how much snacking we were doing. Everyone in the house was grabbing snacks in between almost every meal. And these snacks weren't particularly unhealthy but they were filling little bellies so there was no room left for the real stuff. I found by the end of our forty days that my Little Man wasn't such a picky eater anymore. I think before he was full at dinner time; now that he hadn't had so many snacks during the day there was more room for him to try new foods at the dinner table. Is he still picky, yes, did he try sugar snap peas, sunflower seeds, quinoa and zucchini, YES and it wasn't even a huge battle. He was hungry so he ate and he spit out what he didn't like, but we kept trying. 
easter cupcakes
Will we go back to processed foods? Hmmm maybe not. I do miss my cereal and I think some chips are ok (craving chips and salsa as we speak) but I liked watching the kids reach for fruit and nuts instead of crackers and crap. Maybe all families should try no processed foods, for at least a week. You might be surprised at how much fun it is.

One last homemade recipe. The kids missed their Quaker Granola bars so we had to find an alternative and while these aren't prepacked perfection they are darn tasty and maybe a new staple in our home. I started with Baked by Rachel's Granola recipe and tweaked it from there to get the perfect yummy deliciousness. I had to replace the rice cereal since that would be considered processed and I think ours worked!
Homemade Chewy Granola Bars

Homemade Chewy Granola Bars:

  • 1 cup steal cut oats
  • 1 tbl cinnamon
  • 2 tbl brown sugar
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 4 tbls butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • handful or more of mini chocolate chips
Heat oven to 400. Grease up a 9x13 pyrex dish and set it to the side. 
Mix the steal cut oats, cinnamon and two tbls of brown sugar on a flat baking sheet. Bake this in the oven for about 20, till you can smell the sugar melting. This will be the replacement for the rice cereal, the baking gives it a deeper flavor and also a better crunch (I didn't like our 1st version with no baking)
baked steel cut oats
Mix the butter, honey, brown sugar and salt in a sauce pan on the stove. You want to melt the butter and just bring it to a quick boil. Add this to your dry ingredients; rolled oats, steel cut oats, almond meal and raisins. 
honey trick
Honey trick: add pam to the measuring cup first and the honey slides right out

Mix everything together well. You want the sugar/butter to coat every inch of your dry ingredients. If they are not coated well they will not stick together. Once everything is well coated press the mixture into your greased Pyrex dish. Add your handful or more of mini chocolate chips and press these in as well. You can use your spoon to mix them in a little but they might start to melt since your mixture is warm. Let the whole dish set in the fridge for at least an hour or longer. Once it is stiff just slid it out of your dish and chop into bars. 

I wrapped each bar in a little parchment paper and put them in a container in the fridge. They are so yummy and delicious I sorta want to eat them all. 

Good luck with your own non processed adventures!

Linked at:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Enjoy Your Weekend

 Papas Peanut Butter Eggs

Well it is Easter weekend and our Lenten Promise is coming to an end. I will recap on Monday but my quick summary is: I think we will keep going. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, not as pricey, but we will bring some things back. Here are some links to enjoy...

The Chive always seems to inspire me just when I need it :)

Thinking it would be fun to try and make some pinatas this weekend for our Easter Celebration...they seem easy enough and you doesn't love a good paper-mâché project!

100 Rules to Dinner; a long but awesome list. 
18. Kitchen chairs should be red. Or at least fun.
81. Everything in moderation, but particularly garlic.

If you are into peanut butter eggs for Easter, Cincinnati has some of the best! Papa's Peanut Butter eggs (and opera cream, or coconut or pineapple) are the quintessential item in my kids baskets.

Prudent Baby makes the best stuff in the microwave, like how about a carrot cake

And if your still hungry you have to check out the perfect waffle.

Some people are much better at egg decorating than I am. 

Have fun Easter Egg Hunting!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bento Lunch

Usually my daughter buys hot lunch at her school. They offer a pretty good variety and lots of healthy options. I am happy to know that they make all the food there in the school and use mostly fresh ingredients. Does my daughter actually eat all those healthy options, I highly doubt it; but they're offered.

Today though she didn't like what was on the menu and needed me to make her a quote "yummy lunch, like you make LittleMan". LittleMan is pretty darn picky so I have started making him Bento Box lunches, since I bit the bullet and bought this lunch box. I LOVE this lunch box and all it's little compartments and especially that it does not leak! The only bad thing about it is that it does not fit in any of the lunch box carriers we have except for a Lulu Lemon bag. Yes they sell bags on the site as well, but sorry those just don't fit our ascetics. Maybe I will get crafty and make one, one day. But until then the kids are happy to sport any bag that carries this treasure trove of treats.

I don't get crazy with making faces on the sandwich and rose carrot curls but I do try to offer a variety of yummyness. So here is what she ate today.

Bento Lunch Box
  • Broccoli Slaw with Garlic Expressions Dressing
  • Red Seedless Grapes
  • Roast Chicken with Pepper and Garlic Salt on Homemade Buttermilk Bread
  • Plain Greek Yogurt with Honey and Strawberries
  • Robins Eggs (#1 Easter candy in our house)

Was it my best effort? Maybe not, but she has some healthy options to choose or ignore.

Linked at http://www.bentolunch.net/

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Perfect Waffle

The Perfect Waffle
It has been a long road to finding the perfect waffle...we tried many recipes and many variations until we got it just right and then we modified it more to fit our families nutritional needs :) TWEAK! (apology now, the only picture that is mine is above of our final product, sadly I lost all my others)

So we ended with this Milk's Favorite Waffle from Dine & Dish. It was a perfect base to grow from producing a thick batter that created fluffy waffles that crisped just enough around the edges. I really think it has to do with the beaten egg whites! But even with this almost perfect recipe my kids were crying for Eggo waffles, gross!

So with a little tweak here and a little tweak there...I might have finally converted them!

Final Recipe For the Perfect Waffle:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour 
  • 1/2 cup all purpose
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tbl heaped brown sugar
  • 2 beaten egg yolks
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 3 tbl melted butter
  • 1tsp vanilla extract 
  • milk for consistency
  • 2 stiff beaten egg whites
First pull your eggs out of the fridge, never underestimate the power of a room temperature egg when beating egg whites! Also go ahead and plug in your waffle iron so it can preheat.

Mix together your flours, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl, make sure you break up those sugar clumps. Nuke the butter in the microwave for about 10 seconds or so, you don't want to put it in hot so give it time to cool. Separate your egg yolks and whites. Place the whites into a separate bowl and lightly beat the yolks in a measuring cup and pour into your flour, adding your yogurt, butter, and vanilla, mix well. If it feels too thick add a little milk but you don't want it to be thin, think of paint in a bucket, just a touch thicker than that.

Now comes the fun part, beat those egg whites!! Here is a great tutorial for beating egg white if you are new to this process.  You are looking for stiff peaks, see below. You will fold this light and fluffy perfection into your batter. And by fold I mean add 1/3 of the egg whites at a time to your batter and rather than mixing in a stirring motion you will scrape under the batter to the top rolling it in the bowl until all your whites are JUST folded in.
Perfect Peaks image from A Lump of Sugar

These egg whites are going to thicken up your batter, leaving it more like the paste you used in school. Also those egg whites are where the fluffy waffles will come from :)

Plop some batter in your waffle maker and voila, perfect delicious waffles! Each waffle maker works a little bit different so your first waffle might come out wonky if it wasn't preheated enough, or you didn't spray a little pam in there to grease it up, or it didn't cook long enough. Mine has a light to tell me when the waffle is done.

These waffles are gobbled up in our house but on the off chance we have left overs I let them cool and throw them in a freezer bag, then they are just like frozen waffles! Pop them in the toaster and you have breakfast to go on a busy school morning.


Linked at:

The Mandatory Mooch

Friday, March 1, 2013

Enjoy Your Weekend

My little volleyball star has her first tournament game tonight. We are hoping for a win but sadly the girl inherited my athletic skill which is slim to none :( and even more sadly she does not have a competitive spirit. She is really just there to socialize with friends, which I guess is good too. They all enjoy her company and are not so competitive that they resent her inability to hit the ball over the net. But maybe this being her FIRST tournament she will rise to the top?! What fun events do you have going one?
Quinoa with roasted sweet potatoes, caramelized onions and sugar snap peas

Sketchers is in a heap of trouble, as they should be, over their new line of shoes called Daddy$ (pronounced daddy's money)

The kids love building forts all over the house, here is some inspiration

For my daughter's birthday party I am thinking of making up some of these t-shirt bags as the goodie bags using toddler sized Ts?

Also have you been following Dana's Celebrate the Boy!? Her and Rae are making the cutest boy stuff, easily transferred to girl as well.

And how about some Quinoa granola? hmmmm

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How I Portion Control: Genius

Along with all this real food eating. I am trying my best to eat less. After just having Mister where I was able to eat like a horse and the weight seemed to still melt of with nursing. But I have plateaued and now need to make sure I am eating not just healthy food but healthy amounts. I portion control with this handy little 1 cup.
This little cup allows me to visually see what a cup of food looks like. I can quickly portion out 1 cup of chicken, 1 cup of quinoa for a healthy lunch. They also have smaller versions so I can see a 1/4 cup of almonds.

To keep my water in balance I drink at least 4 of these at work. It is a 12 ounce cup so I am getting about 6 of my 8, 8oz glasses of water today. The water has really been the key to helping me keep full all day. Before I eat I chug as much water as I can, little Bob Harper tip (you will know this reference if you watch Biggest Loser). 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Enjoy Your Weekend

Carmelized Onions
 Found out this morning that the hubs is surprising me with a much needed date night! We haven't gone out just the two of us alone really since Mister was born 5 long months ago. He arranged for his parents to watch the kids OVERNIGHT. It was a fabulous surprise this morning and gives me something fun to look forward to for the rest of the day :)

Homemade Girl Scout Samoas, they had me at Girl Scouts cookies

If you are looking for a way to be an inspiration to your child then you need to read Ten ways to Raise a Leader

Or this article about three ways we are ruining them

I love when people name their kids with a theme, we did the same ABC...

Some how my friend was able to convince me that running this 5k would be a good idea? Nervous, usually this is me running!

Homemade pudding cups are very good!

Enjoy Your Weekend

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bit of Bumbo Genius

We are the proud owners of the original Bumbo chair, not the newer one with the silly seat belt. Sorry I feel like that seat belt is a total cop out. The original seat was clearly made for children to sit in on the floor and if you did choose to sit your child on a raised surface it was your responsibility as a parent to watch them. I do feel quite bad that there were some bad parenting moments where some children were injured in these seats. But I do not feel that adding the unnecessary seat belt (the seat is already snug enough) really is saving these children from inattentive parents. If they fall now the chair is just going to fall with/on them. 

Bumbo Genius MomementBut let me step down from my soap box and give you my quick GENIUS moment. Mister loves his Bumbo seat, with or without the tray, but he is constantly dropping his toys on the ground (still working on using those little hands properly). But just add one of these clips to any toy and viola, instant toy catcher/holder!

What are your thoughts on the Bumbo?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cheesy Cauliflower Pancake Goodness

In my attempt to bring veggies to the family in a new and fun way I tried this cauliflower recipe. While I think it is a good start, my husband LOVES cauliflower, it just needed some love to make it perfect. A little tweak here, a little tweak there and blamo we had a winner!

Also tell your kids you are making them pancakes for dinner and they get excited. Tell them they are made of cauliflower and wait for the groans :( This did not make for a completely happy dining experience. They did try them, did they like them...hmmm I wouldn't say they hated them. My children are a hard sell, but the hubbs loved them.

Original ingredients: Eggs, panko, cheese
Cauliflower cooked to fork tender (not too mushy now)

All the goodness mixed together, actually ate most from the pot ;)

Don't mind the old stove, it still works and the "pancakes" were perfect
Here is how I made it:
  • one large head of cauliflower
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup grated cheese of your choice (I went with chedder)
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs (panko is good, or italian seasoned ones sound fun!)
  • 1 tsp nutmeg (cauliflower secret ingredient)
  • 1 tsp caynne (or more if you are spicy)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Cut up just the flowerets for the cauliflower and set them in a pot of salted water to boil. I find the key to not over cooking veggies is to bring them to a boil, set the timer for 5 minutes and then rinse them with cool water in a collander (I never have the patience for an ice bath). You want the cauliflower just for tender, enough so that you can mash it a bit but not mushy. Also really DRAIN the cauliflower, this recipe does not need more liquid.

Return the veggies to the same pot, add your egg after you give it a good whisking and the cheese and bread crumbs. Notice I didn't mash the veggies first. I did this the first time and it was so mushy and water and just not right? After a few more attempts it seemed to work out better if I mashed everything at the same time. Also don't get to high tech on this and whip out your imersion blender (already made that mistake) it also mushes things up. Go old school with a potatoe masher or even better a pastry cutter! Consitency plays an important role here.

Now add your spices and taste your "batter" to see if anything needs adjusting. Yes there are raw eggs, but who hasn't sampled the cookie dough before baking :) If you think the "batter" looks wet add more bread crumbs, but you should have a chunky mashed potato look here.

I spooned out large silver dollar "pancake" sized portions on to my non stick griddle at about medium heat. Fry for 2 minutes each side and you will end up with a pancake that is crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside.

This recipe made a ton, enough to feed a crowd I felt like. Over all I would make these again. Maybe serve them with some fun dipping sauces next time?

Hope you enjoy!

Sugar Bee Crafts
Ladybug Blessings

Monday, February 18, 2013

Weekly Meal Planning

We had a wonderful weekend! I don't know how it happened but everyone got along and we had such a good time just hanging together as a family. We cooked breakfast together, played games, went to the gym. Can we say it was the lack of processed food in our bellies that helped? Hmmm...doubt it but it was a weekend filled with smiles.
Cooking breakfast together: REAL oatmeal, cinnamon apples, sausage and made applesauce for Mister
We found the perfect waffle recipe, will talk more about this later, need to do some tweaking 
How you can tell you are shopping in a hippy store ;)

Just a friendly "Words with Friends" game

Weekly Meal Plan:

Monday: Left overs, Pina is getting spacers in her teeth so she is on mushy food and I over cooked this weekend we have too much food in the house :)
Tuesday: Chicken legs with the best roasted potatoes ever
Wednesday: Quinua, still searching for the right recipe and have some other sweet ideas in mind
Thursday: Chicken Tikka Masala
Friday: Fish Fry, this time Saint Mary's to support Pina's School
Saturday: Chicken Enchiladas, but does this mean I have to make my own tortillas?

Hope your weekend went well. Make the time to plan ahead this week, even if its only for one or two meals. I find if I at least have in mind what meals I know I can make, the rest falls in to place. I wont lie and say we stuck completely to the schedule I put forth last week but we made most of the meals and I was able to actually buy all the ingredients and food that we needed. Having the right ingredients allowed me to improvise. Eating real food isn't hard or more expensive it just takes a little more effort.

PS Little man actually ate asparagus tonight :) something is working

Friday, February 15, 2013

Enjoy your Weekend

My Valntine and his bounty
This first week has been pretty easy so far.... planning ahead has really been the key. I will say I probably would have loved to sit down on the couch every night and do nothing, but taking the time to make lunches or a batter for waffles, cut veggies or any of the above helped tremendously at keeping this REAL food promise. I will work hard to keep this plan ahead mentality over the weekend.

We are headed to the St. William's fish fry tonight. Pina usually works delivering food and I sit and hangout with no one since I am not from that part of town and sadly my extending family can't make it tonight. What are you doing this weekend? Keeping your own Lenten Promise?
Here are some links to keep you entertained:

Did you know you can cheat on Sundays?

Train Table as a coffee table, genius

My favorite kill time gif site

Making one of these shirts for the little boys this weekend

My daughter does Irish dance and all her friends are going to St. Louis for this feis

New waffle recipe to try

Have been debating over a year on buying this lunch box, hmmm?