Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hunger Equations: Get the Most Food for your Charitable Dollar

Want to make the most of your money this Lenten season (and all year round)? Annie from PhD in Parenting put together this great infographic showing how many meals can be bought with $20 through a couple different common giving schemes.
Hunger Equations — What Is The Best Way to Help Fight Hunger?

Infographic by Annie @ PhD in Parenting. The code for the Hunger Equations INFOGRAPHIC can be found at the PhD in Parenting Blog.


The only thing I would add is that if you are buying Chef Boyardee etc anyway, it still helps to do the UPC code. The main takeaway point from this is that it isn't worth buying Chef Boyardee instead of what you would normally be buying because of their corporate giving program, since it isn't terribly nutritious and doesn't result in as much food for the hungry either.

Thanks so much to Annie for putting together this great infographic and making it available for others to post on their blogs!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cure for the Mondays 2/27/2012

On Mondays I post stuff I've seen in the past week that made me laugh an/or smile. I hope they brighten your day too, especially if you've got a "case of the Mondays"

I definitely think I need one of these wooden elephant bookshelves:
Source: wanelo.com via Crunchy on Pinterest

I have a brother-in-law who does woodworking for fun. I wonder if I can convince him to make me one for my toddler?

How awesome is this toy Tintin rocket? (If you don't know who Tintin is, go here)

I wonder if I could make one out of felt....

I think I need at least a couple of these bookshelf chairs. I wish I would've seen these back when I was on the library renovation committee in college...



Homemade Cadbury Creme Eggs. 'Nuff said.



I love the idea of making your own dinosaur eggs. The "recipe" is pretty simple (does dirt +sand+salt count as a recipe?) and the end result is awesome. I plan to make several of these to hide in the sandbox!





I don't really know what type of decor they would actually go with, but I am in love with these book page sheets. Maybe a storybook themed kids' room? Or my room now just because I love them?



And I might have a slight obsession with otters, and this adorable picture of baby otters kissing sure doesn't help. They are even cuter than the otters on the Jeff Corwin show where he helped rescue otters in Monterey Bay that I made let my toddler watch with me this weekend...

Source: theberry.com via Kaila on Pinterest


What made you laugh and smile this week?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Homemade Pizza Crust and Sauce Recipes!

For Valentine's Day, I made my husband homemade pizza from scratch. While I made it heart-shaped for the special day, you could certainly make it round shape for any day of the year (and my husband has requested it become part of our regular menu rotation!). Anyway, after scouring the internet and my cookbook collection for good recipes, here's what I ended up using.


Pizza Crust
2 1/2 to 3 cups of flour
2 1/4 tsp or 1 packet dry active yeast
1 cup of warm water
2 tbsp oil

  • Mix half of the flour with all of the yeast, water, and oil.
  • Add remaining flour and mix.
  • Knead about 6 minutes or until soft and supple
  • Let rest 10 minutes
  • Roll each half into an 11 inch circle
  • Pinch around the edges to form a crust
  • Cover and allow to rise for 30-45 minutes
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until beginning to turn goldeny brown
  • Add sauce and toppings and bake 10 more minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
from the Better Homes & Garden recipe
I let my pizza crusts rise on foil with cornmeal sprinkled on it!


And for my pizza sauce, I combined with a whisk:

  • 1 12 oz can of tomato paste
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic (mushed through my garlic press)
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Mix all those ingredients, then add 1/2 to 1 1/2 cups warm water until you like the thickness. I made it really thick and used a lot each time, and it lasted about 6 pizzas.

I made one pizza  for Valentine's Day with mozzarella and heart-shaped pepperonis and one with mozzarella, pepperonis, onion, and bell pepper. The one with the veggies was definitely better, but both were amazingly delicious. I kind of want to make this every night now.

Notes:
  • I made this with half whole wheat flour on another night since then and while my husband and I both liked it, the toddler rejected it.
  • Fresh garlic is obviously awesome, but it would totally work with garlic powder if that's what you have on hand. It would probably be fine without the red wine vinegar too, especially if you subbed in a little white vinegar. Anyway, specialty ingredients are great, but don't let the absence of them prevent you from making this!
  • I discovered that both mozzarella and cheddar cheese are way cheaper when you buy them in 2 lb bags. At my local grocery store, the regular price of the 2lb bags makes them cheaper per oz than even the sale prices on the 8oz bag.
  • Try making veggie pizza with a couple of types of cheese for a meat-free buy delicious Lenten Friday diner (and much lower cost than fast food restaurant pizza or fish from anywhere around me!).

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cure for the Mondays 2-20-2012

Every Monday I post things that made me laugh or smile in the past week. I hope they brighten your day too, especially if you have a case of the Mondays.

How cute is this idea for summer? Freeze action figures in ice cubes and then have your kids "save" them by squirting the ice with squirt guns!



I love the idea of chocolate dinosaurs inside a "dinosaur egg"-perfect for Easter egg hunts. I think I can even make my own pretty easily using my chocolate dinosaur mold and plastic eggs!



This makes me want to grow lots of edible flowers and freeze them all into adorable floral ice cubes



My toddler would be pretty excited if I made this easy homeade glow-in-the-dark playdough! It's basically a standard homemade playdough recipe plus some glow-in-the-dark paint mixed together. Brilliant in its simplicity!



If I was bored and had access to office supplies, I'd totally make an office supply X-Wing fighter like this



Next time we buy ice cream I'm totally baking cookie cups by using the bottom of a muffin tin. It makes me want to run out and buy ice cream right now just to try it!

Source: wilton.com via Crunchy on Pinterest


And I wish I would've thought of this before my wedding-I used rock candy as favors and had tons left over. Sprinkling rock candy on cupcakes would've been a delicious way to use up some of the extras!




And what would Monday be without an arbitrary cute baby animal??? This mama lion lovin' on her cub warms my heart!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Apple King's Cake (Whole Wheat Braided Apple Ring)

Next Tuesday is Mardi Gras, so if you're looking for a fun treat to help celebrate with your friends and/or family, I've got the bread for you: Apple King's Cake.
The tradition of King's Cake is an old one, and basically involves a ring shaped cake that has some kind of token hidden in one piece. The person who gets that token is crowned "King" of that Mardi Gras party (often with a tissue paper crown). In the French village I lived in for a year as a kid, they used actual tiny ceramic tiles, and some people use plastic baby dolls (to represent the baby Jesus), but I gravitate more towards using a walnut or raisin so it's not quite such a shock to the person who finds it(and their teeth!)
To make this treat, I used this recipe from Rachael of La Fuji Mama on the blog Eat, Live, Run. She made it a straight braid, but it was pretty easy to adapt to a ring shape



What you need:
  • the ingredients listed by Rachael, in the amounts she specified
What you do:
  • Peel, slice, and chop the apples as desired (or grate them if you plan on sharing with a baby and are concerned about choking. They should get soft from baking even if just sliced or cubed, but better safe than sorry!)
  • Mix apples with cinnamon, sugar, and lemon juice in a glass baking dish and pop them in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes (about how long the rest of the process should take you)
  • Mix all the dry ingredients, then add the oil and water.
  • Knead for 6ish minutes or until the dough is smooth.
  • Divide the dough into two portions. Roll each out on a smooth surface into two rectangles.
  • Gently press the ends of the two rectangles together and form a circle. If the dough doesn't seem to be smoothing together well enough, just put a few drops of water on each gap and smooth is with your fingers.
  • Using a pizza cutter or knife (pizza cutter is easiest in my opinion), cut slits that go 1/3 of the way in on both the outside and inside of the dough and are about 1/2 inch wide to 1 inch wide each.
  • Get the apples out of the oven and spoon the apple mix onto the center of the dough.
  • Add a nut or raisin now if you are using one.
  • "Braid" the bread by pulling the strips across the apple mix, alternating beween strips on the inside and the outside of the dough circle. (See the original recipe for some great pics)
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Glaze if desired-add purple, green, and yellow to the glaze and/or sprinkles if desired for extra Mardi Gras flair.
My notes:
  • I used half whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour and liked it, but I'm sure it'd be lighter and more pastry-like if you used regular flour. As with all recipes, if you use whole wheat flour instead of regular flour, use slightly less flour than the recipe calls for.
  • I didn't actually try to be that meticulous about it-I wasn't originally planning on posting it, I was just making a fun treat for my toddler and me on Epiphany (the celebration of the 3 Kings' visit to Jesus). So umm you can probably make the braid look a lot neater if you try harder.
PS How fun would it be to make a crown for the King and this jester hat for all the non-kings???



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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Presumption of Good Will


Welcome to the February 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Respectful Interactions With Other Parents
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 focused on how we can communicated with other parents compassionately.

As a conservative Catholic who mostly follows “attachment parenting” or “natural parenting” practices, I’m pretty much guaranteed to disagree with just about everyone I meet on parenting practices, politics, and/or religion. But I try not to start fights, and to mostly get along with people. A book I recently read, however, helped me be much more focused in my efforts. In his book “Seek First the Kingdom”, Cardinal Wuerl from D.C. talks about having a “presupposition of good will” when Catholics are discussing divisive issues with Catholics who disagree with their positions, and I think that his suggestion is applicable to discussions in the parenting community as well. While as parents we don’t all share a common faith, we do share a common love: our families.

And I think it’s a great rule of thumb to assume that, even when we disagree with specific practices fellow parents employ, they are acting out of love for their children and a desire to do what is best for them. When we assume that loving motivation first, it seems easier somehow to reply kindly. To inform people of our different opinion without accusing them of child abuse or stupidity or laziness or any of the other horrible things we accuse ourselves of in the so-called “mommy wars.”

Of course, being nice doesn’t mean we can’t stand up for what we believe in. And in fact, when we disagree but accept that they reached those conclusions with love of their child in mind, we are more likely to share our views effectively. By sharing our positions on the issues, and especially the research, anecdotes, and life experiences that helped us form our opinions, we are much more likely to have a positive influence on that person and on other people who witness our interactions than if we attack our “opponent” and their motivations. The common expression is that you “catch more flies with honey”. The Cardinal describes it as “speaking the truth in charity.”

And that’s what I’m going to try to keep doing. I know I’ll fail sometimes and lose my temper and leave an uncharitable comment from time to time. But I am going to try to make a concerted effort to leave kind comments on blog posts I disagree with. I’ll attempt give honest compliments where they are deserved in addition to my views on the parenting practices in question. I'll try not to insult people personally, but focus my criticisms on the ideas we are discussing.

In short, I’m going to try to speak and type with a presupposition of goodwill.

***
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 February 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • How to Respond Respectfully to Unwanted Parenting Advice and Judgment — At Natural Parents Network, Amy (of Peace 4 Parents) offers some ways to deal with parenting advice and criticism, whether it's from your mom or the grocery store clerk.
  • Judgement is Natural - Just Don't Condemn — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shared her views on why judgment is unavoidable and why the bigger issue is condemnation.
  • Four Ways To Share Your Parenting Philosophy Gently — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares tips for communicating with fellow parents in a positive, peaceful manner.
  • When Other Parents Disagree With You — Being an attachment parent is hard enough, but when you are Lily, aka Witch Mom, someone who does not enforce gender roles on her kid, who devalues capitalism and materialism, and instead prefers homeschooling and homesteading — you are bound to disagree with someone, somewhere!
  • Mama Bashing — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on the hurt caused on the blogosphere by mama bashing and pleads for a more mindful way of dealing with differences.
  • Accentuate the Positive — Joella at Fine and Fair shares how she manages interactions with the parents she encounters in her work as a Parent Coach and Substance Abuse Counselor by building trusting relationships and affirming strengths.
  • The politics of mothers – keys to respectful interactions with other parents — Tara from MUMmedia offers great tips for handling the inevitable conflict of ideas and personalities in parenting/mother's groups, etc.
  • Trying to build our village — Sheila at A Gift Universe tells how she went from knowing no other moms in her new town to building a real community of mothers.
  • Internet Etiquette in the Mommy Wars — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses how she handles heated topics in the "Mommy-space" online.
  • Parenting with Convictions — Sarah at Parenting God's Children encourages love and support for fellow parents and their convictions.
  • How To Be Respectful Despite Disagreeing On Parenting Styles... — Jenny at I'm a Full-Time Mummy shares her two cents' worth on how to have respectful interactions with other parents despite disagreeing on parenting styles.
  • Public RelationsMomma Jorje touches on keeping the peace when discussing parenting styles.
  • Navigating Parenting Politics — Since choosing an alternative parenting style means rejecting the mainstream, Miriam at The Other Baby Book shares a few simple tips that can help avoid hurt feelings.
  • Hiding in my grace cave — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants to forget that not all parents are as respectful and tolerant as the people with whom she now surrounds herself.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting - Respectful Interactions with Other Parents — Wolfmother at Fabulous Mama Chronicles explores how her attitude has changed regarding sharing information and opinions with others and how she now chooses to keep the peace during social outings.
  • Empathy and respect — Helen at zen mummy tries to find her zen in the midst of the Mummy Wars.
  • Not Holier Than Thou — Amyables at Toddler in Tow muses about how she's learned to love all parents, despite differences, disagreements, and awkward conversations.
  • Nonviolent Communication and Unconditional Love — Wendylori at High Needs Attachment reflects on the choice to not take offense as the key to honest and open communication.
  • Respectful Parenting As a Way of Life — Sylvia at MaMammalia writes about using her parenting philosophy as a guide to dealing with other parents who make very different choices from her.
  • Homeschooling: Why Not? — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how parents can often make homeschooling work for their family even if, at first glance, it may seem daunting.
  • If You Can’t Say Something Nice… — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells her philosophy for online and offline interactions … a philosophy based primarily on a children’s movie.
  • Different Rules for Different Families — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how differences between families affect our children, and how that can be a good thing.
  • Respectful Interaction With Other Parents — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares the ways she surrounds herself with a like-minded support network, so that she can gently advocate in her dealings with those whose opinions on parenting differ vastly from her own.
  • Parenting as a mirror — Rather than discrediting others' parenting styles, Kate Wicker discusses why she tries to focus on doing right rather than being right — and why she’s also not afraid to show others that she’s a heartfelt but imperfect mama just trying to be the best mom for her family.
  • The One Thing {Most} Parents Have In Common: They Try Their Best — Christine at African Babies Don't Cry finds interacting with other parents easier once she accepts that they are all just trying their best, just like her.
  • Finding your mama-groove: 5 ways to eliminate judge/be judged metalityMudpieMama reveals 5 ways of thinking that have helped her find her mama-groove and better navigate tricky parenting discussions.
  • Speaking Up For Those Who Can't — We've all had those moments when someone said something hurtful or insensitive, or downright rude that just shocks you to your core, and you're stunned into silence. Afterwards, you go home and think "Gosh, I wish I said…" This post by Arpita at Up Down, And Natural is for all the breastfeeding mamas who have thought "Gosh, I wish I said…"
  • Thank you for your opinion — Gaby at Tmuffin shares her go-to comment when she feels like others are judging her parenting style.
  • Mending — A playground conversation about jeans veers off course until a little mending by Kenna at Million Tiny Things is needed.
  • The Thing You Don't Know — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about what she believes is one of the most important things you can consider when it comes to compassionate communication with other parents.
  • 3 Tips for Interacting with Other Parents Respectfully When You Disagree with Them — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about respectful interactions on her parenting journey.
  • Peacefully Keeping My Cool: Quotes from Ana — How do you keep your cool? Ana from Pandamoly shares some of her favorite retorts and conversation starters when her Parenting Ethos comes into question.
  • Kind Matters — Carrie at Love Notes Mama discusses how she strives to be the type of person she'd want to meet.
  • Doing it my way but respecting your highway. — Terri from Child of the Nature Isle is determined to walk with her family on the road less travelled whether you like it or not!
  • Saying "I'm Right and You're Wrong" Seldom Does Much To Improve Your Cause... — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment writes about how living by example motivates her actions and interactions with others.
  • Have another kid and you won't care — Cassie of There's a Pickle in My Life, after having her second child, knows exactly how to respond to opposing advice.
  • Ten Tips to Communicate Respectfully, Even When You Disagree — What if disagreements with our partners, our children or even complete strangers ultimately led to more harmony and deeper connections? They can! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares ten tips to strengthen our relationships in the midst of conflict.
  • A Little Light Conversation — Zoie at TouchstoneZ explains why respect needs to be given to every parent unconditionally.
  • Why I used to hide the formula box — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen finally talks about how judgement between parents changed her views on how she handles differences in parenting.
  • Assumptions — Nada at minimomist discusses how not everyone is able to nurse, physically, mentally, or emotionally.
  • Shushing Your Inner Judgey McJudgerson — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction knows that judging others is easy to do, but recognizing that we all parent from different perspectives takes work.
  • Respectfully Interacting with Others Online — Lani at Boobie Time Blog discusses the importance of remaining respectful behind the disguise of the internet.
  • Being Gracious with Parenting Advice — Tips for giving and receiving parenting advice with grace from Lisa at My World Edenwild.
  • Explain, Smile, Escape — Don't know what to do when you're confronted by another parent who disagrees with you? Amy at Anktangle shares a story from her life along with a helpful method for navigating these types of tricky situations (complete with a handy flow chart!).
  • Balancing Cultures and ChoicesDulce de leche discusses the challenges of walking the tightrope between generations while balancing cultural and family ties.
  • Linky - Parenting Peacefully with Social MediaHannabert's Mom discusses parenting in a social media world.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Cure for the Mondays 2-13-2012

Every Monday I post things that made me laugh or smile in the past week. I hope they make you laugh and smile too, especially if you've got a "Case of the Mondays"

How cool is this: use the base of a celery stalk as a rose stamp!



I think this maze door latch is not only cool, but also could be useful for keeping pre-schoolers in

Source: wanelo.com via Crunchy on Pinterest


If I didn't have a husband, I would totally have a hot pink front door like this.



I'd love to make one of these someday-it's a sandbox hidden under a play fort. I would be a little worried about spiders, but I think the protection from the elements and space-saving would make up for it.

Source: exaco.com via Crunchy on Pinterest


and if you're still looking for something to make your Valentine, check out Wild Olive's free embroidery patterns

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Heart Shaped Donuts!

I'm planning to bake bread 50ish times in 2012 and will post lots of pictures and recipes to show you how it's going. I hope you're inspired to bake something too!

Looking for a delicious treat to surprise your sweetie with this Valentine's Day? Whip up a batch of these half whole-wheat baked heart shaped donuts!
I modified a recipe I found here to create these "heart"y treats.

What you need:
Donuts:
  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3tbsp butter (or shortening or margarine)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • 3 tbsp warm water

Frosting:
  • milk
  • powdered sugar
  • cocoa powder

What you do:
  • Put the warm water, sugar and yeast directly in the bowl you're using
  • Put the butter and milk in a glass measuring cups and heat both up in the microwave so that the milk is warm but not hot.
  • Mix the ingredients in the bowl with the yeast mix already in it.
  • Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes (it will still be a little sticky-it's just a sticky dough)
  • Allow the dough to rise until doubled (about an hour)
  • Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until about 1/4 of an inch thick
  • Cut into circles or hearts (see note)
  • Allow to rise until doubled again (about 30-45 minutes)
  • Bake at 375 for 8 minutes.
  • Mix 1 tbsp of milk and 1 tbsp of cocoa powder in a wide bowl and add powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time until you like the texture (should be fairly thick) 
  • Fill a second bowl with sprinkles
  • Once donuts are cool enough to handle, dip the top of each donut into the frosting mixture and then into the sprinkles.
  • Allow to dry a bit and then eat!

My notes:
  • To make the donuts heart shaped, I first made them round and then pinched the top and bottom in the center until it was a nice heart shape.
  • If you have heart-shaped cookie cutters in various sizes, that might be easier and quicker than the circle method I used-just make sure the heart is skinny enough to still look like a heart after it rises in the oven!
  • These are tasty according to my husband and toddler and me, but they do not taste like fried, all white flour Krispy Kreme donuts-they taste like baked half whole wheat flour donuts. If you are looking for a delicious sweet-but-healthy, baked yeast bread with chocolate frosting and sprinkles, you'll love this. If you something that tastes like it has 5000 calories in it, you're going to be disappointed. I just want you to know what you're getting into here.
  • You can fry these and they will be a more traditional donuty, just not as healthy
  • If you'd rather not use wheat flour, add 1/4-1/2 cup extra flour so it's not too wet.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Fun Kids' Cooking Contest from Uncle Ben's Rice

One of the easiest changes we made in our own kitchen to try to eat healthier is to cook whole grain rice instead of instant white rice. It was so easy and tastes so much better; we were kind of surprised that anyone doesn’t eat whole grain rice! So I was happy to hear that Uncle Ben’s rice is trying to encourage kids to eat healthier, starting with whole grain rice. They are running a cool contest on their Facebook page for pint-sized chefs and are offering a $20,000 cash prize (plus an appearance on the Rachael Ray show and a $50,000 cafeteria makeover to the winner’s school.) To enter, kids have to make a 3 minute video showing them cooking a healthy rice dish. There are so many delicious options-I think for most kids, narrowing down which one to cook will be the hardest part! To spread the word about the contest, Uncle Ben’s is also asking mom bloggers to share their best tips for healthy cooking with kids. I decided to go straight to the source and see what ideas a few kids I know had:


DB Age 12:

"Healthy cooking should have less fat, less sugar and be tasty. A way to do that is look for a recipe you like and then substitute the bad ingredients for good ingredients, like honey instead of sugar, don't fry your food, stuff like that."

CC age 5:

"Don't eat too much sugar every day. And don't eat too much ice cream, candy and stuff like that. Try whole grain cereal, maybe some eggs. Last night we had some healthy cheese dip with protein. It was awesome - you should try that recipe! That's pretty much all I know."

AH age 7:

"Use lots of different colors of food. Vitamins come in lots of colors and you need to eat them to be healthy. But, don't eat too many calories. You have to be careful with those things!"

I think clearly kids these days are being taught a lot more about nutrition than I was in the 90’s! I agree with their suggestions-look for healthy ingredients, lots of colorful foods, and avoid excess sugar. As a mom, one of the main things I try to do is buy “real” ingredients instead of processed food. If I buy a bag or box of whole grain rice, fresh lean meat like chicken breasts, and some fresh veggies, I can make delicious dinners for my family like stir fry, tacos, or cheesy rice casseroles that are usually much cheaper and healthier than anything I’d buy in a box or from a restaurant. And as their fun contest will show, many of these recipes are so easy a kid could do it.



I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Uncle Ben’s blogging program, for 6,000 My SocialMoms Rewards Points. For more information on how you can participate, click here.






Cure for the Mondays 2/6/2012

Every Monday I post things that made me laugh or smile in the last week. I hope they make your laugh and smile too, especially if you've got a "case of the Mondays"

I definitely want to try this easy slime recipe for some fun slimy play with my son!



This mama and baby giraffe snuggling together warms my heart



These embroidered Sashiko coasters (Japanese embroidery) look so pretty, and Sashiko method makes the embroidery actually go really quickly-I definitely want to make some!



Hobo Mama, Code Name: Mama, and the Natural Parents' Network are having a fun giveaway for some Earth Mama Angel Baby postpartum products. If I were a new or expecting mama, I'd definitely be entering! (*please note that you can only enter on one site)



I recently read that Florida has a problem with an infestation of feral pythons....as in giant snakes that will eat small to medium sized animals, and presumably small humans if the opportunity presented itself. I also read a hilarious proposal that the snakes be hunted and turned into accessories like boots, belts, and bags. I think it's a great idea, and that I want this bag if feral python hunting drives down the prices of python bags



What made you laugh and smile this week?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Food Network's Almost-Famous Breadsticks

I'm attempting to bake something bread-y 50ish times in 2012 and plan on posting lots of recipes and pictures to let you know how it's going. I hope you're inspired to bake something too!
Delicious...but were they worth it?
This week I baked Food Network's Almost-Famous Breadsticks and while my husband loved them, I wasn't too thrilled myself. I guess for me they just aren't enough better than French bread to justify the white sugar and butter in them, or how sticky and difficult to work with the dough was. I was also unable to make them turn out nice and evenly shaped, which was frustrating. I certainly wouldn't make them for a dinner party, because why serve lumpy breadsticks when I could have nice rounded baguettes or rolls? They did taste pretty delicious (my husband said they were much, much yummier than French bread) and are an excellent side for any kind of Italian dish...if for some reason you're opposed to French bread.

Before rising. I thought they'd get less lumpy.

After rising and baking: still lumpy.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Seek First the Kingdom: Book Review

What it is:
Seek First the Kingdom from Our Sunday Visitor makes the case for lay Catholics to engage in American politics, both by speaking the truth to their friends and neighbors and by confronting politicians about views they disagree with...but always charitably.

Who wrote it:
Cardinal Donald Wuerl of D.C.

First Impression:
Honestly, I was a little bored at first. The book starts out with some basic ideas that he builds upon later. I don't know of a better way to go about it, but it certainly didn't hook me from the beginning.

Overall Impressions:
This book gets much better as it goes on. Cardinal Wuerl makes compelling arguments about why and how Catholics should get involved in advocating for Christian values in everday life. He makes ample use of short anecdotes from "real life" and I really love the charitable way he encourages readers to promote their values, especially when in a disagreement. A quote that I really took to heart was

But we should speak with a presupposition of the other person's good will, or our shared concern for the Church, and with an awareness that we are all one in faith...Thus, even when we disagree, we strive always to speak the truth in love.
While he was referring to disagreements between Christians in that particular quote, I think the point holds true for most conversations in life. I think assuming good intentions on the part of whomever you are disagreeing with is a much more pleasant way to live one's life, and much more likely to be effective in helping you sharing God's love and truth.
I also thought he did a nice job of writing the book in such a way that it did not promote one political party over the other. A book that alienated one side or the other couldn't reach all Catholics the way Cardinal Wuerl aims to do here. I personally support a political party and honestly can't really see how Catholics faithful to the magesterium could support the other party, but he makes a compelling case for why the Church should not officially support one party or the other-even if all the lay people do. I also love the way he challenges readers to challenge policies within our own political parties that aren't in line with Christian teaching by reaching out to political leaders and letting them know where we stand.

Pros:
  • Compelling arguments
  • Real life examples
  • Non-partisan
  • Argues to do all advocacy with charitable attitude
Cons:
  • Starts slowly
  • Not a super easy read
The Bottom Line:
This book is a thoughtful look at the proper place of Catholics in public advocacy of Christian values and policies that promote those policies. It's a great book for Catholics, especially intellectuals, who are hesitant to let their faith influence other areas of their life, like their political and professional efforts.

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 Seek First the Kingdom: Challenging the Culture. They are also a great source for a Catechism of the Catholic Church or a Catholic Bible.