Thursday, April 28, 2011

Congratulations to the Winners of the Teething Bling Giveaway!

The Teething Bling winners are:

3- Katie
14- Nik
20- lissy0905

I'll be emailing you shortly to get your mailing addresses so I can send these out asap!  Thanks everyone and a new giveaway is coming very soon!

Health Dinners: A Royal Meal

I was secretly pretty excited for the big wedding of the decade- Prince William to now Duchess Catherine.  I didn't go all out and watch it at 5 am, but when I got up this morning, I hopped onto the Internet right away to find a few clips and pictures.  Am I the only one who got choked up?  Duchess Catherine's dress was so wonderful and timeless, the newly-weds radiated love and happiness, and both of them blushing after their balcony kiss?  I wanted to throw my wedding dress back on, hop in the van and say "We're getting married again!" to Nolan.

The thing I loved the most about the wedding, were their subtle gestures of appreciation and love to their family.  They honored the late Lady Diana, Catherine wore earring in the shape of her family crest, both of their families were lovely and classy.  I also love that Prince William chose his uniform to honor British soldiers who had been killed and/or wounded in battle.  They resonate a love of their country, traditions, and family.

This Jule, Nolan will have been married for 5 years and will be renewing our vows at a friends farm.  We'll be serving our favorite foods, dressed fabulously but comfortably (it will be July after all), and probably carry OFF Skintastic wherever we go.  When I read that a traditional Bangers and Smash would be served as a meal, I squealed!  Comfort food at a wedding reception!  How fabulous!

Here's our take on Banger's and Mash at our house.  My mom served her favorite version of it at her restaurant today.  We again have to give Mr. Jamie Oliver credit here, when I first tried the recipe, it was out of my my first cookbook of his I ever bought.  I've tweaked it some and I add peas to the mashed potatoes to make it a tad more healthy.

I know we're slowly transitioning to becoming a vegetarian family, but I do need to use up meat we have, and really? Somehow, I just don't think Bangers and Mash would taste the same without sausage.  Congratulations to the lovely new couple.  A wedding does not a marriage make, but the love and respect they showed each other today most certainly indicates their deep connection.  Enjoy this meal around your table soon!

Traditional Bangers and Mash

  • 2 pounds potatoes
  • 8 links sausage (Italian sausage can be subbed in, but really- I do think nice Kielbasa's or bratwursts even work well.)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 4 tablespoons cream
  • 2 ounces butter
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons grainy mustard, plus mustard for dipping (I like a spicier Dijon mustard and you can never go wrong with Grey Poupon!)
  • -2 Cups of peas, fresh or frozen, thawed, drained, and rinsed well
  • Salt and pepper
-Peel and dice potatoes. (1 1.2 inch cubes work well and I never remove the skins unless there are sprouted or dark spots.)
-Place in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, add salt and simmer potatoes for 20 minutes.
-Meanwhile, prick sausages with a fork, heat a skillet and brown the sausage in 1 tablespoon oil. Slice (or dice- your preference here) the onion.
-Remove the sausage to a plate and add the onion to the pan. Cook onions until soft, then add 2 tablespoons flour, cook for 1 minute.  The onions should soften up rather nicely.
-Add the chicken stock and return the sausage to the pan, cooking it through for about 15 to 20 minutes.  Add peas in and cook for another few minutes.
-Drain the potatoes and mash them well in a saucepan.
-Add the cream, butter, sour cream and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with side of grainy mustard and brown bread for dipping.

Product Review: PKS Happy Baggy Set

Courtesy of the PKStuff Etsy page- these are almost identical to the ones we own!

We're getting sick of Ziploc bags for small things, like snacks for the kids and us when we travel or just need to carry some along.  I don't mind them when you've got a substantial amount of leftovers to put in the refrigerator or the freezer, but the cost and waste alone was starting to drive me a bit bonkers.  I started looking up reusable 'Ziploc'iploc bags, cloth 'Ziploc' bags, etc., to find some alternatives.  I stumbled onto PKStuff on Etsy.

The PKStuff store offers tons of products for the natural family household and the bags that PKStuff putout for 'cloth Ziploc bags' are darned well adorable!  I got a couple sets to try out in our household.  We've been using them about three months now and I still love them.

We use these bags for dry snacks, like crackers, cheerios, and dried fruit for the kids.  Sometimes I even pack myself a bag with some trail mix to throw in my purse when I'm going to be out of the house for an extended period of time.  I haven't used them often for wet or damp snacks, but I bet they'd work really well.  They seal up tightly but are still super kid friendly- easy to hold onto and open for a snack they can feed themselves.

I really love these.  They may not have entirely replaced all Ziploc bags in this household, but it's a start!  I have been trying really hard, in an effort to be more eco-friendly, to switch a lot of common household items over to things you can make at home or buy and reuse several times.  WE make a lot of our own cleaning supplies, have almost entirely eliminated paper towels (cut up old t-shirt are PERFECT for this), and renewed effort to get our household using less electricity/water/gas. The PKStuff bags really fit well into this new lifestyle.

We love them and hope you check them out too!  P.S. There might just be a giveaway of a set of them next week!  Keep your eyes open for it!  What do you do to reuse or reduce waste at your house?  Do you like PKStuff bags or use similar ones?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Our May Diapapalooza Details!

We are having another Diapapalooza in May, so get ready!  If you're in need of cloth diapers and don't mind gently used ones, we're here to help.  The initial investment into cloth diapers can be a bit hefty during this economy, so this may be a great way for you to afford getting your little one into cloth diapers too.  We offer lots of support, explaining how each different brand and kind works.  Do remember, we hold regular cloth diapering lessons to help you out too!

Diapapalooza isn't just for cloth diapers, we include all sorts of other gently used products and all natural products for your family. It's such a great way to get involved in the ever growing popularity of cloth diapers while making a natural and eco-friendly choice for your family.  You can sell diapers, carriers, accessories, blankets, and more.

Diapapallooza begins Thursday night, May 5th from 4-6pm and re-opens again Saturday May 7th from 11am-2pm at Elegant Mommy. We have tables set up and hundreds of cloth diapers to choose from! Prices will vary based upon what each seller decides to price their diapers at.

If you are a buyer, just show up with your questions and your form of payment during the times listed!

If you are a seller, RSVP to this event and we will private message you to get your email to send you the instructions! **Please note: All diapers must be dropped off by 5pm on Tuesday May 3rd in order to be consigned on this sale**

You set the price and we print the tags. We will email you a form to fill out with your description and your price. We will print all of the tags and you can come tag your own diapers (to help reduce your consigning fee) or we will tag them for you. The consigning fee is 15% if you come in prior to the sale for at least 1 hour to help us get ready (Wednesday and/or Thursday). If you are unable to come help, the consigning fee will be 20%.

After the sale ends on Saturday, we will add up your sales, subtract your consigning fee and issue you a check. Checks and diapers will not be available for pickup until after 12pm on Monday. All consignors will be required to sign a form stating that you have checked your diapers to ensure you have all of them before you leave the store. We will not issue any checks for lost diapers once you have left the store. You can also have your check mailed to you and we will donate your diapers to local non-profits with clients who are interested in cloth diapering.

You can RSVP to our event page on FaceBook so we can get you a cosigner packet sent immediately.  
Any questions?  Please email shelly@elegantmommy or call 605-338-0228

Poetry Month & Dr. Seuss

In this house, Dr. Seuss is the main man when it comes to reading.  April is National Poetry Month, and while I'm not entirely sure that what I've chosen for our poetry month selection is 'exactly' poetry, it fits the bill in a few ways.  I think Dr. Seuss was a very clever guy.  He worked major life lessons into clever prose that is catchy and kids can recite tons.  Heck, I can too.  Think about "Green Eggs and Ham"- a tome on trying things without fear or hesitation or just being willing to try things, in general.  When my kiddos turn up their nose at a new food before tasting it, I always say "Try it, try it! You may see!"

To me, "Horton Hears A Who" is a genius lesson on belief in yourself and on people needing to open their eyes and hearts to things that might be new or scary to them. "The Butter Battle Book" cleverly teaches about picking and choosing your battles in life, deciding what is worth exhaustive effort or acceptance.  I can quote "The ABC Book" from start to finish, as can my daughter.  My son loves the illustrations, the cadence of the rhymes, and claps wildly when I pull out a Dr. Seuss book to read.  It's a win-win situation, all around.

Never mind that there are cool Dr. Seuss movies, shows, and even a fun website for your kiddos!  I credit reading my kids Dr. Seuss diligently with them picking up rhyming, reading, tolerance, and acceptance, along with so many other things.  My favorite book is "Oh The Places You'll Go!" by Dr. Seuss.  It's probably in my top 3 books ever, not just for kids.  It's amazing that he wrote it shortly before he passed away and to be perfectly honest, remembering parts of that book have gotten me through very hard times in my life.

I'm going to open up and give a confession to you.  When I was pregnant with Owen, and contemplating making my dream of becoming a full time writer a reality, I was filled with more doubt than you could imagine.  I spent more than a few times in tears over whether I could do it or not, until one night that I picked this book up to read to Eva before bedtime.  When I kissed her good night, I had my answer.  It was time to 'move my mountain'.

So, without further ado, with many humble thanks to Dr. Seuss & an ode to Poetry Month, I present "Oh, the Places You'll Go!"

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.

And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town. It’s opener there in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And if you go in, should you turn left or right…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

Thank you to Dr. Seuss, and thank you, our fantastic readers!

Teething Bling Contest ENDS Wednesday!

Be sure to enter the giveaway- it ends Wednesday at midnight!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pause For Gratitude: Time with the kiddies

I am in a remarkable position.  Although, I work from home and am finishing an online masters, I get mornings with both my kids, and afternoons with my son.  I get time to make breakfast, watch the kids color and play, work on Spanish and French with Eva all in the mornings.

In the afternoons, after we drop Eva at school, Owen and I run an errand or two, then come home and sit down to lunch together.  We page through a couple of his favorite books, and after lunch we get ready for nap time.  Owen and I walk over, lock the door, make sure the lights and heat are off, grab his blankets/bottle/diaper/pjs and head to bed.

Every afternoon, I get to take an hour or so rest with Owen in my bed.  Sometimes I don't sleep and work while he snoozes.  Sometimes, I just lie and cuddle him and rest.  He's going through a phase where he doesn't WANT to sleep in his bed and prefers ours.  At first, I was annoyed- but now I've come to relish it.

After all, how often do we get an hour or two to snuggle and rest our eyes during a busy, hectic day?  It's nice to have a few moments of peace, rest, and reflection.  Plus, your baby holding your hand and tucking himself right next to you never hurts either.  I love that our children relish cuddle time with us.

Eva always wants 'mommy and me time' Thursday nights.  We sit on my bed, much some popcorn, do our nails, and just enjoy being together.  Oh all the things that I know will change, I am so happy to get these moments with my babies.  Someday they ma not want to be so close, so for right now, I'll treasure every minute I get that they want to be with us.

What are you grateful for today?

Healthy Breakfasts: Egg White Omelets

I may be among the few here, but I actually prefer the flavor of egg white omelets to full egg omelets.  That being said, this recipe can go either way.  However, here's the distinction if you are doing eggs versus egg whites.  For one person, I prefer 3 egg whites OR 2 full eggs.  My husband prefer 4 egg whites or 3-4 full eggs.  I like light and fluffy omelets, he prefers ones that are a bit heavier.  So, whichever way you take this recipe, feel free to adjust eggs and portions of ingredients accordingly.

My kids do like cheese omelets with cut up fruit for breakfast but I have yet to get them into ones with hers and veggies too.  So I try to keep the cheese low fat or ones with skim or 2% milk.  Luckily they will go with cut up fruit as a side, right?  I've also been keeping glasses of juice between two to 4 ounces for a glass  Granted we drink all-natural juices, but the sugar content is still pretty high.  Or, I offer a glass of water with a meal and a snack so they boost how much water that they drink.

I like omelets on weekends but they are easy enough to do any day of the week.  You can use use cheese or veggie leftovers, and the add ins are infinite.  Use what you love.  Here, I've got a spring time omelet because I just so happen to love the fruits and veggies that spring brings.  I will be making the recipe for one omelet.  If you want to make more- just double/triple/ quadruple the ingredients!  I'm doing it for one, simply because I usually make them one at a time.

Spring Vegetable Egg White Omelet

-3 egg whites
-1-2 tbs milk
-1/2 cup steamed or sauteed chopped veggies (I usually do asparagus, broccoli, arugula, and a bit of shallots & garlic)
-1/4 cup shredded cheese (I'm loving Gruy√®re or provolone on this omelet lately)
-1/4 tsp herbs such as oregano, tarragon, thyme, or marjoram
-Salt and pepper to taste

-Set a medium skillet on low to medium heat and give it a quick spray with non-stick spray (I prefer the olive oil kind for this)
-If your veggies need sauteed first, throw them in with plenty of salt and pepper and perhaps a bit of olive oil.  I really like to use crushed red pepper flakes- but it's entirely your choice.)
-Set aside sauteed veggies.  Whisk eggs with milk until it's light and bubbly.
-Pour eggs into pan.  Season with herbs,salt and pepper.  Make sure to loosen the sides of the omelet regularly until it's ready to flip- usually 2-3 minutes. You want the center to be just lightly jiggly.
-Flip omelet.  After about 2-3 more minutes spread veggies and half the cheese down half the omelet.  Cover top with salt, pepper, and cheese.
-When cheese is melty, slide onto plate.  Serve with some fresh fruit and some whole grain toast.  Enjoy!

I must apologize.

I have a huge amount of homework coming up on my masters thesis rough draft this week.  I got VERY behind.  I am going to keep trying to get the blog caught up with this weeks posts BUT it may tak me through the end of the weekend and I apologize in advance!

Three things to remember!

1.  Our teething bling contest ends Wednesday at Midnight.  Be sure you get entered- I've got 3 to give away!

2.  SD Babies is presenting a meeting on children and oral hygiene Tuesday night at 6:30 at Elegant Mommy.  Check out our Facebook Page for details and to RSVP!

3. Our Great Cloth Diaper Change was a HUGE success.  I am working on putting together a HUGE blog on it, complete with a picture slide show!

I do apologize for being a bit behind, but never fear!  We'll get back up to speed asap!

Monday, April 25, 2011

A big Sara Rose Family Announcement!

Just to end the questions, no I am not pregnant.  On to the bigger thing now!

Well, we've been discussing this for the past 2 months and finally reached our decision.  We talked with Eva about it, ummm Owen probably doesn't care because it won't totally affect him.  Nope, I'm not prego, remember I can't GET pregnant again EVER (and I'm way okay with that one).  No, we aren't moving yet.  What we're doing though, will affect decisions that we make every single day.  We had to talk to Eva a few times so she could see what our decision was about.

As Nolan and I get older, we're gaining some softness (aka FAT), worried about keeping our health up to par, and realizing that when we eat too much meat and/or processed junk . . . well, we regularly feel awful after the fact.  Sluggish, stomach aches, headaches, etc.  We're realizing that while we eat ore healthfully than a whole heap of people we know, we could DO BETTER.

Hearing so many reports of contaminated, antibiotic and chemical loaded meats concerns me deeply.  It does NOT seem natural that the food we put in ourselves has to be altered so dramatically JUST SO WE CAN EVEN TOUCH IT. We talked with Eva.  Explained that a lot of junk food, meats, processed foods have chemicals that make us feel yucky, and pointed out that eating meat means you kill animals.

If there is one thing that kid is against (other than not always being the center of attention), it's animals dying.  She's also really committed herself to the resolution we made for the family of much healthier eating, so she jumped on board.  We already know she's on board for our big old veggie garden.  Eating healthier, exercising more.  So what's the newest thing we're working on?  The big announcement.

We're going vegetarian.  As a family.  With a few exceptions.  We do have to make sure our kids are getting lean proteins, all their vitamins and minerals, and a very balanced diet.  Thus:

-We chose to keep dairy in our diet.  We're just skimming down to making sure all dairy is low fat or nonfat.  The only exception to this is Owen.  He is an INCREDIBLY skinny kid.  His weight is somewhere in the 10th percentile versus his height.  

Simply put, usually after your child breast or formula feeds- at one year you switch them over to whole milk.  At 2-3 you switch them down to whatever your family drinks.  Since his weight is so low, I plan to keep him on whole milk, at my doctors approval, for another year.  There are a couple reasons for this.  Owen WILL NOT eat meat.  He eats fruits, veggies, dairy products (yogurt or milk- he hates cheese), and some grains.  To keep his iron levels strong and make sure he gets good protein, we need him to keep drinking whole milk awhile longer.

-We will eat fish, and occasionally white meat turkey or chicken. No red meats or pork.  We all like tofu, so we've got another option for soy based protein.  The occasions of turkey or chicken will be if we're guests.  Also, if we are guests and are served other meats, we are NOT going to be rude and demand an entirely different meal.  We believe strongly that what someone else serves you is something to not be taken lightly because it is a gift.  We also have friends and family who do eat meat and we will always accommodate guests before ourselves.

-Eggs are also allowed.  Organic, free range, etc.  I believe firmly in the benefits of eggs in peoples diets and it is a protein both my children eat willingly.  Never mind the fact that sometimes, you just need a big pile of eggs and toast.  I have never thought of eggs as harmful or bad for people, unless eaten in excess.  But then again, pretty much ANYTHING is bad for you if eaten in excess.  Ask my thighs ;p.

-We want to cut the pre-processed, packaged, chemical laden foods that come into this house down by 2/3's.  We  absolutely believe in making our own treats and munchies, and let's just be honest.  That homemade brownie tastes a heck of a lot better than the boxed kind.  We want to cut a lot of refined sugars, corn syrups, and just CHEMICALS out of the picture.

-We will be diligently buying whole grain, organic, free range products from now on.  The fact that we, and about 5 friends are putting in gardens of a fairly large size helps immensely- we can trade!  Also, as mentioned before, we live in a town with a great commitment to organic products, supporting local farmers markets, etc.

-We're really committed to learning all about the world of vegetarian recipes.  As in 4 new cookbooks.  Tons of Internet resources.  Menu planning.  The whole 9 yards.

We want our kids growing up learning that they can eat nourishing, healthy food that we grow ourselves or that support an environmentally friendly economy.  We want to teach them that eating healthfully i a lifestyle, and a tasty one at that.  This goes hand in hand with our commitment to healthier family eating habits and our commitment to teaching the kids that the environment must be nurtured and protected.

We're really excited about the start of this journey and SO excited to share it with every one of you.  I hope people chime in with ideas, resources, and opinions!  Wish us luck!  We will be talking to you weekly or bi-weekly as we embark on this new family adventure!

Friday, April 22, 2011

It's Earth Day and we Have Two Questions.

What are YOU doing for the earth today?  What are you doing for our earth every day?  WE hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Oh and it's Sara Rose here.  What are we doing?  We've turned off our heat, our lights, and threw open all our curtains today.  Any appliances that don't need to be running or plugged in aren't.  We moved our compost and turned it to prep for our gardens we are going to put in.  We turned in every bit of recycling we could today and also made a big effort to clean out our cupboards to make a donation to the food pantry.

We priced a new clothes lines (ours died last summer).  We hope to use our vehicles and appliances, less, hang out our laundry daily, recycle, garden, reuse, and most importantly- we hope to teach our kids to appreciate and take care of the earth better than we have.  We hope to try to do it every single day.

Let's hear from you!

Our Great Cloth Diaper Change Event Thank You's!

Today is Earth Day and tomorrow morning we kick off our Great Cloth Diaper Change!  We have a list of very special people to thank that made this all possible!  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping us make this exciting event happen!

Our sponsors:

South Dakota Babies
Tykes 2 Tweens
Green N Clean Mama (Jill Johnson)
It Works with Danielle McClure

Very Special Thank Yous:

Special Thank Yous:
Master Creative Designs
Hound Dog Promotions
She's Shapin Up & Teri Katzenberger

The donators of our door prizes and other great stuff for the day:

Door Prize/Goody Bag Donations
Itty Bitty Lydi
QT Caps
Crunchy Clean

And, of course, all our Elegant Mommy employees!

Healthy Dinners: Pasta & A Treat!

In honor of earth day, a Food Revolution!

One of my very favorite cookbook authors is Jamie Oliver (The Naked Chef).  I love his commitment to simply prepared, humble food that is delectable.  I admire his focus on the ideas that:

1.  We all need to eat healthier.
2.  We all can eat healthier, and it doesn't 'have to be' stressful to get dinner on the table.  Nor does it take culinary genius to make things tasty.
3.  Families should sit down together at the dinner table as often as absolutely possible.
4.  Food is our friend, not enemy.  But we must be mindful of what we put in our bodies.

Mr. Oliver has been on a Food Revolution.  He wants to inspire families to cook and eat together more often. He wants to teach kids about making healthy choices.  But most importantly, he wants you to really relish what's on your plate.  He wants you to care about what you put into yours and your families bodies.  But he really wants us ALL to start cooking and stop relying on prepackaged, over processed food.

I just got his latest cook book "Food Revolution' and I am so in love with it, I hardly know where to begin.  So many recipes, all simple, explained clearly and easily, so many lovely pictures.  The way he writes make you feel like he's standing next to you, dicing an onion and saying "Look at you!  Look at that lovely food you're making! GO YOU!"

We just tried out a pasta dish that combines several things I adore- peas, bacon, Parmesan, and noodles.  It's simple, delicious, and despite it being noodles in a creamy, cheesy sauce, it goes down a treat with whole grain noodles, paired with simple sides like roasted broccoli and a simple green salad.  Everybody in this house gobbled it all down.  Then we went for a family walk (an hour before it SNOWED AGAIN, ugh).

I also want to share an old family recipe of mine that I spruced up to be WAY healthier.  Whole wheat banana bread.  I replaced white flour with whole wheat, replaced the sugar with applesauce, made sure there were chopped pecans speckling the batter, and drank a cup of tea while it baked.  It's a great anytime of the day snack but it was a perfect dessert too.  I hope you enjoy!

Pasta with Creamy Smoked Bacon and Pea Sauce
Jamie Oliver
serves 4-6

-10 slices of smoked bacon, preferably free-range or organic
-Small bunch of fresh mint (Ok, our grocery didn't have any decent mint this week, so I used about 1 1/2 tsp of dried mint)
-1 lb mini shell or other shape of pasta (I LOVE Ronzoni Smart Pasta with all the added fiber and calcium)
-1 tbs butter
-2 Cups of frozen or fresh peas
-2 Tbs of heavy cream
-1 lemon
-6 oz Parmesan cheese
-Sea salt, cinnamon, and pepper to taste

-To prep for the pasta, finely slice the bacon, pick the mint leaves off their stalks and roughly chop them.  Finely grate the Parmesan.
-Set a large pan of well salted water to boil.  When boiling, add pasta and cook according to the directions until al dente.
-In a large pan over medium heat, melt butter and a bit of olive oil, maybe a tablespoon or so.  Add bacon and sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon and pepper.  Fry until golden and crisp, then dump in your peas, shake the pan well, and let it cook for a minute or two.
-Add the heavy cream, mint, and some more salt and pepper to taste.  When the pasta is ready to drain, reserve about a half cup of your cooking water and drain in the colander then add it into the frying pan.
-Halve the lemon and squeeze half into the pan.  When the pan is bubbling and simmering, remove from the heat.  If the sauce is too thick, add in a spoonful or so of cooking water at a time until it's a consistency that you like.
-Spoon into bowls, top with Parmesan.  Serve it with a big salad and a lot of smiles.

My grandma's recipe for banana bread, touched up a bit by yours truly.

My Grandmama's Banana Bread (But a bit healthier)

-2 Cups of unbleached whole wheat, all purpose flour
-1 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 Cup butter (I don't use substitutes for butter often in my baking- I always get such terrible results!)
-1 Cup applesauce
-2 eggs
-2 tsp vanilla
-4 medium to large over-ripened bananas
-(Optional) 1 cup of chopped pecans, chocolate chips, or a mix of both

-Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9 inch loaf pan.
-In a medium bowl, mix together your dry ingredients and set aside.
-In a large bowl, cream together applesauce and butter.  Add eggs and mix together well.
-Add vanilla and bananas, stir in well.
-Add your dry ingredients in 3 additions, blending well, and scraping down the sides of the bowl each time.
-When well blended, add in nuts and chips if preferred.
-Bake for 50-60 minutes, but you may want to check it at 45.  When knife comes out clean, it's done!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Our Twitter Contest Winner!

Congratulations to . . .

Number 145: Shaina H. otherwise known at and!/shaina_h

Contact us asap so I can get your giftcard sent to you!  THANK YOU to everyone for helping out and getting us more connected to all of you on Twitter!

Teething Bling GIVEAWAY!!!!

Teething Bling to win!
Three lucky parents will be receiving a piece of lovely Teething Bling!  I've got a brown bracelet, a turquoise one, and a turquoise pendant to give away! (Note that I had mentioned having the turquoise necklace and bracelet myself, these are not the ones I own- mine I bought. :)  I really think our winners will be super excited to receive these beauties and I think we may be carrying them in the store very soon!  I'll keep you updated!
Turquoise Bracelet

Brown bracelet (I 'think' it's agate.)
Here's the rules:
1.  Leave a comment.  Tell us if you'd like to see these at the store and website.  Also tell use which piece you would prefer.  (If I've got my winners wanting the same piece, I'll try to give you the closest match!)
2.  If you have a facebook address, twitter handle, etc., let us know it so we can add you!
3.  Make sure you are following the blog (sign up in the left side bar).
4.For an additional entry- if you've got a funny teething story, we want to hear it!
5.  In your entry, please put a contact email address in case we can't get in contact with you via FaceBook or Twitter.
The turquoise pendant.

The contest will be over at midnight, Wednesday, the 27th, with the winners announced the next day.  Good luck!  I can't wait for the winners to get their Teething Bling!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pause For Gratitude: Fresh Produce & Farmers Markets

Every single one of these things can be bought fresh and locally in our stores!
Sara Rose here.  I want to talk about fresh produce, farmers markets, and the value of living in agriculturally driven state.  Eventually, in a few years, Nolan and I will be uprooting our family for our careers, but we really want to move to a community that has strong agricultural atmosphere and a focus on being 'green' or environmentally friendly.  We want a home where we can keep growing our own gardens, recycling, and a town where we don't have to use vehicles much, we can walk and bike our kids to school and markets.

We love and are so grateful for the fact that, despite our town being small, we have three farmers markets and the very cool town farm.  Have you HEARD of our Town Farm?  It is so neat.  Right on main street, we've got a late spring through early fall, Dave and Elaine Roetman farm about 5 lots they bought from the city behind their house.  Their produce ranges from fresh herbs to raspberries, cabbage, a million different kinds of tomatoes, cabbage as big as my head, the list is endless.

I also appreciate that two of our local grocers support local farmers and buy meat and produce directly from them to sell to the people of Vermillion.  With all the new efforts at recycling and reviving our economy from the inside out, I love that we have these ecologically sound offerings.  Of course, we have our own veggie garden every summer too- but everyone reaps the benefit of eating fresh, locally produced items as often as possible.

I know communities around Sioux Falls and in Sioux Falls itself, there are thriving local farmers markets, farm stands, and a bigger focus on local produce and meats in the stores.  This is fantastic!  Seek them out, support your neighbors as they support you in feeding your family!

South Dakota has to support our farmers so that we can keep growing and bring our state to the stage of America as one to be reckoned with when it comes to our quality of life.  I urge each and every one of us, even if you can't have your own veggie patch, try to seek out the freshest and local produce and meat to feed your family.  That way we keep the circling going and growing, and we do our best to help each other.

Our Great Diaper Change Event Details

We are really excited for our Great Cloth Diaper Change *WORLD RECORD ATTEMPT* this Saturday!  We wanted to give you a run down of the schedule of events, your goody bag that you get for participating, as well as the background to the project.  Isn't it amazing how far cloth diapering has come?  Just a little over a decade ago, people were still using birdseed cloth diapers with the big safety pins and rubber pants.  Somewhere along the way, some genius thought "There has to be a better way than this."  We've seen this market revolutionize the diaper industry.  Because of all the different kinds of cloth diapers there are now, moms have the incredible option to save thousands of dollars and lessen the environmental damage that disposable diapers leave.

Now we are a new generation of mothers, focused on being environmentally conscious and understanding that cloth diapers are the best choice on so many different levels.  Our kids are potty training faster, they are so happy in cloth diapers, and cloth diapers are easier than ever to deal with.  They don't create the excess laundry people once thought they would, they are easy to launder in general, and best of all- this Saturday The Great Cloth Diaper Change is being held at thousands of locations across the world.  How cool is that?

We've worked to make Elegant Mommy's Great Cloth Diaper Change fun and family friendly.  Here is a rundown of the morning's schedule:

Schedule of Events:

8:30-10:30 Cloth Diaper Photo Shoot Mini Sessions
10:00 am Registration Starts
11:00 am Everyone must be out of the changing area
11:10 am Begin allowing adult and child partners to check in to change area...each must be counted individually
11:30 am Whistle will blow for change to take place
11:40 am Change completed
11:50 am Door Prize Drawings Held & Thank You Bags handed out
12:00 pm Changing Area opened back up for older children activities
12:30 pm - 3pm Cloth Diaper Photo Shoot Mini Sessions

We will be serving cupcakes and other treats for everyone. Older children are welcome to come as well! Additional supervision is helpful if you have a helper who can come, but we will have helpers as well!   Every one attending @The Great Cloth Diaper Change *WORLD RECORD ATTEMPT* will receive: A Thank You bag with LOTS of swag, a child's shirt commemorating the day, a certificate for you to scrapbook, a FREE changing pad and a $5 off a $10 purchase coupon for Elegant Mommy! 

Only the first 50 people to respond are able to participate! We're quickly approaching that number! So Thrilled!  We hope that you help us reach our 50 people attending goal and we also hope you think strongly about Earth Day and new ways you and your family can make amazing choices for our environment. 

We hope you help us spread the word about this amazing event.  But most importantly, we can't wait to see you there!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sara Rose's Take: Getting Everyone Involved in Recycling

Since we're fast approaching Earth Day, I want to talk about recycling, more specifically how we recycle in this household.  In Vermillion, until the last 2 years, our recycling plant was fairly limited in what could get recycled.  What was exciting is that they had drop off points throughout Vermillion, so you could drop off your recycling throughout the week.  When we voted last November, Vermillion passed city wide regulations that all households be provided with recycling bins to be picked up weekly.  Unfortunately, we live right outside of city limits, so we still have to drop ours off.  There is a drop off right about a block away from us, so it's not too much of a hardship.

Recycling is something I place high priority on in this household.  The easiest way I have gotten our family involved was to have a can or box for each type of thing that we can recycle and to ingrain in all of our minds "Plastics go here!" "Paper goes here!" "Compost goes there!"- you get the drift.  I taught our daughter as soon as she was able to get it, plus I'm weirdly lucky- she likes helping with cleaning, organizing, and recycling.  This is no habit I'm going to discourage, that's for certain!

Eva has gotten to the point that if she sees one of us accidentally put a soda can in the garbage, she'll go retrieve it and lecture us on the harm we're doing to the environment.  Tee hee!  I love it that she remembers this and is committed to it.  We explained recycling very simply, in the beginning.  "Just like we are nice to everybody we can be, we have to be nice to the earth.  Recycling is being nice because it helps us reuse things we already got from the earth, instead of takings things away from it.  You don't like things taken away from you, think how the earth must feel!"  That explanation stuck.

Now that Eva is older, she asks very specific questions about what happens during recycling certain items and what happens if you can't recycle something.  I adore her interest in being eco-conscious and I hope it lasts.  I'm fairly sure that having parents who are also that way sets a good example.

I'm proud that Eva is also interested in learning more ways to be earth friendly.  She helps me turn off lights and appliances before we go anywhere.  When it's really nice outside, she reminds me to turn off the ac or heater and throw open some windows and curtains. She's slowly trying to help her little brother put things where they need to go for recycling.  Best of all, she is PUMPED for gardening. She LOVES helping us compost, I think because she actually gets to witness how food and leaves turn back into dirt for us to use in our gardens.

The last couple years, we helped her plant her own strawberry patch.  She got to help water it, pick weeds, and taste homegrown strawberries.  She also understands the importance we place on using as many all natural cleaning and household products as we can.  She helps me go through rooms to donate and/or recycle items, she helps me organize old shirts and such to cut into rags, and Nolan even did a science project with her to help our toilets use less water.  She sees me mending tears in clothing, blankets, etc., instead of throwing them out and buying new things.

I really want my kids to know the value of an ecologically sustainable lifestyle.  I want them to think of it as necessary, natural, normal, and most importantly 'the best way to do things'.  Eva understands that we aren't rich but that we have to do our part to make sure that we help the environment and save money by doing so.  I may simplify my answers to her questions but I also show her proof of how important living an environmentally conscious lifestyle is.  I have shown her both our gas bill and our electric bill and explained "This is how much we pay for using up these things.  If we use less of these things, we not only help the earth, but we help ourselves by saving money."

When we go for our evening walks, we often bring a bag with us and pick up bits of garbage that has found it's way into our yard and onto our street.  Eva will have a bag for things we can recycle and I will have a bag for what we cannot.  When she asked why, I said "Trash hurts the earth and makes it less beautiful.  You wouldn't cover yourself in garbage, and we shouldn't cover the earth with it either."

I am proud that we try to live this lifestyle.  It's not always easy but I hope we inspire our kids and maybe their kids too that inaction is the worse thing you can do to the earth.  I hope they see what value we place on the earth and our lives by how we live.  Then, I hope they pass it on.

Women and The Challenge: Part 2

One of the presenters on Challenges to Midwives in South Dakota was Natalie Thiex.  Ms. Thiex is an epidemiologist with her MPH & PHD and presented an overview of birthing options in South Dakota.   was surprised to learn just how few hospitals there are in South Dakota that provide labor and delivery services, comprehensive obstetrics, and/or support Midwife attendance to pregnancies.  With a state that has fewer than 30 hospitals providing these services to our women and families, one would think that we would look at midwives attending births as a more serious option for the public of SD.

Ms. Thiex also mentioned that midwife attended births are supported by the American Public Health Association, and the World Health Organization.  Out of hospital providers supported by these two organizations would be Family Practice Physicians/Obstetricians who are in private practice, Certified Nurse Midwives and Certified Practical Midwives.  Here's a brief timeline of midwifery in South Dakota.

Other states both allow and have insurance help cover both CNM's (Certified Nurse Midwives), CPM's (Certified Practical Midwives), and CRN-NM (RN's also licensed in midwivery). There are currently 3 hospitals/birth centers in South Dakota that have CNM's, two of which are on reservations, which is both practical and focused on the woman and family's rights for their birthing choices.  Only 21 out of our states 66 counties have birth services of any kind.  In our country, only 12 states do not license CPM's.

Certified Practical Midwives or CPM's do 75% of out-of-hospital births in our country.  They usually will only take low risk pregnancies and birth and their scope of care is prenatal, labor & delivery, and post natal care. They use an educational model called The Midwife Practice Model.  It's very challenging.  Their education include academic coursework very similar to, if not the same as that of registered nurses with bachelors degrees and training in labor & obstetrics.  For clinical practice to  get this certification, they have to complete 1350 clinical hours and it takes anywhere from 3 to 5 years.  They take a clinical skills assessment and a written exam that has 350 questions and takes over 8 hours to complete.  Only after those are completed, can they gain their CPM license.

A modern midwife must have most, if not ALL of the same tools available to them to use during labor and delivery that most hospitals in South Dakota would offer in a labor and delivery room.  IV fluids, oxygen, neonatal resuscitation equipment, pharmaceuticals that can be used if labor stalls, pain assistance, anti nausea meds (usually Phenerol, Toradol, Pitocin, Phenergan, Zofran), and have the skills and tools available (hand held Doppler monitors, etc) to assess if the labor and birth has turned into an emergency situation that must go to the hospital for further assistance.

The epidemiological evidence for out-of-hospital births (low risk births evaluated) is consistent with that of low risk in-hospital births.  In a 2005 study of 5000 ooh births there were no maternal deaths and 1.7 per 1000 births that resulted in infant death.  It might be painted out that half of those deaths were SIDS related, and not birth related.  Only 12% of these o.o.h births were transferred because they become emergency situations.  About 5% of those births were normal, it was post birth complications such as a retained placenta that needed to be take care of surgically.

In 2008, the neonatal mortality rate, including high risk pregnancies for both out of hospital births and in hospital ones was 5 out of every 1000.  The main opposition to out of hospital births are medical and pharmaceutical lobbyists.  Part of this stems from the fact that most of o.o.h births require far fewer pharmaceuticals.  Using induction methods and pain killers is at a rate of 9.6% or less rather than 21% in hospital births.  These percentages were figured comparing South Dakota, New Mexico, and Minnesota- all 3 have similar population density and stratification.  The percentages also showed that in 2007, in these 3 states 32% of births were costly cesarean sections.

Overall, an out of hospital birth for a low risk pregnancy should be the consumers choice.  A lot of families who choose out of hospital births report being more satisfied with higher levels of individualized and in-depth prenatal care and counseling, and that they were also more satisfied with their post natal care for both the woman and child.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Three Days Left!

Our twitter contest ends on Wednesday at midnight!  Help us get past 150 followers and all our Twitter friends will be entered  to win a $20 gift card to the store or website!  Find us at-!/ElegantMommySF

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Eva and Owen's Favorite Music


We are a musical family. Nolan and I both play more than a few instruments, love to sing, and love to listen to music. Eva and Owen have picked this up, and despite our daughter's occasional lack of rhythm and our son's incessant slapping of the Pandora screen on our television, they seem to be enjoying it. Nolan and I have musical tastes that are similar, but with enough quirks to keep the household interested. The widget above reflects a small selection of songs our kids love to dance to, sing to, or just listen to.

Healthy Breakfast: Veggie Fritatta

I have to admit that I'm not into casseroles and egg bake dishes.  IT seems a lot of people love these for breakfast, especially here, but even though I need something healthy and filling- often these just get too heavy for me.  So, I like the ease of frittatas.  My mama makes a mean breakfast quiche so I like to think frittatas as the easier to deal with cousin to a quiche.  No crust, just eggs, some veggies, a bit of cheese, the oven, set the table and pour your coffee, and voila!  Breakfast!  (I might also mention what you probably already know, it's a yummy way to sneak extra veggies into everyone's diet!)

As an ode to spring, let's keep this light and bright- some lemon, some tarragon, and some asparagus.  You can make this as light or rich as you prefer.  I prefer egg white frittatas with a bit of feta or parmesan, Nolan loves them with full eggs, heavy cream, and LOADS of gruyere or cheddar.  So again.  Think of this as a template.  And after breakfast, take a look at this neat project I saw for a fun nature walk with your family!

Spring Veggie Frittata

-6 eggs, egg whites, or egg substitute (Usually the package will tell you how much to measure out to equal an egg and you go from there)
-2 cups of chopped and lightly sauteed veggies (I usually do a shallot, 2 cloves of garlic, asparagus thats had the ends snapped off and cut into inch pieces, and some diced yellow bell peppers)
-1/3 cup fat free half-n-half, skim milk, or cream (your preference)
-1/3 cup of feta, mozzarella, cheddar, whatever you've got in the kitchen

-Whisk up eggs with cream, salt and pepper, and some herbs.  Heat your oven to 350 and spray an oven safe skillet (or baking dish is fine) with nonstick spray.
-Stir your veggies into the egg mixture and pour into skillet.  Cook for 15020 minutes until center is a bit jiggly.
-Top with cheese, cook 5-10 more minutes so cheese is melted and bubbly and center is set.  Pull out and let cool a few minutes before slicing and serving.  Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Guest Post: Meet SD Babies!

Meet Alicia:  About myself: Alicia Fonder, RN, CLC, LCCE, CHBE. I have been an RN since 1998, working for the last 10 years in Labor and Delivery, Postpartum, Newborn Nursery, Childbirth Education and Lactation Consulting. I am the mother of two children and I also Homeschool. My passion is helping other women have the best birth, breastfeeding and parenting experience possible.

South Dakota Babies is a partnership between Alicia Fonder and Andrea Rasmussen. Our goal is to
provide childbirth education, lactation consulting and newborn parenting in an individualized format.
We offer personalized education and assistance in the client’s home rather than in a large group setting.
We know that families who receive one-on-one care and personalized attention rate their education and
breastfeeding experiences more highly.

One of the most effective classes we offer is “The Happiest Baby on the Block”. This is a world-renowned
program developed by Dr. Harvey Karp which focuses on calming fussy babies and helping babies (and
parents) get more sleep. Andrea and I were the first Certified Happiest Baby Educators (CHBE) in the
state of South Dakota. These techniques produce amazing results!

Andrea and I have been in the Childbirth Education field for over 15 years combined. We are both
Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators (LCCE) and have experience in all areas of Childbirth Education
and Newborn Parenting, so we can tailor our education to meet the needs of the client. It’s not a one-
size-fits-all type of education.

Our partnership with Elegant Mommy provides a location for moms to gather and learn in a small
group setting. It is not a lecture where everyone sits in rows and watches a power point presentation.
This is group education done conversational style. Everyone participates. We are sharing ideas and
information, not just “teaching” you what we know. At Elegant Mommy, we are presenting “Hot Topics”
twice a month on anything related to babies and parenting. We look for the “Hot Topics” in the media
and on mom blogs to see what moms are talking about.

Our next “Hot Topic” will be Tuesday, April 26th at 6:30pm at Elegant Mommy. Dr Jaclyn Schular will
present on the following information:

Tooth decay is a preventable disease. As parents, the choices that we make for our children can directly
impact their dental health now and in the future. This talk will attempt to share information about
concrete ways we parents can reduce our children’s risk of tooth decay. Things like altering the makeup
of bacteria present in the mouth, reducing the amount and frequency of sugar intake and fluoride
consumption will all be covered. Other miscellaneous topics like teething, sippy cups, pacifiers, and
bottles will also be discussed. This information is meant to be quick and easy to put into practice right
away from one mom, who happens to be a dentist, to another.
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Friday, April 15, 2011

Reminder: Tomorrow is our Happiest Baby on The Block Class!

SD Babies presents has our regular Happiest Baby class tomorrow, starting at 8:30.  RSVP on ours or their FaceBook page asap and we hope to see you there!

Healthy Dinners: Clam Chowder & Chocolate Chip Cookies

I cannot describe HOW MUCH I LOVE clam chowder.

Good golly, it's Friday, and it's raining. Again.  With the chance of snow.  Just when I got my hopes up to start my garden this weekend!  Boo.  At least we're starting to see green grass and buds on trees, right?  I'm trying to stay optimistic here!  But let's talk clam chowder.

I adore clam chowder and I have since I was a kid.  I think my mama may have just called it 'chowder' until I got older, but I'm not sure of that entirely.  I was never a kid that hated fish, in fact, we usually ate fish about twice a week.  We do nowadays in my house too.  We've started introducing that fish can be cooked a million different ways than just breaded and fried.  So far, both kiddos have been pretty receptive.

Last night, we actually had salmon with roasted carrots and lentils and they were huge fans.  I had hesitations on that- salmon and lentils are usually two 'love or hate' type dishes for lots of kids.  But, we used a yummy orange-Dijon marinade, dolled up the lentils a bit, and every plate was clean!  It may be over kill to some to have clam chowder the very next night, but on cold, rainy, spring evenings- I crave hunks of sourdough bread with chowder, a good book or movie, and lots of cuddles.

A nice Friday night bubble bath never hurts either, but I don't want to dream big here. :)

I do go fairly heavy on the veggies in my chowders and my two secret ingredients in my clam chowder are fresh or bottled clam juice and a cup of cheap, dry white wine.  I do also add some crushed red pepper for a bit of kick, but nobody has ever complained that the chowder was too spicy.  I think fresh herbs make a big difference too, but we can't always get them, so you use what you've got on hand.

Oh, they are delicious!
I am also linking you to this AMAZING chocolate chip cookie recipe we made today.  These cookies are soft and tender, have plenty of chocolate chips, and the nifty part of the website is that you can actually adjust how many servings, etc you want to make and it will adjust the recipe for you!  The recipe originally makes SEVENTY-TWO cookies, but I cut it in half and voila!  36 absolutely delicious cookies.  They have pudding in them and it makes a HUGE difference.  I hope you guys love them as much as we do!  Have a fantastic, albeit rainy, weekend!

Sara Rose's Clam Chowder

-1 lb fresh or canned clams, rinsed will
-1 bottle or 12-16 oz of clam juice
-1 cup of dry white wine
-32 oz of chicken or vegetable stock
-4-6 small red potatoes, scrubbed, and diced to about 1 1/2 inch cubes (I leave the skins on)
-2-3 turnips, scrubbed, peeled, also diced at about 1 1/2 inch cubes
-4 carrots, scrubbed, diced
-1 bunch of kale, rinsed very well. torn into bite sized pieces
-2-3 shallots, minced
-2-3 garlic cloves, also minced
-3 Tbs unsalted butter
-2-3 Tbs flour
-2-3 tsp of dried herbs- thyme, oregano, savory, or marjoram are all lovely in this
-1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

-In a large stock pot, start melting your butter over low heat. Go ahead and saute the shallots and garlic, then whisk in your flour.  When the flour is a golden brown, add in the stock, wine, and clam juice.
-Add your herbs and pepper in and bring the stock to a simmer over medium heat.  Add in your clams and vegetables (except the kale).  Let it thicken and simmer, stirring frequently, until the veggies are fork tender.  This usually takes between 30-45 minutes, and taste to adjust seasonings if you need to.
-Before serving, stir in kale so that it wilts slightly.  Serve in big bowls, with sourdough bread, and stay warm!
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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Reuse: Things You Never Knew You Could Reuse!

When I was growing up, I always rolled my eyes at my parents efforts to reuse things.  I really had the "Why don't you just go BUY a new one?"  I get it now, and again mama, I shall take some humble pie, please.  We still live in a consumer culture where we toss everything instead of thinking of creative ways to reuse it, recycle it, or donating it to someone who can really use it.  So, I compiled a little list of regular household items that can be reused in both creative and common ways.  Enjoy and see if there is something you can reuse today!  Tell us things you reuse in ways we haven't thought of.

Milk jugs - Clothespin holder after you cut the top off and hang from your clothesline.

Plastic bottles - Paint and use as kids piggy banks, a frozen cold pack, 
or with some small holes in it, fill with bird seed and voile, 
you have a nice bird feeder.

Spaghetti jars – small planters for around the home.

Film canister – Cut a slit in the side and you have a holder for a roll of stamps.

Beer bottle caps – You could pick up some small magnets and some glue 
at a craft store and make custom refrigerator magnets.

Glass bottles – pick up a light bulb fixture and you have a new lamp; 
can be used for vases, decorative grass holders.

Old t-shirts – rags for cleaning up around the house; 
sew a couple of your favorites into a pillow.

Shoe and delivery boxes – storage containers, file boxes, etc – 
no need to waste money on plastic containers from the container store. 
Every box in my closet is a reused cardboard one! 
(Seriously, I hoard boxes for gifting.)

Toilet paper roll – extension cord organizer; stuff with paper and 
some alcohol to make a fire starter.

Sunday comics – wrapping paper. You would never have to buy 
wrapping paper again if you saved this all year!

An old garden hose – make a soaker hose – poke holes throughout, seal off 
other end, lay in garden; bucket handle.

Baby jars – votive candle holders; storing spices or seeds. 
(After you soak labels off, they actually do make pretty tea light 
holders- I've never tried it with votives.)

Toothbrushes – bathroom scrubbers; clothing stain scrubbers.

Mailing tubes – cut several of them to the same length, assemble into a wine rack.

Wine corks – soaked in alcohol, they make a good fire-starter.

CD’s – one-of-a-kind drink coasters (paint, cover with paper, etc).

Altoids tins – These tins are the perfect size to make small emergency kits 
for camping or to keep in your car; basic sewing kits for college kids. 
(My friend Rhiana also uses them to make 
knitting notions kits and they are SO handy!)

Shredded paper – Makes great packing material for shipping gifts; 
also makes good packing material for when you are moving.

Old jeans – cut up and sew into squares full of padding to make pot holders.

Tires – build an earthship! Or, maybe just a tire swing. 
Probably the tire swing, but check around- 
some auto shops can reuse tires or recycle them for you.

Old shoes – send to Nike so the rubber can be turned into new playgrounds.  
Isn't that awesome!

Bath mat – folded just right, can be used as a new floor mop

Shower curtain – drop cloth for painting; cover the air conditioner during winter

Mason canning jars – canning, obviously, but they also make great 
drinking glasses.  Just sterilize in boiling water and let dry.

Paper – Be sure to use both sides of paper in the house. 
Just cut up “once used” paper and make notepads with the blank sides.  
Or, you can reuse paper in your printer too.

Detergent squeeze bottles - Use a detergent squeeze bottle to water plants, 
fill a steam iron, or spot clean the floor. Store a water-filled squeeze bottle in the car 
and use it to clean the windshield when the wiper fluid is used up 
or to clean hands after changing a flat. 

Lemon/lime squeeze containers - Pry open and fill with children's shampoo, 
oil and vinegar for picnic salads, or hand lotion to keep at the kitchen sink. 

Yogurt Containers - Use old yogurt containers to store leftovers or 
to pack lunches. Cut the bottom out of a yogurt container 
and place it around delicate plants to protect them in the spring. 
Make your own herb garden: put hole in bottom, add large rock, soil and seed. 

Thanks to: 

Purdue University -
David @ MyTwoDollars -

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pause For Gratitude: Leading By Example

Lot's of these . . .
 As I think I've mentioned previously, one of my biggest New Years Resolutions was to get this family eating much more healthfully and for us to be a lot more physically active.  To do this, I knew that Nolan and I were going to have to cut back on some bad habits and start eating and exercising in a way that showed our kids what a healthy lifestyle should look like.  I want my children growing up with healthy, positive attitudes about their bodies.  I don't want to let them fall into the 'skinny' or 'fat' self esteem traps.

This takes work.  Kids have to see their parents be willing to LIVE a HEALTHFUL lifestyle.  We are very careful, we don't ever use the words 'fat', 'skinny', 'ugly', or 'pretty' in association with each other around them.  We tell them things like "We can eat treats occasionally because we eat things that make us strong and healthy most of the time' and strive to show moderation and indulgences can both be had.  We also talk a lot about how being physically active keeps you 'strong', and 'energetic', things that any energy-laden kiddo can appreciate.

Nolan and I had some bad habits to break.  Keeping stashes of cola, potato chips, candy, cookies, and the like got slashed.  We also had to break little habits like eating a handful of chips while arguing with our kiddos, "No you HAVE TO eat the yogurt!"  We made a pact.  If we cut up fruit for the kids' snack time, then we ate fruit too.  If we handed them a glass of water to quench their thirst, then we drank one too.  We eat the same veggies, lean meats, fruits, and whole grains that we serve our kids.
Means we can all enjoy a slice of mama's hot fudge cake!
We take walks after dinner, play tag or have dance parties, kick the soccer ball around, and both workout even when the kids are around.  Eva was so into my yoga dvd's that I got her a kids yoga set so she could do it too.  This pays off. All around, my entire household is healthier, more energetic, and enjoying indulgences occasionally.

I am grateful that Nolan and I took it upon ourselves to lead by example.  I love that our friends also are physically active, talk about 'everything in moderation', and have healthy body images.  Surrounding your children with positive examples is one of the best ways I can think of to set them up with their own positive self esteem.  I noticed the other day that Eva got up to get herself a drink of water when we were painting at the table.  She then curiously asked me "Mom, what do fat and skinny mean?"

I kept my explanations as neutral as possible by saying "Sometimes a person might be too big or very small instead of seeming healthy and normal.  There's no set size we all have to be, so long as we eat healthy, exercise, and feel good about ourselves.  That's why mommy and daddy try to do those things.  Why?"  She responded "Someone at school called another girl fat. I was thinking about myself and thought that was something mean to say, especially because that girl is always happy and nice." I agreed with her and hesitantly asked "Well, how do you feel about yourself?"  Eva responded the exact way I had hoped.  "I don't think I'm anything but healthy and happy that I am strong and fast."

Even though she's only 5 1/2 and Owen is almost 2, I hope that they both keep that attitude their entire lives.  I'm grateful that I got over the urge to say negative things about myself in front of my children and instead changed mine and my husband's behavior to something they can not only admire but attain.  I'm also grateful because I know we are living and eating in a way that is good for the earth and for our future.
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