I went into labor at 10:00 P.M. a year ago tonight. Wow. That went really fast. Not the labor. That took 45 hours. But the year. A whole year. And while I'm planning the big one-year party and marveling each day at how much Andie's growing, there are still things that catch me off guard and stop me in my tracks.
*The other day I went through the baby aisle at Target to find some baby q-tips (didn't find them) and realized that Andie has pretty much outgrown that aisle, and I won't be shopping there anymore.
*Today I got an email that used to be titled something like, "Your Baby is 40 weeks old," and it listed all the new things Andie could be doing and gave lots of links to advice I could follow. But today I got an email entitled "My Toddler This Week: Your 1-year Old."
I literally caught my breath when I read that email.
The day after Andie was born
I'm in giveaway heaven right now. There are so many fun things available for free in the blog world. My newest entry is for a RAD dog from Douglas Cuddle Toys. I hope this doesn't start to put me in the "sweepers" category--(I saw a Wife Swap where one family was obsessed with entering sweepstakes--they did it 8-10 hours A DAY! They'd win stuff like kitty litter and wouldn't even own a cat--ridiculous!)
Back to RAD dogs, Andie loves, loves, LOVES dogs. It's the only animal she recognizes. We've taught her to respond to "What does a doggie say?" with "Arf, arf, arf." She's really good at it now, and when she hears a dog, she will promptly begin barking back. In fact, sometimes she just barks for no good reason, and when I ask her, "Andie, where's the doggie?" She just smiles and does her characteristic fast breathing through her nose. It cracks me up.
Anyway, if you want to win a RAD dog for your child, check out this giveaway on Katydid and Kid.
Today let's take a stroll to your oil supply. Not the car oil, your cooking oil. Where do you keep your oil? I have a cabinet above my stove that houses all my oils and vinegars. That way I can just reach above and pull down the oil of my choice for cooking.
What is your oil of choice? According to all the research, coconut oil is the best one to cook with. It's the only one that doesn't go rancid while you're cooking, and it's full of all sorts of good-for-you stuff. I could give you the rundown on the health benefits, but someone already did that for me--read here.
When I started using coconut oil, I was shocked at the price tag. I couldn't buy it industrial size at Sam's, so I started resorting to Rachael Ray's it's-in-the-dictionary "EVOO." But re-reading the list of health benefits makes me want to get back on the coconut oil train. Plus, it's so good for my baby--and she needs some good fats right now to combat her chicken legs (thanks, Papa).
And what better way to get on the coconut oil train than to enter a giveaway for a stinkin' huge jar of coconut oil. I've already entered. Find the giveaway here.
If you think about it, where does your newborn baby spend most of the time outside of your arms? Sleeping in his/her crib. It only stands to reason that the ingredients in your crib mattress are pretty stinkin important because your baby's breathing them in all the time. With that in mind, I endeavored to find an organic mattress for my baby. We ended up with an organic cotton fill mattress, but O'Baby is giving away an organic mattress--not just the cotton fill-the whole thing!
You can sign up for the giveaway here!
I love the summer because our meals naturally become lighter and fresher. There are so many delicious options you have for summer eating, and because so many fruits and vegetables are in season, it's really cheap too!
I first really fell in love with grilled vegetables while I was living in Japan. One type of restaurant I frequented often was yaki nikku (grilled meat) restaurants. Yes, they served all sorts of meat (and things I wouldn't consider meat, but I won't go into details), but they also served up trays of vegetables you could grill right at your table on the built-in grill. Ahhh, so good.
Today's walkthrough takes you to a picnic table. Fire up a grill and try some of these fresher options and ditch the routine hamburger, hot dog and brats for summer grilling days. (Well, honestly, I don't ditch them completely, but they're certainly not standard fare in my home ;-)
1. Grill portobello mushrooms instead of burgers--these mushrooms are meaty and delicious. You can find them in your local grocery stores, and I've even found them in bulk at Sam's for a great price. They go great in a hamburger bun with your favorite cheese and fresh toppings. Or, I think next time I make them, I'll try this recipe from Rachael Ray!
2. I'm terrible at remembering to make side dishes--after I've gone to all the trouble to make a main course, I just don't have the energy to throw anything else together. But summer grilling takes this problem away. I've found that a fresh vegetable splashed with EVOO, salt, and pepper makes any grilled veggie delish! Sometimes I throw in some balsamic vinegar, sliced garlic, or my favorite salad dressing. Here's some of my favorite grilled veggies--zucchini, red onions, bell peppers, carrots (slice long ways, yum!), and tomatoes (balsamic vinegar and plop them on a crostini for your own bruschetta, add fresh mozzarella and basil if you're feeling fancy).
3. Another family fav comes from the Mexican influence of my hubby's side of the family--Everything tastes better with lime and hot peppers. Try using this principle next time you serve up some cucumbers. Peel the cucumber, slice, salt lightly, then squeeze lime juice over the slices and finish off with a dash of cayenne pepper. Hubby doesn't usually eat all of his veggies like a good boy, but he can polish off a full plate of these!
4. And still reminiscing about my days in Japan, one of my favorite sides to order in Japan was niniku (garlic). They would bring an aluminum foil boat filled with peeled garlic cloves drizzled with olive oil. We just plopped the boat on the grill and when the garlic was soft enough to poke with a fork, we popped them like candy. Move over fries, you can't beat garlic--plus you have the added bonus of a natural insect repellent ;-)
Which grilled veggie/fruit delights am I missing? Please share some new ideas I can implement in the comments. Can't wait to try them!
**Just searching for pictures for this blog reminded me of other grilled favorites: corn on the cob, grilled peaches, grilled eggplant, and one I want to try--grilled bananas!)
One of the biggest money wasters on my grocery list is fresh herbs. Week after week I find a recipe I like that includes fresh herbs, so I throw the $3 package of oregano, and the $3 package of basil and finally the $3 package of rosemary in my grocery cart and sigh when my total jumps another $10. (Yes, 3x$3 is only $9, but tax here is almost 10 percent, so we're back to $10 again).
Today's walkthrough is a run through your wallet--trying to keep the money where it belongs, and lengthening the life of a plant that can bring you fresh flavors throughout the entire year.
Try planting herbs! If you live in a small space, then pots are for you. You can take cheap clay pots, swipe a swatch of black chalkboard paint across them, and use chalk to label your pots lined neatly in your sun window. Remember lots of fresh water to keep them vibrant.
I found potted herbs at my local Whole Foods for only $1.99 a plant. That's a dollar cheaper than the herbs they sell inside--and those don't keep producing more! It's worth it to try, even if your thumb isn't very green (full disclosure: my thumb is more of a sickly yellow color. I keep a few plants alive, but only a few).
If you want to keep them coming back, quite a few herbs are perennials. Chives, lavender and mint to begin with (try both lavender or mint in your summer lemonade for a new taste, but I wouldn't recommend using chives :-)
Your herbs will last you well into the winter if you take time to store them properly. Some people choose to dry their herbs and others choose to freeze them. I got sick of buying $3 dill and only using a fourth of it in my recipe and throwing the rest into my compost pile when it turned yellow in my fridge, so I chopped it up, added it to a tablespoon or two of water, and froze it in little glass jars. Each jar is labeled with the amount of dill it contains. So, at the very least, don't throw away your leftovers--store them!
Mmmm, my favorite use for fresh herbs is roast chicken, but I also love Carol Alt's "Tuna" Salad (a raw foodie's recipe) as well--I add lots of dill, dulse and lemon!
I've started a new blog that's just for writers, authors and editors. I'm going to keep "On Finding Balance" and use it to blog about motherhood, natural and healthy living, and balancing life.
My new blog, The Joy of Writing, will be a place where I post information, encouragement and advice for people involved in or wanting to break into the writing business. The Joy of Writing will also track my journey toward becoming an established published author.
Please add my new blog to your following as well, especially if you're some who writes simply because you have to.
Hello faithful readers. I let the week get away from me and didn't realize Wednesday had passed until, well, this morning.
Today's walkthrough takes you through your yard. Tulsa has been berated (as has most of the country) by rain this week. I didn't realize how much I could miss the sun until it came out yesterday in all its warm glory, and I could feel my body responding, longing for more. Despite my frustration that I couldn't get out of the house as much as I wanted to this week, my yard--grass, flowers, new bushes, and weeds--are flourishing. They have adored this more than ample drink that they've been given, and their roots are strong, their branches stretching long.
Today is simply a reminder to be thankful for how incredible nature was created to be. It really is beautiful to watch it work and do its thing.
So many times the choices I make to not eat/inject/rub something into my daughter's body is simply based on the fact that it's not natural. Nature, the human body in particular, is a miracle and does quite well on its own keeping things in working order.
Take a step outside, breathe in deep, and let nature grow. It's a beautiful thing.
When the rain actually stops and I can once again do some work in my yard and garden, I'm going to use this tip I just found in my recent Better Homes and Gardens magazine:
**Before going out to work in the dirt, rub your nails in a bar of soap so dirt doesn't have a chance to get under your nails while you work--makes clean-up a breeze.
I think I need some Luka organic soap to rub under my nails :)