I’m really loving Pinterest lately. I have noticed a wee dribble of traffic coming from there, but I actually get addicted to pinning and looking at what everyone else has pinned. Want to plan a meal? Go to Pinterest and see what looks yummy, click and ‘voila!” you have a new recipe! Need inspiration for a decorating makeover? There are SOOOO many great ideas to use. Don’t forget to check out the post on my last Pinterest find here. Continue reading
I have been pinning things to Pinterest for some time now. I notice something interesting, crafty, eye-catching or inspiring and with a quick flick of a key, it’s pinned to my boards like magic!
One of my most re-pinned pins is this:
It is exactly how I’d like my mantle to look but I still haven’t got around to doing it yet. Continue reading
This morning has been quite fun. I had my tush kicked in a game of Stratego with Button who definitely had the upper hand being that it was my first time. I thought I had laid out all my players in a strategic order and hidden my flag well. Nope! Button scooted around every bomb I’d placed, managed to scoop up my spy, and take all my high numbered men within about five minutes. Luckily, I’m a quick learner and now have my own set of plans for the next game! I did not miss the irony that my American kid beat his English mommy on this historic day 🙂
Yesterday the Fourth of July festivities began. We had the first party and Peanut’s first Friendship League game. Naturally both occurred at the same time so we decided to divide and conquer: Daddy and Peanut went to game first them party; Nana, Button, and myself went to the party from the beginning.
Today we were invited to two parties and decided which one to attend based on the fact we had just spent a lot of time with one group of friends and felt we should see the other group. Thankfully, all my friends are very easy going and there are no hard feelings. (We are also going camping with the group we are not seeing so we have plenty together time soon.)
Naturally I needed to prepare dishes for the parties. The weather is hot and I really didn’t feel like my usual heavy sides of Stilton and creme fraise mashed potatoes, or roasted carrots and parsnips. Instead I opted for lighter faire.
My first dish was Greek Spinach-Pasta Salad with Feta and Beans. For this I used the following:
I can of great Northern Beans
Dried tomatoes (I like Sundried)
Lemon for lemon peel and lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh lemon thyme or thyme
Kosher salt or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Dried farfalle pasta (I used the gluten free organic type but not my usual whole grain as I was not sure many people would go for it…my kids remarked at how pale the pasta was and turned their noses up at it!!!)
Shaved Parmesan cheese
In a large serving bowl I combined 5-6 ounces of spinach, 15 ounces beans, 4 ounces of the Feta cheese, 1/4 cup of the dried tomatoes (not oil packed), 2 chopped green onions, 2 minced cloves of garlic, 1 tsp of finely shredded lemon peel, 2 tbsp of the lemon juice and oil, 1 tbsp of oregano or thyme, followed by a pinch of salt and pepper. Once all ingredients were added and stirred in, they were covered and left to stand for just over two hours at room temperature.
Once it was almost time to leave for the party, I cooked the pasta until it was al dente (about 7 minutes), then drained reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. I then tossed the cooked pasta and pasta water with spinach salad mixture. Shaved Parmesan cheese topped the dish and the results were delicious.
For the second party, later today, I will make a delicious Three Bean Salad
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans
1 15-ounce can chickpeas
1 15-ounce can kidney beans
2 celery stalks
1/2 red onion
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
After draining and rinsing the beans, I will combine them all in a large bowel and add the chopped celery, onion, parsley, and rosemary. I like to make these really finely chopped as my kids prefer the texture.
I will then whisk together the lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowel. I’ll drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and toss. This dish is best served at room temperature.
Such easy dishee which taste delicious. The kids can help too. Happy Fourth of July everyone!
The first week of summer vacation has gone by quickly. We had no schedule but managed to get to the pool several times, eat at new and fun places along the coast, meet up with friends for some ‘girlie time’, and have a date with my hubby! I say we have done pretty well so far.
I was evaluating activities for the boys. I don’t want then to rely on me to schedule their every move and we have had a couple of moments where I have had to enforce the “Go out to play on your own without having to have Mommy or Daddy create interesting learning moments that will enrich your lives forever and create amazing citizens and future Steve Jobs for the world“….you know what I mean.
I noticed just how much we engage in growing, creating or experimenting. Almost all the most recent ‘projects’ are based on watching and growing. Take for instance this:
While the lumps of plastic may look like a grand old waste of time, they are actually tubes ready for eruptions of soda as we create geysers with Mentos mints. The boys are very excited to do the project and I feel bad (for the first time ever) that I don’t have soda in the house. Once I finally remember to pick some up (soda is never on our shopping list), we will have orange red, brown and green sticky liquids erupting all over! Best use of soda in my opinion. Check here for my alternatives on the stuff my kids drink. I’ll post on the actual event when it happens 🙂
Button has added to his collection of pets again. In addition to his nine fish, who are doing very well indeed despite our completely novice skills with a moderately high maintenance tank, he now has five caterpillars. He sent off for them as we have a butterfly garden net thingy (no idea what it is really called) where one can watch the life-cycle of a butterfly. So far we have 5 rather fat caterpillars and we watch, wait and journal about their metamorphosis into the beautiful creatures we will release as soon as they become said beauties.
Finally, Nana is over from England for the next few weeks and she has treated the boys to a very cool gift…
The boys are going to grow their own Venus Fly traps from scratch! I’m delighted because they seen pretty hardy plants (I do NOT have a green thumb) and the directions are so child friendly, the terrarium was set up without any help from me…I love fostering independence.
So we are all set for summer observations! Those journals are going to be filled with so much information. So far, no one has complained about not having anything to write each day. I’m a happy mommy and the boys are happily engaged. But right now, we’re off to the pool for some outdoor fun!
Healthy Working Mom
- Whole Grain Belly Blasters
In my continuing quest to get the belly fat down, it is working by the way, I continually strive to ensure I also maintain a well-balanced diet. Studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have shown that people … Continue reading →
- Summer Food List
One of the first things I like to do before spending a fortune on food shopping is take inventory of what I already have. Being that it is the first week of summer vacation, I actually have a lot of … Continue reading →
- Summer is Finally Here!
I have to be honest, summer came very quickly for this teacher. I am not saying that I am not ready for it, far from that, I’m exhausted from a very challenging school year. The year, however, really did fly … Continue reading →
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In my continuing quest to get the belly fat down, it is working by the way, I continually strive to ensure I also maintain a well-balanced diet. Studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have shown that people who followed a weight loss program incorporating whole-grain breads, cereals, and other foods lost more body fat from the troubling mid-drift than those who ate only refined grains like white bread and rice. The study also showed that those who ate whole-grains had more protection against heart disease.
While a diet of either whole grains or more processed foods can lead to weight loss, sticking with whole grains does significantly increase the amount of body fat lost. This is important when one considers weight loss is more about health than looks. Yes, I really do want to drop a dress size, but I want to be able to play with my kids and watch them go through life much more!
Sources of Whole Grain
Bulgur (cracked wheat)
Look for these ingredients at the top of an ingredient list when buying foods:
Foods labeled with the words “multi-grain,” “stone-ground,” “100% wheat,” “cracked wheat,” “seven-grain,” or “bran” are usually not whole-grain products.
A really great, and often overlooked whole grain is barley. Packed with beta-gluten, barley is great at cutting down our bad LDL cholesterol and helps to maintain a good blood pressure. Barley makes you feel full…read need to eat less! And this wonderful food also controls blood sugar and helps fight diabetes. I tend to get a lot of my barley intake from tabbouleh or couscous.
1 cup pearl barley
5 cups fat-free vegetables or 5 cups chicken broth or 5 cups water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (to taste)
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 cup vine-ripened tomato, diced
1 cup cucumber, skin on, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 medium onion, minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
salt and pepper
1. Combine barley and broth in a large saucepan. Set pain over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook 45 minutes, until barley is tender.
2. Drain any excess water and transfer barley to a large bowl. Add lemon juice, olive oil, and oregano. Toss to combine. Add vegetables and parsley; toss again. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm or chilled.
One of the first things I like to do before spending a fortune on food shopping is take inventory of what I already have. Being that it is the first week of summer vacation, I actually have a lot of items in the freezer and dry goods stocked to go. My list generally contains foods that do not last or that we just go through each week. Here is an overview of what I consider things I need for the week:
• Vanilla soy milk
• Cashew butter
• Infant rice cereal
I am not going to wait until Friday for one of the best Farmer’s Markets to roll around, but I am going to visit and stock up once it is here. Until then, I go to a smaller supermarket with unreasonable prices for fresh, locally grown organic produce.
• Sweet potatoes
• Green beans
Snacks to go are always useful:
Not all of these will be bought in one day. I prefer to buy the day I am cooking them. The chicken for roasting may seen a little wintery, but I can assure you, roast chicken is delicious with salad and in sandwiches, and I love the soup too much to give it up in the heat!
• Flank steak
• Chicken for roasting
The kids get a treat with some sugary garbage…once in a while and I may as well confess it here 🙂
• Frosted Flakes
Nothing but organic and always devoured rather quickly:
• Pancake mix – lazy I know but I’m a realist! Check out this amazing recipe, though, at One Food Guy
• Cream cheese
Most of the fruit and veg will be eaten raw, in shakes, and grilled. Some may be pureed into tomato sauce so I sneak extra into the kids. All of it will be eaten by the end of the week.
My kids are big on desserts, getting that from their daddy not me, and I try to make the summer months really about fun foods that are still nutritious. The BellyFULL pops mentioned above are a perfect snack or dessert but I also make frozen yogurt pie. I crunch up graham crackers into a dish and spoon frozen yogurt into the bits, top with fresh strawberries or raspberries, then freeze. I will add a scoop of ice-cream if no other junk has been eaten that day.
I also have a battle with soda. I won’t buy it for the boys but hubby drinks it constantly. I cannot persuade him to stop despite my “lead by example” protestations. I am opting for more healthy alternatives such as mixing 100 percent juice with seltzer or adding real fruit to plain old water or tonic. When it’s really hot, I have the kids make fruit cubes – basically water frozen with fruit inside.
So now I just have to plan out our schedule – I keep procrastinating about that, so I can plan out meals. Baseball is getting in the way a little as I still don’t know when the practices and games are going to be held….that’s it…I can blame the coach for a whole week of unplanned meals 🙂
I have to be honest, summer came very quickly for this teacher. I am not saying that I am not ready for it, far from that, I’m exhausted from a very challenging school year. The year, however, really did fly by. I would say this was the most demanding year ever but also the quickest. Strange huh?
Anyway, school is over, and I am about to settle into the summer routine. Usually I am ready for this well in advance; planning summer menus, daily routines and activities for each family member. This year, as past posts (or lack thereof) have indicated, I have been a little busy. I am NOT in any way ready for summer, routines, menus, activities, or general time off with the family. I really feel like a fish out of water!
As I am becoming increasingly accepting of my recent fall from “organized” to “winging it”, I spent the first weekend of the summer vacation cleaning out my bedroom, reorganizing closets, organizing my jewelry (what a mess that was), drawers, and getting my laundry schedule going. I am very happy to have enough time each day to be able to wash, dry and put away clothes. The school year often consists of three-hour folding and putting away sessions on a Sunday afternoon…not fun!
I did get Button to the pool (Peanut was with a friend), and we swam together to get some exercise. Naturally, Button only wanted to play, so I had to mastermind some games involving multiple laps in order for him to feel Mommy was playing, not exercising with him. I think we spent most of the three hours there actually swimming. Chase, flipper races, Who Can go Furthest Underwater? and dive races all helped.
I devoted the next day to gardening – more exercise with the amount of weeding I was doing, and getting the plants into the larger pots for my porch. Peanut, Button and I are also about to plant some apple seeds…I am hopeful that my lack of green thumb doesn’t rub of on my boys, and we are going to grow apple trees. I have no idea how that is going to work out but at least it’s something for us to write about together.
Journaling is a big thing in my house over the summer. I like the boys to write but they are not the most motivated authors. Keeping a science journal is fun and a great motivator. My boys also think about hypotheses, evaluate data, and draw conclusions. I like to keep these journals in notebooks rather than online. I know some children blog and that is great, but I want to keep up the penmanship over the summer too.
Today was very wet! We awoke to a massive thunderstorm…loads of fun as we snuggled in bed watching the lightning and counting the seconds until the thunder-clap to see how far away the storm was. Then, after one disastrous trip to the fish sore (it was closed) later, I played “Hotel” with Button. This is a game of his invention in which he becomes a hotel owner who charges for each item I ask for. He then imagines getting it all and providing me with a high level of service and comfort. I, in turn, get to ask him about prices, and making change. We use play money and it really keeps him entertained.
So, when all is said and done, I have been quite productive already, despite having no plans. My house is becoming more organized, I am on a laundry schedule, I have exercised each day, my kids have been active, learning has happened, and everyone feels happy. Success!
Now I have to think about the weekly shop! I enjoy being able to shop more regularly over the summer so food and meals are often fresher and much less rushed. But….I lack personal inspiration at the moment, so I have to thank my wonderful blogging friends over at The Full Plate Blog or Jeanette’s Healthy Living have a plethora of yummy and healthy ideas for me to draw from. If I’m entertaining, I could even pull from my wonderful cousin over at Smitten Kitchen for advice.
So I’m off to think about getting my butt into gear with some planning. I like to plan, it makes me feel better. But I am glad that we all survived my completely random, unplanned weekend without any casualties 🙂
It has been simply ages since my last post. So much has happened; some good, some not so great, but it all kept me from blogging my little heart out as I usually like to do. We had some health scares with my son…the initial reason for my absence. After working through that and getting the all-clear (no relapse – phew), I just got busy living life away from the computer.
It really did feel good not checking email and finding ways to fit in a full-blown photo-shoot each time I cleaned, or made a meal. I loved the lack of pressure…the blogging world continued to thrive, and I was not hurting anyone by checking out for a while.
Of course I missed the daily interactions between my blogging friends. I hope they will forgive me and let me get back into the game. It is strange to just not be there anymore. While I felt it was a much needed break, I did have pangs of guilt and certainly wanted to know what everyone was doing. (To be honest, I did check in on everyone via my phone, I just didn’t actively participate!)
So what, you may be asking, was I doing? I was spending LOTS of time with my kids. I was going out with friends, I was mentally recharging, I was being a Healthy, Working Mom….just not blogging about it. I really felt the blog was taking up what little time I had after work and at the weekends.
You may now have the question, what are you doing back? I understand this fully. I am not going to be back as much as I used to be. I am not going to spend every mealtime checking ingredients, or rushing back and forth to a kiddie event, trying to carve out more time to get my thoughts and ideas on paper. I don’t want to “blog my way through life” as I was doing. I literally blogged in my head as things were happening, rather than enjoying what was going on! Crazy huh? I will be relaying my discoveries related to organic and eco-friendly living, sharing the fun crafts I do with my kids, and letting you know what I made for meals…just not as often.
I have also been drawn back into the world of cancer. While this is a dark subject, it is also something I am looking at proactively. Sammy is cancer-free (thankfully the scare was just that…a scare and not relapse), and I do have more time to give back to others. Sadly, Sammy’s buddy “G” has relapsed (he’s only eight) and awaits a transplant.
My approach to all of this is to do something. I used to blog over at Superman Sammy just to get my angst and woes out. I still check in occasionally to update people. This blog was meant to be my “life after cancer” blog. It still is, but the two will be tied forever by an unseen but painfully real need for me to move forward but never forget. Anyway, I decided to create jewelry to sell in order to raise money to beat cancer to a pulp! We support The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and proceeds will go to them, and also to help me start up a project that I’ve been mulling over in my mind for a while. Sammy had t.shirts made with his name in the superman logo. He has been known as Superman Sammy since diagnosis, and the shirts can be seen all over the town where he goes to school. They were sold to raise money for The Danny Fund, a charity helping families with children suffering catastrophic illnesses. The orange Superman Sammy shirts are famous in our part of the world! The link above takes you to the side-show of Sammy’s infamous day-release from hospital to attend the fundraiser!
Recently, a little girl was diagnosed with a brain tumor and the mom who helped create the Superman Sammy shirts, had one made up for “S”. She sports her wonderful shirt all over the hospital where she also waits for surgeries and a transplant. The shirts seem to bring hope and courage to these young heroes. (I had one made for “G” and his family a while back for the Walk for the Cure.)
So I want to have a shirt made up for the children of CHAM, then Children’s Hospital at Montefiore where Sammy was treated. I want them to see their name in the Superman logo and feel special and recognized for their strength too. So, I’m making jewelry!
Running an Etsy shop is quite hilarious at this point. First of all I have to make the jewelry. I’m fairly good at that aspect of things, and Sammy has also designed the “Chunky Monkey” bracelet set that I wear almost everyday with pride. The funny part comes when I have to take the photographs. I am NOT a photographer and I stink at it. So I am now learning, via the Etsy tutorials no less, how to make my pictures look more “Come and buy me” than “Gosh, what is that?” I kid you not, I really need to work on this. So my newest challenge is born.
I like to learn new things. In fact, I do well when pushed to do something I am not entirely comfortable doing. Once I do get it right, watch out for many shameless plugs for my Etsy Shop, We Were But Stones. It is for a VERY good cause 🙂 Just don’t laugh at the awful photography…it will get better!