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Friday, February 1, 2013


  I, like most mothers, feel an insane weight of responsibility to raise my children to be the best sort of adult possible.  I only have so long with them and even shorter is the time that they may go along with my little family ritual shenanigans.  For a long time, usually at dinner, we have been discussing our high and lows for each day.  Dinner time works well, because if they just can't think of something (which is rare for high/low) then they have the rest of the evening to deliberately fulfill the missing answer.  Often times, especially from my 5 years old, Anaiya, there will be no "low".
  On MLK day, we were discussing Dr. King's quote, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"   
  It got me thinking about the challenges of teaching sympathy, kindness and generosity.  I think that the idea is easy but, even adults have difficulty putting it into practice.  There lies the key.  Practice.  Now, at dinner, we do our high and lows, but for the last few weeks, we've also been discussing the ways in which we felt we were being generous and kind to others that day.
  It's still early in the game, but I've already seen them develop an appreciation for the difference between doing something nice for someone when asked and doing more than necessary or expected for someone because it's kind.  However, most days, it's a good thing we have these discussions at dinner time, because it gives them the opportunity to do something generous before the days end. :)
  I'll leave you with the beautiful, thinking faces of my children when pondering their answers at last night's dinner :)

 Yep, that's what Owyn looks like when he's thinking.  And Anaiya definitely did NOT pose for this shot, lol.

Friday, January 25, 2013

feeding my 2 year old

 My son started life as an awful eater.  My first few months with him, on the outside, were insane. My life consisted of feeding (attempting, anyway) and pumping on and off around the clock to try to get him back up to his birth weight.  All this while taking a 5 year old to t-ball and keeping a 3 year old occupied.  He finally caught on and then eventually, caught up.  He turned into a great eater, actually, until recently.

  I suppose in all fairness, I should say that he is still a great eater.  He loves fruits, vegetables and all the other stuff toddlers love.  He just doesn't like to have meals during the day.  Dinner is fine, but he's not keen to sit and have a full breakfast or lunch. And, at this point, I don't even care :)
  My aunt told me that she always used to have to fight with her kids to eat "properly" when they were younger.  Now that they are grown, she finds that they eat just the same way that they had wanted to eat as children.  One, like a bird, another once a day with light snacking and the third, heavy and all the time :)  So, I say, why fight it?

  So, we do snacks all early day long (until his sisters come home from school).  When my middle daughter, who used to eat like a bird, but now eats like a line backer, was a toddler, a nutritionist suggested leaving out tiny portions of food on the table during a 4 hour window and letting her have what she likes when she likes. This was successful and has carried over to Owyn.  I did not think up the ice cube tray thing.  I saw it somewhere (probably Pintrest!) and adopted it.  He loves it. He loves the options and the novelty of the tray. He doesn't always eat it all, but I'm okay with that.

  Today he had crackers, apples, cashews, cauliflower, carrots, snap peas, cheerios, shredded cheese and vanilla yogurt.  I had a quesadilla and a side of snap peas, in case you were wondering :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Easy homemade dog treats

With all the recalls that have been popping up surrounding pet food and treats, having an easy peasy doggy treat recipe in your back pocket can't be a bad idea!  I searched the web for a recipe that I liked, but found so many that included corn meal and/or sugar (corn is a common cause of digestion issues in doggies and extra sugar, for the most part, is just unnecessary): So, I decided to mush a bunch of ideas together and come up with my own concoction.
Most of the stuff I use can be found in your pantry.  I did purchase flax meal for the sole purpose of making these treats, but everything else, I had. Some dogs may have allergies to flax seed. This can be omitted, but you may have to add more oats and/or flour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1/2 cup oats
1/2 water boiling
1 TBSP margarine or butter
1/2 cup flax meal
1 egg (half will probably due if you are going to double or make a different variety and can use half an egg)
1 ripe banana or a jar of banana baby food
1/4-1/2 c. of peanut butter (I hate measuring out peanut butter, so I just eye ball it!)
~1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour (rice flour could substitute if doggy has a wheat allergy)

Let the oats and butter sit in the boiling water for a bit (I just let the butter soften/melt) then mix.

In a separate bowl, mash up your super ripe banana (or open your jar of baby food).

Mix together all the ingredients, save the flour.

Slowly add in your flour.  It may not require all of the flour; it depends on the amount of peanut butter and egg you used.

My special helper added his magic touch here :) <3
I then kneed it with my hands until everything is incorporated, and I get a giant ball.

Now, I split the "dough" into two sections, roll them into logs and smash them down a bit. Wrap them loosely in parchment paper (you could use wax paper or whatever, but I use the same bit of parchment paper through the entire process, so...) and pop them in the freezer for about 30 mins (or longer if you forget, not that this EVER happens to me!) to firm them up.
 If you would like to roll the dough out and use cookie cutters, you would add a bit more flour and roll them out on a floured surface, instead of these logs.
Once firm, I slice the log length wise, then into small pieces.  Your pieces can be larger; you will just have to increase your bake time.  I use them to stuff the Kong and as training treats, so I prefer the smaller size.

Place your pieces on a parchment lined baking sheet and back at 350 degrees, for about 30 minutes.  After 30 mins, I turn off the oven and let them sit in the oven, with the door ajar, until it cools off. 

Then they go into our (normally upright) treat container and are stored in the refrigerator.  Remember, there are no preservatives or unpronounceable ingredients to keep these from molding!  Don't make too many and keep them refrigerated.  I actually bake one log and wrap the second log in the parchment (which it will be baked on at a later date), place it in a labeled freezer bag and save it for next time we need treats.  Just let it thaw a bit before cutting into it.
Look how patiently Rudy waits! (also, normally upright).  He knows when his treats are being freshly baked and waits eagerly to get one!
These treats can be adjusted for a more savory flavor by using a meat and veggie baby food and adding a bit of shredded cheese. Rudy loves those, too.  I go back and forth with every batch.

Monday, January 21, 2013

My chicken salad

On Sunday night, we had a rotisserie chicken from Sam's club.  Today, little man and I had chicken salad, made from left overs!
 I have always liked the idea of chicken salad, but the mayonnaise is usually too much for me (I'm weird about creamy stuff and gooey cheese).  So, I've combined a few recipes that I've used over the years to come up with this one.  There is nothing low fat about this recipe.  I've tried to made a healthier chicken salad, but I just don't care for it. So, I stick to this recipe and just (try to) use self control. :)
 I'm not a chef or a baker or anything professional or even semi-professional, so pardon my lack of measurements.  We're talkin' chicken salad here, so just go with your gut.

Some chicken, cooked cut or torn up.  Canned chicken works, too.
salt & pepper
garlic powder
sliced almonds (I use the pre packaged for salads type)
Heavy whipping cream (that you will whip)

 The amount of stuff you use depends on the amount of chicken you start with and your taste.  If I use two cans of chicken, I use about a 1/2 cup each of onions, celery, mayo and cream.  I barely use any tarragon, because I love it when I can barely taste it; a little too much tarragon is gross (to me). 

  I add my mayo to the chicken first.  I use as little as possible to sort of moisten the chicken, because of my previously mentioned issues.  Then, I add in the onion, celery, almonds and spices, and set aside.

 In a separate bowl, I whipped up the heavy cream until is was sort of peakish.  I used a whisk because my mixer thingy's were dirty and I was too lazy to wash them (I realize the ridiculousness of that thought process) so I took me 8 or 9 minutes to get the cream thick enough.  It should take 3-5 minutes with a hand mixer.  See what being lazy gets you, kids!

When my cream was thick enough, I folded it into my other stuff :) It seems like a lot of moistness because of the cream, but after it sits awhile, it thickens up. The cream, in replacement of some of the mayo, keeps this chicken salad lighter tasting. I still get the creamy flavor without the weight and thickness that a lot of mayo creates.

 Then I squeezed some lemon in it, covered it and put it in the fridge until lunch time.
 For lunch, my little man had his with crackers and I had mine on a mini croissant.

He likes it <3

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Wow, it's been awhile

 I can't believe that it has been so long since I've written here!  It seems like life just flies by in a series of moments and I look up to find many pages have turned on my calendar. I want to spend more time with this blog this year (though I'm certain I've said that before).  It is a place where I can pretend I'm chatting with a grown up, although I'm surround by kiddies (and Rudy, the dog) all day long.  So, while I have very little to say right now, I am writing because I need to dip my toe in.  Hopefully, I'll be back soon for a good, fun, frolic.
  I'll leave you with an awesome picture of my stock. Do pardon the background mess.  :)