Thursday, May 27, 2010

It's all about the cloth

Cloth diapers.
Let's talk about them for a moment, shall we?
I poo pooed the idea when I was pregnant with Claire, snarkily saying, "Wow. Is this 1910 or something? Bring on the Huggies!" And I did. For the duration of Claire's diaper life. So when you think about it, when she was 0-6 months, I changed her diaper on average 10 times a day. That's 1800 diapers. From 6-12 months, it decreased to about 7 times a day. That's 1260 diapers.
In one year, I sent 3060 diapers to the landfil. And they don't bio-degrade. EVER.
Luca just turned one. So double that amount, and I've sent 6120 diapers to the landfil. To be there forever. Isn't that cute? I can tell my kids how a piece of them is forever sitting, rotting on a piece of land that could have been a play ground. Or floating in the ocean, being eaten away by fish who then die or are forever altered because of the plastic...causing them to have abnormal baby fishies... and the sick cycle goes on.
I had enough. Not to mention how much money I was wasting.
Now before I go on, I'm sure you're thinking, "Well aren't you a hypocrite. You're a woman, aren't you? And you get your period?" Well, yes, I do. But I solved that issue, too. And that's all I'll say about that. So bite me.
Needing some advice, I sent it out there to cyberspace. I asked my friends on facebook. Not only did I get an overwhelming response, but I got several personal emails linking me up with other Green Mamas out there who just want to do something natural and good for the earth.
I found this website, that's actually local, called the Happy Baby Company. I love it. I was advised by many Moms out there to get GroBaby and Thirsties. I even enjoyed this blog, too: My Thirsties haven't arrived yet, but so far I'm sold on GroBaby. Luca loves them, too. He would get so mad in his disposables. His poor little doodles couldn't breathe. And his skin down there would remind me of how your skin gets after wearing a bandaid on your finger. You know, all white and wrinkly? Anywho, I felt bad. But these diapers are so fantastic.
If you're a woman, and you've worn a Maxi-pad, that's exactly what it's like. Your baby pees or poops, you take off the offending layer, replace it with a new layer that resembles a pad and voila. The shell keeps for at least 3 to 4 days before you have to wash it. Amazing. Green. Cheap.

How have you impacted your world lately?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Crafty, crafty, I'm so crafty...

Next week my niece Sophia turns 1. I sat at the computer for an hour thinking and searching for what we could get her to mark this pretty awesome occasion. If you haven't guessed by now, I LOVE homemade things. Love it. When Claire insisted on making me a card for Mother's Day I bawled like a little girl. I love it.
I went to (my favorite site in the WORLD) and searched name blocks. I thought it could be neat for her to have little stacking cubes with her name spelled out. I searched and searched and came to a seller that makes blocks with wood and glues paper to it and crafts out some really neat stuff.
So I totally stole the idea.
(For Bachelor Girl...tutorial if you please...)
I went to Michael's and bought 7 3x2 1/4" thick wooden plaques for 99 cents each. I sat in front of the large paper selection for what seemed like an hour and chose 3 different colors of paisley print, a funky striped paper, a black rough vinyl-like paper and one with stars on it. I then picked out a wooden precut star and a chair rail for frames.
When I got home, I sat and stared at the supplies forever. I had an idea in my head, but sometimes it's hard to make it a reality. I started by gluing the paper to the plaques. While they were drying, I started painting the letters onto the black paper with pink, purple and green acrylic paints. I also painted the star green.
When the glue dried, I used an exacto knife to get rid of the excess paper. I cut the black paper with letters painted on into circles and glued them onto each color coordinated plaque. Then I glued the star onto the star papered plaque.
All in all, it took about 2 hours.
Now, you can totally use stencils if you don't trust your letter writing skills, but it's so much easier when you realize that you can turn the paper in whatever direction you want to make the curves perfect. Once you get past that mental barrier that you have to keep everything upright, art is really very simple.
I also made Luca a door sign. I used a large pine wooden plaque, a smaller 4x3 1/4" thick plaque and left over paper. Now, the photo can totally be interchangeable, this is just the one I happened to have laying around.

Happy Crafting!

Monday, May 17, 2010

it's the simple things

As we speak, my kids are all over me because I made a large batch of my favorite comfort food: my own rice pilaf, sort of.

1 cup rice cooked in veggie broth
half a bag of frozen peas
slivered almonds (you choose how much you like. I put in A LOT.)

I cook the rice first, then add the frozen peas and almonds when it's close to being completed. Easy, delicious!

I ate this meal every day when I was pregnant with Claire and Matt would be out of town on business. I would make 2 batches, keep it in the fridge and enjoy...a little too much.

But here I am, over two years later and I'm still loving it. And my kids are loving it. So really, it's the simple things.

In other news, I just realized (it only took me 25 years) that the plastic bags that frozen stuff comes in is recyclable. That is HUGE for me. I love to recycle. It was actually the first 'big' word I could spell as a kid. Lame, yes. But awesome regardless.

Also - on a random note, I love *Tea Tree Oil. I use it for a lot of things: Claire's scrapes, my nose ring, a mouth rinse, cleaning...I use it a lot.

Matt says to me, "Hey, can you get me some more of my shampoo?" I had been buying him the T-gel stuff by Neutrogena, but it's so damn expensive and smelly. He has super duper short, dark hair, so everything shows. He uses it for dandruff prevention and it works great.

Now, I'm not saying that tea tree oil doesn't smell, because it does, but in small amounts and diluted, it's pretty tolerable, almost nice. So I made him his own dandruff shampoo by mixing whatever shampoo I had lying around (this time it happened to be the kid's Nature's Gate Shampoo because of it's gentleness) and 8-10 drops of tea tree oil. He says it works great. And it really doesn't smell bad at all.

*I buy my Tea Tree Oil from www dot puritain dot com. I love their buy 2 get 3 free sales. It's super cheap and so worth it.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Aunt Jemima vs Trader Joe's

This morning I thought it'd be fun to make apple pancakes. I had this recipe that I found, but, in the past, I've been less than excited at the turnout. So I decided to make my own.

Apple Pancake Bake
3 apples, peeled and shredded
3/4 cup egg beaters
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup flour
cinnamon and sugar (amount is completely up to you)
2 tbs butter
honey (again, however much you want is up to you)

Melt butter in a saucepan and add in shredded apples, cinnamon, honey, and sugar. Cook for a few minutes until it begins to turn golden, yet not dark, brown. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix eggs, flour and milk.

In a greased casserole dish, combine the apples and batter. Bake at 450 for about 20 minutes.

Serve with maple syrup and enjoy!

Most bakes require the apples to be cubed. I find that it doesn't meld well together. So by shredding it, you get equal parts pancake and apple in each bite. I know, lame, but so very true.

If you're not into maple syrup, you can top it with yogurt. It tastes wonderful, too.

I typically use Trader Joe's brand maple syrup, however, due to unforeseen circumstances, I didn't pick some up when I went last time and ended up buying Full Circle organic syrup. Personal opinion: it's not that great. I'll stick with my Trader Joe's brand. But at least I tried and it's not Aunt Jemima or Hungry Man. Have you read the ingredient list?

Aunt Jemima Ingredients:
Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Cellulose Gum, Caramel Color, Salt, sodium Benzoate and Sorbic Acid, Artificial and Natural Flavors, Sodium Hexametaphosphate.

Trader Joe's Ingredients:
Maple Syrup. brainer there.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lentils make it better

I'm trying to get our meat consumption down to 3 or 4 times a week. To my husband, this translates to: Holy shit she's turning me into a vegetarian! He's Italian. I'll let it slide.
Through my Mom (as per usual) she showed me a recipe for lentil meatballs. Since my sister, Carly, is all about no meat these days, I figured I'd wait and make it on a day she'd be staying over night to watch the kids in the morning.
To be frank, I had outdone myself. They were delish!

Here's the recipe via In Jennie's Kitchen:

2 cups cooked lentils, pureed
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/2 cup fresh ricotta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoon chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Canola oil for frying

Add all ingredients to a deep bowl. Mix very well, using hands or a wooden spoon. Cover and refrigerate for two hours or overnight.
When ready to cook, shape mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls. Heat about 1/2-inch of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium flame. Add shaped "meatballs" and cook until browned all around, turning only once. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and let excess drain off. Add to simmering marinara sauce if serving immediately, or store in a tightly covered container up to three days.

Here's how I modified it:
I didn't have fresh ricotta, so I had to let it sit in a strainer for about 30 minutes to let the excess water run out. Also, I prepared my lentils in organic vegetable broth, and didn't puree them too much. I left some whole pieces in it. Also, I used Egg Beaters and olive oil.
I also made my favorite sauce for it and served it over whole wheat pasta. It was amazing.

This past weekend, I wanted to try another lentil recipe with Matt present. He wasn't thrilled, but he said it was edible. I personally think he's just mad it wasn't ground turkey.
makes 4 to 6, depending on size
These veggie burgers heat well wrapped loosely in foil in 350ºF oven.
1 1/2 cups cooked lentils (about 10 ounces)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2  cup plain breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Place lentils in the workbowl of a food processor. Pulse until mostly pureed, leaving some whole lentil pieces. Turn into a mixing bowl and stir in the egg and 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs. Cover and refrigerate for two hours, or overnight.
Remove lentil mixture from the refrigerator and stir in the remaining breadcrumbs. Shape into 4 to 6 patties. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add patties and cook until golden brown all over, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Serve hot on toasted buns or over mixed greens.
*Again, I used Egg Beaters and made my lentils in vegetable broth. Instead of buns I used Arnolds. It was so amazing. 

Give it a try, I swear, it's good! 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

And I'm back!

Sorry for that small hiatus, however, I've been doing a lot of soul searching and adjusting. I've really taken my latest challenge seriously and I have been winning. The challenge? Remove of all preservatives, chemicals and high fructose corn syrup out of mine and my family's diet. Successful? You bet.
It's amazing what reading labels can do. While reading one of my favorite blogs:, I found this one sentence helpful: If your grandma can't read what's in the ingredient list, then it's probably bad for you. Short, simple, and to the point. And it's changed me in a lot of ways.
I have been making a lot of what we eat from scratch. That way, I can be in control of all aspects of what goes into my mouth. I also realized that we, as a nation, are very trusting of the food industry.
Here's what I mean:
I'm a nurse. Patients are reliant on the fact that I'm educated, smart and good at what I do. Am I really? Well, let's hope so. But 99.9% of the time, people put their full trust in me. Scary? You bet. For both parties.
Same goes for the food industry. 99.9% of the time (OK, probably not that much, but work with me here) we don't ask questions. We buy a well known label and consume it. Ever wonder why some brands are so dirt cheap in comparison? Chances are, because of the lax rules and quality of the product. That doesn't necessarily mean that just because you buy the most expensive product you're getting the best quality, but chances are good you're getting poorer quality with the dirt cheap product.
We sometimes only see (and I used to be this person) the sales price or what's cheaper, but sometimes, it's not the right choice. I have to ask myself now, what was added? For example, why does a simple jar of applesauce need 10 ingredients? From personal experience, if you want to make it at home, it requires apples and cinnamon.
Today at Sam's Club, I asked Matt to grab the kids' applesauce. He went over to where they were and said, "Which one? There's two kinds." So I grabbed one, looked at the ingredient list, then looked at the other and handed him one. I said, "This one. It has apples in it. The other is full of chemicals, high fructose corn syrup and sugar." I showed him the label and he scratched his head and said, "What's the need for all that junk?" I told him, "No idea, but aren't you glad you looked?"
Recently, Matt was out of town on business. We had been on our 'eating clean' plan for about a month at that point. He called me up and said, "My stomach's been upset. You think it's something I ate?" I said, "Yah, I'm sure it's all those chemicals."
When he got home, he at some leftovers of this awesome black bean crockpot (recipe to follow) and he made a comment about how it's the best it's ever tasted.
That alone amazed me. How different food can taste when the mask of chemicals is removed.
So that said, here's a great recipe. My Mom had made it for me when Claire was first born. I was skeptical, but it is AMAZING. I made it for the girls at work and they all loved it and one called it "Yummy Goodness."

Black Bean Crockpot
1 jar of salsa (I use Trader Joe's organic salsa)
1 can of black beans (buck up and buy the organic)
1 bag of frozen corn (I love the super sweet organic at Trader Joe's)
1 brick of lite cream cheese
1 cup white rice (uncooked...about 1 1/2 cups cooked)
2 or 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (again, I use organic, so the breasts are the size the chicken was meant to have. If you don't use this kind of chicken, 1 breast should be fine.)

Combine the salsa, black beans, corn, and chicken in a crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. 1/2 hour prior to eating, shred the chicken and add the cream cheese and cooked rice to the crockpot and stir, allowing the cream cheese to melt and combine thoroughly. ENJOY!