Monday, July 4, 2011

Week One: Success!

A day after our vegetarian adventure began, I left town for the weekend while Nathan stayed behind. I'm not sure what he ate over the weekend, but I definitely succumbed to a cheeseburger during the road trip. I felt some guilt as I might be letting my partner down, but I'm only human and those small town cafes make it so hard to resist. Back home, we've been trying out new recipes and looking at ways to get more protein, especially for Nathan. Using a recipe from Buy Bulk Whey, we made a banana bread with about 20 grams of protein per slice. (Our powder has more grams of protein than the one on the site, so it measures differently.) It didn't turn out too badly, either. The house smelled amazing and the bread tasted ok. I think I'll add zucchini and chopped nuts to the mix next time and cook it in muffin tins for better portability. Nathan has been topping slices with peanut butter for a protein packed snack.
Not the best picture, but I have since made one with pecans for my grandpa and he loved it.

I have to say, I am LOVING trying out new recipes and eating fresh, yummy food. It's almost like a step back into my pre-family days, before I married my carnivore. I really have to hand it to him, he is really invested in this. Making things I love and having him enjoy them too has been great.

Some other "new" recipes we've tried out this week:
Black Bean Quinoa Tacos (high-five to my husband for sticking to these at the July 4th BBQ)

Almond Garlic Pasta (Had my doubts, but it was delicious.)

And a Leftovers Smoothie. That's what happens when you have extra's chopped in the kitchen. This one is strawberry, fresh mint, lemon, and greek yogurt. Yum :)

We enjoyed spending the week with my youngest sister, Regan. She was a good sport and didn't complain about being along for the ride. Lily doesn't seem to notice any changes, but she did help me put together a lasagna. Regan said the pseudo-beef we used in it tasted like sausage, so I guess it was a winner.

Onto week two. As I write this, I'm trying to throw together a menu and list. Wish me luck!

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Meatless Month

As we were driving home on our first ever road trip as a family of four (more on that later), my husband told me he thought we should try eating vegan for awhile. If you know Nathan, you've probably abandoned the computer and are instead scanning the skies for flying pigs. Myself, I just laughed it off and kept driving. This is the man who grumbles if I cook anything less than a pound of meat for dinner. The guy who consumes said meat and still finishes off a few protein shakes a day. As he continued to talk about FDA standards and other related things, I half way listened (still couldn't tell you what his argument was, really) and then, with a start, I realized he was serious.

It's a day later and I'm still pretty baffled, but I love both my husband and a good challenge so I'm game. Since today is the 1st, what better day to start? We are challenging ourselves to stick to it for the month. Maybe we'll like it, maybe we'll hate it, but I think you have to try something for a few weeks before you really know. I don't think it will be too drastic of a change for Lily and myself, but I think Nathan's world is about to be rocked. We compromised on an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet and I started in on meal plans and shopping lists. I quickly realized meal planning was completely different and there was next to nothing in my usual recipes that would work. I found a few sites that help with meal planning and purchased a membership with E-mealz. You choose a diet and even grocery store, if you want, and they give you a meal plan shopping list. Even if you aren't on a special diet, I think it's a pretty great tool and can seriously cut down on your planning time. While I like the simplicity of their meals and lists, I do wish there were a way to add or delete meals from the plan. Grocery shopping also took a bit longer and made me wish I was back at the Central Market I visited last week in Plano. Oh, the produce! It was gorgeous. E-mealz is tailored to your cooking style and experience, though, so I didn't have to search for a bunch of gourmet ingredients I was unfamiliar with. (I chose "good without a cookbook" for my cooking experience.)

Here's our meal from Night One:

The recipe is one from the meal planning site and includes ingredients I probably would have never thought to put together, but it was actually really good and simple. Potatoes, sweet potato, carrot, apple, onion, garlic, canned tomato, cinnamon, meatless sausage, and some other herbs and spices over brown rice. They call it "Skillet Veggie Sausage."

One night's not hard, but we'll see how the month goes. If you have any tips, hints, or recipes, I would love to hear them! I'm especially interested in eating out on a vegetarian diet. We like to go out at least once a week usually, but besides Jason's Deli I don't know what might be good.

Friday, June 17, 2011


My mother was nice enough to run a post (Staycation) in the Eagle Press this week. If you're in the Hutchinson County area, grab a copy and show your support! I'll probably be contributing there once in a while. I believe there is also a special right now on a year's subscription. Tell them I sent you!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Playing With Purpose

I am by no means an education expert or a proponent of homeschooling. I am a mom, though, and therefore an educator, and I believe that the home is the first school a child encounters. With that in mind, I set out to create a functional, fun area in our home for Lily a few months ago. Her room is full of toys, too, but she tends to play in the communal areas of the house more than anything so that's the part I wanted to focus on.

There are so very many resources online when it comes to things like this. I spent hours lost in Regggio Emilia, Montessori, and found the blog to be helpful. In the end, we pulled inspirations from each of these but the main idea is to keep it simple, fun, and interesting.

Accessibility is important because it fosters independence. With that in mind, everything is at child height and she can do what she likes without asking for help. However, in the montessori spirit, that thing has to be put away before a new activity can begin. To help with that, we labeled her bins with pictures instead of words. Check out that fancy tape job:

The shelves and bins are filled with blocks, wooden puzzles, crayons, books, magnets, playdough, and the like. Almost everything is from around the house and I'm pretty sure I've spent less than $50 putting this area together. I had Nathan add the curtain rod to display her art just this week and she is very proud of her "art wall."

And of course, outdoor access because, well, that's where the dirt is. I guess you could say we take the "environment as the third teacher" idea literally. I'm not sure what it is about dirt, but it makes her infinitely happy.

All in all, I am pretty proud of the space. It's serving it's purpose & she seems to enjoy it. While my husband disagrees and says our house looks like I'm running a preschool, I think it takes up a very small area and keeps things from exploding all over. If you know me, you know that my home is in a constant state of evolution. I rearrange my furniture way too often & just last week swapped curtains from one room to another. I guess I'm bored easily or just like to try new ideas. Any way, I'm sure this space will change, too, and I would love to hear (and see!) ideas you have on functional play areas, or ateliers.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Yum Balls!

After a few hours of playing outside and (uggh) laundry, Lily and I headed to the kitchen this afternoon to satiate my undying peanut butter craving and her unending demand for cookies. What we came out with was a variation on the no-bake cookies you were probably served or taught to make in your childhood. The major difference here is ours contain no sugar, corn syrup, or butter and there's no need to use instant oats. Rolled oats have more texture, protein, and fiber.
Also, I don't really believe in measuring unless I'm baking so everything's a bit approximated.

1/3 C Peanut Butter (we used Skippy Natural)
1/3 C Honey
3/4 C Rolled Oats (or whatever you have on hand)
1/4 C Wheat Germ
1/4 C Coconut
Dash each cinnamon, vanilla, and cocoa powder (ok, maybe 2 dashes of cocoa!)
Small box of raisins

Mix wet and dry ingredients separately, then together. Spoon onto wax paper (should make about 12 balls) and refrigerate.

This takes about 5 minutes to prepare and is completely toddler approved. Lily has deemed them "yum balls." If I were making these for Nathan, I would probably dump in some protein powder, but Lily and I like them just fine like this.

Friday, June 10, 2011


My husband asked me if I wanted to actually go somewhere this year or just take a week off and do a staycation. After some thought, I asked what one does on a staycation. The answer was something like "parks, swimming, museums, etc." Ok, that's not an exact quote, but you get it. At that moment, I realized that I was, in fact, on a permanent staycation. The things that other people take off of work to enjoy with their families are just my daily activities.

Earlier this week, my staycation included a picnic at the park followed by a trip to the Don Harrington Discovery Center. Somewhere during this, my lovely, usually well behaved daughter remembered that she was two and decided to act as such. About the same time, my three month old woke with a start and small explosion. A quick check confirmed my fears: a blow out to beat all blow outs. After using every wipey in the diaper bag to wipe such things as his ears and my forearms, I settled into a chair in the preschool area to accept the stares that come with nursing a naked baby, tried to relax, and then called my husband. No answer. This annoys me. I'm a cell phone era girl, born and raised with the idea that everyone should be reachable at all times. How dare he ignore my calls when I'm covered in the excrement of HIS children!

Two hours later, he finally calls back. I've calmed down, of course, but nonetheless tell him about the overall suckiness of our hot, sticky afternoon. "Oh. Well, sorry I didn't call back. I was stuck in an outdoor elevator 150 feet in the air for the last 3 hours." And that, folks, is what I like to call perspective.

Maybe the days can seem a bit long and monotonous sometimes, but really, I am thankful for the opportunity I have to enjoy my life every day with the people I love. Some days may be shitty (pun totally intended), but my bosses are way more cuddly and easier to pacify. It can be a thankless job, but it's one I'm thankful for.

As Father's Day approaches, I think it's important to say thank you not just to our own fathers, but to our children's fathers. So, thank you, honey, for affording me this opportunity to enjoy these years with our babies. Thank you for allowing me unlimited lazy mornings such as this one to snuggle, sip my coffee, and watch them play. Thank you for being a modern father, not afraid to come home and help with laundry, dishes, and diapers. Although somedays I might seem ready to throw in the towel, I can't imagine doing anything else with anyone else.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mom Guilt.

Somewhere in that pile of pillows and blankets lies my two year old. She's currently indulging in her first ever sick day cartoonfest, not just breaking but completely obliterating our 30 minutes per day rule. The rule, of course, that came about because I was (am?) convinced that otherwise she will never learn to think, speak, read, go to school, make good grades, graduate from college, blah blah blah and I would be a terrible mother.

When, exactly, did motherhood become a competitive game with guilt traps hidden around every corner? Somehow, it seems every choice we make, even in these very early years, could affect the outcome of our children's lives. Marketing geniuses have caught on to this trend and now market education tools to children still in the womb. From the moment they're out, it's cord blood, breastfeeding vs bottle, and cloth vs disposable.

The worst part is, we know what's going on. I know that buying the cheap box of macaroni probably won't hurt her, but I'll spend the extra money on organic just in case. I know most of the decisions I make for them are made with the fear of somehow steering them in the wrong direction or adversely affecting them, but I will continue to do it because that's what makes me a good mom. Not the actual choices I make, but the fact that I care enough to consider what's best.

However, just for today, I say screw you mom guilt. Now, I've got a PBS marathon to get back to. PBS, of course, because otherwise, Sponge Bob might rot her brain.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mom Jeans (insert shudder here)

I'm 14. My mother drags me into a terribly cheap junior's store in the mall and begins shopping. For herself. I believe the trip was the result of me complaining about her hideous overalls, but it ended in near tears as I tried to convince her those terrible bellbottom faded juniors jeans were just NOT ok. Fail. She purchased them. Then, to make matters worse, she took to her weekly column in our hometown paper to detail the entire train wreck, laughing at her daughter (me) for insisting she dress like a mother. Then and there, I swore I would dress like a mom, when and if I were to become one.

Flash forward 10 years. I am, in fact, a mother. What, exactly, is a young mom to wear in 2011? There must be a comfortable, happy place somewhere in there, nestled somewhere between matronly mom and juniors. Trying to find that place while dealing with a post-baby body is a struggle I am nearly positive all new moms face. Why am I sure? Well, for one, I am a religious follower of Ain't No Mom Jeans where they tackle this topic daily.

My youngest is now 7 weeks and as I tackle the "what could possibly fit and yet look put together and hip" challenge in my closet daily, I trek back to the computer to see what the ladies over there have came up with. Today, I went through some of last year's photo's for inspiration for myself and to contribute to their linked up contest. Here are a few I found:

The skirt in the first photo sits high enough on the waist to cover up any belly you might be working off (or the new one growing underneath) while the casual layers make it ok for the zoo. Same thing in the second. Fitted layers under a flowy sweater.

And of course, always accessorize with an adorable toddler.

For more mom style ideas, see Ain't No Mom Jeans' Mom Street Syle Linkup!

I have a blog. Now what?

Though I considered creating one as an outlet for quite some time, I finally broke down and did it at the hopes of winning a sweet pair of jeans from the ladies over at Ain't No Mom Jeans. Just the push I needed.

Tune in to see what I come up with. Who knows, maybe it will even involve a solid direction ;)