Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Official Farewell :)

Eva, Myself, and Owen at Pre-K Graduation.
It's been a little over 7 months that I've written for you and Elegant Mommy and I have loved every second of it.  When I started, Shelly had the vision of expanding our web presence and offering our customers more information on natural parenting, lifestyle, and our products.  I feel like we accomplished quite a bit of that and I really hope that you have all enjoyed reading and sharing along the way with us.

Alas, sometimes the rest of our 'real lives' call.  As I continue further into my work for my masters degree and as a professional writer, both my husband and my academic and career loads have gotten to be much heavier.  I'm also a stay at home mom, and I very much consider that to be a full time job.  When I'm not cooking, cleaning, running errands, all that fun stuff- I work on educating my kids, playing with them, and being a 24/7 presence in their lives.  It's an opportunity my mother never got and I am blessed to have.

However, sometimes you have to re-prioritize.  Nolan's and my own work loads for our various projects- both in career and school- have gotten to be so heavy that after much prayer and thought, I realized that I am spread a bit too thin.  Shelly needs someone who can devote much more time to making her company's vision of being the leader for our area o natural parenting and lifestyle.  Despite my fervent desire to be a part of helping her meet that goal, I do have to prioritize my family and my own needs as well.

I want Shelly to have a writer and social media developer who can commit much more time to this goal than I currently can.  It's been awesome, amazing, and a huge journey for me to be a part of her vision and I am really grateful for the opportunity.  So, I want to thank Shelly, Elegant Mommy, and you- our customers for helping us reach her awesome goals and letting me be a part of it.

I look forward to reading your next blog writer!  I will still be at my personal family blog often, so you can still find me from time to time!  Thank you for being an amazing and supportive community.  I was truly blessed to have this gift of a job and am thankful to Shelly for believing in me.  I can only hope I helped her as much as I hoped to.  I'm sad to not be your Elegant Mommy writer anymore but I know you and I will all continue to support Elegant Mommy and be thankful for all that they offer.  I can't wait to see the next chapter for Elegant Mommy!

Bless you all.  Thank you.  Signing off.

Sara Rose

The Battle of The Laundry Detergents.

We got the chance to sample 4 all natural laundry detergents these last two months and am excited to be writing about them. I sampled Melaleuca's 6x Laundry Soap, Crunchy Clean, Irish Twins Laundry Soap Powder in Lavender and Rockin Green's Classic Rock in Lavender Mint Revival.  It was awesome to try these out as we're making so many big switched in our household to be more eco-friendly and green.

All 4 detergent samples were used on two loads of cloth diapers and inserts.  I got between 2 to 4 loads from each sample and remember, they were only on cloth diapers.  I decided they were the most important to test with since they do get laundered the most in our house.  Each sample was part of the gift bag received at the Great Cloth Diaper Change in April!

We don't have a pre-soak setting on our washer and when I launder diapers, I tend to do them in medium loads, as for settings.  To conserve water, I always use the cold water setting on my washer and rarely put diapers in the dryer.  I prefer to use a folding clothes drying rack for cloth diapers.

Crunchy Clean-  Over all, I was least impressed with the results I got here.  The sample I got was unscented, which is how I prefer our laundry detergents, as we are all slightly allergic to scented products.  However, the diapers had to be laundered twice for each load to ensure the 'diaper smell' was gone and there were some diapers that weren't fully clean.  My diapers were also 'stiffer' after they were dry than with the other samples.  I know a lot of people really prefer Crunchy Clean but it was not my top pick.

Irish Twins-  I was really surprised at how well I liked this detergent.  There was such a small amount in the sample that I thought I was only going to get one load out of it. Surprise, surprise!  You don't NEED nearly as much of this detergent as others, so it definitely lasts awhile.  If you were to buy a full sized container, it would probably last a year.  The lavender scent was mild and didn't irritate my son's bum, which I was curious about since we usually go scent free.  I actually really loved the lavender scent.  The diapers were clean and soft after one wash and dry.

Melaleuca-  This ended up being tied with Rockin Green as my winning detergent.  Again, you use barely any, and could probably still do a full sized load.  It was the only liquid detergent and it was a pleasant "Spring" scent.  A friend of mine regularly uses this brand and I ordered more, I was so impressed.  Again, the scented detergent was non-irritating to my sons bum and eliminated the 'diaper smell' with one wash and dry.  The diapers were very soft after drying.

Rockin Green-  Rockin Green usually works best to eliminate any petrolatum's that are in your previous detergent, so it's recommended that the laundry or diapers soak with the first use.  Since I don't have a pre-soak on my washer, I let my load fill, and turned it off to soak over night, and then rain it.  The scent was nice and not at all over powering.  You do have to use a bit more than the other brands of detergent but I still got 4 loads out of it.  The diapers really seemed more absorbent and had less of the wet "diaper smell".  They dried nicely and again, the lavender scent was pleasant.  Rockin Green and Melaleuca tied easily for our number one spot, so I would have to try both out for a more extended period to see which worked better for us.

Do you use an all natural laundry detergent?  There are a few other brands I want to try- 7th Generation and Meyers.  The 'all natural' detergent I honestly had the least luck with ever was The Method brand, and thats sad because I've liked a few of their other products.  I do like that with these 4 detergents, you seem to get a lot of uses for the higher cost.  What brands are your favorites?

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Few Things To Share!

A Slideshow of our GCDC Event!

We will be hosting: 

Holistic Moms Network - Sioux Falls Chapter Open House!!

Location: Elegant Mommy
Time: ‎6:30PM Tuesday, June 7th

We are having a photography contest! Go to our FaceBook Page to vote!

Shelly received an amazing personal note from our governor: Read Here.

The Montly ICAN meeting is coming up!  Please RSVP!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Question of the Week

Is anybody else ready for REAL spring/summer weather?  What do you wish we could be all doing right now? Do you have awesome plans for Memorial Day?

Healthy Breakfasts: Hot Grape Nuts

With the weather being entirely indecisive, the mornings just aren't as warm as I'd LIKE them to be.  Clearly "Here Comes The Sun" still isn't our theme song here yet and it's less than three days from June!  Usually during spring, summer, and fall, I have a little ritual.  I like to wake up a bit before everyone, slip outside while my coffee is brewing to check on my plants and the have my first cup of coffee alone on the porch while the world wakes up.  Usually, Eva wakes up next and comes out on the porch with to tend the potted plants and just hang out quietly as we wake up.  Then as Owen and Nolan wake up, it's time to start the day.

Considering we JUST got out potted plants in, I'm not entirely sure when I'll get to slip outside for my few minutes of warm solitary sunshine.  This morning it was thundering and raining, so the only thing that would cheer me up was plenty of coffee and some hot Grape Nuts.  Confession time, I am probably one of the few people on earth that loved Grape Nuts as both a KID and now.  But I like them better now because occasionally, the husband will make me a bowl of his very special hot Grape Nuts, which I'll be sharing this morning.

I never understood, the whole "Grape Nuts- Breakfast for Grown Ups!" spiel.  My kids munch them up with sliced fruit and almond milk or we make hot grape nuts and none of us are hungry until nearly 1.  But as I asked around- EVERYBODY hated them as kids, except Nolan and I apparently.  We must be aliens.  You'll notice that we use skim or almond milk interchangeably around here a lot lately, and that we also use almond butter often.  After becoming vegetarians- every single one of us had flare-ups of issues with dairy.

Ssshhhhhh, don't tell my favorite food on earth- cheese, but the Liebert household? ALL slight-to-middling lactose intolerance.  I'm not really into dosing us up with Lactaid, Tums, etc., just so we can have more diary, so we've started cutting back and substituting when we can.  Honestly? I think my tummy is thanking me. Possibly my waistline too, but we'll see.  We do use peanut or almond butter interchangeably.  I love almond butters texture and flavor, but it isn't for everyone.  So, in the recipe- if you'd rather use peanut butter, I'm not going to throw a jar of almond butter at you.

Serve your hot grape nuts with sliced banana, some diced up fruit for fruit salad, and a big mug of coffee or tea, and I guarantee, the hunger pains won't strike for awhile.  Not to mention that you'll feel like running a marathon due to sheer energy and your arteries will also thank you.  Enjoy!

Nolan's Hot Grape NutsServes 4

2 Cups Grape Nuts
2 Cups milk (skim or almond)
8 Tbsp. almond butter
4 Tbsp. honey
Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste

Mix Grape Nuts and milk, microwave on high for 1 - 2 minutes (until most of the milk is absorbed by the cereal). Mix in almond butter and honey. Serve while warm.
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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Weekly Round Up!

LOVE this cake and making one like it for Eva's birthday!

-Ebay versus Google, who will win? http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Latest-News-Wires/2011/0528/EBay-sues-Google-over-stolen-secrets-poached-employees

-SUCH funny messages for your kids' rooms- http://blogs.babble.com/family-style/2011/05/23/funny-subliminal-message-art-for-babies-and-kids/

-Floral dresses for mama and her little gal- http://blogs.babble.com/family-style/2011/05/24/a-little-floral-dress-for-me-and-one-for-my-girl-too/

-One of my favorite blogs to remind you that we mamas can enjoy being lovely too! http://www.bellamumma.com/

-Bicycling, pregnancy, and style- http://simplybike.wordpress.com/

-Research on exercising while pregnant continues to prove how beneficial it is to you and baby- http://simplybike.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/new-research-on-the-benefits-of-exercising-for-two/

-More research on Exercising for baby and you- http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/13/exercising-for-two/?hpw

-What is SUA? (I had it with both of my pregnancies and have lovely children!)- http://www.obfocus.com/high-risk/birthdefects/single%20umbilical%20artery.htm

Friday, May 27, 2011

Reconnect: Date Night At Home

The husband and I definitely can't afford to go out a lot- the price and drama of finding babysitters, figuring out times and finances, ugh.  It's easier to stay in.  Since, time with your spouse or partner, one on one is key to a healthy relationship . . . our stay home dates are crucial for us. We're pretty low key- so I'm going to list a bunch of ideas that aren't overwhelming.  You want your dates to be special, yes, but also NOT stressful.  There's enough of that to go around isn't there, with everything else going on!  Let us know how you and your spouse reconnect, spend time together, etc., in ways that are low key and easy to do even with the busiest of schedules!

Some "At Home Dates" that Nolan and I have Regularly:

-A special us movie with treats.  Why go to the movies, I say, when there's Netflix and you can make popcorn mixed with m&m's and dots, and enjoy it while cuddling u[p on your MUCH comfier couch?  We try to pick one or two movies a month from our Netflix queue that are just for us, so we can curl up on a Friday or Sunday evening and spend some quiet time together.

-Dinner and/or drinks on the porch after the kids are in bed.  Maybe one night, try to get everyone into bed a half hour earlier with an easy and fast dinner, quick bath time, and earlier stories.  Be sure you guys have some yummy nibbles and a wine or other beverage you love, light a few candles on the porch (preferably when we're NOT drowning in rain) and just HANG OUT.  Remember when you first were dating, and sometimes you just hung out to talk and BE together for no particular reason.  Keep your conversation away from daily life and focused on things you both love, or talking about life, or perhaps a few good laughs. Maybe all of the above.

-Nolan and I are both BIG readers, so sometimes we swap books and get together to discuss what we got out of each others readings.  It's amazing to trade common ideas and themes or find out if you both got the same things out of the books.  Discussion and talking are two of the most powerful ways to reconnect with anyone.

-Game Night!  Yes to poker, or Phase One, or backgammon, some friendly competition, and maybe a bit of flirty fire- just like the old days!

-Sometimes, I (maybe sadly)do consider the evenings we spend folding 8 million loads of laundry together or (like the other night) planting our gardens together, when we work side by side, just as important as a date night.  It reminds me that we're a team, we work together throughout our marriage, and that even simple things can be meaningful to your marriage and connection.

-Make dinner, together, for the two of you.  Again, working together as a team, and then enjoying delicious results, together.  Maybe a walk afterwards or relaxing with each other.

-This is one of the MOST important dates we have.  A lot of times, Nolan and I have drastically different bedtimes.  We both have mountains of writing, school work, etc, that we usually tackle after the kids are in bed.  I might be done and exhausted at midnight, Nolan at 3:30 am, or vice versa. But we try to pick a night each week, where we go to bed at the same time, lay and cuddle, talk quietly, reconnect by just the simple act of falling asleep at the same time.  It's rare and it's treat.

How do you and your partner connect with each other during busy, hectic times?  We'd love to hear more ideas.

Healthy Dinners: Pizza Night

Picture of an authentic Neapolitan Pizza Margh...Image via WikipediaI really love homemade pizzas.  I love how customizable they are, I love that you can make mini pizzas so your kids can make their own, I love how speedy they are- I just adore them.  Even before going vegetarian as a family, I have ALWAYS been into fun veggie pizzas. 

Now, I'm not one of those who has a roll of pizza dough in my freezer at all times, some people do.  To tell you the truth- I am terrible at making any bread doughs.  So I do purchase it.  Nolan does make a pretty awesome multi-grain pizza dough but won't give up the recipe!  BOO!

I don't have any problem with store bought pizza dough, though I do usually roll it out with a bit of cornmeal.  I like the texture.  I also don't have a special pizza pan or pizza stone- I bake ours on a flipped over pizza pan.  As with a bunch of my other recipes- think of this like a template- add or subtract the things you prefer on your pizza.  What's better than homemade pizza and a Barbie movie with my fave little gal?  Not a whole lot!


Spring Veggie Pizzas
Adapted from Everyday Food
Makes 4 personal pizzas

-1/2 jar (about 6 ounces) of marinated artichokes, drained well and chopped roughly
-1 lb of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
-1 Cup of broccoli florets, cut into bite sized pieces
-1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
-1 lb of pizza dough, divided into 4 equal portions and rolled to preferred thinness of crust
-8 oz of low-fat mozzarella
-Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan to personal preference

-Preheat oven 10 350 degrees with racks moved to upper and lower thirds.
-In a medium bowl, combine the veggies.
-On a large piece of parchment paper (makes clean up a snap!), brush pizza dough lightly with olive oil or the artichoke marinade, leaving about an inch around the edges.  Roll out dough to between 8-12 inches (depending on your preference for how thick of a crust you prefer).
-Spread veggies out on the pizzas after transferring the dough on the parchment paper to rimmed baking sheets.  Brush last inch with more marinade and season with salt and pepper.
-Bake pizzas 10 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through.
-Sprinkle pizzas with cheese and bake another 3-5 minutes, until the crust is deep golden and cheese is melted.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Our Giftcard Winner Is:

Jessica!  Thanks to everyone that entered!  I had hoped we'd see a bigger boost.  What do you think we should do to promote the blog, our FaceBook Page, website, and Twitter better?  We would LOVE input!  Jessica, I'll be emailing you soon to send your giftcard! A new giveaway is about to start! Be watching!
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Let's Get more followers: Contest Ends TONIGHT!

Be sure to help us get more twitter and facebook followers!  We are getting so close.  Then be sure to enter the contest so you can be in the running to win a gift card!  We need to get over 200 on Twitter and up to over 1900 on Facebook!  Help by linking the contest to anyone and everyone you know- let's spread the word about the great work that Elegant Mommy is trying to do for our community!

Pause for Gratitude: Telling Stories

The story tellers.

Obviously, we read insane amounts of books to the kids.  Nolan and i believe in the power of stories, of learning morals and truths in a round about way- soaking them in slowly and the truths permeating through subtle language.  I also believe in making up stories to tell my kids.  The power of words shouldn't be doubted, and in our world, the written word is dying.  Especially when it comes to it's importance with our children.

Off of my soap box now.  When Owen goes to sleep, Eva and I lie down and cuddle.  I read her stories, then I rub her back- we tell each other a story.  Tonight, Eva was telling one of her usual "I am the princess" stories and I was thinking about something she and I have been dealing with, oh, a LOT.

Her extremely competitive nature.  There's a difference between the healthy nature of competitiveness and falling apart in a mad, furious, ball of tears that refuses to do something again unless she wins at it.  No, let's work on this to get better, just "I better win or darn it all."  I wanted to think up of a story that told her that winning doesn't always get you as far as trying hard or doing the good thing instead of whatever it takes to win.

Enter my very convoluted story called "The Unicorn Brothers".  There were two brothers who were always competing and fighting, so their grandmother challenged them to find ways for the next 3 days to do something good for somebody as a contest of sorts.  One brother used shortcuts and ended up not helping the animals or people he 'helped' but came back home earlier to tell his grandmother how he helped them.  His grandmother wasn't impressed and he got angry because he wanted to 'win' so badly.

His brother unicorn spent the day quietly looking for people or animals to help and ended up usually helping the people or animals his brother unicorn hadn't really helped.  He never thought about the competition as something to win but rather as a way to help instead.  He would come home at the end of the day, tell his grandmother what he did and she was happy.  This made his brother very jealous and angry.

The third day, the older brother unicorn decided to follow his little brother and whatever he did, undo it to do it better.  When his younger brother found him waiting, he decided that he would help his brother by lying and saying he had done mean things all day so that the older brother could say he fixed things.

Neither knew that grandmother unicorn gave both brothers a potion in their dinner that would make them tell the truth.  Little brother unicorn ended up telling their grandmother he decided to help his older brother win because it was so important to him to win.  Older brother unicorn told their grandmother that winning was the most important thing to him before they fell asleep early.

The next day, grandmother unicorn told the brothers she had tricked them into telling the truth and that the older brother lost because he only thought of himself but his younger brother was thinking about everyone else that needed help instead of himself, so therefore he won.  Older brother was so mad that he left and never returned because he was too proud and mad that he lost.  Younger brother learned that helping was actually winning and stayed with grandmother unicorn.  Together they kept helping people and animals but older brother never came back again, his pride was too strong.

So, at the end of the story, I asked Eva which brother unicorn she thought won and she begrudgingly admitted that the little brother had won by focusing on helping instead of winning.  Perhaps, she'll keep the story in mind the next time we play Go Fish or Bingo?  I guess we'll see, but I was glad to hear her actually finally admit that winning isn't everything.  Let's hope that stories keep helping our kids learn important lessons, instead of being amusing ways to pass the time.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Giveaway Ends Tomorrow and I still need more people!

We still don't have the Facebook and Twitter numbers that I would LOVE to see.  The giveaway ends tomorrow, guys!  We can do it! Go here to help and be sure to enter!

Guest Post on Natural Parenting & Lifestyle: Kara Weber

I have another special gust post on natural living and natural parenting.  Everyone meet Kara!  Kara Weber is the author of the blog Kara’s Creative Place. She also writes monthly craft articles for The Hood Magazine and is also well known in the community as a singer and children’s song writer with her band “Do Re Let’s Play!” Kara lives in Sioux Falls with her husband John and three children who are 2, 4 and 6 years old.

I must admit that many of our family’s eco-friendly life habits are motivated by the money that we save.  As a child growing up I  was taught the value of a dollar and how doing little things can help you be good stewards of the things you are given. I lived in a close knit neighborhood in downtown Sioux Falls where many shared the same values. One of our neighborhood caregivers who had three boys of her own, would watch all the neighborhood children at her home daycare. She taught us many things about recycling and making things instead of buying them out of things you already have. All summer long we would save cans we found at the park, or that we found on walks, or trips to various places. We were in charge of crushing them and often had fun practicing our math skills counting how many we found each week. We would then get to go along to the recycle center and we got to see how much money just picking up a simple can someone had tossed on the ground could bring when you put them all together. 

By the end of the summer we would have enough money collected to buy our ride wrist bands for the Sioux Empire Fair. I remember collecting cans each summer until I was a teenager. It was one of these first lessons that fostered the idea that every little bit counts. We knew many others would never take the time to do things like this and that they were just throwing away their money, and not being good stewards of the earth at the same time.

As a child I remember a group of us picking up garbage that collected in bushes and putting it in garbage can were it belongs. I sometimes laugh at parents today who never in a million years would let their children pick up garbage off the ground. I think it is part of our responsibility to teach them that just because other people choose to put their garbage on the ground it doesn’t make it right.  We do live in a world that a few people end up making the difference for everyone just like collecting a cans one by one can add up to big things. I am not above picking up garbage off the ground even if it is not my own. If everyone took the attitude of  “It’s not mine.” we would be raising a generation to think that they don’t need to worry about our earth.  Is that really the message we want to send our children? Where would that put us?

Things our family does these days also have their roots in saving money at the same time as saving the planet. We do a lot of thrift shopping in our family. Thrift shopping saves money but it also cuts down on the new materials that are produced. If there is clothing and toys that are in good shape and cost less than new, then for me it makes sense. Many of the thrift stores in our area provide goods and service to people who are in need. They provide jobs, and other job training programs for those in need, and many give money to charities. Shopping at thrift stores helps us save money, helps the environment, and helps others in need in our community. 

Financially we don’t NEED to shop thrift, we CHOOSE to. We are fortunate that our family is not in financial strain of any kind. Thrift stores want everyone to shop. They are not only reserved for those in need, although many people have that stereotype, the local stores claim to have way more merchandise than can be sold. They encourage EVERYONE to come and shop because their profits help their programs.

Another thing I also have is what I call my “Creative Need”.  This creative need has to be filled constantly. Now if I was your average ordinary run of the mill crafter this would become quite expensive.  Craft supplies and fabric has become quite expensive these last few years. Thanks to my love of thrift shopping, and being taught at a young age that you can many times make what you want or need yourself instead of buying it, I tend to look outside the box when looking at a thrift store or even at the things I consider throwing away at home. I like to see new life in old things. Find something interesting and find a way to use it to make or create something else that is useful. 

The fancy term for this in the environmental community is “Up-cycle” when doing this with clothing it is called “Refashioning” It is quite popular these days but has not caught on in our area as much as it has in larger cities.  I also have my own blog that I keep track of all my crazy projects. There are over 65 projects on there right now that contain some supply that is reused from something else.  Up-cycled, Refashioned, or Reused are labels you can find on the right side bar if you would like to check them out for ideas of ways you can do this at your home as well.

Everyday my kids learn that we can find things they want at a thrift store by being patient and looking. They see time and time again that they end up finding what they are looking for and they understand that it costs MUCH less than if they were to buy it new. They see that there is no packaging to throw away in the landfill, and when they are a little bit older they will have a better idea of the energy saved by not increasing the demand on new items. They understand that their money goes a lot further in thrift stores. They are being taught to be smart consumers. They also learn how to think outside the box and that they can sometimes make the things they want out of other things we already have. This helps the environment but also fosters problem solving and creativity. In a society where many people have issues with saving money, and out of control spending I am happy my children are learning at a young age the many benefits thrift shopping, and up-cycling has.

Find Kara at:

Do Re Let’s Play!

The Hood Magazine

Kara’s Creative Place

Just the “reuse” projects link:

 Thanks, Kara!

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Hidden Awesomeness of Smoothies!

Ok, so that's not my greatest title, really ever, but it seems my son struck me down with his strep as I now have an insane fever and the inability to swallow without feeling like water is akin to broken glass.  Moving on, let's talk about my hidden weapon to get more fruits (and veggies) into the whole family.  That would be smoothies.

Don't let my husband read this- I'm fairly certain he thinks I make his smoothies with ice cream and butter and a titch of fruit, instead of making them as nutrient dense as I've been trying to.  I like to think of smoothies as energy bombs.  I try to get every bit out of them as I put into them.  That being said, there are a few rules I adhere to:

-I almost NEVER use ice cubes, unless I took the time and energy to freeze pure fruit juices into cubes. That rarely happens.
-If my smoothies are too thick, I will add a bit of 100% juice, but in general- my smoothies are thick and practically like a meal.
-Instead of ice, I do utilize frozen fruit.  I think I actually keep our grocers selection of frozen fruits going, quite honestly.  What's in my freezer? POUNDS of frozen fruits and veggies, some ice cream, and an abnormal quantity of freezer cold packs for the cooler that rarely gets used. Oh and large amount of coffee.  (In my world, the more coffee, the better.)
-Do not be leery of veggies in smoothies!  I'm serious!  You rarely can taste them, and the amount of nutrients and fiber gets upped tremendously.
-I AM picky about frozen fruit.  Unless it's been frozen in its own juices, water, or fresh- I never use frozen fruit with corn syrup or artificial flavorings and coloring.

I make the smoothies a bit differently for every person in the house, so you get quite a few recipes here.  Note that I use plain or vanilla, non-fat, low sugar Greek yogurt.  Some people don't really like smoothies with yogurt, so I say sub juice instead.  It's totally up to you.  They are seriously one of the greatest ways to start your day.

Liebert Smoothies

Eva's Berry Fabulous Smoothie (I was given the specific order that this smoothie needed to be as pink as possible, short of adding hot pink gel food coloring.  I do my best.)
-1/2 Cup Greek yogurt (usually Vanilla)
-1 Cup of frozen strawberries, raspberries, cherries
-1/2 of a banana
-2 Tbs (or so) of cherry juice

Whir it all together in the blender and serve in a hot pink cup to add to the pink factor.  Yes.

Nolan's I Hate Healthy Stuff Smoothie (I can rarely get fruit into this man, which is shocking that I've gotten him into our new vegetarian diet.  But, he doesn't know it until he reads it, he gets 3 servings of fruit in his smoothies! Tee hee!)
-1 Cup Greek yogurt (also usually vanilla- I reserve plain for Owen and I)
-1 Cup EACH of frozen blueberries and blackberries
-1 banana
-2 Tbs of cranberry juice
(Note- this smoothie is the weirdest color but he loves it, so I don't complain)

Whir it all together until a bit chunky, as he prefers.

Owen's Every.Single.Day.Or.DIE.Mama Strawberry-Banana Smoothie (Owen's favorite fruit combo- strawberry and banana anything, the end. He LOVES Greek yogurt, which I initially didn't think he'd go for.  Surprise, surprise with my boy.)
-1/2 Cup plain Greek Yogurt
-1/2 Cup frozen strawberries and cherries (been able to sneak that one by him so far)
-1/2 banana

Whir in the blender until very smooth and chill a few minutes.  I imagine, due to his never ending teething, that this is why he prefers his smoothies REALLY cold. Teeth stingingly, jaw chatteringly cold.

The Triple Threat- Sara Rose's Alternating Smoothies  (I drink one of these 3 smoothies nearly daily.  The first two are adaptations from Everyday Food and the last, my own design.)
The Green Machine
-1 cup packed spinach or kale leaves
-1 cup frozen white grapes
-1/2 an avocado
-About 1 full granny smith apple (chunks that are frozen)
-1 Cup of plain Greek yogurt

I prefer my smoothies almost as chunky as Nolan does, so I don't blend mine as long, but this is a pretty 'smooth' smoothie- surprisingly.

Cucumber and Berry Smoothie
-1 medium cucumber, seeded, and chopped into inch pieces (if I remember to- I freeze the chunks the night before)
-1 Cup each of frozen blueberries and blackberries
-1/2 Cup of white grape or pear juice
-1/2 Cup of plain Greek yogurt

Since, there is juice in this one, it would probably be one of the 'smoother' smoothies I make.  Whir until it's the consistency you prefer and serve right away!

The Berry Power Smoothie (Ok, I might need to stop with titles- clearly strep and my brain aren't agreeable)
-1 Cup of plain Greek Yogurt
-1 1/2 Cups of frozen berry medley (cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc.)
-1 Banana
-2 Tbs pomegranate or cranberry juice

Again, whir away in the blender until the smoothie is your preference of texture.  Clearly, this is one of the 'tarter' smoothies I've made.

Do you make smoothies for the family or yourself?  Care to share some recipes?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Question of the Week!

Have you entered our giveway?  What is your favorite weekend family breakfast?

Healthy Breakfast: More Muffins!

We have another carrot muffin recipe here!  Well, okay carrot and zucchini, but you get my meaning.  I keep returning to things combined with carrots because they just have such a 'stick to your ribs' quality.  The muffins we made this week also froze, reheated, thawed, etc., really well too- which is another win in my book.  Now that it's summer vacation, breakfast isn't quite the hurry it used to be, but I still like to make things that last for a week so we can have a variety.

These are power packed muffins, that's the least I can say.  Loads of fiber, protein, and the good carbohydrates that help fuel your brain until lunch time.  We usually eat these with a serving of yogurt and fruit too and are well and full until lunchtime.  Actually since we've been ALL diagnosed as slightly lactose intolerant- even when we just serve these muffins with a side of fruit alone, none of us have been hungry until lunch.

Now, usually things with tons of wheat, wheat germ, veggies, and fruit, etc., that happen to be baked ends up being a cement brick you could throw at someone's head and give them a concussion.  However, the thing with muffins is simple.  Stir until they are BARELY moistened, and then LET THE OVEN DO THE MAGIC.  Repeat the mantra of muffins with me, "Let the oven do the WORK."

Carrot-Zucchini Yogurt Muffins
Makes a dozen and can double or triple easily.  Adapted from Martha Stewart.

-Vegetable-oil Cooking Spray
-3/4 C Whole Wheat Flour
-1/2 C Flour
-3/4 C (3 oz) pecans, toasted and finely chopped (optional)
-1/4 C tasted wheat germ (If you don't have wheat germ- you know what subs in well? Grape Nuts!  No kidding!)
-1/3 C Dark Brown Sugar
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
-2 C peeled and grated carrots (2-3 medium carrots grated on the large holes of a box grater)
-1 large zucchini or 1 1/2 C, peeled and grated, also on the large holes of a box grater
-1/2 C plain, low fat sugar
-2 large eggs separated
-2 Tbs unsulfured molasses
1 tsp grated orange zest

-Preheat oven to 400 and spray a 12 cup muffin tin with vegetable spray.
-Whisk together pecans and the dry ingredients
-Stir together carrots, zucchini, yogurt, egg yolks, molasses, and orange zest in a large bowl.
-Fold flour mixture in until JUST combined and moistened.
-In a chilled metal bowl, with an electric mixer, whisk and beat egg whites util shiny, stiff peaks form.  Gently fold into the muffin mixture.
-Spoon batter into muffin tins, filling just until the brims.  Bake about 25 minutes, until tops bounce back when gently pressed and a toothpick comes out clean.
-Cool and serve or store in airtight container at room temperature.  Can be frozen.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Weekly Round Up!

What we've been reading and thinking about this week, along with fun stuff that just needs to be shared!

-10 Truths About Motherhood- (It is safe to say that I'm OBSESSED with this blog right now.)


-The Mommyologist- (This blogger is all about getting your mojo back and still finding tijme to be YOU- fun, sassy, and sexy.)

-Momversation- (A cool new site that has loads of mom-bloggers)

-10 Truths- Jennifer Brandt (A great posts tabout the things she's found to be true about motherhood.)


-Freud and Poop- Jennifer Brandt (A hilarious take on her son's obsession with going potty.)


-10 Truths- Heidi David (I loved this post.)

-Pregnancy Superstitions (Did you have pregnancy superstitions? I did.  Here's some logical thought on them.)


-Heidi Davids Blog- (She Wrote on 10 Truths about motherhood and her own blog is AWESOME.)


-All the cool stuff Nicole found for her son August's Orange Themed Nursery)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Becoming Vegetarians: A Month In.

It was roughly a month ago that we switched our family diet to being mostly vegetarian- allowing fish, eggs, and dairy.  So far, I have to say it's been a great choice and a lot easier than we thought it was going to be.  We had only a small amount of meat left in our freezer to use up and then we made the total switch.  We eat fish about twice a week, but otherwise, our meals are rich in vegetables proteins from legumes or soy.

We had a minor set back a couple weeks ago.  Eva woke up with this blazing, huge, purple rash with chicken pox like markings too.  She was all swollen up and running a fever.  Thinking chicken pox had finally hit, off to the doctor we went, where he could neither confirm nor deny that it 'could be' chicken pox- the only way we'd know is if it followed the pattern of a typical chicken pox outbreak.

It didn't.  With oral steroids (aka the equivalent of sugar running through her veins), benadryl (she is the ONLY CHILD I KNOW who gets hyper, not zonked from benadryl), and some ibuprofen, it started to disappear, but I was REALLY not happy with the side effects we were dealing with.  Thus, oatmeal and baking soda baths, oatmeal based lotions, lots of water and lots of hanging out with Strawberry Shortcake on Netflix.

I took pictures, watched her diet carefully, and looked around online because this rash kept reappearing but not following a pattern.  Thoroughly confused, we went to our regular doctor, I showed her the pictures I took, the diet log I made (trying to see if there was a food causing this), and we were ALL baffled and our doctor was just as confused, sadly.  Blood tests, referred to the dermatologist AND the allergist, and two days later we find out that every single one of us in this family is slightly allergic to milk. AWESOME.

So we all get to cut back on dairy, and that's not too big of a deal, to be honest.  We've always been of the belief that everybody except kids has too much dairy.  We got okay-ed that we could all eat or drink dairy as long as we kept it under 12 ounces a day.  Nolan and I cut back almost completely, the kids still have dairy but more soy and almond milk now too.  The rash has seemed to lessen in frequency on Eva, but I can't honestly say whether it's due to our diet, the things we've tried to treat it, or WHAT.  It's going to be up to the allergist, I suppose.

The kids have been surprisingly receptive to our diet/lifestyle change.  We've made cooking an adventure, especially because there seems to be this huge amount of people who feel like being vegetarian means you eat 'boring foods'.  The kids have tried more curries, soups, dishes from different cuisines in the last month than all our previous months together.

There are other pros too.  Knowing you are getting your daily fruit/vegetable/whole grain intake from your diet and not just a multi vitamin has been awesome.  I would certainly say our energy levels have gone up.  I love seeing us all make more conscientious food choices.  Our daughter is excited to try new things (which she wasn't before), help us cook, and next year- help plan her own school lunch box.  I really want our kids to feel like they are intrinsic to this lifestyle- that they actively take part in helping shape it.

I totally respect people who keep meat in theirs and their kids' diets.  I definitely get that it's not always a bad choice.  But, here at Elegant Mommy, we stress that you should aways make the choices that are best and most natural for your own family.  We've enjoyed doing just that and continuing our adventure.

Healthy Dinners: Homemade Fish Sticks and Potato Wedges

This week, Nolan provides our yummy recipes as I handed cooking duty over to him for a few days.  Why? Stomach flu from goodness knows where, but toast and Gatorade and I are best friends this week.  As we are on the vegetarian trek but we include fish, dairy, and eggs.  (Well, far less dairy but more on that later.)

Two days before the end of school, we happened upon a funny conversation.  Nolan and I were talking about how much we hated school fish sticks versus the ones our parents made at home and that we learned to make as we got older.  Well, Miss Eva declared "I love school fish sticks! They are AWESOME!" Nolan snorted and said "We can make BETTER ones."Eva "No, you can't."

The battle, apparently, was on.  He made a bet with her that ours were better and she was definite in the idea that they most certainly were not.  So, last night, Nolan made catfish sticks, potato wedges, and salad.  Covered in panko, crunchy and golden, lots of seasonings, and as Eva tentatively ate them . . . she declared us the winners.

Hopefully you do too and thank you to Nolan for manning the kitchen for the week!  Let's hope my stomach decides to get better soon!

Baked Catfish 'Sticks' and Roasted Potato Wedges
Serves 4-6 easily and can easily double or triple

Potato wedges:

3 potatoes, chopped into wedges
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste

-Toss together and bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until done, turning every 10 minutes

Catfish strips:

1 lb. fresh catfish, cut into strips that are about 1/2 to 1 inch thick by 2-ish inches long
1/2 cup crushed saltines
1/2 cup panko style breadcrumbs
1/2 cup yellow corn meal
1 egg
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup water
pepper, Cajun seasoning, dried savory

-Mix egg, butter, water, and Cajun seasoning.
-Mix saltines, panko, and corn meal in separate bowl.
-Dip strips in wet mix, followed by dry mix to bread each.
-Place on oiled pizza or cookie sheet and bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until done

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Want A $25 Giftcard? Help us get more followers?

We've got some pretty great stuff coming up that we want to share this summer and to do that we NEED more Twitter Followers and Facebook Followers!!!  By next Wednesday, I really want to see our Twitter Followers over 250 and our Facebook Followers over 1950!  I think we can do it!  So help us out!  Next week, if we hit our goal, we'll be giving away a $25 gift card!  Then be sure to leave a comment with:

1.  Your name, if you are following the blog, our twitter, and/or our FaceBook page or all 3!
2.  Your email so we can let you know if you've won our gift card.
3.  Also let us know where all you've shared our links to help us get more followers.

Good luck and let's spread the word!

What Could You Live Without?

I was reading this article over on OhDeeDoh about all the things you are told you 'need' when you have a baby and the readers responded in their comments about the things they didn't get or end up needing when they had their kids.  The answers were interesting and ranged from bottle warmers to pack-n-plays to rocking chairs and I want to hear from you all what you ended up NOT needing with your wee ones!

What did we not end up needing at our house? I can second the bottle or wipe warmers- totally not worth it or necessary- didn't even buy them.  The diaper stacker thing that comes with lots of baby bedding sets was also totally useless to me. What really burned me up was, as so many people had mentioned, the Diaper Genie! UGH!  How did it ever get so popular? It is SO HARD to use and impractical.

Both of my kids responded better to walking and gentle bouncing on an exercise ball to fall asleep than a rocking chair.  The only unexpected thing that hit us was not needing his crib . . . because he refused to NOT co-sleep until  he was about 15 months old.  Soon he and Eva will be sharing a room and he'll be in a big boy bed.  It goes so fast!

By and far, I wish I hadn't been so adamant about disposable diapers with Eva.  Yours truly, Sara Rose, is humble enough to sheepishly admit to wasting most likely a decent down payment amount for a car.  Oh, or a year of school, etc.  My mother tried very hard to get me off the disposables wagon.

Despite the obvious negativity of my son having super sensitive skin, in a way, I an so glad that it forced us on to the cloth diaper path.  We were already headed down the natural parenting/eco-friendly lifestyle path and when we got our big old box of cloth diapers- it feels like it cemented the deal!

Which, of course, couldn't make me happier, because we love our little, humble life and I work for the MOST AWESOME company EVER!  I was really happy when I got pregnant with Owen to be able to say, whenever we were shopping for his stuff "Nope. Definitely DO NOT need that."  We spent far less.  So what, did you find yourself NOT needing with your kids?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pause For Gratitude: The Last Day of School

I may end up regretting this post.  We'll see at the end of summer, I suppose.  Anyways, today was the end of year class picnic and last night was Eva's 'graduation' from Pre-K.  In a couple weeks, summer rec starts but for now, it's just really nice to have some together.  I miss having time thats uninterrupted by seven hundred things to do, places to be, the list is endless.

We've all been feeling really stretched thin around lately.  With 3 people doing school at various times a day, work at more times a day, and all the millions of things we have going on, it's just so nice to have our pace slow a bit.  In fact, my friend Sarah at Pink of Perfection echoed the same sentiment that I've had for weeks of being just a bit too exhausted.

So for a few weeks, we can hang out around the house, paint, go to the library, and just enjoy a few minutes to breath.  What are you grateful for today?

Product Review: Bummas Cloth Wipes

We received a package of Bummas before we started carrying them at the store, so Nolan and I have been able to try them out for a few months now.  Our son, Owen, as I've mentioned several previous times, is allergic to everything with chemicals and scents.  Thus, cloth wipes with water or the unscented Wee Essentials wipe solution are usually our best bets.  You can get both on our site and in our store.

I'd been using bird seed cloth for wipes, so using ones that were soft terry cloth were new to me.  The only con I really have is that the Bummas wipes are narrower and shorter than I personally prefer, but they are absorbent and soft.  They are also extremely good at wiping up big messes with one or two swipes.  That's really nice, as I hate having to use several wipes to clean up a mess.

They wash well and don't collect lint in the dryer.  They also don't get attached to other things in the dryer, another big plus.  They don't ten to shrink and have stayed just as absorbent as they were when I first got them.  They're also REALLY handy for face and hand clean up or spot wiping little messes on Owen's clothes.

Overall, I liked them.  Personally, I still prefer my birdseed cloth wipes, but these are REALLY great for traveling too.  I would definitely suggest picking up a pack or two for your own home!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

South Dakota Babies is on Summer Break

South Dakota Babies Presents will be taking a well deserved summer break. They were amazing to partner with this year and we cannot wait to partner with them again this fall!  Keep your eyes open for when we start offering classes and seminars in partnership again.  Special thank you to Alicia for all her hard wok in helping us bring you lots of new opportunities to learn about your experience as a parent and grow.  Have a wonderful summer, South Dakota Babies!

We have started V-logging! Shelly and Sara.


It has been a goal of mine for quite some time to start v-logging more. It has only been in the past 6 months or so that Sara and Nolan have helped to get it done. Our first v-logging experience started with The Great Cloth Diaper Change and will continue forward.

I have always envisioned v-logging demonstrations, clips of our classes and even a special v-log idea I had that we started last year and just couldn't get all of the people shown up for. We want to v-log diaper demonstrations, swaddling, and babywearing demonstrations.

Our goal is to post at least 2-3 new v-logs every month. What kinds of things do you, as a reader, want to see us v-log about?


V-logging is a great way for us to reach a much wider audience, something we've been working on for quite awhile.  We want to help our community of parents have yet another resource.  We want to be sure to make any area of natural parenting and all of the great products or classes that we offer easy for you to understand and helpful!  We have a Youtube channel that we will be updating more and more with videos and clips for you.

We are really interested in your feedback on what you would gain the most from and want to see on our YouTube Channel.  I would LOVE to see LOTS of comments on what you want us to talk about, teach, and have available for you in videos.  So please leave lots of feedback as we start on this next leg of our Elegant Mommy resources journey!

The h2mio Winner Is . . .

Randomizer picked number 19- Ying-Ko-4 aka Mark!  Congratulations! I will be emailing you directly to send your prize!

Thank you everyone for entering AND . . . keep your eyes peeled, especially on Thursday for another special giveaway!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sara's Take: Kids and The Internet

It's strange to think of our kids on the Internet.  Obviously, I show Eva cool websites- like www.seussville.com (games and magical Dr. Seuss coolness), or http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/archivepix.html (cool pictures of the universe, different stars, etc- daily), and a few others.  She and her biological dad write emails to each other.  My mom sends her emails too.  I know that at school, she is slowly getting acquainted with the Internet.

Maybe I'm NOT so progressive in this one area, despite the fact that I write (on a computer) and Nolan is going into software development (also computer work), but of my friends who are parents- I'm pretty sure she is the least Internet savvy.  I really limit computer time.

I keep remembering the horror stories of kids who have committed suicide due to Internet bullying or those taken hostage because they were in chat rooms with Internet child perps.  I also have a bit of a horror story of my own.  In my junior year of high school, I was in our computer lab to get some research for a project I was working on. I had emailed a professor at a local college for some resources and saw that he had responded to me.

At that time (oooooh, 12-ish years ago), there were few spam filters and I accidentally opened a spam message that froze my screen with a pornography ad. Of course, the teacher walked in at that very moment and I panicked to try to explain to her what happened.  She didn't believe me, so of course, a trip to the principal and a suspension and all Internet privileges for the year were revoked.  Weirdly enough, the principal believed me- I showed him the exact message and how I clicked it accidentally, but he had to follow school rules about the whole deal.

It was humiliating.

So, I've been REALLY hesitant to bring my kids into the digital world.  I try to seek out educational websites, learning games, or like I mentioned above- ones with cool things they can see.  I haven't taught Eva (my oldest, all nearly 2 year old Owen would do with a computer is put his head through it) much on how to type.  She has a Vtech laptop that she plays with Nolan a lot, so I'm fairly sure he teaches her more than I do.

I am mixed in m opinion of how much access my kids should have to chat rooms, FaceBook, email, etc., but I also know I can't keep them in the dark.  I'm also aware that kids learn these things on their own, gain a certain level of independence from the Internet, and also some part of their identity in our technology fueled world.  I suppose a lot of my hesitance comes from a desire to let them be innocent for awhile longer before stepping into a world where everything is a click away.

I'm sure Nolan and I will come to some disagreements over how much time our kids can spend on the computer, whether they can have FaceBook accounts, etc.  He's pretty clear in his opinion that a kid will probably set up these sorts of accounts secretly so they can do the same stuff that other kids do.  I have had the parental focus of being open on just about everything so that our kids feel like they don't have to have secrets or be afraid to tell us anything, so hopefully we can all be open and honest with each other.

I suppose my own hesitation comes from when I think a child is 'old enough' to have different levels of independence.  Nolan's parents were very strict and felt that independence should be very limited with kids.  My parents allowed me a great deal of privilege but it came with the forewarning "If you mess up, you pay the consequences."  So, if I had a lot of independence and messed up, then I had to pay the price.

I am both aware but cautious of the future and the Internet and our kids, I think.  I'm not sure.  I just know I want to be educated, I want my kids to stay safe, and I hope that it doesn't overwhelm them as they grow up.

-Some other interesting articles-



Couponing 101

Wednesday night, we're offering a really cool new class and discussion with Sioux Falls Frugal Mama- Shaina.  Couponing 101! Be sure to rsvp at the link!

Shaina (from Sioux Falls Frugal Mom) & Sheena invite you to come learn about the art of couponing by taking Couponing 101

Do you want to use coupons effectively, but have no idea where to begin?
Are you wondering how coupons can really save you money?
Want to save hundreds on your groceries and keep your pantry stocked for a fraction of the price?
Come & learn tricks and techniques for getting groceries, toiletries and drug store items cheap, and even free, by using coupons, rebates, and sales.

Saving money with coupons and rebates doesn’t have to be time consuming and confusing - explore the basics of why and how you should use them, get tips for keeping them organized, and start stretching your budget today.

This class will be held Wednesday May 18th from 6:30-8 at Elegant Mommy. The cost is $7 & includes a free gift. For more details &/or questions check out Sioux Falls Frugal Mom. PLEASE RSVP so we know how many "gifts" to get :)

Due to limited space, we have to cap the class at 20 attendants. Don't worry we will host another class soon! Thanks for understanding. Be sure to RSVP so you can come too!

It Ends Tonight!

Giveaway Ends TONIGHT at midnight! Be sure to enter! http://elegantmommysiouxfalls.blogspot.com/2011/05/h2mio-weekend-giveaway.html

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Reconnect: Sunday Night Date Night

Nolan and I never get any 'real time' to reconnect during the week.  With the kids' stuff, the house to run, classes, and work- by the time we get it all done- it's usually 2 am around here. Then it's time plop into bed and get up at 6 or 7 am the next day and do it all again.  We've started a little routine to at least try to get a bit of face time in.  Our 'us' night is Sunday evenings.

Now, our date nights aren't grandiose spectacles of wine, strawberries, Barry Manilow, and candles.  It's usually more like us sharing an hour or two to talk, then maybe catch up on a show we both love- like Monk or Doctor Who.  We also try to go to bed around the same time, talk some more, and get a decent night of sleep.

It's wildly romantic, I know.  But, sometimes, just the chance to talk and send quiet time together is needed far more than an expensive dinner and showers of flowers and diamonds.  The thing I need the most in my own marriage is to feel connected to my husband.

We try to talk about things that happened during the week, news in areas that are of common interest us, and laughter is always a part of the equation.  We try to keep our talk about the work week, school, and the kids to a minimum and just focus on us for a few minutes.  It's refreshing to be reminded that "HEY!  We're adults who have common interests and are still interested in talking and being around each other!"

We could make it more romantic, I suppose- pour some wine, light some candles, all that jazz.  But in reality, I just like an evening of holding hands and talking quietly.  It refreshes me more than anything else.  The beginning of our relationship was all about talking to get to know each other and establish our base.  Thus, when I want to really reconnect, talking is what I look for.  It's simple and reaffirming on a number of levels.

So, take a night of the week when the kiddos get to bed early and the week is relatively not going to interfere with some 'you time'.  Sit down, turn on something to listen to, get creative and do the wine thing if you'd like, and just TALK.  Talk about you guys, whats going on with you  See if it ends with a kiss and feeling a little more closeness for both of you.

Question of the Week!

Is your family putting in a garden?  We are!  Do you have any favorite things to grow or garden tips to share with our other families?

Healthy Breakfasts: Scones

Two of my top five favorite breakfast flavors for baked goodies are cranberry-orange and I love scones.  It's taken me a long time to find recipes for scones that didn't bake up too dry and crumbly or too moist to bake properly.  I also happen to enjoy them with plenty of butter and a bit of glaze.  So today, I want to link you to my FAVORITE new scone recipe, by the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten.

Her stuff she makes is easy, elegant, and perfect for a slow Sunday morning.  I'm still slowly perfecting my baking skills.  But this recipe hasn't failed me four times now.  The kiddos love them, Nolan (who will barely touch cranberry orange anything) adores them, and I could eat an entire batch by myself.

I'm in the midst of a deep spring cleaning of the house this weekend.  We have a huge yard sale with our inlaws happening this next weekend in Mitchell.  I'm a bit of a minimalist and try to purge the house every few months.  This sale has been a huge opportunity- we really hadn't done much in the way of cleaning the house out except occasionally going through the kids' clothes every season- so I am really loving how much space we are getting with going through every single room!!!

I had really wanted to put in our garden this weekend, but alas, another cold snap hit, so hot scones and strong coffee are our Sunday breakfast.  Then back to clearing the house out and finishing up two baby blankets and hats (I've got two babies due next month that I'm knitting for!).  I can't wait till the house is finished being cleaned out, so I can flop on the couch and rewatch Strawberry Shortcake with the kiddos.

Trust me on this recipe- you'll really love it.  I've been making a fruit salad lately of chopped strawberries, bananas, pineapple, and Greek yogurt to go along with heavier things like scones- give it a try!  How has your weekend been?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The h2mio WEEKEND Giveaway!

We are redoing our h2mio giveaway for THIS WEEKEND ONLY.  Everyone should be entered BY MIDNIGHT on Monday, the 16th and the winner will be announced Tuesday morning!

To Enter:

1.  Leave your name, Twitter handle (if you have one), and email address so I can get in touch with you quickly to mail your prize to you.
2.  Tell us what are your family's favorite summer snacks that you would use in the bottle!

Good luck and again, this contest ends at midnight!

The Weekly Round Up

Stuff I found through the week that's awesome and needs to be shared!

-See how Eleanor's Big Girl Room Turned out!  http://makingitlovely.com/2011/05/12/eleanors-room-sources/

-Cool Pictures of The Universe to share with your kids daily- http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/archivepix.html

-Would you make your family photos into huge pieces of art? http://joannagoddard.blogspot.com/2010/10/hanging-family-photos.html

-I'm in love with this new blog on cooking for the family!  http://dashandbella.blogspot.com/

-I want to find a cool kids tent for the summer!  This one, I love for indoors or out.  http://www.walmart.com/ip/Kids-Special-Edition-Bughouse-Play-Tent/10774204?findingMethod=rr#Specifications

-I love this manifesto for marriage as Nolan & I plan to renew our vows- http://www.simplemarriage.net/manifesto.html

-Nolan got me an early birthday gift, a fabulous Vera Bradley bag & did you KNOW they have diaper bags or totes that can function like one? A plus? Totally washable! WIN!- http://www.verabradley.com/category/Category/Mom-and-Baby/643/pc/638.uts

Friday, May 13, 2011

Women and The Challenge: Part 5

This is the final in our 5 Part series on the Women and The Challenge Lecture I attended.  The other parts- 1, 2, 3, and 4, can each be respectively found at the links on each number.  The last speaker was Ms. Marilyn Hildreth, an RN with IBLCE (International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners), and ICCE (International Center for Clinical Excellence) certifications.

Ms. Hildreth told us about the Cochrane Database.  Basically it compiles a list of the absolute necessary standards for pre and post natal care and is considered the gold standard for research on nursing and medical practices during labor and delivery.  She made some really interesting points about current labor and delivery practices in American hospitals.

The practice of not allowing a woman in labor to eat?  It is actually considered to be harmful to not allow a woman to eat while in labor.  She made the point that a woman has a greater chance of being struck by lightening twice than dying of asphyxiation from eating during birth.  Forcing a woman to stay in bed hooked up to the belt baby monitors can be considered detrimental because freedom or range of movement being allowed helps a birth progress both naturally and more quickly.

It is considered more harmful for a woman to labor and deliver in the lathotomy position (lying down with knees up) than many other natural child birth positions.  In fact doing things encouraged in most hospital births- like holding your breath and bearing down is considered far more harmful and stressful to your body and your baby during birth than naturally progressing through a contraction.

It is considered better for the baby to stay in their mothers room and not even be bathed the first week instead of being taken to the hospital nursery and bathed.  These two things alone can decrease how well a child takes to nursing, but nurses offering samples of formula is especially detrimental to the nursing process.

Unfortunately, a lot of nurses simply aren't educated that excess intervention and technology causes more harm than good in a child birth.  Most schools of nursing teach the standard practices of labor and delivery simply because they have been standard in the last few decades.  Ms. Hildreth encourages expecting mothers to really focus on a birth plan and back up ideas that they are comfortable with so that their choices are always honored.  She also advises expecting mothers to hire a doula to help coach the mother through labor and delivery.  She encourages women and families to support midwife versus medical models of pre and post  natal care.

Ms. Hildreth pointed out two shocking facts, especially to me- that we are considered 40th in the world for child birth safety and that the March Of Dimes organization gave South Dakota hospitals a grade of D (near failure) when it comes to the adequacy of our care and options for premature and high risk deliveries and babies.  She recommended that every new and expecting mother check out Dr. Thomas Brewer's research on birth toxemia and Linda Smiths book 'Birth and Breast Feeding" for more information.

With the conclusion of revisiting the lectures I got the privilege to watch for myself, I do feel more frustrated.  South Dakota is supposedly rumored for having a really high quality of living, but one has to ask themselves- is this just economically or does this standard apply to every aspect of our lives- our medical care, our cost of living, our opportunities, etc.  Unfortunately, I am led to believe that this really only applies to a few very select areas.  I would like to see our health care system here, especially women and children's health be focused on as an important area needing improvement but with the budget cuts that every area of our state budget faces, I doubt this will happen.

It is both enlightening and disheartening for me to see that we are so subpar in the area  that we should be deeply concerned with, the care of our mothers-to-be and newborns.  It will take a lot of momentum for change to happen.  This, of course, first starts with education- we hope that this series has helped do just that for you!