Thursday, July 30, 2009

The State of Cooking in America

I love to cook! OK I got it out there. I feel like I am standing up in a meeting and this is something I should feel a little ashamed of. I do not know a lot of other people that cook. We have all gotten busier and conveniencefoods are in our grocery stores and on most corners in most cities, but I choose to take a few extra minutes to cook dinner most nights at least one big breakfast a weekend and dessert for my family each week.

My absolute favorite thing to do is gather the troops and head to our local Half Price Books, hit the kids section so all 3 have something to keep them busy and then camp out on the floor in the cookbook section going through the volumes as if I was a kid in a candy store. The place that I sit is the "Vintage Cookbook" section. I love the cookbooks from the 50's and 60's the best. They are charming and most of them from a time before everything came out of a box. I am very rarely interested in more modern cookbooks.

A few months ago I came across an article while searching for recipes on line:
The article in the Washington Post describes that both food companies that provide recipes either on-line or on their boxes and cookbooks have had to "dumb down," because most Americans plainly do not know how to cook. They chalk this up to a number of reasons : the number of woman in their 20's mothers that worked outside of the home, the practical extinction of home economic classes in middle school 20 years ago, the mind set of a computer generation that want everything fast. I can go on and we can speculate about this all day.

With this in the back of my mind I talked with an editor friend of mine about one of the few modern cookbook authors that I truly enjoy. She is British and I wondered why her books are released in the States almost a full year after they are released in Europe. Surely it did not take a whole year for the conversions. He danced around it for a while before explaining to me that they had to add more steps in the American version. That basic culinary terms that can very easily be understood over seas need more explanation here. So basically they take it down a notch or two.

I know we are all busy. Some work outside the home and some juggle PTA, sports and the basic day to day of having a family and some juggle all of the above. But I am issuing you a challenge. 1 day a week get into the kitchen with your kids. Teach your kids how to break an egg or make a cake. Visit the farmer's market and make a meal together. Help our children to know what saute means or how to "cream" butter all terms that have been taken out of cookbooks because it is deemed too hard for us to grasp.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Green Period

This post is mainly for the ladies. Gentleman, please share this information with your wives, sisters, daughters, etc. Feminine hygiene products are kind of a taboo topic, but here are some things you should think about if you haven't already.

There are contradictory articles about whether disposable feminine hygiene products, even tampons made entirely from cotton, contain dioxin. There's no question that tampons and disposable pads take up a lot of room in landfills. The cost of these products adds up over time. Many women get "diaper rash" from pads. Also, tampons are associated with toxic shock syndrome (TSS).

Reusable menstrual pads (aka "mama cloth") are a safe, green alternative to disposable pads. They can be made from a variety of fabrics and in different sizes and absorbencies (from liners to post-partum). Most have a snap to hold them in place, while some are "lay-in" types. Many women report that their periods are lighter and they no longer experience cramping after switching to cloth pads. If you cloth diaper and/or use family cloth, just launder your mama cloth the same way. Otherwise, you can rinse it in the sink and wash with dark towels.

For women who prefer tampons to pads, there are menstrual cups (Diva Cup, LadyCup, The Keeper, to name a few). Worn internally, menstrual cups catch your flow instead of absorbing it. You may only need to empty it 2 or 3 times a day (maybe every 2 or 3 hours) depending on how heavy your flow is. After emptying, you can rinse it or simply wipe it out, then reinsert it. Between cycles wash with hot soapy water and store it in the fabric pouch that came with it. Menstrual cups come in 2 sizes - one for women who are under 30 and have never had a child, one for women who are over 30 and/or have had a child.

Mama cloth and menstrual cups can last for years. This means far less waste for the planet and more money in your pocket. (You may be surprised at how much a pad or cup costs, but remember it will last for years. You'll pay more up front, but you'll save money over the long run.) They're also healthier for your body. You may think these products sound "gross," especially if this is the first time you've heard about them. They're no more gross than disposable products. I encourage you to seriously think about these alternatives before dismissing them.

For more information...

Green Families Search for "diva cup" and "mama cloth" for TONS of information. From fabrics to troubleshooting, these ladies discuss it all.

iHerb offers both sizes of the Diva Cup. Use the code NEM401 to save $5.

eBay offers the Diva Cup and the LadyCup.

Etsy is a great place to find mama cloth made by work-at-home moms.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tea Time

Tomorrow my daughter and I are going to a mother/daughter tea party. One of my friends (who is taking her 3-year-old) told me about it. There's supposed to be a string orchestra, dance lesson, and cake. We're all looking forward to it.

Since this is such a treat I wanted to make something special for the girls. I decided to put together a goody bag. First I made each girl a bag embroidered with her name and some flowers. I included a tea cup and saucer (purchased at the Women's Shelter Thrift Store), peppermint tea, homemade cookies, and some homemade tub tea. I've included some tub tea recipes below.

Even if you're not going to a tea party, you might like to create a goody bag for a special person in your life. It could be for a birthday, anniversary, new baby, first day of school, or "just because." Any excuse will do! Make your gift to suit the occasion or recipient. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

For the cook: Fill a serving dish with kitchen towels, recipe cards, utensils, and apron.
For the gardener: Fill a flower pot with trowel, seeds, gloves, and sun hat.
For a new baby: Include onesies, burp cloths, diapers, bibs and use a receiving blanket to wrap it all up.
Cranberry Lane’s Tub Tea Blend (makes 8 tub teas)
2 T lavender flowers
4 T rose petals
4 T marigold petals
6 T cleavers herb
1 T strawberry leaves

Mix all ingredients. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Use 2 T per bath. Place tub tea in mesh or fabric bag. Fill tub with water. Allow tub tea to gently infuse bath water while you relax.
Chamomile and Oatmeal Tub Tea (makes 8 tub teas)
(soothes irritated skin)
6 T chamomile flowers
4 T oatmeal flakes (quick oats are best)
4 T marigold petals

Mix all ingredients. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Use 2 T per bath. Place tub tea in mesh or fabric bag. Fill tub with water. Allow tub tea to gently infuse bath water while you relax.
Lavender Tub Tea
½ c dendritic salt or alberger salt
2 t lavender EO
Mix and set aside.

1/8 c honey powder
1 c powdered goatsmilk or powdered buttermilk
2 c whole oats
½ c Epsom salts
¾ c baking soda
3 c lavender buds
3 c sea salt

Mix all in large bowl. Combine the dendritic salt and EO blend and complete mixing. Place ¾ - 1 c per 3.5x5 muslin drawstring bag.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Stand and Deliver

I suppose that since several people I know have recently had babies or soon will, I was thinking about pregnancy, labor, and childbirth while I was deciding on a topic for today. Many people are a little apprehensive about childbirth. Ok - some are terrified. I think most people are afraid of the pain. Your body has to do a lot of stretching to accommodate a baby. But labor and birth are natural functions of the female body. Women have been having babies for thousands of years and, for most of that time, without epidurals.

Don't take it lying down. One of the best ways to reduce labor pain and help baby descend is to MOVE. Stand up, walk around, rock, get on all fours. During both of my labors the pain was terrible if I was on my back. My second labor (home birth) was better than my first (hospital birth), partly because I was always moving and almost always upright. My midwife examined me once and I didn't get up before the next contraction hit. Gravity is your friend. Let it help you.

When it's time to push your baby out, you don't have to jump in bed. Your baby will be born more easily if you stand or squat. Your pelvis opens more in a squatting position than in others. And again, gravity is your friend.

Here are some more tips for easing labor pain. Your local library should have some books to help you understand what happens to your body during labor and childbirth. Knowing what to expect reduces your fear. What to Expect When You're Expecting is a popular choice, but I don't think it's nearly as good as some others out there. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth is good. Go to your library and check out everything listed under "natural childbirth." If you haven't already, read Alex's post about water birth.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A fun ice cream recipe that gets the whole family involved

The weather report said it was 104 yesterday and the grim report says tomorrow is going to be 108. So I wanted to come up with some fun cool activities that I could do with the kids. I love to make ice cream. I even won the ice cream crank off 4 years ago wearing my middle son at the time. SO I have altered a fun ice cream recipe for those of you who do not do diary. This is a fun way to get everyone involved and burn off a few calories in the process:

2 c. soy creamer (or any non-dairy milk)
2 c. soy milk (or any non-dairy milk)
3/4 c. sugar (or Splenda/other sugar substitute)
2 T. arrowroot
2 t. vanilla extract (choose a high-quality brand; none of that imitation stuff either!)

Mix 1/4 cup of soy milk with the 2 tablespoons of arrowroot and set aside.Mix the soy creamer, soy milk, and sugar together in a saucepan. When the mixture has just started to boil, take off the heat and stir in the arrowroot slurry. This should immediately cause the liquid to thicken (not a lot, but a noticeable amount; it will be thicker when it cools).Stir in vanilla extract.Set the ice cream mixture aside to cool.

ICE CREAM IN A BAGGIE:Once cooled put in ll ingredients in a zip-loc baggie Put in a gallon-size Zip-Loc bag and zip closed: 2 T. rock salt (baking aisle in grocery) the filled and zipped sandwich bag from above ice cubes to fill bag about 3/4 full Shake and roll filled bag over and over until frozen (about 30 min.) As the ice melts it does leak a little so do outside

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Super Summer Savings Sale!

Super Summer Savings Sale going on NOW at!

Find babywearing, organic children's clothing and more at awesome prices!

Plus ~ save 20% on ALL EclipseSpa products! Check it out =D ♥ ♥ ♥

Monday, July 6, 2009


It seems like tomatoes are the home gardener's favorite crop. It's no wonder, either. Tomatoes can be expensive, especially organically grown ones. Store-bought tomatoes tend to be white inside and almost flavorless. Home-grown tomatoes are red all the way through, they're soft and juicy, and they taste better.

Tomatoes are usually easy to grow. One year my dad had over 70 tomato plants. He ate tomatoes; he gave them to us, his neighbors, and church members; he froze them; I canned them and one of his neighbors canned them. My father-in-law, who lives next door, grew some huge tomatoes one year. He and I both started our tomato plants from organic seeds. His did great - he had healthy plants that produced lots of fruit.

Mine, however, didn't fare so well. For some reason I have a hard time growing tomatoes. One year it was nematodes. This year it's a calcium deficiency induced by water stress. Yes, that means I didn't water them like I should have. (I take much better care of my kids - they're growing like weeds!) We have gotten some tomatoes from our vines this year and we have many more that will be ripening soon.

My husband found this website to help diagnose common tomato problems. Hopefully you won't need it, but if your tomatoes are anything like mine, you just might.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Join the EclipseSpa Team!

Join EclipseSpa as an Independent Spa at Home Tonight Consultant

Are you looking for a great part-time job to make extra money? EclipseSpa wants to empower 25 women with a wonderful opportunity to make extra money and have fun selling organic bath & body products for women and men to create the spa experience at home.

Email Katherine Clay for more information and to get started today!

Why EclipseSpa?

EclipseSpa creates organic and natural bath and body products that people can use to relax & rejuvenate right at home. Our products will remove the days effects and re-introduce you to the body you live in....connect with it, feel it, reward it.

We use only the best ingredients science has to offer to soothe and protect your skin, leaving it velvety soft after you bathe or shower. Our natural fragrances have the power to transform your emotions, and heal your body.

EclipseSpa is committed to sustainable practices and providing the best ever natural and organic bath & body products for you to turn your bath into an organic spa experience. Plus, we hand-pour all of our 100% soy wax candles in house using only the freshest and purest essential oils for eco-friendly light and comfort.

Our Business Opportunity Offers:

* No quotas
* No Inventory to stock. We'll ship every order to you to distribute to your customer or we can ship directly to your customer
* Create your own demo kit by purchasing products on sale along with your personal discount
* OR purchase a "Sample Kit" that contains 5 retail size products of your choice to use for demo's.
* Share our Spa at Home Tonight story
* Receive a 25% personal discount on all our products
* Receive referral rewards for any new consultant you refer and has 2 months worth of commissionable income
* Work one-on-one with customers or have "Spa at Home Tonight" parties
* You'll have your own consultant link to enter orders into our system
* Get paid immediately through your own PayPal account or we'll mail your commission check to you.
* Earn a 30% commission on your orders. Reach $2500 in orders and you'll start earning 35% commissions

You can decide how you want to work:

* Spa at Home Tonight Parties with a Hostess Rewards Program
* One on One: Present the products to individual prospects at any time,any place
* Online: Bring your customers directly to you. Work your business from home
* Online Parties: Host an online party.

Email Katherine Clay for more information and to get started today!