Monday, January 31, 2011

And the journey continues...

I planned my menu for the week, as I have found it is much easier to eat healthier when you plan ahead... especially for a family of 5 who may have dance class or basketball practice or a ski trip that will interfere with cooking a healthy dinner.

When I plan ahead, I can shop appropriately and cook when I need to fit it into the afternoon/evening schedule. So, this is what I have for this week:

Sunday: Chicken Pot Pie (It was regular old chicken but organic veggies. The potatoes even came from Maine... Yay!) Cooked extra chicken to shred and freeze for Friday's dinner... timesaver!

Monday: Broccoli Quinoa Fritata (This may possibly be my first completely organic and healthy dish!) Pita bread with garlic hummus

Tuesday: Bourbon Marinated Salmon, girls' choice of veggie, organic brown rice

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Haddock, Quinoa Goat Cheese Risotto, girls will pick the veggie

Friday: Shredded chicken with homemade bbq sauce (still researching a good recipe) on whole wheat bread, raw veggies with Greek yogurt veggie dip.

Yup, I've jumped on the quinoa (keen-wa) train. We will see how it goes over this week, but I really hope they go for it as it seems like such a magical food. I will be trying this Quinoa spice cake as a healthy, yummy dessert.

Remember, eating healthy does not have to break the bank, either. I can still use coupons. In this Sunday's paper alone there was:

$1/1 Nature Made Vitamins
$.75/1 Eggland's Best Organic Eggs
$1/1 Marzetti Veggie Dip
$1/1 Imagine Stock, Broth Soup or Gravy
$1/1 Wholly Guacamole
$.60/2 Pace Salsa (organic in mild & medium)
$1/1 Kettle Potato Chips

Keep an eye out on to catch many more great bargains.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Citar: Adventure

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”

-Jawaharlal Nehru

Please go see Tabitha for more Sunday Citar.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Making the Leap

This has been a long time coming for us... after we watched 'Supersize Me' years ago... and then 'Food, Inc.' (watch instantly if you have Netflix)last year. And now, I am almost through reading 'The Crazy Makers: How the Food Industry Is Destroying Our Brains and Harming Our Children', and I can not avoid the signs any longer... my family needs a food overhaul. We eat far too much processed foods, too much sugar and not nearly enough vegetables and proteins.

Remember the food pyramid? Well, let's just say we need a little work in the green and orange areas. There is no way any person in this household eats 2.5 cups of veggies per day. And half of our grains being whole grain? Nope. I felt because I don't allow crap like Oreos in the house and I home cook many of our meals, I was doing well.... but I really was not looking at the hidden dangers or the fact that we simply do not consume enough vegetables.

I can clearly see the affects of our nations poor diet and exposure to toxins in many of our foods. I have seen girls starting puberty at age 7 or 8, children who can not seem to control their behavior, obesity rates that are just insanity, diabetes, allergies... the list is endless.

I am starting small. It means a change in budget, as it is hard to deny organic and healthy simply costs more. A change in my time management- I will need to spend more time making better food, researching different recipes than we are accustomed to and avoiding prepared and prepackaged foods. It will be a change for my kids, they will have to learn that they will be eating more vegetables, more fruits, less sugar and less refined food. But, since they do not drive or have a job... they don't have much choice!

First, and easiest changes:

• Organic, Free Range eggs (also Omega 3 enhanced.). I have been meaning to do this for years... not entirely sure why I haven't but they are only about $1 more and a much more ethical choice. Also, Omega 3 has been proven to improve brain function and children do not get nearly enough of this.

• Whole grain bread. I have always bought whole wheat, thinking that was adequate... nope! After I brought home my whole grain bread, I checked the ingredients of my wheat bread... 3rd ingredient? High fructose corn syrup!!!! (No, I am not falling for that new PRO-HFCS ad campaign- I know all sugars are bad for us, but HFCS is processed, unnatural and therefore bad in my book.) Whole grain bread is un-refined and offers 1/4 of your daily fiber in just one slice, 10% of your iron (which children often lack, leading to anemia, sluggishness and many other issues). And whole grain had 4 grams of protein in a slice as opposed to the 2 grams in my wheat bread. Not a huge difference, but I did say I am making small changes here.

• Organic apples. Apples are one of the most contaminated fruits and is included in the 'Dirty Dozen" foods that you should always buy organic. I downloaded the pocket shopping card so I now have list in my wallet and know which contaminated foods to buy organic and which I can save money on and buy straight from the non-organic section.

• Beans. Lots and lots of beans. Beans are truly the magic food- full of proteins, fiber and various nutrients. They are inexpensive, come in a huge variety, fill you up fast, are low calorie, and can be used in so many diverse recipes.

• This is not a change, but an eating habit we will keep. Yummy foods from Stonyfield. I like to buy their YoBaby tubes of yogurt and freeze them for a healthy snack for the girls. I am trying to reduce the amount of sugar we consume, but if I cut all sugary, yummy snacks from the kids diet... well that's just ridiculous. And they yogurt is a good compromise: organic, easy, and fulfills their obsession with 'treats'.

Anyhow, this will be a slow process... I will be trying some of the recipes provided in the back of Crazy Makers, and I will share them and how they are received in this family. Do you have a suggestion for any other easy changes we might make?

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Quasi-Tutorial on Sewing a Snowshoe Bag

This is the year we took up snowshoeing... along with it, of course, we needed snowshoes and poles. And, although my mother got me a bag along with my shoes, I did not get Ariana one. I was not sure it was necessary... until the first time we walked out the door and she was trying to finagle her 19" shoes and 2 poles.

I thought it would be fun to make her a bag. Snowshoes bags are only $20-$30, so this is no real money saving endeavor... but I though it would be great for her to have her own, one-of-a-kind, uniquely designed bag.

Here is my quasi tutorial. I did not take step by step photos, but I thought I would share the basic outline of what I did. I followed the very easy tutorial from Skip To My Lou on sewing a reversible tote bag. All I did was change the dimensions, the strap placement and added a simple top flap. You should go peruse her tutorial to see how simple this bag is to put together.

I started by purchasing a nice, sturdy fabric (in this case, corduroy) as the snowshoes have spikes that would most likely rip right through a standard weight fabric. Ariana picked the pink corduroy but I had to add the olive in because... well... we have a ridiculous amount of pink everything in this house! She then picked the polka dots because I wanted it to be a bit more interesting than the 2 solid colors.

To make my strap (and I only have one strap here, so it is more of a messenger-type bag, whereas Skip to My Lou has 2 straps to make it a tote) I cut a piece of 5" by 44" fabric from my colorful polka dot corduroy. I sewed my one strap exactly as Skip to My Lou did.

I cut my 4 pieces for the body of the bag (2 pink and 2 olive) at 12"x 27". (I used 1/2" seam allowances on all my seams) I put together my inner lining and outer lining just as she did. The only difference is when it came time to box the bottom, I made sure that my seam across was 6", so that the bag would have a nice wide box bottom.
I then placed the lining fabric inside the outside fabric, right sides facing eachother. I placed my completed strap in between the right facing fabrics. Unlike Skip to My Lou, my one strap was centered on each seam at the ends of the bag.

Here, I added a flap to go over the top, which was 2 pieces of fabric 21"x12" sewn together to make a finished rectangle (still using 1/2" seam allowance). At this point, I put the rectangle flap in between the right facing inner and outer linings, just as you had done with the strap. I pinned the strap and flap in place and then stitched around the top of the whole bag, leaving about a 6 inch hole to turn the bag right side out.

I topstitched around the entire bag, then closing the hole I had left open.

I also had to add 2 straps to the front of the bag to hold the poles. This was as simple as making 2 little straps like the bigger one. I started with 2 pieces of the coordinating polka dot corduroy at 9"x2" and sewed them into small straps. I simply centered these on the front of the bag at about 9 inches apart, turned the tops and bottoms of the straps in a bit to hide the frayed ends and topstitched them right on the front of the bag. (You can do this step before you stitch the inner and outer linings together and you won't have to sew through quite so much corduroy.)
These measurements I have provided will fit either the youth 19" snowshoes or my women's 21" version.

The only thing I might add is a buckle or piece of velcro to the front to hold it closed. Other than that, this bag has worked out perfectly so far for Ariana and it only cost $9. More importantly, she has something her Momma made her, which is way cooler than just buying it at a store.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mommy and Me Monday: Winter Edition

I have not had a photo of me with any of the girls in awhile... but today, the planets aligned and Ariana and I were finally able to try out our new Christmas snowshoes! I just had to commemorate the event with at least one photo of us... And it was everything I hoped it would be... exhilarating, peaceful, aerobic, adventurous... We decided we liked it so much, we would have a standing date to go every Sunday. We want to wander around town and see what secret trails we can find to stomp through.

When we walked in and I exclaimed how fun it was, Colby asked, "Are we finally going to be one of those families?" The ones that get excited for winter rather than piss and whine at the sign of the first snowflake?

Maybe... that is until about 4 months in when we've had enough raw noses, frozen fingers, constricted lungs and frostbitten toes. But, for now... we'll enjoy every step in that gorgeous white snow with our trusty new LL Bean toys.

Mommy and Me Monday at Really, Are You Serious?
Hosted by Krystyn at Really, Are You Serious?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

It's Saturday and She's Crafty

Remember my Craftin' New Years Resolution??? Well, it starts today! I am going to take some gorgeous (albeit very cheap, clearance at Joanns) jersey knit and make myself a new scarf. I may even do a tutorial if it turns out ok. I have a couple of great knitted scarfs, but I want a shorter one where the tail does not constantly fall in my coffee as I bend over. I only want a scarf to warm my neck, so I am not really sure why they make them 4 feet long!

Anyhow, here is some more crafting inspiration if you are so inclined:

Remember the scarf I made last year? Yeah, I already lost it!
I think Ariana would like to join in the crafting and make this easy jersey knit scarf.
To upcycle your old t-shirts.
Wait, this is an even cuter t-shirt upcycle project!
Such a simple idea to keep my 2-year-old from taking her mittens off!
I love, love this tea towel... but with the embroidery and applique stuff, I think it is beyond me. Feel free to make one for me if you are so inclined though.

Since it is about 5 below zero out there, I am off to crank the tunes and snuggle up to my sewing machine!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Random Roundup for a lazy Saturday.

Let me clear my head today...

First off, my baby got her ears pierced yesterday. and it was torture. We had the other two get their ears pierces as babies (like 3 month old babies) and they recovered way quicker. Acadia was so sad for a long time after and it just broke my heart to pieces when she kept saying, "That hurt, Momma." Even when Colby got home from work hours later, she said, "I cried. It hurt." Awwww. Also, it's a good idea to have another adult with you. Especially when you have a 5 year old running from store, yelling, "I just can't watch anymore!" But, it's done, and she is happy as she can be with her new earrings.

Next week is National Letter Writing Week. When is the last time you took pen and paper and actually wrote a letter? Yeah, I can't remember either. It's a great reminder to work with our kids on their letter writing skills... send a letter to a soldier, a friend or relative that you may have lost contact with, etc. You may combine this with the thank you cards you should be sending out for Christmas. We will be sitting down and doing these today, before the girls forget what they got!

I sent out my invites for my first Craft Meetup to help me keep my resolution to craft more. I thought it would be a great idea to include a Soup Swap as well since the National Soup Swap is coming up. Who doesn't love soup on a cold winter, New England day? And who doesn't love having a half dozen batches ready to go in the freezer to make meal planning easier? Soup Chick has some fantastic freezable soup recipes. I will let you know how our swap goes...

Do know why I am blogging on a Saturday morning, guilt free? Because I actually kept up with my weekly chore list and my house is looking ok right now. Colby is off with Ariana at basketball, the 2 little ones are taking a tubby, there is a load of laundry in the wash and I do not have an assload of chores to worry about. Here are 7 secrets of the super-organized, in case my 2 weren't cutting it for you.

You really should follow OohMoons blog if you like free artwork for your children's room. She is providing a new piece every day for free and she has some a-dor-able work! You do need to follow her though, because the downloads are only free for one day... although the personal use download is only $4.99 after that, so it's still a great deal.

Alright, tubby time is through- I am off to enjoy my Saturday! I hope you all have a fantastic weekend.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

and then I snapped: looking back at me

My first photo off my bucket list for 2011. When I uploaded this photo, I could not believe the little girl looking back at me. Yes, 'little girl'. She moves away from my baby more and more each day.

I can change the world with my own two hands
Make it a better place with my own two hands
Make it a kinder place with my own two hands
With my own, with my own two hands
I can make peace on earth with my own two hands
I can clean up the earth with my own two hands
I can reach out to you with my own two hands
With my own, with my own two hands
I'm going to make it a brighter place with my own two hands
I'm going to make it a safer place with my own two hands
I'm going to help the human race with my own two hands
With my own, with my own two hands
I can hold you with my own two hands
I can comfort you with my own two hands

-Jack Johnson/ Ben Harper

Here's my list:
10 minutes away




Childhood memory





the end
Far Away
At Night
Out of Reach
Going places
Looking back at me

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2 Simple Rules to Keep Your House Clean

As I return from my insane-o busy December, I am back to my regular housekeeping routine. My routine is very simple, and I follow 2 rules:
1. A place for everything, and everything in it's place.
2. Clean as you go, or do it in small chunks.

That's it. That is how we keep our house manageable. Feel free to read on and see my simple chore chart, or stop now and keep it simple.

I feel strongly about #1, because if you do not have a home for every single item in your house, how can you expect your children (or spouse) to help keep the house in order? Every toy, every piece of paper, every do-dad in my house has a designated home. It works.

#2 is pretty important as well. I recently had Ariana ask a friend if she could come play on Saturday. The friends mom replied, "No, Saturday is our family cleaning day. We spend all day cleaning up our house because it becomes so trashed during the week. I would not even let guests come to my house during the week."

Ok, 2 issues there... how sad is it that you are embarrassed to have friends in your house 6 out of 7 days... and also, who the hell wants to spend a whole 'family' cleaning? Surely, there has to be much better things to do with your children on a Saturday.

This is where cleaning as you go, or cleaning in small chunks works very well. Here is my personal chore chart for the week: First off, I made the chart cute so that I can display it in a prominent spot in my kitchen. This way I publicly hold myself accountable to finish my chores... for fear of my 10 year old harassing me and saying, "Mom, you didn't mop this floor today like your chart says!"

Next, I framed it behind a glass frame so that I can check things off each week with a dry erase marker and reuse the chart over and over.

You will notice I also noted what activities we have each day of the week. This way I am not overloading myself with chores when I might have to go to dance class for 2 hours that day.

See how simple the chores are for each day? If I simply pick 2-3 in a day, I know I can complete them without stressing and the house will stay generally clean. I like to do them first thing at 8am and mark them off my chart. Then I do not have it in the back of my mind for the rest of the day.

Of course, the chart does not include the daily must-do's: dishes, fixing dinner, laundry, sweep Cheerio's off kitchen floor at least 3 times a day, vacuum Goldfish from living room carpet at least twice a day... you know, the usuals.

But these are also done on an as-you-go, small chunk method. This is done by my whole family. I never tell my girls, "Go clean your room." That is way too overwhelming at any age. I do say, "Go pick up 5 toys and put them in their home." Or we try very hard to have them put away one mess before moving on to the next. "You want to play Little People? Put your Legos away first." This is also where everything having a place works very well. They know exactly where the toys they need to put away go. (I will post some photos of my "places" soon.)

Colby and I work on the same principles. If we are going upstairs to change into pj's and there is a pile of clothes to take upstairs, we do it. If we are waiting for a bagel to toast, we throw in a load of laundry.

It is so, SO, much easier to take things on in smaller chunks than to look at a destroyed house one day and wonder where to start. This does take participation from the whole family though. If I was trying to constantly clean up after 5 people, with no help, I could never accomplish it in small chunks. But with everybody chipping in (heck, our 2 year old is the best one for picking up her own toys and putting them away or lining up her boots at the door!) it can be done, and we can live comfortably and we can be ready for guests to pop in at anytime.

So... that's it. 2 simple rules to keep my house manageable.

*The graphic I used for the chart is actually from a recipe card template I purchased for my Christmas recipes. Check out Two Peas in a Bucket, she has some fantastic graphics!

Saturday, January 1, 2011


That is a word to cover all of my resolutions for 2011.


I will refocus much of my time and energy on enjoying each and every moment I am blessed to spend with my children. I need to breathe through the testing moments and remember that, all to soon, I will yearn to have these days back. Just like this year, another year will pass and I will look back, wondering where it went. I need to create and capture endless moments with my babies so that I know I will never have any regrets.

I will refocus on connecting with friends. I have a few that I really need reconnect with and to make a concerted effort to see on a regular basis. Sometimes, life slips away from us and we find ourselves concentrating on things that do not matter... and what I do need to concentrate on are friendships... friendships matter.

I will refocus my efforts on being healthy with my annual WiiFit re-dedication. I need this as a New England winter has me inside many more hours than I'd like to admit. (Although the snowshoes may give me a few extra needed hours of the out-of-doors this year. Yay!!!)

Also, along the healthy lines, we will ween ourselves from the past 6 weeks of the all-you-can-eat buffet of the holidays and back into a 3 square meal routine. I am excited for this because I am starting to realize, in my 35th year, that my metabolism is not what it once was... nor is my body's resilience to me throwing crap in it and expecting it to stay slender, stay awake for 20 hours a day and to have oodles of energy to boot.

I will get us back into the routine of obtaining a (mostly) neat and tidy house. Jennifer has a fantastic post with great check lists here. We all need checklists. Checklists complete me. I will share my supercute household chore checklist in the next couple of days.

I will refocus on our household finances. We will pay off all unsecured debt by the first week of January, and pay our last vehicle payment sometime this summer. With that, I need to refocus on my couponing, and seek out other ways to save money. More Goodwill, less yummy (yet expensive) beer, more cook and freeze dates with my local mommas... and whatever other creative ideas I may come up with. We are committed to no more credit cards... ever. Why the hell am I going to pay some crappy, faceless bank 20% every year when I can put that money into our retirement, our childrens college funds... a tropical vacation (fingers crossed!)

Refocus.... that is the word of the day... er, I mean year. 2011.

2010- where did you go?

This year I:

watched my baby grow a bit more.
tried some yummy new foods.
started our square food gardens. (successfully!)
finally had professional family photos taken for the first time in 10 years.
celebrated 8 crazy years of marriage!
purged a heck of a lot of crap.
crafted a heck of a lot of crap.
started a very successful Etsy shop.
snapped some great photos.
continue on my journey of the tattooed Momma.
watched my gorgeous Annika grow a little wittier, a little funnier and a lot more insane!
watched my biggest girl get even bigger, even more talented and even more challenging.
had fantastic adventures with our whole family.
added a new contributor to my blog.

It was a fantastic year all around... how can I top it in 2011?