Sunday, September 30, 2012

Meal Planning Mondays: deserving better.


Never before motherhood had I known such involuntary starvation.

It can be wildly misleading when someone congratulates me on two postpartum pounds shed.
You would think I was actually doing something right over here.

  Ya know, a breastfeeding mother needs to be careful about her nutrition, right?
I wish I could say I am dutifully eating my five mini meals a day,
taking ample supplements
yada yada yada.
In all reality it is too often that I feel shaky and light-headed around five pm, realizing that WAIT A MINUTE I HAVE LITERALLY NOT HAD A SINGLE THING TO EAT YET TODAY BESIDES ELLIE JANE'S ANIMAL CRACKER AND I'M GOING TO DIE THIS VERY INSTANT CALL 911.
How does this happen you ask? Well go ahead and have yourself four children who each intermittently cry, spill things, ask for seconds/thirds/fourths, destroy your house, require discipline, breastfeed every three hours (well, one of them anyways), incessantly interrupt,  live on nap schedules, need to be picked up from school, taken to piano/story-time/playdates/library visits/dentist appts, and who strategically await for the anxiously anticipated millisecond when you will actually sit down and attempt to take a bite of their leftover peanut butter and jelly crust for the victorious moment when they will shout out to you from the bathroom needing immediate assistance.... 

and you will soon understand why all of this is followed by
a completely ravenous and starved little me drowning myself in half a bowl of cookie dough made solely for the purpose of a one-on-one date on the couch watching Jon Stewart re-runs after everyone is finally in bed. I feel nauseous and burp-ish, fall into a comatose sleep for the night until I wake up the next morning to a scale weighing 1 pound lighter.
y.a.y.

wow. HEALTHY, RIGHT?

A good weigh to lose some weight? Apparently. 
But 
am 
MISERABLE.
when this happens, i tell you.
MIS.ER.A.BLE.

Moody and unfocused and lethargic and down on energy. Back in my more single college days I would have thought I hit the jackpot of creative ways to destroy yourself in the cause of skinny - hey ladies you gotta check out this diet it's called the starve all day eat four pounds of cookie dough before bed suicide diet!

- but now?

 THIS IS NO WAY FOR A MAMA TO LIVE.

I need energy. I need patience. I need zest for life.

I need LUNCH.

And when I've wrapped up feeding all the kiddos and think seriously, why bother with another mess making myself a grown up meal? I repeat over and over: YOU DESERVE TO EAT
Go ahead, make yourself a sandwich you bad, baaaad girl.

;)


So here are my frequent two lunches staples that keep me going through the day....

...............................................................................

1. The Make Ahead
 Veggie Roast with Quinoa




You need:

chopped veggies
olive oil
salt

cooked quinoa


Directions:

 I like broccoli, sweet potatoes, red onions, bell peppers, cauliflower, zucchini...everything basically. Chop, toss with olive oil and kosher salt and roast at 400 until crisp tender.

Cook quinoa according to directions.Mix and serve. 

(I roast a huge pan of veggies on Sunday and cook up a bunch of quinoa for the week. Saves a ton of time and keeps ya healthy midweek!}

....................................................................................

2. The infamous Green Smoothie.



Well, it's amazedaze.
Packed with good things for your body. 
I always throw some in my smoothie for added punch. It may all be one placebo effect, but I feel a HUGE HUGE energy/mind/body difference when I'm regularly guzzling down my green smoothies. 


I usually use

 About two cups spinach (or kale)
1 cup Frozen fruit of choice ( berries, peaches, melon, or pears are my fave)
1/2 banana (for sweetness)
1/8 cup chia seeds
1 1/2 cups almond milk or water


Blend and guzzle. The colder the better.



...............................................................................


Because I deserve a healthy me.

And YOU deserve a healthy YOU.





{and don't worry, baked goods will return next week )












Wednesday, September 26, 2012

color poppin' we be rockin'


because sometimes a lover of all things white and neutral
needs just a splash....















and for under $5, why not?!



Monday, September 24, 2012

Meal Planning Mondays: An art form.





My Mom always said that Home-making was very different from House-keeping.

"Homemaking is an art form."

I agree.

I like to apply that rationale to many different avenues of my life.

As far as home/dinner is concerned: Did you ever think the act of gathering around a table to eat could be considered an art form, a place for expression and expansion?

Eh, me either. 

but I'm starting to. 
And as time goes on i am fine-tuning it a bit. I have this lovely vision of a big table bathed in warm light on a dark evening, surrounded by delightful aromas and loved ones anxious to unwind and share stories and break bread. I imagine ideas discussed, feelings shared, and hopefully: lots of good laughter.

In the mean-time, we're starting basic, beginning with:

1.  forcing everyone to wait for ME, THE PERSON WHO JUST SLAVED AWAY COOKING THE DARN MEAL TO ACTUALLY SIT AND BE ALLOWED TO EAT BEFORE EVERYONE ELSE HAS ALREADY FINISHED AND ASKS TO EXIT THE TABLE THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

2.  Taking our time eating and relaxing a bit. Twenty to thirty minutes. No big, right? WRONG. I was AMAZED that we actually spend on average around 6 minutes from start to finish on dinner. And if you think that puts a real dent in the social aspect, just imagine the post dinner digestive tract of this house....eeeeehhhhhhhhh!

3. Conversation. So...everybody has to wait for mom to actually sit down AND we have to spend like TWENTY WHOLE MINUTES working on our food so WHAT IN HEAVENS NAME ARE WE TO DO WITH ALL THIS OVERWHELMING INTERIM?????

Converse! Try it folks!
Let's practice with each other!

Here's a snapshot of our average nightly conversation. We like to go around the table  and say the best and worst parts of our day to each other. 

......................................................

Lily: "OKAY OKAY OKAY everybody I AM starting. So London, what was the best part of your day?"

London: "Katy was mean to me when we was playing bawbies."

Dad: "Lundy, Lily asked you what the BEST part of your day was?"
.
.
.
silence.
.
.
.
.
.
?
.
.
?
.
.

Mom: "oKAY well, while London thinks...how about Lily?"

Lily: "I helped to clean up after lunch and Principal Ernst gave me a gator bite [school reward dollar] and i was like whoa this is crazy and then i was like wait a minute connection BAM i got three gator bites last week and BAM another connection three gator bites plus one gator bite equals FOUR gator bites. London, I'm going to tell you about the rules, are you listening to what I'm saying here? The rules. R. O. L. S. Ruuules. The rules. Okay you say: Alyce Taylor Gators are ready to learn CHOMP CHOMP and then you clap on the CHOMP CHOMP part so do it when i say it okay.....ALYCE TAYLOR GATORS ARE READY TO LEARN----

Dad: "UM...well we're not going to yell the Gator chant right now at the table Lils - - London please sit down and don't stand on your chair..... why don't we let everyone finish the best/worst parts of their day first...."

Lily: "K, but can I be in charge?"

Mom: "Fine, but we need to go back to London."
Ellie Jane, we don't throw that. Put the potatoes down. Eat your potatoes. EAT . YES! YUMMMMY."

Lily: "Ah hem, so London what was the best part of your day?"

London: "....and I'm not gonna be fwiends anymo with Gwace cuz she was being like so wude (rude) to me and i wanted to be the pwincess but she said i had to be the sista...."

Mom: "London, YOU CAN TELL US THE BAD PARTS AFTER YOU SHARE THE NICE PART OF YOUR DAY. You had a good day and we want to know the sad parts but let's first focus on the happy ones. What about when you got your favorite popsicles this afternoon, remember that?"

London: "Well Lulee jus got the colah (color) i wanted."

Mom: "Okay we're done. Your turn Daddy. Seriously what chapter did I miss in The Happiest Toddler on the Block? What is with Debbie Downer over there?! And why am I already done with all my food? Why do they say you should chew each bite like THIRTY times? Is that even POSSIBLE? Who are these people who do that, and WHAT are they chewing? LIQUID? How can you technically continue to CHEW a bunch of fully masticated liquid? Are they mouth swishing it around? Are they IMAGINING that there is food still in their mouth? How did they come up with that number?
So... what was Daddy's favorite part of the day?"

Daddy: "My best part of the day was coming home to all of you...."


........................................................

Yeah, like I said, a real art form. 



RECIPE TIME!:

I offer these two as ideas for that first day when the weather turns real nice and crisp-like. Sweet Autumn, welcome.

1. One of our favorite soups. It's got bomb flavor, and is just as good vegetarian (substitute the chicken with black beans).


Chicken Sweet Potato Soup


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1 large onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 to 2 chipotle chili in adobo, finely chopped, plus a spoon of sauce from the can
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme, eyeball it
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup dry white wine, eyeball it
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 3/4 to 1 pound chicken tenders, cut into bite size pieces
  • 4 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, a generous handful, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, for garnish, optional

Directions

Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, about 2 turns of the pan.
While soup pot heats, chop carrots in half lengthwise then slice into thin half moons. Add the carrots to the pot while it heats, stirring to coat the carrots in the oil. Chop and drop in celery and onion, chopping as small as you can, but don't make yourself crazy. Add the garlic, chipotle, and adobo sauce and stir to combine. Season the veggies with salt, pepper, thyme, and bay leaf. Cook the veggies together 1 minute. Add the wine and reduce a minute. Add the stock to the pot, cover the pot, and raise heat to high. Bring the stoup to a boil, remove the cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into quarters lengthwise, then thinly slice into bite size pieces. Add the cut chicken and sweet potatoes and simmer 5 minutes until sweet potatoes are tender and chicken is cooked through. Turn the heat off and add the scallions and cilantro. Serve each portion of stoup with a dollop of sour cream on top.


Recipe adapted from Racheal Ray. 

............................................................


2. Can't beat the smell of warm pretzels in the oven....fun activity for the kiddos too.











Homemade Pretzels


For the Pretzels:


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/3 cup baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
Make the pretzels: Warm the milk in a saucepan until it's about 110 degrees; pour into a medium bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let the yeast soften, about 2 minutes; stir in the brown sugar and 1 cup flour with a wooden spoon. Dice 2 tablespoons butter and soften; stir into the mix. Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups flour and the fine salt to make a sticky dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and grease a large baking sheet. Punch the dough to deflate it, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. (If the dough seems tight, cover and let rest until it relaxes.) Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 30-inch rope, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch. Form each rope into a pretzel shape.
Dissolve the baking soda in 3 cups warm water in a shallow baking dish. Gently dip each pretzel in the soda solution, then arrange on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with the coarse salt. Bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes.

Mustard Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
Mix above ingredients and use as a tangy dipping sauce for a regular salted or plain pretzel.


Cinnamon Sugar rub:
1/4 cup cubed butter
1/2 cup sugar
cinnamon to taste

Blend together to form a good paste. Add as much cinnamon as you prefer. Rub on pretzels before baking.


Garlic Butter:

2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cube melted butter
dash of kosher salt

Mix garlic and butter together and brush onto pretzel dough forms. Bake and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt (to taste). 

Recipe adapted from Food Network.





Enjoy your art forms!!!




Thursday, September 20, 2012

It shall be titled....











Making Lemonade.

{followed by a joyfully reckless Dollar Tree splurge
with two extremely successful
little street vendor
entrepreneurs}















Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Loving.

1. corn fields.



2. kind, generous friends. (thanks nat!)



3. little girl in pink boots

4. evening street play.




5. turning seasons




7. craigslist gem.
new table, 
EIGHT CHAIRS! 
 solid, weathered wood
well made but not too bulky
straight-back colonial style seats
insanely cheap.
like INSANELY cheap, as in i even embarrassed the 
good name of the craigslist down and dirty anonymous bargaining system
with my painfully low offer


and i got it!












Monday, September 17, 2012

Meal Planning Mondays: my thoughts.








Do you ever feel like you're on an eternal stair master?
Climbing, climbing, climbing...
then more climbing.
And though technically you might be reaching higher places
you find yourself falling into bed at night thinking
each step feels the same
and it's so tiring
and you're not sure how far you're actually getting
you wonder if you're simply
retreating back to the same place every day
and beginning the same climb?


and you're really...really starting to just
hate.
stairs.


When I feel like this I know it is time.
Time for a shake-up, a little reassessment and some major simplification.

Sometimes I think we humans can strive for good....soooooo much good...that we start drowning in the pursuit. And then...hmmm, I guess the good can become quite bad.

Nothing I'm engaged in is particularly awful or monstrously wasteful or unworthy of approval.
But there are days when I find myself barking too much at my children. I'm rigid and humorless to my husband. Tense with anxiety and to-do lists and schedules and all these ideas of what constitutes the "good life".
 I am like a snippy little biotch on a mission. 

I was struck with a few impressions this month:

Someday 
My children will not care to remember how clean our tub was {or wasn't} , 
or whether the crackers they were fed were organic. 
They will not care about how perfectly coordinated their outfits were. 
They will not care about the craft we worked on that afternoon. 
They will not care about how old our furniture was
or what model car we drove.
They will not care if I finished the laundry by Monday 
or if they arrived to their gymnastics class on time. 


They will however, always remember whether they had a cheerful mother {or not}.
They will always remember if I treated them with kindness and patience {or not}.
They will always remember how well I loved and treated their Dad {or not}.

So with that in mind, 
I'm working on pursuing a little less
and smiling a little more.

.......................................................................


RECIPE TIME!

Entree/Side/Dessert ideas that celebrate the last tastes of summer.


1. Entree

Sausage Pepper Polenta Bake

  • 5 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • medium yellow onion, halved lengthwise, then cut into thin wedges
  • medium yellow, red, or orange bell pepper, cut lengthwise into thin slices 
  • cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt, freshly ground black pepper, and red chile flakes
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage, sweet or spicy (or 1 lb. Italian sausage links removed from their casings) 
  • tubes (16 oz. each) prepared polenta, sliced into 1/2-in.-thick rounds
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, drained and sliced into 1/4-in.-thick rounds

Preparation

  1. 1. Preheat broiler to high. Heat 3 tbsp. oil in a 2- to 3-qt. saucepan set over medium heat, then add tomatoes and oregano and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
  2. 2. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, heat 1 tbsp. oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, and chile flakes, and stir to combine. Cover pan, lower heat to medium, and cook until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add sausage, stirring and breaking it into small pieces with a wooden spoon as it firms up, about 5 minutes. Cover pan and cook until vegetables are tender and sausage is cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes more. Add tomato sauce and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. 3. While sauce is cooking, pour remaining 1 1/2 tbsp. oil into a 9- by 13-in. baking pan and tilt to coat bottom. Add polenta slices to pan and turn to coat with oil, then arrange slices lengthwise in 3 slightly overlapping rows. Broil polenta about 4 in. from heating element until golden brown and crispy, 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. 4. Pour sauce over broiled polenta, then arrange mozzarella slices over the top. Broil until cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.


Recipe adapted from Sunset Mag.
.....................................................................




2. Feta and Watermelon, WHO KNEW?!! It's delicious!



Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint


  • 1 (5-pound) watermelon
  • 1 Vidalia or other sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil ( i use 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 6 whole mint sprigs

Directions

Cut the flesh from the melon and cut into bite size pieces, removing and discarding the seeds, and set aside. Peel and slice the onion into rings.
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, salt, pepper, and whisk until salt is dissolved. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, a few drops at a time. Add in the chopped mint, taste, and adjust seasonings.
In a large bowl, combine the melon, onion, and feta. Pour the dressing over the melon mixture and toss gently until everything is coated and evenly mixed. Garnish with mint sprigs.


Recipe adapted from Paula Deen.


.................................................................................


3. Simple and special.


Ever tried Panna Cotta? 
It's an eggless custard, or as I like to say a really fancy way to name cream Jello.
It's delicious, it's simple, and is sooo good in warm summer months with fresh raspberries, or peaches, or kiwis, or strawberries, or blueberries, or anything your little heart desires thrown in.



Raspberry Panna Cotta.

  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
2 pints raspberries , one to go in the panna cotta and another set aside for garnish sauce

In a saucepan gently heat the cream. Add the sugar and gelatin. Once dissolved add vanilla. Bring the cream to a simmer infusing the flavors for about 10 minutes. Once it thickens pour mixture into 6 ramekins filled with a small handful of berries. Place ramekins onto a tray and then put in the refrigerator to chill and set about 6 hours or overnight. Serve with raspberry coulis and top with a fresh raspberry.
For raspberry coulis
In a food processor puree raspberries. Over a bowl strain puree into a sieve using a rubber spatula discard seeds. Top your chilled panna cotta and serve!


Recipe adapted from Food Network.










Sunday, September 9, 2012

and rae takes a break.



I need to take a little break peeps. I'm sorry for putting off another meal-planning monday. I intend on getting that whole scene cleaned up and more functional in the near future.

But life is busy and I have too much mama-ing to do and I swore myself up and down that this blog will remain a labor of love, not a labor of more labor

But you should go see 2016.

In theaters now.

I have long been a fan of thinker Dinesh D'Souza. 

Big time fan. As in I was just finishing up a chapter of the...hmmm .... 7th book of his I've voraciously plowed through before Tyler insisted it was time to finally get in the car and go see his documentary. Weird? Maybe. But i don't care!


Back soon!












Thursday, September 6, 2012

Highlights.




1. My iphone has 23 million photos taken by my children. And 21 million videos. They are obsessed with sneaking off with my phone. What i find later is mostly incoherent shaking dizzy footage that films a lot of the ground and feet running with plenty of yelling. I skim through most of them on a night when Tyler is out of town and I've forgotten the concept of productivity. I laugh in my bed out loud deciphering the spats, the jumbled words, and the cute lisps. Sometimes I find a real gem. I viewed one installment of Lily pulling on London's seatbelt in the car. London was squirming and fighting against the pressure of the tightening seatbelt. I was in and out loading things as we prepared to leave. London wailed. There was lots of scuffling and ground footage and I heard it: whack! London gave it to Lily, real good.
..................................

Lily cried and screamed, Ow You JERK!
London promptly tattled as I returned to the vehicle: MOM, LILY JUS CALLED ME A JEWK!
Mom: Lily, we don't call people mean words.
Lily lied: No i didn't! I was calling MYSELF a jerk.
Mom: Still not okay. We aren't MEAN TO OURSELVES either.

....................................


Now if that wasn't just a golden nugget of parental advice, i don't know what is, i congratulated myself. never mind that, like two ships passing in the night,, none of the other madness was addressed.

I'm so bummed, I don't have that video anymore. I've got to record some of this important stuff.
Important to me at least, completely unbiased objective mother that I am.

Favorite iphoto of the week:
Lily captures Emerson's morning blow out.
Thanks, Lil.





2. Let's give this the EXCITING caption:
 London in her room.




3. Uncle Alex and Jocelyn took the big girls on an outing last week. They are still talking about it. Just look at the invites to see why:




Ty and I took advantage of the time left with only our two babies for the day.
We went shopping.
because we were like
  oh wow shopping with only two babies is like so totally easy oh my gosh.
?





Love them. 









And that's a wrap!