Friday, May 13, 2011

A Kick (or two) in the Pants

I have so many wonderful, delightful, entertaining "bloggy friends."  I truly am blessed in that regard.  Two of my oldest (as in "had them the longest" not, "they've been alive a long time") and dearest?  Amy and Jessica.

They are lovely.  And smart.  And encouraging.  And inspiring.

And not afraid to give me a needed kick in the pants.

Thanks in part to these two persistent ladies, you will be noticing big changes around here.  I am hoping it will be as seamless as possible for you but, please, bear with me?

I'm moving to WordPress, friends.  And my own domain.  And some other fun surprises.

I'm hoping it will make life easier for all of YOU.  I want to be able to better interact with you all in the comments.  I want the site to be easy to navigate.  I want a shorter URL for you all to type! ;)  I will have a recipe page where you can easily access all the many things I've shared over the years.

You all stuck with me through a high-risk pregnancy and an IRL move... you'll stick with me while I do this too, right?

I, for one, can't wait!

A good kick in the pants?  Well, that's a finer thing.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Keeping Littles Quiet in Church

I've been really lucky over the years...

I've raised some really good eaters.

I've received compliments on my kids' behavior...

I've even been told I should have more kids.

While we definitely have our issues and struggles, I really am pleased with my children's behavior.

One place this is also true?  Church.  I currently have a 6yo, 5yo, and a 1yo.  In the past two years, I've had to "take someone out" only a handful of times.  Once, my littlest fell, bumped her head, and started crying rather loudly.  All the others?  Those would all be "I need to go potty!" moments- something I try to avoid by having them go right before we leave but, well, it still happens.

It's not magic.  I only have a handful of tricks I employ to make this happen and I'm happy to share them:

Prepare them ahead of time

This is my number one bit of advice: prepare your children for where you're going and what is expected.  I keep it very simple- "We're going to God's house and we all want to be on our best behavior, right?"  I also review expectations through silly questions like "Which can we play with in church... a book or a drum?  When can you make noise- when we're singing or when the priest is talking?"  The kids giggle sometimes when I do this, but it keeps the ideas fresh for them.

Pack your support gear

I don't believe in schlepping a tote bag full of entertainment for children to church each week.  I also don't expect my children to stay silent and perfect through the entire mass without any kind of help.  I favor Bible puzzle books or coloring books and children's Bibles.  Books, stuffed animals, stickers, and dolls are all good choices.  Not such great choices?  Toys with flashing lights, "noisy toys", weapon-like toys, and, in most cases, toys with wheels-- they get away from children too easily.  And, for the record?  I've seen all those latter mentioned toys in church... it doesn't usually end well.

Reserve your reinforcements

I do NOT hand out puzzle books upon taking a seat.  No sir, no ma'am.  I fully expect my children to sing hymns with us and sit quietly through readings.  What I don't expect at these ages?  That they'll sit silently through the whole sermon.  Sermons can be lengthy- and lofty- and that's hard for littles.  This is when I pull out the books for them.

Take a stance on snacks

My preschoolers and beyond do not need snacks in church.  Newborns need to be nursed or given a bottle if they're hungry, in my opinion.  It's those toddlers who can go either way.  We attend 8:30am mass and my littlest often sleeps until about 8:00 am.  Since we live twenty minutes away from the church, this means she doesn't have time for breakfast.  I could either wake her up earlier or pack something.  I choose to throw Cheerios and raisins in a cup to go.  She sits quietly on a kneeler and eats during the service.  When we attended Christmas Eve mass at 4:00 pm?  No snack.  It just depends how it works out.  Unless your church has a rule, there are no laws about this... but I think it's best to figure out what works and be consistent.

If your child can text, he can also sit still

Electronic gadgets?  Have no place in church.  Be a good example and keep yours off and tucked away too.

Don't be afraid to leave... or stay

Happily babbling toddlers or sporadically fussy newborns do not bother most people and you shouldn't feel like you have to be running out the door every time your child makes a peep.  I truly try not to don't worry too much about the opinions of people who are judging me for having- gasp!- children there with me.  You simply can't guarantee perfect silence at all moments from little ones.  That being said, you should also be prepared to take your child/children out if they become truly disruptive.  Yelling children.  Ongoing crying.  Throwing, kicking, tantrum-throwing.  These all necessitate a quick exit.

Remember why you're there

You are, presumably, in church to worship.  You are not there to win awards for "best-behaved child".  You are also not accomplishing much if you wind up frustrated, angry, and short-tempered.   And so, lastly, always remember Matthew 19:14:

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
linked to WFMW

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Orange Coffee Cake

It's definitely Spring!  And, for me, Spring calls for tons of fun, bright citrus recipes.  Lemon bars, Key Lime Shortbread Muffins, and more... 'tis the season! This Orange Coffee Cake is light, moist, and perfect for a tender May morning...


1 cup flour
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
juice of one orange + necessary milk to equal 1/2 cup liquid, total
zest of one orange, divided


Combine flour, 2/3 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Mix in butter, egg, vanilla, and orange juice/milk.  Add half of the orange zest. Pour into greased 9" round pan.  Combine remaining half of orange zest with 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Sprinkle over top of batter.  Bake at 350 for approx. 20 minutes.

That orange zest/sugar topping?  So delish.  Don't leave it off.  Something magical happens when you combine zest and sugar!

Linked to:
Tasty Tuesday
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

Monday, May 9, 2011

Menu Plan: 5/8 - Attempting Ravioli

I ordinarily do a ton of meal prep on Sundays to make my weeks easier.  Happily, I was smart enough to think about this last Friday and I did a bunch of work then to free up my Mother's Day!  It was nice to have minimal tasks to see to yesterday!

Here's what's hittin' the table 'round here:


B-Cereal, Yogurt, Water
L-Mother's Day Brunch at my sister's house: Migas, Sausage Links, Corn Bread, Fruit, Lemon Bars, Sherbet
D-I whipped up homemade pizza for the littles and shared Chinese with my hubby after they were in bed... Happy Mother's Day!


B-Strawberry Vanilla Oatmeal, Milk
L-P, B, & J, Prunes, String Cheese, Water
D-Chicken & Rice Enchiladas


B-Orange Coffee Cake, Cheese, Juice (This coffee cake is an experiment... I'm anticipating yumminess!)
L-Cheese Quesadillas, Grapes, Water
D-Homemade Beef Ravioli, Broccoli (I've never attempted homemade ravioli before, but I'm game to try... I don't have high expectations, though!)


B-Orange Coffee Cake, Grapes, Milk
L-Buttered Noodles, Apples, Water
D-Chicken Burgers, Green Beans


B-Jelly Toast, Vanilla Yogurt, Juice (This is a simple meal and is what my little guy requested... he has some testing to be done at the hospital that day and I am happy to oblige him!)
L-Scrambled Eggs w/ Cheese, Apples w/ PB, Water
D-Pizza Paninis (w/ Pepperoni & Mushrooms), Raisins


B-Smoothies, Toast
L-Cheesy Black Beans & Rice, Water
D-Jalapeno Burn Pizza (I'll pick the jalapenos off for C, but everyone else will gobble them up!)


B-Breakfast Burritos, Fruit
L-Chicken & Rice Soup, Grilled Cheese
D-Lasagna Casserole

And that's that!  The shopping is done and, after that 2 month hiatus in there, it feels like we have food coming out our ears.  Menu planning hasn't even been a challenge. ;)  

What's your favorite thing you're serving up this week?  I'd love to hear about it and, perhaps, be inspired by it!

This post is linked to Menu Plan Menu.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

My Stats, according to C.

Some things you may not already know about me:

(I am) 10 years old.
(I am)  3 feet tall.
(My) job is put food in the oven.
(I am) happy when good people.
(My) favorite food is peanut butter & jelly.
(I) like to cook.
(My) favorite TV show is _______.
The color (I) like best is purple.
C. loves me because I cook.

Surprised?  Am I taller than you expected? ;)  Perhaps a touch younger than you may have guessed?

Made me giggle that both C and my son listed all sorts of "cooking" things about me... yet cleaning was never mentioned. *blush*

For the record, my favorite color is green, my favorite food is ravioli, and I am 5'7".  Oh, and I DO watch TV sometimes.   But, obviously, never in front of my kids.  I gotta admit I was a little proud of that blank.

How about you?  What are your stats?  Or, more importantly, what would your KIDS say are your stats?

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Religion of Food

You know those people who twist the Bible to suit their own agendas?   The ones who pick and choose phrases from here and there and use them, frequently out of context, to "prove their points?"  Of course you do.  We've all seen and heard those people.

And perhaps you've known a soul or two who becomes so incredibly fixated on one rule or element of his faith that he doesn't see the big picture.  He focuses only on that one issue and, while it may be a noble or valid rule, it was never intended to be worshiped to the exclusion of other rules and elements.

I fear this is how some of us are looking at science now, particularly with regards to food.

Here's the thing:

Odds are very, very good I can find a study somewhere out there that defends almost anything I'm eager to prove.

There are examples of individuals who are healthy weights, have great blood pressure, good sugar levels, and all the rest who indulge in all manner of diets.  Are some better than others?  No doubt.  Are there excellent arguments for (and against) certain lifestyles?  Of course.

But no scientific study is gospel.  Generalizations don't always paint the whole picture.  And it's too easy to pick and choose which parts back up your own opinion.  There's so much more at play here...

Saying "skim milk will make you fat" sounds as foolish to me as saying "whole milk will make you fat."  There are far too many other variables in most diets to be able to point blame like that.  And, again, you could easily find many, many sound arguments for either side of that particular debate.  One needn't be "stupid" or "ignorant" to hold either of those views.

Also, on the topic of milk, I think we need to be very careful that we're not placing all our "amazing benefits of nutrition" expectations on the shoulders of milk.  Do I believe raw milk can be a part of a very healthy diet?  Indeed I do.  I think I made that pretty clear before.  Do I believe that drinking raw milk will somehow cure all ailments my family might have?  No.  I do not.  What milk we drink is just one element of a much larger picture... I get nervous when I see people who come perilously close to worshiping the stuff.  I have no issue with the consumption of raw milk or with singing its praises or sharing success stories.  But, truly, when it becomes an issue of placing raw milk above all else and insuinuating those who do not share the viewpoint are ignorant and uninformed... well, then I think it's gone too far.

Just as I'm unlikely to be persuaded to pursue someone's faith if they seem overbearing and insulting, I'm unlikely to be talked into someone's food philosophy when they seem fixated and closed-minded.

I think there's a lot to be said for endeavoring to consume a diet as close as possible to the way it is found in nature.  I do, really and truly, believe that we all need to be mindful of what we feed ourselves and our families.  We shouldn't try to rationalize what are clearly poor choices, nor should we be unwilling to consider other viewpoints.

But I'm really very bothered by some of what I'm seeing and hearing out there.  And I wondered if I was the only one...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My Favorite Pan

Okay, here's the thing...  as much as I can appreciate a well-seasoned cast iron skillet, I'm just going to come right out and admit to you all that I am a big fan of a non-stick pan.  It's the simple truth.  I love to cook and I hate to clean so it should come as no surprise that I can appreciate a pan that comes clean in a flash.


I am leery of the materials used to coat most non-stick pans.  Used while in excellent shape and at low temperatures, I probably do not need to be freaking out.  But I don't always cook at low temps.  And, let's be frank here, that coating eventually starts chipping away.  Is this really something I'm eager to be feeding my children?

Here's my solution:

The Green Earth Frying Pan

I adore this pan.  I can cook with as much or as little fat as I want and food slides right off.  Soaking?  What's soaking?  It cleans in a snap.

Here are some of the features, according to Amazon:

  1. Utilizes an ultra-safe ceramic coating derived from nature which is 100% PTFE and PFOA free.
  2. Delivers unprecedented non-stick performance without releasing harmful fumes or toxins at high temperatures.
  3. Features a scratch-resistant 100 ceramic coating as found in nature (no heavy metals or chemicals) that is super easy to clean.
  4. Made out of durable heavy-gauge pure aluminum with no heavy metals or harmful chemicals.
  5. Boasts a comfortable heat resistant Bakelight handle, and a magnetized induction stove safe base for rapid head transfer.
I like the idea of a non-stick pan with little to no risk of chemical exposure!  I'm glad I found this handy dandy pan of mine

Have you ever cooked with a ceramic pan?  What are your thoughts about non-stick cookware?  

linked to TILT

(Heads up:  Affiliate link used in this post.  Thank you!)