Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday Tips: Birthday Magic Streamer Fairy

Well, in honor of my oldest daughter's fifth birthday, today I dedicate my Tuesday Tips to the Streamer Fairy. The "Streamer Fairy" was an accidental birth in our home. On a whim the evening before Sj's second birthday I decorated our kitchen and dining room with streamers and balloons. When she awoke on her birthday and came downstairs, the excitement that she exuded was beyond my expectations.

Why the Streamer Fairy? Life is full of so much pressure to buy the perfect gift, to provide memorable birthday experiences with grandiose gestures, but the Streamer Fairy turned out to be a little special thing. A little tradition that was born out of delight and magic, which we all want to feel on our special day. Better yet, it keeps the fun surrounding birthdays at the forefront of all birthday celebrations. Sometimes, it's hard to keep the fun in mind when you are up crafting a cake until midnight, or putting together toys, or preparing the house for a party, but the Streamer Fairy always brings our home back to center, back to wearing a smile. Sj definitely anticipates the arrival of the Streamer Fairy over presents, with that said I would say my goal has been accomplished.

Of course the Streamer Fairy comes for everyone's birthday now. Sj talks about the Streamer Fairy with friends at school, mothers have inquired as to what exactly the Streamer Fairy is, so they can take part in the tradition. The Streamer Fairy is contagious, why don't you allow her to come to your house on the eve of a birthday and find out what kind of magic can grace your home...

Another Streamer Fairy Post, here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

So Much For Sharing a Muffin... Propaganda Anyone?

At Kindergarten drop off today, I noticed two mothers exchanging an Anti-Muslim Propaganda DVD, which has been distributed to 28 million American homes, mainly through newspapers in targeted swing states. Now the message of the DVD is completely focused on American Security, of course with a small group of Extreme Muslims waging a war on our security.

Funny enough, if you do a little bit of research and put the pieces together, it's pretty easy to see what the point of the DVD is, to scare Americans, shortly before a major election. 

Here's my list of problems with the DVD (although I could go on):
  1. National Security is in the best interest of all Americans, so why target only swing states? Are only a handful of states at risk? My goodness, I think not. 

  2. The company producing the video has not disclosed their source of funding, even though they claim to be a non-profit. Have something to hide?

  3. The Clarion Fund (who put their name on the dvd) is run by three individuals that are employed by Aish HaTorah International, an organization based out of Israel. Why aren't Americans rallying for our safety, why does this foreign organization have so much interest in our safety?

  4. Why do we need to influence politics with religious bigotry?
For the record, I returned my three dvd's to the sender. Please people do your homework. Make informed decisions on November 4th, not ones that are fueled by sad scare tactics. If you are interested I have pertinent links to all the above information, I just cared to leave them out. Drop me an email. 

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Television Station, Caring About Our Children?

How cool, how cutting edge. Go out and find something fun to do with your kids. There is a list provided by Nick Jr. here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Is It Goodbye, Summer?

Lately i've been hearing the subtle whispers of Autumn warning me it's just around the corner. On Monday after class, I noticed it was much darker than the past few weeks when arriving home. Nights have been cooler, in that wonderful where exactly did I put my flannel pajamas so we can snuggle kind of way. When perusing the racks of Anthropologie last weekend, I passed over short sleeve tops for a wool sweater. Maybe my favorite time of year is during the Autumnal change. I don't eagerly anticipate any other season through out the year, but Autumn I am ready and waiting. Ok, maybe I long for a really warm summer day come mid-April, but in my heart Autumn is my favorite. 

Mother Nature makes the transition much slower than my mind hopes. Yesterday we topped out at 91 degrees and today is proving to be just as warm. This weekend is Sj's 5th birthday party and of course we chose an indoor venue on a day when it's going to be 83 and sunny. If only I could predict.

Funny enough with all the changes, my garden is still going strong. Everyday I am graced with a fresh bowl of tomatoes that are continuing to vine ripen. I have the most perfect cucumber of the season still maturing at this very moment. Pumpkins and gourds are happily growing on leggy vines. And my friend, the zucchini plant, which I thought I would lose for sure to these critters or these creepy crawlies, but with the help of this device the little plant that could matured beyond my wildest dreams.

Right now, I have about three zucchinis maturing. Oh and I have two sitting in my vegetable bowl, keeping the tomatoes company. But luckily I am a huge fan of Food Network. Paula Deen has a fabulously moist recipe for zucchini bread. Once again Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread aromas will fill my kitchen. The smell of it baking is always a bit reminiscent of my traditional Fall batches of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (you must try them!!!). Delightful. Sometimes just for the fun of it I throw in Indian Garam Masala spice to mix things up and leave your taste buds with an, ooh that's wonderful feeling.

Off I go, it's Autumn and I have some serious baking to do!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Unintentional Ballet Mom

Sometimes I whole heartedly embrace being a mother of two girls, because at their current age society allows them to explore whatever it is they so desire. My oldest daughter has been through many phases from loving everything to do with trains and trucks to only wanting to wear dresses, not just any dresses either, but dresses that twirl. This summer she participated in T-Ball and was one among four girls on her team (I on the other hand was the only girl in the entire league). Sj loves things that are considered very dominantly boy, like Justice League Superheroes and rough housing tag with the boys in her class. But then she can turn on her feminine charm. Society doesn't give my friends with boys, the same carte blanche.

I have even suggested the Ballet School to a handful of my friends with boys, with reactions such as "You can't be serious". But I am, the male dancers at the Ballet School are amazing. I think I would encourage my son to embrace the art of dance as much as male dominated sports. But then again, I was given two girls, both of which love to dance.

This fall, we decided to allow Sj to try out ballet at a very formal and well known Ballet School. The reasoning behind my dance school of choice was ultimately the caliber of experience. There are plenty of dance school choices in the town we live in, but oddly enough many of them leave a bad "pageant over-done-makeup" feeling in my stomach. I am not a parent that wishes to hurry my daughters into the world of all things they'll discover soon enough during their teenage years.

With Sj's enrollment in Ballet School, I had no idea that I was the one undergoing the Ballet Mom initiation. The first week, I was taught the proper method for creating a bun in her hair, complete with a hair net to best contain the bun. The pre-teen ballet students that showed me the ropes were absolutely adorable, they demonstrated improperly formed buns, and gave me secret tips for the best bun which is one that replicates a cinnamon bun, flat and close to the head. The Ballet School is very welcoming, everyone is kind and friendly, not exactly what I anticipated. I am a bit disappointed to admit that I thought it would be stuffy and prissy, but I was wrong.

Every week now, we partake in ritual. Sj is trained in formal ballet technique. I lay out her clothes and dress her, embracing our new tradition. I feel so proud when I see Sj looking like a little ballerina, prepared to learn, prepared to embrace a new form of art. Every week when we enter the school, the school's professional dance company rehearses in the studio where she attends class. We sit outside, getting a glimpse of the dancers looking so beautiful and graceful, bonding and moving in magical ways.

This may sound really sappy, but I get a little welled up when I see Sj and the ballet students peering in the open door. I know they imagine themselves one day being a part of such a production. This week we had a chance to see Sj's teacher in rehearsal, to say there was a twinkle in Sj's eyes is an understatement. I watched her eyes follow every step and her brain create the dream for her future. This Ballet School is more special than I ever anticipated, I know the timing was just right to embrace the art of Ballet.

Here's a quick camera phone snap shot of the seed being planted or shall I say the dream being born, you decide.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday Tips: Don't Sacrifice Values For a Healthy Glow

When I walked through the door of the new Origins Cherry Creek North in Denver, my initial feeling was refreshing. Rarely has the feeling of refreshing entered my mind while shopping, but clearly change was in the air. Once again, Origins was pushing the boundaries of what a retail experience means. A new Origins green concept store in Denver was undoubtedly driven by experience and with such care and attention to detail, delightful emotions were bound to unfurl.

My body's initial reaction was to rest for a moment shortly after entering the store and to become grounded in what I was about to experience. The aromatherapy was light and intriguing. My nose cued my eyes to scan the store, wondering where this journey would first take me. Of course I was drawn to the Cafe in the center of an Origins skin care store. The Cafe is a partnership between Boulder born Pekoe Sip House and Origins. Honestly I couldn't of dreamt of a more perfect partnership, although my love for tea may leave me a bit biased.

Unfortunately it disturbs me to admit, for years i've been searching for skin care products that work for my sensitive skin and align with my personal philosophies. Most of the time, my values had to be abandoned when purchasing skin care products. I turned a blind eye to ingredients such as mineral oil, synthetic fragrance, parabens, DEA, or animal ingredients. Sadly enough, I have a closet chock full of products that didn't stand the test on my body for longer than two weeks. After that short period of time, my body was screaming for no more, most appropriately with a break out of teenage proportions or burning and redness that was just not normal. Money wasted.

Finally, Origins number was up. It was time to explore skin care products that do align with my personal philosophies on the environment and natural derived ingredients.

After sipping on some House Matcha Green Tea, I wandered through out the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified store. My skin soaked up the made for Denver High-Elevation Hydration Cream (for face and body). Being active and living a mile above sea level in a dry climate, endless has been my search for a product to keep my skin hydrated. The essential oils in the cream, provide a mild joyful aroma in which I am always seeking. There clearly is no substitute for the power and purity that is found in essential oils. My husband commented on the cream as well, the scent is gender neutral, so J didn't hesitate in the least bit to give it a try. It's only been a week since I have been faithfully using the cream, but the dry patches on my elbows have already become a distant memory.

I left the Origins Concept store with products for my face as well. An Organic Purifying Tonic, A Perfect World Cleanser with White Tea, and a Dr. Andrew Weil Plantidote Mega-Mushroom Face Serum.

What's the real reaction, my body's take on my newest installment of the chase to find the perfect products? A glow. My skin reflects that I drink water all day to nourish my body from the inside out, now complimented by the products I am using to cleanse and moisturize simply is a wonderful balance.

Honestly, all I have ever wanted was a healthy glow. Thanks to Origins, I think I have finally gotten skin care right.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sending Out Some Bloggy Love

Within the past couple of weeks, I was given two lovely blog awards and it's time for me to pass them along.

First I am passing along this delightful, Portuguese award. Let's see if I can translate what it means (umm or steal it from Mama Zen, who passed it along to me): Translated from the Portuguese, it says, "This blog invests and believes in proximity." Or one could say, blogging makes us close! Which I firmly believe in the community blogging creates, so thank you mama zen!

I would love to pass this along to my MOMs Club friends that started blogging shortly after I did, I love that our blogs allow us an opportunity to get to know each other better. We all met when our kids were just wee little toddlers and now they are 5. I still must admit without the blogs, I wouldn't have known some interesting tidbits about these three women:

Carpe-Diem Love2Cook

The Soapdish

Welcome To The Circus

And even though she had a jumpstart on me in the blogging department, our friendship truly shows the power of connections blogging has on us! First my blogworld friend, now a friend in real life, Never A Dull Moment

The second award I graciously received from The Clothesline. I would like to pass it along to:

Nap Warden, she writes the Chronicles of a Stay At Home Mom. Stop by, she's fun, witty, and a blog designer to top it off!

Friday, September 19, 2008

One Part Observation, One Part Imagination

For eight weeks I found myself lingering for moments longer than I cared for in the foyer of the Performing Arts Complex where my daughter was enrolled in summer camp. The foyer was rather drab with it's grey industrial carpeting and tattered modern styled lounge seating, but starkly contrasted with small cases displaying beautiful hand made creations. Of course the cases were made of large sheets of glass that GL loved to bang on, leaving my nerves on edge every time she made the approach.

During those idle moments I found myself observing the interactions of other parents around me. I suppose with a degree in Cultural Anthropology my intrinsic nature is to observe others, taking mental notes of interactions by the familiar strangers that surrounded me week after week. My curiosity was sparked on more than one occasion by the subtleties in the nuances of two friendly parents.

The parents clearly knew each other for their children happily played together and walked hand in hand into the building. The mom, Jane, always seemed worn out. During close to nearly every visit, she would plop herself down on the floor changing her youngest of four children. Jane was fit and very pretty, but her body language often reflected the toll being a mother of four can take on anyone. Her children were always strewn about, climbing on the art installations, running unobserved down the halls, licking the water fountains, jumping to make the automatic doors open and close over and over.

Her friend, John, was energetically her opposite. He on the other hand was one of those dads, happily tossing his youngest daughter up in the air, while his legs provided the pony ride for his oldest daughter. John was one of the few fathers I saw during my eight week trips to the Arts Center. I never concluded if John stayed home with his kids, but he certainly enjoyed his time with them.

Jane's eyes always lit up when John entered the lobby. On more than one occasion he brought along her favorite drink from the Starbuck's drive through. John seemed to be a lifeline for Jane, who apparently was worn thin lately. The moments that I often called into question between them always seemed to occur in the parking lot. It maybe was a longer than intended hug, the passing of a card, or a subtle kiss on the cheek. John would always be carrying one of Jane's children on his shoulders as she had all she could do to manage one at a time.

For some odd reason the feeling I gathered was one of Hollywood proportions. The one captured in Little Children between Kate Winslet's character Sarah and the Prom King played by Patrick Wilson. If you've read the book or watched the film, you know how that one ended after the much heated love affair between the stay at home parents.

I occasionally still wonder about John and Jane. I wonder if I my imagination was completely off the mark or if my observations of subtleties were right on. John and Jane the characters created in my head with one part observation and one part imagination.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Chasing Paper

Last night I started looking for a sheet of paper. Problem is I don't remember exactly what it looks like, but I do recall it's about the third of a full sheet. Maybe it's blue. Or maybe it's white. This sheet of paper is worth a few hundred dollars, so it's definitely worth getting my hands on it. The value of this paper is also what complicates my situation.

Sometimes when papers are important, I have a habit of putting them in a special place. Not in the basket where all my bills go for safe keeping. Even though I've double checked it hasn't appeared in the "to be filed" stack, umm or small mountain taking up the front side of my file cabinet. Shame on me. My special place has escaped me. Damn those special places.

After a couple of attempts with different lovely customer service representatives, I tried getting an electronic version of the paper I am desperately seeking, but no can do. Administrative jumble is what I received. Oh and we'll send you a new one, in 5-7 business days. Well, for the record I needed that piece of paper last night.

Time to move forward, empty handed in my paper chase. My files are in an upheaval, but I suppose the universe is just begging me to deal with them anyhow. Off, I go to file paper, silly paper,ridiculous amounts of statements, and probably even shred some paper. At this point, if I find that blue voucher, I might just rip it to shreds. Silently screaming, I must go.

All I can ponder is how many trees were harmed in the making of my paper chase?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesday Tips- Don't Believe The HFCS Hype!!!

The other night, J and I were watching some television. Honestly I can't recall what was on, but a particular commercial left me feeling a tad bit irritated. Well, no that's being too mild, I was seriously pissed off. How dare the Corn Growers Association take us for fools? If you haven't seen their commercial, here's the first-

Seriously, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) what's so bad about it, it's made from corn? What kind of fools do the marketers of this campaign take us for? I wouldn't stare like a deer in headlights or compliment my friend on her blouse, when she gave me some bullshit line about HFCS being natural. I'd lay down some facts for her!

I've written in the past about HFCS in a Tuesday Tips post on food additives to avoid. HFCS is in everything, go look at your ketchup label, breakfast cereal, granola bars, soda, bread, Stove Top Stuffing, fruit juice (if it's not 100%), Miracle Whip, crackers like Cheese Nips or Ritz, cottage cheese (Breakstone), and I could go on and on. Yep, it's in there. You'll be amazed at how many food products contain HFCS. But why is it bad, it's made from corn right? Probably, GMO, genetically modified corn to start with.

Fructose has to be metabolized through the liver, which means it's not easily processed by our bodies. Fructose is converted to a fat which in turn contributes to raised triglyceride levels in our bloodstream (oh, maybe Lipitor had their hands in this campaign). And to top it off, HFCS blocks the release of the hormone that tells our bodies we are full, which means you overeat when you drink soda or eat food products containing HFCS. Adding those extra pounds. Speaking of sweeteners, skip the artificial ones, they are chemicals and the word is still out on their safety.

I'll give you the facts, since HFCS has been a staple additive in everyday foods we consume obesity and diabetes are on the rise. Corn syrup is not NATURALLY occurring, it is a glucose which is chemically processed from corn starch. I suppose you could say anything is fine in moderation, why not offer your children a cigarette to go with it, I mean tobacco is found in nature right? For the record, Whole Foods store brand, 365 never contains HFCS, they do the leg work for us.

One of my all time favorite quotes is "If you not outraged, then you're not paying attention!" This marketing campaign would be my direct response to the ridiculousness of this $30 MILLION DOLLAR pro-HFCS ad campaign.

Don't buy it!

article highlighting the ad campaign deception!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tour de Fat Hootenanny

Life in Colorado is always full of pleasant surprises. So on a typical Saturday morning you have a fair share of activities to partake in. You can wake up hit the Boulder Farmer's Market for breakfast and some veges and go hiking, take a drive out to an Organic Berry Farm for berry picking, drive into the mountains to have a snow ball fight, or you can meet up with a bunch of melodic folks in a bicycle parade in Denver. 

Now, knowing us, we would have easily taken part in any of those activities on Saturday, but the Bicycle Parade trumped them all. On Saturday the second annual Tour de Fat took place in Denver City Park complete with a six mile bicycle parade through the streets of Denver, with Denver Police Escorts. How cool is that?

About 500 of us, hopped on our bicycles and toured through major intersections with the automobile traffic in queue, thanks to the Denver PD. Now this bicycle parade isn't just any parade, it's a melodic gathering of very unique characters. The goal of the Tour de Fat is to get your freak on, embrace your quirkiness, and laugh! We picked up a second hand Tag-A-Long for Sj, even though she is riding solidly with out training wheels, six miles in a crowd is a bit much to ask of a five year old. Plus, she was gawking at all the costumes through the entire event, I kept thinking about how she would've crashed at least a hundred times trying to get a closer look at those zooming by her in costume.

The event was a fundraiser, sponsored by the New Belgium Brewing Company, most famously know for their Fat Tire Beer. They operate out of Fort Collins, where the Tour de Fat has been held for years. After the parade, we joined in the crowd for some lovely vaudeville style performance arts and mingling with some pretty open minded delightful folks. Can't wait for next year.

Here are some photos from the festivities!
Sj and J bottom left corner enjoying the parade!

A very kind stranger snapped this action shot of us!

This is a glimpse of the uniqueness of the folks!

Approaching the Denver Capitol Building, look at all those bicycles!

This is one of my favorite photos from the day. I took it while riding my bicycle. In the background is the billboard for SoldiersFace an art exhibit that's traveling around the country, with the stark contrast of a colorful Obama 2008 t-shirt. 

I must confess after the bicycle parade paired with a night out on the town with some fellow Denver bloggers on Friday, I came home and did some property searches in Denver. You know, I was curious. Just planting a seed.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Lesson in Never Say Never

Have you ever noticed how sometimes little nudges in life come in waves? One day someone mentions something to you that you've never given much thought to, then someone else plants a seed, and before you know it everyone around you is talking about the same damn thing?

Enter Facebook.

So with a few nudges and encouragements, then some demands and convincing, I gave in. I wanted to see what it was all about. I previously thought that I didn't have interest in Facebook because I really don't give much thought to people that I went to high school with twenty years ago and I couldn't tell you all but a handful of people's full names that I went to college with. Granted there will always be that small core group of folks I wonder about, but for the most part, I thought nah, not for me.

But I joined. Do you know what I found out?

Facebook is for me. Facebook has been amazing in just this past week. I've connected with three girlfriends that I thought were out of my life forever. But now they are just a click away, even if they live in Honduras, Singapore, and California. Very happily I've touched base with an old friend that lives in New York City, it took but one electronic message to relive some of our former teenage antics, we were truly partners in crime. The tales we could tell. If only I had a blog when I rocked my Tretorns. It's mind blowing really.

So now I log on, I see a list of names and faces that aren't a part of my everyday life, but faces that once were a big part of my life. Faces that make me smile. I can drop a quick message and connect with any one of them in a matter of seconds. Time and distance are not an obstacle anymore.(This might just explain why my Google Reader has gotten a bit full lately, I haven't found much balance in my new internet pursuit. I'll be back my friends on reader!) Oh the internet, what would we do with out you?

Do you Facebook? Have any great stories to share?

For those of you with Flair, I created an EatPlayLove badge, you should check it out!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Gosselin/Duggar Ticket- Election '08

Time for EatPlayLove to jump on the election blog fodder bandwagon. Now, you may leave here wondering why I am not being headhunted for Karl Rove's former position. As you will agree, I have just as much political influence over government decision making as Rove and I am a woman, which is very important in this election.

Oh, for a little background on my experience, I was secretary on the MOMs Club board for one year and Vice President of my senior class in high school, are you guys feeling my political capabilities here?

So what exactly has inspired me to write a political post?

"If she can raise 5 kids, She can run our country!"

That quote. I happened upon that little quote from a Palin supporter just a couple of days ago. You know, it left me with one deep political thought. The Republicans have made a huge mistake, obviously they were lured by the "drill, drill, drill" potential in Alaska, for they overlooked the two most qualified candidates I could think of.

Kate Gosselin & Michelle Duggar

With twenty five kids between their respective families, I think we could name that ticket President and Vice President of the Earth. I know Michelle does have more children which should bump her up to Presidential status, but I am a huge fan of Kate and her incredible organization skills will help run the country smoothly. Since this is my blog, I nominate Kate for the top job as President!

Inspirational don't you think?

For the record, I would love to get into political debate, show you how easily my blood boils, but honestly I just can't do it. I'll be there in November, exercising my right to vote, that's what's most important to me. I hope you'll be there as well.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Your Manners Are Quite Rude...

The other night, I left class wandering back through groups of students on cell phones or distracted by their iPods to my car. I always seem to carry my gaze low to the ground, but occasionally smile at someone walking towards me. It's a bit of a walk to my car, as I choose to park for free in a neighborhood directly adjacent to the University Business section aka, "The Hill". It was starting to get dark and an old burrito place caught my eye as I was just about to walk on by. Illegal Pete's, home to deliciously cheap burritos that I haven't indulged in, in about two years. Two years.

I walked through the door to find no wait, a blessing for Illegal Pete's. The air was warm and the smell was reminiscent of my last visit, is it possible to have aroma memory? The guy behind the counter, smiled at me and said, "What can I get you, Ma'am?"

Bean and cheese burrito rolled off my tongue, as if it had only been a week since my last visit. Then my thoughts quickly reacted to the Ma'am in his statement. Yes, he's doing his job of being nice, having manners, but Ma'am!!! Ma'am. I always feel so old when someone calls me Ma'am and I typically speak up like, seriously Ma'am? I know, I'm not eighteen or twenty one, I'm not a cute college girl out for a burrito after class. I am a mom, a hungry mom. Delighting in one of her favorite past times, a ginourmous burrito. Thank goodness my jacket was buttoned shut because when I got home my hubby pointed out I still was wearing my name tag from class.

Just when life seems to be a little too stable I have to go throw a big pothole in the road ahead of me. What an experience this one class has turned out to be...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Here's My Take On Lance Returning To Le Tour...

Please note, for those of you that could care less about Lance Armstrong or Le Tour de France, please delete this post from your reader, or move along. As it seems I need a nightly post to fuel my delight to see Lance once again race in the Tour.

It's official, Lance is returning to cycling and better yet, I know why. On Saturday August 9, Lance raced in an extreme mountain bike race in Leadville, Colorado. No, I wasn't there. Why? Because I didn't know Lance would be there. Come on people, Lance in my neck of the woods, I would have made the trip. Trust me.

Back to the race. Lance came in second. SECOND. You see Lance doesn't come in second. He wins, yellow. Second place has been consuming his every thought since August. I am sure he said, what the f@#k, I am returning to the Tour. I'll show them who's second.

Thank you cool crisp Rocky Mountain air for breathing cycling life back into Lance.

Plus having sex with celebrities is obviously overrated and his best friend Matthew McConayghey is all busy with his newborn to hang out anymore. So what's left, win the 8th Tour...


Tuesday Tips: Princess Doesn't Have To Be Disney

Random Tuesday Tip, kind of. See where I go with this one. At around the age of three my daughter discovered Princesses, namely Disney Princesses. We have a whole Pottery Barn Tote full of dress ups, our poor regular Barbies have been overshadowed by Princess Barbies, and yes the dvd collection has grown up from Baby Einstein (Disney) to Disney Princess This or That. ( If you are new around here, click those links, I promise a good laugh.)

Now mind you, I am not anti-Disney or anti-Disney Princess, but my goodness does Disney need to have the entire Princess market? Can't we delve into regular princess stories, original folk tales handed down by generations with out all the bling and marketing to back it up? That's really what gets me. The down your throat marketing, the "oh I have to have this", or "can we just walk through the Disney Store" whines. Trust me, I am not filling my house with all things princess, Sj is outgrowing her princess phase (there is hope for you in the thick of it), and now I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

But innate to every Princess story, with the exception of all the poor mothers, is the story of hope and most often a happy ending. I would love to know what was up with Walt's mother, but that's an entirely different post. So, I seem to get a little soft when it comes to some Princess things.

Sj was recently given a game, by HABA one of my favorite toy makers, called Sleepy Princess and The Pea. For the record this game was made in Germany, but not all Haba products are made there. It's recommended for ages 3-12, 2-4 players.

The premise of playing is fairly simple, put down the bed frame with the little pea inside, and each person takes a turn stacking the cushions on top of one another, building the bed up. It helps build fine motor skills, patience, and confidence. The bonus is all the laughs that seem to accompany play during the game, especially if it's Mommy that makes the bed crash down.

As the holiday season is fast approaching, keep in mind your toy selections. One of my favorite mantras to ask myself when purchasing a toy is, Is it beautiful? I can tell you this wooden and cloth alternative princess sure is.

(former thoughts on a China Free Christmas)


Monday, September 8, 2008

News Wonderful Enough For a Second Post of The Day!

Lance is coming out of retirement. Yes, Lance Armstrong. Yes, I said it. Sorry, I have to go book my ticket to Georgia and Paris. Oh Paris in July, I've been dreaming of it for ten years now.

Don't believe me, click here

And then I'll pretend this article, doesn't exist.

See What Happens...

Life is settling back into a comfortable place, where I can lounge and putter around in the garden, which is still surprising me with vegetables I didn't even know were there. Or I can walk into the living room and find the girls playing Tea Party with their dad. Heck, I even escaped for a few hours to have a drink or two, okay it was three. Haven't done that in five years (the 3 drinks part). We spent two whole days together this weekend, with not one major work distraction. Smiles all around!

Amazing things can happen in just a few short moments when everyone is happy and content, like Sj deciding today was the day to free herself from the world of training wheels. Much to our delight it took her no time to master only two wheels, our love for cycling truly is genetic. She beamed with excitement and so did we for that matter!

Yes, my hubby completed the weekend with pancakes and his special blueberry sauce, not to mention a few other delightful meals. I missed his cooking more than I cared to admit. So did the girls, obviously.

(photo removed)
Just for the record, squeals and giggles have once again returned to bath time.How can it be Monday already? Say it isn't so.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Some Poor New York Times Intern...

Had to count all the words spoken for the DNC/RNC speeches. But isn't this super cool?
(click to enlarge)

Full NY Times Article, "The Words They Used" Here.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Second Annual Sprinkles Cupcake Indulgence

Once again a gorgeous box of Sprinkles Cupcakes from Beverly Hills has delighted my home. Now mind you, not only are Sprinkles Cupcakes a taste sensation, they are simply beautiful. All cupcakes are adorned with different sprinkles or their signature (and I believe trademarked) candy circles, which help decipher the flavors.

Hubby was returning on Tuesday, so I eagerly printed out the cupcake flavor schedule from their website. Now mind you, I just realized that I missed the big debut of BH 90210 on the day the cupcakes arrived from 90210, shame on me! It's probably fair to say television was not on my mind that evening. His flight came in after dinner, so thoughts of black and white, lemon coconut, and pb chip were filling my head, not a balding Luke Perry. Oh the anticipation.

Last year, J had to purchase the cupcakes the day prior because of his schedule the morning of his flight. But this year, he picked up the cupcakes the morning of his flight. The Sprinkles' employee boxed them and then bagged them with a ziploc style bag to seal in the freshness. Yes, I said seal in the freshness, they tasted like they were baked in my home that afternoon, not almost 1,000 miles away.

Honestly, I haven't met a cupcake that compares to a Sprinkles Cupcake. We know cupcakes are all the rage, so I've had to do my fair share of taste testing everywhere they pop up. The original stands above the rest.

Let's move onto my picks for a favorite this year! First I would like to share that same day fresh completely changed my opinion of their chocolate cupcakes. They were not dry in the least bit, but moist and balanced with just the right amount of frosting. Although, yet again this year, it was the Lemon Coconut (madagascar bourbon vanilla cake with lemon coconut cream cheese frosting) that beat out the more traditional flavors for me. Don't get me wrong, I love chocolate, but there is something special about lemon and vanilla in a cupcake. When I think of lemon, my lips want to pucker, but not with a Sprinkles Lemon Coconut. The dimension of flavor, sweet with a little sour, moist coupled with the chewiness of the coconut, with a hint of warmth from the vanilla was absolutely delicious. 

The other flavors from my Tuesday Sampling- Black and White, Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Orange, Peanut Butter Chip, Red Velvet, Strawberry, Chocolate Coconut, Vanilla, Vanilla Milk Chocolate, and a special flavor Almond Chocolate. 

I believe what sets Sprinkles apart from anything I tasted around here in Denver is the depth of flavor, backed by a rich moist cupcake. Using high quality ingredients low and behold delivers a superior product. Even though I have a content belly from sampling cupcakes for three days now, I still dream of the day I sink my teeth into a Sprinkles Chai Latte cupcake. Chai flavors in a cupcake is what I would consider to be heavenly, because I was Chai fanatic before I fell wistfully for a Sprinkles cupcake. Someday, someday... 

Click here or here for my inaugural Sprinkles Cupcake experience (or for an illegal snapshot inside, ooh that daring hubby of mine).

Thank you J for gracing me with Sprinkles Delight yet again!


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Warning Fish Is The Gateway Meat!

My husband and I spent about ten years living on a strict vegetarian diet. No meat, no fish, no poultry, no animal products or by products like rennet in cheese, we were serious vegetarians. For example, we would ask if there was "chicken stock" in the soup at a restaurant or if a vege burger was going to be cooked on the grill with other meat or even if they would slice our cheese on a meat slicer. Believe me it was hard work. Avoiding the seemingly unavoidable, meat and meat products.

What's funny about my decision to become vegetarian was that I wasn't trying to make a political statement, I didn't attack people with People For The Ethical Treament Of Animals facts, simply enough I didn't care for meat. I was burnt out on meat and really wasn't that big on it. Sort of later on, I went through a hippy phase (once again Boulder to be credited for that) and being a vegetarian fit in wonderfully, even if I wore leather sandals. I think my mantra was they were killing the cows for meat, we best utilize the entire slaughtered animal.

Now, when I sit back and recall my life as a vegetarian, I realize how easy it was to still eat unhealthy as a vegetarian. I was young and discovering cooking, likes and dislikes. Luckily I had J along with me for this journey, but I can recall many nights especially when we lived on our own for the first time in the Adirondacks eating Lipton Noodles and grilled cheese for dinner. Super healthy. We even were fans of Burger King Whoppers sans the meat, we'd pile it up with french fries instead of ground beef burgers. What else do you do starving on a lonely highway traveling across the country, doomed by being a vegetarian?

Then we eased our way into things like ratatouille and slow cooked vege chili. Obviously when we moved to Boulder and there were vegetarian grocery stores (Wild Oats Vege Market on Pearl and 19th for those of you that are curious), vegetarian restaurants (call out to the Creative Cafe), then we started to gain balance in living as a healthy vegetarian.

Oddly enough after years and years of all the towing the line, avoiding meat, I ate a tuna sandwich. Not sure what came over me, or what the craving was, but it happened. I even have a photo sitting with a tuna sandwich in front of me, that first moment I crossed over. We joked how fish is the gateway meat. Once you try the soft stuff (fish) then you find your way at a Thanksgiving meal being passed the plate of white meat, and in the blink of an eye your opening your mouth as wide as possible to insert a juicy well done beef burger. Just like that, ten years down the drain.

My digestive system never skipped a beat when I started eating meat again. The most wonderful part of being a former vegetarian is that I don't snub my nose at alternatives to beef and potatoes. We eat meatless a couple times a week. We buy only organic and free range meats and wild caught fish. Actually I am more of a meat snob then ever. Now, when I eat out, I ask if the fish is farm raised. I'm not huge on overprocessed soy products as they are potentially just as unhealthy as a big ol' slab of factory farmed meat. Of course we try to make local food choices when they are available to us.

Aah, the beauty of being older and wiser, gives us the opportunity to make better informed decisions. Officially I believe our family's eating habits would be considered, Flexitarian. If you'd like a good read on the American Food System, pick up Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle from your local library, it may just change your life.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

When Generosity Makes a Mother Cringe...

A local Wild Oats market recently made the conversion to Whole Foods and with each and every visit I've noticed how they are desperately trying to change the feeling of the store. Personally when it was Wild Oats, it wasn't my favorite place to shop, but I've warmed up to the store since it changed it's name on the stone building out front. Their efforts are making a difference.

Maybe I was underslept and in a fog, when I allowed my girls to ride in the "car cart" at Whole Foods this past weekend. Or maybe I was just hoping for a little break from my girls tactics, one usually pulling me in the opposite direction from the other, when I just have a short list. I wanted to get in and out, buy the things on my list, easy peasy.

Yeah, easy peasy.

When I placed GL into the car cart, her eyes lit up with amazement. She was smiling and pawing every corner of the car in delight. I believe this may have been the first time she experienced the car cart. You see, I have issues with those car carts. Whenever I look at them, I see the millions of INVISIBLE GERMS, and I can't quite let go of all the germs they will be ingesting. Not to mention the lovely black crud that has build up on the interior of every touchable surface, that's rather lovely and doesn't help my neurosis!!! None the less, I was trying desperately to let it go, so the girls could have fun.

First stop on our excursion, the produce department. A lovely employee bends his head down to greet my girls, wishing them a good morning. They smile back delighted to just be in the Germ Fest Car. Then, out of no where, the employee asks my girls if they like pineapple. Sj immediately quips, of course I LOVE PINEAPPLE. I thought Mr.Produce was going to get a sharp pointy tooth pick, poke a hunk of pineapple and hand it to my girls. That I could deal with.

No, Mr.Produce was much kinder than that. Much kinder than my neurotic self wishes.

For, Mr.Produce reappeared from behind the swinging metal doors with two plastic containers full of pineapple, cut up into chunks. He hands it over to my girls and even has two paper towels to boot, for their laps. I can guarantee you there was no less than $10 worth of pineapple between the two of them.

Thank you Mr. Produce for the girls were truly in heaven, smiling through their whole shopping trip.

And me, I was screaming on the inside when I would watch GL steer the car, open the door, wipe every possible surface before placing her unwashed hand into the tub of pineapple and of course into her mouth. Screaming on the inside.

If Mr.Produce only knew what mental anguish I suffered from his generosity. We were definitely in and out, quicker than I had imagined, but maybe it was because I was concerned with washing my daughter's hands as soon as possible. I even made an impulse $5 Organic Handsanitizer purchase at check out, very unlike me.

Time to let go. Maybe Mr.Produce helped me just a tad, even though I didn't do so lightly. Motherhood definitely a work in progress.

---photo google images---

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tuesday Tips- Easy Fruit Creations For School Snack or After School Treat

Ironically enough my love for cupcakes and baking has been shunned by my daughter's schools. Two years in a row now, we've gotten the Welcome To School letters always mentioning slyly about half way through, leave your cupcakes at home for birthday celebrations. See, I've said it before and I'll say it again, school is all business these days. Cupcakes have been banished like the word Christmas when having a school party in December.

Have no fear, I have a few tricks up my sleeve. My daughters adore fruit, but when I put a twist on it, they are just delighted. These ideas can be used in a pinch for a pre-school snack/celebration or heck any day of the week when you feel like mixing things up to put a smile on your kids' faces. You'll be amazed at how they react!

Fruit & Yogurt Cupcake No Baking Required-
Inspired by the September 2008 issue of Cookie Magazine, I have started making fruit cupcakes for my girls for an after dinner dessert. The base of the cupcake is melon cut out with a scalloped biscuit cutter, although I have a flower shape that works perfectly. I slice the melon, stack it, then cut it out. Then place the melon in a cupcake paper/silicone cup, top with yogurt (if you are feeling creative you can use food coloring to make it really look like frosting), then top with berries or if I am in a good mood, sprinkles. Voile, a special birthday treat for school or midweek dessert.

Fruit Kabobs-
When Sj entered preschool there was always an opportunity to bring fruit for a snack or party. Most of the time, in the classroom setting fruit is a bit cumbersome for preschoolers. The best way to prepare fruit for handing out, is on a kabob. Have your son or daughter pick out their favorite fruits, it's easy to keep it to just two or three. I also recommend purchasing the bamboo kabobs at an Asian Supply store for they have a wide variety of widths and lengths. I use skinnier kabobs that measure about six inches in length, compared to the ones you'll find at a regular grocery store.

Safety Tips- Always cut grapes in half for choking safety. Leave about 1/2 inch of kabob sticking out at the end, trim the pointy end of the kabob with kitchen scissors. Pointy bamboo and children is an opportunity for disaster in a classroom.

Although this is not officially a snack for school, I have to share a recipe I recently found on a blog. GL is now weaned and getting her to drink cow's milk is a bit of a challenge. Enter Pink Milk, we are Charlie and Lola fans in our house and pink milk is Lola's drink of choice. Funny enough it's GL's as well. A well known American Company makes Strawberry Syrup and the ingredients are beyond horrendous! Simple solution, make your own strawberry syrup, and even control the amount of sugar you would like to use!

Homemade Strawberry Syrup for Pink Milk-
3 cups of water
1/2 cup cane sugar 
1 1/2 cups frozen organic strawberries (10-oz bag)

Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil, add frozen strawberries and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Allow mixture to cool to a workable temperature, then strain to remove strawberries and seeds from syrup. Store in a sterilized glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Please share any fabulous fruit tips you have as well! Hope these help turn "mommy it's my day for snack" into a quick fix for you and a delectable treat for your children!