Monday, June 30, 2008

Carrie's Angels!

I just couldn't help myself, they got into this pose all by themselves! Which one is Farrah? My dear sweet little girl spent her birthday money on these big beasts of water guns. She bought herself and each of her brothers one of these! Needless to say, I am staying inside and admiring my little Marines from the other side of the window! It is really nice to have them outside and running around. Hearing them laugh is very comforting, and it's especially nice that they are not whining that they are bored, Already?! School has only been out a few days, not even a full week and already they are complaining that they are bored! What's a Mom to do? It brought me back to the days when we used to play outside, although, I never wanted to come in, we played a tag/hide-n-seek game called Ringaleveo(not sure if I spelled that right) most summer nights. I always had to go in early and my friends were always sitting on the fence talking to me through the window(sorry Mom) and I always wished I could stay outside just a little longer. Street Hockey, Stick ball, and even Planet of The Apes, we were always busy. Today it seems I have to force and coerce my children to breath in any kind of fresh air, and two of the three would rather read a book than go out and play! What's up with that? They must be chips off the old blocks! I am hopeful that the arsenal will keep them busy and happy for at least a few days! So what are your kids doing for creative fun this summer??

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Tonight I made the most delicious Pasta, oh yummy~ It was from The Classic Zucchini Cookbook. Zucchini with Fettuccine, and it was good. First I quartered and diced 2 zucchini and then 2 summer squash. Sauteed them in butter and added garlic(and lots of it) then I added in 3 diced and seeded Roma tomatoes, parsley, and basil. Plus it called for stock so I got out my yummy Magic Mineral Broth, again! and added that in. Tossed it with some whole grain linguine(store didn't have whole grain fettuccine) and then sprinkled on fresh grated Parmesan. We ate it with a green salad and it sure was good! It was very fresh and light in comparison to some pastas sauces I have eaten.

Holy Corn!

Oh my, I just have to share this! Last night we watched a movie called King Corn. Wow.. where to start? This movie exposed the facts about farming, government, and my favorite thing to avoid Corn Syrup! It started out with the two young men filming the documentary renting an acre of land to grow corn. They took us through the process of growing, to where it goes after harvest. What an eye opening experience, stuff we all know, but most of the time close our eyes to. We grow more inedible corn in our country than anything else. How sad is that?
Then they took us to the Beef farms where they stuff the cattle with their unnatural food(corn feed), until sick, saying 'good thing they fatten up quick, cause they are going to die soon anyway' I have to say, that spun me up real quick. When we 'know' something it is definitely different then seeing it first hand, and they certainly showed the reality of the situation. There was a cow stuck in this contraption so that he can't move, and a hole(yes a hole) cut into his side so that the beef farmer can reach inside the gut and see how 'things are digesting' yikes! I wont go into any more detail.
How about the farmer family that said that they don't even eat the corn they grow, because it's not edible! Their attitude was, I don't care where the corn goes, it's my living! The farming program is set up that farmers can't support themselves without growing this genetically modified corn. Too bad we can't eat most of this corn. There is nothing more that I love then some good tasty sweet corn. The men making the documentary spit their own corn out, one saying that it 'tasted like chalk'.
Please check out the website for additional information here:
All I have to say is that, it makes me more determined to buy the most local produce, and organic whenever possible. I encourage everyone to take a vested interest in your own health, be aware of what you are eating and putting into your body. If you don't know what it is, find out, or avoid it! Read the entire label, check out the ingredients, not just how many calories per serving. Be an informed consumer, suply and demand, perhaps we can get more healthy options into our supermarkets. Be Well, Be healthy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bragging Rights!!!

Yesterday Morning the middle school had it's 6-7 Grade Awards. We had gotten a letter that our son would be receiving an award, however, we did not know what for. We never told Zach that we even got the letter, that Dad took the day off from work, or even that we were coming! Even as Zach walked right passed us coming into the auditorium, he did not see us. The night before, he said to us, "all we really are doing tomorrow is the awards ceremony.""Oh really", I told him. "Do you think we should come?" He quickly got defensive and said it was too late to find out if parents can come to the ceremony. Little did he know. We were pleasantly surprised and so excited for him, to not only receive 1 award, but 4. First he got the perfect attendance award. Then came a scholarship award for his 94 average for the year! Wow... that wasn't enough, he got a science award for achievement, then an award and medal for continental Mathematics league(I don't know if this is something we are supposed to know about or not).

With the school year starting off with living 45 minutes away, and getting up very early to drive to school, plus just moving across country, I must say we are beyond proud of Zach and his accomplishments! Great Job Zach!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Saying Good-bye to S.A.D.

Why the typo you ask? No typo, however pun intended. See this girl on the left, well that was me. yup... me! Notice I said WAS because I am no longer that sad girl on S.A.D. What is S.A.D. well it's the standard American diet. Humm... you know the one. Golden Arches and toys for the kids, cheese in the crust, ingredients you can't pronounce let know what they are, from the box, in the freezer, You mean french fries used to be potatoes? Wow. So if you see, this is where I say pun intended, because the smile is really just a farce of a scared and insecure woman, and certainly not indicative of a happy person. After years of hard work, exercise and eating healthy foods(you know the ones, the kind you pull right off the plants) Not only have I said good-bye to S.A.D. but I have also said good-bye to being sad! I have found for me that there is such a correlation to, caffeine, sugar, processed foods and depression, cravings and generally feeling tired, bloated and miserable. After several years of giving up fast food, refined food, boxed food and focusing on healthy homemade foods, I have to say that I am thrilled to say a big adios to the diet that has taken over America. I have a choice, if I want health and inner peace, if I want to be energetic, or tired, if I want to sleep well, be well and have a generally balanced life. I have given up instant gratification from food, for a deep and nourishing peace. For the energy to actually walk to the park with my children, even though I had gone for a long hard run that morning. I enjoy making my food,creating nourishing meals, and sitting at the table with my family to enjoy the blessing of health and share about our day. Food is fuel, so I finally realize that sometimes you get what your pay for. Sure organic locally grown food may be a little more costly, but I care to think about it like this. How many co pays am I going to save, because I am healthy and not going to the doctors, humm... how much does it cost for a week long vacation in the hospital after triple bi pass surgery? Missing work, and missing the biggest blessing in life being with my family... So I have to ask. Next time you pull up the the clown face with a speaker box, ask yourself, where do you really want to be in your life? How would you like your body to feel? Would you like more energy? How about not saying you hate to exercise because inside you know you can't do it? So I challenge you, to make one good choice for yourself, getting away from the S.A.D. and slow down enough to enjoy life and what it has to offer. I would love to hear about your choices and share in mine. I am always up for new recipes and new things to do to improve health. The Lady on the right, that's me too.. and my daughter. It's proof that healthy choices, exercise and positive attitude go a long way to a good life. For today I am going to pick, slowing down and enjoying each moment. No more S.A.D. for me.....or being sad!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

World's Healthiest Foods, Book Review

Where to start with this book, I guess right at the begining, the cover in this large book(almost 900 pages) George Mateljan has beautiful close up photos of whole foods, the colors are great and it definitely makes me ask myself "What's for Dinner?".
George writes a note about "the healthiest way of eating" and the how and why he chose the foods he did. The nutritional value, availability, taste and so on of each food. He continues to inform the reader(in this case me!) about how to choose, prepare and even cook these foods, including photos, which can be a great help when trying something new. He covers his 'healthiest way of eating'. Writing of eating, whole, natural foods, in season and preferably organic whenever possible. There is a meal plan for those that have difficulty planning, and in my own opinion, when I plan for meals I eat healthier and feel better. The book includes clear understandable descriptions of each food, it's nutritional values are charted, he tells you when the food is in season. The book is colorful and written for anyone, not just the nutritional professional. George stresses the importance of not overcooking your foods, discus's his best recommended methods for each food. This book does not only cover vegetables and fruits, but also covers, meats, fish, and herbs & spices, and whole grains. He does note that we shouldn't only eat the foods in this book, that there are many other foods that we can and should eat; however, I can not imagine how large this book would be if all whole foods were covered in the amount of detail here. He answers questions, and his information is clearly referenced and obviously researched.
In the last section he covers nutrients, What they are, what they do and which foods have them. The information is thorough and laid out in a manner that the reader can understand and follow.
Overall, this is a great and informative book. I have enjoyed the reading and know that every time I pick it up there will be something new I can bring into my kitchen and health.
You can see this book on his website World's Healthiest Foods, and read more articles, information beyond what is in the book.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Crafty and Eco-Friendly

Bye Bye, little plastic bags at the grocery store and farmers markets(yeah it's summer time!), a new guy has moved in to replace you. It's the reusable produce bag! I did something crafty and useful. It's amazing that I did it with a sewing machine and it is actually fairly straight. This crafty little bag was made from tulle and double fold bias tape. I must say that it was a little tough to get the bias tape pinned on at first, but once I got going I just pinned away. The sewing part was actually fairly easy in comparison. I am not to good with patterns(or recipes) I always tend to add my own touch. I had some directions, but they were a bit hard to follow so all I really did was look at the one a friend had made and copied it. The tutorial that she used is no longer online which is too bad, or I would link you all too it. I for one am really happy to rid myself of those little bags, because of the many times the bags have torn and I had to waste another bag just to get my veggies home in one piece. Plus, there is nothing more embarrassing then having your produce rolling all over the place which has happened to me more than once!
I have plans to make several more in various sizes. The one shown here is really big even in my produce world. It will be great for corn on the cob and other large produce. So today, the Earth has something else to smile about and me, I get to take a break and do something relaxing. Plus no little plastic baggies to throw away! Appears to me that everyone wins!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Is It Stone Soup?

No, It's Magic Mineral Broth! Almost The same perhaps. You can get the recipe here at One Bite at a Time.

These beautiful organic vegetables were the basis of this magical broth. After searching at three stores I gave up on finding Kombu(a dried sea vegetable) and went on to make the broth without it. After washing and chopping up the veggies which was easy because you do not peel a thing, just toss it in all the pot, even the onions and garlic! I covered the veggies with water and turned on the stove to start boiling. After it started boiling, it was to simmer all day. The house started to smell pretty good, mostly of celery, I must add. As each one of my family members came through the door they asked why does the house smell like celery, what are you cooking? Well I must say that it was very good broth, but honestly all I could think about was how I would really love to have some of my Mom's delicious Matzo Balls floating in there! This broth is full of vitamins and minerals and would definitely be a great thing to make when your whole house is suffering from a cold. I have the last bit in a mug that I am sipping like tea, I am drinking my vitamins!

The experience shopping for the ingredients was also interesting, on store's produce manager sent me off saying, "I don't know what it is and we don't have it", second store I couldn't even get help in. The third produce manager read the recipe(which I brought with me to make sure I had all the ingredients) looked up Kombu, walked all over the store with me trying to find it, and asked me to come back and tell him how the broth came out. Guess where I will go back to next time?

It would be great to cook rice in, saute vegetables, make a base for stir fry and so forth. There was so much that I filled all the jars a friend gave me, and then all the jars and containers I could muster from my own house. Marvelous! I will have this around for a long time. Next time I make it I will use, a bit more salt and more garlic. Otherwise, definitely a great staple to add to the kitchen!

I did try to tell my kids it was stone soup... they didn't believe me that it was until I was ladeling (is that a word?) it into jars. I showed my daughter the allspice berries in the bottom, her eyes got so big and she said, "it is Stone soup." I said, "well actually it's magic mineral broth." "It's kind of the same", and she asked "can we read the book?"

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rockets Red Glare!

Today was rocket launching day. Zachary has been working on this rocket for a least a month. It's a project for school, in an advanced learners class. The rockets were not built from kits. They were built from paper, no cones, formed and shaped by the kids and glued how they wanted it. Here is Zach with his rocket before his launch. Below is Zach at the launch of his rocket. It was just taking off and boy did it take off. It flew so high and fast that I could barely even see it it go. In the photo below you can see the 'stream' of smoke trailing behind the rocket, that's about all you can see. I am no judge of distance, however these home made gems were flying all over the place. In this next photo below Zach is REALLY proud that his rocket was found(after some searching) and was completely in tact! It flew WAY over the field into the adjacent industrial park and he found it between some trucks in the lot! I am sorry to say that the egg that was placed inside the nosecone was cracked and didn't survive the fall. Good news it wasn't a complete mess just cracked. It was amazing to see the creative work of all the kids. The girls, some had some high flying rockets. Others, had bling galore. Sparkles and all. A few of the rockets came apart, smoking all over and others landed in a blaze that we vowed to make sure that this project had fire extinguishers next year. Overall it was a fun time, to celebrate the hard work of the kids, impressive for a bunch of 12 yr olds for sure.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

More Herbs!

Baby Basil has a new friend, his name is Stevia! (Thanks Jenny) Two weeks ago, my friend brought me a stevia plant. I was pretty excited as the day before we were just chatting about health, herbs, and especially sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Next day, she surprised me with this lovely little plant. I must admit that I was terrified that I would kill it. So I talked to this little plant that I have only known as the expensive little drops that I put in my tea on a cold winter day. I also re potted it and I can't believe how much it has grown in just two weeks. It's getting really tall and lots of new leaves are coming out! I really don't know how to 'harvest' it yet. I have to do some more reading up on when and how to dry it and such. I just love the fact that it is growing, and I haven't killed it. Maybe I just had to grow up before I could have my Mom's green thumb! Have I really grown up? Hummm......

First Day of School

Wow, Really describes it! Last night was my orientation, done in a webinar format. It was very informative, and gave me insight as to how I will proceed through my program. The program of study that I am taking is an MS in Holistic Nutrition. So today, I get my first module of course work and start reading the syllabus. I started reading a few articles and I feel like I have already earned a degree. I can't believe the amount of detailed information I have already read and learned just today! I am even more impressed with the school and excited to get moving along. I have a LOT of reading to do, followed by practicals, a test, and oral review with my instructor. It's all very exciting to me as I am a sponge just absorbing information right now.(if you recall #5 Alive, From the movie Short Circuit)

Baby Basil Gets A New Home!

I just wanted share an update on baby basil... I have repotted baby basil into a new more spacious home! Baby basil is SO happy, as I am to grow my first organic herbs right from seeds. They seem to be adapting well the the new surroundings, which makes me happy. It's so incredible to watch life grow from seeds, this is the first time that I have actually grown anyplants from seeds. Previously, I have always bought smalls plants and repotted. This is so very exciting to me. Next we are going to get raspberry bushes and plant then all the way across our fence to help cover a very steep hill and of course to have yummy raspberries without pesticides!

Monday, June 9, 2008

School Days

I had lots of time to think this morning as I went out for a 3 mile run.(really a jog as I am pretty slow) Running is very meditative for me, it gives me a time to think without too much interruption, except for a few cars passing by. I have been so busy these last few weeks, with field days at school, end of year concerts, breakfasts, field trips and so on that it was fabulous to just get out, and spend some time with myself. Seems ironic that as everyone is finishing up school, and getting ready for summer, I am actually starting school tonight. Yes me, I am going back to school. What is an almost 40 yr old Mom doing going back to school? Well I am embarking on a new journey, part of my own journey to wellness and partly because I have a strong desire to help others as well. You see 4 years ago I went through a major transformation in my life, losing over 100lbs(NO pills, NO surgery involved) Ever since then, I have been asked over and over how did I do it? What did you do? Through this I realized that I have the ability to really give back, help people out, and to take the experience and put the education behind it, would be a great combination. So tonight I have orientation to begin my MS in Holistic Nutrition at Hawthorn University. I am excited to embark on this new journey as the more I know, the more I grow. Then the more I can give back. It is amazing how much I have learned on my own, however, I know that there is just so much more that I can learn. There is always more, be it formal education or just getting out there and reading and experiencing life. So here I go, embarking on a new journey, wish me luck and get ready to read. I am sure that there will be so much more I will have to say(type) when I get going with my first classes.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Earth Friendly

It seems that yesterday(or should I say early this am) I got on a roll leaving a comment on Permission to Mother's blog! Humm.. need I say that I should probably reserve my typing diarrhea to times when I haven't been at the drive in till 1am! That's another story. Earth however, is another story and one that I could probably go on about indefinitely. Mostly my opinion however, it's my blog right? The place where I can go on about my thoughts to just about anyone that is willing to listen. Thinking out loud perhaps? Some days it seems hard to use the term 'Eco-friendly' seems it is the 'new black', the PC thing to do. Well, I have also been taking steps to do the right thing for many years. Before it was the right thing to do, and although the t-shirt's and PJ's are just so adorable, I don't do it because I want your approval, recognition, or any other people pleasing thing. I do it because Earth(the only one we got) is where I live, home to me and billions of other creatures and if we don't take care of it, it wont be here for generations to come. The problem with most things is that we humans are too smart for our own good. We are creating some great technology. We have made so many things so easy for ourselves that we are poisoning ourselves and running ourselves ragged trying to fix it. Can you imagine walking down to the nearest river with your potato sack of dirty clothes and your soap root, scrubbing them out then walking home to hang them on the line? Then going out to pull weeds, hand turn the dirt, plant the seeds, nurture them and appreciate your food on the table(that you slaved all spring and summer to prepare because the grocery store isn't a mile away. Hey if we did these things, guess what? We wouldn't have to spend extra money on a gym membership, to ask how in the world to get our bodies into shape. This could be a another post or two or one hundred. Stay tuned. I love fitness. Where am I going with this. Well back to Earth. We live here, every thing I do effects others in some way. If I smile and wave at my neighbor it may help them get through a rough day. They may smile at the next person. On the opposite note. What we do has a tumbling effect on how the day progress' sort of like the old wella commercial 'and they told two friends, and so on'. I remember the first time that I went to the grocery store with my canvas bags, I got a less than 'happy' reception from the cashier! How frustrating was that? A few more times, I still did it. Determined that I was going to rid of the mounds of plastic that was filling under my sink, at such a rapid rate that I could barely tell that I had plumbing down there. Today there is barely a plastic bag in my house. What else, my kids have reusable lunch boxes, no plastic bags, no little containers of juice, pudding, little bags of colored fish and garbage galore. You can check out my favorite lunch boxes here (no affiliation just a very happy customer) We have been using them for two years so no need to replace them either. I buy whatever I can in recycled, and recyclable containers, if at all. The best bet is to stay completely away from processed foods(I assure you their will be much more about that to come). Store your foods at home in reusable containers and leave the plastic bags at the grocery store, one time use bags, and foods may make it easier at the moment, however, in the long run the environmental effects are lasting. Have you ever actually gone to a landfill and looked what's there? Last August we moved here, from WA. What a difference in NY, the garbage collectors will take anything. The neighbors across the street were moving, and instead of donating stuff they didn't want or use, they just put it on the curb. How sad is that. They did this for about 4 weeks before it ended. Then when the snow finally melted away, I went out for my morning class at the gym(yup top of the line washing machine here) and the sides of the road looked like a neighborhood yard sale. I counted 8 couches, yup 8. I thought about calling the news, but figured that if there wasn't a none breathing body on one, they probably wouldn't care. So I mourned in my own little way thinking about how many families would have been able to sit on a couch instead of the floor. Today that stuff is probably still in a landfill and when my grandchildren are getting married and having children those couches(and my plastic bags of years ago) will still be in the landfill. YIKES! So think about what you can do? Can you use rechargeable batteries? Canvas bags at the stores(I use them everywhere, not just the grocery store). Can you push a reel mower instead of a gas one. What can we donate, or re purpose instead of just toss out. You would be amazed what people would want. A few years ago, I had two enormous bean bag chairs they were tearing beyond repair, I put a note on my local freecycle and low and behold some anxious sewer was happy to pick them up immediately! She made teddy bears! Great! I have to live to respect and love the world around me, I do what I can to help keep the earth, so please don't criticize me for what I don't do. Appreciate what I do, and what you do. I think about what and how I am doing things. Each day I learn more and more about life and living each day to it's fullest. Now I have some plants to water, and my baby basil is asking for a new and roomier home! Ask yourself today, what can I do to make today better and the future brighter?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Yummy Smoothie Recipe

I love this smoothie recipe. I got it from a friend that found it on a message board, maybe South Beach (I don't believe in 'diet' plans but the recipe is really good!) I make lots of substitutions and it is always yummy! I generally use all natural peanut butter, creamy too. I personally like cottage cheese better in this recipe, I think it makes it smoother. I also substitute vanilla extract instead of almond, now to find a sugar free one! I think I need to have to go and see if I have the ingredients so that I can make one right now! Oh, I like to double it so I can share with the kids!

Peanut Butter/Chocolate Smoothie 2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter (without added salt or sugar) 1/2 cup nonfat or part skim ricotta cheese/cottage cheese 1/2 cup milk of choice(original recipe called for water) non sweetened cocoa to taste about 1-2 TBS Sugar substitute equivalent to 2 teaspoons sugar 1/2 teaspoon almond extract 1 cup ice cubes Place all ingredients except ice in a blender and blend for 20 to 30 seconds, until smooth. Add the ice cubes and blend for 20 to 30 seconds more, until thick.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Life at My House!

So these are my kiddos. Zach is 12, Ariana is (almost)8, and Nikolas is 6. As you can see things are never dull at home or anywhere we take the kids. Personality runs rampant here! I took this photo in November to send out holiday cards, it took forever to get one for the actual cards, as I did not send the one above! I bet you can guess why it took forever! We are so busy getting ready for the end of the school year and figuring out what we are going to do in the summer. We are so blessed to have a wonderful park nearby that we can walk to. I am certain that we will spent lots of time there! We also have 4 cats, so sorry I can't imagine getting them all in one photo, that would be beyond exhausting! It's amazing that we have been here for 10 months now. Some days it seems like we have been here forever, and some like we just got here. In a few weeks we have accomplished a whole school year here! It's been a great one too. Zach started middle school this year. He is involved in fencing and archery. What a combination. Sometimes I think he was born in the wrong era, or perhaps an old sole from medieval times maybe so. Ariana is my princess. She knows it, she's 8 going on 80! She is loving school and has become a prize speller. Do I see a spelling be in her future? She has been involved in Brownies this year, it's her 3rd year, however; this was her first with her new troop. She is a social butterfly and seems to always have a party or somewhere to go. She'll try just about anything once. Her smile is contageous. Nikolas, last but certainly not least. He will let himself be known, not matter what. His presence does not go unnoticed! He started Kindergarten this year. His teacher was fabulous and I am sure that he is going to miss her next year. Thank goodness he will still see her around next year. He is reading up a storm! There is no more spelling things out anymore. All the kids can spell. We have to come up with some new tricks and codes! Anyone know any? I feel very blessed to have such energetic children(most days) and equally blessed to have them so busy with eachother when I just need to rest!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Adventures in Juicing

In yesterdays mail came a new book The Juicing Bible by Pat Crocker and Susan Eagles. I have been considering getting a juicer for some months, but have yet to get one.(just not sure what to get, or how much I want to spend on it) So in comes the book. Interesting information. She says that you can just use a standard blender or food processor for more than half of the recipes in her book, just have to do more cutting. The book states drinking the added pulp also has added nutritional value, Oh I can certainly agree. So perhaps before purchasing a juicer, I will get out the old blender and see what happens. I have been considering a weekend of juice cleansing, perhaps I will try out my blender and see what happens today. Maybe I will be making lots of juice this weekend. My kids will love me as I stay away from juice as it is so high in sugar, my luck they wont like the 'good stuff' we will see. I did get them to eat some strange wild hybrid cauliflower yesterday, and said it was yummy.(it was purple, so of course I had to try it) Anyone else juice? Have a juicer, vitamix? Favorite recipes? I will of course let you know how it goes.....

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

My New Babies

! It's Basil!! Aren't they so cute!! This is my first time growing them from seeds. They are not even a week yet. Soon they are going outside on the deck in the big pots. Is it awful of me to be counting the days until I can pulverize them in the blender and turn them into pesto?!!!!
My sister has been encouraging me to finally start blogging all this stuff that I have been doing. It's been really fun to watch these seed grow. The kids come home each day really excited to see how they are doing and give them a little drink with the spray bottle.