Friday, May 30, 2008
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 chicken breast, boneless, skinless
1/4 cup fresh spinach
1/4-1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1-2 tablespoon diced red bell pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
pinch salt and freshly ground pepper
2 whole wheat tortillas
Rub chicken breast with olive oil, then add herbs, salt and pepper. Cook chicken breast in skillet over medium to high heat, until cooked through. (Cut chicken breast into strips for faster cooking, if your little one is hungry and putting the pressure on!) When chicken is just about cooked through, add the diced red bell pepper to skillet and saute with chicken until soft.
Place one tortilla on a lightly buttered cookie sheet, and sprinkle with half of the grated cheese. When chicken and bell peppers are done, cut the chicken into smaller chunks, then spread chicken and red bell pepper over cheese.
In a saucepan, blanch spinach. Place spinach on paper towels to soak up the extra water. Chop spinach and add to tortilla. Add the rest of the cheese and place second tortilla on top. Place in oven at about 300 degrees for 5 minutes, to melt cheese. Slice and enjoy!
This award-winning series by Jane Kirkland will guide readers through almost any environment, teaching parents and kids alike about the natural world we live in. Stay out of the car and off the couch! Take a walk!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Mama, you need a break!
But where on earth will you find someone to hold down the fort in your absence?
Try Sittercity. They're a Chicago-based company with over 150,000 registered care givers (they also do pet sitting, senior care, tutoring and home care) all over the country. You just punch in your zip code and then browse a list of sitters in your area. While browsing, you can check out each sitter's profile which usually includes: distance from your home, hourly rates, skills and certifications, special needs experience, languages, education level and photo. Most include resumes as well. And because they're given a chance to write a bit about themselves, you can get a better feel for what they're all about to see if it is even worth an interview.
We all know that nothing is quite as good as a Mother's love, but sometimes Mama just needs a break!
Then you might want to check out Jennifer's Journey.
Jennifer's Journey is a company started by Bev Sanders, after her own sister Jennifer died before they took the trip they'd always talked about taking together. Jennifer's Journey has "handpicked women-friendly excursions - from the exhilarating to the serene - that combine fun, relaxation, and new experiences while fostering friendships, confidence, and self discovery."
So maybe this is the year you finally bike across Tuscany or learn to surf off the coast of Mexico or watch a herd of Zebra race across the Serengeti.
Email your sister. Call your best friend. Make your plans. Then tell us all about it when you get back.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
Designed by Lauren Bush, this organic cotton and burlap bag is marketed through the World Food Program and sold exclusively by Whole Foods Market. What's the big deal? Well, when you purchase one of these bags, the money the WFP collects will be able to feed 100 children. That's right. Every bag purchased, provides 100 meals for starving children. Whole Foods isn't even making a profit on this. And the bag even has interior pockets, which means it's good for more than groceries.
For once, I don't feel guilty about buying another bag.
Friday, May 23, 2008
For a delicious, summery treat:
Blend 2 cups of strawberries, one cup of milk (sugar is optional), pour into your molds and freeze. Know another yummy popsicle recipe? Post it here.
Enjoy the popsicles, Mamas, and enjoy the weekend! Happy Memorial Day!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
"Skin Deep pairs ingredients in more than 25,000 products against 50 definitive toxicity and regulatory databases, making it the largest integrated data resource of its kind. Why did a small nonprofit take on such a big project? Because the FDA doesn't require companies to test their own products for safety."
In this age of questionable product safety, a Mama needs all the tools she can lay her hands on.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Scientists also found that morning sickness "symptoms peak precisely when embryonic organ development is most susceptible to chemical disruption, between week six and week 18 of pregnancy," which is actually pretty fascinating.
Oh, and we humans are the only species on the planet fortunate enough to experience this rite of passage. There is no evidence of any other animal anywhere who experiences morning sickness. Lucky us.
Monday, May 19, 2008
4 cups watermelon (rinds and seeds removed)
1 cup vodka (use lemon or orange flavored for extra citrus flavor)
1/2 cup cointreau
the juice of 2 limes
1 cup ice cubes
1 tablespoon sugar
In your blender puree the watermelon. Remove and put into separate pitcher. For two martinis, combine one cup of watermelon puree, 1/4 cup vodka, 1 tablespoon cointreau and three ice cubes. Blend. Pour into glasses and garnish with watermelon slices.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Since we first met in 2002, through my PR work with a Manhattan rape crisis program, I have watched Mariska power through to achieve one dream after another, including the creation of Joyful Heart. All of it, a direct result of her absolute refusal to be diverted when she believes in something. When Mariska has made up her mind, you can bet she'll achieve.
Brains, beauty, an Emmy and a Golden Globe, this Mama has it all and she makes it look easy. But when you ask her what she's most proud of, she'll tell you it's her son. And motherhood sure looks good on her.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Have a great weekend, Mamas, with or without the pearls and pumps!
Thursday, May 15, 2008
"Life is crazy. Now, maybe you knew this all along. But before I had children, I actually held on to the illusion that there was some sense of order to the universe.... I am now convinced that we are all living in a Chagall painting—a world where brides and grooms and cows and chickens and angels and sneakers are all mixed up together, sometimes floating in the air, sometimes upside down and everywhere." —Susan Lapinski, U.S. journalist, author
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
You can buy prints of the kids' photos on the site and they're also selling a book of photos taken by the same children featured in the recent Academy Award winning documentary, "Born Into Brothels." Some of you may have seen the film, which is about the founder of Kids with Cameras, Zana Briski and the work she does with these children. The proceeds go to the work KWC does.
I think the premise of this organization is great and I'd love to see this book.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I have a note in my inbox this afternoon from Real Simple that reads:
"Every year, more than 1 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer, making it the most common form of cancer in the United States. If detected early, however, it's also the most preventable and curable form of cancer—which is why AVEENO® is partnering with Rite Aid and The Skin Cancer Foundation to help you get a FREE skin cancer screening this summer.
With visits to more than 50 cities at 100 different locations, The Skin Cancer Foundation's "Road to Healthy Skin Tour" will be offering free skin cancer screenings with Board-Certified Dermatologists to people across the country. It's an easy way to get your annual skin check—and a healthy way to start on the road to healthier skin... For tour dates and locations for the "Road to Healthy Skin Tour" from AVEENO®, Rite Aid, and The Skin Cancer Foundation, visit www.aveeno.com. "
Stay healthy & beautiful, Mamas! Get your skin checked.
So, the tips:
-Turn off the lights! Be diligent about this! If no one is in the room, it should be dark. Additionally, we've stopped using almost all of our exterior lighting altogether.
-Unplug it! You've probably heard about the "energy vampires." You know, the cell phone charger you leave permanently plugged in, or the microwave oven, sucking power to emit that eerie, green glow, perpetually displaying the hour and minute, even when no one is looking. Well, stop the madness, Mamas! Unplug it! All of it! Everything! The microwave, the coffee maker, all 23 of those chargers that are snaking like a silent, black Medusa out of your wall. Your printer, your TV, your DVD player, your stereo. It's all sucking energy (and your money)!
-Hang it out to dry! That's right. I'm talking about a clothesline. We found one just like this at our local hardware store. It works like a dream. And what beats sheets dried in the sun? No yard to hang your clothes in? No problem. This indoor clothesline is actually really cute, and affordable. I know that hanging things to dry instead of using the dryer isn't always convenient or possible, except for the most committed environmentalist. But even hanging just a load or two a week will cut back on your energy use, which will, in turn, save you cash.
Each of these items, taken alone, won't do much. But your combined efforts throughout your household will translate into money saved each month.
Post some of your money/energy saving tips here. Or email me and I will share them with everyone!
SmartMoney gives GasBuddy a better review than AAA's site that essentially does the same thing, saying that the prices on the AAA site "aren't always the most current."
Click here for the whole SmartMoney article , with more tips to help "save on gas." But try not to laugh (or cry) when you read the author lamenting over paying more than $2.92 a gallon. The numbers are weeks out of date, but the tips are applicable.
Or, you could just ride your bike.
Monday, May 12, 2008
First of all, I listen with difficulty to the stories of the earthquake in China, like this one filed by Melissa Block about the 900 children who were inside their school when it collapsed, and the aftermath for their grieving families.
And then there is the story of the two mothers who died protecting their families from the Midwestern tornadoes this past weekend.
And I've blogged previously about the crisis in Burma, though I believe it is worth repeating.
Sure, I could go on, but we all read the news, right? And I know many of us are struggling quite a bit in our own lives right now, just to make ends meet. Things are tough right now for many, many people. And though I have been cautioned against sounding "preachy," I thought I would just post another link, in case anyone is able to help.
That same friend (she's a wise woman) also stated how important it is at times like these to be gentle to ourselves and one another. She said that it is crucial now, more than ever, that we live in a space of love, rather than fear. Crises can breed fear, and a powerful weapon against this is charity.
Check out these totally washable, easily stickable and very cute labels from LabelDaddy.com.
One of Mama's Cup's favorite Mamas gave these labels a test drive and now wants the world to know! Thanks Mama!
What a fantastic idea! It's the diaper bag for Mamas who hate diaper bags! Will someone please buy this for me?
Quiche Lorraine Filling
6-8 oz bacon, diced
1/2-1 cup white or yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon thyme (fresh leaves, chopped, if available)
1/3-1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 1/4 cups heavy cream (if you just can't do heavy cream, use whole milk and only 1 cup)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Add bacon to a medium pan and cook over medium to high heat until browned. Remove bacon and dry briefly on paper towel, then scatter over bottom of your cooked crust. Add diced onion and thyme to the fat in the pan. Cook until onions are soft, almost caramelized (5-6 minutes). Scatter over bacon in the crust and top with grated cheese (save a bit or grate a touch more to add to the top halfway through baking). Whisk: eggs, cream (or whole milk) salt, pepper, nutmeg, then poor mixture into crust, stopping slightly before mixture reaches top of crust. Bake at 350 degrees, for 45-50 minutes or until very lightly browned on top and fluffy to touch with fork.
Now Mamas, if all this is too labor intensive for you, Betty Crocker makes a quick and easy (and very tasty) pie crust mix in a box that works great with quiche.
For those of you Mamas who aren't afraid to get a little flour on your noses, try this great pie crust recipe, though I recommend you skip the sugar for the quiche crust.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
She even lost hope sometimes. But she never gave up.
She worked hard to raise her child, give her a good education, teach her about the truly meaningful things in life, like late afternoon walks in the park, chocolate Fribbles, the importance of celebrating “unbirthdays”—and Shel Silverstein.
She taught her child about giving, made her realize that there are always those who have less and who deserve attention. She inspired by finishing her education, excelling past perhaps even her own expectations.
She worked and she mothered, without much of a compass. And she stayed the course, even when the course promised nothing but detours.
Now, her child is grown, with a child of her own. Her child finally understands. She understands because she is now a mother and has joined this particular sisterhood with all its blessings and tribulations, all its worry, hope and its boundless, soaring love.
Now her strength and power and are being reflected back to her, a glorious prism of love and light, in the form of her granddaughter.
I hope she is proud, because I am proud of her.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
Look at these beautiful, practical alternatives to scrapbooking your child's precious moments and memories. Jar Your Memory has come up with a solution to every Mama's problem! I mean honestly, who has time to scrapbook every cute and wonderful thing our cute and wonderful kids do?
Jar Your Memory jars are gorgeous and useful. How often does that happen?
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Times are tough, Mamas, but that doesn't mean that we can't still have a little fun with our little ones, right?
The first place to check for fun, free activities is your local public library. Many public libraries have wonderful programs for children of all ages. You can find story times, music classes, chess clubs, family films and more! All for free!
If your library doesn't have what you're looking for, try your area Barnes and Noble (or even your local mom & pop bookseller or children's book store). These stores often have story times of their own, also free.
Try skipping the restaurant this weekend and pack a picnic or barbecue and head to your local park instead. It will get you out of the house without the having to shell out $15 or $20 per entree. And the kids can run in circles without you having to worry about nasty looks from the next table.
If you're members of your local YMCA, check the schedule. Many Y's have "Family Fun" nights or open swim times that are totally free to members.
Maybe you have a museum near by. Check out their website or give them a call. Many museums have free admission, and those that don't often have free or reduced admission days. And most have child-centered activities scheduled at least a few times a month.
Think about swapping a dinner out for a trip to your favorite ice cream shop, after your dinner at home. Grab your cones and take a stroll down main street, in the park or at the beach.
Stuck inside on a rainy day with your kids? You don't need an art supply closet to do some fun, free crafts with your kids. Grab the child safety scissors, your old magazines (I know you've got some Mamas) and a glue stick and make some great collages! Make a birthday collage for Grandma, or get started on one for Father's Day. Fun, free, and easy to clean up!
Have some recession-busting ideas of your own? Post them here, Mamas. We're all in this together.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Here are some of my current favorite solutions for reducing sun exposure:
I am drooling over these gorgeous tunics by Joules, or these from Antik Batik. (While we're talking clothing, it is worth mentioning that Mon Petit is offering 25-30% off of their Spring/Summer '08 clothes!)
One of my most trusted Mama friends just recommended this fantastic sunblock to me. She loves it because it's fragrance-free, so it's easy on her kids' skin and eyes.
I'm also a big fan of sun umbrellas, like this stroller parasol offered by One Step Ahead.
Don't forget your own gorgeous selves! Try one of these fabulous sun hats at Anthropologie.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
2 ripe mangoes, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 small, red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
the juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste
Serve over chicken, or as a chicken soft taco topping, or over a salad, or with just tortilla chips.
Makes about four servings.
Aid is slowly trickling in, and there are ways to help. As Mamas, we have big hearts. A few dollars can go a long way to help these people if we're all chipping in.
I think eating green is great; we are big lovers of all things organic in this house. But organics--like everything else--are getting more expensive, every time I go to the supermarket! So what's a Green Mama to do? Break the bank on organics? Go back to "conventional" foods?
Well, with spring well sprung and summer just around the corner (can you believe it?), local farmers markets are an ideal way to eat well for less. These markets provide a plethora of produce and some even sell cheeses, meats, honey, eggs and more. Many of the vendors pride themselves on their organic, sustainable methods of farming. And trust me Mamas, you can taste the difference.
The best part? You can almost always buy more for less at these markets because you've cut out the middle man.
So, where's a Mama to find a local farmer's market? Here. Just type in your zip code and, voila!, your local markets pop up on the screen!
Happy Shopping Mamas!
I'm not going to get into the global politics of this (not in this post, anyway).
I'm simply going to highlight the latest issue of Cookie Magazine (one of my very favorites) which has a review of several "safe" baby bottles and sippy cups. We've made the switch in our house.
Knowledge is power, Mamas. And knowledge empowers.
Monday, May 5, 2008
But what kind of good works could I possibly do with my kids in tow, you ask?
1) Visit a nursing home. Many of the elderly in nursing homes have few or no visitors and thrive on human contact. Check with the local homes in your area, or search opportunities on VolunteerMatch. Your toddler's boundless enthusiasm will wind a graham cracker crumb trail right to someone's heart.
2) Take your story time on the road. Contact a local hospital with a children's ward and see if they are in need of volunteers to read to the children. Keep your own little ones involved by letting them pick the books, turn the pages or even read to the group on their own.
3) Keep it clean. Get in touch with your local park service or conservation agency and find out when they have a scheduled "Community Clean Up." If they don't have one, suggest it. Or better yet, do your own informal clean up of your family's favorite park or beach while you go for a walk. (Obviously, don't forget to wear gloves.)
4) Feed the world. Food pantries are in more desperate need than ever these days, with the rising cost of just about everything! And while I know you Mamas are feeling it too, there's always someone out there who is less fortunate, right? So next time you're rushing through the supermarket, tots in tow, take a minute and let your kids pick one item to donate. At home, have a special bag where the kids can stash the goodies and when the bag is full, take it to your local food pantry or church.
Now this is what I call quality time!
I'm sure that you super creative Mamas out there could come up with some terrific ideas of your own. Post them here and share with everyone!
Other great resources:
The Big Help
The Volunteer Family
What about giving in her name?
There are a whole slew of wonderful, reputable charities out there, many of which do great works for women and children. Here are a few of my favorites:
Women In Need is a NYC-based program that provides "housing, help and hope" to area women and their families. They've been helping women get back on their feet for more than 20 years.
Rainn is listed by Worth magazine as one of "America's 100 best charities." Rainn is a national organization and is recognized as the nation's largest "anti sexual assault program."
Women for Women is a group with a powerful mission. WFW allows supporters to sponsor women survivors of war. Their work touches women in the forgotten corners of our world, helping them find hope in the midst of destruction.
Save the Children is regularly recognized as one of America's top ten charities. They're also headquartered in my home town of Westport, CT. Save the Children works on behalf of children in the U.S. as well as the rest of the world, improving lives, families and communities.
Not convinced by any of my options? That's fine. Search some of your own. Make a donation in Mama's name to your church, your local soup kitchen or your neighborhood animal shelter. It's a gift you'll feel great about and Mama is sure to love.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Looking for a creative way to celebrate your mom or your sister? Try these unique and stunning twists on the average bouquet. Gorgeous.
No money to spend and nary a creative bone in your body? No problem. Perhaps the best gift many of us moms could receive on our day is sleeping in. That's right. How about getting up and making your own breakfasts and then--stay with me here--cleaning up after yourselves! All while being quiet as church mice and letting that special woman in your life get some beauty rest for a change.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Mama's Recession Chili
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1-2 finely chopped jalepeno peppers
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder, or more to taste
One 28-ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes, with juice
1 can cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can cooked kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can cooked pinto beans, drained and rinsed
In a medium saucepan, sautee the garlic and onions in the oil and soy sauce on medium to high heat. Stir in the bell peppers, jalepeno pepper and water and cook until soft. Stir in parsley, oregano and spices.
Chop tomatoes and add them to the pot (saving juice in a bowl on the side in case the chili dries out). Add the beans.
Simmer for 45 to 70 minutes, stirring occasionally. After about 20 minutes, you can taste and adjust your seasonings. If you still need more kick, add some crushed red pepper, or some more cayenne pepper. If your chili looks dry, add some of the juice from the canned tomatoes.
Serve with tortilla chips, tortillas or alone.
Friday, May 2, 2008
Visit her blog here: http://blog.fairfield.edu/redtogreen.
While her focus is definitely local, her ideas are applicable anywhere. And she keeps it simple, for those of us who still have cars to drive, dinners to cook and disposable diapers to...dispose. Because, as every mama knows, it's all about baby steps.