Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Run, Don't Walk

Dear Readers,

Muffin has the most adorable little round Muffin feet.  Even though he's stretched out a lot since his Michelin-Man zenith at around nine months, he's still got sweet, tiny, round feet.  Don't worry - the boy can walk just fine.  Make that run.  He clearly doesn't get this from me, but he loves nothing more than to run everywhere basically all day long.

So what shoes do you put on a very active toddler boy with perfectly spherical tootsies?  I bought pair after pair that had to be returned because I couldn't squish his little feet into most shoes, or they tripped him up.  Then Muffin spent the weekend with his grandparents and came back with a cute pair of sandals by See Kai Run.

Now, the grandparent-purchased sandals were close to $50, which seemed unnecessary I thought.  But they fit wonderfully, and I didn't pay for them, so whatever.  Five months later, I'm a convert.  These shoes are worth every penny.  They were purchased in May and I'm going to retire them after our trip to Kona next week simply due to the change in season.  After nearly 5 months of almost daily, rambunctious, sometimes very dirty wear they are pristine and by far the best shoes we've ever bought.

So I decided to buy Muffin a new, fall/winter-friendly pair in his new larger size figuring that at around $50 a pop that's $10 a month for shoes that fit like a glove, never fall off, never break and are pretty darn fashionable.  Even better, there is a huge sale right now on their website!

Run, don't walk, and buy your bambino some - you'll both love them.


 (Note: I know the shoes above are for girls, not boys; I just couldn't resist they were so cute!)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Fall Fever

Dear Readers,

I've been enjoying late summer. Since we were consumed by smoke from the Yosemite fire for a lot of August, clear, warm weather is very welcome and I was talking about wanting the warm weather to continue until mid-October.

I take that back.

Check out the awesome looks from Emerson Fry.  Below are a few shots from their fall look book.  I want to snap my fingers and look exactly like these models pretty much every day this fall/winter.  Simple, stylish and totally fabulous. J'adore!

Now, I cannot WAIT for fall.  Cozy food, the excitement of the change of season and onset of the holiday social season.  And now, the CLOTHES.  Bring it on!




Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Quickie Shake

Dear Readers,

I adopted the easiest, yummy shake in the world from (wait for it...) GP's It's All Good.  I know, I know.  The obsession will stop someday soon, but I'm currently cooking my way through many of the pages so bear with me.  And if I suddenly look like GP, you'll all know why.

Anyhow, the Almond Kale Shake (my slightly altered version) is not only easy, good and good for you on a busy (or lazy) morning, but it's Muffin's new favorite thing!  He seriously will down an entire cup of this all at once when given some.  That kid kills me.  Also, I felt very smug reporting to his pediatrician at his 18 month appointment that his top foods included an almond kale shake.  I won't mention his other favorite food (ice cream).

Here you go!

Almond Kale Shake

1 cup of kale (baby or regular; if using the grown-up version de-rib it first)
1 cup of almond milk
2 tablespoons of almond butter
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 pitted date
3 ice cubes

Blend, blend, blend in your blender of choice and presto!  Breakfast, snack, whatever of champions!

Bon appetite!



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Planning Made Perfect

Dear Readers,

It seems like good ideas bubble up, sound good, die off, and in a few months bubble up again.  The latest for me is menu planning.  I always thought this sounded like a great idea, but was honestly overwhelmed by the concept.  I thought I needed to be super crafty and come up with meals where I used part of what I made Monday on Tuesday, and took a full inventory of my cupboards and whatnot prior.  In essence, while the concept was intended to make my life less stressful, menu planning sounded very, well, stressful.

Then, last week, I re-read Kris Karr's guide to menu planning (love that girl) and thought "actually, this sounds easy."  I took a page out of her book and decided to just plan dinners, figuring we would take left-overs or eat out for lunch, and everyone would stick to their usual favorite breakfast.

Well, one week down and you know what?  It worked!  It was EASY!  Why haven't I done this before??  The best part:  the question "what's for dinner" the moment I walk in the house is no longer like nails on a chalkboard.  I happily refer Sweetie to my dinner chart and voila!  "Tuesday: Pasole."  Done.

Here are my newbie tips:

1. Plan.  Break out your cookbooks, iPad, favorite blogs, etc.  My favs at the moment are GP's It's All Good, VeganSparkles and Karr's Crazy, Sexy Kitchen.

2.  Go easy.  Pick things that you can (honestly) put together easily on a week night.  For me this includes soups, pastas, stuff over quinoa...basically anything containing simple ingredients like canned beans and frozen veggies, great spices, fast cook times, and the stove.

3.  Add variety.  Choose a different dinner every night, but stick with at least a few of your family's favorite, go-to meals interspersed with some new meals you want to try.  Also, I planned only 5 meals assuming that between leftovers and "life" we may not actually eat at home all 7 days.

4.  Make a List.  Write out a grocery list and menu for the week.  Grocery shopping is MUCH easier this way.  Plus, this handy-dandy menu (as seen below) makes you seem legit.

There you have it!  Fresh, home cooked wonderfulness and less stress.  Who knew?

A friend recently said of our family's constant new "plans" - vegan!  running!  cleanses! - "is this like everything else you start?"  I see her point, but seeking and trying new and better ways to live has paid off.  A lot of our "new" ways have stuck around with some pretty fab results (see: weight loss, better foods, happier family).  Who doesn't want to be healthier, happier and more present?  And menu planning, so far, is all that minus a nasty bag of chips.

Bon Appetit!



Thursday, August 22, 2013

Scrub a Dub Dub

Dear Readers,

When one has children, one has laundry.  Lots of it.  And this tiny laundry comes with many new wash challenges, stains being the biggest one.  Concerns that that favorite romper will ever look (or smell) the same do arise, and I am here to toss in my two-cents.

After a lot of trial and error, my favorite laundry products by far are:

Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Baby Blossom Laundry Detergent.  The smell is insanely wonderful.  So wonderful, in fact, that Sweetie even commented out of the blue how much he loved the way our new detergent made the clothes smell.  Now that's something.

Totally Toddler Stain Removing Brush.  This is essentially what I've been missing these last few months.  So many adorable outfits could have been saved, including my own.  Gets out carrot juice, green smoothies, dirt, even blood (chair + lip = most dramatic morning ever).  Even out of white.  Buy it in bulk and never look back.

Also very useful and versitile:  Honest.com's Oxy Boost.  Not only for clothes, this stuff can be used on carpet, showers, etc.  A bonus is it's non-chlorine, so it's gentle for baby skin.

Now all your hard work in the laundry room will pay off!



Friday, August 16, 2013

Clean Living How-To

Dear Readers,

By popular demand, here are the Clean Diet Cleanse Guidelines (full explanation of the Clean Cleanse, plus a comprehensive list of yes and no foods on page 8, here).  To feel better, fast, and without spending a fortune, you can eat from this list, and incorporate some shakes if you like (see below) without having to purchase the Clean Cleanse.  We did buy the full cleanse and really liked it.  The Wellness Coaches were wonderful.  When we do it again in a year or so, we'll probably go solo.  Up to you.

Now, the general deal is this: you cut out all common "toxic-triggers" and allergens for 21-days, then re-introduce them one at a time to see what may not be working with your body.  Gluten and dairy are common triggers, apparently, but soy, "nightshades" (aka tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers), bananas, you name it could be making you feel less than optimal.

And then there's the biggie - cutting out all coffee and alcohol.  I know, I know - it is the lamest most un-fun thing you can think of.  But if you're looking to feel better and cut some excess, give your body some time off of these since both are major inhibitors of good digestion.

And without further ado:

Eat:

  • whole vegetables, leafy greens
  • brown rice, non-gluten grains
  • stevia
  • beans, lentils
  • green tea, yerba mate, filtered water
  • wild fish, organic chicken and turkey
  • nuts, seeds and nut butters (no peanuts)
  • avocado and coconut
  • whole fruits and berries
Don't Eat:
  • dairy
  • gluten
  • processed sugar
  • soy
  • coffee, soda, alcohol
  • beef, pork
  • corn
  • peanuts
  • tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, potatoes, yams and sweet potatoes
  • bananas, strawberries, oranges and grapes
Limit:  Anything processed

I promise, it's not that hard after a few days to figure out what to eat.  Check out some recipes here, menu planning here.

Cleanse or no cleanse, consider a healthy shake for breakfast .  Don't want to invest in Clean's shakes?  I don't blame you.  Just look for a non-GMO, plant based pea protein shake base at your local health food isle (like Vega One) and add a probiotic.  You can mix whatever you like in the shake that's Clean-approved.  My fav is spinning frozen blueberries, kale, mango, coconut water and almond milk in my beloved Vitamix (for reals, worth every, single dime).  Within days, you'll feel like a new person.

Enjoy!








Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Give Me Comfort, or Get Me A Taxi

Dear Readers,

This last weekend in San Francisco we walked.  And walked, and walked.  I love exploring cities by foot and love being on the move.  My feet, however, were a whole different story.

I packed what I hoped would be comfy shoes.  It's hard since where we live you drive almost everywhere, so truthfully while these shoes had seen their fair share of standing, sitting and moving they hadn't been city or, say, Europe tested.  Alas, my fav Tory Eddie flats were just NOT padded enough for serious street walking (which, let's be real: I knew better...).  But when your feet hurt, suddenly you're upset, cranky, tired and quickly looking around for anything to make your poor, sore feet feel better again.

But who wants to look like a loser wearing tennies around in a stylish city (even if they are your fab new Nike Lunarglide's)?  I mean, you might as well just buy some wrinkly, ill-fitting khaki capris and a fanny pack and call it a day.

Enter, Born's Julianne.  Cute, comfy, padded and basic.  When these arrived to my office the day after we returned (thank you Zappos VIP service!) I couldn't take them off and put back on my high heels.  They're just what my feet have been missing.



Fresh Air

Dear Readers,

Sorry for the long hiatus, but it's worth it, I promise!  The 21-Day Clean cleanse was amaze.  Simply the very best thing Sweetie and I have ever done for our health and overall well-being.  So here's the 411 (since you asked):

If you're contemplating a cleanse, I will warn you those first 2-3 days were brutal.  We were edgy, unhappy, tired and completely ready to give up.  However, cleaver, cleaver Clean has tons of support, including Wellness Coaches.  I had chatted with one before we began. Then, I wrote that same couch in a total state of misery on the evening of the third day something barely comprehensible that boiled down to: OMG, will we ever feel better?

Luckily, by the time Ms. Couch responded the next morning we both felt insanely better already.  More energy, no hunger, and clear-headed.  Like night and day.  And it only improved from there.  In the end, the biggest benefits to me were increased energy, clear thinking, reduced anxiety, weight loss (!!), and a general sense of well-being.

Sold?  I thought so.  Now, a few tips on making the most of your cleanse:

1) Prepare, prepare, prepare.  Know what you're going to eat, when, and go forth into the wide-world armed with cleanse-friendly snacks and, when necessary, restaurant choices.  Overall, hit up a grocery store vs. restaurants.  And on that note...

2) Eat in.  It's cheaper, easier, and takes the guess-work out of eating out.  There are restaurants that make it easier (and yes, most of them have a faint smell of patchouli oil), but overall it's easier if you center your socialization around something other than food.  If you must travel (we did) see #1.

3) Go full-in.  Don't half-do a cleanse, because you'll miss the benefits and prolong the "meh" stage.  To avoid that, see #1.

4) Drink plenty.  Water, cleanse-approved tea, juices and smoothies.  It's incredible how great green juice can make you feel at 3pm.

5) Move.  Don't start a kick-boxing class or marathon training, but regular walks and yoga round-out your experience and help you get a deeper cleanse.  We tried YogaVibes.com.  Not bad if you don't want to have to go to a class outside the home (see: two working parents + one 17 month old darling Muffin).

6) Meditate.  This perhaps should have been my #1 piece of advise.  Getsomeheadspace.com is where it's at for me.  Everyone has 10 minutes, and those 10 minutes a day change everything.

So, right after completing our cleanse we went to San Francisco for the weekend.  We decided we'd stick to the Clean foods, but that quickly devolved into glasses of wine and French cuisine.  It wasn't pretty, and we both felt awful.  But it really solidified for us that we should stick with the Clean guidelines as much as possible because once you feel that good you're like a good-feeling junkie and you have to maintain that high.

Next on my list?  After reading through Gwyneth's "It's All Good" cookbook/book I've decided I'd like to pull a Julie/Julia and cook my way through her recipes.  They look incredible, but a little overwhelming.  I'm sure once I try them it'll be a new world.  One can only hope.

So, if you're on the fence about a cleanse and thinking "oh that's so hard I could never do that" I'm here to tell you that honey, if we can do it, just go ahead and trust me that you can too.  And you'll truly thank yourself.

To your health!


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Get Some

Dear Readers,

Day 4 of the cleanse, after all that "quantum cleansing" I was seriously thinking that learning to meditate needed to move up my list of things to do, and quick!  But where to begin?  And how?  Being Type-A, I became instantly concerned about doing this properly.  Meditation seemed to require a lot of investigation, reading and research.  Man, I'd really need meditation once I actually figured it out.

Stress suddenly descended and then there it was: a post on one of my fav blogs, Whoorl about this very thing!  The universe truly does provide, doesn't it?  Thank you, Sarah James, for being the Type-A meditation guinea pig and finding, and test-driving, the fabulous meditation site GetSomeHeadspace.com designed for busy meditation novices.

Simple, easy, ten minutes a day, led by its very nice-looking, sexy-sounding British founder (and former Buddhist Monk) Andy Puddicombe...what more can I say?  Get on it and get some!  And definitely watch the pre-meditation videos on the GetSomeHeadspace website for inspiration on why you're doing this and what you're moving towards.

So how was it?  After my first ten minute session I felt like I'd just completed an hour and a half of yoga.  Calm, serene, refreshed...just lovely.  And not how I usually feel at 1pm I can tell you.  Obviously I'm still in the kiddie pool of meditation, but won't you join me?  The water's perfect.

Om...


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Quantum Cleansing

Dear Readers,

Well, Sweetie and I are on Day 3 of our cleanse.  We did 3 days of "pre-cleansing" where we ate strictly on an elimination diet, and now are on the third full day of the "real" cleanse.  How's it going?  First the positives: I'm lighter, not very hungry, and the shakes aren't terrible with added blueberries, spinach, flax and almond milk.  The negatives: We haven't found "favorite" meals yet, and when Muffin turns down perfectly good mac and cheese we both are like "whhhhyyyyy do you see what Mommy and Daddy are eating???," we were super-duper exhausted at night for a few days, and both were just kinda down in the dumps initially, honestly.  But last night I started feeling myself pulling out of all that and regaining my energy.  Then, I couldn't sleep.  Obviously.

During this "not sleeping" I tried very, very hard to not do what I'd usually do and reach for a Tylenol P.M. to mask whatever thoughts were keeping me up so I could go back to sleep.  Instead, inspired by Dr. Junger's concept of "quantum cleansing" - ie emotional and physical cleansing - I lay awake to face my anxiety and thoughts head-on.  No real solutions just yet to life's burning issues, but maybe soon.

In the meantime, we have started some cleanse-suggested physical activities (you know, to use up all that non-eating time) - going for family walks and doing some light yoga.  We signed up for YogaVibes on our Roku, so we can do it in our house whenever we want.  So far we've done one whole class (go us!) but it was pretty good.  Breathing, releasing, stretching...all very needed, obviously as the next day I was a little sore.  Yikes.  Welcome back to your body, Catherine!

Anyhow, since I'm on my quantum-cleanse kick, I thought I'd share this quote with you all.  As I cleanse I'm trying to practice kindness towards both myself and others.  Even when all I really want to do is focus exclusively on me and chow down on some mac and cheese.

Here you go!





Thursday, July 18, 2013

Life in the Fab Lane

Dear Readers,

Today, Sweetie and I began a cleanse.  A no-doubt, celebrity-tested cleanse designed to change our bodies and mind.  Yesterday, driving to Whole Foods to purchase some cleanse-friendly items I suddenly felt a euphoric surge of happiness.  We're doing this!  I'm going to be so HEALTHY and THIN!  Hooray!!

See, in the months since New Years we were uber healthy.  Obnoxiously so.  Then...well, you know.  Life.  Work.  A Mexican vacation.  And suddenly we were both sluggish and chubby and our high and mighty vegan ways were barely even contemplated as we ate delivery pizza.  Again.  It was like the Christmas eating/drinking season in July. To re-boot, and finally really nail down what foods are best for us, we decided to cleanse.  Everyone does it post-holidays, why not us?

Fast-forward to last night.  After Muffin went to bed we made quinoa and lentils and harvested some veggies from our garden (yes, we're "those" people with a trendy suburban veggie garden) over our very last glass of wine for a while.  Our plan (thanks in part to one of the Wellness Coaches at Clean) is to keep such items on hand for quick salad lunches and whatnot.  I was exhausted when my head hit the pillow.

This morning, my first attempt at a "clean"-friendly meal was "pancakes" that made my husband want to cry thinking to the month ahead.  Not the start I had hoped for, but there's time.  Make that, like, a whole month.
 
So what are you doing already????  you're asking.  Well, we're doing the Dr. Junger of "Clean" book fame cleanse.  Gwyneth did it, Kris Karr, Donna Karen...so you know it's legit.  I'll provide updates as this goes along.  Keep your fingers crossed.

In the meantime, since eating will go from being one of my favorite activities to a non-event, I'm going to get my dessert in the visual variety.  And this, really, is it.  Behold: DVF, her estate, and some completely fabby photos.  My new goal is to live like DVF (best quote: "I don't wear vintage.  I AM vintage.").  What a rockstar.

Cheers to Day One!


Friday, July 12, 2013

Be Prepared

Dear Readers,

A few of my expecting friends expressed late-term stress about needing to pack their hospital bag.  There are necessities one needs post-delivery for sure, and nobody wants to pack during labor just in case, but where is the time?  I, brilliantly I thought, came up with the idea of designing a ready-to-go hospital bag.  GENIUS I thought.

Well. The genius is not alone, as it turns out.

Behold, the Best Friends for Life Mommy/Delivery BFFL bag (see below).  Stocked with snacks, toiletries, and plenty of mommy personal care items in a very happy-looking duffle, this bag seems pretty great.  $120 great?  Maybe.

Personally, my ultimate delivery bag would be a little larger so post-birth I could use it to haul around the larger stuff that goes with kids: beach towels, toys, books, etc.   My bag would also include some fab yoga pants and a nursing top.  And maybe some aromatherapy, since we're just thinking out loud here.

You?  What would your "ultimate" bag include?  And how much would you be willing to spend?


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

4th of Julys Past

Dear Readers,

Sorry for the massive hiatus!  Lots of travel and work have come and gone (I plan to do an apres-Mexico post about international baby travel so stay tuned!).  But in the meantime, I came across this brilliant, fab, gorge blog and absolutely had to share because it's total bliss: Paris in Four Months.  (Image below is from her trip to Versailles!)

It's incredible what an eye this girl has for all things Europe and what memories they inspire!  It's like when you smell a Christmas tree and are immediately transported to all of your childhood Christmas memories.  Such happy, young, fun, tipsy memories....ah...la vie.  I wouldn't trade where I am now for anything in the world, but a short Muffin + Sweetie + Mommy trip to Paris would be the very best!  And what timing.  My favorite 4th of July memory is from my Junior year of college, living in Angers, France, singing the Star Spangled Banner after a lot of wine through the streets with fellow new friends.  What a time.

Happy 4th to you!


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Easy Living

Dear Readers,

Everyone who knows me knows I'm obsessed with dresses for all occasions.  And why not?  They're easy and you always look put-together.  No figuring out what "works," what's clean, locating seemingly missing pants - just toss and go.  In the summer I especially love a good multi-purpose cotton day dress that you can wear to the beach, to the store and to a BBQ.  Locating that "perfect" dress is another matter entirely.  But it has been found!

I just received this fab stripe (yes, there are those stripes again!) drawstring dress from J.Crew in navy/red and it is true love.  No sleeves so it's wonderful in the heat but the top is broad and flattering and the length perfection.  This dress alone has made me a true believer in the power of the midi length.  As a tall girl I sometimes sit in a day dress only to discover I either need to wear it with pants or resign myself to nearly always flashing passers by.  Not anymore.  Feminine and functional?  Now you're speaking my language.

Best part?  It's on sale and an additional 30% now (code: SUMMERTIME).  Buy while the buying's good!


Monday, June 10, 2013

Best Blocks

Dear Readers,

Muffin and I are headed on a beach vacay without Sweetie (I know, terrible) to Mexico in a few days!  It more or less fell in our lap, so this means a lot of sun and sand and a lot of sunblock.

Our recent foray into veganism has inspired the use of less-toxic beauty and bath products as well.  So I turned to my fav, Environmental Working Group ("EWG"), for a little guidance on what sunblocks to bring.

My purchase?  California Baby Super Sensitive Broad Spectrum 30+ Sunscreen.  I really love the California Baby products in general (the Overtired and Cranky baby wash is a Muffin + Mommy fav!) and this is no exception.  I tried the Dr. Robin sunblock last summer, and although it was probably working and its list of credentials impressive (it's also on the EWG "good" list) it made Muffin look like he was in Kabuki makeup. After a lot of questions regarding the wellness of my (perfectly well, thank you) baby, that just wasn't going to fly all summer long.

Check it out for happy (safe) sunning!


Monday, June 3, 2013

Prepster Pride

Dear Readers,

The older I get, the more comfortable I am with who I am.  I will never be "cool."  I will always have a big mouth.  And my heart will forever beat faster for style that is strong, classic and preppy.

So it was that my skinnier, better-outfitted soul sister Bradley Agather of Luella & June turned me on to Tuckernuck just in time for the summer season.  Tuckernuck is a fab collection of unabashed WASP-wear perfect for summer.  I'd love to say I'm going to spend all summer by the pool or enjoying Tahoe, but alas as a working girl I will not.  Still, I have plans to enjoy plenty of weekend beach and pool time with Muffin so I'm pretty sure I need this FAB tunic for the 4th and beyond.  Yes, overpriced but dare I say "worth it."  Classic, beach and town friendly...What's not to love (other than the price)? (Also coveting this straw clutch! - FAB).

Let the sunshine in!




Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Let's Get Away From It All

Dear Readers,

I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend!  I know we did.  Muffin spent the weekend with his grandparents on the coast living it up.  We had a "Mommy and Daddy" weekend in Mammoth, CA for a mountain-top wedding of two of our great friends.  I was really looking forward to the time to just be a couple for a few days, celebrating our friends and later our own sixth wedding anniversary.

It was busy, busy all-day Friday and Saturday with the drive, rehearsal, dinner, wedding prep and wedding (MOH duties, I think, were executed to their fullest!).  What a beautiful place with wonderful people.  The wedding was fabulous, but I was really looking forward to a bit of relaxing, reconnecting time with Sweetie.  I was thinking we should have made some special anniversary plans for us on Sunday, but with everything being so busy neither of us had a chance.

Then on Sunday, having no plans, we just took our time.  We checked out late, did a little shopping, got a late lunch, took the long and scenic way, checked out anything we wanted to, stopped for a leisurely sushi dinner up at Tahoe and eventually wound our way home by 9pm.  Mind you, Mammoth is only three hours away so we really took our time.  And it was the greatest.  Because there was no place to be, no schedule, no hurry...just the two of us doing exactly what we wanted in the moment and relaxing.  Should we turn up here and check this out?  Why yes.  Why not?

It was in these moments of throwing caution to the wind and taking the long route that I realized since Muffin had arrived we have always been on a schedule.  Don't get me wrong- it's a happy, loving, baby world but we have a pattern to every day: morning, noon and night.  Sleeping, eating, playing...it's all on a fairly predictable and set time-table.  Being "off" a schedule of any sort for just a day was brilliant.  And I highly recommend it.

So, in the future when we take a weekend just for us, I will make sure to make no plans and no reservations.  Just a full tank of gas, my Sweetie and the open road makes the "ultimate" weekend away.

Happy trails!



Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Baby Bling

Dear Readers,

Every once in a while I look at those "mother's necklaces" and think I want one.  The only problem is I never find one I actually want.  Tags with initials and birthstones...it's cute, but it's not me.

And then, along came these Maya Brenner Asymmetrical Mini Letter necklaces and a new lust was born.  Dainty, gold and fab: yes, please!  $220 is a lot for something like this, but someday as a gift I'd really love one.  Maybe when/if we have Baby II (hint, hint, Sweetie....).  This has Baby Bling written all over it!

OK, now back to thinking of Father's Day gifts....


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

One Pan Magic

Dear Readers,

Ever have one of those nights when you want to just tell everyone to eat cereal for dinner?  Well, that was me last night, but my husband suggested we do veggie burgers and sweet potato fries instead.  Ok, not too much more effort than cereal I suppose, especially if you are very clever and only use one baking pan to make all of your food.  Even better, with minimal effort you can make it a little more gourmet than you might imagine.

So:

Slice 1/2 of a white onion and toss with a little olive oil and salt.

Place frozen sweet potato fries, veggie patties (any kind, but we love the Dr. Prager's California Burgers and Morningstar's new Chickpea burgers) and sliced white onions all on a single baking sheet (or two if you're cooking for many).

Sprinkle a little seasoning on the fries (I love Tony's!) and toss it all in the oven at 400 degrees.  After 10 minutes flip the burgers, fries and onions, put it all back in the oven for another 7-10 minutes (watch for burning) and voila!   Place burgers on lettuce or buns (up to you), top with avocado, lettuce, tomato and whatever condiments you love (me: Tribe's 40 Spices hummus; Sweetie: Wildwood's Vegan Garlic Aioli).

The best part is that everything is ready at once, no fuss, no extra cooking dishes, and who doesn't love yummy veggie burgers with sauteed onions and hot seasoned fries?

Bon Appetite!


Friday, May 10, 2013

Capacity

Dear Readers,

Recently, in our household, we have been somewhat consumed by a terrible case my husband is prosecuting that involves abuse and the death of a child.  There are not words for how terrible and upsetting this case has been felt, in particular because we have our beautiful little Muffin Man.  It has opened my eyes to a lot of pain and suffering I never knew about with such specificity and within very close proximity.

It's a challenge for me to reconcile the wonderful life we have with the terrible circumstances of so many.  My husband has said that I need to stop trying to understand the "why" because there is no logic to explain these things, and I believe he's right.  But still, I needed something.

Then today I was speaking with a co-worker about this who used to be a pediatric ER nurse.  She has seen her fair share of child abuse victims and as a result changed professions entirely.  She offered me a wonderful nugget of hope that I will carry with me for the rest of my life:

Human beings by nature have a tremendous capacity to heal and forgive.

While it isn't an explanation or a fix, it gives me hope -  as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend and fellow human.  It's not the good or the bad, but the bridge between, that I will pin my hopes on.




Monday, May 6, 2013

Bon Appetit

Dear Readers,

This weekend, in my absence (see: Napa bachelorette party), my child apparently wasn't hungry.  This is not typical.  So I grilled my husband: What did you feed him?  How hard did you try?  Did you try different things?  Did you dance and sing, because sometimes he likes dinner and a show.

OK, so the last thing is true but wasn't an actual out-loud suggestion.  But I was worried.  And then I read about the new book French Kids Eat Everything and thought "how very American of me."  Check it out: in the latest French vs. American parenting book apparently the key to happy petite foodies is to give them what you eat, when you eat, and be done with it.  And use linens and candles.  Hmmm....

Truly, the hardest francophone food rule for me is making dinner "special."  I used to do that, and believe very much in beautiful tables and careful food, but typically now we all eat in the kitchen - me, propped in front of Muffin's high chair and Sweetie perched at our breakfast bar.  We chat and eat, but it's definitely not formal and clearly there are no table cloths.  Otherwise, in general I do give Muffin exactly what we eat and usually he loves it.  Hummus, Mexican food, smoothies, soy sausage - fab.  But sometimes he hates it (salmon), and that is when I pull out packaged baby food and microwave random things in the hopes something will spark his pallet.  And maybe this is wrong.  Or this could be like all the sleep advise out there and really whatever you're up for and have the time and patience for that works for you and your baby is A-OK in food land.

I don't really know just yet, but I'm willing to give these suggestions a try.  I am reminded of my time in France as a student when I saw the French couples with their babies everywhere.  For the first time in my me-obsessed life thought "you can be sexy and a parent?!"  Skinny, beautiful women in fab bateau tops with hot men, making out over a baby carriage put the American images I had of parenting to shame.  No ugly Old Navy capri pants and pastel t-shirts here.  No haggard-looking, chubby parents shoving Cheerios into their children's screaming mouths.  Instead it all looked picture perfect.  Easy.  Hot even.  And this slew of "French is better" parenting books seem to suggest my observations weren't wrong.

So maybe it's worth a try?

Bisous -


Friday, May 3, 2013

Party Time!

Dear Readers,

It's Friday, and I'm off to Napa for a bachelorette in a few short hours!  Party time!  But before I go check this out.  For my next non-wine based party I am TOTALLY making this cake from A Subtle Revelry.  You could fill it with anything.  I don't know why, but I think this is awesome. It makes me happy just looking at it, and I want to do it NOW.  Well, after I get back from Napa.

Happy Friday!


Thursday, May 2, 2013

To Have And To Hold

Dear Readers,

With the change in weather I have felt the need to change up my iPhone cover but I was having a problem finding exactly what I wanted, especially because I still have an iPhone 4S and not a 5 (I know - First World Problems to the max).  This wasn't an all-consuming shopping obsession, but something I'd been kinda keeping my eye out for.  So much was so....meh.  I really feel like the perfect cover is versatile, personal and seasonal.  And definitely not something everyone has.  And definitely, definitely not "meh."

And then there it was: The Minnie & Emma "French Shirt" personalized cover.  I will admit that nearly every one of their covers made me pause.  So many fun options...only one phone!  But as a huge prepster I adore stripes and my initials on nearly everything and the French Shirt has BOTH plus the fabby script lettering that makes my heart skip a beat.  And I used to live in France and really took to Le Petit Bateau like a fish to water.  So...Sold!  It's a "Catherine Cover!"  At long-last!

Now, for the rest of the Minnie & Emma products - j'adore.  Tres dangereux...

Achats Heureux!

Cat


Monday, April 29, 2013

Stride Right

Dear Readers,

I can't really recall how this all started, exactly, but in my quest to crawl back up the seemingly large and unending hill towards my pre-baby physical self I recently decided to start running.  The positives: no gym membership, no driving and no class times to worry about.  The negative: without an expensive membership or a class cancellation fee to make me feel guilty, would I actually commit?  The answer is (surprise!): yes!

A friend and fellow non-extreme-workout ally suggested I download a "Couch to 5K" app on my iPhone.  This, it turns out, was the best $1.99 I've ever spent since I was literally going from the couch to running (hello, target market!).  The slow pace of the program with three runs a week is ideal and easy to fit into my days.  The app tells you in a perky voice when to walk and when to run, three times a week.

So three times a week for three weeks now I've gotten up early (I do this anyhow), hand the baby reigns to my husband and head out the door with my Pandora set to a great Michael Franti island-like station interrupted only occasionally with a friendly "begin running."  It's bliss.  It honestly feels like a 30-minute vacation.

Whaaaa?  Yes.  First, it's not too hard, so that makes it actually fun (running=fun?  I know...not just for annoying, perky, athletic people).  Second, that solo time early in the morning with no talking, no traffic and with killer views of the mountains (I'm lucky to have a pretty sweet running trail - see below) just makes me happy.  Third and finally, I've found some running shoes I love: the Nike LunarGlide.  They're light and come in a ton of trendy colors, so I feel pretty cool out there even if, let's just admit it, my shoes are the only "cool" part of my mish-mash of Pilates, gym and hiking/ski gear (it was snowing a week ago at 6am after all).

So if you're on the fence or looking for some motivation to start running, download a C25K program, strap on some new LunarGlides and hit the road!  If I can do it - trust me - you can too.

Have fun!


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Creamy Goodness

Dear Readers,

Last night I was trying to figure out how what to make for dinner and I came up with a little something I'd like to call Vegan Carbonara A' La Catherine.  Yes, I appreciate I'm going both Italian and French with that name, but stick with me because it's worth it.

OK, so I had some fairly specific criteria for our dinner: it had to be fast,with food we already had on hand and I was craving something comfortable and creamy (because it'd been just one of those days).  With a little vegan cooking know-how and a little online scouting and combining of ideas here is the best weeknight "pasta carbonara" that won't kill your waistline (recipe to the best of my recollection):

Ingredients:

2 cups of penne pasta
2/3 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen broccoli (or fresh, you know if you have it)
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1 cup of unsalted cashews
Water
Olive oil
2 teaspoons Smoked paprika
1/2-1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/3 cup of nutritional yeast
Salt
Pepper

Directions:

Put water on the stove and cook pasta per directions.  Add broccoli at the end to cook as well.

Put cashews and 1-1.5 cups of water in a Vitamix and blend until you have cashew cream.

In a large sauce pan on the stove over medium heat add olive oil, onion and garlic.  Saute until onion is translucent.  Add cashew cream to the onion and garlic and stir.  Add frozen peas and cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring the whole time.  Add cayenne, smoked paprika, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper adjusting amounts to taste.  If your sauce is too thick, just add a little water.

Drain the pasta and broccoli and add to the sauce mix.  Toss all together and serve with a little parsley on top.

**Something I think would be a great addition is smoked tofu or fake bacon!  But ours has gone past it's prime so after a bit of debating I tossed it.  Don't over-do smoked tofu, but the texture/change might be a great addition!

Et Voila!



(image: Lemons and Lace - my recipe is better)


Monday, April 22, 2013

Something Old, Something New

Dear Readers,

Trying to describe what it's like to be a new mom to expectant friends is difficult because it's amazing, uncharted territory and you can't liken it to anything you've done before.  You can't believe how much you love this little person and how little you look like your "old" self.  And in the midst of the newborn whirl where night and day know no bounds, you start to wonder if life - or you - will ever be the same.  The answer is "no."  It'll be better.  But for now it's a lot.

From one of my fav blogs, WhatWouldGwynethDo, is one of the most wonderful descriptions of what you feel in those early days, and a needed reminder of where you end up after that:


Dear new mother,
I know it doesn’t feel like it now…but you will sleep again.
You will eat in a nice restaurant again.
You will listen to adult music again.
You will wear red lipstick again.
You will drink wine with your girlfriends again.
You will talk – really talk – to your husband again.
You will vacation again.
You will feel less than utterly exhausted again.
You will find time to waste again.
You will read a book again.
You will wear skinny jeans again.
You will look at your body with pride again.
You will stay up past 10pm again.
You will take pictures of things not related to you again.
You will find time for you again.
But you will never love anything more than this again.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Help


If anything good comes of the inexplicably terrible, it's the reminder that good people, selfless people are out there.  Watching footage of the Boston Marathon explosion yesterday one of the first things I noticed was people running towards the explosion site seconds after the bomb went off.  I watched and wondered: Would that have been my first instinct?  I don't know.  But when we feel down about the state of the world, sometimes it's good to remember all the individual acts of good in the face of what seems like unending violence.  If only it didn't take such a terrible tragedy to remind us.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Vodka Cream 4 All!

Dear Readers,

One of the hardest things about being (mostly) vegan is sometimes all your food options either seem really "meh" or complicated.  To avoid the "meh" there's lots of shopping, washing, chopping, blending, etc. and on a weeknight usually all you want in something hot, comforting and quick, not to mention popular (after all, all this effort should not go under-appreciated).  Well my friends, do I have a recipe for you!

This amazing recipe is from Kris Carr, you know the Crazy/Sexy food princess.  Vegan or not, this pasta was a HUGE hit with our entire household.  Muffin in particular loved it, loved it, loved it (and calm down - the vodka in the sauce gets cooked, so he's fine).  Paired with a salad if you're feeling virtuous or on its own with a glass of red, this dinner is super duper fast, healthy and tastes rich and sinful.  Heaven.

Behold:

Weeknight Vodka Cream Pasta


Ingredients:

  • Brown rice or whole wheat pasta (we did farfalle)
  • 1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce (I love the Pomi marinara)
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 cup frozen organic peas
  • 2 heaping tablespoons capers
  • ½ cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • ½-1 cup water (to blend cashews)
  • Splash of vodka (2-4 cap fulls or an ⅛ of a cup)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Optional: Italian sausage (regular, veg or vegan - BTW Trader Joe's has an AWESOME Sausage-less Italian sausage that is - sniff sniff - so sadly veg and not vegan because it rocks)
Instructions:
Bring water to a boil and add a dash of salt to keep the pasta from sticking. Once the water is bubbling, add the pasta. Follow the directions on the package; it should take about 12 minutes or so.
To make the sauce, use your favorite jarred marinara as the base. Pour into a saucepan and add the garlic, peas, capers, plus a drizzle of olive oil (if you want) and a splash of vodka.
In a high-speed blender, blend the cashews and water until they turn to cream. Add more or less water to suit your desires. Pour the cashew cream into the sauce and stir.  Add cooked and sliced sausage.
Cook on medium to low heat for about 15 minutes. Pour in pasta, stir and enjoy!
Bon appetite!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Meals on Wheels

Dear Readers,

One of the biggest questions in our household is "what's for dinner?"  When asked after a long day when my heels aren't even off yet I succumb to anxiety and defensiveness:  "I don't know - what are you making for dinner?" or "Good question!"  Alas.  But after much back and forth, Sweetie and I have come to an agreement: I'll be responsible for the food if he's responsible for the laundry since this division of labor suits our current strengths.

So, what does this mean for me?  It means I need to get my act together!  As much as I detest the nitty-gritty and regimen and would prefer to eat whatever sounds best that day, the truth is we need a plan.  I'm not alone: from The Fresh 20 to one of my fav blogs "What Would Gwyneth Do?" everyone is talking about "meal planning."  We all lead busy lives and need healthy, quick and yummy food to keep us at our best.  The key, it seems, is planning for the week ahead and shopping, chopping, and cooking in advance.

Since we're "vegan" now I personally really like Kris Carr's menu planning tips.  I put vegan in quotes because for ease of life we rarely, but sometimes, cheat if it's "cheat or starve" - for example while at an expensive Easter brunch with only strawberries and mimosas on the vegan menu and you want to cry because it's 11am and you are ravenous for more than booze and berries.  This also fits into Kris' "bad/better/best" concept: do the best you can with what you have.  We still stay away from meat but will occasionally partake in a tiny bit of dairy, eggs or fish if we don't have as much control as we'd like over the food served.  Anyhow, back to menu planning a la vegan goddess:

1.  Flip through cookbooks & choose recipes in advance.
2.  Cook double batches & freeze half.
3.  Dress up leftovers with wraps, grains & greens.
4.  Prep your juice and smoothing ingredients in advance (and make enough for a second serving later in the day).
5.  Shop twice per week, for example Sundays and Wednesdays.
6.  Keep snacks handy: hummus, nuts, goji berries, etc.

Even better, she gives you a great meal planning worksheet!  Thanks, Crazy Sexy.  You rock.




Monday, March 25, 2013

A Good Nose

Dear Readers,

Muffin has a terrible cold and we are using for the second time the ever-crazy looking NoseFrida.  I myself thought it looked like crazy/Hippie/mom-sacrificing-everything-for-baby nonsense until my friend Crystal told me she loved hers.  This gave me pause.  Crystal is not crazy, nor is she a Hippie.  And as a mother of twins, she's by default no-nonsense.  So I figured - why not try it?

I picked mine up at Whole Foods (see also WalMart, Diapers.com...) and low and behold it works much better than the bulb or the electronic thingy (which could be a user error, but whatever).  Now, fair warning:  Muffin hates the NoseFrida just as all children hate such things.  My husband likes to say it looks like I'm sucking his brains out because Muffin does this great screaming, eyes rolling into the back of his head back arch while I try to calmly clear his nose.  Shockingly, given its popularity, I'm the only parents who has mastered the art of the NoseFrida.  But, it works.  It works GREAT.  And in this parenting world, that's what we need: stuff that works.

So if you're game, go for it!  You can thank me, even if your kids don't.





Friday, March 22, 2013

And....We're Back!

Dear Readers,

I just cannot stay away from you.  So much to share.  But I'll keep it simple!  I just read this fab post on Rage Against the Minivan and I thought "this must be shared - the holiday madness must stop!!"  

As you know, Muffin is one.  Sad but true, we did NOTHING for St. Patrick's Day (OK - other than put a "my first St. Patrick's Day" bib on him - and technically it was his second). I didn't even wear green. Then I ran into a friend in the grocery store who, after pinching me, was horrified to hear we did nothing to celebrate the day.  All I could think was "really?" but then I started worrying....what will happen when Muffin goes to school?  I'm SCREWED.  

You all know I love Muffin and design and fabulousness, but honey - there just isn't enough time for the Pintrest of it all all the time.  And guess what?  Easter is moments away!  Have you made your special egg and flower decorations by hand yet?  Planned the perfect color-coordinating brunch with outfits that match?  Because I haven't.  I refuse.

So on behalf of me, and busy moms everywhere - THANK YOU Ms. Minivan.  You're speaking my language and I love it.

Happy Friday!  May it be a relaxing weekend for you all.



Monday, March 4, 2013

Fin

Dear Readers,

Thank you for reading my blog.  If this is your first time here - welcome!  If not, welcome back!

As many of you know, being a working mom is wonderful, but it doesn't leave much time for the "extras."  For now, I'm going to sign off. I've enjoyed sharing and I hope you've enjoyed reading.  Hope to be back soon.

Ciao -
Cat


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Balance

Dear Readers,

Yesterday, inspiration.  Today, a laugh:

"Don't try to win over the haters.  You're not the jackass whisperer.
-Scott Stratten

Balance is good.

Happy almost Friday.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Easy Living

Dear Readers,

One of my fav blog as you knows is Cupcakes and Cashmere.  I love the modern Martha Stewart-ness of it all and how accessible Emily Schuman seems.  Emily just posted this "manifesto" and I just had to share.

Check it out below.  Isn't it great?  I especially love "work hard; play nice."  I think for years I've taken the "work hard; play hard" advice to heart and end up exhausted both mentally and physically.  So instead I'm trying to take a step back, smell those beautiful cut flowers I bought while dashing through the grocery store, play with my baby on the floor, call a friend I haven't chatted with in a while, and accept myself-  As is. Right now. Without tweaking.  Because if you look around, life really is beautiful and inspiration can be found around every corner.

Happy Wednesday.




Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Soapbox

Dear Readers,

Most days I feel like the lady at the carnival with spinning plates trying very hard to keep everything (work, baby, husband, food, sleep...) going without crashing down around my ears.  To do so I find myself stopping at the store on the way home from work, or worse on my lunch, to pick up such mundane but necessary items as detergent and flour nearly every evening.  It's the worst dashing through the isles in my high heels trying to speed shop so I can get home as quickly as possible.  However, it must be done, so stop I do.  Until now that is!

Enter Soap.com and it's fab friends including Reichenberg Fam Fav Vine.com.  Free overnight shipping to your very doorstep when you purchase $49 worth of stuff (and let's be real: you can easily spend that in a heartbeat on toilet paper, hand soap, dish soap, almond flour and baby snacks....the list goes on).  Also, now that our household is "greener" by the day, Vine.com is particularly grand because I can find a ton of all-natural products for the house, bath, baby and even cupboard with just a click of the mouse.  Better living through technology indeed.

And that's how 10 minutes on the web saves you 45 minutes after work and keeps your plates, and not your wheels, spinning.

Ta-da!


Monday, February 25, 2013

The Big One

Dear Readers,

I cannot believe it - Muffin is one today!  This time last year we were watching the Oscars at the hospital post-baby arrival (or, should I say we noticed it was on and that's about it).

I've been putting together his birthday party and gathering some little items to help commemorate the year.  So much for a tiny fete!  C'est la vie...Here are a few lusty Etsy finds.  Gotta love all those mommies on Etsy!

A special hat and matching top (see hat below on Bear).

Theme-specific cake topper.

Printables to boost the decor.

A custom banner to hang all Muffin's month-by-month pics thanks to these adorable stickers (so glad I took these!!).

Happy Birthday, Muffin!  You are so loved.


Friday, February 22, 2013

How To Be Practically Perfect (at least in some ways)

Dear Readers,

This morning I had yet another wonderful conversation with our own infrequent Mary Poppins, Rosario, about raising children.  She, of course, has two grown children and has watched many more so she's experienced whereas I am a novice.  While I'm always having short conversations with her on my way out the door, I find myself taking the time now to ask her questions and get her input because I really love her calm, wise and orderly approach to child-rearing.

As you know, I'm a proponent of a flexible baby schedule a la Baby Whisperer.  I'm now in somewhat uncharted territory though since Muffin is officially a toddler and it's not all about eating and sleeping anymore (which, thankfully, is going like gangbusters).  Now it's also playing, walking, falling, climbing, wanting, getting, not-getting, insisting, crying, laughing...and that was just the 6-7am slot.

So I asked Rosario - "What about when he gets upset and screams because he wants something I've taken away?  He doesn't understand my explanations yet."  I also wanted to say "And I hate being the bad guy and hearing him cry."  She calmly said "You take it away and give him something that he can play with.  Then someday he'll understand your words and if you tell him every time why he will eventually understand."  She also told me, "Once he understands your words, you can also put all the fragile things back out in the house.  If you explain to him what is and is not a toy, he'll understand."

So simple, but it made me think:

Remember he's constantly growing and changing, and what is happening today won't happen forever.
Remember he's a child, so even before he understands his boundaries I need to enforce them (even if that means screaming).
Remember he can't understand everything now, and respect that, but someday he will understand if I'm consistent.

We all have a lot to learn from children and those who understand them.

Just a few deep mommy lessons before my first cup of coffee for which I am truly grateful.

Happy Friday!





Thursday, February 21, 2013

In A Snap

Dear Readers,

Now that our clan has been vegan for nearly two months, we've established some favorite foods and easy, go-to recipes.  This has been crucial since life moves at the speed of light thanks to lots of travel, friends, events, etc. all mixed in with the usual laundry list of daily tasks.  Add to that Muffin is walking, and lookout world!

Anyhow, back to the food.  Without eggs, bacon, etc. we've been making the most of cereal, tofu scrambles and some fantastic blueberry pancakes, modified slightly from a recipe from our fav Engine 2 guy, Rip.  I love that I can trust that the food I make from his recipes is healthy, fresh and amazing.

Now for pancakes!

The Best Almond Blueberry Pancakes (Muffin tested, Muffin approved)


INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal (unground it just goes right through you...FYI)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 ½ cups low fat soy or almond milk
  • 4 tablespoons applesauce (all natural, no sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen; other berries are great too!)
INSTRUCTIONS:
Combine the ingredients in a
 large bowl.

Heat a dry skillet. Spray with a tiny bit of cooking oil.
Ladle a large scoop of batter into the pan. Several pancakes can be cooked at once if you’re using a large skillet.
Cook until the batter begins to bubble and the bottom of the pancake is golden.
Flip and cook on the other side until both sides are golden.
TIP: Our cakes tend to be lovely, dense and moist.  Try letting them dry on a cookie cooling rack rather than a plate.  Also, double this recipe and freeze the leftovers in a large, plastic baggie (separate layers with wax or parchment paper).  They warm nicely in the toaster on fast mornings!
The best part of these cakes is you feel satisfied and healthy after eating them, not semi-sick from all the white flour and sugar.  We love them topped with applesauce (Muffin and me), peanut butter (Sweetie), more fruit and pure maple syrup (everyone!).
Bon Brekkie!