Birth, Babies, & VBACs

If you're new here and you haven't read my VBAC story - I am sharing it today at Evolutionary Parenting :)  check it out!!

If you're visiting from EP - Welcome!  Here are some other posts you might enjoy! 



Thanks for visiting!



Stuffed & Fried Squash Blossoms

If your garden looks like mine it is FILLED with squash and pumpkins.  LOTS of flowers, not a whole lot of fruit yet.  So... I harvested 12 squash blossoms (open, looking beautiful, and when there were no bees inside them) and washed them out.  I set them out to dry and an hour later - started cooking! 

Stuffed & Fried Squash Blossoms
We use organic, fair trade, and or local ingredients
12 blossoms, cut, rinsed out, and dried

1 cup of whole milk ricotta cheese

3/4 of a cup of pecorino Romano cheese

3/4 of a cup of chopped spinach (fresh or thawed)

A big bunch of basil chopped up

2 cups of flour

1 12oz. bottle of beer - have you read about what’s in beer?  Check out Food Babe’s post… and then get a good organic beer like this.  

1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of coconut oil (expeller pressed otherwise this will taste too coconutty)

I used Pamela’s baking mix and seltzer to make the dipping batter – it turned out great 
Mix ricotta, grated cheese, chopped spinach and chopped basil.

Mix beer and flour with a whisk. 

Heat pan and oil to medium heat.

Carefully stuff the flowers using a teaspoon.  It fit about 2 or 3 teaspoons – but this will depend on the size, and type of flowers.  The butternut squash flowers held up the best because they are a bit more sturdy.

 Close the blooms around the stuffing.

When all are stuffed, dredge in your batter and fry until brown.

Serve as is, or with a marinara sauce over pasta.  YUM!  

D loved the GF version of these (I tried a bite – there is no way you would know!)  Here are the GF blossoms: 



Why We're Going GLUTEN FREE

We're going gluten free.

More accurately - after a brief trial back to gluten - we are returning to gluten free food in our house... for our kids at least.

Ick. I don't even like the sound of it.

I posted a few months ago how we were going to give gluten free a go to see if it changed the behavior we were experiencing with my four year old.
Tantrums and Going Gluten Free
I learned a little about cooking and baking without gluten.  I introduced myself to the gluten free isle of Wegmans.  I FBed companies to inquire if their non-organic products contained GMOs (especially corn... because corn flour is in a lot of gluten free stuff).  I learned a lot.  I found some products that worked and some that definitely didn't.  We tried many many different types of bread.

So this is what life without gluten looked like in our house:

  • Happy D - really happy.  Even when I told him it was nap time, even when I asked him to clean up, or told him we weren't watching a show today.
  • Happy eyes - I can't explain it - his eyes were... calmer.
  • Tantrums - he's three people - there were of course still some tantrums - even really loud ones - NEVER ONCE DID IT ESCALATE TO HIM BEING VIOLENT.  Never.  Secretly I hoped he would just smack me mid tantrum so I go back to regular pasta... no dice.
  • I was THAT mom - the one saying "no you can't share those animal crackers, they might have gluten" <cringe>
  • Preparation- we travel everywhere with gluten free food - and impose our gluten free restrictions everywhere we go (thanks mom and dad/toppah)
  • Lots of learning - about xanthan gum,  and sorghum flour... and all kinds of things I didn't know existed
  • Label reading - new products led to new labels
  • More processed foods than I would like - I would hope this could decrease with education and time.
Then... just as things were going swimmingly... just to mix things up - we went full force back to gluten.  I was hoping that we were just experimenting at a time when he was going through a growth spurt or something - so we went back.  I'm talking a flour filled, delicious, robot birthday cake.  And pizza.  And pasta.  And bread <real bread>.  It was delicious.  But here is what our house looked like.
  • Frustrated/easily angered/a little bit scary D.
  • Scary eyes. Again... I don't know how to explain it - it is like I could see the anger and violence behind his eyes.
  • Tantrums - more of them- filled with hitting, kicking, and throwing things.  Mommy restraining D until he could calm down enough not to hurt his family.
  • Easy traveling.  We ate everything.
  • Back to normal cooking with ingredients I am familiar with.
So what is my conclusion?

I realize this isn't a comprehensive study.  I took "research in education" and learned all about what a real study looks like, complete with T charts, outcomes, participants, variables, etc.  This wasn't that.  All I have is this one anecdotal example.  That's it.  I can't say that this is going to work in your house, with your kids, in your situation... all I can say is I am convinced it has worked in mine. 

*Disclaimer: 5 months ago I would have told you that I didn't believe that ANYTHING we eat could control behavior.  I thought it was a bunch of crunchy, hocus pocus hogwash.  I am prepared to eat my words. 

Here are some references that have been suggested to me OR which I have found useful in this journey that I am just beginning.  If you have more to add - please comment and contribute! 

The Southampton Study (which links food dye to behavior... not directly related... but got me thinking)
Dawn's Delights of Holden (she comes to the farmer's market in my town - she answers all my questions and teaches me how to make good food!) 




Sweet Slaw

Looking for an easy new side dish?  A topping to pulled pork?  A topping for fish tacos?  You found it!  This was deliciousssssss.  I didn't know what to name it - it has fennel and cabbage and peppers and carrots... and Fennel, Cabbage, Pepper, Carrot Slaw seemed wordy... So Sweet Slaw it is!

Sweet Slaw
We use organic, fair trade, and or local ingredients when possible.
1/2 a head of cabbage
1 bulb of fennel
2 carrots
1 red pepper
1 bunch of mint
1 tbs honey
1 tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 tbs olive oil
Slice the cabbage, pepper, and fennel (bulb – reserve the greens) thinly and toss.

Peel carrots.  After the outside peel is off, use the peeler to shave the rest into ribbons.  *TIP! Your peeler works both ways – so be careful and slice it back and forth.

Whisk honey, vinegars, olive oil, mint, and chopped greens from the fennel. 

Toss together and serve!  

Meanwhile... while I'm photographing food... 




Mango Peach Salsa

peach mango corn cilantro salsa

Peaches are IN SEASON at the farm and the farmers' market.

Sweet corn is IN SEASON at the farm and the farmers' market.

This delicious salsa topped grilled fish or shrimp tacos at our house - but it would go great with chips, warm tortillas, or rice and beans.  I loved it, Adam loved it, the kids loved it!  Enjoy!!

Mango Peach Salsa
We use organic, fair trade, and or local ingredients when possible.
1 mango
2 peaches
1 ear of Corn, fresh, uncooked
1 bunch of basil
1 bunch of cilantro
1/2 tsp of paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 lime – juice and zested
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
3 tsp olive oil
Peal and finely dice mango and peaches.

Husk corn and carefully cut kernels off and into a bowl.

Chop basil and cilantro and toss with mango, peaches, and corn.

In a bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients. 

Toss dressing to combine.




Old School Tips for Keeping Your Cool

You've seen the facebook status complaints, heard the hum of window ac units in your neighborhood, and heck you've said it yourself - it's h-o-t!!!

I found myself thinking - what the HECK did people do before they could run three window ac units for 8 days straight of a heat wave, you know before there was a 'heat index' or a 'feels like' temperature.

To give me a LITTLE bit of street cred... I spent all my summers growing up... for the whole summer... living in a tent at girl scout camp with no electric and no flushing toilets.  We still had campfires.

Here are some ideas for keeping your cool:
1. Shade
2. Water (to drink and to play in)
3. Fans (not the electric kind)
4. Mud (followed by a cold shower)
5. Cool foods (nothing cooked... ice cream for dinner... lemonade with freshly picked berries)
6. Water balloons, water guns, soaked sponges, and a battle.  OR - arm everyone, then prohibit anyone from saying a common word (no, yes, hot, cold, hungry... etc)... anytime someone says it - SOAK them.
7. Slip and slides (hint... all you need is plastic and water... not the expensive set)
8. Have a backwards day.  Stay up all night, outside.  Have a camp 'fire' lit by flashlights, stargaze, play flashlight tag... sleep when it's hot the next day
9. Duck, duck, water.
10. Submerge yourself in a bathtub full of ice, with a frosty beverage. jk.

Here are some things I am glad I don't have to worry about in the summer 2013:
1. Outhouses
2. Walking/riding into town to the ice house to try chip some ice to 'refrigerate' my perishables 
3.  Two words: wool.underwear.
4. Being pregnant... with no air conditioning
5. Milking a (hot, stinky, fly covered) cow
6. Cooking over a fire
7. Layers
8. The family bath
9. Lack of deodorant (even the natural kind)
10. Powdered wigs

Here are some things I bet the pioneers wish they had:
1. Water fan
2. This fridge
3. Air conditioned clothes
4. Personal cooling devices
5. Outhouse deodorizer 

Stay cool!



Easy Sesame Chicken

Short and simple my friends.  This was delicious.  D was still talking about it at bedtime - telling me how yummy that 'honey chicken' was.  Enjoy it at your home!  It took me about 20 minutes and I was inventing the recipe at the same time :)

Easy Sesame Chicken
We use organic, fair trade, and or local ingredients when possible.
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 cup of flour
½ tsp paprika
Salt and pepper
1 tsp sesame oil
Olive oil to coat the pan

¼ cup of honey
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp sesame seeds
½ tsp paprika
Sprinkle of red pepper flake
Salt and pepper
Chop up chicken thighs into even small, half inch pieces.  Mix flour with paprika and salt and pepper.  Coat chicken.  Fry in pan with oil at medium heat.  When chicken is browned and deliciously crispy, drain oil from pan and set pan aside.

Mix up the sauce.

Scrape sauce into pan, put back on the burner, and just heat through and coat chicken.

Serve sprinkled with a bit more sesame seeds.

No MSG, no mystery meat, just delicious sesame chicken!



One Organic [not so] Techno Mama

<----- Like my phone?  I got it for free from my BFF when my envy1 wouldn't hold a charge anymore two years ago.

I know, I know... 'everyone' has an iPhone.

Where are my apps?  Never played Angry Birds?  I don't even know why they so angry.

How about a GPS - won't you get lost?  

Can't scan your grocery store items to see if they have GMOs?

Don't get me wrong, I love technology, and despite my phone, I do have lots of neat devices that I love using... but there is a part of me that really likes not being so techno.

Eventually will I have a phone that connects to the internet?  Maybe.  But I am not rushing to the Apple store just yet.

Like I said, I do love technology.  I like to edit pictures, have a nice camera, I read on my kindle, I facebook from my iPad, but for some reason I am not rushing to get a great phone.  I can text and call from my cute little keyboard phone and that's all I really want to do... my kids love playing with it even though there aren't any apps on it... and it's nice because you never know when it's going to turn off or on :)

Here are my top 10 reasons for loving my backwards not so techno ways:

Head over to my blogging BFF to read the rest of the post! 
creative geekery



A Robot Party

This weekend my first baby boy turned FOUR!  I can't believe it!  When asked (a few times) what kind of birthday party he wanted to have - he requested a Robot Party.  D has loved robots since he could talk... one of his first phrases was "I am a robot I am a robot."  We have visited a local college, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (with all the other little boys who like robots), for Touch Tomorrow - a day filled with local kiddos and robotics teams doing things I will never understand!  The kids involved in robotics amaze me with their intelligence, dedication, and ability to create cool things using technology :)

So it was no surprise that he stuck with the Robot Party theme :)  SO I was on the search for cool robot stuff... that little kids could enjoy.  I was lucky to find lots of neat things on amazon.  My husband was surprised there was "robot party stuff."  I am guessing with these neat robotics teams - the demand for them will only grow!


For the decorations I used, window cling robots, little plastic robot guys (kind of like those green army guys little boys play with), stackable wooden robots, a robot head (used to take pictures and say "I am a robot" a million times, balloons, and little wind up walking robots.


A few years ago, we would have stocked up on soda, colored ice pops, Doritos, and all kinds of other nasties :) Now, party day is just like all the other days.  I figure if I have high standards for food for my family, I shouldn't dismiss that when I invite other people into my home - I love them just like I love my own family.  I want them to eat food that is free from pesticides, GMOs, artificial colors, and all the other stuff we try to avoid in our daily lives.  I will post recipes for some of these (including Toppah's ribs!) in the coming days - BUT - we served: Ribs, Hamburgers, Chicken Burgers, Quinoa Salad, and fresh corn.  For snacks we had chips and salsa, veggies, pretzels, fresh and picked cherries.  For drinks we had decaf iced tea, yummy fruit sodas (not organic - but not artificial either - a rare treat!), juice boxes, water, wine and beer. Our wonderful guests contributed lots of other delicious items as well.  Do people ask for soda?  Yes.  Am I sad I don't have it?  No.  While I don't hyper-analyze things when we are out and at other homes, I do want to provide the food that we typically eat to guests in our home.  In the end usually everyone is happy, full, and no one misses the doritos. 

SO fun.  Goody bags are my favorite part of having a birthday party :)  I found most of the stuff on amazon.  The kids loved it.  The pops are organic, dyed with food - not artificial colors, and the gummy bears are organic Annies.  Yum!  My favorite part are the finger puppet robots - the kids loved them! 

I have to close with my favorite picture of the day - although it wasn't with the birthday boy - it is with my little E in front of my garden :)



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