Sunny Day Meals

As the temperatures rise, I find myself less and less inspired to cook.  I neglect the housework until the last possible moment and spend as much time outside as possible. The kids are at an age where I’m bargaining with them on a nightly basis and promising we will be outside as soon as possible the following morning, just to get them inside so I can wash their feet, faces and hands before bed!

With this in mind, I put together this list of my favorite beautiful day meals. Meals I serve because it’s too gorgeous to stay inside at the stove or it’s just too hot to even think about eating a full meal.

Summer Steak Salad: Nothing like a beautiful afternoon to make you want to fire up the grill!  This is our summer go-to date night meal.

Dippin’ Chicken Tacos: Quick and easy to eat in between water balloon fights or even poolside, this recipe is one of our family favorites.

Thai Chicken and Vegetables: I made this last night!  I recently discovered a wonderful rice pasta that cooks up in about 5 minutes and the kids just gobble down.  I love to eat this as left overs, cold, the next day too!

Cheddar-Stuffed Burgers: This is my husband’s pride and joy.  And it just takes burger night to a fun new level with the oozy cheese in every bite. 🙂

Sloppy Lentil Sandwiches: Sometimes, you need fast picnic-style food that isn’t for the carnivores. This is another one of my cold-leftovers-for-lunch favorites.

Creamy Quinoa and Vegetables: I fully intend to make a large batch of this on a weekly basis and bring it with us as pool-side lunches.

Peanut Butter Fondue: Another poolside option for me.  I like this dip as a meal or a quick snack, but either way it’s loaded with protein and good fats, so it’s practically guilt-free… right?

So there you have my summer’s worth of go-to meals. What are your favorites?  I’m going to be in need to poolside snacks in another month or so, what do you take with you for the kids to munch on during the lifeguard breaks?

Handwritten Simplicity

When I was in high school, it was a big deal if you had internet at home. Most of my peers had an AOL address, but I didn’t get my first email address until I was in college and was assigned one by the student services. It took me until I sat through a lecture on Stream of Consciousness writing (which I fell in love with) before I really started to email.  You see, once I started typing, words just fell from my fingers and I was able to follow the flow within my own brain.  Personally, I was a fan.  I’m a fast typer and my fingers were able to keep up with my thoughts fairly well.  I was a college student and pressed for time, so this was my solution. As much as I liked it, most of the people I emailed were decidedly against it.  My uncle used to return my emails with proper punctuation and edits. 🙂

Thankfully, I eventually made a decision to slow my life down and returned to proper sentence structure in all my communications. Around this time, my husband bought me a PDA and I attempted to forgo my previous dependence on a paper calendar. I thought that if I could only learn to use an electronic format for everything I did, my life would only increase in it’s simplicity. Not surprisingly, around this time, my precious Nokia phone finally had to be retired and I replaced it with a phone that had some touch features on it.  I actually stopped making phone calls because I was so annoyed with the “high-techness” of it all!

And yet, even with two computers in my home, smart phones, eReaders and lightning fast internet connections, I still find myself loving the feeling of a pen in my hand as I write a card or mark in appointment in my calendar. I rarely use my phone’s calendar function, instead spending weeks every year searching for the perfect calendar to write all my notes in. My journal is simply lined, no frills, smooth pages and a flexible spine.  And a teal notebook to keep track of post ideas, to-do lists, notes from phone calls and potential meal plans.

These are things I employ to keep my own mind from whirling along in it’s conscious flow that quickly becomes a rushing river leaving chaos behind as I attempt to remember things from a phone conversation. Granted, my auditory skills have always been lacking, but I just cannot let go of a simple pen and paper. I find it comforting. I find it refreshing.

My postman has commented on how many cards leave my mailbox on a weekly basis. I treasure the cards I receive in the mail and hold the belief that everyone deserves a pretty card with kind words in it from time to time. Handwritten words are personal and simple. I still have the letters my great-grandmother sent me as a child. My high school BFF had to move and we exchanged thick envelopes filled with handwritten pages for year.  Dozens of her letters have sat in a box, neatly organized and frequently read.

This card was my screen saver for a few days while I really needed the reminder!

The friends that send me letters and cards now are no longer writing about the latest romantic crisis in our lives, instead we exchange words of encouragement for our days. I write cards to each child on their birthday, telling them each of the amazing milestones from that year and how much I love them. I in write in my journal telling our family’s story and hope that someday my own children will find comfort in the handwritten words about their childhood as much as I find comfort in reading the writings of my mother, her mother and my great grandmother.

What about you?  Are you a paper and pen sort of person or have you embraced this digital age?

Dear WAPF… could you *be* any more judgmental?!

In the past week, a multitude of my Facebook friends’ posts have been directed at the Weston A. Price Foundation and their recent statement that homemade formulas are better than breast milk if the mother is not following the recommended dietary requirements for herself. This morning, I finally finished reading and decided that I’ll be kicking of the next few posts I have planned with my opinion on this particular subject.

Back when pretending I was nursing mama was enough and no one cared what I ate.

I grew up being told I was breast-fed. I planned to breast feed. And then, my mother died and I got my hands on her journals. In her writings she talked about how sad she was that she just wasn’t able to produce enough milk for me.  She had lupus and her body just couldn’t deal with the demand of a hungry baby.  So, after a few months of praying her body could provide for me, she made her own formula.  She didn’t reference where she got her recipe, but she did mention several times that she was so ashamed that her body couldn’t provide for her baby.  At the time, I didn’t have any children myself, but my heart broke that any woman could feel so helpless even though she was doing her absolute best despite the circumstances.

Fast forward a few years and there I am sitting on my couch sobbing because after 20 minutes of pumping, not even 2 ounces of milk was produced.  Next to me is a screaming baby who, no matter what advice I have gotten and methods I’ve tried is flat out hungry. Now really isn’t the time to go into all the details of that time in my life, but in the end, we chose to purchase box after box of formula.

I will admit that I briefly considered making my own formula.  I had 2 friends who made their own and their kids seemed healthy.  But no matter how proud my mother was of my childhood love of Cod Liver oil, I just couldn’t do it. My husband and I chose to purchase organic formula for our little boy.  It was the best we could do given our circumstances. I hated every bottle I washed and was in a far greater hurry to switch him to sippy cups than I probably should have been.

I hated the smell of commercial formula, but there was no way I was going to be able to find goat’s milk in the needed quantities (although I did search) and I certainly wasn’t going to add in carrot juice as my friend suggested.  I drank a lot of carrot juice as a child and the keratinized skin on my feet still bear the orange hue in testament.

I’m telling you this story so you understand that I really feel WAPF has dropped the ball here. One of my greatest regrets of those early months of parenting is that I wasn’t brave enough to keep asking for help and be honest with how bad my situation was.  I didn’t know a single person who had stuck it out through a poor milk supply (thanks a LOT PCOS 🙁 ) and because I already had several friends who had traded breast for bottle by the time their baby was 2 months old, I felt the sting of judgement whenever I expressed a desire to succeed.

Sylvi was born less than 2 years after Liam and I was determined.  By then, I had joined the ranks of the Natural Parent Network contributors and drew from that support.  I found a local friend who was willing to listen to me cry and help me figure out ways to make breast feeding work for us.  At one point, I had either weekly phone calls or visits with a local CLC that helped keep me focused on the fact that we were conquering one feeding at a time and succeeding on a micro level.  When we started Baby-Led Weaning with her, she was at a point where her weight dropped off the charts completely and added coconut milk and avocado to her day as much as I could.

Sylvi was breast fed from April 15th, 2011 to May 31st 2012.  She stopped nursing the day she started walking. And I cried.  I cried for multiple reasons: she was growing up.  She was healthy and happy!  She may have given me cause to wear my favorite pink bra again but was still willing to curl up in my arms for our snuggle time throughout the day even though she was done nursing. I cried because we made it.  13.5 months was an enormous victory for me considering the pressure I was under to stop and begin bottle feeding at 4 months due to her failure to thrive petite size.  And I cried because I knew I would miss it.

I think that my issue with WAPF isn’t so much that they encourage making your own formula, it’s that they make mothers who may already be struggling with breast feeding feel that no matter what they do, they aren’t good enough.  Their dietary ideals are all well and good, but no one is perfect.  NO ONE.  My bloggy bff, at the Farmer’s Daughter is my breast feeding hero, hands down.  But if WAPF had their say, she should stop because from time to time, she wants a treat.  Gasp!

Sadly, we live in a world where everyone is out to prove their way is better; to “out mom” every one else.  Instead of fueling the fires, WAPF could have chosen to encourage a healthy diet in the breast feeding mothers.  They could have promoted their homemade formulas as an option, not an ultimatum. We as mothers need to be compassionate and gracious toward others in the trenches.  If you want to continue breastfeeding, there are resources and support.  Don’t give up just because you aren’t perfect.

Punctuation, quilting style

I’m linking up with Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts today for Finish it Friday!

As promised, I’m sharing my finished project today.  To date, this is the most complicated quilt I’ve worked on, primarily because there weren’t a whole lot of right angles.  🙂  Once I got going, and started using the quarter inch foot, things got much better.  And, I’m also proud to say that I FINALLY got the hang of binding the quilt… not only was I doing it completely wrong before, I was making it so much harder on myself!

Aside from totally loving the fabrics together, I must tell you that I’m now a Moda fabrics fan for life.  The flannel is just so soft!  I got to use a charm pack from the new(ish) Moda line Comma and this week saw some of the prints on the bolt and really wished I had an excuse to make something with them!

I used a pattern I bought at a quilt shop and the quilt did come together pretty well, it’s slightly smaller than a regular crib quilt size, so I figure it will make a nice play blanket for the little guy while his older brothers swim or play outside this summer.

And my favorite touch? My custom tags. I had been searching for a while after seeing a post by Dana about hers, but since I don’t make entire wardrobes or sew huge amounts of items to sell, I couldn’t justify the cost.  I stumbled across this shop on Etsy and have been  in love ever since they arrived in my mailbox!

What about you?  Are you creating anything these days that keeps you up way past your bedtime or leaves your home a mess?

 

Recently

  • As much as I adore my batch cooking, I’m trying to change things up a bit. My husband and I reworked our budget and I’m back to bi-weekly grocery trips.  The cost hasn’t really changed, it just shifted. And I love using my pretty envelopes more.
  • I feel like all I do is sew. I completed a quilt this week and will post about it tomorrow. I’m 100% proud of myself on this one.
  • I also finished Sylvi’s birthday dress.  And bonus: I made a matching dress for the doll she’s getting as her gift.
  • Matt and I are planning a fun change to the backyard this month!  I’ve been planning and organizing and we’ve landed on a local company to put up a play structure in our back yard!  We are keeping gifts for the kids very modest this year and I can hardly wait to hear the squeals of joy when the kids see all those fun things to climb!
  • The breakfast experiment is going well.  I missed only once in the last three weeks. I was very sick all day long as a result. I’m realizing that I need more calories than I think I do, especially if I plan to continue working out towards specific fitness goals.
  • My plants for this year’s garden are growing like crazy.  I think I need to keep them indoors for another 6 or so weeks, but there is a distinct possibility that they will take over my kitchen counters in that time.
  • I rotated toys for the kids again tonight.  I hadn’t done it in a few months, but I wanted to declutter a little before Sylvi’s birthday.  I’m still not convinced that the Little People toys we have were worth it, but they’re out of hiding.
  • Oh. And I cleaned my desk off. I’m fairly certain angels sang.