Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Booooo GoldieBlox

I have been sitting back quietly biting my tongue since I watched the GoldieBlox Kickstarter campaign last year. I was slightly annoyed by their marketing, but not enough to really even comment on the issue.

And then the new video came out and went viral (which happened to have a sound track parody from one of my all-time fave bands, the Beastie Boys)

and my friends were posting the video on Facebook with such comments as "I have never believed in "girls toys" and "boys toys." Girls need to have fun "thinking" toys too, and they don't need to be pink : )"

Weird. Because, not only is this product clearly marketed as a "girl" toy... it freakin' pink!

Great brainwashing, GoldieBlox. You know what? My girls like pink (as much as their father and I have tried to discourage that), but they also enjoy primary colored match box cars, wood blocks... Legos upon Legos:

Oh... and they do have the pink set of Legos mixed in there. (Oh, shit, how did that baby doll and pink crib sneak into my house? How dare my daughters aspire to be nurturing mommies and play with god forsaken pink baby dolls!)

And, also, there are already oodles of fantastic engineering toys out there for little girls:

However... I was willing to overlook all of this crap and keep my mouth shut about GoldieBlox questionable marketing... UNTIL they turned into litigious thieves.

When I heard the Beastie Boys song on the video... I had to assumed they had paid for the rights to it... right??? I mean, who in this world does not understand the concept of copyright? 


The used the song WITHOUT permission. And, to add insult to injury, when MCA passed away last year, he specifically forbade his music from being used in this manner. The will reads (in part): 
"in no event may my image or name or any music or any artistic property created by me be used for advertising purposes,"

Oh, wait... it gets better. The Beastie Boys did not even sue this company yet... but GoldieBlox SUED them! Bizarro, right?

And now I know I will never buy anything from this company. Shame on you for disrespecting this mans wishes. Shame on you for pretending to "empower" girls by stealing and misusing another's property.

Shame on you.

Friday, November 1, 2013

6 More Handmade Christmas Gifts Projects for Cheap

Each year I decide what I want to buy and what I want to craft myself. My decisions are largely based on time and money. And, of course, as the girls get older I have to pair that with the endless Christmas lists they come up with.

A couple of years ago, I went mostly handmade... but by someone else's hand... via Etsy. I came up with a great handful of gifts that were under $10... and the girls ended up really liking them.

The year before that, I made a large portion of the girls gifts by hand.

This year, I am all about making many gifts myself. I have spent hours scouring the internet for projects that are inexpensive, within my ability and, most importantly, that the girls will like. So, without further ado, here are some of my handmade gift ideas for the year:

I have already bought some great colorful socks to upcycle to fingerless gloves (or arm warmers... leg warmers... whatever.) My favorite tutorial can be found here.

I will making a ton of hair accessories for Christmas as all 3 girls are into wearing them right now... and, of course, we lose them by the dozen. I love this super simple (and super inexpensive way to make bows. I have a bunch of felt on hand in many colors, so this will be easy.

I will need a way to store all these accessories that I plan on making... and I really like this frame idea. I can get an inexpensive frame from Goodwill and probably utilize my scarp fabric. I bet I can do the project for under $5.

I am going to make Acadia a Music and Movement box. I had made Annika one... filled with small musical instruments, movement toys... and she loved it. And you can get away with it for really cheap.

I am going to make one of these for each of the girls. They love having photos of themselves and friends and family and I feel like this will be a fun way to display their photos.

As with hair accessories, the girls are now enamored with any costume jewelry. I think these bracelets would be perfect. I can make a wide variety with the scraps of fabric in my stash.

Have you come across any other ideas for your Christmas list? I would love to add some more projects to mine.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I beg... to honor my father.

It is not often that I beg... but for this cause, I will.

You may remember that two summers ago my father passed away. He had been suffering from lung cancer, which happens to be the top cancer killer in the US (regardless of gender or ethnicity). Lung cancer kills almost twice as many women as breast cancer, and more than twice as many men as prostate cancer... and I know from first hand experience that it is a painful, horrible death.

November 2th, I am walking for the Lungevity Foundation whose mission is to have a meaningful and immediate impact on improving lung cancer survival rates, ensure a higher quality of life for lung cancer patients, and provide a community for those impacted by lung cancer. In order to accomplish their mission, LUNGevity funds the most promising research into the early detection and successful treatment of lung cancer. You can support me in one of three ways.

Simply donate on my event page. (Click the yellow 'Donate' button under my fathers photo.)

"Hope is not a dream but a way of making dreams become reality."

What I hope is that all of my friends, family, blog readers and subscribers will help me honor my father and donate even $1 to this great cause. I know that times are tough. I have over 700 blog readers and subscribers, and if they could all donate $1, I would reach my $1000 goal.

Thank you very much for any help you may provide... karma is smiling at you.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New England autumn in list form.

We are in the midst of a cool New England autumn. And I am late on my typical autumn blog post round-up. I know, I know... you have been waiting at the edge of your seat... without further ado:

• Here is a checklist to prepare your New England home for the fall/winter.

• I am sure you have already had your pumpkin fill- but here are some great recipes. (The pumpkin cream cheese- to die for!)

• Wait... 15 more pumpkin recipes? Don't mind if I do.

• While we are at it, how about some great fall harvest recipes?

• Check out some of my favorite fall fashions: sweaters, chunky tights, cords... cozy comfy clothes.

• And cool weather means one big things to me: SOUP!!!!

• A totally doable fall bucket list.

• If you have not roasted your pumpkin seeds yet You NEED to check out these amazing recipes. Seriously... pumpkin pie/maple pumpkin seeds??? Yummo!!!

And there is my autumn... in list form.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

5 Secrets To A Successful Marriage

I know, I know... ironic post for me to write at this point in my life. But I feel like I have learned a lot over the course of my marriage and I can be more honest about it than those actively stuck in a loveless, stagnant marriage.

#1 (And most important to me) You can not be selfish. It's simple. Stop and think about it... if 5 o'clock rolls around and one spouse is saying, "Oh, let me make dinner, you had a long day at work." And the other counters, "No, no, let me... you have had a trying day with the children." If these were the type of disagreements that happened in your household... how could you possibly go wrong? AND, what type of life lessons would you be illustrating to your children? There is simply too much "ME ME ME" in the world today and it has lead to stressed friendships, lack of empathy for community and neighbors and strained relationships.

#2 Affection. We all want to feel loved. You need to hold hands, kiss, run your hands through their hair, rub their shoulders as you watch that movie... If there is no affection, you are simply roommates. And this means sex as well. A healthy sex life between a committed couple is so very important. You need to make time, and each make the other feel wanted.

#3 You each need to be dynamic people. You can not simply rely on the other for your complete happiness. You need other interests, hobbies... moments away from eachother. Getting out and having interests in life will give you something to talk about, ways to challenge eachother and cause you each to rise in life rather than being stagnant, sitting on a couch in front of a television every night. You need to have your own time, your own fun... to be your own person.

#4 Date. Date. Date. Along the lines of not becoming a stagnant person, you also simply can not become a stagnant couple. It will never work! Go on dates. Whether it is once a week... once a month- just do it! And they do not need to be expensive or time consuming. It can be simple. A walk along the river, meet for coffee, have a picnic in your backyard. Make time for your relationship just like you make time for your kids, your job, a freaking oil change for your car. No excuses.

#5 Don't sweat the small stuff. I think this is a hard one. I am the very first one to get annoyed at the littlest thing: "Arggg, he did not take the trash out AGAIN!" But, really... really? In the grand scheme, who the hell cares? Pick the damn trash up and take it out yourself. How hard is that?

On the flip side though, communicate these small quirks at a non-combative time (as in, don't attack him over the trash can and start a battle.) But, on a quiet evening when things are going swimmingly, broach the topic: "You know it drives me batty when you walk out the door every single morning and past the trash can and never bring the trash out. It would complete my life if you would just take the trash when you go." Maybe he will listen, maybe he won't. If not, look at it in the grand scheme... is it worth raising your blood pressure or could you use it as an excuse to take a step outside and feel the sunshine on your face for a few moments?

These are my ideas... do you have any to add?

Go visit Mama Kat to read more Writers Workshop entries.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Green Tomato... BREAD???

We had a very abundant tomato crop this year from my one lonely plant. Two issues: they have stayed inexplicably green for weeks now.... and even if the ripened, all four of us despise tomatoes! I just grow them for sauce and salsa.

Sooo, with an armful of green tomatoes, I set out on Facebook to get a great recipe for them. I got a lot of great responses (and no shortage of Fried Green Tomato jokes), but, as to be expected, the winner idea was from my farmer friend. He suggested a bread (akin to zucchini bread) where there girls would basically not even know the tomatoes were there.

And i worked.

I grated 2 cups of the tomatoes and used a recipe I found on Allrecipes. (Be sure to squeeze out a majority of the juice, they are pretty darn juicy), added a few mini chocolate chips, and the girls devoured an entire mini loaf in one sitting.

It wasn't until Annika caught me snapping the photo of the bread that she put two and two together, "HEY! Did you put those tomatoes in this bread???" Mwahahah... why yes! But that did not stop them from eating another entire loaf after dinner for dessert.

It was moist, yummy and a great use of my garden bounty.

A few other recipes for your green tomatoes:

Green and Red Tomato Corn Soup
Green Tomato and Peach Salsa
Caprese (I LOVE a good caprese!)
Easy Jam
and, yes, Fried Green Tomatoes

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Selfless Versus Selfish

I rarely, if ever, do this... but I feel like writing today. Writing a long-winded, rambling post of the thoughts trapped in my head. No pretty pictures and probably only a post my mom will bother to read... but I'm ok with that.

The topic: Selfishness... or selflessness... or a combination of both.

In my new journey in life, there is one word, one trait that I have been very sensitive to lately. I have spent so much time soul-searching, researching, rediscovering what I want from my life (and by extension) the lives of my daughters. And one word that always comes back to me in contemplating the success of all areas of my life is selfless.

Perhaps it is easier to discuss the antonym: selfish.

Selfish. I find myself thinking this about so many people I encounter in my life. I have recently (within the last couple of years) recognized that life is very short and we have finite time to spare for the people in it. I have made a conscious effort to pare back friends or acquaintances that simply don't fit.

And the majority of these people don't fit in my life because they are selfish. That seems to be the criteria that I always come back to.  Have you ever had a friend that you are talking to and their eyes are vacant and you just know they are not listening to you... they are simply waiting for their turn to speak. They could not care less what you have to say, but they really want you to pay attention to them and listen to their voice?

Yeah, somehow I seem to attract these people in my life. And, as I have started to recognize it more, it has also made me wonder: is this just a new phenomenon in our society? Self-centeredness? I mean, we do have a new culture of always propping our children up and protecting them from ever falling down. We are supposed to make them feel like the most important person in the world. Children always win now and are never losers.

But is this taking away all empathy and genuine kindness and caring for others?

I see it outside of my close friendships as well. While I was on the board of my daughters parent-teacher group, we could not get parents to volunteer to save out lives. We would BEG for parents to volunteer just ONE HOUR out of an entire school year. In a pool of approximately 1000 parents or guardians, we would have the same 10 people constantly giving their time. You get the math there? 1/10 of 1% of our school community could not find 1 hour in an entire year to do something selfless.

And, lest you think that one organization is an anomaly... I volunteer on a few different projects in our city... and I see the same dozen people out of tens of thousands at all the committee and board meetings.

Aren't we taught to put others first anymore? I would certainly put my children first... a significant other and other family next... and then maybe myself. And even friends before myself in many situations.

And it's just the simple things... when you know a friend is having a hard time, do you make quick check-in: "Hey, just wanted to see how you are doing?" Do you know how that little gesture can mean so much to someone?

When Acadia started kindergarten in August, I made a big deal in social media about how much I would miss her and how difficult it was to say goodbye to my baby. And that day, I got multiple texts, calls, FB messages, Instagram messages asking how I was doing. It made a rough day for me go so much nicer. It was also a testament to my current friends and people I choose to surround myself with. They care. They took 30 seconds of their day to check in with a friend.

It's sad, but there are just so many people out there who just do not care anymore. They do not know what selfless is. They put themselves first and foremost. The sad part is all that they are missing out on it life.

I have discovered, as cliche as it is, the more you give in this life, the more you get. You give of yourself, your time, your friendship, your money.... whatever you have to spare... and that is exactly what you get back.

Of course we are always evolving and changing, but I am happy with the people that I surround myself and my girls with at this point. They see kind people, they see me trying to be kind... and hopefully I am setting up a template for how they might lead their lives.

I will consider my life complete when I have raised three kind, empathetic, selfless ladies who are giving back more to this life than they are taking. Ladies who can surround themselves with the same type of people and be complete and fulfilled because of it.

Wow... did you make it to the end? What is your take on selfishness versus selflessness?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Best Family-Friendly Hiking and Walking Trails Around Concord, New Hampshire

If you know me, you know I spend a lot of time outside with my girls. And, although we live in a "city", we have seemingly endless option for hiking and walking trails in our area.  I feel blessed to have access to such a variety of trails literally within minutes. I can take my kindergartner out for a quick hike in the morning before she goes off to school at noon and start both of our days with a great breath of fresh air.

And now, as the autumn leaves start to turn, I thought I'd share my favorite local hikes so that you can go experience some great local views with your own family.

#1: Mt. Kearsarge
Probably my favorite hike in our area is through Rollins State Park up Mt. Kearsarge. It is only a 1/2 mile hike to the top and offers amazing 360 degree views:

and, in the fall, offers gorgeous colors:
While it is an uphill hike over rocks and roots, I have taken my children since they were 3 and able (or willing) to walk 1/2 mile. Once at the top, they can climb the lookout tower or simply adventure around the top of the mountain:

The fees are: $4 for adults; $2 for children ages 6-11; children ages 5 and under and NH residents age 65 and over are admitted free. Pets ate permitted.

#2: Merrimack River Outdoor Education and Conservation Area
I just discovered this gem this week... and thank goodness! It is gorgeous. There are 2 miles of level trails that meander through gorgeous forest:

past the sloping banks of the Merrimack River:

I will be coming back here often and will even be snowshoeing here in the winter. 

From I-93: From I-93 take Exit 16. Turn east at the end of the exit ramp. Following the brown and white "Conservation Center" signs, go to East Side Drive (Rt. 132). Turn right onto Eastman Street. After 0.3 mile, turn left onto Portsmouth Street. Travel on Portsmouth Street for 0.1 mile. Turn right into the unpaved parking area.

#3: Marjory Swope Park
This is a nice trail that is just one year old. It is a very easy uphill climb that is 1.45 miles round trip. It offers a gorgeous view of Penacook lake:
I have not yet hiked it in the fall... but can only imagine the colors will be fantastic. I would definitely call this hike moderate since my 4 year old and myself can go up and down in less than an hour.

Look for big owl sign right on Long Pond Road.

#4: Oak Hill
This is a 2.5 mile round trip hike up to a fire tower on the top. This is not one of my favorite hikes as it does not offer views unless you climb the fire tower. (I do not like heights, so I did not climb the tower, but my 12 year old did report gorgeous views from the top.) I access the trail via Shaker Road. I might consider it a bit more challenging for smaller children, simply due to the length, but have easily hiked it with a couple of 3 and 5 year olds.

#5 Jim Hill River Walk to Daisy Beach
This is an easy (but often buggy) walk through the woods. It takes you along the river at some points and even to a hidden gem of a beach: Daisy Beach. We love this swimming spot as there is a great rope swing:

It is not a well marked trail, but you can find Daisy Beach at the bottom of the trail map (marked by the picnic table). I think it may be approximately 1 mile into the beach, but there is a whole trail system which can take you much longer if you are so inclined. Watch for wildlife around here, we have seen everything from chipmunks to foxes on our travels.

#6 Sewalls Falls Recreation Area
This is probably the area where we spend most of our time hiking. We love to relax on the sandy beach: 

Or walking along the trails or railroad tracks and enjoying the gorgeous views of the river. We like to go to the end of Second Street behind Beaver Meadow Golf Course and enter there... and use the trail map to navigate your hike.

#7 Contoocook River Park Trails
My daughters really enjoy this hike as it brings you great river views as well as an access to a dam and waterfall that the girls love to climb around on. (Not for the faint of heart if you fear your kids jumping off the dam!) But the scenery looking down the rocky river is amazing:

This is also our favorite snowshoeing trail in the winter. It is smooth and well groomed and easy for the little 2 to navigate:
You can access the trail head at the end of Electric Avenue (off Washington Street in Penacook.)

#8 Rolfe Park Trails
This is our second favorite snowshoeing trail. And its proximity to Rolfe Park makes it a great hike for smaller kids since they can play in the park at the end. It is only about 1 mile to hike around the entire trail. While there is not much in the way of views, it is a simple hike for those less inclined.

#9 Weir Road Boscawen Town Forest Trail
I have not actually hiked in here, but I do know that the wider trails allow for mountain biking, cross country skiing, hiking and snowshoeing. The trail takes you around Beaver Pond and can be accessed via Boscawen or Concord. This is a 4 season maintained trail system.

#10 Blackwater Dam
This area is another multi-use area that allows for hiking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hunting (gun and bow), fishing (brown and rainbow trout, perch, sunfish, pickerel), canoeing, and snowmobiling. From I93 take Exit 17 Head North on Route 4, South on NH 127 and you will see the dam. Bring a picnic lunch and you can an entire afternoon of adventures here.

#11 Hannah Dustin Memorial
This is our quick jaunt to a picnic spot with a bit of history infused. The hike is basically following the railroad tracks and some trestles. The memorial is actually an island at the confluence of the Contoocook and Merrimack rivers and provides some beautiful scenery and leaf peeping along the river. (You may want to read up a bit on Hannah in case your kids ask what's up with the statue of the lady holding up 5 Indian scalps.)

From I-93: Take exit 17 to Route 4 west. Hannah Dustin Memorial is directly off Route 4 with a sign and parking area.

Enjoy your hikes and please tell me if I have missed any.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Rainy Day Crafty Ideas To Keep the Wee Ones Entertained

The school year has just begun and I am already running short on ways of keeping Acadia entertained in our 4 or 5 hours before kindergarten. Our sunny days are shorter and the cool rainy days are sneaking in.

I have resorted to Pinterest and my bloggy pals to inspire me on these long mornings.

Today we made some homemade playdough. I really like that particular recipe because it has such a smooth consistency and seems to stay nice and soft for weeks when we keep it in a ziplock bag.

I thought I might share a few more ideas if you are also caught without things to do on your cool autumn mornings.

• A great way to use those crayon nubs and scraps.
• My girls like these little inchworm likenesses of themselves.
• I just bought cornstarch to try this recipe for finger paint.

I would any other ideas you may like to share to keep my baby girl amused as the cooler weather sets in.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Cereal "Bar": Slumber Party Hit

Ariana turned 13 last month and requested a slumber party for her birthday. That was probably the easiest party I have ever thrown... she really just wanted to hang out with her friends in the basement... so basically throw down some junk food, air mattress, iPod dock for tunes and call it good.

I did, of course, feel the need to Pinterest it up just a bit, so I decided on breakfast for this adventure. I am one to usually cook up a big breakfast after slumber parties. I switched it up a bit though in the name of impressing 13-year-old girls... they simply don't care how fluffy my eggs are.

I decided on a cereal bar. It was simply, yet their eyes lit up just as I hoped when they saw it.

All I did was:
Buy 6 boxes of cereal... even the sugary varieties.
Put them in some cute mason jars.
Add a picher of fresh, cold milk.
Add some bananas, blueberries and strawberries to make myself feel like I had some sort of nutritional value in their breakfast.
Throw some cute bowls on the counter.

Voila... an easy breakfast for some slumber party goers.

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

7 Back-to-School Strategies to Help You Stress Less and Simplify Your Life

Well, we are in our 3rd week of school... and now it gets hectic. Soccer started Saturday for 2 girls, dance starts Monday for another, we have attended 2 open houses with a third one coming Thursday. Gah... it's simply too much!

I thought we all may need some helpful simplifying tips to start our year off right, so I am happy to have this guest post from Jessa McFaul- who shares some great strategies that really resonate with me:

7 Back-to-School Strategies to Help You Stress Less and Simplify Your Life 

Whether your kids are toddlers or teens, the start of a new school year signified opportunity, a fresh start, and a chance to do things differently. If you’re feeling some anxiety around the all the transitions, adjustments, juggling and driving that usually accompany a new school year, take a deep breath, pause and consider the following ideas for a simpler, less stressful school year. Adopting even one of these ideas could make a huge difference in how you experience this potentially hectic time. Begin with compassion and baby steps as you consider the following:

1.  Identify what’s #1 for your family this fall. What values or new ways of being are most important to you in the upcoming months? Perhaps creating a calm morning routine, eating dinner together, having dedicated family time, developing a good homework routine or mapping out a game plan for regular communication? Consider creating a vision board together around your shared values.

2. Set yourself up for success by enlisting a support team. What type of support do you and your family need to feel nourished and nurtured as you transition into the new season? Perhaps a tutor or parenting coach, a new carpool team, a source for ready-made healthy meals or a couple of back-up baby sitters for monthly dates with your partner? Line up help now and post your “support team” list in your kitchen where the whole family can see it.

3. Schedule replenishing nature respites. Being in nature elicits a relaxation response; it helps us shed worries and restore and replenish our bodies and minds like nothing else. Pull out your calendar and schedule some family hikes, a father/son camping trip, a visit to a country cabin or lake house over a holiday break, or a potluck at a nearby park with your neighbors or friends.

4. Do less to experience more. In our office, we love the mantra, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” A key cause of stress is ambition and trying to do too much. Researchers in the field of positive psychology say we’re happiest when we have fewer options and decisions to make. What can you say “no” to so you can simplify your family’s life? Our quality of life is enhanced not by adding things, but by letting go of that which we don’t need.

5. Be mindful of technology. In a recent survey I did, families across the U.S. said overuse of media was the top culprit for derailing their family’s emotional well-being and sense of connectedness. Consider doing an informal family media use survey (include phones, computers, tablets, TV) and create some clear media guidelines for how and when your kids can be online, play video games or use other devices. Many families also are finding keeping (or getting) a landline helps with screening calls and preserving precious family time in the evenings and on the weekends.

6. Decide how you’ll communicate as a family. Regular, open, heartfelt communication is key to people feeling heard, seen, safe and secure and knowing their ideas matter. Especially when schedules are full. Some families have weekly communication meetings (post an agenda on the fridge and have your children add items to the list that they want to cover), some parents have Sunday evening planning meetings after the kids go to bed and others adopt practices as simple as everyone sharing a “thumbs up and thumbs down” at dinner each night. Do what works for you.

7. Designate weekends for rest and relaxation (as best you can!). While it’s easy to stack our weekends with errands, household cleaning, social activities, sports and more, weekend time is sacred. The primary purpose of this 48 hour break is to rejuvenate and restore your energy reserves so you can return to work and school Monday with a fresh, excited outlook—ready to learn and take on new projects. While spending the weekend in a hammock may be unrealistic, realize rest and relaxation are essential to problem solving, idea generation and creativity. At least a portion of your weekend—and maybe all day Sunday-- should be devoted to physical and emotional renewal.

Now is a great time to mindfully reflect on what has worked and not worked in the past for your family and to explore how you might implement some of these strategies now, so you enter the new school year feeling cool, calm and connected. More ideas, exercises, monthly mediations and inspiration on how to reconnect, stress less and experience more balance and harmony in everyday life in Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life (New World Library 2013) by Renee Trudeau.

I have actually read Nurturing the Soul of Your Family- and it was a great read. Jessa would like to offer up a giveaway of Renee's Book, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life or Nurturing the Soul of Your Family to help ease you into this season of stress. All you have to do is leave me a tip on a way you reduce stress during this time of year. I will choose one winner at random on Friday, Septemeber 14.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A great new lunch snack for back to school.

We have been back to school for 3 days... and already my girls are fussing about our lunch and snack choices. It is so hard to keep 3 girls happy with unique lunch ideas... while trying to keep it healthy at that.

I have found a great new snack that the girls like: Smart Fries. They have a bunch of different flavors to choose from. I brought a bag of the Cinnamon Swirl to the beach the other day and my teen and her buddy ate the entire bag! (I did get to sample one measly fry before they snuck off with the bag.) You can see they were very satisfied with their snack:

And I was happy... these fries had 5 ingredients: potato wheat flour, salt, sugar, cinnamon, and canola oil (and only 3 grams of sugar, at that!). 

My personal favorite are the Garlic Rosemary. I mean, how can you go wrong with rosemary??? Sooo yummy. 

Have you discovered any new snacks so far this year? I would love more new ideas.

I received these fries in exchange for my review. But, even for free fries, I tell it like it is.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

30 Tips to Live Simply #4

It has been a long while since I started my Living Simply series. So... without further ado... here is #4:

Simplify your wardrobe. 

The challenge? Remove 6 items of clothing from your closet/dresser and donate them. I went through my closet and pulled out every single item. I then tried each item on, pairing it with combinations I had never tried. (Who would ever paired that floral top in the top right photo with a green polka dot sweater? Not me, but I ended up loving the combo!) 

I then took photos of these new combinations. I have found it so much quicker to flip back through these photos of myself rather than taking time to try on 8 outfits.

This chore also led me to find some items in my closet that just do not look good with anything... which made it a quick decision to donate them

Want to take it a step further? Donate FIFTEEN items! It will be so much easier than you think and you will breathe a sigh of relief when you open up your closet and have new options and less clutter.

Catch up with my Live Simply project here:

Simplify tip #1 here.
Simplify tip #2 here. 
Simplify tip #3 here.

*As a side note, the floral top pictured above was actually a dress purchased from Goodwill that I cut down to a pretty tank top. I love how it turned out, and for $2.50, how could you go wrong???*

Friday, August 30, 2013

5 Things Friday: From Twerking to a Lunch Routine

10 Unconventional Ways to Be True to Yourself

I was going to write a blog post on this, but Sweet Lil' You said it perfectly!

I did a large cook and freeze recently... and this White Chicken Chili came out fantastic. The kids loved it, I loved it and others I served it to loved it. It's a cook & freeze win!

Check out my fun, unique new fitness routine!

We are implementing this Pick Your Lunch Menu this year to make our lunch packing routine easier and hopefully teach the girls to make healthy choices for themselves.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Boloco for Lunch: A Review

I work in an area that is over populated with choices to eat lunch. Although I typically choose to go over to the grocery store to grab something something fresh and cheap. So when Boloco contacted me to try some of their yummy burritos... I was up for the challenge.

First off, I was surprised that the burritos were far from just Mexican food. They offer everything from Buffalo, Thai, Cajun, Memphis BBQ to Caesar, Mediterranean and Tikka Masala.

Next, I was pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive it is for the amount of food you get. The photo above is the "Original" size. It is the size of my forearm and wayyy too much food for me. I could only eat about half. I would definitely recommend getting the small size.

I loved the fresh ingredients... and the fact that I could choose any protein I wanted: chicken, steak, pork or tofu. I have only tried the Nasoya tofu on all of my burritos so far... and it has been so delicious. I am not a typically huge fan of tofu, but mixed in with Bolocos great flavors, I love it.

I am now a fan and have been back for lunch many times over... I have had the Buffalo, Tikka Masala, Cajun and Mediterranean burritos so far. My favorite this far is the Cajun flavor.

The major drawback with these burritos are that they can be high in calories, saturated fat and sodium. My first burrito I ate was the Buffalo original size. This had 1032 calories, 18 grams saturated fat and 1084mg of sodium!

Just be a bit more careful than me when ordering and you can get a much healthier option... a small Tikka Masala wheat burrito with Nasoya tofu is only 368 calories, 1.5 grams saturated far and 382mg of sodium. And it is so filling and delicious.

Speaking of the Nasoya- check their website out for some amazing recipes. My favorite is the Crispy Tofu Taco with Creamy Lime Drizzle... sooo delicious! There are even some great kid friendly recipes that are great for back to school lunches. The Cinnamon Sugar Crisps are a huge hit here.

This brings me to a little giveaway. I have a $10 Boloco gift card and Nasoya coupons to share with you. Ever since Google reader died, my readership has dropped away to nothing... so I have jumped on board the Facebook fanpage in an effort to get my readers back. Please go "Like" my Facebook page
New England Through Yummy Mommy's Eyes
and then come back here to let me know. That will gain you one entry into the Boloco giveaway. If you care to share my page on your own Facebook, let me know that too for an additional entry.

Good luck!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Lesson I've Learned: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

I have recently come to a realization: women (and more specifically, mothers) have a huge amount of anxiety. Some more than others... but I have had so many discussions recently with women from all different walks of life and they all seems to have some stress and anxiety throughout much of their daily lives.

Which left me to wonder, with all of the trials and tribulations I have to deal with, why am I not more anxious all the time? One friend so kindly pointed out I must be bottling it all up and I will just blow one day. But I don't really feel any underlying stress. How do I account for this? How are my coping mechanisms different from other women I encounter?

After many discussions and weeks of pondering, I saw this post from Lil Blue Boo. Ashley has dealt with severe anxiety and panic attacks; struggled with ADHD and social anxiety, eating disorders and alcohol abuse... and most recently cancer! If any Momma has a reason to be anxious, it's her.

But her mindset in coping with the daily minutia of life is very similar to mine: don't sweat the small stuff, but absolutely appreciate the small stuff.

She even created a list of Small Stuff versus Big Stuff. Although I do not have a written list, it is a mental list that I constantly refer to.

Just yesterday, I ran out of gas miles from home because my gas gauge is broken (great excuse for me). All I could do was laugh at myself and call a friend. The girls and I hung out in the sunshine on the side of the road... uploaded a couple of pictures to instagram and, thanks to great friends, were on our way within minutes, no worse for the wear.

When small things happen like that throughout the day, I simply stop and think of a couple things that I have to be grateful for. In this situation, Acadia was napping, so we did not have a cranky baby girl on our hands. This car that ran out of gas is in great condition and a very reliable to drive. I have AAA so, even if I did not have a great friend so close, we still would have been ok. The list of things to be grateful for in that situation were endless.

I have an amazing man in my life who lost both his son and wife in the last couple of years to suicide. And whenever he is having a bad day, he has a mantra he says that, no matter what his day holds, he has already experienced the worst days of his life. So there is just no use in wasting your energy in stressing over the small stuff.

That is my lesson. Do not waste your time, energy, resources or moments worrying about things you can not change or, quite simply, just don't matter. Are your kids fighting about what to wear? Well let them wear what they want. Are you running late for an appointment? Well reschedule and use that extra time to catch up on another area of life you are behind on. Did you forget to take out something for dinner? Give the kids a peanut butter sandwich and some carrot sticks and call it good.

Just think that all those moments that you are spending with stress and anxiety are moments lost with your love ones. And moments are something we can never get back. Unfortunately, our moments on this Earth are limited, so make the most of them before they are gone.

Learn some other lessons today with Mama Kat.
Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Happy Birthday, Acadia Skye: #5

This is my baby:

Today she turns 5-years-old. Wow... does time certainly fly. It seems like just yesterday she was snuggling on my chest as I was relishing the moments of her quiet breathing and sweet scent.

And, now... she starts kindergarten in a few short weeks. The days of her and I spending endless hours side by side have come to an end. She will join her sisters on a journey of independence and self discovery. 

She still kisses me all the time and can still fit in my lap to cuddle. She still sleeps in my bed as I rub her back to sleep each night.

But I know that I need to appreciate each and every one of these moments as she is growing up. All too soon, I will be helping her get her prom dress on, giving her advice on her wedding day and watching her carry her own children.

But, for now though, she is still my baby girl. And I love her to the moon and back.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Enjoying: My new pedicure. Yet another experience gift Ariana and I were able to enjoy from Christmas. Pedicures are pretty much my favorite. Each time I look down at my pretty toes, it just brightens my day.

Eating: A new quinoa recipe. I got a sudden anxiety attack about school starting, work hours picking up, dance and other activities starting so I did a small cook and freeze session. I though I'd try my hand at a quinoa recipe to freeze... but the girls weren't a fan. I was, so I just decided to eat it for lunch all week. (Which, thankfully, alleviated more anxiety I have been having over my single mom budget by keeping me from buying lunch.)

Thinking about: My fantasy life on a farm... because it makes me happy and "To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe." -Anatole France

Loving: This Placemat Survey from Lil Blue Boo that I took with my girls as we took a road trip to Vermont to the Montshire Museum today. It killed a lot of time on the trip and it was so fun to hear the girls' answers. 

Listening to: I have loved John Prine since I can remember... and then a friend introduced to to Iris DeMent... and then this whacky song. Considering it was in a Billy Bob Thornton movie, you can see why it may be a bit off color.

Another amazing person just brought the song back to my attention again today and I can't stop listening to it.

Reading: Blogs. Catching up on lots of my blog reading now that I have joined Blog Lovin'. Yes, you can follow me here on Blog Lovin'.

Let me know if I can follow you on Blog Lovin as well, I need to build up my blog reader again.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Chocolate Lasagna: Easy and yummy dessert for potlucks.

Here is a recipe that I saw on Facebook that I actually tried and LOVED. I brought it over to a friends house for a casual dinner with our kids and the children all devoured it. It was quick and easy and you can actually adjust the ingredients to avoid high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated vegetable oil... etc.

It is now my go to for potlucks and gatherings.

1 package Oreo cookies (or Newman-O's, as I prefer)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cold milk
1 (12 ounce) container whipped topping, divided
2 packages chocolate instant pudding
3 1/4 cups cold milk
1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips

Begin by crushing 36 Oreo cookies. Place them in a large ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin (or use a food processor, if you have one.) When the Oreos have turned into fine crumbs, you are done.

Transfer the Oreo crumbs to a large bowl. Stir in 6 tablespoons melted butter and use a fork to mix the butter into the cookie crumbs. When the butter is distributed, transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan.

Place the pan in the refrigerator while you work on the additional layers.

Mix the cream cheese with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add in milk and sugar, mix well. Stir in 1 and 1/4 cups whipped topping. Spread this mixture over the crust.

In a bowl, combine chocolate instant pudding with 3 and 1/4 cups cold milk. Whisk for several minutes until the pudding starts to thicken. Use a spatula to spread the mixture over the previous cream cheese layer.

Allow the dessert to rest for about 5 minutes so that the pudding can firm up further. Spread the remaining whipped topping over the top.

Sprinkle mini chocolate chips evenly over the top. Place in the freezer for 1 hour, or the refrigerator for 4 hours before serving.

And then... enjoy! Its yummy!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

9 Pictures. 9 Words.

Along my path to living simply....


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

More Travel Tips for Your Family: Shelf Safe Milk

Last week I took my first vacation with the girls as a single mom. And, of course I could not just do the normal thing and book a nice hotel with a pool... I got the grand idea that myself and 4 little girls (mine PLUS a friend) would work out just fine. Camping. Did you catch that? With four children... and myself? 

The packing alone was enough to drive me mad. Thankfully we were only doing 3 days and 2 nights. But I am the type to go all out , real deal camping. I use a propane camping stove and make my coffee in a tin can... cook hobo pockets over the open campfire, hot dogs on a stick... roughing it for real.

One thing that is hard about camping is still eating fairly healthy. Keeping up on the fruits, veggies, dairy while avoiding the processed foods. So when Milk Unleashed contacted me about reviewing their shelf safe milk, I though this trip was the perfect opportunity.

Shelf safe is any of those juice carton-types of milk you see on the shelf that do not need to be refrigerated. The most common one we have around here are the Horizon Organic which I always see at Target, Shaws and Hannaford.

But, previously when I saw milk being sold warm on the shelf, I was a bit freaked out. So I did my research. These milks have no additives or preservatives, they are just basically super heater to super pasteurize them, and then put in these paper based boxes which keep out any light, bacteria, etc that may spoil milk.

If you know my family, you know that we keep the milk industry in business. We have been known to go through a gallon of milk in one day. And I do not allow soda and only very limited juice, so we really needed this milk option for our trip.

It was perfect! I was able to pack a bunch of the cartons in with my dried goods, no need for cooler space.  The cabin we had had a mini fridge so we we able to refrigerate a few as we needed them. I also discovered that I could freeze a few and take them to the river with us and when it was time to picnic, they were nice and cold. 

The girls loved them. The plain milk ones tasted just like our normal 1% does and they were excited I let them have the flavored milks too. All the flavored milk I was provided (from Hersheys to Horizon) did not have any high fructose corn syrup, which is the one reason I do to let the girls have other flavored milks. 

I was actually so enthralled with this whole boxed milk idea that I came home and bought some to keep in the pantry. I am forever running out of milk and this is a great back up. I will also be adding them to the girls lunches so that they can have organic milk (which our school does not provide) I can just freeze them the night before and they will be perfect at lunch time.

I did notice that Horizon has some coupons available if you are interested in trying it. I could not suggest it more highly for your summer beach trips, camping, hiking, picnics. I am clearly ultra-pasteurized milks newest and biggest fan.

Oh, and here's a link to my previous tips and traveling with kids. I will be providing a few more posts on what activities we had to keep us busy, what other types of things a crazy mom with 4 kids and tow may pack for a getaway in the woods and maybe more.

(I was provided lots of milk from milk unleashed, which my family gladly drank and I gladly shared an opinion on.)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

5 Things Friday: Do it for the children.

1. I am making this for the girls' rooms. I wanted a banner, but one we can change up will work so much better for their changing tastes.

2. I have a bag packed by the front door just for those little summer outings. Great way to save time and get outta the house quickly.

3. I printed a bunch of these and put them in our car activity bag... the girls will definitely pass a few minutes creating these faces.

4. I am going to the dollar store for pool noodles tomorrow! So many cool ideas... and cheap!

5. I am putting these binders together ASAP! We often make day trips to Maine, Vermont, Mass... and I need all the travel entertainment I can get for this restless bunch.

(I have some other great travel ideas here too!)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Living simply in small spaces.

In our new home, there is one very large bedroom, one medium and one very small. Initially the very large room housed all 3 girls (it easily fits 1 full sized bed and 2 twin beds), I reside in the medium sized room and the tiny room remained empty until the little ladies could decide who would get to room alone. 

As the room had atrocious wood paneling on the bottom half of the walls, I could see why it might not have been attractive to any of them. Whoever created faux wood paneling should be ashamed. It is such an ugly, uninviting decor. 

Anyhow, I decided to redo the room, which basically meant to paint over the paneling. Unfortunately, I have had to paint over wood paneling before, and it is a pain in the tush. Requiring oil-based primer and using an itty bitty paint brush to fill in every-single-stinking crevice. 

I did not take a before picture... but here is a 'during', after I primed the paneling:

After letting the single coat of primer dry for a full 24 hours, I had to apply THREE more coats of my yellow paint to get a nice full coverage.

From there, I framed a piece of artwork that Annika had painted, put up some high shelves for storage in this small space, added a bulletin board, curtains and bed spread from Goodwill... and Annika was very excited to move in:

And she loves it! She loves her small space. And I love that it makes life so much easier on our path to simplicity. I have watched my children getting overwhelmed when asked to clean their room in our old home (their current home with daddy) as, when you have more space, you have more stuff, more clutter, more more MORE. And, while we utilize every bit of spec in our small home (Check out this cute crate I put next to her bed as a bedside 'table'):

...we still do not have room for messes. A place for everything and everything in it's place. Annika can clean her room top to bottom in 10 minutes tops. We use baskets on her shelves, underbed plastic totes and wooden crates to store her stuff. It's cozy, comfortable and simple for her. I asked if she'd like to trade for the bigger room now and she said, "No way!" 

My girls are slowly learning that they do not need a lot of things. We actually have a lot of fun in our time together, crafts, games (a lot of games) sewing, lots of time outdoors, reading. Here is a night in my house after dinner:

Lots of things that just don't take up resources... or space in a tiny home.