Swiss Chard, Really?

Ok, so here is a family recipe that is so fantastic it should not even be allowed during Lent. So very simple yet so very delish’.

Bow ties:
1 bunch Swiss Chard or beet leaves separated from stems and sliced roughly into 1 inch strips
1 Pint/1quart (depending on batch size) heavy cream
softened butter to coat pan
1 loaf worth of bread dough, the simpler the better. ( i have used the frozen dough that comes with three loaves with great success, but it has ‘extra’ ingredients to I prefer to not have )

Break the dough apart and roll into thumb sized pieces. Wrap a strip of the chard or beet leaves around the middle of each of the dough ‘fingers’ and place in buttered glass dish. I usually use a 9×9 square glass baking dish. When the dish is full pour enough heavy cream over all to cover then let rise for 45 min to an hour. Bake at 350 until bread is done (about 40 min) just keep an eye on it. The cream gets absorbed by the bread and makes everything taste buttery. Serve with a salad and dinner is done. Plus, it is a very tasty way to get kids to eat more and varied veggies.

I made this for my husband (though then still ‘just a friend’) and I swear this dish is part of what ‘sealed the deal’. Enjoy! ❤

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Sad is so overrated!

Ok, so 2011 was not exactly a ‘fun’ year over-all. Dealing with things like Father-in-law’s homelessness/joblessness, finding-out that my mom and brothers could literally have been killed by their home (how sucky is that?!),  loss of and then burial of a 7mo child (this one really sucked), husband totaling a vehicle (though thankfully only with superficial wounds), etc. . I am TOTALLY over 2011 (well, if you count ‘over’ as ‘ just so sick and freaking tired of dealing with it all’ …).  I know there may still be some ‘issues’ that started last year that ‘may’ come-up, and if/when that happens…. well I’ll deal.

I have decided that not only will I focus on the really good/amazing things of 2011 [ Best friend’s BEAUTIFUL wedding, going home for Christmas, great trips to Las Vegas (no scandal involved, just visiting family and a geek conference), San Diego (more family), Florida (lots of sanctioned hitting and kicking ^_^ ), being alive, being married to the (well almost 😉 ) perfect man for me, and the unfailing love and support of our family, friends, local community, parish, and people we didn’t even know existed, …etc],  but also [I will focus on] what great blessings we have already had in 2012.

I am sick/sad/tired of being sick/sad/tired. Bound and determined 2012 is not going to kick my arse like 2011 did. even if I only make it through today, I am going to make an intense effort to experience everything possible this year. I am NOT going to wallow in the past but rather acknowledge it and how it has shaped me and live life to the fullest as best I can.

Sick of being sad, looking to embrace life, and here it changes.  …. I just hope I can say the same thing in 20 min. 😉  … especially since I should have my sourdough starter going gang-busters by then ❤

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what this year has brought. 2.0

“She reveled in just living, and challenged us to do the same.”     This should be my motto/mantra/way-of-life without thought.

Faith was a very difficult loss for us. We didn’t know of her until the ‘goodbye for now kid’. I was only about 4 weeks pregnant, too soon for many tests to even tell and with my ‘special’ system I wasn’t even all that ‘late’ yet. We both knew, entering into our marriage, that we really want kids. Lots of kids. Make me (even more) crazy LOTS of kids. To not even know I was pregnant until the goodbye was a huge blow to both of us. Our first child is in Heaven via miscarriage. And we still call her our little one and part of the family.

Anne was more complex. it was not so simple as ‘see you on the other side’. Our entire world revolved around that precious little girl: her wants, her needs, our interactions with her, the miraculous fact of her existence. We had hopes and plans, to the point of actually saving monies for trips to both Seattle (namesake, family), and Prince Edward Island (‘other’ namesake)…

Anne was/IS so much more complex.

Anne loved the ‘simple’ things, like leaves moving in the wind, but she also loved the complex. When my husband (V) and I would kiss (just a simple ‘hello’…… don’t wander here!!) AJ would sit and smile. When V would get home, AJ would squeal and coo that her daddy was home with us again – to the point of insisting that we both run to the door to greet him. From day one she wanted to know EVERYTHING that was going on around her. She NEVER wanted to be in her carrier facing me, it was all about watching what was going on around her and facing the world. In retrospect it was as if she knew that her time here would be short and she wanted to intake as much as she possibly could while she was here.

Anne even taught herself to ‘swim’ around the house. I have seen,mostly on Japanese sites, little microfiber ‘Swiffer’-replacement outfits that would have done wonders for our house ^_^.  She didn’t crawl or roll she swam around the house. Pushing with her feet and pulling with her arms she scooted all over the place. One of the most memorable instances was when, I know I have mentioned this before, but SERIOUSLY,  she scooted over to where V keeps his toiletry kit, pushed herself up to grab it off the shelf, and proceeded to empty it item by item (don’t worry, he doesn’t keep a razor of any kind in there). Anne went so far as to discern, item by item, what she wanted from the kit from those she didn’t. Apparently she had seen her dad brush his teeth often enough that she was able to distinguish, from the rest, toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss, – so much so that she even tried to brush her gums with the correct (bristly) side of the toothbrush. All this before 3 months of age. O_O. Almost half her life-span as it turned out.

Grief is a journey I don’t wish on anyone. As hard and heart-wrenching as it is to write about our lost daughters, it [writing] strangely helps to fortify my resolve to live well, be open to life and all the education that brings, and remember the innocence that children bring to this world. in spite of the hurt of loss, writing helps me live with joy. I hope it moves your heart in a good direction too!

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what this year has brought……… :-/

So, it seems this year is going to contain everything that I DON’T expect.

This January I gained a skill-set that I never wanted: planning the funeral of a child.

The morning of Dec 31, our 7 month old left us. Without apparent reason or need. We muddled through a miscarraige two years before and let me tell you, the loss is the same, but it is also more. The baby we lost two years ago is named Faith to remind us to keep the (Faith). The baby girl A.J. we lost at the start of this new year. I can’t seem to wrap my mind around it.

I discovered I was pregnant by (almost) chance.  I have one of those ‘super cool’ systems that allowed ‘business as usual’ to commence for the first half of my pregnancy with A.J.. Christmas eve I decided to take the pregnancy test on a hunch, and was overjoyed with the result. I was pregnant! The family my husband and I want got tangible. We celebrate Faith as our first child and we love her still. This was going to be the first baby we got to hold in our arms. ‘Overjoyed’ falls far short.

As I said, my ‘system’ is odd. Instead of a due date in September A.J. was due in May.

O_O

If ever there were fairy-tales A.J. shattered them. EVERYTHING with her was perfect. I was blessed to have a home birth. It started with just an awareness of the stuff ‘down there’. I went for a walk with my husband. I sat down. I told him to call the Midwife – the show was on the road. A mere hour and fifty minutes (yes, 1:50) later A.J. was born healthy and perfect. There are no words to describe the awesomeness of holding a baby in your arms for the first time. Ecstatic, amazed, bewildered, overjoyed, ‘cloud 9’, flying, all fall short of the first moments. I cried with joy.

As early as two months A.J. was able to stand on her own. Not just stand, but stand on our hands and balance. It was SO cute! She loved the ‘freedom’ of her exer-saucer. A.J. was fascinated by the wind blowing through the trees outside. The little girl both watched her dad and got giddy when he came home. She learned that dad’s toiletry kit was important, and was even able to distinguish toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss – and then proceeded to try to use them. A.J. would fall asleep while in her cloth carrier and close to mom’s heart.

She reveled in just living, and challenged us to do the same.

Anne was a perfect attendee at a conference we attend yearly and even won an award for ‘youngest attendee’. Was so soothed by a trip to the beach she fell asleep to the sound of the waves – a girl after her mothers heart. Anne and we, her parents, got to experience some of the greatest firsts together, a friend’s second birthday, first ‘big girl’ food (sweet potatoes), road trip (Las Vegas, then San Diego), fingers petting a cat, rain, pumpkin patch, snow, Halloween, Thanksgiving, phone call to grandma, Christmas. All amazing and cherished. All far too few.

The morning of Dec 31 my husband, as per usual, checked on us – his wife and little girl. That was when, though still pink and warm, he realized that our daughter was no longer breathing. It must have been within seconds. He shook me awake and immediately started CPR. All of the classes and practice we have both taken in the rescue effort didn’t seem to matter.

We live in a small town and the closest paramedic is just a couple doors away from us – she was the first on scene within minutes.

Our little, sweet baby left this world in our hands.

I have so much more that I want/need to pour-out…. just can’t seem to make my fingers work at this moment…..

Anne Julia Grace W., was and is the most amazing person I have ever met! It breaks  my heart that I can not hold her. …. can’t type more now for lack of vision for proof-reading….     ….. bear with me…….

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Photos of the fam

Business first:
I am participating in the Invisalign Teen Bright Smiles Holiday Photo Contest with Dumb Mom. You should too! Or you could participate by ‘gently nudging’ the judging committee in my direction. Really, I would be ok with that.   ….. LOL!

So, There!

I have been wanting to do a post about this for a while, now I have a little extra motivation.

Ready?

Here we go.

This had been a crazy year of firsts: First time my parents visited us (instead of the other way around), first baby and all she entails, and the first time I have really realized just how much I really do ad-lib this life thing.

O_O Oh…. My… Gosh…   …kinda the same feeling I have before my first coffee in the morning, and my second, and my eighth…

Where the heck does time go? When did all this really come together? Where did I put my keys THIS time?

And then, getting ready for our first Christmas as three, (sorry cat, you don’t count, but neither do the fish), I had one of those moments of clarity that seem to be coming so much less often of late. I am exactly where I want to be.  That is a pretty freaking cool thing to be able to say!

Which of course does NOT mean that things here are anything less than chaos.

Before I elaborate, permit me to introduce the two most important players, My amazing husband (V from here on out) and our beautiful little girl (A.J.):

On to the Chaos. I will not be TOO elaborate with this so just a glimpse.

We decided to have a ‘family photo shoot’ in a pumpkin patch to remember our first Fall together. The best laid plans…

I have grand ideas of artistry and refuse to believe that anything less than spectacular will happen. I am, after all, Super-mom!  In my head, but aren’t we all sometimes?
It was a beautiful day, all our clothes were clean and ready. Nothing could go wrong… right? We got to where the patch was all set up with hay bales, scarecrows, and oodles of pumpkins everywhere. They were there, I SWEAR, just two days earlier! When we arrived all dolled up and ready to make some memories EVERYTHING WAS GONE! The only proof of my modicum of remaining sanity was that there were little bits of straw that had come loose from the bales and been missed in the clean-up. Tell me you have never had a moment like this :

Mom is now a little more than frazzled and disappointed, AJ is just experiencing yet more new adventures and moments in this wonderful life, and V is finding the whole thing rather amusing. The apparent amusement of course frazzles mom even more… you get the idea. Well, what can you do?! Take the opportunity for a moment like this of course:

As it turned out, a local grocery store had wonderful bins of the ‘fairy-tale’ pumpkins outside waiting for the last crazy family on the planet to claim. We did not get the whole family session that I originally envisioned but how can I be sad about this wonderful shot?

In a cardboard bin, outside a grocery store, the little girl makes the day a win yet again!

I may be disorganized, over-caffeinated, and simply dopey most of the time, but I have a fantastic life! I have the sweetest little goofy girl in the world. My husband is the most kind, loving, and supportive man I have ever met. Every time I see his smile or her wonderful grin I can’t help but smile myself and get a little giddy about every upcoming moment with them!

Now, If we can get a family Christmas photo before Valentine’s day……

~E

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Unearth Malee *Review*

So, this is my very first review post.

*and the peasants rejoiced*

Unearth Malee makes some of the best soaps on the planet!

I have RIDICULOUSLY sensitive skin (Cetaphil makes me break-out), and I have to say, these soaps are AMAZING! My husband and I had the opportunity to try several different ‘flavours’ and WOW!!!

The Cilantro Mint Basil is delightfully herbal and ‘manly’ at the same ‘thyme’ (yuk, yuk, yuk,….).  I love hugging my Boi after a shower when he smells like it!

As far as soaps for me go, I an torn between the  Mangosteen, White Tea, Bergamot, and  the Papaya, Ginger, Lemongrass. Both are delightfully aromatic and yet gentle enough that even my tempermental skin is happy.

Each bar comes hand wrapped in flower seeded paper so it is biodegradable. The packaging is lovely enough that it makes a perfect gift with only the addition of a bow. There are also some fantastic gift sets on the site for any special person who deserves a little extra spoiling.

The soaps lather so much that I feel like I am being pampered at a day-spa every time I shower, and are also kind enough that I don’t have to feel like I am in desert all day. I also really like the ingredient list. As a mother of a small child it is really important to me to know exactly what my little one is being exposed to. Not only are the body soaps made with the highest quality organics , but they are also made from sustainable ingredients. Good for the planet, good for the soul.

I really like supporting WAHM’s, and I have to say, as far as basics go: you could do a LOT worse than supporting Unearth Malee.

Pro’s: All natural Organic ingredients that even picky skin enjoys, wonderful unique scents, & I said so!

Con’s: it is more expensive for a single bar of soap, but it doesn’t take as much to get the ‘job’ done…. I guess this really isn’t a ‘con’.

Browse and purchase Unearth Malee products at : http://www.unearthmalee.com/

Thank me later! 🙂

All opinions expressed, unless explicitly stated otherwise, are my own, unpaid, opinion. I receive no compensation for my positive or negative reviews. In such cases where I receive a product specifically for review, with/without other compensation, it will be noted here.

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Eating Healthy

Yummy AND Healthy!

It seems like there are thousands of ‘new’ diets and eating plans that proclaim the ‘right’ way to eat healthy. As it turns-out, they are not all bad. Limiting carbohydrate intake, counting calories, eliminating the foods that we are addicted to, all methods to miraculously lose those extra pounds and be healthy, make a certain a mount of sense. The problem is that there is no singular program that is the best, or right method that works for everyone; especially for those of us that have families with differing dietary needs.

So, is there a healthy, balanced diet, that works for everyone in all walks of life? I think there is. I also think that it is pretty painless. Here are a few simple rules that I try to follow:

1. The less done to your food the better. With few exceptions, the closer a food item is to its natural or original state, the more the nutrients in the food are going to be intact.

2. Keep ingredient lists short and sweet. If you wouldn’t add something to a dish cooked at home, why would you pay someone else to add it for you? Ice cream has five basic ingredients, cream, milk, sugar, eggs, flavor (vanilla bean for instance). Any other additives are just money out of your pocket and real food out of your stomach.

3. Eat all things in moderation. Protein in the morning not only helps stabilize blood sugar for the rest of the day but helps stave-off the need for a quick sugar fix later in the day.
Fats, now don’t get scared here, are actually good for you. I am not talking about biting into a brick of lard every day for lunch THAT would be bad. Your body actually NEEDS fat to function. Fats are large molecules that provide lots of energy to you when when they are broken down. Fats need to be categorized though. I have personally found that the fat contained in raw dairy agrees with my system for two reasons. First, the fat molecules in raw dairy are so large that the body has a hard time breaking them down to absorb or store them. But, the presence of the fats still causes the gall bladder and liver to use and keep producing bile (bile is what helps digest fats in your digestive tract). This bile production, when regular, convinces the body that fat is plentiful and doesn’t need to be stored because there will be more later.
Carbohydrates think of these as long chains of sugar. They are. While that doesn’t make carbs evil, it does mean that they should be monitored and well balanced with the fat and protein intake.

4. Further from home is further from healthy. Who doesn’t appreciate the convenience of being able to buy blueberries and tomatoes in December? But consider this, buying produce out of season for your home location means the foods have to travel. To make sure that nothing is rotting by the time it gets to your local grocer, growers have to harvest before the foods are actually ripe. This, naturally, stops any further growing, nutrient accumulation, and actual ripening. On top of this, produce picked this way is chemically treated to give it the appearance of being ripe. Unless vine ripened in a local hot house, those pinkish-red tomatoes in the store in December aren’t actually ripe, meaning they will bear a taste strongly resembling cardboard. Let’s face it, even those most staunchly vegan don’t want to eat cardboard. If it doesn’t taste good we don’t eat it. And if we don’t eat we can not reap the nutrition. (There are of course long term storage options discussed HERE)

5. Don’t eat if you are not hungry and Pay attention to cravings. Your body is not stupid, trust it to know when it does or does not need more fuel. On the same note cravings are clues to something that needs adjusting in your diet. The three o’clock candy hour just might be your system screaming that you need a different lunch plan.

6. Sweets are not friends. This is one rule that can not be avoided. Refined sugar = bad. There is no way around it. And don’t forget the high fructose corn syrup. It is used all over the place because it is cheap and easy for manufacturers, not because it has any benefit to your health.

7. Be aware of calories. This should not be stressful and doesn’t have to be perfect. The basic principle is continuous intake of more calories than you use will lead to weight gain.

Please note, I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or other such guru. I have found a system that works for me and also seems common sense. I would encourage everyone to find the system that works best for them.

this post also appears on www.hyppolita.com, another blog by me

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