Parenting Well in a Performance Based Society: Raising Baby

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Let’s face it, our Western Society has set us all up for failure.  Or at least a lot of comparative fussing.  Your child’s life will probably start out with people asking their birth weight and length, then when or if they have started walking and potty training, only to be followed by where they are attending college or what job they landed.  Why?  Why is our society so consumed with all of these things?  I honestly don’t remember my children’s weight and length at birth or when exactly they started doing everything else.  Some would consider this bad parenting and be shocked that I haven’t burned these things into my memory.  I choose to believe it is because they are not that important in the scheme of life.  Maybe you are a new parent who’s baby is just getting ready for some milestones or maybe baby is very happy with where they are at.  One thing that you will figure out, if you haven’t already is that babies, just like adults are individuals.  And no two individuals will do things in exactly the same way or at the same time.  Parenting is an area in life that you need extreme confidence.  And if you reach down deep inside you’ll find that you have the knowledge you need for that confidence to grow.  You have an advantage!  You brought this little human into the world and you know them, better than anyone else!  You sense when they are overwhelmed, you know when they are tired, or sad.   With all of this “inside information” about this amazing person, your only job now is to protect their rights as an individual in this world.  And it is your job to protect that child.  Whether little or big, that child will need protection, truth, and love.  Parenting is no place for our own insecurities to be fixed.  And this seems to be a difficult area for a lot of parents to see.  Parenting is for your child’s needs, not the place to meet your own.  Many parents feel uncomfortable if their child is not crawling, speaking, walking, or potty training when someone else’s child is.  Why?  Your baby is not ashamed, then why should you be?  Allowing your baby to develop at their own speed is actually harder for the parent than the child, because of societal pressures.  But guess what?  Baby doesn’t know about those things yet.  And I believe that practicing patience with yourself in these early years will help you to support the individual that this child will one day become.  Through rushing our babies out of infancy, and our children out of childhood, we are involuntarily teaching lessons like “We just do this now because everyone else does this”, or “because this is what people expect of you.”  This is the foundation for a very week willed adult.  I don’t know about you, but I want to raise strong individuals who aren’t afraid to stand up when something is wrong.  I want my children to be confident in who they are and what they believe.

So let our babies be babies and lets let our kids be kids.  More on this conversation to come. . .

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Gourmet your Pizza

    In an ideal world, you would have just pulled a hand rolled crust pizza out of your own brick oven.  But life and time constraints sometimes get in the way of good cooking.  And there are other factors.  Maybe you love a trip to the gourmet pizza shop but your child wants plain old pepperoni, or worse just cheese.  Today I’m going to give you a few tips to turn a plain $5 pepperoni pizza from down the street into a masterpiece.

My husband and I fell in love with a brave new pizza topping. . . peanut butter.  At a wonderful gourmet pizza shop that we like, they make a lovely. . . (you guessed it) . . . peanut butter pizza.  So, I thought one night,  “Why not?”  and covered my five dollar pizza with peanut butter.  Topped with a few hot pepper flakes and some thinly sliced red onion, and you have “Amazing!”  Plus, when you add peanut butter, you add protein.  And for hypoglycemics like myself this is a welcome addition.  So, maybe peanut butter pizza is not your cup of tea.  Here are a few other ideas:  Smoked gouda and cashews,  roasted garlic and imported olives.  Don’t be afraid.  Be creative!  Remember, just because your kids may be stuck in pepperoni heaven, doesn’t mean that you have to give up on good taste.  Another little tip:  make a mixture of olive oil, crushed garlic, and parmesan to brush over the crust.  Mmmmm

Spring Veggie Soup

Image  May is the sort of month where you never know what kind of weather you are going to get.  It was boiling hot in California a few days ago, then pouring rain in LA the day after that.  Today was lovely.  The kind of day that stays cool and sends you home in the evening wanting nothing but a bowl of hot soup.  So this is my kitchen invention of the day:  Spring Veggie Soup.  It is a vibrant green, light soup that pairs well with cheese and crusty bread.  The magic of this dish is that it would be divine chilled on a warm spring evening.  Here are the ingredients you will need:

3 handfulls of fresh spinach leaves

5 cloves of garlic chopped into fourths

1 bag frozen zucchini (or fresh if you have it on hand)

4 large fresh basil leaves

1/2 a small onion chopped into large sections

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 cup of broth (chicken or vegi)

a pinch of cayenne pepper

Creamy Toscano cheese soaked in Syrah

salt

pepper

(This amount will serve 2)

Start with a large soup pan.  Pour in the olive oil and warm it lightly.  Add your garlic, and onions and let them warm until the onion starts to turn translucent.  While this part is cooking you will want to rinse the frozen zucchini in a sieve.  Run warm water over the zucchini until they separate and don’t feel icy.  Then add them to the pan.  Next you will add the broth and then cover the mixture to let it cook for about 10 minutes.  Your next step will be to add your spinach and basil leaves.  They will wilt quickly from the steam from the other veggies.  As they are wilting you can add a shake of cayenne, salt, and pepper.  Then stir.  Turn off the heat and pour your mixture into a blender.  Blend until the soup looks very creamy.  Pour into soup bowls and top with a little crumble of Toscano cheese.  Trader Joe’s sells three versions of this cheese: Syrah, Espresso, and Black Pepper.  Any of these three would be fine.  The soup will have a bright basil note that works well the complexity of the cheese.  May you soon enjoy a warm cup of soup on a cool spring night.

 

Fingertip Caviar

caviar-dark-beads-03-04-122-1024x682  This post is not about food.  Really.  It’s about one of my favorite new beauty trends and how to get the look for dirt cheep.  The look is called “Caviar.”  It is a fun new way to do nails with tiny little beads across the top of the nail.  The look pictured above is one of my favorites, but to my disappointment this set had already been discontinued at Sephora.  The caviar sets are usually around $25.00.  They consist of a polish, beads, funnel, and a top coat.  If you are trying to find a discontinued look, like I was, you will be able to find them.  They sell on Ebay and various sites, but the price may run around $57.00!  So, what is a girl to do?  Well, the answer is to be creative!  I was shopping at one of my favorite craft supply stores in California called Michaels, when I saw the answer to my problem. . . mircrobeads!!!  Microbeads are tiny little beads that come in a variety of colors.  And in my opinion, look the same size as Ciate’s beads that are currently selling at Sephora.  The beads at Michaels are under the name “Recollections.”  You can buy a bottle with one color of bead, or a collection that contains six bottles.  I purchased a set containing: clear, copper, silver, champagne, ebony, and antique copper.  And the price?  Only $7.99!!!  And the great thing is that Michaels gives you a %40 off coupon with your purchase!  So next I will be buying the multicolor set, and for even less!!

Let me tell you how to do the beading process.  First you decide on a base color.  The base does not have to match the color of microbead, so have fun here and be creative.  You also don’t have to “caviar” every nail.  You can do every other nail, just one nail, or even just the tips of your nails.  For my first try I chose to start off easy.  I painted all of my nails (except for my ring fingers) a deep wine red.  After letting them dry a little, I painted one ring finger nail a pearly white.  While the polish was wet I sprinkled the clear microbeads onto the nail.  (It is great that the bottles come with a shaker option on the top, so this part is fairly easy)  Next I repeated this process on my other ring finger.  And the last step,  I applied a thick layer of top coat over the beads.  The effect looked like snow!  It lasted for about four days, before I removed them and tried a different look.  If you want to keep the caviar look longer, I would recommend putting on another layer of top coat every other day.  The beads are also easy to remove.  You can use a regular nail polish remover.  This will break the seal between the top and bottom coat of polish and the beads just fall off.  The great thing here is that the options are endless!  You can mix two or more colors of microbead and come up with so many possibilities!  And for less than $15.00 for 12 bottles of gorgeous colors, I think this trend is one that’s worth trying!

Gourmet your Popcorn

It’s that time of year again, where everywhere you go there are large beautiful tins filled with gourmet popcorn.  They are so tempting.  But everyone knows popcorn is best served hot.  So here is a simple tip to put some festivity into that late night wrapping party.  All you need is a bag of microwave popcorn, some cinnamon, and some sugar.  Pop the popcorn, and then pour half into a large bowl.  Sprinkle with half a tablespoon of cinnamon, and half a tablespoon of sugar, then give it a good stir.  Pour on the other half of the bag and repeat with the cinnamon and sugar, then stir again.  The flavor is sweet, savory, and a little salty.  I made it for my five year old and I the other day for a quick treat.  We both loved it!   Okay, so I will admit that this will probably be the easiest tip that I give you.  But my son wanted me to post this, so I hope you enjoy.     Mmmmmmmm  mmmmmmmmm!

Drain No

        You know the story.  You wash your hands and then stare as the sink fills up with water that just won’t seem to go back down.  What to do?  Another trip to the store?  Are you doomed to fill your sink and your breathing space with harsh chemicals?  Trust me, I’ve been there many times.  Our Renew Home is a 1912 Craftsman, and let’s just say, the plumbing and I have not always got along.  I wanted a simple cure and a natural cure.  And, being someone with asthma, I  needed it to be a remedy that was harsh on pipes and gentle on my lungs.  There is an alternative to the chemical drain declogger.  It doesn’t involve fumes, and you probably already have the ingredients in your kitchen.  Here is my simple recipe to unclog that drain.

Ingredients:

Boiling water

1/2 cup Baking soda

1 cup Vinegar

1 plastic drain cleaner

Here’s what to do for a slow drain:  First you fill a tea kettle with water and turn on the fire.  When it is boiling, you remove it from the stove and (carefully) take it to your poor clogged sink.  Pour the water into the sink and wait about 5 minutes.  Next pour the baking soda into the sink and let it sit another 5 minutes.  Pour in the vinegar and watch the exciting fizzing reaction that is going to clear your drain.  After 5 more minutes, let the hot water run in the sink to help clear out any loose particles.

If your sink is filled with water and not draining at all, I would like to recommend one more item.   You’ll need this great little tool called a drain cleaner.  They look like a long piece of plastic with jagged edges.  This item can be purchased at your local dollar store.  After pouring in the boiling water, baking soda, and vinegar, if your sink is not yet drained, use this little tool to loosen up any stubborn debris.  You push it down along the side of the drain and pull back out.  If there is anything larger, it will pull back out attached  the drain cleaner.  This will make the sink completely drain.  Then run the hot water.  My sink was filled with water yesterday, so I used the drain cleaner along with the recipe.  Now it is clear and draining well, with no plumber needed.

Fume free, easy, and inexpensive.  You’re welcome.

Butternut Squash Ravioli with fried sage leaves

I love Fall and all the flavors that it reminds us of.  This is my favorite time of the year to cook, and this is my idea of comfort food.  It’s quick, delicious, and has all the flavors of Fall packed into one little pasta dish.  It’s vegetarian and in our home, baby approved.  Best of all, if you are in a hurry, this little meal will be one of your best friends.  It will take you longer to boil the water than to make this entire dish!

What you’ll need:

~1 package of Butternut Squash ravioli  (These can now be found in most markets in the cold pasta section.  Trader Joe’s, Fresh and Easy, and even Costo carry them.)

~5 Tbsp. of butter or margarine

~15 sage leaves

~1/4 tsp. nutmeg

~1/2 tsp. cinnamon

You’ll start by boiling a large pot of water (with a pinch of salt) for the pasta.  Once it comes to a boil, drop in the butternut squash ravioli.  Follow the cooking time on the package and set your timer.  You now have the rest of this time to make the sauce.  (The kind I buy take only three minutes to fully cook.)

Next you put the butter in a large saucepan and warm it until melted.  Then you add the nutmeg and cinnamon, stirring well.  Let the butter brown a little.

The next step is “frying” the sage leaves.  I put mine in a small dry saucepan on medium heat and let them crisp a little.

As soon as your timer goes off, remove ravioli from the water.  Place them into the pan with the butter sauce and toss very gently.  Plate them and top with the fried sage leaves.   Fall, I mean dinner, is served_