Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Very Beautiful Super-Hero Princess

If only we saw ourselves the way our little ones do.  Today my oldest told me that i'm a "very beautiful super-hero princess."  If that doesn't make a momma's heart swell then I don't know what does.  She loves me so much, no, she adores me.  At the still tender age of 3 I am just about her whole world at this moment.  If I thought on it more I would realize that from her perspective my awesomeness definitely doesn't stop there.  I am a magician who magically appears with just what she needs at the right moment. I am her biggest fan and cheerleader saying, "You can do it!" and "I'm so proud of you!."  I am, in her own words, her "best friend" who listens to all her little thoughts and fancies day (and night). I;m a shape-shifter who can turn into a pillow, a comfy chair, a jungle-gym or a bucking bronco at a moments notice. I know all the best songs and games and go to the coolest places like the playground and zoo.  I am her all-knowing and patient teacher of everything.  I am a super natural healer of minor boo-boos who can heal with my kiss.  I am the worlds best tucker-in-er and snuggle-er. I am the smartest, strongest, most beautiful woman in the world!
It's funny she never seems to remember when I've been impatient or I became so frustrated I yelled.  She doesn't seem to care that I'm a miserable failure at the housekeeping part of my job description.  She doesn't even realize how I've gotten about 50 pounds heavier since she was born (God bless her!).
Now, I'm not under the delusion that children are pure but, I do think that in their eyes we can see a little of how God sees us.  He like our children sees us at our worst and our best day in and day out.  As a matter of fact he sees more and understand more the depravity and selfishness that we are capable of.  Yet somehow He looks on us with love and tenderness. Perhaps I can stop being so hard on myself for my (many) failings and   remember that we are super-hero princesses (and princes too!).

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Easy Quinoa and Beans with Garden Vegetables

I think there is very little I love more that having someone ask for my recipe.  My very sweet friend, Jenn, asked me for this quick and easy meal that I posted on Instagram and I hope she is not dissapointed.  Part of what caused me to make this meal is that lately I've really  been focusing on whole foods.  Though I've always included whole grains and veggies with every meal they still were not what they could be.  So I've been gradually changing the look of our pantry and our meals.  When processed foods run out I try to find a replacement that is made with healthier ingredients and that I can make myself from scratch.  What I'm discovering through the process is that it doesn't take as much time and effort as I thought.  Especially, when it's done gradually so, you only have to research one change or try one recipe a week if you want to.  For me it makes it more about fun and discovery while making baby steps toward better nutrition rather than a huge pressure filled "life change."
IMHO there is almost no meal out there that is more budget friendly and nutritious than beans and rice. Though I was aware of it I had never made it thinking it would be bland.  Recently I decided to try it and found out it really could be so tasty and was a big hit with the fam!  Like everything it's all about the ingredients and seasonings you choose.  So, this recipe can of course be made with rice but, in this case I used Quinoa. Quinoa is an ancient grain which has more fiber and protein than rice but, it's also significantly more expensive.  For example, the Quinoa I bought at Sam's Club was a 2 lb bag for about the same price as a 10 lb bag of rice. What I really like about Quinoa is that it cooks in about 15 minutes as compared to 50 minutes for brown rice.  So, when making lunch I don't usually plan ahead and this Quinoa and Beans is a great quick, delicous and totally nutritious meal for Ogglet #1 and I.  If for you 20 minutes is too long for a lunchtime meal than try this for dinner instead.

Quinoa and Beans with Garden Vegetables

1 cup of Quinoa uncooked
1 cup Beef, Chicken or Vegetable Stock
2 tbsp Olive Oil (or coconut oil)
1 Bell Pepper
5 green onions (one medium onion will work too)
1 Tomato
1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
1 14 oz can beans rinsed and drained (I prefer black beans for the superior nutrition but, used Pinto Beans the day the picture was taken because I was out of bb)
Red pepper flakes
1 Bunch of Kale
small bunch of fresh Cilantro

First start the Quinoa (or rice) cooking per the instructions on the container but, replace the water with broth.
While that is cooking, chop your Pepper, Onions and Tomatoes.
Add half the olive oil to a large pan then saute the Pepper and Onions at medium high heat until softened. Next, add in the garlic and stirring frequently on medium or lower heat saute for about a minute or two being careful not to burn.  Now add in the Tomatoes stirring for a few minutes then add in the beans.  Now you can season to taste with Salt, Pepper and red pepper flakes.  While this is still cooking at a medium-low temperature rinse your Kale and remove the stains and main vein from each leaf.  Now take what remains and add to your pan.  I mix this turning over and over to get all ingredients and flavors mixed with the Kale.  It also helps to wilt the Kale faster.  Keep in mind that wilting kale does take a bit longer than spinach.  Now, your Quinoa should be done, you can combine with the bean and veggie mix. The last thing I do is add in the cilantro leaves because I love the fresh flavor and color and they wilt so easily when cooked too long.  Now add more seasoning if needed and enjoy!

This is such a quick easy meal to make and serve with a seasonal fruit on the side.  I really hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does!

Have you ever eaten beans and rice before?  Really the possibilities are endless with the veggies you add in so, it's a great recipe to make any time throughout the year.   If you do make it I would love to hear your variation!  

Monday, July 23, 2012

What if less is more?

Do you ever go to bed at night and just wonder where your day went?  I hate that.  It seems like it happens way too often to me.  As a matter of fact, that is pretty much the conversation I had with my doc a few years ago that led to my AD/HD diagnosis.  She said it is normal to have days like this from time to time but, if you find your days are "lost" more often than not you might have a problem.  Well, I have a problem!

For a long time I had thought, "Well if I just try harder..", "discipline myself more...", etc.  After I discovered that I have AD/HD it sort of made me realize that I might have to look at things from a different angle...take a different approach than my "normal" friends and coworkers.  At first it was a big relief to know that there really was something wrong with me...is that weird?  I thought that if I know the "what" than I could also know the "how to" in regards to my problem.  But, the more I read and the more I learned (and tried) the more discouraged I became.  I started to realize....this thing isn't going away!  And no matter how many tips and tricks I learned I would have to always stay on top of and work hard to just live some semblance of a normal life.  It's frustrating when it seems like a lot of people with this live with relative success in one area of their lives if they are lucky.  So, maybe they found a great niche at work but, other relationships are failing.  Or they've managed to maintain a long-term marriage but, never found the meaning they had hoped for in a job or career outside of the home.  I usually feel like I'm failing to some degree in almost every important area of my life.  That's hard.  That's discouraging and for a lot of people that is their life with AD/HD.

I don't know why but, I just can't accept this.  I want to live a full life.  Ok, so it's not all about me but, it would be nice to be able to feel like I can accomplish my goals and not always feel 10 steps behind. I dream of making it on time (or even early) to my appointments.  I dream of not letting my husband down (again) by forgetting to wash his white coat, pay a bill, etc.  I dream of having a routine that keeps my home clean and beautiful just the way I like it (but, rarely get to enjoy it this way). I dream of being able to do these things and still be able to spend time with the girls and not find myself wasting my Monday away while Ogglet #1 watches tv much of the day.  I also, though this is a bigger goal, dream of also finding a purpose outside the home.  Maybe returning to work or finishing my degree?
Adding to that never-ending stack of to-do's.

Writing it all down on paper now it does seem like a lot but, how can one fit it all in?  I'm not here to tell you how.  If I had the answers I suppose I would be off living this dream. :-)  But, something has started to grow in my mind.  It's an idea that I hadn't considered before:  minimalism.  I've tried so many times to manage my time to fit more things in or organize our stuff so our home would not feel messy or cluttered.  Yet, somehow I never seriously examined whether there was too much to fit.  I didn't examine it because it seems like the status quo or maybe even less than what I see others successfully juggling. It never crossed my mind that maybe I can't juggle as much as "them"....ouch!  That hurts.  So now the question that keeps echoing across my thoughts is, how much is too much.  I suppose only I will know the answer to that question.  Suppose the answer for me right now is not about more management techniques but, truly examining the pieces and parts of my life.  Are these things tangible and intangible truly adding value to the lives of myself and my family?  So, it's kind of a quest I'm on I guess:  to find out if less really can be more.  For now, I also would like to let my AD/HD off the hook regarding my disorganization and lack of focus.  Though I'm sure it plays a part I would like to just see what paring down can do.  So, I've started whittling away little by little.  Next I will tell you about how I'm starting to get rid of some of our stuff.  Not as much as in the blog that inspired me but, a helpful step just the same.  Ironically a lot of what is fueling me is the hope that by getting down to the basics I can successfully add in some of these things I've dreamed of for so long...maybe even work, work that I'm good at.  That would be much more!

Please tell me if you've struggled with prioritizing and what changes you've made for the better.  I would love to hear what you think about motherhood and work.  I know we all say, "whatever works for you, dear."  But, deep down I suspect you have more opinions than that and I'm open to them.  I must admit that I still struggle with whether my desire to go back to work (if even part time) is  misdirected somehow. But, I can't seem to shirk it and I also can't quite imagine leaving my baby Ogglet #2 quite yet.  I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Top Ten Reasons to Have Mom Help After Having a Baby

Since February when I had Ogglet #2 I have wished that my mom and mother-in-law would come back for good.  It was so helpful having them for the first two weeks being a mommy of two that I really can't recommend it more but, if you're on the fence about this just read on...

10. Take some pressure off your husband 
especially if he has to go back to work.

9. Someone to run to the store in a pinch.

8. Toys magically picked up....

...and the dog fed and let out (even if you forget).

7. No dirty dishes in the sink.

6. Clean laundry.

5. Home cooked meals.

(ok, maybe not exactly like this but, you will be so grateful
 that it will feel like a Norman Rockwell painting)

4. The invaluable emotional support of 
someone who has been there/done that.

(Unless you're already best friends with Bonnie Hunt....)

3. Give your toddler(s) 
much-needed adult care and attention.

"Just Leave the children to me, dearie."

2. Be more thankful and appreciative than ever
 that you have a mom/mother-in-law who cares 
so much for you AND your children.

PS - She will be more appreciative of you as well.

1. SLEEP...she can and will watch your kids 
so you can take a much needed nap.

So, after having baby (first or fifth) 
if you would rather feel like this....

and less like this...

Than read my tips for making it happen:

Just ask...ahead of time and make your expectations clear.  I told my mom I would mainly want help with care for my 2 year old so she would have the attention she needs without me feeling pulled away from what I needed to do for the baby.  She may end up doing much, much more but, be upfront with your expectations to avoid any potential misunderstandings.

Set a clear time frame and make it a tad shorter than what you are thinking.  At first I thought an entire week but, then I realized that is a long time to have anyone visit for any reason.  So, I asked my mom for 5 days and she ended up staying 6...perfect for everybody.  I think it is easier to ask for an extra day than to ask your mom or mother-in-law to leave if she is driving you crazy.  If she lives in the same town as you it's even easier. Have her come for a set amount of hours each day like, when your hubby leaves for work until after dinner.  That is what we arranged with my mom for an entire week after having Ogglet #1 and it worked great.

Make it fun!  Think about little ways she can help that will add fun to your week.  Maybe ask your mom to take your child to a special outing or even her regular playgroup to break up the routine of being at home.  In my case I also asked my mom and mother-in-law to bring some of our favorite recipes from my and my husband's childhood.  I supplied the groceries and they cooked these favorite meals for us.  I also planned to make a special dessert for them.  These little things just made the week that much more enjoyable.

I'm soooo blessed to have two amazing moms in my life.  My irreplaceable and amazing mom who has loved me in spite of my faults for 29 years and counting.  And of course my mother-in-law who I am so blessed to get to share as a result of marrying DrOgg. 
They are both the best; I am so lucky!

-Mamaw (Grandma)                                         Mammie(Grammie) 

Ogglet also calls her Grandpas Mampaw.  hehehe  And she remembers them in her prayers almost every night.  I didn't include it on my list but, I think that sharing your kids is one of the best ways to bless them and enrich your children's lives at the same time. For me it makes me more appreciative of my girls when I get to have them 100% to myself again.

So, Did you have your mom or mother-in-law help after having one or more of your babies?  Please share your experiences good and bad.  I'd love to hear what you think!

Happy mothers day to moms everywhere because, every day is mother's day!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Tip of the Day Blog Hop AKA Instagram Edition

I am in LOVE.  It started with our new baby...Ogglet #2.  She really is the cutest little chubster ever!  I decided it would be fun to edit and share some pictures of her and found my new addiction.  So I AM in LOVE with the Ogglet but, today I want to tell you about my other LOVE: Instagram!!  It's fun to quickly and easily edit your photos then share them with your friends and family.  You can even set Instagram so it will upload your photo to almost any other social networking site like Twitter, Facebook, etc.  Don't tell anyone but, I think I like it better than Facebook...

New in the hospital...my thoughtful friend Kristen took these first two 
(and more with her IPhone then sent them to me).  Isn't she sweet?

The above pictures are the first instagram pictures I ever did and I still love them.  Just a really important moment in our lives. It was so fun and ridiculously easy that I just had to do more!  

Like this....

And this.

Then DrOgg told me about an app called Nostalgio and I was like, "What!?!  I can make photo collages on my Iphone? Sign me up!"  

So then Istarted making stuff like this to share on facebook....love to see her cuteness in 4D! 

...and these partners in crime..

I got Nostalgio for free because DrOgg subscribes to a free app service but, I think it's worth the 1.99 or whatever it costs.  There are also some similar free apps out there that I'm sure I will be trying soon...

Of course my most recent obsession is a free app called Phonto I use that allows me to add text to any pictures or even a plain colored background.  Oooooh is it fun!  Now I finally know a way I can make cool picutures like the other bloggers. Can you tell I was having fun with this?

My big girl playing in her beloved sandbox.

Cute couple at a state park near our home.

  What could possibly be more fun than Instagram?!  Adding text then posting your pictures to Instagram!  So maybe all this is old news to you and you've now decided I'm a total dork.  That is fine because there is more to this post.  Another thing you probably already know all about are hashtags.  I've noticed people using them on twitter, for example, and they are also used on Instagram.  So, I decided to do the easiest blog hop ever.  I feel like a lot of times I do something goofy that would be perfect for a tip of the day post but, don't write it down (so I can actually remember it) or even have the time to really write a post.  So after learning about hashtags and seeing how people link together photos I thought this could be a fun way to share our experiences.  So if you want to participate first you must sign up for instagram  if you don't already use it.  Then share your tip.  Now this can be a goofy tip like my first one below or, it can be serious like real advice, or practical like a trick for cleaning that you've come up with.  And that's what I love about this, you can choose your own topic and post it any day of the week or month whenever you come up with an idea or something strikes you to share.  I will be checking in periodically and post a follow up to show what you have posted (and I hope you do!)  Also, my one rule is I ask that you please keep it PG13 and that you take the time to use an app like Phonto or program to add your tip text directly to your photograph.  And of course don't forget to add #mytipoftheday to the subject and of course your blog url though you don't need to have a blog to participate! If for some reason you can't or won't sign up for instagram but, want to participate please post your picture to your blog and leave me a comment so I can include you.

So, just wanted to say thank you to the ten (woohoo!) of you who are here and have stuck with me in spite of the fact that I haven't posted in a few months.  As you can tell I've been way too busy snapping pics of our newest addition.  But, I have lots of ideas stored up and will be posting some new recipes too.  I really hope all of you participate in my "instagram blog hop" and get to know each other.  Though I only have a few followers there are some really great blogs represented in that group so let's start hoppin'!

PS Thanks to Brooke who first told me about Instagram...I am totally addicted!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Winter Squash A-Z: Heirloom Zucchini Pie

If you haven't tried or even considered trying any of the squash recipes I have posted this winter so far....let this be the one!  It is so universally appealing and delicious.  I just think it would be the perfect thing for any family dinner or party.  The first time I tried this pie was at my friend Nicole's townhouse.  She was hosting our weekly med wives get together and the Ogglet and I were the only ones in attendance that week.  Well, once I tried this yummy pie I knew I just had to help her eat as much as possible ;-)  It has a mild flavor since the base is Zucchini and is just overflowing with butter which I'm not sure how that can be bad.
So, Nicole got this simple recipe from her mom and we're not sure where her mom got it just that it's been a family favorite of theirs for years.  My sweet friend was kind enough not only to share her family recipe but, to allow me to share it here.  After making it this past weekend I am convinced that it should be in everyone's repertoire.  This is the perfect thing for a side at dinner or a potluck.  It reminds me a little bit of a quiche so, I think it would be perfect for brunch as well.  But, when ever or wherever you make it just get ready for compliments because it is yummy!  

Heirloom Zucchini Pie

4 cups thinly sliced zucchini
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 c. butter
2 tbsp parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp basil
2 beaten eggs
2 c. shredded mozzarella
Cook zucchini with butter and onions until softened, then add the rest of the ingredients. Place in pie crust and bake for approximately 25 minutes. 
note:  I actually found that I had to bake for more like 40 minutes but, I did put the pie on a cookie sheet which might have slowed the cook time??? Not sure since I'm not much of a pie baker but, I'm glad I took this step since the pie definitely bubbled over a bit and would have been a big mess in the oven if I hadn't.  

Now, the only part you might have trouble with is believing that Zucchini is a winter squash.  All I know is that I just bought a bunch of Zucchinis and it IS winter!  But, more importantly it starts with Z and I'm thinking this is the only way to properly end this series.  Please, if you've tried any of the squash recipes post a comment and share what you thought of it.  And if not, go make this now!  You won't regret it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Strawberry Covered Chocolate Fudge Pie!

Where to begin?  First off this pie is so chocolatey!!  And the combination with the fresh strawberries reminds me of chocolate covered strawberries.  The base is an amazing recipe I found on Chocolate-Covered Katie's blog.  A few weeks ago I made it for my girlfriends and it was so rich and chocolaty I knew I would be making it again.  Today I made this slightly different version and DrOgg exclaimed, "This is the best thing I've ever tasted!"  And those of you who know him know he's not one to gush so that's quite a compliment.  Of course, you say, "Chocolaty goodness combined with fresh strawberries is a no-brainer so what's the big deal?"  First off, Chocolate-Covered Katie's recipes are all shockingly healthy and low in sugar...I remember shocking my gal pals by telling them one of the main ingredients in this pie is tofu!  Also, inspired by Katie's creativity I decided to attempt a healthy, low sugar glaze for the strawberries and couldn't be happier with the results.  I just think it goes to show that you don't need a lot of sugar to dress up fruit which is so naturally delicious as it is.

If you're going to try this recipe (and I really hope you do) the first step is to make the strawberry topping.  This recipe is enough to glaze about 8-10 cups of fruit and you will need about four to five cups of strawberries for each pie.  I removed the tops then cut the smaller strawberries into halves and the really big ones I quartered but, I'm sure there's more than one way to cut a strawberry!

Healthier Strawberry Fruit Glaze

1/2 cup water
1 cup Strawberries
1 1/2 tbsp corn starch
1-2 tbsp sugar or sweetener of your choice
1/2 tsp vanilla
2-3 drops of red food coloring (optional)

Combine first four ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth and corn starch has disappeared completely.  Transfer to a small sauce pan and heat until boiling.  Lower temperature but, keep at a simmer and stir constantly until thickened (10-15 minutes).  It will still seem a little soupy but, will thicken significantly after it cools.  Remove from heat allow to cool 10-15 minutes before coating fruit.  While you are waiting cut your fruit up then mix with glaze until coated evenly.  Ideally chill for 20 minutes or more before serving.

Once you have your strawberries chilling in the fridge you can start on the fudge pie!  So, hop on over to Chocolate-Covered Katie's blog and follow the recipe for her Chocolate Fudge Pie.  Now, try to stay focused because if you're like me once you get on there you will be tempted to go and look at all the other amazing recipes.  Ok, go ahead....I can't help it either but, promise you'll come back and don't forget about me. Katie says you can use either firm or silken tofu for this recipe but, I have tried it both ways and the silken has a much more appealing texture.  She also suggests if you have one you can use a spring form pan for this recipe.  Unfortunately I don't so, I'm going to tell you how I did mine.  First, I made it as instructed and it was super quick and EASY!  I placed the filling in graham cracker crust which was yummy but, you could probably go with chocolate or even a plain crust just as easily.  The recipe is the perfect amount for one chocolate fudge pie or TWO strawberry chocolate fudge pies.  I actually found the fudge pie by itself a tad rich so, maybe that's why I like my version so much.

Instead of making one pie separate your filling into two crusts.  Cover each pie with half of the glazed strawberries.  Now if you like you may garnish with tiny chocolate chips like I did or chocolate sprinkles or shaved chocolate...whatever floats your boat.  It will taste just as good without but, I just liked the way it looked.  Now, this pie is best after chilling for several hours but, when it's ready I hope you enjoy every guilt-free bite!

Update:  This week I lucked out and found a set of springform pans on clearance for just $2.  This is something I've been wanting to invest in for awhile and I'm so glad I did.  Though I got lucky, I think these would totally be worth it for full price.  I just made the recipe again in the spring form pan and not only does it look way fancier but, I decided it is so much better with a homemade crust!