Wednesday, April 27, 2011

And it continues to grow

I've pretty much almost completely officially decided to probably just let my hair grow out again.  Ha!  I've been mulling it over for a while now, usually waffling back and forth between keeping it short short over the summer and just letting it grow.  With such a short and styled initial hair cut, I quickly discovered what it's like to be a guy and "need" a hair cut every 4 weeks.  It was amazing how fast the cute short pixie morphed into something I liked much less, just because it had grown, what - A 1/4 INCH IN FOUR WEEKS?  I never understood that ritualistic monthly male hair cut phenomenon until now.

Anyways, after the first 3 weeks or so, it started being decidedly something I didn't want, so it threw me into the quandary of deciding between continual cutting or growing.  Given that I don't have a job that demands a chic, nicely trimmed 'do all the time, nor do we have an income right now to support $40 cuts every 4 weeks, much as it would have been fun to maintain the short hair for a while, I think it's just going to have to grow.  I mean I cut it for LL anyways, not specifically because I wanted to start permanently having a short 'do, so why not let it start growing again.  And I'm so much not a fan of the way my hair looks in this 6-12 weeks hair cut range, that I really don't want to keep getting short cuts every 3 months to stretch out the money, only to love my hair for 3 weeks and then desperately wish for a cut for the next 2 months. So I've been trying all sorts of different styles as the hair grows through it's awkward phases.  This is the latest one, which I have to say I'm kind of enjoying simply because you can see some of my forehead!!   I have missed seeing my dear forehead and eyebrows for the last two months!




But for the record, if it was in the budget, I would definitely keep the short monthly pixie cuts through the summer at least - I liked the hair cut that much. :)


(Ha!  Joke's on me.  I looked on my calendar and it actually hasn't even been quite 6 weeks since the initial cut yet, so I can't even imagine trying to stretch out to a cut every 12 weeks to save money.  I was ready for a trim at 3 weeks for sure.  Mind boggling how short hair cuts are so particular!)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When I need boost....

These pictures really make me smile.


Charlie sportin' a cute smile and a cute new hair cut.

The best times involve Daddy and green smoothies. :)

He loved coloring - but that big grin wasn't from the coloring, it was from being tickled by Daddy. :-)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What did you have for dinner?: The last minute, picture-less edition

Dinner was supposed to be leftovers.  Husband was supposed to be working late at the lab eating leftovers and I was supposed to be at home, not be cooking and eating leftovers here.  But, surprises surprises, William was home early this afternoon and working outside.  Also he convinced me to finally scrub our nasty, dirty, grubby, horrific deck table and chairs so they would be ready for summer usage and more specifically dinner tonight as he wanted to eat outside.  So I scrubbed away at the furniture and suddenly realized at 5pm I needed dinner.  I didn't exactly want to do leftovers since it was one of the few evenings where William was here and we were eating as a family and eating outside!  No one wants leftovers on a night like that!  So my brilliant idea?  Kushari!  It's a super tasty dish that my friend Shelley had been telling me about earlier today.  I had most of the ingredients on hand, and improvised the rest.  It was Ah-MAZ-zing!  I  didn't expect it to be so good, but IT WAS!  Kushari (or Koshary, or Koushry, or Kosheri, or Koshari - however the heck you actually spell it!) is, according to Wikipedia :) an Egyptian dish consisting of lentils, rice, chickpeas, macaroni, Egyptian garlic and vinegar, spicy tomato sauce, and fried onions.  Several recipes that I looked up just had the lentils, rice, spicy tomato sauce, and caramelized onions, and I went with one of those.  I take absolutely no credit for the recipe or the idea of the recipe, but I'm going to share it with you anyways because it was so tasty.

This recipe was gotten off of Food.com, but I had to make some alterations due to the last minute of it, so I'll post those changes along with the original recipe.  And don't be put off my what looks like the long list of ingredients and steps.  It's not the simplest dish, but it's not too complex and it's well worth the effort.

Kushari

(also, there is no picture of this dish because I forgot to get one.  but given that I would not have chosen to eat this meal had I seen it on a buffet or in a potluck line, perhaps the lack of picture is a good thing.  it tastes way better than it looks. the flavors just meld amazingly.)


My alterations in blue.


Ingredients

Rice And Lentils:
2Tbsp olive oil   1 Tbsp
1 1/4 cups lentils   2 cups
3 cups boiling water (or stock)  4 cups veggie stock
1 tsp salt
dash of pepper
1 1/2 cups rice    1 cup brown rice
1 cup boiling water (or stock)  2 cups veggie stock

Sauce:**  
3/4 cup tomato paste
3 cups tomato juice
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup celery leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
 (For the sauce I needed something quick so I just did 1 1/3 jars of Ragu Garlic and onion spaghetti sauce with 1 1/4 tsp cumin and 1/4 tsp cayenne)

Browned Onions:
2 Tbsp oil*   1 Tbsp oil
3 onions, sliced  So good I should have done 4 (or at least 3 BIG onions)
4 cloves garlic, minced   6 cloves

1. In big sauce pot over medium-high heat, brown lentils in oil about 5 minutes, stirring often.
2. Add 1st quantity of boiling stock and salt and pepper.
3.  Cook uncovered on medium heat for 10 minutes
4. Stir in rice and second quantity of boiling stock.
5. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, simmer for 25 minutes w/o stirring. 30-35ish minutes if using brown rice
6.Mean while make sauce.  Heat all ingredients together in medium sauce pan. (or use spaghetti sauce mixture)
7.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes (only 5 minutes of simmering needed if using spaghetti sauce mixture)
8. To make browned onions, heat oil in skillet.  (I used nonstick so I could use less oil)
9. Saute onions and garlic over medium heat till browned.  (took me 15ish minutes)
10.  To serve, put rice mixture on platter, pour tomato sauce over, and top with browned onions.

Some people may turn up their noses at the use of spaghetti sauce instead of the "from scratch" sauce, but let me tell you, when you have a toddler who's awake during dinner prep time, and usually whiny, sometimes you just have to cut corners.  And honestly, I looked at my pasta sauce jar and it contained a lot of the ingredients that would have gone into the "from scratch" sauce anyways, so I figured it couldn't be too off.  Plus it shaved off a chunk of time since I didn't have to cut up the celery or green pepper.

Notes about other alterations:  I cut back on the oil and the recipe still tasted great.  I figured I didn't need 480 calories in the recipe coming JUST from oil, so instead I lopped of 240 of those calories by reducing from 2 Tbsp to 1 Tbsp at each of the places.  Next time I might try skipping the oil coating of the lentils in the beginning, since I don't think it helped prevent mushiness at all.  Also I wanted a bit more protein in this meal than grain, so that's why I upped the lentils and reduced the rice.  Also, I used brown rice which was great. :)

So there you have it.  One ugly looking, but killer tasty dish.  I wish it didn't involve 3 pots going all at once.  It's a little more involved than I generally make now in my post-kid era, but it was so good it will have to be made in spite of the more involved preparations. This is also a pretty cheap, vegan dish given that the main ingredients are rice, lentils, onion, garlic, and tomato paste and sauce (or pasta sauce).  Right up my alley.  And if you are needing to boost your iron intake, a hearty bowl of lentils will help with that.

Happy Tasty Eats!

Dishwasher helper :)

Charlie has taken to helping me empty the dishwasher these days - no not actually all that helpful, but we are training early to be mama's helper, and that is really the important thing.  So he helps me with the silverware.  After I unload the bottom rack, I pull out the little stool and set the silverware caddy on it and let him pull out pieces to hand to me so I can put them in the drawer. :)  It's super cute.  And more than super cute, it's training him early that it's a normal part of life to help out around the house.  I don't want to suddenly spring the idea of chores on my 5 year old.  I want chores to be a part of my kids' everyday lives before they even realize it.  I don't want them to view it as chores (at least in the beginning), I just want them to view it as what they do to help mama. I hope I can accomplish that, or at least the idea that doing "chores" are a normal, expected part of being in a family!

Examining which piece to start with.

"Here's a fork for you, Mama."

"No wait, I don't want you to put that one away yet."

He's the cutest little dishwasher helper I've seen. :)



Any good recommendations for how to include your littlest ones in helping activities and transition in to real chores?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Coloring with Daddy!

We have just recently introduced Charlie to crayons.  He is enthralled!!  Not so much with coloring with them, but with taking them out and then carefully putting them back in the box.  With enough coaxing he will eventually get coloring done on a paper, but not without reminder to do it.  Silly kiddo.... :)  Here he is with Daddy coloring some pictures for his Grandma, Grammy and Nana.  He was a busy colorer that night.

"Let me get them, Daddy!"

Carefully studying the package.

One of the few times he colored instead of examining the box.

Holding the precious box.

Pointing at the precious box.

He was way more upset when we took the box away then when we took his paper away.

I can't believe he's old enough to color.

Seriously cheesin' it.

My favorite boys.  We like color time with Daddy.

It's funny, the vast majority of the pictures I got were of him looking or pointing intently at the crayon box, not coloring.  I told you he was more obsessed with the box and taking the crayons in and out.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hot Pink Breakfast Smoothie

People ask about the Hot Pink Breakfast Smoothie I drink sometimes and are always curious about just how pink it is.  Well here is a pretty accurate picture of just how pink it is.  It's truly VERY pink and VERY tasty.  :)  I love this recipe and could drink it a couple times a week.  My husband on the other hand is not so keen on the beet flavor, so he doesn't drink these.  While I don't care for beets either, I think the smoothie is awesome and the flavors blend nicely!  And as you'll see from the two recipes posted below, you can change how much beet you use.


This smoothie is based off of a delicious recipe from one of Green Smoothie Girl's recipe books (which I will post below), but I've definitely modified it for me.  My recipe goes as such:

1/2-1 medium zucchini, washed
1-2 carrots, washed or peeled, and chopped
1 whole sm/med red beet, scrubbed and chopped
1 apple, washed and chopped
2-3 dates (2 medjool dates or 3 deglet noor dates)
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 Tbsp cashews
enough water to blend 
5 frozen strawberries

Blend all ingredients blender but strawberries (vitamix or blendtec is best, but a regular blender will work)  to a nice smooth texture, add strawberries and finish blending smooth.  Makes 4-6 cups depending on size of veggies/fruit and quantity of water and contains roughly 350 calories.  I drink the whole thing in one meal generally, unless it's a full 6 cups.  Sonny loves this smoothie when I'm generous enough to share. ;-)

This is the original recipe which you can also find in one of her smoothie recipe books if you'd like to purchase a whole bunch of delicious smoothie recipes and other recipes.

1 1/2 cups coconut liquid (best raw, or from a can, both can be found at asian markets)
1 large carrot, cleaned and cut into 3 pieces
1/4 of a medium beet, raw, peeled
1/4 cup of cashews
1/4 cup chopped dates (inexpensive in bulk)
2 tsp. vanilla
12 frozen strawberries

Place all ingredients except strawberries in blendtec for 90 sec.  Add strawberries and puree on high until smooth.  Makes 1 quart, a 450 calorie breakfast that has 4 servings of fruits and vegetables, 15 percent plant protein, and good fats in the cashews. 

So my recipe has slightly less calories and fats if you are strictly watching those things and need a little less.  On the other hand if you are active and can easily work off those calories, they are all good calories, so by all means use more cashews, etc, and go with her recipe.

Also as a side note, beets are great for helping clean out your digestive system and cleaning your colon.  So if you suffer from that horrible C word that no one likes to talk about, adding a daily beet to your diet might be just what you need to help move things along (bleh, bad joke).  But know that one beet is not likely to cure constipation if the rest of your diet is bad, so be sure to consume lots of water and whole, unprocessed fibery foods.

Happy Pink Smoothie-ing!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Someone got a few hairs cut...

Last night Charlie got his first serious hair cut.   I mean more than a trim around the circumference and a few layers put in.  He actually had the clippers taken to his head (and what's more he tolerated it like a champ!).  I didn't want to do it.  As much as I don't like little bowl cuts or mushroom heads on big boys, I think it's ah-DOR-able on little boys.  But alas, my sweaty head little boy needed a real cut.  That boy's head already gets sweaty in 70 degree weather, not to mention the 80, 90 and 100 degree weather we have during the summer.  So off it went and while I've lost the adorable mushroom head cuteness, I think we've gained a seriously cute big boy look. :)





My little mommy heart has been melting all morning looking at his short haircut cuteness. :)

Baby Nathaniel!

We went to visit my long time friend Ros and her new baby the other day.  Charlie was super excited when he realized the "baby Nathaniel" Mama kept talking about was actually a little baby he could poke at and pat. Well, we tried to limit the poking and just do gentle patting, which worked for the most part but I think Nathaniel may have received one whack on the head already.  (Sorry Nathaniel)  Gotta break in play buddies early I guess. ;-)

He was pretty excited about the baby.  Too bad he usually moves too fast  for Mama to catch the smiles on his face.

Grinning at the little baby.

We work hard on talking about when "gentle lovey pats" are appropriate instead of rough and tumble.    For the most part, unless he's having an attitude, he switches into gentle mode when we tell him.  We are so thankful.

But eventually little lumps of babies who need gentle lovey pats get boring and so we must stare up at the ceiling and flop about again. :)
We had a great time visiting with Ros and Nathaniel and can't wait to go back to see them again.  Oh, and yea, Charlie pretty much looks like a giant monster compared to little 6lb Nathaniel.  :-)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Raw Ebooks Giveaway at Kristen's Raw Blog!!

I found another awesome giveaway and its happening over at Kristen's Raw Blog!  She is an amazing raw chef and always has lots of good information to share about living a raw/high raw, super healthy diet!  I love reading her blog, especially posts like this where she teaches you how to make raw nut milk, and this where she teaches you how to make raw nut butters, and this where she uses the raw nut butter to make a FREAKIN' AMAZING dressing that I'm so addicted to right now....still....after weeks and weeks....

But I digress.  She has a series of Ebooks out loaded with raw recipes and high raw transition recipes.  And the giveaway is for a FREE set of ALL 12 of her books - for 3 winners!!  Oh if I thought crossing my fingers would do me any good in winning this giveaway I totally would.  ;-)  It's super simple to enter, so if you are interested in some tasty, raw, super good for you recipes, head on over to her blog and enter!  That's what I'm doing! :)

Oh yea, April 13th (tomorrow!) is the last day to enter, so don't delay!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The real reason I love the new Whole Foods by my house

There are lots of things I'm not a fan of at the new Whole Foods that sprang up right near our house.  Most being a sad lack of certain products in the bulk food aisle I like (like raw cashew pieces and certain herbs/spices to name a few) - my main reason for going to Whole Foods.  But there is one thing about the new store that I L.O.V.E.  You'll laugh when I tell you.

Bulk laundry detergent.

There.  I felt ridiculous just typing it, but seriously I was so psyched when I found that out.  It's not just any detergent (because yes I realize that you can buy huge amounts of laundry detergent at BJ's), it's my beloved Charlie's Soap!  Ha!  Don't you just love the fact that my son and my laundry detergent share the same name!!  I do.  I love using Charlie's soap because it contains three ingredients with no extra fillers and additives.  Because there are no extra fillers, you use all of A TABLESPOON in each load of laundry.  Less if it's a small load. I love that I'm not putting extra, unnecessary things in my wash load to get in my fabrics and onto our skin, and I'm not paying for extra fillers either.  The ~2.5lb bag will do up to 80 wash loads!  And while it's not the cheapest detergent out there, I don't mind paying above "dirt cheap" for it since it's non-toxic, biodegradable, hypo-allergenic, and generally a smart choice for washing baby clothes and cloth diapers.  (Not to mention I think does a bang up job of getting my clothes clean.)  But....

my refilled bags
What I totally love about buying it in bulk is that not only can I refill both of my old Charlie's soap bags that I had from previous purchases (thus saving on new containers), but buying in bulk cuts the price ALMOST IN HALF!  I was totally psyched when I saw the reduced price for bulk purchases!  It made the whole trip to WF's worth it right there.  So I bought about 2 bags worth, came home and refilled these bags right up!  (Yes I did use a brown sack to get the soap home since I didn't anticipate buying it in bulk and bring my empty bags.)

I did notice that the container for purchasing Charlie's Soap (not in bulk) had unfortunately changed to a big plastic jar.  I was at first turned off by the switch from the cute cloth bag to the big plastic jar.  Upon searching their website I found this "New Jars are here! HDPE recycled, recyclable, reusable, even refillable at participating local retailers."   Given that the cute little cloth baggies DID have a plastic bag on the inside (in order to prevent the detergent from drawing damp I suppose), and that refilling a plastic jar has the potential to be less messy and less hassle than refilling plastic bags (that can break and tear), I don't totally hate the package change.  Of course if you already use Charlie's soap and have a cloth bag to refill or don't feel the need to have an "original" Charlie's soap container to store your detergent, by all means head to WF's and put your bulk detergent in a glass jar or reused ziploc bag.  Reusing is always good where possible.


If you're curious about Charlie's Soap, check it out


We like our laundry soap and our kid, Charlie-style.  ;-) 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Whole Foods Splurges # 3 and #4

Cedar's All Natural Roasted Baba Ghannouj

and

Cedar's All Natural Roasted Red Pepper Hommus.

These were the last two flavors of hummus I had tried from my WF's splurge a couple weeks ago (and actually the two I sampled in the store) so I felt pretty confident in my love for them when I opened my containers at home.  Well, sadly, the Baba Ghannouj ('Gah-noosh' - for those of you who aren't familiar with that word and have no idea how to pronounce it) was a disappointment.  I don't know if I was overly enchanted with it in the store or this batch was just slightly different.  I noticed in the ingredients that it contained chickpeas, which I think was partially to blame for my dislike of it.  Call me weird, but I can taste differences in even dried chickpeas (but especially canned v dried) when they are cooked up, and there is a certain flavor that sometimes appears in a bag of chickpeas that is most unpleasant to me.  And that flavor was in the baba ghannouj.  Whatever it was, it was not my cup-o-tea this time.

BUT, the Roasted Red Pepper Hummus did NOT disappoint.  This was was just as delicious from first bite to last.  So good in fact that I went back before the sale went off and picked up two more for a special occasion.  It's so creamy, just a little sweet and lots of flavor.  It made me want to experiment all over again with trying to make a good homemade roasted red pepper hummus.  It was so good and the best out of all 4 flavors that I took a picture of it, just cause it was the winner.  :) (The garlic lover's hummus came in second.)

Annie and Me!

Here's a couple pictures of Annie and Me from last weekend!  Actually I almost didn't remember to get any pictures taken of the two of us, but I'm glad I finally did remember 30 minutes before leaving!! :-O

Me and my goddaughter, Annie. :)

Staring contest?

So she definitely does have some sleeping issues at night.  I was up two nights in a row to vouch for that.  I was reminded of those sleepless nights...Weeks...MONTHS with Charlie and decided that my "I want another baby" mama instincts could wait just a while longer.  :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

First foray into homemade nut butters!

So I've been wanting to get into nut butters for a while because nuts/seeds (more importantly, raw) are a great way to consume your daily fat needs, since they are a good source of omegas, high in nutrients (unlike processed oils) and still contain fiber (again, unlike oils).*  Also, who doesn't love some nut butter?  And they are useful for creating dressings and sauces as well.  I made a great asian peanut sauce the other day to put over brown rice and veggies (even though yes I know peanuts are technically a legume not a nut), and made an even greater salad dressing recently that uses homemade raw cashew butter.  So here are my initial attempts at cashew butter (this was actually my second attempt cause I forgot pictures with the first).

So I took 2 cups of raw cashews - pieces to be exact because they are cheaper than whole raw cashews - and dumped them in my food processor.  I had a rough guideline to go by from this tutorial over on Kristen's Raw blog (which I really enjoy reading).  Basically it involves running the food processor for 5-7 minutes, scraping down sides as needed and adding a bit of oil for better blending if needed. So I turned on the food processor and started processing!  I had to scrape down the sides a lot once it started to get sticky, but I kept going for around 5 minutes and had pretty awesome raw cashew butter in the end.  Here are some pics so you can see the different stages it took.

Cashew meal - just after the cashew pieces became fully ground up.

Starting to get sticky as you can see from the sides.  This is where I started having to scrape down the sides of the bowl in order for it to keep mixing.

This was shortly after I added 2 Tbsp of olive oil to help it continue mixing.  I guess the oils just weren't extruding enough on their own to really get it to finish blending.  So I did 1 Tbsp per cup of cashews.

This was near the 5 minute mark when it finally started to get creamy instead of just sticky (like the above picture). 

And here is the final product!

Some notes:  
-The 2 cups of cashew pieces made around 1.5 cups of butter.  
-I think if my food processor had been higher quality with a stronger motor, I might not have had to add the extra olive oil, since some recipes don't indicate you need to use extra oil.  But 2 Tbsp per 2 cups of nuts doesn't bother me too much.  
-While it was obviously very stiff and sticky, the texture itself was pretty smooth - smooth enough I felt good about feeding it to Charlie (who still has to eat smooth purees due to his dysphagia)
-The butter does become warm after being processed for that long - does that mean it is no longer raw?  Nope.  I checked the temp at the end, which didn't get above 100 degrees, and from what I've read, so long as your food is under 115 degrees it is still considered raw (for all the people who were wanting raw nut butter specifically).

So there is my first attempt a a nut butter!  :)  I'm pretty excited about it actually.  Next on my list will probably be raw almond butter and not-raw peanut butter.

*It is fairly easy to over eat on nuts and nut butters, so while raw nuts and butters are a great way to consume healthy fats (as opposed to more unhealthy fatty foods), don't think you can just eat spoon after spoon of nut butter with no consequences - especially if you are trying to lose weight!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Stylin'

This isn't exactly the most fabulous picture, but I think he's so cute in his little button shirt, boot cut jeans and brown shoes.  He must have been rockin' this look on a Sunday evening around church time in a disposable or something because usually this kid is in sweat pants and sweat shirts.  Not because I don't like fabulously cute, stylish clothes, and not because I love me some bummy looking sweat pants either.  Mostly it's because stretchy, elastic waisted knit pants are the most conducive to cloth diapering.  Cloth diaper bums can get a little large and a lot of regular adult-ish looking clothes that are more stylish are just not suited to cloth.  In fact most kids clothes are not inherently suited for cloth diapers anymore, barring just going up a size.  Everything is geared for the smaller disposable diapered heinys.  But sweat pants, knit pants, fleece pants, etc all work nicely to go over a bigger bum, but still fit snug at the waist.   Hence my child looks nice and comfy and bummy all the time instead of stylin'.  But not this day.  This day he was rockin' the jeans....and the handsome.


Happily slurping his nutmilk.

Friday, April 1, 2011

First Annie Watch

I'm at my buddy Erin's house for the weekend helping them out with their 4 week old Annie.  Annie is also my goddaughter and has silky dark brown hair and a vaguely disapproving look of most everyone, most of the time.  :)  What a sweetie.  Apparently she's rather nocturnal as well though, so I'm on the first "Annie watch" of the evening.  So far things are good, but she's due for a feeding soon (10:15pm) and then after that feeding apparently it's anyone's guess as to whether she'll be asleep or not.