Saturday, April 30, 2011

Market Time

Farmers markets are starting to bloom! Today at the Green Phone Booth, I'm writing about our family's love affair with farmers markets.

If you're interested, the Booth is also consierding a weekly market linkup. If you're interested please let us know!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

When the rain, rain goes away

The last week or so, rains of varying degrees have hit our home. Morning drizzles. Afternoon showers. Nighttime thunderstorms.

After probably six inches or so of the precipitation I needed last fall to save my landscaping, I'm anxious for some sun. But I can't complain. Because in those instances when the rain does go away, I've been blessed with some magic moments.

Like stopping to watch a half dozen baby goslings struggle to hop up from the ditch into a flooded rainfield.

Or seeing the first "heart flowers," as my daughter calls them, of the spring, and seeing her pluck them lovingly off my plants to share with me.

Or taking a quiet walk - in the sun, no less! - at a retreat center on the way home from a funeral, the one non-rainy moment of the day.

Or taking a less quiet walk, getting splashed by my children, who have a knack of finding even the most miniscule of puddles.

Sure, I'd like the rain to stop. But sometimes, it's a reminder of the little moments that we otherwise take for granted.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hot cross buns and other Easter plans

We're radically trying to change how we handle our holiday seasons, moving them more in line with what we'd initially hoped for our kids (more memories, less stuff). This is applying to Easter as well.

Instead of big baskets (which we'd never quite gotten to), the kids are each getting a bug box and magnifying glass. The in-laws have sent over candies from Russell Stovers in KC, and the Easter Bunny is largely sneaking in a few small candies and goldfish crackers for tomorrow's (likely indoors) hunt.

We're kicking up our Easter traditions in the kitchen, too. This year will be our first to dye eggs, and I have finally convinced my 5 year old that does not mean watercoloring broken eggshells after we've cooked! We also made for the first time Hot Cross Buns last night, a time-consuming project, though not as bad as making homemade cinnamon rolls. We deviated a bit from the original recipe, swapping dried cranberries for the currants. You could likely swap for raisins or any other dried fruit as well. You'd think my youngest had gone to heaven this morning at breakfast. Tomorrow, we're planning to make Resurrection Rolls, which hopefully can engage even the 3 year old for a few minutes.

But the biggest memory of this season? The grandparents are driving up. And that is the best thing any kid can wish for. Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Saving the world, one purchase at a time?

Earth Day has me a bit cynical, I have to admit. The last several years in particular, it's gotten just as commercial as every other holiday or event.

Free Starbucks in a reusable cup. Free green tags or grocery bags with the stores' name on it. And a hundred pitches from folks wanting you to promote their green business just because it's Earth Day.

Sorry, I don't buy that.

I don't see a need to mark Earth Day simply because I'm trying to make positive choices the other 364 days of the year as well.

Besides, there's a little something else going on Friday. Called Good Friday. Maybe instead of purchases, we need to get our priorities set.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Proud parenting moment #37

The other day I caught my daughter, of all things, burping on my bushes.

What in the world was she doing?

"I'm giving the plants carbon dioxide so they can grow," she said.

Glad she pays attention in school.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Chinese Corn and Egg

Cleaning out my freezer the other day, I found a package of corn frozen from the peak of summer. The kids couldn't get enough of it, grabbing the cobs as quickly as I'd removed most of the kernels. This recipe, adapted from a Chinese cookbook of mine, went quickly too. It's a simple dish for a Meatless Monday or for a quick dinner after a busy day. Quick and Easy Corn and Egg 4-5 ears corn, kernels removed 5 eggs, lightly beaten 1 tsp. sesame oil pinch of salt 1 tbsp. butter 2 tsp. peanut oil 1 tsp. finely chopped garlic salt and pepper to taste Combine eggs, sesame oil and salt and set aside. Heat skillet until it is hot, and heat the butter and peanut oil until melted. Toss in garlic, stir-fry briefly, then toss in corn and stir-fry another 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add eggs, scramble and cook until eggs are set. Serve at once.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bye, bye baby

Thursday I did the unthinkable. I said goodbye to the idea of a newborn. For nearly six years, I've had a crib, baby swings and car seats in my possession. And you don't realize how much space little ones take until you start gathering supplies. But after two years of telling my kids not to play in the infant booster seat or turn on the baby swing, it's time to quit hanging onto the idea of the nebulous infant #3. And the realization that my son is finally over the idea of sleeping in his crib, and he's finally comfortable in his "big boy bed," it was time for me to cut the cord. We loaded up the van and took it to St. Elizabeth's home. It's a surreal feeling knowing all that's left babywise is the changing table (now housing organizing boxes for toys) and some infant/toddler clothes, but even those are getting picked over too. It's like saying you're officially done, even though the winds of fate can change at any minute. But the uncomfortableness of the moment was gone when I arrived and visited with the staff. Saw the reminders of the families they serve on a daily basis. Heard how equipment and baby supplies come out the door as quickly as they arrive. The drop-side crib, which aren't being sold anymore? An improvement over the risk of SIDS from co-sleeping. The infant car seat, which you truly can't resell? Will go to a family so they can take their infant home from the hospital - and legally, they can't discharge until the family has one. It makes you sleep a bit better knowing your things will help another family grow together and create memories...safely.

Turn off the TV Week

Turn off the TV Week is April 18 to 24. While I haven't completely sold my spouse on the idea, I'm looking forward to a few quiet(er) nights without screen time. It's too easy to slip into bad habits, and for this week, it's a great opportunity to spring-clean our lives. Check out my post at the Green Phone Booth.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Season's Eatings: Checking out Green Bean Delivery

Fresh produce at my doorstop! I admit the idea seems intriguing, yet after my CSA experience that ended badly a few years back, I was hesitant. But after checking out Green Bean Delivery, I think I'm ready to dive in for a try. The regional delivery service offers weekly or biweekly delivery of organically grown produce. The good things? I'm able to customize my order, so I'm not stuck with a dozen bok choy or produce I won't eat. I can also tack on anything from buffalo meat to eggs, if I'm feeling inspired with my cooking. The site notes whether the items are local to Indiana/Ohio/Kentucky, from the U.S. or from tropical regions. And, I can place my order on hold at any time, so I can use the service when I need it, like when my garden falters or late fall arrives. I'm particularly excited about the idea because early spring is the hardest for me in terms of eating fresh produce, particulary as our farmers markets (and many farm stands) are not yet open for the season. Not from Indiana? we are talking about options today at the Green Phone Booth today. Check it out!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Taming the paper monster

I'm buried in a sea of paper. Literally. My work desk is a foot deep in marked-up papers, sign-offs, meeting notes, etc. I've yet to find a working solution. Add a kindergartener, preschooler and a college-student husband to the mix of bills, work and other "business" of home, and you'd think my home would be in a similar situation. And sure, I have a few hot spots, like our kitchen table that never seems to stay clean. But thankfully, we're starting to tame the paper monster. Slowly. Here's what's working for me:

  • We reuse. Work papers get rehashed as printing paper for everything from recipes from the Internet to printouts of email receipts to word finds for my kindergartener. And the papers are stored in two locations: one for printing, and one for easy kid access. That way they're not mixed about the house.

  • We recycle. We keep at least one, if not two, recycling bags in our kitchen to toss completed math papers, junk mail, newspapers, etc. When the bag's full, we drop it off at the school's paper recycling station, which helps the school as well. Since we drive our child to work anyway, we have no excuse. The cool thing? It helped the environment and raised $1300 for tuition assistance last year!

  • We eliminate. I have a serious problem with lists and sticky notes and multiple calendars. This year, I stumbled on a "mom planner," which has kept my life saner and more organized than I've felt in a few years. Each weekly sheet tracks by day my activities and those for each of my family members, along with a space for lists and daily meals. Along with that, we posted a wipe-off monthly calendar and menu on our fridge, so it's easy to consult or change.

What works for you in taming the paper monster? Any other habits that can help us out?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Is "routine" like "balance" - just a dream?

Six weeks into life as a real two-income family (as opposed to that one or 1.25), we're starting to find our way. OK, truthfully, it's a lot of baby steps. And missteps at that. My kids are slowly getting used to Dad being out for odd hours, missing mealtimes and bedtimes and weekends, and being there (quite grouchily) for the morning routine. We've battled meltdowns and arguments and trouble at school and daycare. But that too is finally slowing down. Yet I'm still feeling unsettled. I haven't had to think about cooking dinner for nearly three years. That's a long time. And it's tough when the kids walk in the door at 6 to start fixing dinner. Laundry piles up faster. So do the dishes. Not to mention the clutter. Bedtimes take longer too, as do strangely the mornings. Truthfully, I feel like I've replaced one stressor - underemployment - with another: trying to keep the house afloat. And this is one thing I should be able to control but it just isn't happening. So I ask: Is "routine" just a pipe dream? Is it like the wishful "balance" - just something placed in front of us to never quite feel satisfied?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Going green for Lent?

Sacrificing for your faith is the point of Lent, but can environmentalism play a part? Today on the Green Phone Booth, we're introducing you to the idea of Lenten programs focusing on going green for 40 days. Incidentally, I went "green" in an unplanned way - breaking my tendency to reach for the junk food, particularly the stuff that folks bring into work. I'd love some good dark chocolate!