Barbara Kingsolver would be proud

As the temperature hovered in the 60s yesterday, I couldn’t help but feel that autumn is quickly approaching. The cool weather inspired me to finally make some headway with food preservation for the winter. I’ve done a little bit of preserving thus far – mostly freezing blueberries and strawberries – but I haven’t been motivated to do much more than that. While I spent a lot of time last year canning, I haven’t been excited about doing any this year (perhaps because we still have lots of jam left) – yet.

This weekend, however, I tackled zucchini and yellow squash. While I’ve only grown one measly zucchini in my own garden so far this year (which I pureed with a can of black beans and made into Black Bean & Zucchini brownies*), I managed to score enough off of Freecycle to make me a happy camper. On Friday evening I picked up 17 lbs of zucchini and yellow squash from someone in a nearby town. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it all when I got it, but I knew I would figure something out. In the meantime, the kids played with it. πŸ™‚
(Please excuse the quality of these pics. They were taken w/ my iPhone.)

On Sunday I got to work. I shredded and froze 16 cups of zucchini to use during the winter for baking or adding to soups.

I also used 3 additional cups to make a triple batch of Barbara Kingsolver’s Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies (from the awesome book Animal Vegetable Miracle).

Then I used one huge yellow squash to make Kingsolver’s Disappearing Zucchini Orzo for dinner (I added spinach to it to give it a little more color and tomatoes as a garnish).

After all of that, I still have two large yellow squash remaining! I may chop and freeze them and throw them into a casserole at a later date.

*Below is the recipe for Black Bean Zucchini Brownies. The other two recipes (cookies and orzo) can be found on the Animal Vegetable Miracle web site. I was very skeptical of the idea of beans in my brownies at first, but now that I’ve made them, I can’t imagine going back to the traditional way. They are sooooo good (and, as Jody will tell you I like to argue, healthier!) Yum!

Black Bean Zucchini Brownies
Ingredients:
1 box brownie mix (I prefer the kind that has chocolate chunks in it)
1 can black beans (do NOT drain)
1 small zucchini (Optional. You can make the brownies with just the beans and they will turn out just fine. If you want to add a little extra vegetable in though, add the zucchini.)

Puree entire can of black beans (including the liquid) in blender or food processor. Add the zucchini and puree until smooth. Add the beans and zucchini to the dry brownie mix. Mix well. Pour into greased pan and bake according to directions on the brownie box. You may have to bake a little longer than recommended on the box because there’s a fair amount of liquid added between the beans and zucchini. You could also add in some flour (maybe a 1/2 cup or so) to even it all out. When a toothpick or knife comes out of the brownies clean, they are done. Cool, cut and serve.

Jody, the kids, and I loved these brownies. And yes, I told them what was in them. Nobody cared. πŸ™‚

Nearly 17 lbs of squash used or preserved in one way or another this weekend. I think Barbara Kingsolver would be proud.

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NaBloPoMo burnout

Julian at the park - 12/4/07Am I the only one who’s been feeling slightly less enthusiastic about blogging since NaBloPoMo ended? I admit having the pressure of posting every day removed has allowed me to be a bit more lax in my blogging efforts, and I’m enjoying the break.Julian & Ava at the park - 12/4/07

It’s allowed me time to take the kids to the park when the temps nearly hit 70 degrees on Tuesday (fun!), and to catch up on cleaning, grocery shopping and laundry (not so fun).

It’s allowed me time to submit some pictures to a magazine photo contest – America and the Sea (crossing my fingers).

It’s allowed me more time to spend reading “Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care.” The book is now overdue from the library, but I can’t bring myself to return it until I finish it. Hopefully that will be in the next couple of days or I’m going to start racking up some serious overdue charges. πŸ˜‰ I plan on reviewing the book once I finish it so you will hear more about it. So far though it’s been excellent!

It’s also allowed me time to work on a new holiday gift guide for women (well, many of the gifts would be great for men too), with lots of giveaways and coupon codes, that I think you will like. That should be up early next week. Yes, I know that’s for my blog, but still. (Jody’s boss has told him that’s the way to win any argument. End it with, “yes, but still.” hehe)

What about you? Are you keeping up with the daily blogging now that NaBloPoMo is over or are you taking it easy and enjoying a bit of a break?

No need for vegetable deception if you breastfeed?

Do you recall the recent controversy over Jessica Seinfeld’s book “Deceptively Delicious?” Some people think the book is a godsend and others (myself included) think she goes a little too far to deceive her kids all in the name of sneaking a very small amount of vegetables into their food. (You can read my thoughts here).

Ava eating carrot soup with a carrotA new study confirms what I have long suspected, breast-fed babies are more likely to like fruits and vegetables (if their mother ate them while breastfeeding) than their formula-fed counterparts. It makes sense to me. A breast-fed baby is able to experience all of the flavors of the foods that his/her mother is consuming through her breast milk. A formula-fed baby, on the other hand, is just experiencing the single flavor of the formula (until, of course, he/she starts eating solid foods).

“It’s a beautiful system,” says Mennella. “Flavors from the mother’s diet are transmitted through amniotic fluid and mother’s milk. So, a baby learns to like a food’s taste when the mother eats that food on a regular basis.”

“Babies are born with a dislike for bitter tastes,” explains Mennella. “If mothers want their babies to learn to like to eat vegetables, especially green vegetables, they need to provide them with opportunities to taste these foods.”

This makes me curious if Jessica Seinfeld breastfed her children? Anyone know?

I’m not saying there aren’t picky eaters who were breastfed, because I’m sure there are (though my kids don’t seem to fall into that category). But I am curious what your thoughts on all of this? Is breastfeeding the solution to getting our children to enjoy a variety of foods and flavors? I’d love to hear you/your children’s experiences one way or the other. Keep it respectful, please.

Yes, that is Ava at 1 1/2 yrs old enjoying some carrot soup with a carrot spoon. πŸ™‚

I Love You More – book review and giveaway

EDITED TO ADD: This giveaway has been concluded. 

NaBloPoMo – Day 14

I love you more

There’s nothing else in the world quite like the love between a mother and child. The book “I Love You More,” written by Laura Duksta and illustrated by Karen Keesler, depicts the tender relationship between a mother and her son, and if you flip the book around, between the son and his mother. That’s right – this unique book can be read from either direction, each way offering a different perspective of love.

The art is beautiful and the prose is rhythmic, creative and sweet. It is a wonderful book that will no doubt be enjoyed through countless readings.

Win it!

If you’d like to win your own copy of “I Love You More,” simply leave a comment below stating who you would give this book to if you won. A link back to this contest would be appreciated, but is not necessary to enter. The deadline to enter is Tuesday, Nov. 20. A winner will be selected that day using Random.org and posted on the 20th as well.

Up to my ears

PushedI’m up to my ears in books that I want to read. The priority is going to “Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care” because I’m picking that one up from the library today and will only have three weeks until it is due back. It’s been on hold for me since Friday, but I haven’t been able to get over there to get it yet. Well, that’s not entirely true. The kids and I went to the library yesterday to return some books and hang out, but found it closed for Veteran’s Day. Shucks. Anyway, I can’t wait to get my hands on that book. You can be sure it will work it’s way into a future blog post.

The other two books I bought and have waiting for me are “Connection Parenting: Parenting Through Connection Instead of Coercion, Through Love Instead of Fear” – which came highly recommended by a friend, and “Mothers and Daughters: Loving and Letting Go” – recommended by a different friend. Both of which look like they will be helpful in my relationships with my children as well as with helping me deal with some issues from my own childhood. It’s amazing how much baggage we can carry with us from our own childhoods into parenting our children. There are so many things that I thought I’d swept under the rug and forgotten about that have resurfaced since I had kids of my own. Hopefully these books will facilitate the healing process.

It seems there are so many good books out there that I’d like to read, and never enough time to do it. I need to find a way to set aside regular time for reading or else find a way to download the information from the books directly into my brain. Wouldn’t that be something? πŸ™‚

To all my vegan friends

Help! I’d like to buy a vegan cookbook (just one) so that I can start experimenting with vegan meals once or twice a week. I am looking for something with relatively easy to make, quick if possible and kid-friendly (in that the meals aren’t so elaborate that the kids will turn up their noses) recipes. I’m mostly looking for dinners though desserts are always welcome too. πŸ˜‰

So my question is: what is your favorite vegan cookbook and why?

Thank you! πŸ™‚

Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon – a review and a contest

Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon

October is Vegetarian Awareness Month, and while it is only Oct. 5, I’m happy to say I have not had any meat yet this month. It honestly hasn’t been hard for me, but then again, I don’t eat meat all that often to begin with. Anyway, the reason I mention veggie month is because my next review and contest is all about a vegetarian dragon! πŸ™‚

I received a copy of the book “Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon” from Barefoot Books and was immediately impressed by the beautiful and vibrant illustrations. The book is about a dragon named Herb who tends to a nice vegetable garden in the forest and is a vegetarian, unlike the rest of the carnivorous dragons in the forest, lead by Meathook, who enjoy raiding the castle for amusement (and tasty eats). The knights of the castle set forth to rid the forest of the meat-eating dragons, but the meat-eaters hear of their plan and hide out in a cave. Meanwhile Herb is the only dragon left in the forest. The knights find him, assume he is a meat-eater as well and capture him. Herb is about to meet his fate at the mouths of hungry alligators when an unlikely hero emerges and saves the day.

Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon is a story about diversity, acceptance and living together in harmony. I do want to note that it’s recommended for ages 4-10 and I have to agree that the content is a bit more mature than toddler-level. When the book first arrived in the mail, I read it to Ava (3) before I had read it for myself or realized it was meant for older children. (Oops.) While she expressed some concern about Herb’s safety and other parts of the book, I explained it to her well and she did OK with it. We have since read the book a few times and she knows how it ends which I think reassures her that Herb will be OK even when the knights are tying him up.

Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon would make a great addition to any child’s library. The illustrations are gorgeous and the book teaches some valuable lessons about life.

Barefoot Books – founded by two moms in 1993 – “offers products that are thoughtfully written, beautifully designed and illustrated, and have high educational value.” If Herb isn’t your cup of tea, check out the rest of the site. There’s a huge variety of books available – many of which celebrate other cultures. I love that their books are free of media, toy or candy references, and are unique and meaningful children’s literature. Most of the paperback books sell for $6.99 and the hardcover books sell for between $16.99-19.99. I suggest keeping Barefoot Books in mind for birthdays and holiday shopping for the kids this year.

Win it!

If you’d like to win your own copy of Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon, please leave me a COMMENT below STATING WHAT BOOK YOU LIKE BEST FROM BAREFOOT BOOKS. Make sure to include a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. The deadline to enter is Tuesday, Oct. 16. The winner will be chosen at random (using random.org) and announced on Oct. 17. It’s not required, but please feel free to post about this contest on your blog if you’d like to share the love. πŸ™‚

Deep thoughts

The kids and I went to our monthly API meeting this morning, then met up with Jody (since he works only a couple blocks from where our meetings are held) to go to lunch.

While we were driving I said to Jody half-jokingly, “I need a haircut. I don’t like myself right now.” To which he replied, “It sounds like you also need some counseling.” :oP

As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I thought, “What am I saying? What kind of statement is that to make in front of my kids?” Yes, it’s true that I am frustrated with my hair lately, but to say I don’t like myself because of it? That’s not the kind of message I want to send.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the things that come out of my mouth in front of the kids lately, mostly because I’m starting to hear a lot of it coming back at me from the little sponge AKA Ava. She may only be 3 years old, but she’s very perceptive and picks up on just about everything. As the saying goes, “Little pitchers have big ears.” I need to be more aware of the words I speak and my tone as well.

Ava is such a sweet, empathic girl and I’d hate to see her outlook on life become warped somehow because of me. We as parents have so much influence in our children’s worlds. It’s almost frightening.

I’m not sure what I need to do to fix this, though I have some ideas. Jody’s statement about me needing counseling was actually quite accurate.

A few weeks ago, my sister picked up a book for me called “The ACOA’s Guide to Raising Healthy Children: A Parenting Handbook for the Adult Children of Alcoholics.” I thumbed through the pages a day or two after she dropped it off and as I read a bit here and a bit there, I became overwhelmed. The personal accounts I read from other ACOAs really hit home for me.

I began to realize that while I tried my best to ignore and forget many things from my childhood, they are still there. I began to realize that they are reemerging in my life now that I have children. I began to realize that these things are keeping me from being the kind of parent I want to be. And then I began to cry. Tears of anger and tears of relief.

I know I have a long road ahead of me, but it feels good to know that by accepting that I have problems and I need help that I’ve at least taken the first step.

You know, for kids

Breastmilk makes my tummy yummy

Today, Aug. 7, marks the last “official” day of World Breastfeeding Week. However, because there is still quite a bit on the subject that I’d like to write about, I plan to blog more about breastfeeding throughout the month of August.

If you are a breastfeeding mama, you might want to consider adding some children’s books about breastfeeding to your library. They are fun to read with your nurslings (kids love reading about one of their favorite things – mama’s milk!), and also come in handy to read to slightly older siblings when a new baby joins the family. The good news is there are several great books out there to choose from.

We have I’m Made of Mama’s Milk by Mary Olsen and Breastmilk Makes My Tummy Yummy by Cecilia Moen and I like them both a lot. I wish I’m Made of Mama’s Milk had better quality pictures in it, but the story and rhyming are fun nonetheless. Breastmilk Makes My Tummy Yummy also has some cute rhymes in it, and includes drawings of children of different ethnicities breastfeeding, as well as toddlers nursing and tandem nursing. Both books have been favorite bedtime stories in this house with Ava, and I’m sure they will continue to be appreciated by Julian as well.

Another breastfeeding book that we will be adding to our library soon is Near Mama’s Heart by Colleen Newman. I won this book from the Attachment Parenting International online auction, and am excited to get it. Near Mama’s Heart, with colorful photos of nursing babies and their families, describes the power of breastfeeding from a child’s perspective.” (It is also available in Spanish.)


Here are some more books about breastfeeding for kids:

Mama’s Milk by Michael Elsohn Ross

The Best Gifts by Marsha Skrypuch

We Like to Nurse by Chia Martin

and

Michele: The Nursing Toddler – A Story about Sharing Love by Jane M. Pinczuk (I’m especially interested in learning more about this one since it’s specifically about a nursing toddler. Might have to buy a copy.)

Another book I found while browsing Amazon that’s not specifically about breastfeeding, but is all about baby wearing is A Ride on Mother’s Back: A Day of Baby Carrying around the World by Emery Bernhard. It looks like a great book to add to any AP-friendly children’s library.

I’d be happy to add more children’s books about breastfeeding to the list if anyone knows of more. Thanks!

Here are the rest of my posts about breastfeeding from the past week:

Lastly, thank you to everyone who sent in your breastfeeding pictures for the collage. I will be sharing it later in the week. πŸ™‚

Edited to add: Elizabeth at The Whole Family is giving away a set of 10 breastfeeding encouragement cards in honor of WBW.
The cards say:
“I just wanted to pass along this little note to let you know how much I appreciate seeing you, a fellow mother, nursing your child in public. You are setting a wonderful example for other mothers and future mothers and showing our children how normal yet beautiful breastfeeding is.”
Want to win? Go check out her giveaway.

Cute and cool stuff abounds

I know I’ve talked about the *Attachment Parenting International online auction fund-raiser before, but here I go again. This time, with pictures! πŸ˜‰

As I type this, 28% of the items on the auction (of over 200 total items) have yet to be bid on. Which means there’s a WHOLE lot of stuff to be had for well under retail value.

Now to further tempt you to click over and start bidding, I want to take a few minutes to show off some of the cute and cool items currently open for bidding.

First off, there are these two adorable dresses that my mom made…

Citrus dress 2T Flower dress 4T

These two “pillow case” dresses were made by my mom specifically for the auction. The citrus one is a size 2T and the flowered one is a 4T. Ava has three of these dresses made by grandma and she gets compliments on them wherever we go. They are adorable and are truly one-of-a-kind. Click the pics above to bid on them at the auction. My mom also made a couple of “taggies” toys/blankets (like this one) that are listed in the “Children” section.

And now I’d like to feature a few more items (as well as their generous donors) that I helped round up…

Strawberry dress

This super cute strawberry circle dress with matching shorts is a size 12-18 months and was donated by Baby Bonkin. It currently has no bids on it, and bidding starts at $7, so you could get this dress for well below retail value. Click on the picture to place your bid now. Baby Bonkin also has a few other cute clothing items open for bidding on the auction.

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Primrose Path Signature Smock Set

This adorable Signature Smock Set is size 12-18 month and beyond. The set includes matching handmade smock dress and drawstring pants made from modern fabric in a fun pink and floral print. It was donated by Urban Baby Runway, and is currently sitting at well below retail value. Click the picture to place a bid.

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Rosie Toesies

It’s not just cutesie little girl clothes though. These Rosie Toesies are beautiful handmade slippers (for women) and will keep you feeling cute & comfy all day long. Great for the spa or lounging around the house. Donated by BellaBella Designs. Bidding has yet to get started (and starts at only $11!) on these slippers, which would make a great gift. Click the picture to bid.

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Blessed Nest Nesting Pillow

The all Organic Nesting pillow is a wonderful nursing pillow and is very comfortable for both Momma and baby. The pillow is also great for pregnant mamas to use to sleep with before baby is born. It was donated by Blessed Nest. This pillow retails for $84, and is currently sitting at only $35, so you could potentially get it for well below retail value! Click the picture to place a bid.

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No-Cry Discipline Solution

Elizabeth Pantley generously donated two signed copies of each of her “No-Cry…Solution” books. API is offering all 6 books in one set, and the other books each separately. Click the picture above to bid on all 6 signed books. I’m currently reading “The No-Cry Discipline Solution” myself and have found a lot of useful techniques in it.

In addition, there is a set of 11 signed books from the Dr. Sears library in the book category (as well as many other books) open for bidding.

There are 49 books and/or magazine subscriptions (!) available for bidding in the auction. Several are signed by the author.

And this one, Mama Knows Breast, donated by author Andi Silverman, too!

Mama Knows Breast

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Eesti Ring Sling

There are currently 25 items in the baby wearing category – slings, mei tais, Moby wraps, pouches and Ergos all included, and even some children’s size carriers. This beautiful espresso brown ring sling above was donated by Eesti Slings. Click the picture to bid on it.

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Imagine Peace onesie

This cute “imagine peace” onesie is size 6-12 months and was donated by Sassy Onesies. Click the picture to place your bid.

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Peek-a-boo B nursing cover

Four Peek-a-Boo B Nursing Covers were donated by Peek-a-boo B Covers. The cover allows you to nurse your baby discreetly anywhere, if you choose to nurse away from prying eyes. Made of baby-soft lightweight and breathable poly knit, mom and baby stay cool and comfy. Click the picture to place your bid. 4 different colors are listed on the auction.

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Newborn hat booties

Hand knit by Dawn, this beautiful newborn to 3mo hat and booties set is perfect for a baby girl. This set was made in very, very soft 100% pure wool, shades of pink and lavender yarn. The booties feature ties at the ankles to help keep them on wiggly feet. The hat features a picot edge and pretty eyelets. Click the picture to be the first to bid on this adorable set!

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And now, just to help display how diverse the items in this auction are (it really isn’t all AP-related items), here are some other things open for bidding.

Lil speedy bike

This is a twelve inch wheeled beginner bike with training wheels and was donated by Trail Kids. It is Royal Blue with hand print graphics to add color and style. It is recommended for children ages 2-4 and fits a 15-18″ inseam. Click the picture to place your bid.

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Orlando vacation

This auction is for a 2 BR, 4 night/5 day stay at the Orlando International Resort Club, a RCI Gold Crown Resort, from 8/11-8/15/07. Accommodations include 2 bedrooms (much like a well-equipped furnished apartment/condo), equipped kitchen, washer/dryer, wireless Internet and more. Fun! Click the picture to place your bid.

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Blue man group

The winning bidder receives 6 FRONT ROW TICKETS to see the incomparable Blue Man Group in Nashville, Tennessee at the Nashville Arena, along with backstage passes to the post-show meet & greet all happening on Friday, Nov. 16, 2007! You’ll also receive Blue Man Group Gift Packs. Click the picture to place your bid.

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Sawyer Brown

You are bidding on a autographed photo of Sawyer Brown, a Sawyer Brown “The Hits Live in Concert” DVD, and a Sawyer Brown t-shirt (cream, size large). Bid by clicking on the picture.

In addition to all of the cool stuff above, there are also collectibles, health/beauty products, jewelry, cloth diapers, art, yoga sessions, a photography session, and much, much more. Go check it out. The API auction closes on July 21, so there’s just one week left to bid on all of your favorite items. Happy bidding. πŸ™‚

Thank you to all of the generous donors and to you all for bidding and helping to support Attachment Parenting International. πŸ™‚

*Attachment Parenting International (API) is a not for profit organization that works to protect the parent-child connection.