Monday, April 29, 2013

Cure for the Mondays April 29, 2013

On Mondays I post ideas I've seen in the past 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"!

Um how did I not think of this? Brilliant: DIY non-slip socks!

I definitely want to try this:

These might make me feel better about indulging my brownie addiction:

And I need to make one of these for my almost-3-month-old!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

May Baskets

In just a few weeks May will be here, and to celebrate, we'll be doorbell ditching some of our neighbors and leaving treats on their doorsteps on May 1st! It's a tradition with roots in Ancient Europe via Merry Old England, and we think its a great way to create a sense of community. There's aren't really any "rules" for mayday, but cups or baskets filled with edible treats and/or fresh flowers are most traditional. You can leave the baskets anonymously, or ring the doorbell and hide but not leave so that you can be "caught". If you have friends or neighbors who might be nervous about food they don't know the origins of, feel free to attach a cute tag or warn the adults of the neighbor household ahead of time.
To make our May Baskets more fun, the folks at SunRidge Farms sent over some delicious treats. My preschooler and I then used the scrumptiousness they sent to make a May Basket early so we could show you how to make May Baskets the way we do.

What you need
  • Popcorn, unbuttered (can be salted or plain)
  • Pretzels
  • Candy
  • Cups
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Stickers, paint, or other decorations

What you do
  • Decorate your cups-we punched holes in the cups about an inch from the top so we could put in pipe cleaner handles made of two pipe cleaners twisted together
  • Let popcorn cool
  • Mix popcorn with other treats
  • Place on neighbors door!

Treats from SunRidge Farms we used include:
Organic Sunny Bears
All-Natural Peanut Butter Pretzels
Organic Milk Chocolate Almonds
And RainbowDrops

They all tasted delicious. My husband's favorite was the almonds and my preschooler devoured the gummy bears. I liked the pretzels best. And a handful of all 4 plus popcorn was really amazing!! So we were all happy campers!

I received free candy for review purposes but received no other compensation for this post

Happy Birthday Shakespeare!

In honor of Shakespeare's birthday, I thought I'd share my favorite way to watch Shakespeare:

That's right; it's the 1999 teen classic "10 Things I Hate About You" with Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt in their pre-Batman & Bourne days! It's based on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew and is pretty cute.

And my favorite way to read Shakespeare:
The Taming of the Shrew (No Fear Shakespeare)

No-Fear Shakespeare!
It's a series of books by Sparknotes that have Shakespeare's plays in two-page spreads, so that on the left page you always have the original Shakespearean language and on the right, a line by line modern translation. Personally I really love not having to choose between the beautiful flowery language and actually knowing what's going on. I discovered these books originally in high school while frustrated with reading Shakespeare in class and then being expected on tests to understand it despite a lack of familiarity with Shakespearean language. I aced the next test and became addicted to No Fear Shakespeare. I love these books so much that I once convinced my college Honors professor to buy a copy of As You Like It for everyone in the program before we attended a live stage production of the play in the original Shakesperean language! I really think it helped us all understand and enjoy the play much more than we would have otherwise. So obviously, I highly recommend these books for anyone who loves the sounds of Shakespeare, but also loves understanding the plot intricacies!

My favorite so far is probably As You Like It. Yes, the tragedies are well-written and exciting with interesting storylines, but they are also so...tragic! I much prefer the comedies! What's your favorite Shakespeare play?

I actually am getting some free review copies of No Fear Shakespeare books-hurray!- but have received no compensation for this post.

Friday, April 19, 2013

7 Quick Takes April 19, 2013

--- 1 ---
We found out our baby, who is almost 12 weeks old, has Down Syndrome. If you have suggestions of books, websites, etc I'd love to hear them! So far he is in excellent health and growing like a weed, so that is a huge relief, especially with a late diagnosis meaning not having important screening tests done right after birth!

--- 2 ---
Momma Jorje is super nice. She has a toddler with Down Syndrome and I emailed her for pointers after receiving our diagnosis. Her responses have been so sweet!
*And I just saw she blogged about me contacting her. Lol. Yay for bloggy friends!

--- 3 ---
I am so so lucky to have a supportive family. Both my husband's family and my own-immediate and extended-have been super nice and offered to help any way they can.

--- 4 ---
My friend who had her baby very early is in need of prayers for Baby C, who is back in the hospital.

--- 5 ---
My preschooler seems so huge and independent these days, sometimes I forget how little he really is when not being compared to a tiny new baby. But sometimes he'll request to not watch Aladdin or Little Mermaid because they are too scary and I remember...3 is not so very big!

--- 6 ---
Do you celebrate May Day? We do, and with all that's going on in the world, I think some small acts of kindness towards are neighbors are certainly needed! I'll blog about our May Day tradition early next week!

--- 7 ---
Did I ever show you my first ever quilt? I made it for my preschooler for Christmas, but don't think I've ever blogged about it.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cure for the Mondays April 15, 2013

On Mondays I post ideas I've seen in the past 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"!

These buckwheat crepes look so so scrumptious:

This is a cool birthday party idea:
I bet my preschooler would love a rain stick-or rain bottle-made with sand and toothpicks like this!

And this is in honor of today being Tax Day:

Friday, April 12, 2013

Happy Licorice Day!

Did you know today's National Licorice Day? I didn't until Red Vines contacted me to tell me about it and send me some of their new products to try.
While classic red strawberry flavored licorice will always be my favorite, the new purple grape licorice was a huge hit with my preschooler (and I loved it too!)

I was also excited to hear about and try the new "Natural Vines" that don't have artificial flavors or colorings but are just as yummy as the original!

Plus I learned a fun fact: the Red Vines company makes enough candy each year to circle the Earth 16 times!
You can find Red Vines at a store near you by using their licorice locator. Near me I can find them at Wal-Mart and Walgreens.

PS Did anyone else bite off the ends off pieces of licorice as a kid and use them as straws?!? I would totally still do that if I had both licorice and soda on hand!!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

All-purpose Crock Pot Pork

Welcome to the April 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Recipes
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 are sharing their recipes, their stories, their pictures, and their memories.

When we first got married, neither of us had any clue how to use the crock pot. It sat ignored for an embarrassingly long time, before we finally learned to appreciate it after becoming parents! Now this pork is one of our most used recipes (we probably eat it about 6 nights a month because each time we make it, we make enough for two days!) It’s not a family recipe in the sense of being passed down through our families (check out my Grandma’s rolls for that!), but it’s a family recipe in the sense that it is important to our family now. I really love that my husband and I developed our recipe/technique together and have figured out how to customize is to suit our tastes exactly. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
What you need:
  • boneless pork ribs (we use 3 usually) or boneless pork loin roast (we usually get one about 2lbs)
  • 1/4 cup apple juice (can sub lemon or lime juice for tacos or stir fry if desired)
  • a few tablespoons honey
  • a few teaspoons garlic
  • a few teaspoons onion powder or 1/2 fresh onion chopped
  • a few dashes black pepper
  • other seasonings to taste (see below)
  • carrots &/or potatoes
  What you do:
  • Pour juice into bottom of crock pot.
  • Add meat.
  • Drizzle honey on top.
  • Sprinkle seasonings on top.
  • Cook on low 5-8 hours.
  • Add halved potatoes and/or carrots halfway through if desired. (Place directly in the brothy liquid so they can soak up the delicious flavor).
  • Tacos-add oregano, chili powder, & cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Stir fry-add basil & ginger
  • BBQ-add chili powder & cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Bonus points if you shred it, with or without BBQ sauce, and put it inside my Grandma's rolls!

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 April 9 with all the carnival links.)
  • German Red Cabbage: A Family Tradition — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy shares her favorite dish and a part of her family's history.
  • Rotisserie Chicken Recipes for Meal Planning — Becky at Crafty Garden Mama shares a new recipe that is in her family's meal-planning rotation. Check out how she uses a rotisserie chicken to get through the week.
  • Grandma Wicken's Sugar Cookies — Jana Falls at Jananas talks about how special her Grandma's sugar cookies made her feel.
  • Recipe: Seed and Bean Burgers — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings shares one of her favourite frugal recipes that is also super-healthy and totally delicious.
  • Pulled Pork Sandwich — Lisa at The Squishable Baby PULLS dinner together for the kids.
  • The Best Banana Muffin Recipe (Gluten Free & Vegan) — Dionna of Code Name: Mama's adventures in gluten free baking have not been 100% successful. But today she is guest posting at Fine and Fair to share a banana muffin recipe that will knock your socks off!
  • The Pierogie Mama Whips Up Strawberry Pierogies! — Bianca at The Pierogie Mama shares her family's recipe for strawberry pierogies…a sweet, summery version of the Polish dumplings that she affectionately named her daughter after.
  • Mom's Cookbook — Tree at Mom Grooves digs into the big book her mom created for her six daughters and shares a favorite family recipe.
  • Crispy Duck Confit — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama takes the liberty of starting a family recipe tradition with this super simple, totally delicious crispy duck confit.
  • Stovetop BBQ Chicken — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work shares a yummy BBQ chicken recipe that you can make on the stovetop in less than 25 minutes, fridge to table!
  • Twice-Baked Sweet Potato Casserole w/Bacon — Martine at Whey Beyond the Naked Truth shares a naked food twist on an old family favorite!
  • Strawberry Panna Cotta — KerryAnn at shows you her favorite dessert, a quick and easy Strawberry Panna Cotta that she enjoys so much, she had it instead of a birthday cake this year.
  • Special crepes for a special day — Mikko at Hobo Mama is learning to cook his grandma's signature holiday meal alongside his dad.
  • Three Favorite Family Recipes: To Eat, To Wash, To Play — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings is back with three family favorites: gluten-free shortbread, DIY powdered laundry detergent, and something fun for the kids: homemade "Flubber"!
  • Black Bean Soup Forever — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot shares a soup recipe that's been around forever.
  • Do you want to know a secret? — SRB at Little Chicken Nuggets lets go of her mac and cheese recipe, a comfort food favourite for friends and family for years.
  • Creating Our Own Family Recipes — Emily at S.A.H.M. i AM shares how she's trying to create meals that her girls will want to pass down to their own children some day.
  • Vranameer Chicken: A Family Recipe — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares a recipe that reminds her of childhood and more specifically, of her mother. It's a South African take on sweet and sour chicken and what it lacks in healthy it makes up for in tantalising to the taste buds.
  • One Recipe, Three Uses: Dishwasher Liquid Detergent, Dish Soap, and Hand Soap — If you love saving money and time, you'll love this green recipe from Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama, guest posting at Natural Parents Network.
  • Our Family's Favorite Pies — Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares recipes and tutorials for the quintessential American dessert.
  • Deliciously Easy Crock Pot ChiliLactating Girl shares her crock pot chili that is not only quick and easy, but awesome.
  • Family Rules: A Recipe for Harmony — Cooped-up kids + winter weather + frazzled parents can all blend together into a recipe for disaster. Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares what brought back the peace in her house.
  • Favorite Healthy Family Recipes — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares her family’s healthy eating experiences along with links to free printable vegetarian recipes that her family has created with love.
  • Grandma's Banana Bread — Megan at The Boho Mama has early and fond memories of her grandma's banana bread. It's love in a loaf!
  • Family Comfort Food — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares a recipe handed down that moms have made for their kids, for regular meals as well as to comfort.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Cure for the Mondays April 8, 2013

On Mondays I post ideas I've seen in the past 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"!

This recipe makes me wish I had a kitchen blowtorch (I did give one to my little brother as a Christmas present one year, but have never bought one for myself!). I hope a similar effect can be achieved by carmelizing the fruit in a saucepan for those of us with no brulee capabilities!

I think this costume idea is hilarious:

These are super cute and what they lack in health would make up in taste:

But this recipe was the one to really make me drool:

I wish I would've thought of this for my wedding (we had lots of kids there!)

My summer sewing goal is to make a copycat pair of these for the baby to wear to a family wedding:

Instead of a generic whale I want to embroider an orca, I may skip the pocket, and I think I'd like it better with one button instead of two.

And last but not least, an icon passed away today:

Thank you Mrs. Thatcher for setting a wonderful example of how to be a strong, intelligent conservative woman!

What ideas have inspired you lately?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Cranberry Banana Oatmeal Cookie Bars

As a nursing mama of a newborn and chasing mama of a preschooler, I'm hungry pretty much all day, but don't have a ton of time for baking. These delicious cookie bars are quick and easy to make (no scooping and baking in batches!) and have enough healthy ingredients in them I don't feel too guilty about eating my fill! My preschooler loved them too.

What you need:

  • 1/4 cup butter (softened)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 banana (mashed)
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 tbsp milk or rice milk 
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder 
  • pinch of salt 
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour 
  • 1 1/2 cup oats 
  • 1/2 cup Craisins

What you do:

  • mix butter and sugars
  • add all other ingredients except oats, flour, and craisins and mix well
  • add oats and flour and mix
  • add craisins and mix
  • grease 7x11 baking pan and spread batter
  • bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes

My notes:

  • you can obviously use any type of "milk" you want
  • next time I'm going to try it without the white sugar. It was sweet enough I think it'd work.

Friday, April 5, 2013

7 Quick Takes April 5, 2013

--- 1 ---
Ergo carriers are perfect pooch hiders. I was feeling totally self-conscious about going outside yesterday when it was really nice weather until I put the carrier and the baby and on and discovered my belly was camoflauged by my adorable baby.

--- 2 ---
My baby has reached the hair-grabbing stage. He is awesome at it.

--- 3 ---
I invented a delicious concoction this afternoon. I'll try to post the recipe tomorrow. You're welcome in advance, because it's amazing.

--- 4 ---
I'm considering getting a raised garden bed (actually my parents are going to maybe get me a super cool one as an early birthday present!) and am getting excited and nervous...what if I spend a bunch of time and money and energy and just kill everything? Any gardening tips would be much appreciated! So far most of what I have done is kill things in pots, but I've had just enough success to make me crazy enough to want to expand and try more!

--- 5 ---
I'm so glad April Fools Day is over. I think it might be my least favorite holiday. I always want to think pranks are funny. One year I even tape my brother's locker shut. But I just felt mean, and I still just feel like pranks are mean.

--- 6 ---
I'm going dairy, citrus, tomato, and chocolate free to help out my sweet baby who seems bothered by them. He's doing much better in terms of quantity and color of stuff coming out both ends, but I am starving! I definitely need to look up more recipes online!

--- 7 ---
We got new phones and they work as intercoms. So fun! It's like being kids and playing walkie talkie except with my husband. Lol.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Why stay-at-home-moms (or at least this one!) should pay the bills

Our new baby (who's already 2 months old! how did that happen?!?) has had some health challenges, plus was a failed VBAC attempt to begin with, so we've had all sorts of medical bills coming from all sorts of places. And while my husband took over for the first few weeks, now that we are settled into our routine as a family of four, I thought it was time to take back over my bill-paying duties, and began writing checks for the bills trickling in. And with each check, I've found myself increasingly overcome with gratitude towards my husband.
Thankful for the wonderful insurance he chose (without going into too much personal financial detail, he has quite a bit of discretion over which policy to choose and chose one with the best maternity coverage and other benefits useful to our family). Thankful that he works so hard now and worked so hard in school so he could even have this job to work hard at so that we have ample money to pay the portion insurance doesn't. Thankful he doesn't waste money on frivolous things like beer and motorcycles-or even things some people consider basics, like cable and smartphones. Thankful that he thinks it's important enough for me to stay home with our boys that he does what it takes to make that possible.
And I'm thankful that I pay the bills. I know I have a tendency to be a little too Pollyanna-ish at times, and not really pay attention to the cold hard reality that is sometimes life. And it's easy to take it for granted that when I go to the grocery store I can buy anything I want and know that I have the money in my bank account to pay for it (although I don't shop that way...I try to be a good steward of our money too!) But paying the bills helps me slow down and remember the money is coming from the hard work of my husband that he does out of love of his family. And that's pretty awesome!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Cure for the Mondays-April 1, 2013

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

Bakeaholic Mama is baking her way through 50 states, and her delicious tribute to New Hampshire is jumping to the top of my must-bake list:

This delicious looking recipe from Noble Pig combines two of my husband and preschooler's favorite foods: tacos and chili, so it's bound to be a hit with the men in my family!

I should do this with the tulip bulbs I bought a while ago and forgot about and can't plant outside now because it's too late:
Source: via Anabel on Pinterest
This is brilliant for making bra straps look socially acceptable for open back dresses and tops!

Source: via Breckin on Pinterest

What fun ideas have you seen lately?