Tag Archives: busy mom

Happy Valentine’s Day

Ah, February 14th.

The me of years past would have looked forward to this post. I probably would have posted a favorite poem, maybe written a little about Valentine’s Day 1991, when my husband and I dated the first time. We were still kids then, and things were so easy.

I would have followed it up with photos of the carefully crafted dark & white chocolate tuxedo-clad strawberries I would have made, if I had the time. Then, I would have posted the photos of the raspberry cream chicken over puff pastry we had on Saturday at Emma’s Food for Life.

Except I spent too much time coaxing my son into eating his quinoa, apple and raspberry stuffed portabello to get a decent shot of any of the food.

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed our Valentine’s Day themed weekend this year. My husband and I unknowingly gifted each other with an hour-long therapeutic massage from the same therapist (can’t wait to cash that sucker in!)  It was fun to take our son out to dinner, and we had some wine and chocolate after his bedtime, which is always enough to soothe my weary soul, at least a little.

But this year was a little different for me.

I took a long weekend so I could get some things done around the house, and just enjoy some time with my baby. I had a To-Do list a mile long, and barely touched it. I spent some serious QT with my boy, and reconnected with him a little by slowing down and just enjoying the details of our days together. He cut 2 teeth and is working on 2 (or 4?) more, which I didn’t even know were coming. I taught him a new word – bubble – during Saturday’s bath, and somewhere over the weekend he picked up a funny new face I haven’t seen before. The best part? He just seemed more relaxed and didn’t cling to me at bedtime like he’s been doing for weeks.

While all those things made me happy, they made my heart heavy, too. If that much happens in a few short days, how much am I missing in the many long days that I’m at work? I never wanted to be a stay at home mom, but I never wanted to be a 50-hr a week career mom, either. I hate to complain, really I do, because I know so many people who don’t have a steady job to go to every day. I should feel grateful, right?

I’m beginning to understand the struggle so many women face every day. I thought I knew, but now I really know.

And, in the next few months, we plan to put our house on the market and look for a new one. I’m also enrolling in school. And we want another baby…now.

Couple all of these goals and commitments with the priorities I’ve set for our health and well-being (breastfeeding, cloth diapering, cooking from scratch, growing our food, etc.) and it all just doesn’t jive. Even if I could pull it all off, if I do a lousy job of it, what’s the point?

For the first time in my life, I am being forced to admit that I just can’t handle it all. The Type A, never-quite-good-enough-to-meet-my-own-expectations me is feeling really disappointed with myself – as a mom. It’s a feeling that would usually inspire me to just push through, but pushing myself beyond my limits has a different consequence now. It’s not just me who has to deal with the stress now. Now, my little boy suffers.

And my husband. Can’t forget about the hubs, either.

So, something has to give. I’m not sure what that is, but I’ve gotta figure it out. Soon.

If anyone out there has some sage advice on finding that elusive balance that I can’t seem to master, please share! I’d love to hear from some other moms (or dads) on the subject.

And, despite my big downer post, I really do wish you all a very happy Valentine’s Day, and I hope you get to spend some time with those you love.

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Mommy and Me Recipe: Fall Veggie Crisp

Since returning to work full-time, I’ve learned one thing for sure: Anything I can do on the weekend to help myself out during the week makes me my own best friend when workdays kick my butt. So, Sunday has become the day to cook!

Today, I made this yumminess with some of the last garden tomatoes, to be delivered to my father-in-law…

…and these belated birthday cupcakes for my very understanding husband…

(although I do admit to using this, enhanced with some applesauce and dried cranberries:)

Also in the lineup: the filling for our favorite Quesadilla Casserole, so the huz can just layer it with tortillas in a casserole dish tomorrow night and bake. What a team we make! :D

But my favorite creation of the day was a new Mommy and Me Recipe

So many fall veggies, so little time…what to do? For some reason, fall makes me crave a crisp, crumb topping on everything, and apple crisps are so last week. So, why not a veggie crisp? 

My handy dandy food processor made quick work of 1 butternut squash, 1 large sweet potato, 3 parsnips, 5 carrots and 1/2 large sweet onion. (Nice, even slices make for nice, even baking!)

I set aside some of each veggie to be baked for little man, and added just a little water. (Hold the onions and broth, please! At least for now…) 

I poured one can of  low-sodium veggie broth into the dish until it was about 1/2″ below the level of the vegetables. 

The “cross your fingers and hope it’s good” topping consisted of: 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs, 1/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats, a Tbsp of amaranth (just because :) ), a light handful of chopped, fresh parsley, rosemary and thyme, and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Both dishes were baked at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes, covered (or until the broth bubbled up through the crumbs and veggies were soft.)

I just love filling the house with the scents of fall, and this recipe did just that. It was easy, yet satisfying and comforting, and made use of lots of different veggies. It also made lots of beautiful puree, although the orange was INTENSE, so I added a bit of applesauce to take it down a notch. (Just sounded good to me, and baby boy seemed to agree!)

Which brings me to my Bonus Tip of the Day: When baby flings a big spoonful of pure orangetasticness onto your white carpet, try a little bit of Lulu’s in the Fluff!

Good as new! ;) Let the workweek begin!

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How do you balance home and work life? Do you do anything on your days off to help yourself out on busier days?

Does the onset of fall make you crave anything specific? 

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Filed under Parenting & Family, Recipes & Food, The Everyday

I’m tempted to call this Almost Compost Stew…

Look out….I’m feeling kinda full of myself right now. 

Why? Well, partly because my every color of the rainbow found it’s way into my son’s belly today, and that makes me a happy mom :D

But I’m also feeling very proud of myself because I used up the vegetables cluttering my counter and fridge.

It’s no big deal, really. I just made dinner. But I didn’t have a clear cut recipe (the classic “nothing to make” syndrome) so my big victory was found in using up the fresh items I had on hand instead of letting my hectic schedule get the best of me until they all found their way into the compost bin.

It happens far too often. I’m not proud.

Not that cooking a few veggies is hard, but sometimes just trying to figure out what to do with them takes more time than I have. 

Today, I was determined NOT to let my precious veggies go to waste. I was also determined NOT to go to the store. So I let the kitchen muse take over and started tossing ingredients until they looked like dinner. 

You know what? It was GOOOOOODI!

Here’s the list of what I happened to have on hand, and what I did with it:

  • one pound of grass-fed beef from North Mountain Pastures
  • 2 shallots (sliced thin)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 fresh tomatoes (1 cut into chunks, 3 put through food processor until liquidy)
  • one cup frozen black eyed peas
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas from our garden
  • 2 large handfuls fresh spinach, chopped 
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • whole wheat couscous
  • Parmesan cheese, to taste

Brown beef, shallots and garlic (I used an electric skillet.)  Add all other ingredients except couscous and cheese. Cook on low for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Serve over couscous; top with cheese, if desired.

(It almost sounds like a real recipe!)

I said it was good, I never said it was pretty

…but I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of myself for making something out of nothing. 

(Next time, this recipe gets morphed into a casserole with crunchy crumbs on top.)

The only problem: What do I call it?

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Do you ever have a problem using up your fresh ingredients? What’s your favorite way to use things up when you have a variety on hand?

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My 100th post: Reflections and Goals

(Cue balloons and confetti… oh, and presents are OK, too!)

Hooray for my 100th post!! Woooo!

Well, we’ll just pretend this is my 100th post. It’s actually 102, but this has been a thoroughly crappy week so I blew right past it. Today, however, is a better day. :D

I started my blog in March, when my son was a few months old and I was getting back into the groove of things after my maternity leave. I was adjusting to new mommyhood, had just returned to work part-time, and was looking for a way to hold on to my interests, do a little writing and maybe meet some new like-minded friends. And, to be perfectly honest, I really just wanted to learn a little bit about how to use my computer.

I had no idea what I was in for! I can do things with my trusty Mac that I never thought I could (I’ve even had people ask ME for help!), and I’ve learned countless other things from the many blogs I’ve discovered. I’d go so far to say that blogging has affected the way I live down to the very core! Not only do I get to write about topics that interest me, but there are actual people out there –really inspirational, supportive, and amazingly talented people –who share my opinions, ideas and passions! Luckily, you all share your knowledge, too! What a gift to have found you all, especially since my life is not overflowing with people who share my views on most things.

(Plus, every so often, I even get a sample or two of something fun in the mail! Bonus!)

These days, my son is going on ten months old, reaching new milestones every day, and starting to enjoy the foodie action that goes on in my household. I’m considering going back to work full-time, for various reasons, which will alter my lifestyle to some extent. So, I thought it was about time to restate my mission here and clarify for everyone what you’ll be seeing in the coming months!

1. More Food!

Yes, food will still be here.

Old favorites…

and new!

Healthy, natural foods, gardening, and fun kitchen adventures are such big parts of my life that my blog wouldn’t be my blog without them. I’m lucky enough to have a husband that will try anything, and I’m hoping that love of exploration passes on to our son (I have a good feeling it already has…) I will be keeping my personal circumstances in mind when choosing foods, so here are some of the criteria that will guide my way…

  • We are still nursing, and hoping to add another little one to our family, so high nutrient value is very important. Low-fat and low-cal are not so important right now, but folate, calcium, protein and healthy fats sure are!
  • I am still hypertensive, so sodium is a concern. I do find that cutting out processed foods has made the biggest difference, however, so I do use a little salt in my cooking. No biggie.
  • I am still on hypothyroid medication, too. Not sure if diet or lifestyle can affect that, but I’d like to find out…
  • I’m not cutting out sugar, but I am cutting back on sugar. Being so tired and busy has caused me to turn to sugar a little more than I’d like, and given that diabetes does run in my family (and I had gestational diabetes) it’s something I’d like to conquer now. (Don’t think you won’t be seeing holiday cookies, though!)
  • Hydration, hydration, hydration! (More about this in tomorrow’s post! Don’t miss it!)
  • As always, I will continue to strive for a diet that is fresh and natural, with lots of whole foods and very little dairy. I’m thinking that gradually including my son into our family meals will provide even more incentive to stick to it…
  • Even within the restrictions of a busy schedule and tight budget, I will always choose local and organic foods when possible. That said, food also has to be interesting, fun and just plain good

2. Less Food!

That’s right. I know I just described my food mission, but I do have a life outside the kitchen and most of that part of my life revolves around this cute little one.

Just as with food, I strive for all things natural when it comes to raising my son. Most plastics are on their way out of our lives (I say that as I show you a picture of a plastic laundry basket :roll: I’m trying…), as are any other toxins we can get rid of. There are just SO many positive changes that can be made with just a little effort! The more I research and learn, there seems to be a better alternative for almost everything, from toys and diapers to household items and beauty products, and even the way we go about doing things, and I would like to share them as I find them.  

You’ll also see some posts about the struggles and triumphs of parenting. I believe in the concept of attachment parenting, which I look at as a very natural and intuitive way of raising children – a return to our instincts as mothers and parents. I breastfeed,  co-sleep (part-time) and engage in many other AP practices that keep my child close and connected. Attachment Parenting International lists the 8 principles of AP:

  • Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
  • Feed with Love and Respect
  • Respond with Sensitivity
  • Use Nurturing Touch
  • Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
  • Provide Consistent and Loving Care
  • Practice Positive Discipline
  • Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life

Nice, eh? But I also have a career that is important to me, and I’m not ready to abandon that at this point. So, while the two might seem in direct conflict with each other, I believe I can find a balance...the right balance, and I plan to share that journey here, too. After all, API describes the long-range vision of Attachment Parenting as raising children that will “become adults with a highly developed capacity for empathy and connection. It eliminates violence as a means for raising children, and ultimately helps to prevent violence in society as a whole.” So, it’s worth it, don’t you think?

Check out API for lots more great info on attachment parenting, and feel free to comment if you have any advice or tips for me! I’d love to hear from you! 

So, I’m excited to write my next 100 posts, and to read yours! If you have any friends that might share my interests, please tell them to drop by and introduce themselves. I’ll return the favor! 

I’ll do my best to stay current, but if I happen to drop off for a day or two, it just means I’m focusing my efforts on achieving that balance thing I mentioned earlier, and I’ll be back! Once in a while, a nap, tickle fight or impromptu picnic really can be the most important thing in the world. 

Happy blogging, everyone, and thanks for reading!

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Sunshine Stack

I love to cook. I always have. But when it comes to making lunch just for me on my days at home, I often bypass the whole mess and just snack, or heat up some leftovers. There’s really nothing wrong with that, I guess, but today I felt like making myself a real meal. Maybe that’s because it’s rainy outside. We need the rain badly, though, so instead of sunshine outside, I thought I’d incorporate a few rays into my lunch.  

Sadly, I’m down to my last Southwestern Sunshine Burger. :( I found a single box in an out-of-the-way health food store, which I have a feeling I’ll be revisiting soon.

Sometimes, I put my Sunshine Burger on a bun. But the beef I have with buns is that they often seem like nothing more than a vehicle for the real star of the meal, and they contain a lot of empty carbs for something I don’t really enjoy. Don’t get me wrong…I like a good hunk of bread as much as the next guy, but a burger bun just doesn’t excite me too much.

But who needs a bun when you’ve got a fat sweet potato?!

So I rubbed the taters with a mere touch of coconut oil and salt, and set them a bakin’ in the oven (along with a few extras for baby’s dinner later): about 20 minutes at 350º, then another 15 or so at 400º, turning throughout for even browning. I baked the Sunshine Burger along with them until it was nice and crispy.

Hmmm….what jives with the burger’s Southwestern flair? Salsa! 

But I don’t have any salsa. :|

What I do have, and need to use up, is this array of goodies, which I ran through the food processor to create a little somethin’ somethin’ that sort of resembled a salsa.

  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1/8 cup fresh onion
  • 1 clove of garlic from our garden
  • 4 yellow pear tomatoes from our garden
  • 1 pinch cumin
  • 1 pinch chili powder
  • several sprigs of cilantro Oops. Cilantro was just a little too far past its prime and is now in the compost.

Directions: Hit “pulse” a few times instead of “on” so as not to scare the baby. 


Once my burger and tater bun were baked to perfection, I simply stacked them up!

  1. sweet potato
  2. 1/2 Sunshine Burger
  3. veg “salsa”
  4. 1/2 Sunshine Burger
  5. more “salsa”
  6. the last of my cheddar cheese curds (insert teary-eyed emoticon here!)
  7. another hot round of sweet potato to top it off

It still could have benefited from a touch of real tomatoey salsa, but all in all this was a pretty fantastic lunch. I’m not sure why I don’t treat myself to a real lunch more often, especially considering this was made entirely of ingredients I had in the house, and it only took a few minutes to put together. From now on, I think making my own healthy lunch a priority is a new goal. 

Because I’m worth it!

And now that I’m feeling all inspired and self-esteemy, I’d like to take Chocolate-Covered Katie up on her challenge to post a no-makeup pic on my blog! OK, so this one is not a full face no-makeup pic, but it’s not exactly flattering. And there’s NO makeup, plus I think it was taken on a no-wash hair day, so it fits the bill.

I took it to document (just for my own use) the crazy hair loss that started about 3 1/2 months after I gave birth. Did you know that some lucky women’s hormones cause them to lose clump after clump of hair after childbirth? I knew this going in, because it happened when I lost my first pregnancy, but I didn’t expect to lose so much. This is during the period of regrowth, and trust me when I tell you this pic doesn’t do it justice! I have full-on bangs now that I never intended, and a full head of short hair underneath my long hair! 

Here it is….with no self-disparaging comment, although I’m tempted. I look at my weird hair as just another reminder of how lucky I am to be a healthy mommy to my healthy boy!

…and for the sake of comparison, the mascara and eyeliner version. 

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Do you eat your burger on a bun? If so, do you really want the bun, or do you just eat it because it’s there?

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