Friday, December 30, 2011

FIVE Things to do for Yourself

As 2011 comes to an end, it is time to take care of ourselves.  I have compiled a list of things you should do for yourself.  It is totally judgmental, superficial and preachy, so beware.  These are all things that I think help mood, perspective, body-images, health, etc.

Things to do for Yourself:
1.  Meal Plan:  As I have said before, meal-planning is a huge lifesaver (and not the candy kind).  When I meal plan, I eat healthier while saving money and time.  I hear so many people say that they don't want to spend 30 minutes planning and making grocery lists for the week, they don't have time.  But how many times do they spend with the pantry door open trying to figure out what to make?  So much easier when you have a notebook and have it all ready.  Now do it.

2.  Drink Water:  Drink.more.water.  And no, pop doesn't count.  I have read varying research in regards to water consumption, but I figure that 64 ounces sounds good PLUS whatever amount of caffeine consumed.  So if I have a big cup of coffee (12 ounces) and a diet coke (12 ounces), I need to consume another 24 ounces of water.  I have been TERRIBLE at this.  I need to once again be inspired by my water bottle.  This is the one I love but I won't take it to the gym because I broke one in the locker room.  My lips are chapped and my skin is dry...I need more water. 

3.  LADIES, this one is for you.  FOR YOU.  OK, maybe for your partner, too, but for YOU.  Buy some pretty lingerie.  It's not all uncomfortable anymore and it doesn't have to be a $52 bra from Victoria's Secret.  Target carries reasonably priced bras and undies that are very pretty.  Moms, this includes you, too.  We all know that when we wear something pretty, we feel pretty.  That includes underwear.  Thank me later.

4.  Accept and Give Apologies Gracefully:  There is no better way than to move on from sad, hurt or angry feelings by fully accepting an apology.  Even if you aren't ready, acknowledge your feelings and those of the other person.  Saying "thank you" to an apology and then letting them know you aren't ready yet is OK.  But don't end it with "you don't seem sorry" or worse off, roll your eyes.  It just makes more toxic feelings.  Same thing with giving apologies.  They don't work if you say, "I'm sorry, BUT...",  That "BUT" negates the entire apology and makes you a butt.  Yes, I just said butt.

5.  Random Acts of Kindness:  As I told the Pickies today, "It feels nice when you act nice".  Buy a stranger a cup of coffee, give compliments freely, show gratitude.  We all know that really great feeling when someone does something so out of the ordinary and it restores our faith in humanity.  You truly can make or break someone's day with your words or actions.

Hope you find something on my list that works for you.  But, puhleeze restrain yourself and do NOT send me pictures of your new undies.  ;)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Speaking Kindly

I stumbled into the locker room this morning at the gym and I had very.little.motivation.  Fighting what I call "Sickness Purgatory" (that spot in-between having a bug and fighting a bug), the last thing I really wanted to do was exercise.  But the hubby, Pickies and I all got moving and I stood in the locker room and placed my coat in the locker.  There were a couple of other ladies in the same area and they were discussing the upcoming New Year:

"Ughh....pretty soon it will be packed in here again..."

"I HATE the January 'Resolutioners'; that's what I call them.  They take over for about six weeks and make a mess here and then they, thankfully, disappear."
Yikes.  So much grumpiness in a matter of seconds.  Since we had casually chatted previously about the emptiness of the gym, I responded to them, "Yes.  Sometimes I get upset too.  Especially when I had babies in the childcare room and there weren't any appointments.  But I'm happy to have those people here.  Thankfully, they are choosing to get healthy and it hopefully some of them will stick to it."

Blank stares.  Non-existent crickets chirping.
And then one of the ladies said, "You are right, I have never thought of it that way.  Thanks for that perspective."  Another woman stopped me on the way out of the locker room and said, "You're a good mom, keeping things positive."

I don't always keep thing positive, but man, I try to keep things peaceful.  When I get grumpy or negative about other's actions or words, I try not to take it personally and move on.  When my heart thumps with bitterness, I think of something positive about that situation and just move forward.  It's easy to dwell, and not so difficult to just move on...if you allow it.
The kinder I speak, 
the kinder I feel.  
At least for a moment.  
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion.  ~Dalai Lama

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

12 Months of Meaning

I am incredibly grateful for 2011 and I am pleased to be ending the year in a much better space than 2010.  The kids have become a bit more independent and that has allowed myself opportunities to have a few moments to myself for cooking, knitting and creating.  My hubby's business has flourished (thank goodness) and we have been able to do some repairs around the house, along with some fun decorating.  Our health and our family's health has been pretty decent and I swear I've seen a miracle or two.  So I want to completely share my gratitude, love and peace and acknowledge the beauty that life holds.

When I find myself inspired by something, I get this feeling in my chest and stomach; inspired, creative, meaningful things MOVE me.  And with that being said, I am piggy-backing off an idea from a friend over at Momma's Silver Lining to show my gratitude to the inspiring things that make life enjoyable, manageable and beautiful.

12 months of Meaning.
My goal is to blog no less than a few times a week to express gratefulness and appreciation for daily things, events or people. Although it may be a personal journey for me, I'm sure it will also be filled with funny kid quotes, dog humor and good vegan food.  Who knows.  I'm not sure what to expect.

Feel free to follow me and help fuel me on this journey with your love, support and comments.  I appreciate every single one of you and the impact you have made on my life.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Most people think January 1st is the time to start anew.  Not us teachers.  Fall is the beginning of the school year and it alerts us because Target starts carrying folders and Crayola Markers for ridiculously cheap prices.  Fall is a time where lists can be made and changes can occur naturally, just as the kids are getting onto the school bus.

I was asked by our local online Patch newspaper to blog for them.  It doesn't pay (booo...) but they want me as I am with my kind of writing.  I took this as an enormous compliment and an awesome challenge.  Plus, it could open up all sorts of opportunity for me once the littlest Picky heads to school (did I mention that potty-training is actually going ok?!).

Anyway, I come to you because I need your help.  What should I write about?  What blog posts did you favor?  I am really nervous and I'm not sure why; you, as my readers, are very important to me but I never looked at this more than an online journal that some people read.

So please help me!  And some good luck might be nice.  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Three-Year Old Has His Own Vacation Plans.

If one person says or even thinks (because I will KNOW, dang it) that staying in a hotel with children is a luxury, I might punch them in the face.

Ok, maybe not really.  Mostly because I am not violent but because those who would say it, think it, judge it, just simply don't know or remember:  IT STINKS.

We travel with our children often and it usually goes really well.  Kids take turns picking movies, no fight there, and the littlest Picky overrules everybody else a midst a crying fit.  Kids have their spots, their snacks, their water bottles.  Life is good.  So off we go to Atlanta, Hilton Head, Northern Michigan and usually there are no problems in the car.

It's the hotel.  That's where the evil takes place.

My sweet, eccentric, routine-driven children turn into these picky monsters of insomnia, chaos and mischief.  They jump on beds, jump off the beds, hide in the drapes, run around, crouch under desks and while this is all happening, the littlest picky wanders the room screaming, running or trying to call everybody on the phone.  ("No, we did NOT call room service!").

We just got back from a wonderful trip to Great Wolf Lodge (so much fun) and I thought I had come up with the most brilliant plan.  Since this was the first time we didn't have to bring the pack 'n' play (a modern day-version of a cage...err...crib), I thought that spending a little extra money to get the "Wolf Den" room would be the way to go.  See, in the Wolf Den there are three beds.  A set of bunk beds and an extra bed...all in an area of its own.  Sure enough, it is magical.  The kids love it.  I only had to pull the littlest picky down one time.  And I made sure to catch him when he went through the Wolf Den's window headfirst.  

Day ONE:  9:15pm.  Bedtime.  Kids look exhausted, the biggest Pickies find their spots and the littlest is WAY excited that he is sleeping in with his siblings.  And he moves.  And he talks.  And he screams.  And he flashes his light turtle around so the stars on the ceiling dance.  Oh he has a party.  Picky 1 falls asleep, but the middle guy is NOT pleased with the development.  Falls asleep anyway.  Finally after lots of singing, head-stroking and pat-pats, littlest Picky is down at 10:50pm.  WTH.  Bedtime at home is 8:00.  Thank goodness he's asleep.

Day TWO:  8:00pm.  Decided to put the littlest Picky down while the big kids were out and about.  He was showing signs of surrender, so I sat and stroke his head and face, he yawned...and then he partied.  Jibber-jabbered up a storm, moving his little three-year old body around, he was not going to sleep.  Finally, I put the Wiggles movie in his bed, the big kids came home, watched the movie in their beds and all listened to the littlest Picky cry when the movie turned off because the laptop was overheating.  Finally, at 10:00pm, two hours after the initial attempt, the Pickies were asleep.

Waking up was better.  Just in time to go home.

So this is why families with small children don't want to come visit.  The trips are overshadowed by changes in routine, "my kid doesn't usually act like this" and trying to find a peaceful path for all.

I need a vacation.

After writing this all out, I may punch that person in the face that thinks travelling with kids is fun.
OK, probably not.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Age of the Super-Mom

We all know THAT woman.  She is perfectly dressed and accessorized while her meticulous children play quietly and kindly.  Her house is spotless, her kids are academically-sound and she and her husband have a perfect marriage.  She volunteers, manages play dates, enrolls in activities and still manages to get her laundry and home-cooking done.  Who is this woman?
Heck if I know.
Why are we, as woman, obsessed with the concept of the "Super-Mom"?  It is physically impossible to have everything perfect all the time and who wants to anyway?  Perfect is boring.  But really, we continue to carry on so that things LOOK like we are in control...even if we aren't.

I have been called a "Super-Mom" a few times and besides finding it mildly offensive (it doesn't exactly have a positive connotation in my book), it is far from true.  Each one of my children has their own set of problems, issues and areas of concern and if you know me well, I don't cover it up.  And it surprises people.  Not because kids are far from adult-like status but because I am actually talking about it.  And that's the thing that surprises me the most:  Moms don't like to talk about the bad stuff.  It is a whole lot easier to share about Picky #2's reading conquests than the fact that Picky #3 gives me a daily dose of parenting humility.  Or that Picky #1 is an imaginative and beautiful artist but struggles with counting change.  But if you know me really well, you know that I share this information without defeat.  I also willingly share that my house is cluttered and disorganized while the laundry is taking up the floor of our bedroom.  But darn it if we don't eat good food at home.  ;)

As moms we tend to hide all this information in the junk drawer filled with coupons and old thank-you notes.  Yes, it is a lot easier to keep it to yourself and not expose the truths of everyday life but there are a million people out there who actually understand.  Moms who have been through it or know someone who has been through it...and survived!  All we have to do is open our mouths and share.  You might surprise yourself.

And guess what.  Sometimes our sweet little darling children can drive us crazy and that is OK, too.  But imagine the look on people's faces when I share that uncommon piece of information.

Let's kick "Super-Mom" and her image to the curb.  Instead I will embrace the "I'm doing-the-best-I-can-and-hopefully-not-raising-a-serial-killer" Mom status of imperfection, messiness and chaos.  Join me.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

CSA Week #3

I'm behind.  Not in anything in particular but pretty much everything in general.  My sister in law got married last week, my littlest Picky had a birthday and a birthday party and now I'm on the hunt for the perfect bathing suit before our family vacation.  Oh and of course, laundry, packing and picking up all the things we will need for our road trip so I don't get distracted by Sour Patch Kids and potato chips at the gas stations.

I haven't been cooking much between celebrations so I still have a fridge packed with produce from last week's CSA.  We got lettuce, snap peas, kale, a ton of spinach, kohlrabi, radishes, carrots and green onions.

I have so far made salads, a roasted garlic spinach pesto and I am adding spinach to everything:  shakes, sandwiches, salads, etc.  I think I may cook up some soup (who cares that it is 90 plus degrees?  I LOVE soup).  But damn the spinach.  My farmer gave me an entire packed box because she had so much. I have a ton:
It may not look like it but it is PACKED.  I plan on blanching it and then freezing it but I have to carve up some prep time.  Anyone want to help?  I will pay you in spinach.  :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

CSA Week #2

As I have already mentioned a million times before, I participate in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  I basically pay at the beginning of the season and receive 18 weeks of freshly harvested organic produce.  To find a CSA near you, click here or visit your local farmer's market.  I actually went with one of the "well-known" farms and wasn't all that impressed...that's when I met my farmer at the market.  Now I pay substantially less and I have built an awesome relationship with her; it's nice to know not only WHO is growing our food but it's nice to be able to thank them.  

I apologize for not showing Week #1; I got so excited, I just put it away.  Michigan has had an...hmmpf...interesting spring and summer season so far.  We are a little behind but nevertheless, I am ecstatic about my fresh veggies.

This week's harvest:  Two pounds of strawberries, lots of kale, red leaf lettuce, radishes and spinach.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Donuts. Is there anything they can't do? --Homer Simpson

There isn't much I miss with my lifestyle.  Occasionally I will notice a beautiful dessert or smell an incredible soup or curry and be brought back into the omnivore world...then it immediately passes. I like how I eat, WHAT I eat and I have no desire to change it.  How can I when there are so many awesome cookbooks, blogs and recipes that I still want to try.

I have been wanting a donut pan *FOREVER*.  The problem with said pan is that it cost something like $15 for a half dozen pan and in all reality, who really only wants six donuts with a family of five?  $30 for donuts seemed unnecessary so I never bought the pans...until our family trip to Meijer and they were only $6.99 for a pan!  Yes, please!  I can get on board with $14.  :)

Off to find a recipe and BAM, within seconds, THIS ONE from The Urban Housewife popped up.  It was adapted from one of my favorite sites (which I am currently unable to visit) and it was easy to make and super delicious.  In fact, I may make some now.  :)

Baked Vegan Donuts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 shake of cinnamon 
1/2 cup soymilk
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Egg replacer for 1 egg (I used Ener-G Egg Replacer.)
4 tablespoons Earth Balance or other vegan margarine

Preheat oven to 350ยบ F.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients with a whisk to mix thoroughly.

In a small saucepan, combine wet ingredients over medium low heat & mix until margarine is melted. You should be able to stick your finger in the mixture without burning yourself. Don't make this too hot for the dough!

Add wet to dry & mix until just combined, forming a soft spongy dough.

Using a tablespoon measure, scoop out dough into an ungreased nonstick donut  pan and smooth out the tops of them. Fill them until just below the rim. 

Bake them for 12 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Invert the hot pan over a cooling rack to release the donuts & allow them to cool completely before decorating.

This made 8 super-yummy donuts!

After the donuts cooled, I brushed them with a little bit of agave and then rolled them into cinnamon sugar.  Seriously good stuff.  I may do a powdered sugar/almond milk glaze next time with some maple extract.  Or sprinkles.  Or chopped peanuts.  The options are endless!!!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Eat Organic. REALLY.

I know that it can be a confusing, expensive and outright annoying experience to hunt for organic food.  Many people still do not believe that it is important to eat organic...lots of people tend to think "I haven't gotten sick yet, so it MUST be ok" or "our parents never worried about this so what's the big deal?".

You know what?

Our food is being modified, grown and experimented with in scientific labs everyday.  That conventional tomato you just ate?  It could have been gown made out of seeds that came from a laboratory.  Those kinds of foods are called GMO's (Genetically Modified Organisms) and they are found in virtually every non-organic food.  So not only do we need to worry about the herbicides and pesticides that wash our food, we have to worry about the actual food that is grown.

Organic foods, by law, cannot be made from GMO's so really, it's the safest way to eat.
The Daily Green has provided us with the new, updated list of 10 foods that you NEED to buy organic.  If you don't buy anything else, buy these organic or DON'T BUY THEM AT ALL.  The only way we can demand healthy, non-GMO food is by using our pocketbooks and showing these companies we won't stand for any more chemicals or tampering.

1.  Apples
2.  Celery
3.  Strawberries
4.  Peaches
5.  Spinach
6.  Nectarines
7.  Grapes
8.  Sweet Bell Peppers (red, green and orange)
9.  Potatoes
10.  Blueberries

If your grocery store doesn't carry organic versions of these fruits and veggies, talk to a manager encouraging him/her to carry it.  Or better yet, local farmers could use your business.  Click HERE to find a local organic farmer or farmer's market near you.  Organic food doesn't have to be a ton more expensive, I was at the farmer's market last week and I saw that my organic asparagus was cheaper than conventional.

Eat clean, be well.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Blueberry Bash!

Whole Foods had organic blueberries on sale last week for $1.99 and I am not ashamed to say that I sent my husband to the store (with a potty-training picky in tow) to purchase 36 pints of blueberries.  

Yes.  36 pints.  What did I do with that many blueberries?

I made jam.
I froze about 16 pints for smoothies and baked goods.
I dehydrated them for cereal and oatmeal (EPIC FAIL).
I made blueberry scones.
I made two blueberry crumbles from this delicious recipe:
(recipe from Whole Foods Market:


6 cups blueberries 
1 tablespoon flour 
1 tablespoon lemon juice 
2/3 cup flour 
3/4 cup brown sugar 
1/2 cup oats 
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
4 1/2 tablespoons butter


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse fruit and drain thoroughly. Put berries in a mixing bowl and add lemon juice and one tablespoon flour. Combine, and pour into a 10' pie plate. In a food processor, pulse together the remaining ingredients until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Cover the berries with the topping and bake for thirty minutes until the top has browned and the fruit is bubbling. 

'Tis the season to preserve the delicious fruits and vegetables that this glorious season has to offer.  Do you can or do anything to preserve fruits or veggies?

Good thing that blueberries are super healthy for you because I think I may turn into one!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hello, Summer.

Hello, Summer.  It's nice to see you.  
You fill my days with sunshine and warmth, 
good food and great friends, 
bathing suits and sunscreen 
as well as nagging, tattling and tears.  

You provide me with long moments of daylight, a medley of tunes
as well as temper tantrums outside and the sound of whining about having to come in from the warmth.

I'm glad to say that I am back and that my goal is to write more. 
 I'm instituting a "Writing Time" for my kids so I am taking this opportunity to blog as they write.  

Hello, Summer and Dear Friends.  
It's nice to see you.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


I have been reflecting a ton lately about how difficult is is to raise little girls.  Here we look at women in society and see all different kinds of women...confident, self-conscious, assertive, intelligent, uneducated, second-guessing, entitled, superficial, positive, negative women.  These types are shown everywhere in the media...on reality shows, youtube, facebook, news programs.  We obviously see the traits that we want to pass onto our little impressionable girls, but how do we do it?

How do I teach my daughter that she needs to work hard to get what she wants?  She is not entitled to anything.

How do I teach my daughter intelligence is more important than beauty?  Especially when the men tend to go towards the pretty long until she figures that out?

How do I teach my daughter that she is in control of her body and her emotions?  She needs to live life and find love without settling.  She is too good for just getting by or meeting someone that is "OK".

It's time to empower our little girls.  To give them the understanding that they stay true to who they are without settling in on what might be popular or cool.  And then *maybe* one day, one of them will be President.  :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yeah, sorry about that...

A List of Why I Haven't Blogged:

*I've been taking a knitting class and I was making some mittens...yes, I am aware that it is spring.
*I've been trying to work on being less selfish and bridging over to help with chores that are typically not mine.
*I have the "end of winter" BLAHS...
*I've been trying to get in five work-outs per week, two being yoga.
*I've had PTA meetings, birthdays and other various fundraisers.
*I've been busy being mom and wife.  :)

I DO love winter but I start getting antsy at the end of each season.  I look ahead at the upcoming season and what excitement it brings and I long for doesn't help that I am impatient either.
I can't wait for local, fresh produce.
I can't wait to wear tank tops, sundresses and flip flops.

I promise to blog more...hopefully I'll find something interesting to say.  :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I *heart* Amazon and their crazy money-saving deals!

Have you heard of the Subscribe and Save program on Amazon?  You can buy many of your household items for 15% off and you can subscribe to have them delivered to your house for FREE at various times.  Paper towels, soap, deodorant, cleaning products, even some food! Subscribe and Save allows you to change your shipment dates and cancel anytime.

If you are buying diapers, wipes and such from the baby store, be sure to sign up for Amazon Mom FREE.  It entitles you to Amazon Prime benefits which include free two-day shipping for any Amazon purchases for up to a year and an additional 15% off purchases in the baby store.  Non-Mathematical?  That's 30% off when buying things in bulk from the baby store when paired with the Subscribe and Save!

Do you have a little one in diapers?  I looked up my Eco-friendly Seveth Generation Diapers (usually $13.99 in store).  I signed up FREE for Amazon Mom, used the Subscribe and Save feature and got FOUR packs of diapers with free two-day shipping for under $28.  (Different sizes cost different amounts so results may vary).  I signed up to get them delivered every month but I realized that I needed them a bit earlier.  I went on and shipped them immediately for the same great price.  Free shipping, low prices, AWESOME.  Diapers for $7 per pack?  Even better!

I just ordered the Seventh Generation baby wipes.  I usually buy a pack for $3.79 and I occasionally will have a $1 off coupon.  Amazon sells them in packs of 5 for approximately $11.  With the Subscribe and Save Option, I just got them shipped to my house for $8.32 and free two day shipping.  That means that I am getting my awesome eco-friendly wipes for $1.66 each.  Check out the awesome deals!  

Now I can spend my extra money on good food.  :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Vegan pizza concoctions...

Pizza with lots of sauteed garlic, zucchini, tofu and roasted red peppers topped with a balsamic glaze.  YUM.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The kids must eat, therefore, I MUST plan. Meal Plans Week of 1/30 :)

We are trying to count calories around here so baking the incredible pop tarts and wonderful coffee cakes is always difficult.  I am an avid spoon-licker and I also feel entitled to dessert so if I am baking at night, it is extra trouble for my waistline.  This week I have a few treats up my sleeve but they are of the lower-fat variety.  Did you know that you can replace oil with unsweetened applesauce in most baked goods recipes?  It's delicious and still maintains the moisture in cakes, muffins, etc.

Sunday 30:
banana chocolate chip muffins and tropical smoothies
leftovers from the weekend
eggplant and chickpea curry, homemade pita, 

Monday 31:
cereal and fruit
peanut butter toast, fruit, veggies and dip
baked tofu and caulipots (mashed potatoes AND cauliflower)

Tuesday 1:
banana coffee cake
miso noodle soup
tortilla casserole, salad

Wednesday 2:
cereal and smoothies
yellow split pea soup with sweet potatoes and kale, steamed broccoli, fresh bread

Thursday 3:
toast and fruit smoothies
out for lunch
red beans and rice, green beans, salad

Friday 4:
yogurt with fruit and homemade granola
bean burritos and cheesy roll-ups
lentil, kale and red onion pasta, corn

Saturday 5:
cereal and fruit
out for lunch
homemade veggie pizza

Extras:  homemade veggie dip, granola, spiced chocolate pudding, bread

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oh, how I love thee POP TARTS...

I promise you that I am NO Martha Stewart and I am not particularly crafty when it comes to creativity and food.  I can take recipes and adapt them to my own pretty well but I am too impatient for beautiful photography and exact I apologize in advance if they are a little off.  I was first inspired by these vegan blueberry hand pies and when I tried to follow the directions, it didn't work for me...errr...I didn't work for it, maybe?!?  So this is how I adapted the recipe and good luck with the fillings.  ;)

PS:  These do take a bit of time but it is so much more enjoyable when you have a Picky reading to you in the kitchen and keeping you company.  Let me know how it goes!


Step 1:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Pat yourself on the back.
Step 2:  Prepare your baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper.  Whole Foods sells some awesome, natural, non-bleached paper.  ;)
Step 3:  Make the Pie Crust:
Pie Crust Recipe 
(use any crust recipe you wish.  My favorite is from Vegan Lunch Box by Jennifer McCann)

2 cups flour (I used All Purpose)
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup nonhydrogenated butter
5-7 T ice water, as needed.

Mix flour and salt in big bowl.

Cut in butter with pastry cutter or fingers until all big lumps are gone.  Drizzle the water one tablespoon at a time until you can form a ball.  If it gets too sticky, add a light dusting of flour.  Shape the dough into a ball.

Step 4:
Roll the pie crust out THIN...almost transparent.  (I usually put half the ball back in the ball and work with smaller amounts of crust at a time).

Step 5:
Find a cutter (no, that is most definitely NOT a technical term).  I use the Biggest Picky's lunch container.  It is double the size of a pop tart but when we fold it in half it is perfect pop-tart size.  Ta-Da!  You could always try cookie cutters (just cut two for each tart) or use a sharp knife to cut roughly 9 x 6 inches.  Place the rectangles on the parchment paper.  This recipe made NINE pop tarts for me but it really all depends on how big you cut.

Step 6:  Stab 1/2 of the rectangle with a fork so it doesn't puff up like me at eight months pregnant. (just kidding...wanted to make sure you were still reading!)

Step 7:  Prepare the fillings.  This is where you can become creative.  Mix some frozen fruit with some sugar and a bit of cornstarch.  Use organic jelly.  Mix 1 teaspoon of flour with some brown sugar, coconut flakes and cinnamon.  Whatever makes you happy.  This time I used fruit conserves that is pretty low in sugar for 1/2 of my pop tarts and the brown sugar coconut concoction for the other half.

Step 8:  Spoon roughly 2 T filling on the rectangle half that you didn't pierce...try to stay away from the edges.

Step 9:  Fold the pierced half over.  Take a fork and crimp the edges to make it look fancy.

Step 10:  Brush with some almond milk or milk (I'm sure egg whites would work, too!).  I dusted some vegan cane sugar on top.  (Why vegan sugar, you ask?  Two words for you about traditional sugar:  BONE CHAR.) Or you can make icing and put sprinkles on them!

Step 11:  Bake 18-20 minutes.

Step 12:  Enjoy.

Step 13:  Exercise.  :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mama's Planning Some Meals

I've been holding out.  I have been meal-planning for the last few weeks but I haven't been posting.  It just seemed like a ton of work from which there was only a bit of interest.  But then people kept telling me how much they enjoy the posts, so here I am...I hope that committing this all to the internet world will force me to stick to my intentions.  :)

Meal Plans 
Week of 1/23

Sunday 23
Breakfast:  cereal and bananas
Lunch:  out
Dinner:  black-eyed peas and greens, homemade drop-biscuits

Monday 24
Breakfast:  homemade brown sugar and cinnamon pop tarts, smoothies
Lunch:  bean burritos and cheesy roll-ups

Tuesday 25
Breakfast:  toast and fruit
Lunch:  miso soup with noodles
Dinner:  pasta fagioli soup, homemade bread, green salad

Wednesday 26
Breakfast:  cereal and smoothies
Lunch:  leftovers
Dinner:  homemade pizza, broccoli piccata

Thursday 27
Breakfast:  carrot-raisin muffins and applesauce
Lunch:  grilled pizza sandwiches, veggies and ranch
Dinner:  red beans and rice, steamed kale, corn on the cob 

Friday 28
Breakfast:  carrot-raisin muffins and smoothies
Lunch:  bean burritos and cheesy roll-ups
Dinner:  grilled cheese sandwiches and veggie dill soup

Saturday 29
Breakfast:  cereal and smoothies
Lunch:  out
Dinner:  pancakes, tofu scramble, roasted potatoes

Some Yummy Extras:  spiced chocolate pudding,  bread, cashew cream sauce for smoothies.  :)

An Open Letter

Dear Friend,

Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. ~Author Unknown

Never allow someone's opinions to define you or your self-worth.  Realize your beauty, your potential and how much you contribute to the world while the nay-sayers of the world speak with sharp tongues and unkind intentions.  You are so strong and brave...especially since you don't think so and that is one of the most amazing things about you:  your humility.  You don't even realize how much you impact my life, other's lives, the WORLD and yet you feel that you can do more.  And that is the beauty that is uniquely YOU.

Stand up for yourself.  Demand respect. And if all else fails, BE love in all that you do.  There will still be troubled times but give yourself the upper-hand by showing grace and compassion.  Breathe peace into the faces and lives of everyone who needs a bit of it.  Those people who cause the problems?  They just don't have enough peace in their souls.

Take my words for what they are...markings on a screen.  I tend to forget my own words, thoughts and beliefs (I'm blessedly imperfect, after all) but when I come together to deal with sharp tongues, having a peaceful heart prevails.

Thank you for being you.

Sending much love, kindness, patience, peace and Simon and Garfunkel your way.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Smooth Mornings...

So The Pickies are usually pretty awesome at breakfast.  What's not to like about cereal, toast, muffins or whatever sweet concoction mom has created?  They LOVE fruit, applesauce and yogurt so adding that to a breakfast meal makes Daddy the most popular chef in the house (he oversees breakfast while I am a "lady of leisure": checking my email, drinking my coffee, blogging and mentally preparing myself for our day). 

The two littlest Pickies aren't as willing to try new things and the smallest Picky has become REALLY particular.  Dad became concerned and we started making shakes/smoothies for breakfast.  The kids really like them and at first, we bought some protein powder to put in them and when I read the nutritional info, I wasn't that impressed. Supplements are awesome for people who aren't consuming all of the vitamins and minerals they need...why not make a smoothie that has essential nutrients naturally?  

So I came up with this awesome smoothie and vary it according to what is in the house.  The Pickies are currently anti-seeds, so we have been using frozen blueberries vs. the frozen berry blend.  ;)  Greens-wise, I have been using fresh kale but I was out this morning, so I threw in some frozen spinach.  If you are worried about the greens, don't fret; blueberries hide the flavor and color.  However, if you have never tried a kale/banana smoothie, I suggest you do so.  YUM.  Today I added some unsweetened cocoa powder at the end and the kids LOVED it!

Morning Smoothie
handful of ice cubes
3-4 oz. frozen blueberries
1 banana
3 or 4 dates (dates rock.)
8-12 oz. almond milk 
1 stalk of a green, rinsed and leaves trimmed
2 teaspoons vanilla
Blend the ice, fruit and milk.  When smooth, add your greens and vanilla.  If you like a thicker shake, add more ice or frozen fruit.  
Just think of all the awesome calcium, antioxidants and fiber you are giving your kids in the morning..naturally.  :)  

An empty cup=full belly.  :)