Friday, June 29, 2012

For My Children: A Mother's Journal Book Review

Have you heard about the awesome new mother's journal by Dionna Ford of Code Name: Mama and Natural Parent's Network. It's called "For My Children: A Mother's Journal of Memories, Wishes, and Wisdom" and it's a totally innovative twist on a baby book, asking moms questions like "Kids don't vote, but moms do-what issues were important to you as a mother?"  and "If you had unlimited funds, what would you do with the money?"
I love the beautiful illustrations and the creative questions. It's the kinds of things I'd love to know about my own mom (maybe I'll call her or e-mail her and ask her about some of them!). Not that it's not interesting to know when I took my first steps, or whether I liked pureed squash or peas better when I was 10 months old, but it's infinitely more interesting to know what my mom was like, what she valued and what she enjoyed. I'm excited to fill it out and share it with my kids someday when I have one or more old enough to appreciate it (all I have so far is a 2-year-old, and I don't think he realizes I have interests other than dinosaurs, Hot Wheels, cooking, sewing, and him yet). Someday he'll realize what a great resource this book is though (also seems like it might be good for pulling out in the teen years to prove I was once young and cool, lol)! Anyway, I'm really excited about this book and think it's a fun way to remember what I was like as a mom!

The bottom line: A fun book that I highly recommend for any mom, and which would make a great baby shower present!

I received a free copy of the book for review purposes but received no other compensation for this review.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Cure for the Mondays June 25th, 2012

On Mondays I post ideas and pictures I've seen in the past week that make me laugh, smile, and want to create. I hope they brighten your day too, especially if you've got a "case of the Mondays"!

I already told my husband to not throw away any more Altoids tins, 'cause I am going to make these:

This is brilliant: make your own Vic's vapor discs; they release essential oils when you run a steamy shower to help you clear out your gunk

This cracks me up, and would be perfect for a silly birthday party or a fun day at youth group. Throw cheetos (or something else light enough to not hurt if you miss) at shower caps covered in shaving cream. Hat with the most cheetos wins!
Source: via Rowena on Pinterest

I think I'd probably just make these square, even if they were less pretty, because it'd be so much easier, but basically, S'mores cookies=I'm drooling. Yum.

and I think this is hilarious and would totally do it if I were a teacher, for sometime fun like the first day of school or parent-teacher conferences!

Oh and a rare coupon-for fresh produce-showed up on Facebook, which definitely makes my Monday better! Go here to get 50 cents off of fresh Del Monte pineapple! Now, back to Pinterest to decide which of the 10 bazillion amazing ideas I've seen for pineapple recently I should actually make!

Friday, June 22, 2012

After Miscarriage Book Review

I recently had the opportunity to review the book After Miscarriage as part of the Catholic Company's reviewer program, and here are my thoughts:

What it is: After Miscarriage is a book for moms who've lost one or more pregnancies.

Who wrote it: Karen Edmisten, a Catholic mom who has had many miscarriages herself (and who blogs about the 3 kids she has on Earth right now and their adventures in unschooling and life in general-I linked her name to her blog for you!)

Overall Impressions: This book is full of Bible verses and personal stories from real women who have struggled with miscarriages. It is encouraging without being too sunshiney for the topic and provides some good information on some of the options available for funerals etc for children who die in the womb (from the Catholic perspective only-while the personal stories and Bible verses will likely be a great comfort to women of any Christian denomination, the information about services available from clergy would probably only apply to Catholics). Overall the book is laid-back and comforting. It is pretty short, and I do think it'd be worth Mrs. Edmisten's time to continue gathering stories and consider publishing and expanded version at some point in the future.

The Bottom Line: A worthy book that will comfort women who are going through or have gone through a miscarriage.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on After Miscarriage. This is also a great online Catholic store for all your religious shopping needs, such as gifts for Confirmation and gifts for a baby baptism. I received a free copy of this book for review purposes but received no other compensation for this review.

Red, White, and Blue Pie Starlets

My son has been begging for blueberry pie, but I wanted something he could easily hold in his hands, and since it's almost 4th of July, I decided to do something patriotic. So here's what I came up with: pie starlets. Basically, you make your favorite pie crust recipe and a pie filling out of blueberries, cherries, and/or strawberries, then use a large cookie cutter to make small star shaped mini pies! The recipe below is what I used to make blueberry pie starlets. It's adapted from the full-sized blueberry pie recipe on The Baking Pan, which is a great blog that I highly recommend!
The first star...made with help from my 2-year-old

What you need:
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (or unbleached all-purpose)
  • pinch of salt (optional)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch (or flour)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

What you do:
  • Mix fruit, sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch in bowl; stir
  • Add lemon juice and stir
  • Let filling mixture sit while you make the crust:
  • In the bowl you want to make your dough in, combine flour and salt (if desired)
  • Add butter  to the dough and use pastry cutter or butter knives to cut the butter in until there are only pea-sized or smaller chunks in the dough
  • Add water (just a bit at a time) and work it into the dough with a fork until you can form a ball with the dough.
  • Roll dough out on floured surface
  • Use a large star-shaped cookie cutter to cut out large stars. You will need two stars for each pie starlet
  • Spoon a tablespoon of so of filling onto each bottom star
  • Place another star on top, and use your butter knife to make a small slash or two in the top of each for steam to escape from
  • Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes or until points are goldeny brown
  • If desired, brush tops gently with butter or milk and sprinkle sugar on top-red and/or blue sanding sugar on blueberry pies would be especially cute for patriotic flair!
My notes:
  • For a 4th of July party, it'd be really fun to make some of these with blueberry filling and some with cherry or strawberry filling. You could use red and blue sugar on top to help guests tell which are which!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fortnight for Freedom

Have you heard about Fortnight for Freedom? If you aren't Catholic and/or didn't go to church last weekend, chances are you probably haven't, but you're all welcome to join in. Basically the bishops and Archbishops of the Catholic church in America are designating the two weeks leading up to the 4th of July as a time of prayer and action to protect religious freedom, which I'd like to think is something we can all agree is a good thing!

The Fortnight for Freedom website has tons of great resources, including prayer guides, daily reflections, and info on what events might be happening in your local diocese.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wise Words

I started this a long time ago, inspired by The Happiest Mom, and then slacked off and forgot about it. But I kinda love it, so it's baaack: every Wednesday, I'll post a quotation I've seen recently that I thought was insightful, funny, heart-warming, or otherwise worth sharing.

"When government sets out to solve a problem, the cure may not be worse than the disease. But it is bigger and costs more. Government does not really solve problems; it subsidizes them. And it does not produce a dime of revenue. It can only spend what it first takes from the pockets of the working men and women of this country."

Ronald Reagan, in a speech to the American Textile Manufacturs Institute in San Francisco on March 29th, 1973

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cure for the Mondays-June 18th, 2012

On Mondays I post ideas and pics I've seen in the last week or so that made me laugh, smile, and want to create. I hope they brighten your day too, especially if you've got a "case of the Mondays"!

Seriously, why is Pinterest so full of things that look as delicious as they are empty-calorie-laden???? Exhibit A: An ice cream sandwich made of mint chocolate chip ice cream, a chocolate chip cookie layer, and oreo cookie crumble. (Mercifully for my waistline, no recipe seems to be linked)

How cute is this for a picnic: have mason jars filled with utensils plus bandanas to use as cloth napkins ready for each guest!

I'm the kind of gal who likes to use the same cup all day, yet know that no one else's lips have touched this would be perfect for me. Maybe I'll make one!

I'm dying to try this-I've seen it before with maps, but supposedly you can use scrapbooking paper too! Anyway, you paint your nails white, then dip them in rubbing alcohol and then press patterned paper on them and your nails end up patterned like the paper! If I try it, I'll blog about whether it really works as well for me as it does for nail magicians on Pinterest!

What cool ideas have you seen lately??

Friday, June 15, 2012

Best Homemade Pizza Crust Ever

I posted a while ago about the homemade pizza crust we made and how yummy it was. It was tasty, but since then we found a recipe we like even more, so I want to share that one with you too! Adapted from the Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger, this recipe is still pretty easy but oh-so-scrumptious!

What you need:
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium sized cloves of garlic

What you do:
  • Mix the water and yeast
  • Add oil, garlic, and flour, and mix
  • Knead by hand or by machine 5-8 minutes or until soft and supple. Mine was still a tad bit sticky
  • Let rise in oiled bowl (I just move the dough ball off to the side and pour a little oil in the bowl I mixed it in) until double, 1 1/2 to 2 hours
  • Stretch, pull, toss, and/or roll into one large 18 in pizza
  • Let rise again, 45 min to an hour
  • Bake at 400 or 425 degrees for 10 minutes, remove from oven
  • Add toppings, bake for another 10 minutes at 400 degrees
  • Eat!

If you don't have fresh garlic on hand, garlic powder will work, or leave it out altogether. Anyway, this is now our go-to pizza dough recipe-I hope you like it too!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Natural Parenting Carnival: the Best Thing About my Labor Experience

Welcome to the June 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Embracing Your Birth Experience
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about at least one part of their birth experience that they can hold up and cherish.

“We don’t hear that too often!” my ob nurse commented, sounding surprised. I hadn’t noticed her entering the room and was telling my husband “you’re so nice” as thanks for rubbing my back for literally several hours (my labor wasn’t progressing, so we had plenty of time).

I was kind of surprised-I was just saying what popped into my head. Apparently most women at this hospital say mean things to their husbands during labor? Anyway, that’s not our style. We don’t do “mean” sense of humor stuff (you know, like birthday cards teasing each other, or April Fool’s Day jokes that make you actually panic or other things like that), and we do try to give lots of genuine compliments when they are deserved. And I say "you're so nice" a lot because my husband is super nice quite often!

And my husband was amaaaazing during my labor and delivery. And pregnancy, postpartum,and life in general, lol. He’s seriously amazing. He helped me stay strong when I thought an unmedicated labor was still possible, and made sure I knew I wasn’t a failure in his eyes when an epidural and c-section became the reality. He reminded me of how beautiful I was and how proud of me he was, and he stillreminds me that I’m beautiful and he’s proud of me.  He was definitely my rock during labor, and I’m glad I didn’t lash out at him, but instead told him how wonderful he is.

After my c-section, my husband went with our son to the nursery and made sure they didn’t give him formula or pacificers and that they brought him to me as soon as possible to nurse. He stayed up with our son while I slept because we wanted him near us as much as possible. He was just so caring and thoughtful, and it made it so much easier to deal with a labor that didn’t quite live up to my hopes.

I had a kinda rough labor. I don’t believe this is how he rolls so I don’t think it really happened this way, but it almost felt like God read my birth plan,laughed, and made everything go the opposite direction (except for eventually winding up with a  healthy baby and mama-that part was perfect!). I dreamed of an unmedicated natural childbirth. I ended up with lots pain medications-I couldn’t even feel my arms, let alone hold my baby when he came out-and a c-section. But one thing was “right” in my tumultuous birth experience: My amazing husband.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon June 12 with all the carnival links.)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Natural Home Products Pizza Kitchen Giveaway!!!

Guess what, lucky readers? I have an awesome giveaway for you today! Seriously, I didn't realize how awful my old kitchen knives (that aren't quite 5 years old-they were wedding presents!) were until I got a new knife from Natural Home Products. Part of the Moboo (molded bamboo made from bamboo sawdust produced when making things like bamboo cutting boards etc) kitchenware line, the paring knife I got is amazing. The handle is made of molded bamboo and the blade is made of 90% recycled steel (most "recycled" steel is only about 30% recycled!) It looks nice in my kitchen, feels sturdy, and cuts better than any of my old knives. And you could win one for yourself as part of my Pizza Kitchen giveaway from Natural Home Products. Here's the prize pack:
The knife, pizza cutter, and hand grater (resuable bags not pictured)
To win, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite kind of homemade pizza is-whether you've made it before, or just dream of making it someday (maybe after you win!) by midnight on June 20th. Our favorite is mozzarella and cheddar, pepperoni, red onion, and bell pepper on homemade crust with homemade sauce!
me cutting bell peppers with my new paring knife!

For optional extra entries, you can do any or all or none of the following, and please leave a seperate comment for each that you do:
Good luck!!

I received a free set of pizza utensils from Natural Home Products in exchange for my honest opinion, but received no other compensation for this post!

Cure for the Mondays-June 11, 2012

On Mondays I post ideas I've seen in the past week that made me laugh, smile, and want to create. I hope they brighten your day too, especially if you've got a "case of the Mondays"! I've been sick and taking care of a sick preschooler the last week or so, so I definitely needed some inspiration myself this week!

I'm on my favorite fashion blog, Ain't No Mom Jeans, today with an outfit I thought was cute, but was worried wasn't stylish enough to leave my backyard in. ANMJ reassured me that I actually figured out a really cool outfit, so I'll definitely be sporting it again :)

This Nutella swirl pound cake looks like it'd probably be as delicious as it was terrible for me:

This idea is brilliant: use the pens from the frosting aisle (usually used for writing on cookies) and make cheese slices look like sports balls!

I actually bought all the ingredients to make this "sand pudding"-I'll post about how it turns out later in the week!

This is one of those ideas so simple and effective it leaves me wondering why I've never seen it before or thought of it myself: construction paper or cardstock shapes with names on them, held up by forks, as place markers
Source: via Jen on Pinterest

and I'm definitely going to try this next time I have baked goods to giveaway and can't figured out what plate to use: thread ribbon through an ordinary paper plate!

What great ideas have you seen recently?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Cure for the Mondays-June 4, 2012

On Mondays I post ideas I've seen in the past week that made me laugh, smile, and want to create. I hope they brighten your day too, especially if you've got a "case of the Mondays"!

How adorable is this idea: Turn an altoids tin into a bed for a tiny toy. I may have to make some of these for my niece for next birthday/Christmas!!

I also love these little felt monsters. Maybe they could live in Altoid tins too...

This looks like the ultimate treat for a summer BBQ-watermelon lime sorbet served in watermelon rinds!

I totally want a pair of these herb scissors:

How brilliant is this idea: turn an empty cardboard box into a giant shape sorter with holes just right for blocks and balls your kid already has!

What ideas have inspired you in the past week or so??

Friday, June 1, 2012

Sourdough Summer: Catching a Starter

Today's the day: I'm going to attempt to catch wild yeast to be a sourdough starter. It turns out it is actually very easy. According to Sourdough International, you don't need potatoes, grapes, or any of the other additives that some cookbooks recommend (and should NOT add them, as bacteria and other organisms that feed on grapes, potatoes, etc aren't what you are trying to catch!). All it takes is flour and water. So here's how I'm trying to do it (according to their method).

What you need:
  • a 2 qt glass or plastic container
  • 2 cups of flour (unbleached, any type)
  • 1 1/2 cups of water (chlorine-free, tap or filtered)
  • cheesecloth or some other covering that will keep bugs out but let yeast in
What you do:
  • Mix the flour and water in your 2 qt container
  • Cover with your cheesecloth  and place outside or by an open window
  • Stir at least twice a day and check for bubbles
  • Retry in a new location if no bubbly layer appears after 3 days
  • I used a reusable produce bag for my covering and it worked perfectly!
  • This will work best in warm weather as yeast grows and reproduces best in warm temperatures, but bring your yeast inside if temps reach over 100 degrees
  • Most other bacteria and such won't grow well in just flour and water; the ones that might will produce a foul odor, not a yeasty one, so throw it out it that develops
  • You can also buy sourdough starters online or in some health food store (and maybe at your local farmer's market), so if catching it pioneer style isn't your style or doesn't work, feel free to do that!