Monday, October 31, 2011

"Happy Halloween"....

....Says the one of the adorable little cake pop ghosts my sisters and I created over the weekend.



There's a lot more to follow but for today - just a quick note to say Happy Halloween and safe trick or treating tonight!

Booooooooxoxoxo!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Copy Cat

My preschooler copies EVERYTHING I say and do. I know, I know – this shouldn’t come as a major surprise. But in fact it does. Especially when it’s something brand new. Something I haven’t seen or heard before. Something that comes out of nowhere. Like when I am driving and she has used that “very inappropriate word” while talking to her imaginary friend. Say whaaaaaat? Whooopsie…

Lately, I’ve really been giving this a lot of consideration. I mean we’re all usually operating on “auto-pilot” without really thinking too much about what messages we are sending to our kids. Heck, we’re busy! We don’t have time to analyze these kinds of things. Or do we? (Yes people, the answer is yes).

The messages that we think are important and want to teach are obvious (i.e. sharing) and we even give “lessons” on the subject. But it’s the other, more subtle lessons that kids are picking up also. I’ll give you some examples from my own life:

(1) I am on the computer.
Facebooking. Tweeting. Reading blogs. Shopping. You get the idea. Real important stuff right? (Rhetorical)

Unspoken Message: I don’t have time for you.

(2) “Hurry up. Get in the car. Sit down. Get out. Repeat”.
The Truth: I sometimes over-plan and try to cram too much into the day. Often, I don’t give us enough time to get in and out of the car when running errands and it escalates as I am feeling more rushed and my daughter is feeling like “this trip sucks – can’t you wait an extra minute for me to get in the car?” This kind of makes me sad writing this actually.

Unspoken Message: You’re too slow and it’s really frustrating to me because I have “stuff to do”. Deeper Message: Oh, and all this stuff is more important than you.
Of course I have to do all these “errands” which consist of running a household. But do I have to do it this WAY? No. And are there other things I could cut out a little from my life to give me more time? Yes. See above ;)

(3) Just let me do that for you. It will be faster. It will take less time and we can get going on running all our errands (see above) ;)

Unspoken Message: You aren’t capable of doing this on your own.

(4) Yelling. Going over the deep end. 
Why am I surprised when my daughter yells back at me when she’s experiencing frustration? Maybe because I didn’t know sounds that loud were capable of coming out of such a small mouth. Actually, it’s more likely because I forget that frustration for her manifests in smaller things….like not being able to do up her own jacket zipper. (see above) ;)
Unspoken Message: This is an acceptable way to vent frustration: Yelling at People.

This post is more for you than me, although I know all parents can relate to some degree. It's an exploration of the lessons I am passing onto my daughter without really thinking about it. This is good because at least now I can work on changing it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get off the computer and play with my little girl. Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Good at Something

The truth is, we all want to feel like we're good at something. It feels amazing when it happens.

Yesterday for me, was a day where I felt like a good mom. For no reason in particular. It was an average day doing average things. But there were lots of laughs, lots of smiles, and lots of time spent being in the moment.

xoxoxo

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Oh Jessica Seinfeld....

How long must I own a cookbook until I actually make a recipe from it? Well, in the case of "Deceptively Delicious" or "Doubly Delicious", let's just say a loooohhhhhhng time and leave it at that.

For those of you not familiar with Jessica Seinfeld's cook books, they are based upon the idea of incorporating pureed fruits and vegetables into recipes with the intention of hiding these good tidbits from unsuspecting little mouths. There's really not enough time today for a post about my own food and diet philosophies, but suffice to say for now, that I don't entirely agree with this plan.

For sure, I'm all for adding an extra "punch" of wholesome goodness to a recipe that makes sense, but I kind of draw the line at putting spinach in brownies. If I'm going to have a damn brownie, it sure as heck isn't going to have spinach in it. I'm not debating whether or not it's good - but all I know is that (not unlike ANY food I eat) if I'm going to eat it, it's going to be good. In the case of the brownie - it's not going to have spinach.

Anyway, ideas such as adding sweet potato purees to meals like mac and cheese or tomato soup, and carrot purees to meals such as Chicken Parmesan or corn bread make sense to me. And since I already had a beautiful orange cauliflower and a couple of lonely lemons at home, I thought I would try the Cauliflower Gratin and Lemon Poppy Seed Cake. (I should note that I actually didn't have carrot puree as the recipe called for, and instead used a sweet potato and butternut squash mix for both).

My verdict? Quite good. I'd use the recipe again. Although I don't eat cauliflower that often, and it wasn't sooooo good that I would go out and buy a cauliflower for the distinct purpose of recreating it really soon.


Lemon Poppy Seed Cake: Good. Had better. Had worse. But I must add that my daughter did try a piece  and liked it. She happens to be one of the pickiest eaters I know.


But here's the interesting thing about both: You'd honestly never know there was sweet potato and butternut squash in either. For reals. Try it!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Children's Affirmations: I am strong and healthy

Hi Everyone! My daughter and I have been sick with a cold this past week -- AGAIN! I think it was only a few weeks ago that we had one. This I guess is the price you pay for having your child in very public places like schools and play centres. I don't know it's anything that could be avoided.

So this brings us to another one of our current affirmations: "I am strong and healthy"

I just like this one because sometimes it's also our self-talk that makes us feel worse when we are getting sick, or already are sick. Whatever we focus on expands. If we can instead focus our thoughts on health and strength, then maybe that can help us heal our own bodies faster.

Now if there was only something that could totally avoid us getting sick in the first place......
Have a great Monday!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Apple Crumble Muffins



Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup white flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
2 teaspoons apple pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup minus 2 tbsp milk PLUS 2 tbsp vinegar)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups peeled, chopped apples

Crumb Topping:

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter, softened

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 12 cup muffin cups with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, apple pie spice, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, 1/2 cup melted butter, vanilla and brown sugar. Stir until sugar has dissolved.
3. Pour butter mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined (don't overmix). Gently fold in apples. Use a large scoop to fill each muffin well, filling the cups to the top.
4. In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, rolled oats, and cinnamon. Massage in 3 tablespoons of softened butter, mixing until well blended. Sprinkle over the tops of the muffins.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when lightly pressed.

This recipe is adapted from another one of my "go-to" websites: My Baking Addiction http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/apple-streusel-muffins-recipe/

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Writing the Mission Statement

If it ain't broke: don't fix it....don't reinvent the wheel....keep it simple, silly....you get it, right? ;)

My point here is that I found an excellent tool for those of you who have been awaiting the exercise I promised to provide in order to create your own family mission statements!

It's quite an in-depth exercise (and further information on the process) but I think it's fantastic. And would you know - I found it on a website I actually have bookmarked as one of my favorites. The website is called SimpleMom.Net and I would encourage any mom to spend some time searching around on it.

The link to writing a family mission statement is here: http://simplemom.net/back-to-the-basics-create-a-family-mission-statement/ Take a look. As with anything in life, the more you put into it, the more you'll get out of it.

My own family has not yet started our own statement, but I will make sure to write more about this process as we do - and please let me know how it's going for you!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Children's Affirmations: I am a good listener

A little while ago, I shared with you all, the bedtime routine that my daughter follows. I also talked a little bit about affirmations for children. And today I'm sharing another one of the affirmations we currently use.

It's certainly no secret that you begin to believe what you hear over and over - and this is the premise behind this affirmation for children: "I am a good listener" ;)

The point here isn't whether or not your child actually is or isn't a good listener - but instead to introduce and use positive self talk as a way to improve a skill; accomplish a goal; etc. If your child actually is a poor  listener (being careful how you actually define this), then you may want to alter it to "I was a better listener today" on a day where this was in fact the truth.

More on this later....!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Quinoa Salad - Take Two

I’m about to tell you a big secret: Are you ready for it? I’m not sure I should tell you so early on in the game, but what the heck – you’ll figure it out pretty soon anyway….

Here it is….You cannot screw up a Quinoa Salad Recipe! There. You have it.

I professed my love of Quinoa in the first quinoa post…it’s such a great grain to cook with. And really – there are so many derivations and little things you can do to change it up.

Below is one of my own creations. If you have a good dressing, you can throw in what you have (more or less) on hand.  

Sun-Tom Pesto Quinoa

Dressing:
2 tbsp sundried tomato pesto
2 cloves garlic
Big handful of roughly chopped basil
1 tbsp honey
¼ cup grapeseed oil
¼ cup white wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Salad:
1 and ½ cups cooked red quinoa (cooled)
bunch of steamed green beans (they still had a good crunch)
one diced red pepper
orange (for color) grape tomatoes cut in half
¾ cup feta cheese (sundried and basil flavored)
torn basil

Toss ingredients all together and serve!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Simple Chicken Sandwich


Here’s a relatively quick, easy, healthy (and self-explanatory) lunch for you.

-2 skinless, boneless (and preferably ethically raised) chicken breasts - butterflied
-4 thicker slices of hearty bread

-mayo
-sliced tomato
-sliced avocado
-few salad greens
-salt and pepper to taste

Simply grill the chicken breast with a little EVOO and salt and pepper.

Toast the bread and top with mayo (and mustard if you like). Or, if you're feeling extra creative, try a thin layer of pesto or mango chutney. Add half breast of chicken and top with tomato, avocado, salad greens and S&P.

Enjoy. Its gonna be messy.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Your Family, Inc.

How do you currently run your life? I’ve recently been ‘running my life’ a lot more scattered and unorganized than I would care to admit.

It often feels like there’s just not enough time in the day and like I have spread myself too thin amongst all my responsibilities and to-do’s. By the end of the week I’m sometimes left wondering if I’m winning or losing…lol

Alright…most weeks I guess I do I feel like I’m more ahead of the game than the previous week, but by how much I’m not always so sure.

We try to pack so much into our days and weeks that on one hand we can feel accomplished (especially if you truly enjoy “getting things done” and “checking things off the list”)….but on the other hand, it can also feel like we’re just not able to keep up with everything – much less enjoy ourselves.

It’s so easy to get caught up with our current social conditioning; doing things because ‘everyone else’ is; keeping up with the Joneses; or even doing things (good or bad) just out of habit – that it can leave you wondering why you do the things you do. 

If you spent the whole week running around like a crazy person just to get everything done with little or no time actually spent on the things you believe to be important to you, then it doesn’t feel very good, does it?

And unfortunately, that’s kind of how things stay: not very good…unless or until you decide to change things. The problem here is that often, “not very good” isn’t horrible enough to warrant change. I mean we’re getting things done, aren’t we?! We’re showing up to work; we’re making those dinners (and lunches for school); we’re cleaning our houses; doing our laundry; paying those bills; taking our kids to their lessons; volunteering at our kids’ schools…..blah, blah,blah.

And if you look at it from THAT perspective, you might say we’re doing well…

B-U-T….are you also finding time (between all those tasks and to-do’s) to really enjoy life? Are you finding the time for things that are important to you? Maybe it’s connecting with your partner; connecting with your friends (at a level greater than Facebook or Twitter); connecting with yourself - enjoying a hobby; doing that yoga class; learning Spanish; having that lunch or coffee date with your girlfriend; finding time to meditate…or whatever it may be for you.

What it comes down to, is asking yourself if you are getting what you want out of your life. Or put another way…are your current activities in line with you and your family’s mission statement and values?

Family’s mission whhhaaaat you ask? Well, here’s where we can take a page from successful corporations who have answered the questions: (1) What do we do? (2) How do we do it? (3) For whom do we do it?[1]

Most of us don’t give much thought and attention to why we do things we do. Most of us don’t spend much time reflecting upon how things are going (unless of course, things are going terribly sideways). But what’s wrong with giving you and your family a healthy check-up to see where you are at? A mission statement can help you do just that.

By having a family mission statement to refer to – a direction for yourself and your family, you are able to get much more clear on just what sorts of activities are worthy of your time, AND with whom! Future opportunities, obligations and activities can all be evaluated against your mission statement which makes the plethora of decisions we face on a daily basis easier to make.

Gertrude Stein is quoted as saying: “It is awfully important to know what is and what is not your business”. Or, in our context, it’s important to know what it is we are choosing to focus on (and why). (In later posts, we’ll talk more about how important it is to say “no” to some things….to be ok with not taking the world on…and possibly risk people not liking us for it).

Take some time to think about this…in a post later on this week, I’ll give you an exercise to create your own family’s mission statement so that you can get clear on where you want to go, and how you want to get there ;)



[1] http://www.inc.com/resources/startup/articles/20050201/missionstatement.html

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Children's Affirmations

My daughter and I share a very special bedtime routine. For the most part, its the same as any average household: bath; pajamas; brush teeth; read books; tuck in to bed and give hugs and kisses.


But for us - usually somewhere between reading books and tucking in to bed - we also read my daughter's affirmations. She absolutely lights up when we read them and she usually wants to repeat the four that I selected for her.


If affirmations are new to you, I've found a good explanation for them from an article in www.childrenlights.com "Our self-talk has an undeniable effect on the attitudes and outcomes in our lives. What we think, we create!  Our thoughts, words and beliefs are powerful creating tools that are at work all the time, whether we realize it or not.  Add emotion to these thoughts, and they are manifested into physical reality that much faster.  This applies to all of us, grown-ups as well as children."

"Affirmations are positive statements about who we are, and what we can become and experience. The key in using affirmations effectively is to have them evoke positive emotions within us. It is so important to monitor and choose our thoughts as much as possible. Affirmations work very rapidly with young children because they still remember the truth of their inner power, abundance and love.  Reinforcing these positive thoughts and feelings gives children the self-confidence, positive attitude and beliefs which help them create joyful experiences". http://www.childrenlights.com/Articles/article_empowering_children_affirmations.htm

As parents, we all want our children to grow up with self-worth and self-confidence, and to feel good about themselves. As such, I think this is an amazing way to start kids on this path.


Today I will share one of our affirmations:
"I am happy to be me"

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Parenting 101 - The Timer

Here's a fantastic idea I learned of, from one of my dearest friends' dayhome lady.

As you can imagine, she has a few kids running around the house all day...and to help keep the calm, she uses a timer.

When two kids are sreaming over one toy, she lets one of them have it, then sets the timer for 10 minutes. When the TIMER goes off, the other kids gets the toy. Friggin brilliant.
So I took this idea home and expanded upon the concept as my friend has done, and now use it for things such as signalling the end of a playtime or bathtime.

You set the timer and just before you release it, you ask them: "Now what happens when the timer goes off"? "It's time for bath". "Yes, that's right!"

It's not YOU saying it's time to stop playing - it's the timer. I don't know how this works, but it does. Try it!

Privileged Eating

I want to share this article with you guys because I think it’s an important reminder that we should not label foods as “good” or “bad”. Wh...