Gifts from Bend, OR

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Green your coffee routine

Save 23 lbs of waste this year and start using a reusable coffee cup to keep you caffeinated.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Meatless Monday: Sweet potato burrito version 2

courtesy of Tasty Kitchen
Since going back to work full time, I have struggled with getting dinner on the table at night. I'm finding that weekend prepping may be my key to getting something healthy on the table each day instead of peanut butter sandwiches.

I found this recipe on Pinterest  and made all the ingredients ahead of time on Sunday and it was a hit. This would make a great make ahead lunch dish too!

Sweet potato burritos
by Tasty Kitchen

2 whole Sweet Potatoes, Peeled And Cubed Small
1 whole Red Pepper, Diced Small
1 whole Red Onion, Diced Small
2 teaspoons Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
1 pinch Salt And Pepper
1 can Black Beans, Rinsed And Drained (15 Ounce Can)
½ cups Fresh Cilantro, Chopped
2 teaspoons Fresh Lime Juice
2 cups Shredded Cheddar
1 package Burrito-Sized Wheat Tortillas Or Wraps (6-10 Count)

In a bowl, toss your raw veggies in olive oil and season with spices. Place in a large baking dish and roast in 425 degree oven for 20 minutes, tossing around halfway through.

Let cool. Add your roasted veggies to a can of rinsed black beans. Add cilantro and squirt of lime juice. Combine gently. At this point, mixture can be stored for later use.

Warm your wheat tortillas or wraps in microwave according to directions on package. Spray a casserole dish with nonstick spray or olive oil spray.

Add two heaping tablespoons of vegetable and bean mixture to center of wrap. Top with shredded cheese. Fold over, fold in sides, place in pan and continue to roll the others. Place into your baking dish, seam side down so that they stay together.

Bake in 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Baking this way will make the tortilla wrap crisp. For a softer burrito, spray burrito with nonstick spray, then wrap in aluminum foil and bake for same amount of time.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Want, need, wear, read

Why are the holidays stressful? Oh wait, because I made it that way! Yes, it's completely my fault. I like control. I like to socialize. I like to see the joy in my children's eyes. I like my dad to get his yearly Starbucks card from me. I like to bake and cook. But the stress. It's killing me. And my tree isn't up. 

This year, I vowed to simplify. There isn't much I need. I asked for a larger crockpot. Costco has it for $29.  My son, however, asked for a $90 remote control shark -- thanks to Cartoon Network (add to my parenting to do list -- wean my son off Cartoon Network).  For a week, he kept asking to go to the store because he wanted a toy shark. Ben has plenty of toy sharks. I showed him his Bruce shark. He insisted -- I want a toy shark for Christmas. Then, the remote control shark commercial came on and it all made sense why he was asking for 9 volt batteries. The shark is ordered but that's all he's getting from us. 

The baby's list wasn't hard. She is getting a rubber snake. Why a rubber snake? She is pretty attached to her brother's snake and he's not to happy about it. 

Back to simplifying. We didn't send out a formal baby announcement for EmmyLu. Shoot, EmmyLu's room STILL isn't decorated. I'm setting this child up for future therapy sessions already because she is the victim of second child syndrome already. I vowed to send photo Christmas card to make up for no formal baby announcement. Yes, add that to my list of things to do. I have the best intentions, I really do.

This year is the first year I will be doing Want, Need, Wear, Read. My friend with the best advice, Alissa, has been doing this for her kids and I stole the idea from her. 

Ben's list looks like this:
Want: RC Shark
Need: Underwear, socks
Wear: 5T shirts
Read: Goodnight Moon (he loves this book and will get it at the library from time to time so I found it cheap at TJ Maxx)

It's my best attempt to start simplifying. Maybe next year, I will cut the holiday card out? I could send out an email? But I know my great aunt and uncle really like getting their card since they don't have email or Facebook.

I think as my kids get older, we'll get into a routine.

Now, I better get working on the grandparents gifts so I can get them in the mail. 

How have you simplified the holidays? 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Meatless Monday: Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese

Since heading back to work full time, I'm always looking for a meal I can throw together Sunday to reheat for lunch or during the week. I'm weird about crockpot cooking and I'm always afraid if I'm going to not be home to watch it, it will blow up and start my house on fire. Yes, I'm admitting I'm a bit of a freak. 

When I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I was intrigued and a little suspect.  It is super easy to assemble and basically you fix it and forget about it for 3.5-4 hours. And we all know, homemade mac and cheese is a labor of love and takes time. This recipe is not your typical creamy mac and cheese ... it's more southern style and custard-like. If that's not the way you like it, this isn't your recipe. We loved the recipe and I will probably make this again as we usually have all the ingredients on hand. 

Crockpot Mac & Cheese

Cooking oil spray
2 cups skim milk
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 cups pre-shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
Dash of hot sauce

Spray the pot of the slow cooker or if using a liner bag, spray the bag well. In a mixing bowl whisk together milk, evaporated milk, egg, salt and pepper. Pour milk mixture into the crockpot. Add cheese and uncooked macaroni. Stir gently to mix.

Turn slow cooker on low and cook 3-4 hours, or until the custard is set and the macaroni is tender. Add a few shots of hot sauce to your tasting (Do not cook more than 4 hours, or the sides will begin to dry out).

Follow me on Pinterest! This board is featured on my Things I've Made from Pinterest board.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Meatless Monday: Cauliflower & Cheddar Soup

Image courtesy of Martha Stewart
You know it's fall in my house when my husband start requesting soup on Sunday. Yes, Souper Sunday IS BACK! I love fall mainly for the sweaters I get to wear and the fall bounty of vegetables, many of which, make awesome soup dishes. His first request was this soup cauliflower soup. I've featured one of my favorites here before so I thought I'd share our other favorite soup.

I'm not joking when I say I go NUTS for cool kitchen gadgets as gifts and my immersion hand mixer has to be one of my favorites and most used.

This soup is easy to make and pretty much done in 20 mins. I did add a 1/2 cup of cream to make it more velvety ... is that a word?

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups low-sodium veggie broth, plus more if desired
5 1/2 ounces sharp cheddar, grated (1 1/2 cups)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup of half n half or heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a large pot, melt butter over medium. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 minutes. Add cauliflower and cook until just beginning to brown, 12 minutes. Add broth and 1 cup water; bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat and simmer until cauliflower is very tender, 20 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.

In batches, fill a blender halfway with mixture and puree until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Return pureed soup to pot and add more broth or water for a thinner consistency, if desired. Heat over medium until warmed through; add cheese and stir until melted. Stir in 1/2 cup of cream or half n half. Season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with cayenne.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

No sew octopus Halloween costume

Oh hi! I seemed to have skipped September and now we're onto October. I've made one of my personal goals for November to be post a blog entry each day. I have a lot to say but no time to say it but I'm determined to make time! Early mornings, late nights, lunch breaks ... here we go!

If you don't know me personally, you probably aren't aware I ended up going back to work at the end of August. Silence explained. The new gig is a step up -- more responsibility, more hours, a chance to work in tourism and broaden my marketing skills from  locally marketing to nationally marketing a product. That product is a resort and convention center. I'm super excited! And it's been fun too.

But that's not why I'm here today. I'm here to talk to you about my son's latest obsession -- anything that has to do with the ocean. For months, Benjamin has told me he wants to be a stingray for Halloween. Since I don't sew and have no intention or time to learn, I googled several various of "how to make a no sew stingray costume." Nothing came up. Then two weeks ago later he tells, he wants to be an octopus! Whew! That will be easy to do.

no sew octopus costume
This no sew octopus costume is easy to put together
Saturday, while my husband was working, Benjamin and I tackled the no sew costume and were done in under 30 mins.

Here is what you'll need:
1 hooded sweatshirt, color of choice, 1 size larger than your child normally wears
8 knee high socks, color of choice
stuffing for the legs (we used plastic bags)
felt, we used black and white for the eyes
fabric glue
8 safety pins

optional: felt furniture pads (for the tentacles)

Start by stuffing the eight knee high socks and get the kids involved -- Benjamin LOVED this part. If you're using the felt furniture pads, attach them now.

Next step is safety pin at desired length to the inside of the sweatshirt -- now you know why you bought a sweat shirt one size bigger than your child normally wears.  Cut circles out for the eyes and glue them to the sweatshirt. PRESTO! You have a homemade octopus costume.

I've had to hid this costume for now, otherwise, he'd wear it night and day -- to school, to bed.

What's your favorite no sew Halloween costume?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

DIY Natural Lemon Vinegar Cleaner

I saw this recipe on Pinterest and had to try it. Lemons are a staple in our house and we always have peels left over. I was inspired by this recipe by Wonky Wonderful.

  • Fill glass jar with lemon peels
  • Fill glass jar with vinegar
  • Put jar in dark place and forget about it for 2-3 
  • Strain liquid from the jar and mix 50/50 water, vinegar
  • Put liquid in container and clean away
It smells great AND is non-toxic.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Meatless Monday: Sally's Super Salad

Remember Soupcon? Well, Steven and his pal Joel ditched their cart and opened a neighborhood Spanish kitchen called Barrio in downtown Bend.

I had all these plans to eat there when they opened in March but my doctor put me on bedrest the night we had a sitter and were going. It wasn't until they were opened 6 weeks that I had a chance to visit and as I thought, the place is amazing. They still serve the cart items at lunch but the night menu features different tapas and paella that change often.

Last week, my husband and I meet some friends for lunch while the kids were at daycare/pre-school and I had this AMAZING salad called Sally's Super Salad. I was so obsessed with it, I savored it, scheming how to recreate it at home.

The surprising ingredient of the salad was quinoa ... something I will now keep in the refrigerator to throw on all my green salads. Since quinoa is high in protein, it actually helped me stay full!  Enjoy!

Sally's Super Salad
inspired by Barrio

1 head of lettuce, your choice, washed and cut (we used romaine)
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 grapefruit, cut skinless into slices
1 cup cooked and cooled quinoa
1/2 cup of nuts (we used sliced almonds, they used pumpkin seeds)
red wine vinaigrette dressing (buy or make your own)
1 avocado, sliced and cubed

Mix everything together but the avocado including dressing to your desired amount and toss. Add avocados and then eat! Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

DIY eye makeup remover recipe

use California Baby body wash
to make your DIY eye makeup remover
Since March, when I went on bed rest, I'm going to admit to you some things I'm not proud of. One item: I really haven't done much with my hair other than try to go without using shampoo. That is an ongoing saga -- one that I almost gave up on. I'm down to using no shampoo but clean my hair using 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 2 tablespoons of water every other day. Most of the time, my hair is shiny but does still have greasy days.

Another item I'm not proud of ... I really don't care to put make up on. It really all started out this way because I couldn't stand for long periods of time. Then I had the baby and I used the excuse of being sleep deprived. So what is now my excuse? I guess I realized that I don't really need make-up. I will put on mascara a couple times of week when I have meetings but that's about it. What leads me to the next story.

Last Friday, I took the kids to pre-school and day care and met a colleague for coffee to talk about some content writing I was doing that involved the company she worked for. When I got there, I realized I was not wearing any make-up and was super worried. "What would Cathy think of me?" I thought to myself. She didn't say anything and then I apologized about not wear make-up.

Cathy admitted that she hated taking it off mascara and that sometimes the remover she used hurt and stung her eyes. I then remember that I never posted this cool recipe I discovered for DIY eye make-up remover that I made almost 18 months ago. I ran out in February and I haven't made a new batch.

Here you go Cathy ... visit this site and make your own tear free eye makeup remover. Instead of Johnson and Johnson, I use California Baby.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Meatless Monday: Ricotta and Pea Quinoa

I've always been intrigued by quinoa since it's a grain loaded with protein. It's pretty easy to make but I never know what goes well with it. I found this recipe on Fit Sugar and had all the ingredients on hand to whip up one Saturday afternoon.

This dish can either be a main dish paired with  hardly salad or a great cold side dish for a picnic or potluck. I've made it a few times since discovering this recipe over a month ago and enjoyed it as a light lunch.

Ricotta and Pea Quinoa
adapted from Fit Sugar

1 cup dried quinoa
1 cup shelled peas (about one pound in the pod)
4 breakfast radishes, thinly sliced (I don't like radishes so I left these out)
½ cup ricotta cheese (plus a bit extra for garnish)
½ cup torn basil
½ cup chives, roughly chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

To cook quinoa, first rinse and drain. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add quinoa and lemon zest (reserve juice). Simmer covered for about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool. I like to spread it on a cookie sheet to cool while I’m preparing the remaining ingredients.

Meanwhile, blanch your peas in salted, boiling water. They’ll only take a minute or so and will float when they’re ready. Strain the peas and place them in a bowl of ice water to cool for a few minutes. Then strain again and set aside.

Use a vegetable peeler to thinly shave the radishes. Add the peas, radishes, ricotta, basil, chives, olive oil, lemon juice, a few big pinches of salt and pepper to the quinoa. Stir very well, taste and adjust seasoning.

Garnish with a few dollops of ricotta and serve.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Doing other work is not selling out

That title is courtesy of Princess Lasertron, a Nebraskan, crafter and social media maven. I adore her blog, her hard work ethic and the way she uses social media. I look to her for inspiration on all those levels. She works hard, even with a two year old in tow. What a role model.

I haven't publicly written about what has been going on so here goes ... I lost my job a few days before I was returning from maternity leave. I loved that job and gave it 110% but 110% wasn't enough. Not even working my butt off on bed rest was enough. Not even doing work from home after hours was enough. My skills, talent and knowledge of interactive marketing was not enough. I spent 11 weeks dreading going back because I knew no matter how much I gave to it, I wouldn't have the leadership support I needed.

I haven't blogged much because I felt the title of this blog didn't exactly match my current state of mind. Yes, we are still green, buy organic and strive to live the lifestyle but I'm not a working mom. I'm a mom who is conflicted -- start my own business or go work for someone.

I want to work for myself but I'm swimming in doubt. Maybe it's hormones? Maybe it's the fact a big part of my life is now gone. Within an hour of losing my job, I announced on Facebook a project my husband and I had been working on for a while -- Just Get Me Going Interactive Media. It hasn't been a secret that I have helped businesses with their digital marketing needs on the side. I'd spend my lunch breaks at the library, got up early or stayed up late to work on projects. After announcing that endeavor, friends started sending me referrals and I had a few monthly contracts! Yay, I was living the Bend dream -- home with my kids, working for myself and having flexibility!

Through the Oregon Employment Department, I can apply for the Self-Employment Assistance program and get unemployment benefits while working on my own business. I started that process but I applied for health insurance for myself (my kids can be covered under my husband's insurance but it's too expensive to add me) and was denied due to my recent c-section and high blood pressure (which is now lower as it was due to pregnancy). Then the hospital bills from EmmyLu's birth started rolling in. Then it started to get hard to pay the mortgage. At the same time, a few jobs opened up that I would totally love doing so I applied. They would offer me the flexibility to work for someone and also work for my clients.

I was feeling guilty about pursuing both until this blog post from Princess Lasertron.  I had been wishing for a sign or some sort of direction and then she wrote these words "doing other work is not selling out." I'm not selling out ... I'm doing what I have to do to make it. My life isn't just about me anymore. I have a husband, two kids and a mortgage.

I have also thought about spending the time to monitze this blog which means I need to get rolling on the content again.

Thank you, Princess Lasertron for being an inspiration and for not selling out. That sentence was exactly what I needed.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Respect the 'barb 2012

Cherry Rhubarb Skillet Pie
A few weeks ago, I joked on Facebook that it was time for Rhubarb Fest 2012 and that I needed some ASAP as I had many culinary delights I wanted to try thanks to I ended up with so much rhubarb (and still have some) that I was able to try out many new recipes!

Here's a few facts about rhubarb that I didn't know until recently:
  • Rhubarb is usually considered to be a vegetable; however, in the United States, a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the United States as a fruit, it was to be counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties. (Wikipedia)
  • The leaves are toxic! (Wikipedia)
  • If you wrap the stalks in foil, they will last for weeks! (somewhere on Pinterest)
Here's a rundown of the recipes I took for a whirl in my kitchen:
Rhubarb Crumble Bars: This is an old standby recipe, thanks to Everyday Food. Easy to make and always a crowd pleaser.

Rhubarb Bread: Two batches of this were made this time around. To the second batch, I added a teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg which added some flavor. It makes two 9x5 loaves but both didn't rise so I'm thinking of putting all the batter in one 9x5 pan next time.

Naughty Rhubarb Scones: This was the winner of the Food52 challenge. They were easy to make and delicious. The problem is that it makes 16 scones and my husband, son and I had to finish 16 scones off. I may half the recipe next time.

Cherry Rhubarb Skillet Pie: I used frozen cherries instead of fresh and my favorite pie crust recipe instead of the one listed. I made this years ago when we were staying in a cabin in Eastern Oregon and remember being taken back by the adding of pepper and left it out. This time I added it and it gave the filling a zing so add the pepper!

Rhubarb Crumble: I will definitely make this again! I didn't brown the butter, as I was too lazy. Instead, I just melted it. I also had vanilla sugar left over from the scones and used that instead of their method which I felt worked fabulous. It was great for breakfast or warmed up with a scoop of ice cream.

Oven Braised Short Ribs in Rhubarb Wine Sauce: This was my first leap into making short ribs and it won't be my last. I ended up pairing this with creamy polenta and a salad which impressed my husband. This recipe will be returning again.

Short ribs!

As I said, I still have some rhubarb left and I'm still trying to figure out if I find another new dish to try OR repeat one from above. Maybe I'll make the short ribs again? 

What's your favorite rhubarb recipe?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Meatless Monday: Pinto Bean Burgers

My husband is pretty leery when it comes to recipes that have burger in the title but don't have any beef of it's kind involved in the ingredients.

Last month, my Everyday Food magazine featured this recipe and I gave it a whirl. Turns out, this may be the only non meat "burger" my husband will eat. He devoured two at dinner and ate the leftovers for lunch. Even my son, who only eats a handful of items, tried them and enjoyed it.

This recipe was incredibly easy to make and I wonder if I could sub the pinto beans for black beans as I always have black beans on hand.

What's your favorite meatless burger recipe?

Pinto Bean Burgers
by Everyday Food

2 cans (15.5 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 3/4 cups cooked long-grain white rice
1/3 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/3 cup olive oil, divided
8 hamburger buns
Toppings, such as mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce, avocado, tomato, cheese, and cucumber (optional)

In a large bowl, mash beans until a coarse paste forms. Add rice, breadcrumbs, scallions, cilantro, eggs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; gently fold to combine. Form into eight 3/4-inch patties.

In a large skillet, heat half the oil over medium-high; add half the patties and cook until browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a wire rack and tent with foil. Repeat with remaining oil and patties. Serve burgers on buns with desired toppings.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A different kind of CSA

Last year our CSA wasn't a hit in our house for a couple of reasons.

The first three months of my pregnancy I couldn't stand vegetables or bacon and I ended up composting most of it. The person I was sharing with was too busy with school to pick it up and we ended up having more kale and chard then we wanted!

This year, instead of signing up for a weekly subscription, I'm doing a drop-in CSA with Agricultural Connections. Each week, I get the vegetable list and can opt in for a half or full share. There is also an option to add items like local meats, cheese, fruit and eggs. It's the perfect option for my family especially if we're not eating the vegetables fast enough.

Thanks Agricultural Connections for offering a great local option without the commitment.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Free Summer fun tips

Summer fun!
Over the weekend we visited friends in Salem and Portland. It was a quick trip as I'm out of vacation time and my husband won't have vacation time for a while since starting a new job.

Ben playing in the sandbox with our friend's daughter reminded me to head out and purchase sand for our box. I also told my husband that this is the summer we need to get our son hiking. We used to hike when he was small enough to go in the backpack carrier and then we stopped!

I also ran across this great list from MNN with 50 free ideas for enjoying summer. This is getting printed off and put on the refrigerator! Hope you do the same.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

You know you have a girl when ...

I believed I have mentioned this before but I'm obsessed with play kitchens, tea party sets, dollhouses and dressing EmmyLu up (I've had the board on Pinterest since I found out I was having a girl). My mom said the same thing about me and I turned out to be a tomboy who played like a boy and was dirty all the time (an older brother and boy cousins will do that to you).

I didn't want to be that mom who said "my kid won't wear pink," because you can't escape it. Everything people are giving me is pink and girly. I've also been scolded ... stop with the gender roles! She may want to play with cars. I'm ok with that too.

In this obsession, I've started my search on Craigslist for a used play kitchen. I do not want a plastic one ... something like this from KidKraft (yes, more expensive) is what I've been looking for:
I ended up finding someone looking to sell theirs and my husband put his foot down as EmmyLu is a baby but my argument ... Ben will play with it and enjoy it now! Still, he told me to wait. How long? He wouldn't give me a time frame. Anyway ...

Since it's important to me that my children play with safe toys and less plastic (recycled plastic is fine!) the better, I've started to make a note of items I think will be great for my baby (and me) to play with!

I had a Humpty Dumpty tin tea set I played with all the time. I wish I had the photo scanned to prove it to you. This is a really cute set by Green Toys made out of recycled plastic. It would look really great with this DIY table.

For the play kitchen they also Green Toys also offers a recycled plastic set of dishes, pots, pans and utensils.

Another brand I love is Melissa & Doug, offering many items of wooden and felt play food items at a reasonable price! Two of my favorites are the fridge and pantry foods. My son loves his sandwich making kit too.

When your kids were little, what were your thoughts on toys? I really couldn't wait for Ben to learn how to bike and now I'm having fun watching him do it!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Happy 4th Birthday Benjamin

Benjamin, what a year it was for you. You accomplished some pretty cool milestones and your little personality continues to blossom.

Year 3 started out with a bang ... you threw your binky in the toilet and flushed it. The bad part? You asked for it within hours and cried yourself to sleep for a week.

You started a new pre-school which was a good move for your development. You began to get regular visits from a speech and behavioral therapist because you weren't talking and getting really frustrated about it. Those visits have helped you considerably as you're finally talking in full sentences.

In November, you were fully potty trained! You gave us a few diaperless months until your sister arrives. You also dropped your nap and get pretty grumpy from 5-7 until you crash. Somehow, you still take one at school but not for us.

Things you love: You went as Spiderman for Halloween and proceeded to wear out two Spiderman costumes wearing them to bed at night. Anything with fish! You carried around a Rainbow and Brown trout for the longest time and then you moved onto ocean fish. Keeping with the aquatic theme, your favorite activity is swimming with daddy. You also are pretty good at drawing fish and are starting to write your letters. You're pretty good at counting too. You learned how to master iPad games geared towards your age and development and are always asking to "download more." You also love  your "Dr. Mills Kit" and play doctor when anyone coughs, sneezes or tells your if you're sick. You love watching Gumball and the Regular Show though they probably aren't age appropriate. We also took you to see your first movie at the theatre ... The Muppets which was my first movie when I was your age.

You're also in love with your sister, EmmyLu, who arrived in March. You're gentle around her and haven't really shown any signs of jealousy. You are always telling me "She is so cute!" This may change but I really hope it doesn't.

The bad: you refuse to sleep in your bed still. Most of the time, you fall asleep in our bed and someone carries you to your room. You're super picky when it comes to food though you're starting to try new things. You are super picky about the clothes you wear. For the longest time, you only would wear Oregon Ducks clothing and now you have named all your clothes after fish and I half the time down know what you're talking about. I guess the bad really isn't that bad of a list.

Here's to year 4. I can't wait to see what it brings.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Being mom enough

EmmyLu, chillin'
First things first, this is my first post in a while and a lot has changed. Emmy Lucille (aka EmmyLu) was born 3 weeks early, late in the evening of March 26 via c-section. The last trimester of my pregnancy was rocky and I was put on bed rest, hence the silence in my blogging.

EmmyLu is a good baby with bouts of fussiness due to gas but most of the time, she wants to be held -- the other reason this post is 7 weeks late. She's finally letting go of the closeness (sniff) but at the same time, it was nice to just relax the last 7 weeks and hold a baby just as doctor ordered.  She is starting to sleep 6-8 hour stretches at night and I'm getting more rest. Who ever said rest when the baby sleeps didn't have an almost 4 year old (he turns 4 one week from today).

Ben is good. He's been doing speech therapy all school year and it's helping. He's talking a ton and we need to work on his articulation. He's really into aquatic life and knows all the fish in the ocean. He also loves being a big brother and his favorite phrase "She is SO cute!"
Ben drew me the ocean

I'll be heading back to work in 6 weeks which will open a flood gate of emotions and I'll also be thrown into our busy event season. I won't lie when I say that I'm dreading it (sorry co-workers) which is a natural response.

Being a mom of two is wonderful but it leaves little time for me. I make a list each week of items to tackle but I'm finding that I'm not getting to it. That means finding the time to do the things I enjoy are falling by the wayside. How do moms do it? We want to do it all but doing it all is impossible.

This brings me to the Time Magazine cover. Everyone is talking about it. Everyone has an opinion about it. What's my opinion? Who am I to judge another mom? Yeap, I'm fence sitting. Personally, I don't plan to extended breast feed EmmyLu but who am I to say it's wrong for another mom? Didn't our parents teach us not to judge one another?

As mother's, everyone is throwing their opinion at us. I'm blessed to be around friends and resources that supported my breastfeeding efforts. With my son, there was a lot of chatter when vacationing that I should not feed my baby in public (he was covered up) and that I wasn't poor and could afford formula so why was I breastfeeding? One of my Facebook friends (a guy) took to the social network and talked about how disgusting it was someone was feeding their baby in front of others at a party (he was single and now I know why). When we ask questions on baby forum boards, they often get heated when it comes to getting to baby to sleep through the night and putting cereal in your baby's bottle.

What we really need is to support one another and only give those opinions when someone asks.

About this blog moving forward .... we are still going green gradually, in fact, I have a lot to talk about as I'm still making progress on my green plan. I also have been a little more eco-friendly with the baby than with Ben. I didn't go with cloth diapers though more on that to come. I probably won't make my own baby food so more to come on that.

So my promise ... I miss blogging and I'm going to start posting more often.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pinteractive: Things I made from Pinterest


I love Pinterest. It's a great place to find activities, recipes and ideas so when Nanette challenged her readers to get pinteractive, I so happened to be working on three projects this weekend I could post! 

First up, Strawberries and Cream Pie! I didn't double the recipe like the pin suggested because I didn't have a deep dish pan.  I am serving this up tonight!

Next up, I made Slow Cooker Sesame Chicken. It was super simple and is going in my make again file especially for when baby girl arrives in 8 weeks (!!!).  I served this over jasmine rice with a side salad.

The other cool trick I did via Pinterest was shred the chicken with my Kitchen Aid. It was pretty awesome and I will do this again!

Now back to getting the baby room ready, chasing my three year old and entertaining friends.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Movies to watch: Forks over Knives

Make that a soy latte
I've been hearing the buzz about the documentary Forks Over Knives for a while saying it will convert you into being a vegan. Being a vegan was a challenge I was going to take for a month last year until I found out I was pregnant. I could totally be a vegetarian but cutting out dairy seemed super extreme that I could never do. Never say never is what my mom used to say.

When the nation's top cardiologists are prescribing this diet over medication to treat and cure diabetes, heart disease and cancer, that is really something to think about. There was a clip on a woman in Canada with stage 4 breast cancer who changed her diet and has lived almost 20 years longer than she was expected and cured her breast cancer. Never say never, right?

When analyzing my family's consumption of meat and dairy -- it's high in dairy especially my son who loves yogurt and cheese which seem to be a preschooler's staples. My son will not eat vegetables and I'm told this is a phase who'll grow out of. He loves fruit though.

We've toyed with the idea of going meatless Monday - Thursday in our house. I even may start Vegan Tuesday, similar to Meatless Monday.

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear. I'm still processing the movie in my head. I guess the bottom line is everything in moderation.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: SNOWOMG!

Snow came really late this year. And that's pretty bad for a town whose economy counts on it for tourism. Last week, it snowed over 5 feet at our local resort, shutting it down for a day. We headed up to go sledding. Let's just say, pregnancy and watching your family sled, don't mix. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Green plan: Use reusable training pants

my son will kill me someday for posting this photo
After 3.5 years of diapers, we're finally diaper free in our house. I will admit, I should have done this sooner but nothing seemed to motive my son -- that was until he saw Cars 2 and he wanted new cars to play with. Everyone had advice for me ... put him and pull-ups and then try to switch back to diapers, he'll throw a fit! Have him aim on things in the potty! Have him watch Daddy! None of it worked, until a few folks told me about the 3 Day Potty Training. I heard about it at a baby shower, over lunch with Nanette and at work. This was going to work. And guess what, it did.

How it works? Have your child throw away their diapers. Watch them carefully as they pee their pants all day and put them on the potty. When they potty in the chair, give them a reward. By day three Ben was going on his own. To get the full details of the training, pay for the e-book and download it. He still has problems wetting the bed at night and has the occasional accident about once a week (like today, he was too busy playing) but it's been glorious for us, especially since we'll be back in the diaper game in a few months.

Instead of using Pull Ups for training (which in my opinion, don't work-- they are like expensive diapers) we had a couple Kushies training pants that we used during a three day period which worked out great. When I would put them on Ben after training, he would demand Spiderman undies because "I'm a big boy."

Yay! Well, until April, I guess.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Meatless Monday: Mushroom Pot Pie

I love getting inspiration from fellow bloggers and people I follow on Twitter. Imitation is the best form of flattery, right? Nanette, who is super cool in real life, made this recipe on Christmas Day for her brother-in-law who is a vegetarian.  Super intrigued, I asked her for the recipe.

The recipe was a hit in my house. All we really needed to add in the end was a tad bit more salt. If you can't find puffed pastry, maybe try canned biscuits on top when there is about 15 mins left in the baking process.

Mushroom Pot Pie
by Real Simple

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms (such as cremini or button), halved, or quartered if large
4 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 celery stalks, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
kosher salt and black pepper
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup frozen peas
1 sheet puff pastry (half a 17.3-ounce package), thawed

Heat oven to 400° F. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, carrots, celery, onion, thyme, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the broth and peas; bring to a boil.

Transfer the mushroom mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish. Lay the pastry on top and cut several vents in it. Place the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the crust is golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Live local, buy local -- What does that mean to you?

A few months ago, that sticker to the left appeared in my goodie bag at a local marketing conference I attended. I decided to slap it on the back of my Jeep because I felt I was doing just that -- living local, buying local. Boy did that sticker give me a smack of reality.

The first instance of reality came while I was in the drive thru line for Starbucks. The month of October and November bring out my favorite treat, pumpkin spiced lattes. I then began to feel silly heading to Starbucks twice a week when I had a coffee shop in my work building that could make the same thing and cheaper. The reality, the taste wasn't the same but I was supporting local.

The next instance, Trader Joe's. I do most of my grocery shopping there because their dairy products don't contain hormones and their processed food line promise no artificial preservatives or flavorings. For the rest I shop at Fred Meyer, which used to be Oregon based and then remembered they are owned by Kroger. Oops.

Another .. banking. We bank at Chase. I like their mobile app as I can deposit small checks we get here and there. I do have a second account at Umpqua Bank, which is Oregon based.  But still, 90% of our banking is at Chase.

What do I do local? Apparently, not enough and that sticker made me realize that. I don't drink (or need to drink) a latte everyday but when I do, I'm really trying to hit locally owned shops whose drinks actually taste better thank Starbucks. They include places like Lone Pine Roasters or Backporch Roasters. Unfortunately, both places are on the opposite end of town from my office. If I can't have their latte, I don't need one. I have stopped buying coffee for home from Trader Joe's and have a good stash of 11 Roasters Bom Dia in the pantry.

For Christmas this year, my gift buying list was small, my husband, son,  parents and co-workers. I started this a couple years ago because we have so many family members on both sides, it was really stressing me out financially. Mostly everyone understood where I was coming from and felt relieved. For the parents, we got them gift cards to places they really enjoyed which was hard to buy locally for since they all live out of town. For my co-workers, I hit up a local jewelry maker who was having a big sale. My husband and son received gifts from local shops - coffee shops, toy shops. My husband did a great job of buying locally for me. He tracked down a pair of shoes at a local shoe store over Macy's.

There is so much more I need to work on and I do keep in mind this mission of this blog ... going green gradually.

What do you buy locally? And what do you need to work on? I'd love to know.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Pear and Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding

I had a frozen loaf of homemade brioche that I needed to use up so I pulled out this recipe to try. It was so so tasty! Now I want to make another loaf of brioche to make it again!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Product Review: Shaklee Gentle Cleaning Bar and Balancing Moisturizer

I receive many requests to review products but most of the time they don't fit the scope of my blog ... going green gradually. But when Sommer Poquette emails you asking to try to a product, you take notice.

Sommer is the mastermind behind Green and Clean Mom and site Mommy is a Blogger which explains to children and the world what moms online might be doing with their blogs and also offers tips for mom bloggers.

I was pretty honored she emailed me being that my blogging hasn't been too consistant due to working full time, taking care of a family full time and being pregnant. She also presented me with a line of products that I was having a hard time greening -- beauty products, in particular a facial cleaning soap and moisturizer.

My beauty routine for my face had been using Dove Soap and Olay Moisturizer -- both a 4 on the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.  Both contain parabens and SLS. I used a host of natural products and then I discovered the natural products where really bringing out my rosacea. Everything I tried was too harsh for my skin given that it was all natural. I don't normally have tricky skin and I was pretty lucky to never have an acne problem -- just rosy cheeks. I gave up and started using my Whole Foods Whole Body Wash on my face and Whole Body Lotion on my face. I still wasn't satisfied but my skin wasn't turning red anymore.

I was asked to pick two product to try for free and review from Shaklee. I had heard from friends that maybe I should try Shaklee but I don't know anyone who distributes it locally and I really don't have the time to take on the task of being a distributor. Shaklee offers a variety of green and natural products for nutrition, weight, home and beauty.

Shaklee's mission, according to their website is "to provide a healthier life for everyone and a better life for anyone. We do it by making natural products that are so exceptional, you just have to tell your friends. Every product that goes into every Shaklee bottle is designed to improve health, work without compromise, and be gentle on the planet. When you pick Shaklee, you will know three things to be true. It is always safe. It always works. And it is always green."

After browsing through the website, I picked out two products from the beauty line Enfuselle -- Gentle Action Cleansing Bar (Retail Price: $19.05 Member Price: $16.20) and Balancing Moisturizer (Retail Price: $24.70 Member Price: $21.00) both paraben free. I will note, they only have a couple of products on the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database but the ones they do are rated 0-2 but their back label is full of ingredients I can't pronounce (Gentle Action Cleansing Bar label and Balancing Moisturizer label)  but I went back to their mission above.

About the Gentle Action Cleansing Bar:
  • pH balanced and specially formulated for use on sensitive skin
  • Additional vitamins E and A boost skin’s softness and moisture retention
  • Rich lather leaves skin clean and refreshed
  • Perfect for shaving
  • Ideal for use in the shower
  • Hypoallergenic
  • paraben free
Basically I placed the bar in the shower and used it to wash my face instead of the Whole Body Wash I was using. Lather, put on your face and rinse -- that simple.

About the Balancing Moisturizer 
  • Lightweight, non-sticky formula doesn't add oil, yet it deeply nurtures and hydrates skin, rebalancing it so that it feels smooth, firm, and fresh with a long-lasting matte finish
  • Triple-patented Vital Repair+ supports the skin's natural defenses against UV-induced collagen breakdown.
  • paraben free
After out of the shower, before applying make-up, I put a quarter size amount of the moisturizer all over my face. 

The result: for the past month I've been using both products and I'm happy to report my skin looks great! Neither product made my face angry red and my skin has been pretty smooth with no break outs. I would buy this product again and what I'm particularly jazzed about is their line of baby products (which are rated on Skin Deep as a #2). If you're a Shaklee rep who lives in Central Oregon, I would love to talk to you.

Disclaimer: I was given the product to try at no charge. The opinions are my own. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Meatless Monday: Roasted Vegetable Soup

I love soup in the winter but I'm not a fan of tomato soup. For months, my husband has been begging me to make a tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for Meatless Monday. I came across this recipe in my Fresh Flavor Fast cookbook by Martha Stewart and Everyday Food and decided to give it a whirl.

The technique -- roast a number of vegetables, then place in veggies stock and bring to a boil, then puree. It was simple except the leeks burned! Next time, I will probably not roast the leeks but boil them in the veggie broth. Don't get me wrong, it didn't taste bad and added a layer of smoke to the soup but I think next time, I'll try it without burnt leeks. Another thing we added, 1/2 cup of heavy cream or half and half -- whatever you have in stock.

Roasted Vegetable Soup
adapted from Fresh Flavor Fast


6 beefsteak tomatoes, halved and cored
2 leeks, white and pale-green parts cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup of heavy cream or half and half


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In roasting pan, toss tomatoes with leeks, carrots, garlic, and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in a single layer (tomato cut sides down) until tender, 1 hour. Using tongs, peel off tomato skins. Note: if you don't like burnt leeks, add the leeks to the veggie broth and cook until tender before adding the roast vegetables.

In saucepan, bring vegetables, vegetable broth, and 1 cup water to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes.

In batches, puree in blender. Stir in basil and heavy cream or half and half.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Spidey scooter

A little look at our Christmas. Our kid got spoiled at Christmas from the grandparents and was so exhausted from playing, he went to bed early.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Meatless Monday: Grilled polenta and tomato sauce

Making polenta is pretty easy. You can get a bag of Bob's for $3 and it usually makes 4 servings of polenta. With that, I usually will use it as a side, mold it to a pan and grill or make polenta lasagna. BUT there are sometimes, I like buying that $2 tube at Trader Joe's to slice and grill.

The recipe is simple. Slice the polenta to desired shape, brush with oil on each side along with seasoning with salt and pepper. Grill 5 minutes per side and top with prepared or homemade tomato sauce and cheese of your choice. Serve with a nice side of green salad.

It's the perfect meal for hectic weeknights!


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