Monday, December 30, 2013

The New Year’s Non-Resolution - Emily Bartnikowski

Monday December 30 The New Year’s Non-Resolution (Emily Bartnikowski) This year, I’m not resolving to do anything I haven’t already been doing – or trying to do. This year, I am resolve that I am enough as I am; resolving to enjoy where I am at more; and just breathing. Read about my heartfelt goal for the New Year at Natural Parents Network today - The New Year’s Non-Resolution.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

5 Winter Traditions for Everyone at Natural Parents Network

***I promise to blog HERE in the New Year. And over at my photography site that is still under construction. But MORE. MORE MORE MORE. Happy Winter!****

  Natural Parents Network: 5 Winter Traditions for EveryoneI have a post today at Natural Parents Network about "5 Winter Traditions for Everyone." 'Tis the season for many, many things. For some people there is a lot of travel and for others there is hunkering down to survive winter weather. Some people see an uptick in religious holidays, and some people go to the movies more. Regardless of where you are or what your calendar might look like, here are 5 things that everyone can enjoy this season. Continue reading at Natural Parents Network ››

Friday, October 18, 2013

Mama-Led Weaning, Sometimes It's The Best Choice, at Natural Parents Network

Natural Parents Network: Mama-Led Weaning, Sometimes It's The Best ChoiceI have a post today at Natural Parents Network about "Mama-Led Weaning, Sometimes It's The Best Choice." I nursed my first son for 14 months, and am in the 13 month of nursing my second. And I'm finished, mamas. I'm just finished. I've had mastitis more times than I can count (I stopped counting at 12 the first time around and 6 this time), I've got systemic thrush, and I seem to be allergic to all of the treatments available to me. So I've decided it's time to wean. Don't get me wrong. I loved nursing. I love the snuggles and the knowledge that I was doing the best I could for my sons before I was able to expose them to the wide and luscious variety of "Big People Food." I loved the convenience and the oxytocin surge. I loved the immune boost. I loved the magical sleeping effects it seemed to have. I even loved vaguely scandalizing people as I nursed my sons on demand. (Honestly, though, I live in San Jose and I never got so much as a side-eye for nursing in public. I love that bubble I live in, too.) But now — chronic mastitis and even more plugged ducts, thrush, cracks, teeth, diminishing supply, and an insatiable baby…I could try more approaches, I could eat more lactation cookies (or bacon cheddar lactation muffins), I could do any number of things, but Walter eats more People food than my 3.5-year-old, and I'm pretty sure that, aside from the midnight session, nursing now is mostly for comfort. Continue reading at Natural Parents Network ››

Monday, September 23, 2013

Ethics, A Budget, and Your Taste Buds: Pick Your Pleasure at Natural Parents Network

Natural Parents Network: Ethics, A Budget, and Your Taste Buds: Pick Your PleasureI have a post today at Natural Parents Network about "Ethics, A Budget, and Your Taste Buds: Pick Your Pleasure." True story: While chatting in a group setting a few weeks ago, a friend brought up the subject of frying her food and which oils are best for frying. She was talking about chicken, and I am Southern. She was bemoaning the price of olive oil and then someone brought up canola oil. Because I Know Everything, I jumped right in: "When deep frying anything, you should just use straight vegetable oil because it has a high smoke point and a neutral flavor and it's not too expensive. The flavor will be best the second or third time you use it, but don't use it many more times than that because the smoke point lowers pretty quickly. But don't use canola because it's a GMO, and unless you're buying pretty close to the source for your olive oil, it's hard to be sure it's 100% olive…." And then someone — in a nice way — told me to put a sock in it and further explained that vegetable oil also contains GMOs and can contain many different oils, some of which are from areas that are being exploited. I haven't researched her claims because, frankly, I just can't. I have reached Ethical Eating Fatigue, people. And I bet you have, too. There is a list as long as my arm concerning the health and ethical grey areas surrounding the food on our plates, and it's enough to overwhelm a person. Off the top of my head: Pesticide usage poisons the farmers, the laborers, the ground water, the wild animals, and is causing colony collapse, and who knows what else. Growth hormone and antibiotic use in livestock is causing early puberty in children. Groundwater runoff is causing e. coli outbreaks. Monocultures are going to lead to another dust bowl. Palm oil (which is in everything) is causing the destruction of the rainforest and gorilla populations. GMOs are going to kill us all. Honey isn't actually honey. Olive oil isn't actually made from olives. Chocolate is being harvested by child slaves. Cows are having unholy things done to their bodies in order to be able to live on diets they are not designed to consume…including candy. Chickens are being bred for their breasts, which means their legs can't support their weight. Eating food out of season and from halfway around the world contributes to our dependence on oil and potentially takes food from famine-ravaged countries. Etc, etc, etc. Overwhelmed? Take a breath. Continue reading at Natural Parents Network ››

Monday, August 26, 2013

On Being Good Enough

So...a million years ago when I was in high school (college?) I had a steady gig and after I put the boy to bed I would watch Touched By An Angel while I did my homework. The only thing I (mis)remember from the entire series was a single conversation where the red headed angel and her boss are talking and the conversation went something like this:

Red Headed Angel: "I don't like singing as a human. When I was part of the heavenly choir my voice was angelic and now it's awful" 
Boss Angel: "Girlfriend, He said make a *joyful* noise, not a good one."

I have been mis-quoting* that Boss for the better part of a decade (mostly as justification for some really bad singing) and I feel it can apply in this class, which is thus far mostly a giant affirmation and kick in the pants to run my freak flag up flagpole.

In case you (like me) don't have psalms at your fingertips, I googled:
Psalms 98:4 (King James):  

Make a joyful noise unto the lord, all the earth
make a loud noise and rejoice and sing praise

As part of my homework for my most recent workshop with the Define School, I made a little graphic, put it on instagram, printed it up, and put it around my house. They make me smile. And remind me not to be too concerned in general.

*the real quote is:
"He never said make a beautiful noise unto the Lord. He said make a joyful noise." -- in the episode "A Joyful Noise"

** I do plan on writing a little review of Michelle Gardella and her amazing class. I'm still trying to find the right words for it. It was amazing, when I can stand for long periods of time again, she's getting poundcake.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Be Safe In The Sun!

Be Safe in the Sun! 5 Easy Ways Kids and Adults Can Protect Themselves from Skin Cancer and Wrinkles

Be Safe in the Sun! 5 Easy Ways Kids and Adults Can Protect Themselves from Skin Cancer and Wrinkles

 It's that time of year again . . . time for fabulous hats and flip flops and sunscreen. (At least, it is if you're in the Northern Hemisphere.) It also means it's time to talk about the Big C: Cancer. (And the lowercase w: wrinkles.) How can you protect yourself and your kids? I've got some fun and easy ways everyone - regardless of complexion - should be protecting themselves every day. Come check out my post on Natural Parents Network today to learn more, Be Safe in the Sun! 5 Easy Ways Kids and Adults Can Protect Themselves from Skin Cancer and Wrinkles.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Bacon Cheddar Lactation Muffins

You read that right. I made BACON CHEDDAR LACTATION MUFFINS.

At Christmas, my friend Melissa at Leche Love sent me a goodie box with the dry ingredients for her bacon maple lactation muffins. They were quite tasty (and that's the ingredient list clipped to a cookbook down there - lucky me!)

As I was eating them, however, I was thinking they needed more bacon. And cheese. Because we've got The Gourmet Toaster Oven Cookbook and it has a fabulous recipe for Bacon Cheddar Muffins. Also, almost everything is better with more bacon and more cheese, amirite?

I felt I needed to meld the two into bacony-cheddary-lactationy-goodness.

What? I'm just shredding bacon...

Ready for the oven...

Voila! YUM!

A few notes, because people keep asking me what makes them "lactation muffins" - and the answer is: Brewers Yeast, Rolled Oats, and Flaxseed meal. Not to mention the calories. Milk-making Mamas need as many calories as they can get. My research has turned up that roughly 500 calories are burned daily when an infant is exclusively breastfeeding. And when you consider that breastmilk *needs* to be fatty for brain and body development and that everything gets routed to the milk first - mamas need to basically inhale everything in sight not to just walk around as sleep and nutrient deprived zombies.

Unfiltered Wheat Beer also helps with milk production. In case you're feeling a bit thirsty after eating the dozen muffins produced by this recipe.

Bacon Cheddar Lactation Muffins
adapted from The Gourmet Toaster Oven Cookbook and Leche Love

Makes 12

1 1/2 cups AP flour
2tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbs flaxseed meal
1/4cup quick cooking rolled oats
2tbs brewer's yeast (soak this in ~2tbs warm water for about 5 minutes before mixing it into the batter so the yeast has a chance to bloom)

6 slices of bacon, cooked, drained, and chopped
1 cup grated sharp cheddar (I'll add another 1/2 cup next time I make it. But I feel most things are better with more cheese.)
2 eggs
2-3tbs oil - like veg, coconut, olive, grapeseed, etc (add 2, then a 3rd if you feel the batter needs a bit more moisture.)
1 cup buttermilk

Maple syrup for dipping if so desired.

Mix using the muffin method: mix the dry ingredients - add the bacon and cheese and mix in thoroughly.
Whisk the wet ingredients in a separate bowl and then stir into the dry mix.

Pour into muffin cups/tin (if you don't use paper, make sure you butter/spray the muffin tin cups!)

Cook 10-15 at 350 (my oven is 40 years old and haunted, so take that temp and time with a grain of salt. It's a good starting place, though.)

They're done when a toothpick emerges clean from the middle muffin.

allow to cool a bit


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Giveaway: Reusable Food Pouches From Little Green Pouch - $42 ARV {6/29; US}

This is a joint giveaway with Embrita Blogging and Natural Parents Network. You may enter at one site only. Please find the section marked "Win it!" for the mandatory entry and optional bonus entries.
npn-giveaway-disclosure Little Green Pouch is offering our readers a giveaway of two 4-packs of pouches, a Mini Funnel and Dissolvable Content and Date Labels, a value of $42.

Natural Parents Network Giveaway: Reusable Food Pouches From Little Green Pouch - $42 ARV {6/29; US}

From our reviewer, Emily at Embrita Blogging: Little Green Pouches are reusable baby food pouches ideal for everything from milk to pureed blueberries. They're sturdy, durable, and cute. The collapsible funnel and dissolvable labels make for easy refilling and keep you from losing track of food's freshness.

Natural Parents Network Giveaway: Reusable Food Pouches From Little Green Pouch - $42 ARV {6/29; US}

About Little Green Pouch

Creators Maggie and Melissa are both moms who love the ease of food pouches, but hated the environmental unfriendliness of the single-use pouches - as well as the somewhat limited flavor selections available in them. So they designed their own reusable pouches for everyone to enjoy! These pouches are dishwasher-safe, freezer-safe, and made of BPA-free, phthalate-free plastic, and they hold up to six ounces of food or drink!

Our Experience

These food pouches are extremely cute. Bright, sunny green keeps the otherwise minimal design from being boring, and the back has clear instructions (for those of us suffering from Not Enough Sleep) and a space for writing your child's name or your phone number in permanent ink. They're sturdy and the plastic is thick, so they'll stand upright on their own if you need to set them down. The mouth opens wide enough to spoon in yogurt, in case you forget that you own the funnel, like I did. The funnel fits perfectly and makes the whole process go much more smoothly, and then collapses down so that it doesn't take up too much room in the diaper bag — which makes refilling on the go super easy. I'm fairly certain I'll keep empty pouches and the funnel in the car well after my boys are past purees for easy smoothie portioning and serving. For now, though, Walter still needs a spoon to eat from his, and luckily the spout is a standard size, and a spoon set that I bought at the store (a disposable pouch brand) fits perfectly.

  Natural Parents Network Giveaway: Reusable Food Pouches From Little Green Pouch - $42 ARV {6/29; US}
Dissolvable Labels: doing it right.

 The dissolvable labels are easy to write on and stick well enough that they stay on until it's time to wash them off. But beware: they aren't kidding about the dissolving part — my labels were gone between the time I turned the tap on to trickle and when I grabbed my camera from two feet away and took the lens cap off. Easy cleanup is always a bonus!

Other Features

The zipper on top of the pouches is secure when zipped (great because the boys can't pop it open!) but not easy for me to open the first few uses of each pouch. The bags are also pretty stiff right out of the box — this is great because it means they'll hold up longer, but it also means that at first I had to wrestle with the bottom to get it to open up all the way so I could fill the pouch. It also means that getting down into the creases at the bottom of the pouch requires intent: slack off there and you'll have food left in the bag, so be prepared to either use the nipple section of the bottle brush or pop them into your dishwasher. Ultimately, these are awesome. I give Little Green Pouch two thumbs way up!
Natural Parents Network Giveaway: Reusable Food Pouches From Little Green Pouch - $42 ARV {6/29; US}


You can purchase your own pouches, funnel, and dissolvable labels at The 4-packs of pouches are $14.99 each, rolls of labels are $5.99 each, and collapsible funnels are $5.99 each. They also offer spout extenders, extra lids, labels, and other fun accessories for your pouch set.  


Folks - the rafflecopter script appears to be twitchy, so follow this link for your entering pleasure!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will receive 2 4packs of pouches, a roll of labels, and a funnel from Little Green Pouch, worth $42. Contest is open to residents of the US. Enter by leaving a comment and using our Rafflecopter system below!
MANDATORY ENTRY: Simply enter your name and address in our Rafflecopter system!
Leave a valid email address so we can contact you if you win. Email addresses in Rafflecopter are not made publicly visible. Please leave the same valid email address in any bonus comments so we can verify entries. This is a joint giveaway with Embrita Blogging and Natural Parents Network. You may enter at one site only, and we'll be recording IP addresses to ensure that there are no duplicate entries. That said, please do visit and enjoy both sites!   BONUS ENTRIES: See the Rafflecopter entry system for bonus entries to increase your chance of winning after completing the mandatory entry. All bonus entries are entered directly into Rafflecopter. Give it a try, and email or leave a comment if you have any questions!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Waffle Breakfast

A few weeks ago, I woke up to waffles in progress in the kitchen. I decided a practice shoot was in order. Here are a few of the highlights. (I need to figure out collage-making in PSE...any tutorials?)

I am so proud of him. His photos get better and better. He'll be second-shooting for me before you know it!

Steam. Skills:

BOOM! Kitty likes to eat breakfast with us most morning.

 A worthy spread. We just nuke frozen berries - the lazy girl's compote.

I'm pretty sure he took a picture of his plate. He dips his waffles into the little bowl of syrup.

Cutting practice. I've gotten some questions - his silverware *is* exactly like ours, just sized for small hands. Find them here.

 Time to eat!


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Kids Were Here: May Edition

While I was taking Molly Flanagan's Visual Storytelling class, we started discussing the Kids Were Here blog circle some of our favorite photographers were participating in.

And then we decided to create our own (with their blessing.)

And so, at the end of each month I'll post a few images from the previous weeks of the little things my boys do to remind me that they're here. I'll link to their blog and ours, so you can see evidence that kids are really just everywhere, and we should embrace it.

Monday, May 13, 2013

"Stained Glass" Bunting

Somewhere, I saw this tutorial - crayon shavings + wax paper = bunting.
So one night, while watching Downton Abbey, I started sharpening crayons into a muffin tin.

 The next rainy day, when we stayed in our pajamas, I pulled out the ironing board and the wax paper. 

Baz did the sprinkling.

Walter hung out, mostly happily, while we crafted the afternoon away.

I hung the post-ironing, pre-cutting sheets in the window to cool. 

Cutting triangles...

Some bakers twine and washi tape later, and we've got  super cute bunting in our play area. I really need to get a better shot, but it's...challenging. I'll post one when I get one. 

I've got at least a dozen triangles hanging out...more bunting? Pennants? The possibilities, while not endless, are certainly inspiring :-) 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sharpie Mug Pinterest Win!

A little bit of searching on pinterest will stumble you across ceramic mugs (some of them "from the dollar store!") having been decorated with sharpies. The ink is sealed to the mug in the oven, and everyone has adorable mugs.

A bit more searching - for detailed instructions - will inform you that this is BUBKUS. The general instructions: color, bake at 350, wash. The result: washed off sharpie.

I forged ahead.

Well, Baz did.

Then I lined a cookie sheet with parchment.

Here's what I did that's key: I put the mugs in the oven and THEN I  turned it on. I baked them at 400 for 30 minutes and then I turned it down to 325 for 15 more and then I turned the oven off and let them cool in the oven.

The colors faded, but they're still there.

So there you go. Go forth and sharpie your mugs!

Oh, and these are the mugs I used. They are awesome.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Daddy Coffee

I have spent the past month taking Molly Flanagan's Visual Storytelling workshop through The Define School.  Four lessons that culminate with my being able to be as articulate with my images as I like to think I am with my prose. 

I should let you read my prose some time.

If you've spent any amount of time with me, then you know that we love our coffee and that we are big fans of letting Baz have his way in the kitchen. For the first twenty-ish months, Baz's sign for Steve was "Daddy Coffee"  - they've been making morning coffee together since Baz was born and now it's about a 60/40 split...favoring Baz, of course.

This past week, Steve worked from home a few days while we battled the plague in various forms. Afternoon coffee happened.

Walter hangs out happily in that thing for (maybe) five minutes. 
Long enough for me to  document a daily occurrence that I normally (blissfully) sleep through.

(Yes, it's so good we have it shipped. Buy your own here.) 

Good times.

If you're feeling like you need to improve your story telling game, contact Molly. Stalk her blog, take her class. She is sheer genius and I feel imbued with a bit of it. It has been a privilege.

PS: anyone have any Save For Web advice? I think I shrink too much, but I don't feel like I'm shrinking that much....?
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