Friday, May 30, 2008

Mama's Easy Quesadilla

One of Olivia's favorites!

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!

Take a Walk

Looking for something to do over these summer weekends ahead? Get outside! Take a walk! Have a backyard adventure with Take a Walk Books!

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

Need a Day Off?

Regular sitter have the flu? Or maybe you don't have a regular sitter and you're about ready to face-plant in your little one's mac-n-cheese out of sheer exhaustion?

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!

Vacation Mama

When was the last time you took that weekend spa trip you and your sister have been talking about? Or headed to the beach for a whole week with your two best friends from college? Maybe you've finally decided you're not going to let another year go by before you gaze at Mt. Kilimanjaro with your own eyes.

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

Wear This Mutha Out

Hands down, my favorite maternity shirt ever. Ever. Offered by Discobelly on Etsy. Buy one for every pregnant woman you know.
.

A Dog's Life

Listen here to another story that will tug at your heartstrings, courtesy of NPR. It's from the In Character series on"All Things Considered." Let 11 year-old Mark Federman tell you why his favorite character is the stray dog from the book "A Dog's Life: Autobiography of a Stray."

Monday, May 26, 2008

FEED the World

It is a glorious, sunny, earth-shatteringly beautiful day here! This morning, the little one and I took a beautiful walk down Main Street to check out our local Memorial Day Parade. It was really just a perfect morning.

Of course, on our walk, we needed a bag in which to carry our various and sundry supplies: juice, an extra diaper, sunscreen, etc. So we used my favorite new purchase.

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

Happy Summer

What better way to celebrate the onset of summer than with a homemade batch of popsicles? Use your own popsicle mold, or check out the ones below from Tovolo.

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!

First Place (Mat)

Yesterday, the little one and I went to see a fabulous Mama friend in her super hip, modern Gotham high-rise home. And what did we see in the middle of this space that should be highlighted in a 5-page spread in Domino Magazine? These super-cute (and very practical) personalized place mats by Kelly Hughes Designs.

Kelly Hughes has created a whole slew of crazy cute designs. While you're browsing her site, make sure you check out these cute kids notecards and invitations.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Kid Art


Look at these sweet and lovely prints by Gale Kaseguma for your little one's space. They're printed on canvas and stretched. Buy them for your sweet pea directly from Kaseguma's site, Kidmodern, or from Giggle. Pick up one for me, while you're shopping. Oh, really, any one of them will do. Thanks.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Skin Deep

Hey, Mamas! Check this out. A wonderful friend and Mama (who also happens to be a nurse) sent me this link to a site called Skin Deep. Essentially, it's a database where you can search the safety of cosmetics and other personal (and baby) care items or their ingredients. Why do we even need such a thing, you ask?

"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

Good Morning

I just found this article this morning on new research conducted to better understand morning sickness. The prevailing opinion now seems to be that morning sickness is actually useful. (Great.) Scientists found that the things that most often triggered morning sickness in pregnant women were "the sight, smell or taste of meats and strong-tasting vegetables" likely to "contain foodborne microbes" or chemicals known to cause birth defects like smoke and alcohol. My experience in this area seems to support this research, I don't know about you Mamas.

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

Mama's Memorial Day Watermelon Martini

You're planning your Memorial Day celebration. You're gearing up to grill all of your favorites. You've got your chips, your dip, but you're still searching for a way to really wow your guests, or just to spice up the backyard festivities. Mama's Watermelon Martini oughta do the trick.

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

Guest Starring...

I've just completed a guest blog for one of my favorite Mamas, Mariska Hargitay, of "Law & Order: SVU" fame. You've doubtless seen her in action on the show, as the dedicated Detective Benson. But did you know that she's a real life crusader for victims of trauma and abuse? In 2002, she started the Joyful Heart Foundation "to help survivors of sexual assault heal their minds, bodies and spirits and reclaim their lives."

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

Happy Friday, Mamas!

June Cleaver voted America's Top TV Mom! Claire Huxtable and Carol Brady rounded out the top three, but Cleaver, perhaps not surprisingly, clinched the top spot. Probably because she always made it look so easy.

Have a great weekend, Mamas, with or without the pearls and pumps!


C'mon Feel the Noise


Morning Mamas! I just found this article by MSNBC's Suzanne Choney about safer earbuds for kids. We've all probably subjected our own eardrums to more than their fair share of loud music (really, was REO Speedwagon safe at any volume?). But these days the ubiquitous 21st Century 'tween seems to have earbuds growing straight out of her skull. A few concerned parents have developed their own products to protect against hearing damage, while still allowing kids to listen to their music. Mama Christine Ingemi was so concerned, she developed a product and started a company called iHearSafe. Her earbuds have won awards and been featured in Parenting Magazine. And they'll only set you back $20.00.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wit and Wisdom

This little gem landed in my inbox today, courtesy of a fabulous friend and mentor, who knew I'd appreciate just such a thing. And now I pass it on to you, Mamas.

"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

By Order of the Management


Here's some great artwork by John W. Golden that I came across on Etsy. He has a whole series of these fun, vintage-looking signs. And for 20 bucks, you can't beat it!

Holy Yum

Maybe because we've been up in our house since a quarter till early, or maybe because I'm a fan of Things Chocolate in general, but I can't seem to ignore this chocolate and coconut cupcake.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

GUICO SALE

Hey Mamas, remember these adorable things from a few posts ago? Well, a lovely note just landed in my inbox from the ladies over at I'm Still Me, the store I linked you to in that post.

Through the end of May, they are offering 20% off of these terrific shoes. Just use the discount code GS2008 at the checkout to receive your 20% discount.
Happy shopping!

Kids with Cameras

Kids with Cameras is a non-profit that works with disadvantaged kids in some pretty rough corners of the world. KWC uses "photography to capture the imaginations of children, to empower them, building confidence, self-esteem and hope." The photography on the site is raw, especially when you remember that the photos are taken by children, and some of it is really good.



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.

Middle Class Struggle

There's a new book out by journalist Nan Mooney called, "(Not) Keeping Up With Our Parents: The Decline of the Professional Middle Class," that is now on my Wish I Had Time To Read This List. Check out this interview with Mooney on Salon.com (you might have to watch a 10 second ad to click through to the interview). She highlights the challenges currently faced by the new Middle Class (increasing healthcare & education costs, stagnating wages, increased debt, the changing face of home ownership) and redefines Middle Class for the 21st Century.

Shoe Thing





Must. Have. These. Super. Cute. Shoes. Even though the little one has almost as many shoes as Mama, I am still considering purchasing a pair of these shoes by Guico for her. They're handmade out of soft leather so they're super comfy. And because they're so pliable, they're good for her feet too. And they come in all kinds of colors, which means maybe she needs more than one pair?


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

FREE Skin Cancer Screening

That's right, I said free!

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.

Hang it Out to Dry

So, many of you have heard of some energy saving tips to help us all live a bit greener. But did you know that, when combined, these tips could actually save you a little green too? How do I know? Well, Mamas, it just so happens that we employed some of these tactics around our house and we saved $30 on our electric bill for two months running. And hey, 30 bucks is 30 bucks. This Mama will take it.

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!

Cheap(er) Gas!

Hey Mamas! Check out this website I found highlighted on SmartMoney a little while back. It's called GasBuddy and it's basically a search engine to help you find the lowest gas price in your area. You just type in your zip code and it will search your local gas stations and show you the prices per gallon, lowest to highest.

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

Mad World

A dear friend recently commented on how "intense" things are, all over the planet right now. I couldn't agree with her more. It's been a bit overwhelming lately.

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.

Label Conscious

Have kids heading to camp this summer? Don't want little Suzy's Dora backpack getting mixed up with all the other Dora backpacks? Need to keep sippy cups separate on your playdates?

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!

Pamper Yourself


Will you Mamas look at this lovely, stylish clutch!







But wait! Presto, chango, the clutch pops into a phone booth and a second later pops out as...a diaper bag?




What a fantastic idea! It's the diaper bag for Mamas who hate diaper bags! Will someone please buy this for me?

Mama's Quiche Lorraine

I've decided to ride out the Francophile wave that's come over me and post my super-delish recipe for Quiche Lorraine! C'est si bon!

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
3 eggs
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
dash salt
pinch nutmeg

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.

Quiche Crust

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

Le Ballon Rouge







The original short film by Albert Lamorisse, remastered, rereleased. Rediscover it.




Laundry List

I heart this



and this
and this.


Oh, and these too.

History Lesson

Did you know that today is the 100th anniversary of Mother's Day? Read here about Anna Jarvis and the very first Mother's Day.

And Mamas? Nice work. Enjoy yourselves today.

She

She didn’t have anything handed to her, that’s for sure. She had plenty of trials to face, early in life. And more later. She had some heartaches, some losses. She had to fight.

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

A Real Gift

You might want to keep the Kleenex handy while you listen to this, Mamas.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Time's a Wastin'!



You know what I'm talking about. No gift for Mama? Time for the old standby.
Or check out this previous post for more ideas. And this one.

Jarring Recollections



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

Motherhood is the Mother of Invention



Who knew you could make a super-cute baby hat from a t-shirt?!

Recession-proof Fun!

It seems like all the Mamas I know these days are talking about how expensive everything has gotten, and how they're cutting back on some of their spending, including spending on family activities like eating out or going to the movies.

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 Comes The Sun...

And oh, Mamas, am I loving it! I love everything about Springtime and Summer. I love the longer days, the warm sun, the sidewalk chalk...

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

Mama's Mango Salsa

This is a staple around our house. Fresh and delicious for summer.


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.

Guilt-free deliciousness!

Hands Full

I just had to share this wonderful photo I found by Debi Treloar .


Save Burma

The situation right now in Burma (Myanmar) is beyond devastating, beyond what most of us could possibly imagine. With more than 22,000 dead, people are predicting that the aftermath of this storm will be more deadly than the storm itself. There's no clean water, no food, no power, no fuel.

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.

Eat Local

It seems like everyone is big on "eating green" these days. That is to say that eating organic food has never been so fashionable, or profitable for the sellers.

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!

Thirsting for a Safe Way to Sip?

So, many of you Mamas have heard about the latest household items "experts" have figured out will kill us: plastics. Specifically plastics used to make baby bottles, sippy cups and other baby related products. Now I don't like to advocate living in a fear bubble. But between toxic toys from China, killer pharmaceuticals (also made in China) and deadly pet food (People's Republic again), it's easy to get a little jumpy.

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

S.O.S.

The death toll in Myanmar (Burma) is now reported to be over 15,000. Countless thousands are barely enduring without clean water, power, food or goverment support.

Time to step up. Here's how.

Do Good Together

Over family game night? Looking for some new and exciting family activities that don't involve large, flat screens or spending tons of cash? Try volunteering as a family. There are so many opportunities out there that welcome children (not to mention the ideas you can come up with on your own) and so many people in need.

But what kind of good works could I possibly do with my kids in tow, you ask?

Easy:

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:

Family Cares
Give Five
The Big Help
The Volunteer Family
Idealist

Giving

Still trying to find the perfect Mother's Day gift for that fabulous woman in your life? Maybe she already has everything? Maybe you aren't sure of her taste in books/music/clothes and you just don't want to get her *sigh* another gift card?

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

Celebrating Mama

So, it's one week out from Mother's Day and you're still having trouble deciding exactly what to get that special Mama in your life? Or maybe you are that special Mama, and you're undecided about what hints to drop? No worries. I have a few ideas.

I don't know a Mama alive who wouldn't appreciate something that comes in a little blue box. (If you're a Mama trying to persuade your honey to go this route, there's no time left for subtlety. I suggest changing his home page to this.)


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.

Not in a million years? Then you're back to square one, my friend.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Mama's Recession Chili

For those of you feeling the squeeze at the supermarket these days (who isn't?) I have a dynamite recipe for vegetarian chili. But wait! This is the real deal! An honest-to-goodness, stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal. High in protein and fiber, low in fat, sodium and cholesterol, sure to please just about everyone. As written below, it will make 5 servings for about $15.00, even less in some places. Feel free to adjust pinches to dashes, and throw in whatever else sounds good!


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.

Enjoy, mamacitas!

Friday, May 2, 2008

"From Red to Green" Unveiled

Being a new blogger myself, I am happy to support others who are also showing up late to the party. Dr. Mariann S. Regan, professor of English at Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT has just unveiled her blog "From Red to Green," for the "Reluctant Environmentalist."

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.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Hello World!

Welcome to Mama's Cup! Every Mama needs a place to sit back, relax and sift through all the noise, even if that space is simply virtual. Whether you get paid for the work you do, or not, you don't have time to waste, so I will bring you only the most useful, most wonderful, most beautiful, most meaningful items I can find. Mama's Cup is the place for Mama related ideas, book reviews, articles, links, products, trends and more. So put the kettle on, slip into your comfy socks and enjoy. You earned it, Mama.