Saturday, August 30, 2008

Daddy, Can You Come Home?

Dear Daddy (and hubby)-

It's been two weeks since you have left for your business trip to Los Angeles. We understand the movie is almost done, but we think the time has come for you to just hop on a plane and come home. Our problem is Saturday mornings just aren't the same with out you. Remember how you make better pancakes then Mommy does? How your special blueberry syrup hasn't graced a plate around here in ages. Well we do. And we miss it.

Oh and we miss you, too.

See another problem is, you like to play Prince Eric, and mom won't play Prince Eric. Mom has to be Ursula and mom really dislikes having to role play being a big slobbery witch. So instead she just wants to do crafty projects, which means I don't get my fair share of energy out. Then I can't fall asleep. Then I get all weepy, staring at pictures I collected of you on my nightstand and wonder when you will finally be home. Do you know 16 days is an eternity to a child?

Oh and we miss you, too.

Did I mention Mom is really boring at bath time. She doesn't play all those silly bath games with us like you do. She just wants us in and out, bath time is all business. Boring.

Oh and we miss you, too.

Please come home, Tuesday is so far away!

We love you-
Your Girls

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Friday, August 29, 2008

How To Be The Best Wife Ever...


Me? The best wife ever? Yeah umm, that one may just be a stretch. So no lessons here my friends, but I am sure there are thousands of women successfully blogging on the topic. It's those little moments when I kick ass, that I think I should be acknowledged for them. 

Way back in April, tickets went on sale for my hubby's favorite band, Radiohead. Now, let me share with all of you, that I have what I refer to as, ticket karma. I could go on and on, but one of my favorite ticket karma stories was when I scored Ben Harper tickets to the Fox Theater two years ago and I had DIAL UP internet connection. The Fox Theater is basically a bar and the place I first saw Ben live way back in 1997. Both shows were magical to say the least.

Back to Radiohead and being the best wife ever.

On this fateful April morning, tickets went on sale through the UK Radiohead website and the actual onsale time was aloof. Radiohead seems to have a penchant for messing with Americans when it comes to tickets. My hubby tried for awhile to get tickets, but gave up. This is where Super Wife Sweeps in to save the day. I went down to my computer and was surprised that my heart was not racing out of my chest. Typically my heart pounds when I am in the moment of buying tickets and my adrenaline production spikes. I tried a few things, retrieving old screens and finally I was able to get through to purchase the tickets. At most it took about a half an hour. For the record, I would have never walked away if it was an on sale for Ben Harper or Oprah Winfrey in Denver for that matter.

Unfortunately at the time of purchase, we had no idea where the seats were. It was a crap shoot. Patiently we waited for some sort of confirmation as to the actual seats. Turns out lots of patience later and the seats were the most coveted in the Hollywood Bowl, Pool Circle seats. POOL. See below, that dark purple circle right next to the stage, that's Pool. Now would my husband taken seats in W2, why yes of course. But he didn't have to because his wife has a little something known as ticket karma.

That's how I became the best wife ever. I am hoping for a little special gift when he finally returns from his long trip to Los Angeles next week. Hoping.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

College 10 Years Later

  1. Freshman really look like they are 14 years old, I find it hard to believe they can drive a car no less live on their own. 

  2. Seriously do college students really hang 4ft X 5ft posters of Seinfeld on their dorm walls? The poster people still show up every fall!

  3. College students design their dorm rooms and apartments now, long gone are the days of hand me down furniture or thrift store finds. 

  4. Everyone, ok well maybe like 95% of all college students have a cell phone attached to their ear as they walk through campus. 

  5. The faces may change, but the groups remain the same. Sorority girls with their hair and make up done up so perfectly with coordinating accessories, frat boys with their came ripped abercrombie jeans and polo shirts, skateboarders with pants hanging off their hips, kind hippies (this is boulder) busting their desperately hoping to dread white locks, engineer students ready for academic challenges, and international students with their gentle smiles.

  6. Back packs aren't the hip way to carry your books these days, the tote is definitely the way to go. 

  7. Must carry water (well that hasn't changed) in cool metal water bottle. 

  8. I eye "nice girls" wondering if they are potential babysitter material. 

  9. Sweats and lounge wear are apparently appropriate outfits for class. 

  10. Not once, but many times my mind pondered, "what the hell are you thinking"?

  11. iPods, iPhones, YouTube, MySpace, text messaging, and Facebook did not exist when I was an undergrad.

  12. All official university communication, including billing is done online now. Snail mail is a thing of the past. 

  13. Instead of chatting up people about my wonderful dog, I pull out photos of my two girls and talk about life from the perspective of being a mother. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Last Resort, Stuff My Bra With Cabbage Leaves

It's weird awkward confessional time, here at EatPlayLove.

I spent a great deal of my formative years wondering when I was going to blossom like my peers. Envying those girls that were spilling out of their bras by tenth grade. And me, well I was 5'11" and 125 pounds, so extra fat for things like blossoming was non existent. I was a stick, literally.

Fast forward to motherhood. First pregnancy gave me some insight into what was to come post-partum, as far as my smaller than average bust. Then my milk supply was established and I felt like Kelly LeBrock in Weird Science. Granted my gorgeous new breasts full of milk, were of course a mixed blessing. I mean they were a thrill for my hubby who fell for me during my smaller years, but then it was weird. They became utilitarian, they were a source of nourishment for not one, but both of my daughters.

For five years now, my body has been in fertility or milk production mode. And, last week, I nursed my 20 month old for the last time. I took the slow route for weaning, ending with a couple of weeks of one feeding a morning, that was it. I thought I was preparing my body appropriately for what was to come. Cessation of milk production.

But no, my breasts are now taking revenge on me. They aren't cooperating as I would have hoped in the "let's stop producing milk" department. They are full, hard, sometimes hot, and mad at me. If only I could flip the switch, time to stop girls. You've done good. As I've heard from the mothering grapevine, time to shrivel up and make me weep thinking of the good ol' milk production days.

In an attempt to help release the uncomfortable nature of my condition, I've resorted to using cabbage leaves stuffed in my bra. Honestly, it has been working. I take two leaves off the head of green cabbage, roll them gently with a rolling pin to release the happy chemicals, and wrap them around my full of milk ta-tas. Too bad my hubby is missing out on this milestone. For the record, I have taken pictures, for I know darn well, they will certainly last longer.

If you have any other tricks up your sleeve on how to get me through the next couple of weeks, please share. Oh and because it's Wednesday and you might just need a good laugh, here's the partial evidence.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tuesday Tips- Is Your Child's Lunch Box Toxic?

School is back in session, which leaves me wondering, how many kids are carrying toxic lunch boxes everyday? Back in 2005 the Center For Environmental Health released a study citing the high content of lead in many soft vinyl (pvc) insulated lunch boxes. The Consumer Product Safety Commission also conducted a study, but decided to not release all of it's findings. For they deemed wrapped food articles would be safe in a lead laden liner. Thanks, once again to our government for protecting corporations over our children.

Personally, I love the term "safe levels" and lead in the same sentence when it comes to my children's health.

Please don't fool yourself. Placing a lunch inside a box that is lined with PVC means, your child's hands and the food will come in direct contact with the material. Then they use their hands to eat, making ingestion of the hazardous materials through the skin and mouth. The concern with the material is that the exposure to the lead can be cumulative over a period of time, creating an opportunity for lead to build up in the body.

It's not too late to seek out alternatives. Mind you these recalls and information entered the market in 2005. Many companies have committed to producing "Lead Safe" lunch boxes. Personally, I feel rest assured when a label is marked Lead Free over Lead Safe. Plus, as you may recall, I'm not so big on PVC anyway. Also if you are concerned about a lunch box you may already own, at your local big box hardware store you can purchase a lead test kit, they are pretty inexpensive and user friendly.

In our home, we use a few alternatives and a couple traditional lunch boxes. Sj has a Scooby Doo soft sided lunch box, which is produced by ZAK!, they easy to find and are more commercialized than the other options. It came with a label stating LEAD FREE inside. Trust me, manufacturers want to boast the efforts they are making, if it doesn't say anything about lead safe or pvc free on the label, I would question it.

Crocodile Creek is sold at most Whole Foods, they are safe."Our Lunch boxes are child safe with lead-free linings and are PVC free and phthalate free. They conform to both U.S. and European safety standards as well as FDA recommendations." Their commitment to child safety.

Lastly, we are huge on Bento Lunches in our house. Click here and here to see our personal collection. Bentos are definitely a growing trend and a great way to use leftovers and provide a wide array of lunch options to your child. We don't own one yet, but as soon as Sj enters first grade, I will definitely be a proud owner of a Laptop Lunch Box. They are another company committed to your child's safety, making products that DO NOT contain phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), or lead. Now that is a company to support.

Here is a list of manufacturers making that Lead Safe commitment, source Center For Environmental Health:
Ingear
Fashion Accessory Bazaar
Lisa Frank
Big Dogs
Accessory Network Group
Baby Universe
Buy Baby Buy
Romar Accessories
Silver Goose

Happy Lunch Packing!

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Ummm, Mom Can I Have Your Credit Card?

Well, my life changing decision to go back to school has kicked my reality in the ass. Today is the day, I go mingle with other newbie education graduate students. Luckily for me, I will know some of the staff as I was a very tenacious work-study during my last tenure at the University Of Colorado, a decade ago.

This time around my experience is a tad bit different. I have to pick up Sj from school, drop her back home with my parents, and then run off to campus. I still haven't gotten my student id, and HELLO I am dying for a movie discount or a free bus ride. I won't be a leisurely stroll from campus, speaking of which, where in the world am I going to park?

And believe it or not, I might kinda forget where the EDUC building is. I suppose pregnancy and nursing did me in as far as remembering things like locations of buildings on campus. If I have time after my meet and greet, with some a short advising session, I'm gonna hit the bookstore. One class, one hundred dollars worth of books, gulp. Maybe I'll ask for a grant from my Mom to float me. Umm, just kidding, I am thirty something. No, I'm not, hope she'll hand over the visa.

Now, I am off. I won't go into the details of how I am a bit nervous. I didn't stay up late planning my outfit, I am simply going with the flow. Lucky for me, I don't need to impress the others. Hopefully, they'll accept me for who I am. That's college the second time around, which feels good.

Eek.Details to follow...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Oh DNC How I Want You and Sly Campaign Volunteer Tactics

On Monday, Denver is going to explode with campaign splendor. The Democratic National Convention is slated to run August 25-28. How incredible to live twelve itty bitty miles from the epicenter of such a monumental event. 

But then, I realize it doesn't really matter how close I live, for I will be watching at home the in depth coverage as if I lived in Spokane or Birmingham or insert your city here. I'll have a slight edge with the local newspapers and television stations, but that's about it. Then I start to feel a tad bit disappointed that I won't have an opportunity to partake in such history.

Sometimes, I just think about what I would say to Anderson Cooper when I met him, you know at the Convention that is. But I would probably get lost in his blue eyes. Or how Oprah reportedly has spent $50,000 to rent a house in Denver for the week, even though there is no confirmation she will be attending. Then maybe I well up a bit, thinking that The Daily Show will be taping at the Convention or I could grab a sandwich at the same place as THE Clintons.

Have I mentioned, there's a little historical moment called the acceptance speech.
Breaking the mold of traditional political Conventions, Senator Barack Obama will accept the Democratic nomination for President of the United States at Denver’s INVESCO Field at Mile High. INVESCO Field can accommodate more than 75,000 people.
Sounds like the hottest ticket of the year, doesn't it?

Well, they offered up community credentials for average folks like me. A strange turn of events brought me to the webpage during the credential offerings, so I simply applied for a credential. I felt like I was playing the lottery. I imagined sitting with seventy five thousand people, not watching the broncos play football, but Barack Obama giving the speech of his life. How amazing.

Turns out the Campaign For Change/Obama For America, had some sly tactics under their belt. Within 24 hours of applying for a credential to attend the speech like hundreds of thousands of other Coloradans, the Campaign's workhorses started contacting me. Emails started filling my inbox, my phone began ringing a couple times a day from unrecognizable numbers which was none other than Campaign phone banks. If I volunteered by completing three shifts of calling 80 people, knocking on 80 doors, or registering people to vote, I MAY be eligible for a credential, not a guarantee. Or they could pick my name from the information I submitted. They used my credential contact information to dupe me. (For the record, I will be doing some volunteering, but not until my life resumes to normal, or what I hope will be more normal in September. But they didn't have to use these tactics to convince me.)

I received a text message stating I was not one of the lucky chosen ones to attend Obama's speech, so I'll be watching the event of a lifetime with everyone else that gives a damn, on television. I feel so left out.

Oh and just because this is the only time I am going to talk about this, if I hear the word DELEGATE one more time, I think I am going to...

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Unforeseen Problem With Afternoon Kindergarten

My daughter loves clothes. Sj's been opinionated about what she wants to wear for a couple of years now. Hands down, she probably changes her outfit about five times in any given day. I believe I am making progress in training her to put the not even close to dirty clothes back into her dresser, helping cut down on unnecessary laundering of clean clothes. Although her laundry pile still towers over ours. Maybe we should call it a work in progress.

On top of her love of changing her clothes on a whim, we also went through an inappropriate for the weather phase. Take for example a swim suit, winter boots, and snow falling out the window. Fine when we are inside, but not okay when I have to go to the store. I have resorted to putting her outside on the porch to see if she could fair in her summery outfits mid-winter, typically she has a change of heart. As of late, with our 90 degree weather, she has insisted on wearing her jeans to school. She has a dresser full of skirts and summery dresses, but of course jeans and a long sleeve t-shirt, just perfect.

Maybe about once a week, Sj allows me to provide some guidance over her clothing selections for school. Last week, we had completely bizarre weather, with 50 degree days following a heat wave that was three weeks long. So I anticipated some clothing choices that wouldn't fit the conditions outside.

But one week into school, I am already dreading afternoon kindergarten. This is what she came up with on Friday (the 50 degree day). Luckily we didn't have a bathroom episode in between outfit changes to throw us off track even more.

After pajamas, outfit number one:

Nah, wasn't feeling that one, maybe this warm weather outfit will do:

Finally, with a little encouragement from mom (I didn't have to put her outside!), a face washing, and hair brushing, it was time to go:

Like clockwork, she walks in the door after school and completely disrobes. That my friends I saved you from witnessing.

If you happen to have an outfit changing fanatic in your house, I recommend pushing for morning kindergarten. That way you can get your little one out the door with out having to go through major outfit changes before school starts!

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

And the Winner Is...



The winner of the Green Dimes, one year premium membership giveaway is, Angela of The Parsons Family! Congrats Angela. I will be sending your email over to Green Dimes, they will contact you with the details!

Thank you to everyone that entered and for the Tuesday Tips ideas, if you have any other ideas feel free to drop me an email.

Special thanks to Green Dimes for this fabulous Green Giveaway.

Tuesday Tips- CSA Locally Produced Food

Last year after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, a part of me was transformed. If you haven't read the book, a very basic synopsis is that Barbara picks up her family and moves across the country from Tuscon, Arizona to a piece of family property in Virginia, with the goal of subsisting off of food she grows or can only be produced locally for one year. Now trust me if you are familiar with Barbara Kingsolver you know the depth and beauty of her writing spills onto every page. Her journey, lured me in, and presented me with a new perspective on eating and of course consumerism.

Boulder is the home to a beautiful Organic Farmer's Market, every Wednesday and Saturday. At the Farmer's Market, relationships are born. After regular weekly visits, faces become familiar with a farm's name or particular type of produce. Best yet, money goes directly to the farmers, cutting out the need for trucking produce around town, middle men, and lost profits. Over the years, the Boulder Farmer's Market has offered countless opportunities to budding entrepreneurs mainly in the food industry. Take for example Sister's Pantry, their dumplings were made famous at the market, and now they are sold frozen in Whole Foods. And yes, I often imagine having a little baked goods stand at the Market because this market is the avenue to make small dreams come true.

Moving beyond the opportunities to support local farms at the Farmer's Market, there is something called a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture. With a CSA the intention is to support farmers, during off season. Every CSA is run a little bit differently, but basically you pay up front to the farm, for a share of vegetables, fruit, and flowers or a combination. A CSA I have been a member of in the past, we paid in two installments in January and March, then we were provided with 20 weeks of produce from May through October.

There is a wonderful resource called Local Harvest. On the Local Harvest webpage you can type in your zipcode or punch in your state and find a plethora of local farms to support directly!

I understand that it's truly a commitment to try to eat only locally produced foods, but every effort when it's available makes a wonderful impact on your local economy. It saves the environment from pollution and oil consumption because there is no trucking of produce across the globe. And to be quite honest, the produce tastes so much better. It's juicier, sweeter, and more vibrant, because it was picked when it was ripe maybe that morning or within the last few days.

I am amazed at the global nature of produce movement. Sorry hubby, but do we really need to eat apples from New Zealand in August? Aren't the locally grown peaches, apricots, cherries a wonderful substitution?

Take a closer look at where your produce is from. Check out Local Harvest and see if you can start investing in small family owned farm in your neck of the woods!

Just curious about how many of you belong to a CSA or visit a local farmer's market?

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Lingering Moments, Unagi, and a Gelato Appearance

When life gets in the way of time together, seizing the moment, any moment is crucial. Lucky for my hubby and I, our moment came in the form of a meal out on the town, all by ourselves before he leaves us for an extended business trip. So where do two grown ups eat with out their two little girls in tow?

Sushi Tora in Boulder. 

J and I haven't been to Sushi Tora in years. Like a decade kind of years. Actually if my memory serves me correctly, we may have even been vegetarians the last time we entered Sushi Tora. Crazy. Back then, we dined out on whims, never really savoring the moment like we do now. It's funny, now we mull over the menu, discuss a plethora of options. We always try something new, order items we want to share. Today, getting out less frequently, I feel grateful for these special moments. I notice we re-capture a part of us, almost if we were newly in love and dating.

As far as sushi in Boulder goes, I have to admit Sushi Tora is hands down the best little gem, tucked away on a side street behind the hustle and bustle of Pasta Jay's on Pearl. Sushi Zanmai and Hapa draw the crowds, but in the last few years, Zanmai has been very disappointing. It's turned into a mediocre sushi experience, with the quality not quite up to what we have come to expect in years past. And Hapa, it's hip and trendy, it's good, but J is the traditional sushi purist.

Sushi Tora's quality includes hand crafted sauces and fish fresh off the airplane from Tokyo. They use locally sourced greens, herbs, and real wasabi root. We ordered a typical smattering of delights, but hands down my favorite was the Unagi (fresh water eel) that was on the special menu. I love Unagi, but this was the best mouth watering, buttery, melted in my mouth Unagi. The Eel actually arrives to Tora alive! Beyond comparison.

Following dinner, we walked around the corner, through the hustle and bustle of the Saturday night Pearl Street crowd, to Gelato Bacio. Of course I craved gelato on a cold and rainy, 50 degree August evening. 90 degrees for three weeks straight, then 50 degrees, oh how do I love Colorado.

Gelato Bacio is a small spin off from the brains behind Spruce Confections, another Boulder gem. The gelato is made fresh daily. The only problem I encountered was deciding which flavors to indulge in. As a true lover of all things ice tea and lemonade, I chose Earl Grey and Fresh Lemon gelato. It was delicious and I am already anticipating another visit.
Could it really have been ten years ago, I was on my honeymoon, strolling the streets of Italy? Eating gelato from little stands parked on cobblestone streets. In my wildest dreams I wouldn't of imagined my life the way it is today. And, seventeen years later, still feeling a rush when I have a couple of hours out with my one and only.

To my hubby, hurry home, September won't come soon enough.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Oh How Nature Triumphs

Although, I have completely let go of Mrs.C.O.B. ripping out the flowers from my garden, I had a sweet laugh from Mother Nature this morning when I was watering my garden. I spent some time re-vining the remnants of my Scarlet Bean plants after the incident last week. I placed the vines on a secondary fence I had (thank you). I walked away, wondering if I had just wasted my time.

Everyday, I was sure to keep watering the vines. I didn't really know what would become of the remaining plants, if they were ruined or if they had some energy to grow anew. 

This morning, little scarlet buds reappeared. After the wrath. Nature triumphed and I had one heck of a smile. Take that Mrs. C.O.B.!!!

The Aftermath, wilting torn vines:

Now, nature laughing with me. 


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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Can't Escape a Rescue

Of course when I started blogging, I could hear crickets chirping as far as my audience was concerned, the only hits this blog received were from me. Aah, the good ol' days. Here's one of my very first posts, recycled.

Sometimes nature seems to whisper to us in the strangest places. As I exited Flatiron Crossing, my G4, clutched awkwardly to my chest, my eyes immediately fixated on my vehicle. My inner voice reassured me, I am only steps away, and I will not drop my computer on the ground. Relief. With a quick glance to the ground, I see a rather large insect just peacefully staring back at me. Praying Mantis. I give the fella a closer look and notice it seems to be injured or maybe just startled. One wing is strangely flopping around and I can't tell if all of it's parts are intact. I proceed to make my way to my truck, unload my clunky desktop to it's place in the passenger seat, complete with a safe and secure seatbelt. As I am walking to the driver's side, I think to myself, I can't just leave that precious Praying Mantis alone, possibly injured, in the local mall's parking lot, where danger lurks around every corner (if you are an insect that is). So what do I do?? I dig through the back cab of the truck, pull out an old cup, walk over, scoop up my new friend, put the lid on! After giving it a closer observation, I notice, all parts that seem recognizable are in their proper place. They truly are beauties. I was eager to share my rescue with Sj, who loves a great catch. Tomorrow we shall photograph the big fella and set him free, into my suburban backyard, which I am assuming could be considered heaven for a Praying Mantis that was lost at Flatiron Crossing.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Where Did Sissy Go?

I believe the anticipation began at 6:30 am when Sj popped up out of bed and said, "Today's the big day". Then by 10 am she was ready for lunch because I told her she would be going to school after lunch. Around 10:30 her shoes and backpack were on and she was pacing around the house.

Yesterday, was the big day for all of us. Sj started Kindergarten.

Although she doesn't quite grasp how monumental starting Kindergarten is, I certainly do. I could feel it as she was lining up with her new classmates and teacher. The tears welled up in my eyes, witnessing yet another first moment of her life. Appropriately enough Sj, waved goodbye and marched into school not turning back. Excited to take on the new adventure, we call Kindergarten.

The night before we went to the school to meet her teacher and check out her classroom. After about five minutes, I could see her searching for something. I asked her what she was looking for. "Toys", she said. We looked around together, but saw no toys. There were blocks and manipulatives, but no toys. No dress ups, no play kitchen, not a baby doll in sight. Her teacher told her they have toys, just not the kind she was looking for. It made me feel a bit sad inside that Kindergarten has become so business. So academic. No time for creative play. Gulp.

I know what our mornings will be full of, exploration, creative play, getting messy. Then she'll be off to learn to read, explore numbers, make new friendships.

Here's a photo of Sj and GL, shortly before leaving:One of the biggest transitions will be for GL. She's become her big sister's side kick. She woke from her nap and the first thing that came out of her mouth was, "Sissy". Immediately followed by the two palms up, "Sissy
Go?".

The entire family loaded up into the car to pick Sj up from the big day. I could see her looking into the sea of mothers for me. She was thrilled that Daddy also came for the pick up. Her first day was a success.

All I was left to ponder was, how can my first born be in Kindergarten already? I wonder how long it will take me to wrap my brain around this one. The passing of time just amazes me these days.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tuesday Tips-Environmentally Friendly GIVEAWAY!

Tomorrow marks my one year blogging anniversary. As a thank you to my readers, I have partnered with Green Dimes to offer up a one year premium membership for free! Even though Tuesday Tips are fairly new around here, I loved the idea of giving away a service that will help you reduce your waste and make a huge impact on the environment. Win, Win, for everyone!
(My mail for one week, how annoying!)

So what is Green Dimes?
Green Dimes is a service that was created to help you reduce the amount of junk mail you receive. Honestly, I have wasted plenty of time calling catalog companies or credit card companies begging them to stop mailing me offers. Just recently I placed an online order at a company I consider to be eco-friendly and now guess what? I get about 3 catalogs a week from them. I thought to myself, seriously?

Here are some facts from the Green Dimes Website:
1,123,193 trees planted
2,291,751 catalogs stopped
10,113,156 pounds of junk mail stopped
A Green Dimes Premium account will assist you in the following ways, automatically remove your name from prolific mailers. My thoughts instantly turn to a car insurance company with a little gecko, we must receive at least ten offers a month from them. Unlimited number of names can be removed per household. Catalog screener, allows you to opt out of the catalogs you don't want, while still receiving your favorites. Most members see a 90% reduction in junk mail they receive.

And the best part, drum roll please: FIVE Trees planted on your behalf!

Not only is Green Dimes helping reduce waste, but they are also planting trees to double the impact on our environment.

Giveaway Details-
  • Please leave a comment sharing with me your Favorite Tuesday Tip or a Tuesday Tip idea you'd love to see. 
  • Include your email if it is not available on your profile (link) so I can contact you easily.
  • Open to US residents only. 
  • Contest Ends Monday August 18th, I will contact a winner chosen by my favorite random integer selector and you have a day to reply, if not I will pick another winner. 

I will provide your contact information to Green Dimes and they will send you your promotional code to sign up and become a member! 

Once again thank you for coming by, maybe leaving a comment, it's been wonderful getting to know so many of you!

New York Times Article

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Chaos From The Inside Out (and yet another opportunity to be nosy!)

Oddly enough, my linen closet seems to be a blaring metaphor for how I've been feeling lately. Looking in from the outside, when the closet door is closed, you don't quite grasp what's behind it. You don't see the haphazardness of placement, linens all strewn, being nudged a bit more every time the closet door closes. Or even how I may have to throw my shoulder into it these days, just to hide the mess away.

Same goes for me. When you see me, I look the same. Well, I may be over do for a haircut, but most generally speaking I put on a look, like the closed door. But inside, I was feeling overwhelmed and chaotic. Holding all the pieces of my responsibilities together, but not with any order. And with a little help from PMS emotionally I have been overflowing.

But then I decided I could not take the chaos my linen closet has become. I love to organize things, closets, toys, mail, paperwork, craft supplies, on and on. Oh how I get blissed out as I envision the serenity known to me as organization. First step in organizing the closet, empty it completely. Being a visual person, I need to see everything in one place to then move forward with the components that complete the closet as a whole.
As for me? Well, after my woe is me week, I released my stress with some socializing. J and the girls had some great quality time together. I caught up with friends with no children in sight demanding our attention. I escaped my reality in the movies, quite easily, with the most beautiful scenes of Greece compliments of Momma Mia, topped off with lunch that included Buffalo Wing Sauce and Blue Cheese. A beer one night and some appetizers. Sangria and a nice spread another night. Holy, moly talk about a world of difference. I can't forget the playdate for the girls that included fresh cupcakes, how splendid. (and a huge thank you to my girlfriends that reached out to me this week, it meant way more than you could ever know!)

Enough of a difference, to create this serenity. Can you hear singing when I open the closet door and see this? Can you hear singing because I've slept in, had breakfast in bed, and most importantly seized the opportunity to have time to myself. So thank you dear hubby for letting me recharge my batteries. Inside I feel harmony to start the week ahead that will bring about much more of what last week had to offer. It's amazing when I feel better how my home just seems to fall right into place, just like my linen closet.
I guess with out those Woe Is Me moments, you never can truly grasp how lucky you are. And here's to a week, I'm probably not going to want to remember! Can't wait for my life preserver parents to arrive via airplane Friday!
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Saturday, August 9, 2008

My Flip Flops Need To Be Thrown Out Before I Hop On a Plane To Greece

So here is the 6 Quirky, Boring, And Unremarkable Things About Me Meme from The Soapdish:

1. Today I was pleasantly surprised by how entertained I was at Momma Mia. Hello, Greece I am packing my bags right this very moment!

2. I crashed a neighborhood Ladies Night last night, compliments of an invite by this friend. And I didn't know a soul, talk about stepping out of my comfort zone. It was refreshing.

3. Friday night out, movie and lunch with a friend. Holy, did someone actually get the woe is me memo? Woot, woot!

4. I've been contemplating a tiny revenge plot on Mrs.C.O.B., trust me it's not harming any one, maybe just a little sapling.

5. My flip flops should have been thrown out in May and I am still wearing them. I'm definitely in for the rest of the season.

6. I am a cupcake snob. I tried 6 different varieties of cupcakes from this bakery. I thought they tasted good, but I was not overly impressed. It made me long for these California Cupcakes instead. And, I also realized I should own a damn cupcake bakery

Alrighty, Welcome To The Circus, if you haven't gotten your tag yet, you're it!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Can I Have A Woe Is Me Moment?

My goodness, once again it's Friday. My husband is beyond consumed with his job right now, he's drowning in mind reeling things to do. Things to do at work. Because the long hours aren't quite enough, work also has to consume him mentally when he's finally home for the night.

I guess all of my neighbor's trash cans out on the curb did not set off a hint to my husband to put the trash out this morning. I sent the note Sj created to my parents in a package, so I guess it's time for a new one. I wonder if anyone caught a glimpse of me this morning, scurrying to put the trash out in my husband's flip flops, my pajamas, and no bra. I swear the way I looked was blog fodder. Poor housewife, stay at home mom, let herself go. If they could only see beyond the walls and how guilt ridden I feel for not having washed the floors in two weeks or how the pile of mail is growing. Oh the list could go on.

My hubby's workload has obviously impacted our household. I feel like things are out of balance and there's nothing really for me to do, other than suck it up. My husband is going to hate me for this, but I feel like I am living the life of a single mother, with no family in town to help out. It's during these times that I always regret moving away from family. Moving away from those that would come take my kids for a couple of hours, so I could breathe. Breathe deep breaths, go for a run, scour a sink with out someone tugging on my leg, maybe even cook me a meal, or put away the laundry before someone thinks it's fun to unfold all of it.

I dream of saying, "Have fun at Nana and Papa's see you in the morning!"

Granted my husband isn't out having a fun time, he's working and stressing out. Does that make me feel better about the situation? Sometimes, but mainly no. I want the balance to be back for all of us. Patience is a virtue that is slipping away from me. Soon enough we'll be on the flip side of Labor Day and my life with my husband will return to the something we could consider to be normal.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Do You Think My Shop Vac Would Clog Sucking Up Mrs.C.O.B.??? (the video evidence)

Oh the garden. Wasn't it just a few weeks ago, I was boasting the garden was my sanctuary, my place to feel happy and release stress? Then moved in my problem with Pill Bugs and Earwigs, which was quickly remedied with a little Shop Vacuuming. I am happy to report I ate my very first zucchini tonight, grilled with olive oil. I rescued the half eaten plant, cared for it morning, noon, and night, and it thanked me with nourishment. 

Then my garden drama moved on to Mrs.C.O.B. or Mrs. Crotchety*Old*Bag, as I prefer to call her. It was just a few days ago that she enlightened me that she did not like my flowers growing on her half of the fence (full story). I was naive to believe our conversation was just that, words spoken.

Turns out, Mrs.C.O.B. had plans for my outrageous vining flowers, she would simply rip them out. Now mind you, Mrs.C.O.B. doesn't get around very well. She sits and waters. She kneels and leans about 2 inches from the ground when weeding. (Just for the record Mrs.C.O.B. is not a woman who is lonely, her daughter lives with her and she has five other children that visit her sometimes twice daily or at least once a week.)Apparently her age and mobility does not stop her from climbing her little wire fence and ripping out my flowers.

Monday afternoon, I saw her out my kitchen window. I grabbed my camera and moved in for the confrontation friendly chat. Of course after the fact, I can think of a 1,001 things I should have said. But now, there really isn't much more to say. The video speaks for itself. I will tell you, that I have moved on. It is what it is and I have no control over it. I feel angry, but that anger is subsiding. I have used a secondary fence to protect my plants from her wrath.

So do you think my Shop Vac would clog if I tried to suck up this irritable critter, Mrs.C.O.B., that has invaded my precious garden space?


A little side note about the video, unfortunately my many attempts to directly upload to Blogger failed. I'm bummed because the compression from YouTube just about kills the quality of the video, oh the things I must learn. So sorry you had to sit through this crappy version. My husband who makes a living in the film industry is now bowing his head in disgrace. Guess I need to take a Final Cut class and kick up the videos a notch.
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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tuesday Tips- Real Simple 20 Minute Meals

Although I hate to admit it, I no longer subscribe to Real Simple Magazine, I had to pick up this month's current issue when I saw the cover. 20 Minute Meals, Healthy Delicious Dinners For The Entire Month. Speak to me, say my name, say my name. Dinner in 20 minutes!?! I couldn't allow my usual in line perusal of the magazine to suffice with this issue, it was worth it's weight in gold.

I'm not sure if it's just my girls, but for some reason the three weeks of 90 degree heat combined with 4:30 in the afternoon, seems to be a combination for meltdowns and neediness. Not exactly the type of behavior I am hoping for as I start to prepare dinner. So what do I need, healthy, quick, and simple recipes. This week I chose three recipes to prepare from the magazine and planned accordingly before I did my shopping. I am happy to report, the recipes I chose didn't have many out of the ordinary ingredients. Simple and delicious, now that's my kind of weekday cooking.

The first recipe I prepared was the Cool Southwestern Salad With Corn and Avocado. I was having dinner with a friend that night, so I wanted to prepare something easy and light. The dressing for the recipe is fresh lime juice, ground cumin, olive oil, and salt. So simple, but full of wonderful flavor. We added rotisserie chicken to the finished salad, which was a nice addition of protein. Although the recipe did not specify, I did cook the corn on the cob first, so then our kids could enjoy corn with the meal as well. Corn on the cob is a huge hit with my girls lately. Definitely recommend this one.

The next recipe I prepared was the Gingery Salmon With Peaches. Yum grilled peaches were a hit with us! The only problem with this recipe is that Sj is not a huge salmon eater, so we had to provide her with an alternative protein source. We grilled our WILD salmon on thinly sliced lemon under the filets. It really makes a nice touch and depth of flavor that is unexpected. Definitely buy fresh thyme, it makes all the difference. Another hit.

The last recipe I prepared was the Spaghetti With Broccoli and Lemon. Typically I use Barilla Plus, with the drawback being it's not organic, but the protein and fiber are wonderful. My family has a thing for Barilla, so most of the time Barilla it is. It just so happened I had organic whole wheat linguini in the house, which I used for the recipe. That's the beauty of pasta dishes, I use what's on hand. I held off on the red pepper flakes to make it appealing for the girls and allowed my hubby to season to taste, red pepper flakes do make a nice touch. Honestly, adding a cup of pasta water seemed a bit much to me. I think I would reduce it to a half cup next time. The lemon flavor was a little lost with out the lemon zest in a bite. Also, we don't eat Parmesan, I grew up eating Pecorino Romano. So of course I used Romano in the recipe. It was a fine replacement. The girls devoured it, but broccoli is their favorite vegetable, so I had it easy with this one. Give it a try, it's faster than loading up the kids in the car and driving through a very unhealthy alternative.

Hope you give some of these quick meals a shot. The appeal of a short ingredient list and easy preparation gets me every time. Everyone is happy when dinner is ready in a flash and clean plates fill the sink. Enjoy.

Please share some quick recipes you've been loving in the heat of summer!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Mrs.C.O.B. Doesn't Like Flowers

Every morning, I am up and out in my garden within ten minutes. This ritual is so predictable that our 20 month old said the other morning, daddy "eat" and mommy "garden", after we woke up. Yes, my hubby prepares breakfast and I examine the damage, growth, water, maybe vacuum a few bugs up, and greet our plants. Typically, I am in my pajamas, but we have privacy fencing on three sides of our yard, so I don't give it much thought.

For the last couple of weeks, my next door neighbor, Mrs. C.O.B. or Mrs.Crotchety-Old-Bag, as I like to call her has also been out in her yard. Yes, it's the side with out the privacy fence. Now in my like to get along with the neighbors attitude, I always wish Mrs.C.O.B. a "good morning and how are you today?" Typically she responds with some negative comment about the weather or how my garden has weeds.

Now I weed my garden, but I don't obsess about a few here and there. When they grow a few inches long, I pick them. It's an ongoing process and considering I don't use chemicals, my garden is bound to have weeds. It doesn't bother me, but it bothers Mrs.C.O.B. apparently.

Yesterday, I once again was graced with Mrs.C.O.B.'s presence. And then this conversation transpired:

Me- Good Morning Mrs.C.O.B.

Mrs.C.O.B.- Oh goodness, I didn't know it was going to be so hot already this morning, I even put on my coat.

Me- Yeah, it's going to be a hot one again.

Mrs.C.O.B.- Why did you plant your garden so close to the fence?

Me- Well, why is your garden so close to the fence? (her flower garden runs the length of our fence on her side)

Mrs.C.O.B.- Well, my flowers don't bother anyone. What are those flowers you planted anyway? They are growing up the fence!!!

Me- Well, they are Scarlet Runner Bean Flowers. I planted vining flowers intentionally along the fence. I like them. And, for the record, this is the sunniest spot in my yard because of the Cottonwood. I point up, showing her how our 50 year old tree shades our entire yard, except for this very spot. Then I top it off with and gardens need sunshine to grow. I didn't want the raised planting bed in the middle of my shady yard.

Mrs.C.O.B.- Well it's half my fence you know. And I don't like them. They are growing into my yard! I guess it's time for me to go in.

Me- La, La, La, earplugs anyone?

So after the C.O.B. went inside, I took a closer inspection of my annoying flowers from her perspective. Yes the flowers have sent vines up the fence, covering both sides. Honestly they are about 2-3 feet wide. That is the only thing I have growing on the fence, except for one cucumber plant. All of my other cukes are vining on a little trellis I built for them, on my side of the fence.

My reaction, so the C.O.B. doesn't like flowers. How typical. I guess I would consider my 3 feet of vining flowers to be growing on our 50% of the fence. Now, I wait for her to go inside before I go out and water. Seriously, who doesn't like flowers.

When I am writing this blog in 40 years, will you guys remind me to chill out on the flower hating?

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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Got Old Pots & Pans, Create Some Family Music!

Patience is a virtue, especially in our local library consortium. I placed a hold months ago for The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule (link below). Finally after much eager anticipation the book was ready and waiting for me. I rushed over to my local branch and picked it up.

I've been reading the Soule Mama blog now for quite sometime and I knew her recently published book would be like icing on the cake. The book is chock full of creative outlets for your entire family to enjoy together.

One of the her creative projects that sparked my curiosity was the Banging Wall. Basically, she gathered up old pots, pans, and metal bakeware. Then she attached them to a moveable A-Frame so her children (and adults alike) could create music by banging on the pots/pans with wooden spoons or sticks, in her yard. Brilliant!

Saturdays are 50% off days at our local thrift store. I headed over to pick up some old pots and pans so we could have our own Banging Wall. I walked away with a great selection of metalware for less than $10 bucks. We have a humongous shed in our backyard, that was just screaming for some creativity to adorn it. The Banging Wall was just the perfect solution.

This morning, I couldn't wait to get started. I took some old scraps of 2x4's and attached them to the shed wall. Then I started placing the pots and pans in various places, trying to get the best sound possible. Some are attached loosely, some are on string, and some are flush with the 2x4.

Add a couple of sticks and wooden spoons, and voile music will happen. I will warn you, you may be inching in for some space on your kids. I try to model playing rhythms for Sj, so then she can recreate those rhythms. At this point she's just in free for all banging mode.

Not sure what my neighbors think, but maybe it's my payback for all the constant barking dogs.

Enjoy the video, I couldn't resist. You may even laugh at Sj's reaction to knocking the rack off the shed wall! It's a hoot.
video

For the record, we've name our wall, the Drum Wall. Hopefully you'll encourage your children to explore music with your very own Drum/Banging Wall!

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Friday, August 1, 2008

Conversations With My Daughter

My first born was gifted with the art of conversation, even at the ripe age of four. She loves to chat up anyone that will listen. The mailman, the grocery store clerk, our neighbors, whomever happens to call. Last night, I was getting some laundry done. She was hanging out with daddy before bed, but came running in a flash down the stairs.

Sj- Mom, Mom. I have a brilliant idea. Why don't you go away with your friends, so I can stay home with daddy? Daddy always has to go away. But if YOU go away then he has to stay home.

Mom- I am liking this idea. You are right, it's brilliant. Only one problem, where would I go?

Sj- You could go to California, to buy me Julie (an American Girl Doll). Buy me all the coordinating accessories, the outfits, ALL OF THEM. Oh, and that bike.

Mom-Fly to California to buy you more stuff. Interesting.

She ran upstairs in a flash. Yelling to my hubby, "Mommy is going away!!!"

After I gave her idea some further thought, I realized she had a point. It's a very busy time for my husband at work right now. Every August pretty much sucks for our family as unit, for there is no escaping the crunch of August or the lengthy trip to Los Angeles for him to complete his project. Now that's she's older, she recognizes the amount of time he has to be away from us. The dinners with out him, the meetings on weekends, the last minute travel, his cell phone always ringing.

Later on, I explained to her what a Stay At Home Mom is. How Daddy's job involves traveling and how my job involves being with her. How I wouldn't want it to be any other way. Although I do appreciate her idea to score some more time with Daddy.

And, I don't get away. I've been away from her one night her entire life. One night. I am just a couple of weeks away from finishing up weaning my 20 month old, so soon I will be free. Free to escape for a weekend away with friends. Take a trip all by myself. Quite honestly I am in no rush, but I do like to dream about the possibilities. Gosh, maybe I'll even attend a little conference next year called BlogHer.

Then, Sj's wish will come true. To have daddy all to herself (well and with her sister) for the whole weekend. Sounds like a win-win situation for all parties involved.