Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Out of Touch

Blair Marie Photography
I’m out of touch. Perhaps about a lot of things, but in particular (and for the purpose of today) I am writing about how I am out of touch about food. I realized today that it has been far too long since I have paid real attention to my food as I am eating it. Too often I am eating while doing a million other things. It almost seems unnatural now to simply sit and eat at the kitchen table in peace. Instead, I find myself eating while on the computer (case in point I sat down to write this while eating); eating at my desk; standing in the kitchen eating while preparing my family’s food; and even when I am AT the kitchen table, I am getting up to get somebody something so often that it feels like dinner is a blur. No wonder I don’t have much enthusiasm for cooking dinner these days – why would I look forward to spending so much time doing something I am not even enjoying in the end?? For me, eating now feels just like another task that has to get done during the day – such a shame.
I know this is an all too common sentiment these days in our busy lives, and I honestly don’t have the answer to it all. All I know is recognizing it is important. In large and small ways, I am trying to slow life down a bit and enjoy the moments that pass. Yesterday I was looking at a photo of my little girl who at the time must have been around a year old, and she looked so very tiny to me. It is hard to believe that time has passed so quickly (and so slowly in other ways). I know that in another few years that I will look back at photos of today and again, it will seem like the little girl I have now (today) will seem just as wee as the girl I saw in the photo yesterday.

I want to get back to really enjoying my food – actually tasting and recognizing flavours and textures. One of the smaller ways that I am going to slow things down is to turn off my Blackberry for a couple of hours every evening. I am constantly “in touch” and out of sheer habit am always on the damn phone. Who am I? The President of the United States? Do I need to have my phone with me at all times for fear that something so majorly important will not get through to me? Or that some important information will be tweeted out or put on some FaceBook status and I need to constantly be ‘standing by’ just in case? Seriously.

Anyway, as mothers, I know we all feel this busy-ness. I don’t believe that it’s at all possible to shut it down completely, but I feel that we may all be able to do better jobs of picking and choosing what is important – and what needs focus (and thus slowing down, and being able to be more present in whatever you doing – eating or otherwise). For me, cooking, eating well and enjoying food with my family is very important, and I am going to continue to make these small efforts towards doing more of that. Prepare to see more recipe experiments and photos of food. Coming soon ;)

On this theme, I would like to leave you all with a few photos taken by “Blair Marie Photography” of my daughter and I doing something we both love: baking cookies!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Parenting Power

Hi Everyone!

Just wanted to share a resource with you all, that I use fairly frequently. It's a great "support" tool for all you parents out there.

I found "Parenting Power" a couple of years ago when I was looking for a parenting class - I can't even remember what for - maybe bedtime and sleep routines?...Anyway, I found these lovely ladies and subscribed to their monthly membership. Part of the membership entitles me to a 15-minute "coaching" phone conversation every month, where I can ask any question, or get practical advice for anything that I am currently dealing with as a parent. As an example, this month I received some good advice on handling the "sassy talk" or "cheekiness" that I am seeing in my almost four year old (going on 16?).

Anyway, they have just come out with a "Top 20" list of question that parents ask and have provided a very short intro video response for all of them. I would encourage you to take a look - I just know there would be more than a handful of parenting questions that you could get a quick (helpful) answer to.

All you have to do is click on the link here which takes you to the main page on their website. Simply enter your name and e-mail address in the "complimentary report" section. You will receive the report itself, along with an email link to the 20 great videos.

It's worth it parents! Take a look!

Stacy xo

Monday, June 18, 2012

Banana Muffins with Peanut Butter Frosting

I hope all those wonderful dad's got spoiled and enjoyed their day yesterday. Fathers Day was also the first ever dance recital for Maya - so it was a busy (and memorable) one for us.
I wanted to make something yummy for breakfast for Fathers Day - thought about pancakes, thought about french toast, but just wasn't in the mood for making it. So I decided on muffins. And oh my! You will LOVE these! I had some roasted sweet potato almost ready to be thrown out in the fridge, along with two bananas that were getting pretty brown, so I decided to come up with a banana and peanut butter muffin. It worked out really well, although the batter was a teeny bit too thick. So while I haven’t re-created it just yet, I adjusted for this by reducing the white flour I originally used by ¼ cup. That should do it! Try this today – you won’t be disappointed!!

Banana Muffins with Peanut Butter Frosting
Preheat oven to 350°F. Assemble dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately. Chances are, you may not have some roasted sweet potato ready sitting in your fridge, but it really is worth it if you want to add it. Otherwise, maybe add an extra banana for the moisture – or even ¼ cup of applesauce?

1 ¾ cup white flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp wheat germ

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 mashed bananas (mash really well)
2-3 tbsp mashed sweet potato** (mash really well or even add it as a puree)

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp maple syrup

Juice of one lemon

¼ cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup oil

½ cup milk (I used whole)
Bake these puppies for about 15 minutes – or until golden and the toothpick trick comes out with nothing on it. While these are cooling, put together your icing! It’s simple….

Peanut Butter Icing

1 cup plain cream cheese

½ cup peanut butter – I used Kraft (but if you were to use natural, you would need some sugar for sure. I would suggest maybe between ¼ - ½ cup icing sugar).

Whip this together for about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl and ensuring even distribution.
I frosted these muffins after about 15 minutes of cooling – and that seemed to work. The icing itself is fairly thick, so that was enough.

Finally, top with one banana chip if you want.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Kids in the Kitchen

Speaking of copy-cat kids....what do you get when you throw together a bunch of ingredients without any clue as to whether they will taste good? Don't know? (Besides a mess?)

Well here's what you get when an almost 4-yr old does it:

Wondering what this is? Me too. That's why she insisted that we taste it.

Mmmmmm! Super Good! (Not)

Why I'll have another big bite of course! Cause that's what I want YOU to do when I make you food for dinner my sweet little monkey!

So what was all that? An interesting combination to say the LEAST...

Steel Cut Oats; Agave Syrup; Raisins, and a Sunflower Seet Nut Butter. I know right - you want the recipe ;)

Have a great weekend all!


Friday, June 15, 2012

Copy-Cat Kids

There are a lot of things that parenting does to you (we won't get into the physical aspects of it today!) but one thing that it definitely does, is it makes you want to be a better person - that improved version of yourself. You want this because if it's one thing children do - it's picking up on EVERYTHING you are doing...even if you don't think they are watching....good OR bad. And isn't it easier to teach kindness or honesty by example than having to try to explain what it should look like? I'm always thinking about the BIG ticket things I want my daughter to "get". Like being true to herself....like being a good friend....like not getting incredibly frustrated when things don't go the way they are supposed to...like speaking up for herself or others when necessary...like how to be naturally thin and never having to diet (and I'm NOT even joking).

As a parent, I think you are always (ok - MOSTLY) concerned with what your child is learning from you. I mean it's a lot easier to flip the bird and introduce some colorful new words to your child's vocabulary when some asshole cuts you off in traffic. But because we know they're in the backseat watching us, we don't do that. (Unless we actually forget that they are back there watching us. In which case we do flip the bird, curse, and then once we remember they are there, pretend like we said "truck" and not what we actually said). And because we know they are watching us (and constantly asking "why?") and because we want them to learn good character, we need to demonstrate it. I personally think that I have become a better person thanks to becoming a mother. Among being more aware of modeling behaviours I want to see repeated or learned, I have also learned to become more patient, to not take things as seriously as I once did, and to also respect and appreciate my own parents more!

The other day (after running into an old friend who I hadn't seen in years) I got to thinking just how much we mature over the years. I was thinking back to some of the stupid things I did, said, wore, or ways I styled my hair....lol. I'm kind of sad when I think back to this because there were some moments that I can easily recall where I wasn't the friend I should have been (like to this friend I ran into), or didn't stick up for my own beliefs because I wanted approval by someone.

What I wish I could have told that younger version of myself years ago is that 'your friends are some of the most important people you will have in your life and you need to choose them over other things (like boys)' and 'you need to be true to yourself' because well....you just need to. I hope that my daughter learns some of these lessons sooner than I did and I hope that I can teach her the things I think are important for her to know. It's an overwhelming thought - that you are responsible for SHAPING LIVES! Seriously! But you can't think of it like that. You just have to take it day by day and during each of these days, simply do the absolute best that you can at modeling the behaviours that you want your child to pick up.

So after running into this old friend and reflecting about how we mature and change over the years, I realized that we simply have to be forgiving and kind to ourselves and to others - because at the end of the day, we are always doing the best we can at the moment...from where we are, from what life lessons we have learned to date. Because of this, I look forward to continuing to mature and age (not so much the wrinkles and the incontinence though). I feel like I become "more of who I really am" as I age. I guess it's kind of like becoming more comfortable within your own skin - which is a really great thing.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Quinoa Take Four (Sweet Potato Feta Quinoa Salad)

I call this a cheater recipe....because I used store bought dressing. I am a realist (read: I am a mom like you and need to cut "recipe" corners when necessary) and sometimes, that’s a perfect ‘quick-fix’ to preparing a salad like this. You add all the veggies and simply finish with a simply yet yummy salad dressing. In this case, I used “Kraft Creamy Sundried Tomato” (found in the refrigerated dressing section in the produce area of my grocery store).

Ok, let’s get started. Prepare quinoa & roast sweet potato to get things rolling.

1 cup quinoa (thoroughly rinsed)
1 cup orange juice & 1 cup water mixed together
Prepare according to package directions using the oJ/water mix instead of just water

Veggies**Throw in anything else that makes sense to you
½ cup diced cucumber
½ cup sliced grape tomatoes (I used yellow)
½ cup diced red pepper
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup diced feta cheese

½- ¾ cup roasted and diced sweet potato (poke a regular sized sweet potato with a fork and throw it in the oven at 425F until cooked through – about 40 mins. Let cool and chop up for salad)


½ cup of Kraft Creamy Sundried Tomato

Mix up all together and enjoy. It’s really yummy!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

My May expense tracking was a success. Make that an eighty percent success. Only eighty because there were some purchases that I know I failed to record. Anyway, it was a good exercise for me to do because for the most part, I am a pretty nonchalant spender. It’s not really a good way to be, but that’s been my pattern. I have to say that just knowing I was going to write everything down helped me to at least be more aware of spending – especially when it wasn’t necessary.
I mentioned earlier that in this experiment I was not going to track fixed expenses such as our mortgage, utilities, insurance or other such items. In addition, I did not track items such as fuel, cell phone bills, and childcare costs as I don’t truly consider those items discretionary.

The tracking I did do included items like food, gifts, and money spent on fun activities. I am sharing here with you the percentage of spending I did (as a portion of total spending that I tracked). I’m not surprised that I really do put my money where my mouth is ;)

Food – 53%
Maya (clothes/classes/books/etc)– 10%

Household Items (anything from light bulbs to plants) – 7%
Personal (Make-up/Toothpaste/gym) – 6%

Gifts – 8%

Savings – 14%
Charity – 2%

Of course, this was just ONE month out of the year, and it’s not sufficient to say it’s completely indicative of months in the past or the future. (Although I do know that food spending will always remain quite high). For me, spending money on good food is not even truly discretionary. I’m sure I could spend less in quantity (and maybe less variety), although I could not skimp on buying quality fresh produce, meats, breads, etc. To me – life is too short to eat crappy food. AND it's always worth it to pay a little extra for ethically raised meats and poultry.

Anyway, if you are ever wondering “where is my money going?” this is a pretty good exercise to do. It’s amazing to me how easy it is to spend money. Almost every day I am opening my wallet to buy something – even if it’s just a morning coffee. It’s not like I need to completely re-haul how I spend money, but it is nice at least to feel more aware, and therefore, a little more in control.

What do you guys spend YOUR money on?

Tips for Managing Stress & Anxiety (plus a smoothie recipe!)

Read my latest blog post on You Ate:  https://youate.com/tips/september-stress-autumn-anxiety/ And my smoothie recipe!