Saturday, June 30, 2012

A long overdue introduction...

We have some new members of our furry brood. Allow me to introduce Tizzy and Bizzy. They are gerbils and they are awesome pets for the little guy.

This is Tizzy. He was the first gerbil to join us.

Tizzy is in the back and Bizzy is up front.

E was set on a Siberian Hamster, but they are pricey and do not live very long. H and I actually did some small animal recon and in speaking with the woman at the pet store, we learned that gerbils sleep at night and are basically fairly happy to live with little fellows and all their quirks.

We got Tizzy first. E had wanted to name his hamster Lizzie but the gerbil was a boy, so we had to get creative. We brought Tizzy home on a Thursday evening. On the way home Tizzy nearly ate his way out of the transport box. I felt him nibbling at my lap as we pulled in the driveway.

After we got him settled, I began to feel really guilty leaving his brother behind. Gerbils prefer to live with a partner or a buddy.

We set up a gerbil habitat in our aquarium. Some fluff and the tunnel E picked out, a water bottle and a food bowl. The old hamster wheel rounded out the package.

While Tizzy seemed happy enough, on Saturday morning, because we might have finally lost our minds, we took a trip back to the pet store to pick up Tizzy's bro. We took along a plastic carrying case, so that there would be no lap nibbling on the return trip.

After some sniffing and some strange dancing, the gerbil brothers were cozy and happy to be cohabiting again. They spend most of their days destroying paper and chewing on boxes. They like fluffy fluff and spend alot of time redecorating their home, daily.

One afternoon I went into E's room, where the gerbils reside, and they had wedged enough fluff and a partially destroyed box, to keep the wheel from moving and were climbing on top of the wheel and taking turns jumping or diving into a pile of fluffed fluff.

Neither gerbil is too excited to be held for too long. They aren't cuddlers, but they will let E handle them long enough to put them in the ball or to visit. We have had a few nips, but it isn't horrible.

They really are fun to visit and keep E company. He is thrilled.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What do you do with all those veggies -- Week 2

Ok seedlings, here we go...

Allium, Tokyo Long Scallions   (1 bunch)    1
Beets, Merlin   (1 bunch)    1
Carrots, Sweet Baby Jane   (1 bunch)    1
Lettuce, Bergam's Green   (1 head)    1
Lettuce, Cherokee   (1 head)    1
Peas, Shell   (1 lb)    1
Radishes, Scarlet Globe White Tip   (1 bunch)    1
Turnips, Hakurei   (1 bunch)    1
Apricots   (1 lb)    2
Cherries, Balaton   (1 lb)    1
Herbs, Winter Savory   (1 bunch)   
I also picked up some gooseberries and some black raspberries at the market. L loves her berries and I am excited to back with the gooseberries. When I got home, I had to fight H back. He spied the beets and had the greens off and those beauties in a pot before I had my shoes off. I took care of the radishes and the turnips and stowed everything else.

H just cooked the beets, saved the juice and sliced them. He is on the road Friday thru Sunday and was excited to have fresh veggies for travel. He loves beets.

He happily busted into the cherries as well and I suspect he ate quiet a few just standing at the sink.

Wednesday night we ate left overs and had a salad. (I can't remember if it was left over salad or a salad I made with some of my haul.)

On Thursday I made fresh juice using oranges (from Green Bean). I threw in a few of the baby carrots from Wayward seed. I cannot even begin to tell you how much better a fresh, right from the ground, never processed baby carrot tastes.

On Thursday evening we had some salad and some shrimp on the BBQ. After L's dance lesson, we had a second dessert of black raspberries.

Friday I had left over veggie juice and some egg salad. We went out to lunch and were invited to dinner at a friends. I wanted to bake something, but there was no time for the gooseberries strawberry pie I had been plotting.

Just as I was going to default to brownies, Wayward Seed tweeting a link to this recipe for a Hungarian Sour Cherry Cake. As I read through the recipe, I decided I could make it gluten free with no problems. So I subbed brown rice bread crumbs for the breadcrumbs and I used 1 cup of Nameste All Purpose Gluten Free Flour. I think one of the reasons this worked and worked well is the beaten egg whites. Beating the egg whites gives the cake some rise, which is always the hard part of gluten free baking. I decided to experiment, because I love sour cherries and I wanted to be able to eat the cake too. Everyone loved it. (Honestly how can they not! Those cherries were awesome!)

Now things got a little crazy over the weekend. The landside started with too much Sangria on Friday night and a busy schedule for the weekend for me.  I used a good bit of Napa cabbage as a garnish under my spicy peanut satay chicken, which I made for the Picnic with the Pops. The kids ate carrots for dinner that night and on Sunday no cooking happened in my kitchen. I did make a veggie smoothie that morning using oranges, carrots and  beets with the reserved beet juice and lemonade. It was pretty tasty.

Monday was better. I had a veggie smoothie very similar to Sunday's and we ate the peas at lunch. Those peas were so tasty and Truffles has noshed on pea shells for a few days. He is very happy too...

Monday night I was out but H made pizza and the kids enjoyed carrots and radishes as a veggie.

Tuesday was a busy day too, so I am entering market day with a good bit of lettuce left, which Truffles may get  a good hunk of and I will freeze the greens for soup later. I have nibbled a few apricots and I think they will be turned into jam later this week or maybe a cake. The left over scallions will likewise be frozen.

I will call this week a mixed bag. Nothing was wasted, but I could have done better. My goal is to better. That said, buying a CSA is not something people who don't cook should do. You have to be home and able to dedicate some time to food prep every single day or I have to say, a CSA isn't for you.

And in my defense. I had planned a strawberry gooseberry tart for breakfast today, but someone ate the strawberries, so my baking efforts were totally thwarted last night...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Music Monday: Idina Menzel

So this is a new to me artist. Seriously, my BFF asked if I wanted to go to Picnic with the Pops (btw the new venue -- Columbus Commons is amazing!)  and I said sure. I had no idea who Idina was, ok, I thought she was a dude.

Once I realized who was actually singing-- then I vaguely knew who she was.

Yes, yes it is true, I live under a rock. I do not watch Glee and Broadway Musicals are not my go to musical genre. (Have they done Modest Mouse... yeah I didn't think so.)

So to prevent anyone from not knowing who this wonderful performer and singer are-- I am featuring Idina Menzel... Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What do you do with those veggies...

Everyone asks me this, when I tell them about my CSA with Wayward Seed. So I am going to try a new blog series-- my wayward seedlings!

So in week one this is what I got---

Allium, Tokyo Long Scallions   (1 bunch)    1
Beets, Chioggia   (1 bunch)    1
Cabbage, Napa   (1 head)    1
Greens, Broccoli Raab   (1 bag)    1
Lettuce   (1 head)    2
Peas, Sugar Snap   (1 lb)    1
Radishes, Pink Beauty   (1 bunch)    1
Turnips, Hakurei   (1 bunch)    1
Strawberries   (1 quart)    5
Herbs, Oregano   (1 bag)    1

When I got home I cut the greens off my root veggies like a good farmer's wife! Seriously, the roots will keep in the crisper in a target bag for weeks, if you remove the greens right away.

I was already making some soup, so I chopped the beet greens and the radish greens and mixed them into the soup. I had planned to use some leftover kale, but used my fresh Ohio organic greens instead. The turnip greens I wrapped in paper towel and put in a ziploc.

I thinly sliced half the radishes and half the turnips and we ate them for dinner.

After dinner, I gave one quart of berries to a friend and picked through the remaining four, discarding any rotten or smooshie berries. I prepped two quarts for the freezer and froze them in ziploc bags.

H ate 1/4 of a quart of berries as he watched me prepping. The remaining berries are in containers in the refrigerator. They won't see Saturday, with all the berry lovers in this house.

I bought L some black raspberries and we ate most of them for dinner on Wednesday night. The remainder, I split with L for breakfast on Thursday morning. I dumped my portion of the berries into the VitaMix and added in the following: 1c. of apple cider, 5 baby carrots, 1 small Chioggia beet, 1 small orange peeled, and 1 c of ice. It was so good. So beautiful to look at too!

I ate two radishes and a turnip for lunch on Thursday. So delish.

E really wanted pancakes. So I made gluten free pancakes and served them with some of the awesome strawberries. Really, these are some of the best strawberries ever. The kids devoured the pancakes and since I am drastically limiting any and all grain, I had two silver dollar pancakes and a huge pile of berries. I also had a boiled egg. I started to feel guilty about the lack of veggies, until I remembered my smoothie from breakfast and decided I was probably ok for the day.

I shelled the peas as I cleaned up the kitchen from dinner and Truffles gets the pea shells and I will cook the peas for dinner Friday night.

Friday was a busy day. I was glad I had prepped the peas ahead. After a busy day of errands and lunch out and a trip to the water park, I was hungry. The kids nibbled left over pizza, peas and yummy Ohio strawberries!

I made myself a stir fry. I cut up very thinly an organic carrot. I grated some ginger (about 3 tsp.) and chopped half an onion.

Heated up the large skillet and stir fried the carrot wheels and onion for about 5 minutes. I then added some chopped Tokyo Long Scallions and a hand full of the uncooked peas, stirred madly for about a minute and then I added the chopped radish greens and some of the firm red lettuce I got in this week's share. I stirred until the greens were mostly wilted and then I poured over the skillet my sauce. The sauce is some soy sauce (the gluten free kind), some fruits of the forest jam, the grated ginger, and some sweet chili sauce.

Cook another minute and serve. I fried and egg and put it on top, but that is optional. You could serve this with rice, to soak up the extra sauce or some bread. Being nearly grain free-- I just ate it with my egg.

So easy and so fresh.

Saturday was a long day away and I made a shake using one of the beets, but nothing else from our share got consumed.

And Sunday was a lazy day. I drank the remainder of my veggie fruit shake and nibbled on fresh lettuce and berries. We met friends out for dinner, so no veggies from the share prepped for dinner.

Monday H was home, so it was work on those veggies time. I made a wonderful salad with the romaine -- which the kids loved just plain! For our salad, I used some of my chive vinegar (which I made from chive flowers from my yarden), oil, fresh ground pepper and some left over goat cheese. Chopped some radish and turnips and apricots and tossed it all together. We enjoyed the salad and crispy baked chicken wings.

Monday night was a post pool free for all. I had some of the left over soup, which had the lovely greens in it.

Monday afternoon before the pool, I made a small gluten cookie crust, using what pretend to be gluten free vanilla graham crackers. I crushed them in a baggie using my rolling pin and mixed them with about 5 TBS of butter (organic) and baked it at 350 for about 10 minutes. I used my small tart shell pan, which I think is 8 inches.

Tuesday we hit the fruit and veggies again. The strawberries I carefully picked through and put in a container are still holding their own. I removed the tops and sliced them lengthwise, until I had about 2 cups of berries. Setting them aside, I whipped the tiny bit of whipping cream I had left with 2 tsp of powdered sugar. I stirred in the 1/3 cup of sour cream and about 2 more tsps of powdered sugar. I grated in the zest of 1/2 of a lemon. Stirred gently to combine and then spread this over my tart shell. I spread the berries over the cream very carefully and then I drizzled over the berries a tbs of mixed berry jam that I had mixed with the juice of half a lemon. (You can heat it gently in the microwave to make it easier to drizzle.)

The kids loved the tart. 

As a veggie with our lunch we knocked out the romaine and the radishes and turnips. This time I used some basil flower vinegar, oil, fresh cracked pepper and some feta crumbs. 

The kids feasted on the super crispy tiny inside leaves from the lettuce. E, my non veggie lover, announced that that was his kind of lettuce.

For dinner, I fixed the broccoli raab, by sauteing it gently and finishing it off with a bit of lemon juice, the remaining scallions and butter. So fresh and so tasty. I have to say while I really like broccoli raab-- I am in the minority.

So by Tuesday evening, I am left with one beet, half a head of lettuce,  maybe a pint of strawberries and the napa cabbage. Oh and the oregano. I am going to dry it. My family doesn't love fresh oregano, so drying it for the winter makes sense.

Had we not been totally consumed with dance on Saturday and exhausted on Sunday, I think we would have knocked it all out. It is also is hard when H isn't home, he can be counted on to help me work through those greens.

While I am not sure I will be able to keep up this long list of what we are eating from our CSA weekly, I am going to try. I think it is important for everyone to see, that it can be done, it looks beautiful on the plate and it is so good for you and the community. 

I think you will also notice-- that I hardly work from a cookbook. I am often a fly by the seat of my pants cook... so please remember, if I give you a quantity or an amount-- more or less to suit is probably ok.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Library-- my first love

I love the library. I have had a love affair with the library since the first time I ever went to the library with my mother. I used to dream of being locked in the library overnight. All those books. I wanted desperately to get a job working at the library in high school, but it never happened. I did do some work study in college, shelving books in the science library. Not the same, really not the same.

For the last three years, I have volunteered in the school library. I like it. It is basically easy and I am helping the library run smoothly. It maximizes the library budget to have parent volunteers in place of a full time library aide. (I often do the anti-social thing and listen to a book on audible while shelving the books!)

In general I go once a month and can fill in from time to time. Next school year, I will volunteer twice a month. I am not going to do the lunch room. The lunch room grosses me out.

This year as a thank you card, the librarian sent us a note which included the library stats. I thought they were pretty impressive.

35, 121 books circulated and shelved! 
900 holds placed and filled
303 new books added to the collection

550 kids read to every week
49 books highlighted weekly.

50 volunteers.... that means on average each volunteer shelves.... 702 books in a school year!

This summer the kids and I are going to the library weekly and focused on reading this summer. I don't love our local library. It is very small and the collection is tiny compared to the number of patrons checking out. There is another library, a bit further away, that we sometimes go to and it is better!

I think our library system is pretty neat. They do a great job with what they have and I love the focus on community and providing the resources the community needs.

My goal this summer is to read 7 books. I have read one and have another one almost finished. How about you? Are you reading this summer?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Music Monday: PETER GABRIEL The Book of Love

Leave it to the amazing dancers at my daughter's dance school to remind me what it is we are really doing here....

I am sad and angry as I write this post. For the first time in my life I think H is right. There are too many people in the world, that is the problem. Our societies are filled with strife and anger and stupid ideas and it isn't so much that we have lost our way-- there are too many ways. Too many people. It has become a mob scene, no matter how civilized we try to pretend we are.

We all think people care about what we have to say-- they don't.

We mistakenly believe people are listening -- they aren't.

I turn on the TV and stupidity reigns supreme-- our legislatures are full of stupid, heartless, uncaring and unthinking people. Reality TV is loaded with self centered, under educated, thoughtless people, who obviously have very little class and very little sense of self respect. The news media is less concerned about actual stories and facts more about buzz and ratings.

I have decided I want to drop out. I want to go to island and be with the people I love and read to each other. Part of me wants to save my children from this world of stupidity which we are creating. Life is long and really-- what do we have to show for ourselves of late. As Americans we have a huge national debt, the fattest and certainly most unhealthy population on record, our soil is polluted and our streams fouled, we have governments which are bankrupt and I am not just speaking of money, our schools are substandard and getting worse by the day, and we are teetering on the edge of a national theocracy if the GOP gets elected AND we are teetering on the edge of financial crisis if Obama gets another run at it.

So what exactly is there left to love about this "great nation?"

All that is left is the small group of people I care deeply for... it is the simple things, truly... why can't people see that. In the end that is all we have... ourselves and our loved ones. I no longer feel safe in the land of my birth... I fear the train wreck that awaits us. I see the real possibility of war, brutal civil war on the horizon, I see a nation that gladly steals the rights of "those people", in favor of the rights of a few. I see a nation governed by the winners' religious preferences and not the spirit of tolerance-- as given to us by the Founding Fathers. We are in Afghanistan slaughtering our own in a hopeless fight against a culture of religious zealots, we point out that Shir'a law is a horrible system and yet we are allowing "christian" values to form our legislative policy and steal the rights of millions-- for the religious vanity of a few.

Sadly-- I think H is right, there are just too many people, with too many conflicting opinions and no will or desire to listen or compromise. I think the streets will run red with the blood of our loved ones---

and then sadly it will be too late. Too late to think about love and how that is what should guide us... too late to enjoy the music, dance and reading...

All that will be left is the chances wasted and love forgotten. And maybe if we are lucky, a (wedding) ring to hold onto and wish that person was still here...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lemon Ade-- Adult Beverage Style

Better Homes and Gardens comes to our house, for reasons I am very unsure of, but it comes and sometimes it gets read and more often than not, it ends up in a pile to be recycled or cut up. I am making an effort to look at it more. They do have very sensible home decorating ideas. The recipes are hit or miss.

In the June issue I spotted a recipe for a Rosemary Lemon Drop. I read through it and decided immediately that I had to make it. Now would be a good time to say that I suffer from summer drink envy. Fun and festive drinks are just not my forte. I know so many friends who make fantastic sangria, tremendous ice teas, and great mixed drinks. I am not one of these people. I aspire to be one of these people, but currently, I am not one of those drink specialists.

This Adult Beverage, as E dubbed it, is very easy to make.

Here is what you will need for my version, which is a half version of what was in the June BHG.

1.5 bottles of white wine (such as Pinot Grigio, I personally think it would work with a nice medium sweet Riesling.)

4 lemons

4 sprigs of rosemary

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

Peel the lemons carefully. You want to have the peel but none of the bitter white part. I think you could zest them, but I peeled them.

Combine in a pan and bring to a boil the sugar, water, lemon peel and three sprigs of rosemary. Boil gently for 2 minutes after the sugar has fully dissolved and then cool to room temperature.

Juice the peeled and now naked lemons.

After the sugar mixture has cooled, strain it into a pitcher or sun tea type container. Pour in the wine and the lemon juice. Stir and add 3 cups of ice (less if the ice is crushed.) Add in sliced lemons and the remaining sprig of rosemary.

Serve with or without ice in the glasses.

This also works with half lemons and half limes... (just saying!) It keeps for about three days in the fridge!

I do not advise drinking it before you go to graduation parties or weddings or dinner parties. It packs a punch. I tried to find the original recipe on line but with no success. I did make changes to the original and I think if you use a sweeter wine than what I picked, you might not want all the sugar syrup. I would say this is a "to taste call", add some syrup, taste and then adjust. You can always add more, you cannot take too much back out.

Happy Sipping! If you have a favorite summer adult beverage recipe, I am ALL ears, send it my way!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Chunky Monkey

I like to switch my breakfast up from time to time and I have developed the Chunky Monkey. This is great for when I want a bit more substance or am out of key veggies in my Green Monster.

1c chocolate soy milk
1c of ice, less if crushed
about a 1/4 c of chunky peanut butter (or your favorite peanut butter)
1 large banana

Blend in the vitamix until smooth

Now if you do not have chocolate milk or if your beautiful Little Fellow has drank all the chocolate soy milk, plain or vanilla work fine. I suspect dairy milk would work as would almond milk or even rice, although the rice milk I think would make it thinner. Depending on how ripe the banana is, you may need to add a tiny bit of honey. Also if you are out of chocolate milk, but have chocolate peanut butter handy, that works perfectly too...

I know you are all thinking-- wowza that is alot of peanut butter, but honestly, this is my breakfast. Generally my go to breakfast if lunch is going be several hours later. Also, I am not doing grains, so I am finding it takes more to fill me up. Adjust to suit your needs.

Monday, June 11, 2012

I actually don't love trash -- but Oscar the Grouch claims he does.

Sunday morning the kiddos and I took our good friend to visit a new park very close to us. It was hot. I had totally under estimated the weather change overnight. A family was setting up for a graduation party in the shelter house. The breeze would keep them cool, but it was going to be a hot day.

As we walked towards the playground, I noticed some soda cans. I picked them up, then I happened upon a plastic Walmart bag. Then I found some random water bottles. Then I was on a mission. I cleared the playground area of litter with the help of my friend. We filled the bag and then some. The playground area is not that big.

Seriously. There are trash cans in the park, are they every two feet, no but my thought is if you can carry it into the park, you can carry it back out with you, or to the nearest trash can. How lazy are people?

I think litter and littering is the sign of a less than intelligent person. I can excuse many flaws, littering is not one of them. It is just plain lazy. Honestly, if you are picnicking and the wind carries away a napkin, then that is one thing, to drink a soda and just throw the can on the ground, well that is just lazy.

I think littering speaks to a person's character and it says nothing complimentary. Littering shows a lack of respect for yourself, others, others' property and public property. The City has spent big money (our tax money) to create a green space for us to enjoy, the least any of us can do is be committed to keeping it litter free.

In fact if you litter, I am inclined to think you are a stupid girl (or boy.)

Garbage-- Stupid Girl

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Green Monster

The other day I posted about my break up with grain, any grain, all grain, the few remaining grains I was eating regularly.

Let me introduce you to my breakfast replacement:

While it is a slightly complex process, it tastes wonderful and I know exactly what is in it.

The Basic Green Monster

1c of juice (I make my own, see below. In a pinch I have used farmers market apple cider or apple juice. I tried green tea or left over ice tea and well, it wasn't the best choice. I think orange juice would be ok, but I read recently about real orange juice not being so real, so I will leave that all up to you.)

1 c ice (less if already crushed)

2 hand fulls of spinach (I prefer the organic baby spinach)

1-2 inches or to taste raw ginger, unpeeled

1/2 c baby carrots (like 5-7)

1 orange peeled

Blend-- in the vitamix until smooth.

*** variations I have tried... omit the orange and use an apple. Omit the orange and use pineapple chunks. Omit the orange and add in some berries. I tried water melon and I am not sure how I felt about it. I think I should do it again.

What happens when your Sweetie eats your spinach?? Well you get an Orange Monster which is just as tasty, but missing something...

As to my juice base-- I invested in a juicer and this is what I do--

I juice 6-7 medium carrots and 4-6 oranges. If I have apples, I add a few, although the apple juice will turn brownish as time goes on, but it is fine. If I can find them, I add a yellow beet or two. Sometimes I have pears, they work also. This makes enough to almost fill a large canning jar and it will keep in the refrigerator for about 2-3 days.

Next week, I will fill you in on the Chunky Monkey! Another breakfast favorite.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Spring: A mostly photo essay

My Twitter followers will know most of these photos. I love Instagram and Twitter for sharing my quick snapshots. I have to say spring has sprung and sprung early in the yarden. It has been a wonderful spring. I hope the weather holds and we have an equally fantastic summer.
 We have had the most butterflies and moths this year and SO early too. Generally we get a few monarchs and maybe a grey/orange moth, but this year we have had a nice variety.
 This is our Iris. My MIL snuck over one afternoon and randomly planted this beauty. In the ten summers we have been in this house, it has spread and it blooms beautifully.
 These mini Iris like plants bloomed the most they ever have. So petite and pretty.
 These daisies were a surprise along the path to school. I think they are a weed that mimics actual daises, but beautiful nonetheless.
 This little guy was clinging to the wall of the tunnel on the path to school. I wonder what he will grow up to be?

 My owlies were enjoying the lovely peonies I had this year. In the middle of May. Peonies at Memorial Day maybe, but the weekend of Mother's Day-- no way!
 Twitter made me do it! I made chive blooms vinegar. It was very easy and it is tasty. I think it will make some great salad dressings!
 My first farmer's market haul. I love the farmer's market. It is so fun and so healthy too.
 I swear I did not photoshop this picture, not even a little bit. This is my freebie Iris. A neighbor last year was splitting and giving them away. Normally Iris will not bloom the spring after being moved. This Iris did not get that memo and we enjoyed this amazing bloom for a week or so. I can't wait until the whole bunch blooms next year.
 I got alot of these daisies this year. I love the color! The deer eat these, but there were plenty for us all this year.
 My finally daisies. I have tried and tried to get daisies to fill in this space. We have this space near the driveway and nothing wants to grow. Finally, I have prevailed!
 Volunteer snap dragons. I planted some here a few years ago, these guys decided to pop up this year. Fine with me. I love volunteers!
Snickers is bringing new meaning to sitting in the sun. She is totally enjoying the warm days and warm nights. She is napping all over the place. It is good to have her patrolling the yarden.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Alas grain-- it isn't you, it really is me...

It is no secret. I struggle with my GI system... I have struggled with it for years. Many days it really is true, my body does hate me. My body has the communication skills of a toddler. My body can be peaceful and cooperative or it can basically throw a fit of a violent nature (vomiting at the drop of a hat, something akin to a raging river of diarrhea, hives that cover me from head to toe and look like the worst sunburn ever-- you get the idea) and sometimes, my body sulks for days on end... you know, fatigue, bloating, nausea.

Since E's arrival, I have actively been trying to learn the language of my body. Forget the Baby Whisperer, I have become the Body Whisperer. I have struggled and strained to hear my body and then act.

As with temperamental toddlers, this is very much more about Art than Science. It also is very connected to what I shared recently. Fear. I am afraid and rightly so, that you will think all of this is in my head. Why do I think this, all of you wonder? Because more than one person during this 7 year odyssey has said so. Even H has thought it is was in my head a time or two.

I have heard it all, from scientific to just plain rude.

"There is no scientific basis to think that corn..."

"Your lab results simply do not show us..."

"She is doing it for attention..."

"Why must you be so picky..."

"Surly a little bit won't kill you..."

"Well we would have invited you but your diet is just too complicated..."

In the last two years, I have made great strides and from a very low point. My B12 level was so low it was scary, I was hungry, I was sick, really sick with raging river diarrhea almost daily and I looked it.

In the last 18 months, even with the stress of my mother's illness and death, I have made wonderful strides in terms of my gut. I finally found a medical doctor, who was not interested in selling me supplements (which paid a huge cut to the doctor) and found a doctor who would listen to me, do a well rounded amount of blood work and validate my condition, even if that condition does not exactly have a name or a national support group.

I was so excited when she said it wasn't in my head and NO I wasn't fine.

All of that said, I have had a few set backs. Late winter and early spring, my clothes stopped fitting and I was a bloated mess. Nothing in my diet had changed. I greet these moments with such dread. At a certain point I cannot eat much less and I felt I had been doing such a great job.

As it stood this winter my menu choices excluded: gluten (wheat, rye, oats, spelt), corn, tree nuts (including coconut), and dairy.

I was able to add back in eggs, which has been awesome.

So you can imagine my dismay this winter when I began to consider just what more could I omit. I simply don't eat processed foods, certainly not the run of the mill ones.

Then while I was having lunch with my doctor, who is also a friend, we were discussing teff, an ancient grain used in much of Ethiopian and Somali cuisine. It breaks down differently in the gut, thus not causing a reaction in people with a gluten intolerance.

Light Bulb moment.

What if I simply cannot break down ANY grain efficiently. Could this be why things with sorghum flour or too much rice flour bother me from time to time...

I also know that unless I am eating brown rice, the nutritional value of rice is small.

About 6 weeks ago, I took a long hard look at my diet and decided to think about grains the way the food pyramid says to look at fats. I can have some rice or some gluten free baked goods, but in extreme moderation. I have totally revamped my breakfast.

Now I am focused on fruits and veggies. I am making my own juice blends using my juicer and that is the base for most of my Vita Mix creations. So if it isn't eggs for breakfast, it is a homemade smoothie.

I can totally tell a difference. I am not crashing in the morning after breakfast. My overall puffy factor has decreased remarkably. I suspect that all those jeans I got rid of in a fit a few weeks ago, they would most likely fit now.

My hope is this summer I can really pack my diet with fresh veggies and fruit from the farmers market and make this transition complete.

I think even the gluten free processed items, the bagels or crackers or what have you were weighing me down, literally. I don't know if it is science or art, all I care about is feeling my best and looking my best and being able to keep up with my busy, busy kiddos and to stop the bone crushing fatigue in its tracks. If that means no gluten free pasta or a sandwich, then so be it. I now reserve my grain consumption to one meal a day and then just a little bit. I can eat sushi or Indian with basmati, but that is the grain allotment for the day.

So the B12, the new probiotic, the fiber supplement, and now the drastic reduction of gluten free grains, I feel like I am really on the road to feeling my best. So really, it has been me all along.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The new Nationwide Children's Hospital

Lobby leading to Hospital Pharmacy and the Emergency Department
 A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend a blogger open house at the new Nationwide Children's Hospital. I was tickled to be invited. I am a mom and a blogger and I do live in the area. I have to say the new hospital is one of the most beautiful places I hope to never visit again!

We met in the underground parking lot on Saturday, June 2, 2012. I think there were about 18 bloggers in all. It was exciting to meet some of my twitter pals.

The MBA in me was totally impressed. This beautiful building, campus and total process overhaul took only 6 years to accomplish. From strategic plan to reality in 6 years. Amazing. Simply amazing. As on friend, who was Twitter timeline bombed by our hashtag #everythingmatters, said this hospital and their process, very well could change the face of health care delivery. I am inclined to agree.

On the tour our guide emphasized over and over that the process included all stakeholders. Doctors, nurses, staff, parents, kids, families, patient educators, architects, and construction professionals. #Everythingmatters and that included opinions and ideas from the stakeholders. They looked at what worked and more importantly what wasn't working in the existing hospital and processes and changed them for the better.

Corridor. Lots of forest botanical motifs in the new design

After a brief stop in the main lobby, we began our tour in the ER. Let's face it, if we are likely to be at the hospital with our kiddos, the ER is a very likely stopping point. The new ER doubles the capacity of the existing ER and they have revised treatment plans and staff allocations to better serve the kiddos and parents. While I loved hearing about the process changes, I couldn't help being so surprised by just how beautiful the new hospital is. 

Custom Fish Tank in the ER waiting area

New ER trauma room. The pass through supply closet and efficient stock management is just on of the many processes being redesigned to ensure speed and accuracy.

The little ER bed is sobering. While it is good we have hospital ready to care for the littlest patients it is heartbreaking to see the little beds.

 From the ER we went up to the 9th Floor, to take in the spectacular city views and see a standard room and explore the in patient rehab gym and therapy spaces.

View from the 9th floor. The garden is built of special materials because they are built over the underground parking garage.

More of the gardens.

Across Campus view. The views are spectacular.

The standard hospital room is anything but standard. One of the changes in this process, was to redesign the hospital rooms and standardize them. Every room is the same and the layouts are the same. This will help the staff when they have to float. Again, the planning team went to the staff and asked them about everything from lifting and turning practices to bathroom design. They redesigned the family chairs and couch/beds. They rethought infection control and how to make everything more homey. The LCD headboard and state of the art TVs, make sure the kids feel in control as well. Feeling blue? Change your head board. Orange your favorite color, no problem you can have that too... The magnetic paint on one wall, that means you can decorate your room with cards or pictures from home.

Our guide telling us about the many features of the room. The LCD variable color head board is awesome.

All rooms have a standard dry erase board. I like that the pain scale is kid centered.

View of the room from the hallway.

The rehab gym and related areas make it possible for kiddos and their parents to practice a variety of life skills and make the transition from hospital to home easier. Honda even donated a car, which was airlifted in during construction, so kiddos and their parents can practice those ever important transfers in and out and stowing a wheel chair correctly and safely.

Honda Civic practice car. Airlifted in during the construction process.

All common areas have a dishwasher, for washing toys. On each floor there are playrooms.
 Not only are the rooms impressive, but the hallways and common areas too. Everything is a child level, the artwork, the creative decor, the wonderful niches, that tell a story.

"Butterflies eat with their feet"

All of this interactive art is at kid eye level
 All throughout the hospital are these amazingly charming animals. Made here in Ohio by The Carousel Works in Mansfield. I love that the hospital is featuring some Ohio craftsmanship front and center.

If I could have figured out a way to bring him home with me... so cute!

The lobby is spectacular with its nature themed landscape. Something out of a fairy tale really.

The gardens are impressive and since they are built over the underground parking lot, they are a marvel of gardening talent and unique weight reducing materials.

The indoor imagination forest is lovely as well. Instead of sticking with dead space or generic lobby, the new hospital has a magical forest, which is just perfect for children and adults alike.

There is no question that the new hospital is beautiful and designed with both adults and children and mind. The attention to detail is amazing, but what I think is most exciting is this truly the intersection of public and private. This is OUR hospital, put together through the collaboration of corporations, hospital staff, and the community.

While we all hope that we will never be the ones sitting in the ER or spending the night on specially designed trundle futon, it is comforting to know, that in Columbus, Ohio-- a town well known for a Big 10 school and related medical center, that we ALSO have a world class and state of the art Children's hospital. A hospital that not only can provide top tier emergency care and treatments for a variety of diseases, and research and scholarship but also a hospital that is committed to community outreach and partnership. 

June 10th is the Community Open House! Your chance to see and experience the new hospital in the way I did. There will be activities and tours all throughout the day.

Community Celebration Day

Sunday, June 10, 2012
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Nationwide Children’s Hospital Main Campus


Birchbox: My Review

I have been a fan of Birchbox for a while now and I have never done a review. Why is that? Why am I more likely to do a review when I have issues with something verses doing a review when I am nothing but happy with something?

All I can say is I am so excited when my Birchbox comes every month, that I tear into it and busy myself looking at all the wonderful new to me make up treats.

I am not one to go to the make up counter and fawn over new colors or formulas. I don't even cruise the make up section at my local drug store or Target. I seldom buy make up, outside of my random purchases from my wonderful Avon rep. (Really, I love their Mark line and I love my Avon rep, she was my mom's rep and she is awesome.)

That said, I know I need to focus on my skin more. I am getting older. When the ladies on Twitter began to sing the praises of Birchbox, I thought, well, why not give it a try. It is clear I am not going to go search out these types of things, so why not have them sent to me. Call me lazy or whatever, I think a sign of maturity is being comfortable in your own skin and understanding what your person patterns are.

I am also cheap. I just don't always see the point in spending more for "high end." At the end of the day, I will cheap out in the drug store aisle or at Target. I also am really loyal, so when I starting the Mary Kay thing when I was working, I didn't always love their stuff, but I had a relationship with my rep and I even tried being a rep. Problem was they changed the formula and I hated it.

So this is what happens when one cheaps out and sticks with a product because of a relationship--

Your 9 year old dancer ends up with more make up in her bathroom than you have in yours. In all fairness some of this was my mom's, but sadly most of it is mine and we have culled this drawer more than once.

So Birchbox. Birchbox has rocked my skin care world. In the 6 months or so I have been with them, I have discovered some amazing products. I have found a soap free cleanser I love. I have found some micro exfoliating powder which is amazing and totally works. I invested in some hair oil which is fab and some at home treatments for that mini facial (aka enforced relaxation moments.)

Do I love everything they send me. No, of course not, but I do love trying it. If it isn't for me, well now I know. If it is, then I enjoy using it or consider buying it. A few things I have given to L for her drawer and others to friends.

I even gave a gift subscription to my sister for her birthday.

I have started a Pinterest Board to track my favorites. (Well share them also.)

I think for the price of $10 a month, this is a great and economical way to explore some new to me skin care, hair care and make up items. It is a nice treat, when the pink box arrives in the mail box. I also like their point system. I can earn a discount by reviewing the items I receive each month and for every dollar I spend, I earn points. Thus far I think I have earned $30 in points and used it to buy something, I might not have bought otherwise.
 I love the pink box. It makes opening the mailbox, which is generally ALL JUNK, a moment of excitement. Now it shouldn't be a huge surprise, because honestly they email me and tell me it is on its way and you can track the package. Even still, it is still a thrill to open the mail box and have my birchbox sitting on top of the daily junk.

Presentation. I am a presentation nut. They always make it feel special. Colorful wrap, nice arrangement. It isn't just thrown in a box. Presentation is important. It sounds silly, I know, but it makes the monthly birchbox feel like a present I am giving to myself. Which can be a nice pick me up, as much as the make up inside the box is.

I don't have a single complaint. They provide a consistent and fun experience each month. Customer service is great and they have a handle on social media. If you can't find them, you haven't been looking.

(I do get a referral bonus. So if you are thinking about trying Birchbox, click on the links in this blog post. Or ask me to send you a link.)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Music Monday: Jack White -- Love is Blindness

So what is Love? That is the question isn't it. It seems to me that for as long as there has been humanity, we as humans, as emotional beings have spent an amazing amount of time trying to figure it out.

Who do we love? How do we love? What is the correct way to love? The Greeks spent a long time trying to define the types of love.  Right now in the US, we are spending loads of time arguing about who gets their union of love recognized for tax purposes. Who has the right to legalize their love. (Honestly, when you think about it-- that is exactly what we are arguing about. Whose love reigns supreme.)

The great poets and writers have always spent time on the subject of love. Pop songs give us candy versions of love.

The other day, my friend tweeted: "If you say you love them both, then you love neither of them." -what moron came up with that one? 

Yeah that is a good question. It seems to me that we as humans just don't have a handle on this love business at all. We have scores and scores of rules about love (which very few people seem to actually understand and even fewer seem to actually be able to follow.) We seem to all think we have it figured out and yet when pressed, we can't for the life of us define it or accurately categorize LOVE.

So yeah-- maybe love is blindness... I have no idea, and I am all done trying to figure it out. Love just is, let's enjoy it and stop trying to figure it out. Let's stop judging it and just enjoy it.

*** special thanks to Steve VC -- a writer I met when I was actively trying to make it as a freelancer-- for posting this video on Facebook. I was racking my brain trying to find a video for today's post and there it was and a thought provoking one to boot.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


School is out and summer is in full swing. We started with a rainy day and then an incredibly busy Saturday. Today we are committed to hanging out quietly and enjoying a peaceful day at home.

This month my goal is to get caught up and show you all the stuff that has been happening around the house and with me. I cannot believe how busy May was. I felt like I moved into the kids school some days and we had L's dance show and E's weekly soccer practices and games.

I am ready for summer and the slower pace, the great food and the quiet nights. It is also hard to believe that I made our first summer favorite dessert, before it was even June.

We had gluten free strawberry shortcakes for dessert. I used local berries from the farmers market and I modified a savory biscuit recipe using 1, 2, 3 Gluten Free's biscuit mix. I made drop biscuits, because I was not in the mood to roll out biscuits and honestly, once you smoother them in berries, is there really a reason to have perfect, round biscuits?

E isn't much into shortcake, but he loved eating the left over biscuits with jam.