lacurieuse + gr-starred   630

The Refrigerator Dump
Last year, “Tony’s Steak” Tony came through our house on his way from Hong Kong to SXSW in Austin and one of the first things he did after his trans-global traveling was open the refrigerator for a snack. In the life of a refrigerator, it was the optimum time to be opened: Sunday afternoon, aka post-Trader Joe’s Shop. All our sliced fruit sliced, stacked and glistening in their containers. Egg cartons at right angles, supporting bagged stalks of vibrant lacinato kale. Bottles of kefir and honey tangerine juice that had yet to be decimated by sweaty grabby hands of thirsty girls. Tony stood for a second in front of my kitchen shrine and said to no one in particular, “Now that’s a stocked refrigerator.”

I’m not sure how readily I’d admit this to Sheryl Sandberg, but I derive a ridiculous amount of happiness from that moment. And from a full fridge in general. At the risk of sounding like a bad hotel commercial, it’s true: When I’m prepared, I believe I can do anything.

But it’s not always a pretty path to get to that point. Some Sundays, like this past one, we come home to unpack the groceries and upon opening the fridge, realize we never used that stalk of broccoli or an entire bag of Cara Cara oranges is still sitting there wrapped in its charming netting. Half a container of grape tomatoes sits on the shelf — just enough to make you feel guilty about throwing them away. This is when I perform a Refrigerator Dump. I take out everything that’s on its last legs and see what can be salvaged. Or I see what I can put together for the week that might clear up some space for the new refrigerator residents. Or I just get in the zone and go All freaking Out. Here’s a peak:

1. I sliced all remaining whole fruit into grabbable (or spoon-able pieces) like the cara cara oranges above. Shriveled berries all went into freezer bags (stems cut off in the case of strawberries) for use in smoothies.

2. How annoying is ONE EGG left in the egg carton? Really annoying. I turned it into lunch only so I could justify throwing the carton away. I had an egg salad sandwich, made with drop of dijon, mayo, and the few strands of chives in the pack that hadn’t liquefied yet.

3. I blanched broccoli, sliced up the three separate bell pepper halves (why? how?) and packed them in little containers to throw into lunch boxes.

4. Tomatoes: Andy solved that one last year.

5. Ever since making that Indonesian Chicken Salad a few weeks ago, I’ve been in the habit of throwing a few salted and peppered split chicken breasts into the oven at 375°F for 45 minutes. When they’re done, I shred up the meat, store, and then all kinds of possibilities suddenly present themselves to me during the week: barley salads, chicken salad, avgolemono, and, of course, that Indonesian chicken salad.

Have a great weekend.
Organizing_Strategizing_Planning  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
Brilliant speech
Ash Beckham recently spoke in Boulder about not using the word "gay" pejoratively (as in, "This homework assignment is so gay"). The video is fantastic and definitely worth watching.

(Thanks, Lucy!)
relationships  genius  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
Editing My Make-Up Bag
I've been on an editing mission lately! I decided it's ridiculous to give up precious real estate in our house for things that I don't ever use (or even for the rarely used things). I used to keep my make-up in a huge zippered case. It was large and awkward and I only used a small fraction of the products that I was keeping in there. I did this for years! So silly! Case in point: Somehow I had two of the exact same green eyeshadow in that bag. I mean, what? I can't even remember wearing sparkly green eyeshadow post high school.Then a couple weeks ago, around the same time we decided to paint the laminate cabinets, I found this pretty leather pouch at American Apparel and it inspired me to simplify.After going through and tossing all the stuff I didn't actually use, I was left with a small collection of make-up that I really do love.  One of my latest favorites is the Beautyblender (the pink sponge in the corner of my bag here) - it was a bit of a life-changer for me. Have you tried it? I use it to apply my favorite tinted moisturizer and I use the flat bottom of the sponge to smooth out my blush when I wear it. I've been trying BB cream too, but I think I like the feel of my tinted moisturizer better than the BB cream. I do like how the BB gives you an airbrushed look though, and I was pretty shocked the first time I tried it! It's really amazing stuff. I ran out a couple weeks ago and decided to try the l'oreal version from the pharmacy and I like it just as much as the fancier brands.Anyway, I still have a small drawer of cosmetics that I use less often, but it's nice to have my daily make-up bag edited down to the basics. I'm annoyed that I waited so long to make this happen, but now I am pumped and feeling ready to attack the rest of my house this weekend. Clutter, be gone! My closet will be hit especially hard and I'm determined to get it more edited and organized for spring.Speaking of spring, I wish the weather outside right now would cooperate and help me get more into the spring cleaning spirit, but it's snowing again, so... mostly we're just combating cabin fever at this point. I hope you have a fun, warm weekend ahead of you! xo
Bathroom  Beauty  Organization  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
Piamo: An Espresso Maker for the Microwave
Finally – you don’t need one of those fancy machines to make an espresso anymore, nor do you have to trot yourself over to your local coffee shop. Instead, there’s Piamo, a compact, portable espresso maker that delivers your hot cup of fuel in 30 seconds, all from your microwave.

Christoph Meyl partnered with his brother Hendrik to formulate the idea to what it is today, and the duo brought in LUNAR Europe to help with the design. The results could not make espresso drinking any easier. Fill the cup with water and coffee, then stack it, flip it, and place it in the microwave. Microwave to let the pressure build up and push the water through the coffee. Then presto – a cup of espresso!

They’re currently seeking funding to finalize the project, so get in on the caffeinated action here.

It’s tiny size makes it perfect for keeping in your office desk drawer or packing it in your suitcase when you’re traveling.

Share This: Twitter | Facebook | Discover more great design by following Design Milk on Twitter and Facebook. © 2013 Design Milk | Posted by Caroline in Home Furnishings | Permalink | 2 comments
kitchen  Hendrik_Meyl  Christoph_Meyl  Home_Furnishings  Christoph_and_Hendrik_Meyl  LUNAR_Europe  tabletop  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
The Best Veggie Burger You'll Ever Have
A few years ago, I went through a vegetarian phase, and whenever Alex would get regular burgers, I'd order veggie. But even at great restaurants, they were mushy and bland. So I was psyched when Jeanine from Love & Lemons announced that, once and for all, she'd figured out how to make a killer veggie burger. Here's how...Read More >
best_veggie_burger_recipe  basic_food_series  food  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
ring stools
Finnish label Artek partnered with Japanese designer Nao Tamura to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Alvar Aalto's Stool 60. The design features a graphic of a cross section of an 80 year old tree on the seat.

via Nordic Design
graphics_+_illustration  furniture_+_lighting  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
A non-skydiving obsession
After I began skydiving I never really imagined that I’d find myself interested with anything that didn’t require a parachute. Of course, there have been a few things in my life that have come close (my constant need to explore the world and fill my body with tattoos along the way, for example) but I’ve yet to feel truly obsessed over anything in quite the way I have with skydiving.

But, that streak may have come to an end.

You see, I fell in love with a music genre 6 months or so ago, one that I’d pretty much written off as something I’d never be interested in because of what I thought it was. I turned my nose up every time my closest friend would bring it up, especially when it came to festivals.

Some call it techno, some call electronic music. Then, there’s the second layer categorizations such as house, dubstep, dance, trance…you get the idea.

Needless to say, after months, maybe even years of prodding on about  this, he finally got through to me. And all it took was a video. One video that not only changed my entire perception of EDM but made me completely obsessed with listening to and attending shows.

For those curious, the video is below. It’s the aftermovie from what I believe has the potential to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life – it combines travel, music and adventure. What more can a girl ask for?

Now, if you’re anything like me, you’re going to take one look at this and go: “20 minutes? I’m not watching a 20 minute video!” So I’ll tell you what I was told – watch two minutes and if you don’t want to watch anymore then turn it off. But again, if you’re anything like me, you’ll get to the end of the video and wish there was more.

The best part of all this is that, after our first failed attempt at buying tickets for the 2013 Tomorrowland concert in Belgium, we were able to snag a couple and will be headed to what I refer to as a real-life fairy tale for adults! I’m not sure it’s possible to be more excited. I’m constantly listening to more and more DJs and keeping a close eye on the Tomorrowland Facebook page to get as much information on what’s happening, who is playing and what to expect as possible.

This will be my first electronic music festival and my first time in Europe. As you can imagine, I’m just a little pumped.

Anyone else find that they too have non-skydiving obsessions like this? What are yours?

Blue skies!

Lifestyle  Video  festivals  music  Skydiving  travel  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
Watercolor nail polish
One of my New Year's resolutions was to stop biting my nails like a five-year-old. I already bought this crazy stuff (which makes your nails taste bitter). But after stumbling upon these beautiful watercolor nails, I feel even more inspired. And they're surprisingly easy: the tutorial just calls for a few pastel colors and a sponge. Will you try them this spring?

P.S. Navy nails and galaxy nails.

(Photos by Small Good Things, via Shoko)
beauty  nail_polish  fashion  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
Solutions for Renters: Kitchens
Greetings everyone!  The ‘Solutions for Renters’ series continues today and I’ve gathered up a few ideas for you to spruce up those kitchen spaces with temporary solutions that incorporate your personal tastes and unique style.

Kitchens and bathrooms are the hardest to personalize since they’re mostly made up of choices that are unchangeable – cabinets, tile, flooring, countertops, and faucets – all those details you’re stuck with while you rent. So what is to be done? You can accept the situation, or tweak the space with a few of these ideas. Here are nine savvy solutions to personalize kitchens in rental homes and apartments, many apply to homeowners too looking to beautify kitchens on a budget!


1.  Change the Backsplash.  If you’re lucky, you’ll have decent cabinets in your rental but if you dislike the backsplash there is good news, you can always change it. Sure you won’t be ripping out tile but here are some smart and equally effective ideas. Nester wasn’t crazy about the pinkish tile in hers so she installed white beadboard panels to lighten up the look in her rental home.

Nesting Place

Jessica at Four Generations One Roof took it to the next level with her removable backsplash where she installed beautiful glass tile on panels, ones she can take with her or reuse in the future.

Four Generations One Roof

Mount boards covered with chalkboard paint, consider tin tiles either plain or painted; tattoo your tiles with a few of the available products, or use vinyl to add a pattern to a plain backsplash wall. Did you know there are peel and stick tiles on the market? Time to get creative incorporate a look you love that you can install as a temporary solution while you live with someone else’s design choices.

Design*Sponge / DIY Network / Tile Tattoos / Vinyl Backsplash / Peel & Stick Tile


2.  Remove cabinet doors.  If your kitchen cabinetry in your rental is not your favorite or you feel the need to lighten up, Emily’s solution for removing cabinet doors is a smart one. She’s not renting, but instead of repainting all of the cabinetry in her home, she simply removed the doors on the upper cabinets and painted the backs a dark charcoal – in a rental home you can do the same or even use wallpaper or wrapping paper to dress up the backs and secure it with double sided tape.

Emily A Clark

Country Living

Apartment Therapy


3.  Slipcover Your Cabinets.   Short of painting, there is little you can do disguise unattractive cabinets, but here is an effective solution that costs only a few dollars. I’m still impressed with Erin’s kitchen makeover where she removed the doors and “slipcovered” the upper cabinets with contact paper.

Rare & Beautiful Treasures

Other decorative papers may accomplish the same thing, consider painted pieces of thin cardboard and attaching them with glue dots or using large pieces of removable wallpaper (you can buy it at Spoonflower or Design Public and other sources online.)



4. Get Graphic.  Speaking of removable wallpaper, in lieu of a cabinet cover up make a graphic statement on an accent wall with a bold print.

The Kitchn

Or take a cue from Kristin’s lovely home and paint a chalkboard accent wall in your rental or introduce a deep brown for dramatic contrast (assuming the landlord will allow you paint).

The Hunted Interior

The Kitchn


5.  Cover the Flooring.  There aren’t a lot of options for covering an unattractive kitchen floor in a rental, but one of them is peel and stick vinyl tile which can later be removed but when they look as good as they do in Caitlin’s galley kitchen, who would want to?

Caitlin Wilson Design

Your other option is to include kitchen friendly rugs and runners, even indoor/outdoor versions that can be vacuumed or hosed off.


6.  Maximize Storage.  Space permitting, increase your storage with an open shelving unit and accessorize it with your favorite dishes, cooking utensils, and small appliances.

Better Homes & Gardens

The Kitchn

The Kitchn


7. Upgrade the Lighting If your light fixtures in your rental are drab, change them out for something more stylish, more you!  Light fixtures can travel with you when you move out as long as you replace the ones that were there before (but check with your landlord and hire an electrician when in doubt about installation).

Margot Austin

Milk and Honey


8.  Add Your Personality.  You have artwork, photography, or mementos that make you smile so include them in your space design so you’re surrounded by things that make you happy each time you enter your kitchen.


Country Living


9. Accessorize with Color.  Have you ever noticed how the brightly colored accents in a room are always the first ones you notice? Employ that trick of the eye by accessorizing your kitchen with bold colorful accents, whether it’s barstools, a colorful window shade, or your kitchen appliances and favorite dishes.

Better Homes & Gardens

House Beautiful

Country Living

Both Apartment Therapy and its sister site The Kitchn are a wealth of information on small space living and making rentals personal and stylish.

Renters (current and former) let’s hear from you again, what tricks have you used in your kitchen spaces to make them more attractive and feel like home?

See Also:  Solutions for Renters: In the Bedroom



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Solutions for Renters: Kitchens is a post from Centsational Girl Republishing this article in full or in part is a violation of copyright law. © 2009-2013, all rights reserved.
Ask_Kate  Decorating  Inspiration  solutions_for_renters  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
An Interactive Stool For Kids
Interactive furniture is a growing trend I’ve always been interested in, but until becoming a mother, I didn’t realize quite how beneficial it was for children. The idea that our surroundings can offer multi-dimensional purposes and functions (and even serve as learning tools!) is fascinating for both young and old, and I can’t help but [...]
Furniture_+_Innovation  Playtime_+_Discovery  asterisk_puzzle_stool  asterisk_stool  christina_sicoli  kid_stools  kids_furniture  life-sized_puzzle_for_kids  lifesized_puzzle  modern_kids_furniture  modern_kids_stools  puzzle_stool  puzzle_stool_for_kids  stools_for_kids  well-designed_stools  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
Motherhood Mondays: Work/life balance
Work/life balance is a topic near and dear to my heart. Sarah Lacy just wrote a BRILLIANT post about every woman's individual path to finding balance as a mother. My favorite line might have been...
Read More >
personal  motherhood  toby  motherhood_mondays  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
Real Deal Pad Thai
I once overheard a conversation between two of my coworkers. This was back when I had a job in a bonafide office that employed actual grown-up human beings with whom I could interact. We were all at the printer.

“What’d you do this weekend?” said one as she jammed a ream of paper into the drawer.

“Oh, our friends came over for dinner,” said the other.

“That’s fun. What’d you make?”

“We all cooked that lasagna that was on the cover of Gourmet.”

“Oooo….I saw that. The Emilia-Romagna one, right?”


Did you make it with the bechamel?”


“And the homemade noodles?”

“Yup, everything. That was the evening’s entertainment. The kids watched Nemo, then we all relaxed and made dinner.”

At the time my girls were 2 and 3 and that kind of night with friends was both unthinkable and enviable. I absolutely fell in love with the concept of Dinner Party cum Personal Challenge and vowed I would do exactly the same thing when our kids were old enough to entertain themselves. And then I vowed to learn how to make homemade pasta. And then I asked myself, How is it that your mother is Italian and three of your daughters’ great-grandparents are 100% Italian, and it took a chance encounter over the Epson to inspire you to make homemade pasta?

Anyway. The girls got older, and as anyone who has read my book knows, we’ve cranked out many batches of homemade pasta with our friends on many memorable nights. (No lasagna yet.) But when I think back to the printer conversation, a different thread of the story jumps out at me: My coworker’s commitment to following an authentic recipe to the letter. And now I’m always on the lookout for dishes that will fit the bill.

As soon as I saw a recipe for Andy Ricker’s Pad Thai last year (described in the headnote as “this is not the dish from the neighborhood takeout joint”), I knew that it qualified. Ricker spent twenty years studying authentic Northern Thai cuisine before he became the James Beard Award-Winning chef-owner behind the Pok Pok empire in Portland (and now New York). The ingredient list for his pad thai was long and the recipe called for things like sweet preserved shredded radishes, tamarind paste, rice noodles that had to be soaked in hot water before frying, and simple syrup, “preferably made from palm sugar.” Oh, my simple syrup would be made from palm sugar all right. I would track down garlic chives (not the same thing as regular chives apparently); I would do whatever I needed to do in order to secure the exact ingredients called for. No shortcutting. No skipping an ingredient and saying It’s just one thing. How crucial can it be? like I tend to do …just about every night. And other than those sweet pickled radishes (I could only find spicy), I managed to do it. We are lucky to have an Asian supermarket superstore nearby (FYI locals: Golden Village on Central Ave), so we hit that, then laid everything on a cutting board (below) and got to work.

Can I just say: Oh My Freaking Lord. This recipe was insane. Every bite a revelation of sour, fishy, sweet and crunchy. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it was as good as the one I ate in Thailand while my toes were wriggling in the powdery sand of Maenam Beach. Maybe even as awesome as the sand and the beach combined. And we made it in our own kitchen, a half a world away.

A few of the ingredients called for: pad thai rice noodles, fish sauce, palm sugar, lime, thai chiles, bean sprouts, tofu. Check out the recipe here.
Dinner  Seafood  Vegetarian  andy_ricker_pad_thai  authentic_pad_thai  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
Amanda Palmer: The art of asking
An absolutely impressive talk by Amanda Palmer. She believes we shouldn’t make people pay for music, but letting them pay. In this passionate TED talk that begins in her days as a street performer (drop a dollar in the hat for the Eight-Foot Bride!), she examines the new relationship between artist and fan. Amanda Palmer believes we shouldn’t fight the fact that digital content is freely shareable — and suggests that artists can and should be directly supported by fans.
conferences/talks  videos  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
A new leaf turned: my experience (so far) going hard-core Paleo
A few weeks ago, I saw my friend Jessica post this comment on Facebook: “Contemplating doing a Whole 30 once Valentines passes. Thinking that might help me troubleshoot my aches and pains. Encourage me or talk me off the ledge?”

It stuck in my brain for days because I’d been thinking of doing one, too, ever since my friend Heidi first tried it, but I just didn’t really want to take the next step. I’d read about Whole30 (and the Whole9 group that created it), and I had added a few Paleo cookbooks and podcasts to my repertoire. Yet I still didn’t really want to go there, if you know what I mean.

But doing it with someone else? That had appeal. I’m not a fan of food fads, but joining a group of friends in camaraderie, where we could share the highs and lows of the whole process (and maybe laugh at ourselves at our weeny-ness about not having wine for a month)? That sounded more fun.

So today is Day 10 of my Whole30, and I’m floored by how I feel. It’s really pretty incredible.

What on earth is Whole30?
I know, sounds like some sort of infomercial energy drink, right? It’s actually the name of a 30-day food plan created by husband and wife team Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, who own a crossfit gym in Utah (yeah, they’re “those” types of people—healthy ones).

Basically, it’s Paleo hard-core. It’s no sugar, grains, dairy, and legumes for an entire thirty days—so you guessed it, it’s not easy. But what’s amazing is that I feel fuller than I ever have in my life because for the first time in ages, my body is getting what it needs to tell my brain it’s full when it has the food it needs. I can trust my signals again.

Its purpose is to zero in on what foods may be troubling you, often without you even being aware. So many modern-day issues, such as healthy weight maintenance, depression, skin and joint issues, autoimmune conditions, and more—all start with food. Whole30 pares down your diet to the bare essentials for a full thirty days to help your body heal from what may be hurting you.

So I’m only a third in, but I’ve already learned some helpful tips.

1. Focus on what you can have, not what you can’t.
Whole30 means I’m not currently eating some of my favorite foods—aged cheeses, red wine, and dark chocolate, for instance. But you know what I can have? Every kind of quality meat imaginable. Tons and tons of vegetables and plenty of fruits to take off the sweet cravings. Coconut products galore, which turns out are AMAZING. Who knew?

There are more recipes and ideas out there than days of the year—simply search “Paleo” on Pinterest and you’ll see. (I’ve created a Paleo pinboard, too.)

2. Plan in advance.
Meal planning has made this possible for our family—there’s no way I could fly by the seat of my pants and make this happen right now. On the weekends I decide what we’re going to eat for the entire week, and I shop straight from the list.

My meal planning tool of choice right now is Plan to Eat, but I also love and subscribe to Whole Family’s Kitchen‘s meal plans, and they have a great selection of grain and gluten-free menus.

And date night—oh, date night. It’s hard to eat out. Did you know that almost every restaurant known to man uses canola oil? I had to call all over town to find a place that would let us request our food be cooked with olive oil instead of canola. But calling ahead did help us know where to go and what to order ahead of time, so we weren’t caught off-guard.

3. Roll with the punches.

I’m not gonna lie—it’s hard, especially at first. This timeline seems spot-on to me. The first few days, I had a mix of wanting to “kill all the things,” followed by an intense desire to just curl up and take a long nap until morning. I even had what’s known as “carb flu,” where it really did feel like I was getting sick—turns out I was detoxing from carbs.

It helps enormously to just go with the flow, let your body do its thing, and not give up when it feels icky. Most people wake up around Day 8 and start feeling much, much better.

4. Find a group.
I can’t stress this last bit enough. Our little Facebook group has been my lifeline, because I’m the type to give up early on these things due to boredom or lack of accountability. It’s been fantastic to vent, share, encourage, and learn from ladies like Anne, Jessica, Mandi, Heidi, Tricia, Katie, Sarah, and more.

So if you decide to try out Whole30, I highly, highly encourage you to form a group and try it together. Plan a start date, read the Hartwig’s book It Starts With Food in advance, to fill your head with the reasons you’re doing this, and then? Just… start. No time like the present.

I figured this—I can always go back to my former way of eating if I didn’t like the results. It’s only thirty days, and I’m not a toddler—I can totally tell my brain and my body “no,” even if I might want to throw a tantrum. But something tells me I’ll feel so good in twenty days that I may be forever changed, if my experience is anything like the thousands of others I’m reading about.

According to the Simple Mom Facebook page, a lot of you have tried Whole30s with great success, and it’s been fun to read your encouragement and questions on Instagram, too. So I know I’m not alone here. I just wish I took the plunge sooner.

Your turn—what’s been your experience with this type of eating? Are you Paleo (or Paleo-ish)?


Plan to Eat - Meal planning made simple.
MightyNest - Helping create healthy homes.
Tsukihoshi - Children's shoes designed exclusively for the comfort and health of children's feet.
Pine Bros. - Softish throat drops.
The Confident Mom - 2013 - the year to get organized.
Every Breath I Take - Virtual yoga studio.

A new leaf turned: my experience (so far) going hard-core Paleo is a post from Simple Mom

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Similar Posts:A new leaf turned: my experience (so far) going hard-core Paleo

Finding the Balance of Mind and Body at Home

Gearing up for the next Book Club selection: In Defense of Food
Self-Care  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
Tutorials for storing your stuff
These little DIY projects might be fun for the weekend:
A tree-shaped holder for earrings at Projectville
A simple way to store your washi tape by Silly Old Suitcase
Leather card holders from Caila Made (bonus: these pouches are fab)
No-sew fabric boxes by Rashida Coleman Hale
tutorials  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
It’s about soap, but not really
A bit about a delicious bar of soap I bought, but it's more than just about the suds.
Oh!_Things!  Ottawa  Yaktivism  eco-friendly  family  household  money  shopping  stuff  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Learning Spanish is possible at any age
With waggling hands and adorable smiles the gathered toddlers begin to sing in Spanish: “Mi cuerpo, mi cuerpo hace música,” they chant, “my body, my body makes music.”

Following the body gestures of the group instructor, the eager toddlers proceed to clap their hands and stomp their feet as they recite the rest of the song.  “My hands go ‘clap-clap-clap,’ my feet go, ‘stomp-stomp-stomp,’ my voice says, ‘la-la-la’, and my body goes ‘cha-cha-cha.” The last part is eagerly performed by cute little arms swinging back in forth in a toddler version of the cha-cha.

Welcome to Vamos a Cantar, a program at the Main Branch of the Ottawa Public Library (120 Metcalfe) that takes place on the first and third Saturday of each month.  While ostensibly for children four years or younger, the program is really designed for parents who want to teach their little ones Spanish.

“Everyone is welcome,” says Monica Reyes, the volunteer group instructor who came up with the idea for the bi-weekly gathering. “Many people who are Latin do not know the songs … so it’s a good way for them to learn.  It’s also a good way for others to learn Spanish.”

For those parents who are not sure whether they would fit in, fear not, as the participants come from diverse backgrounds.  While the majority are from Spain or Latin America, or at least have Latin family roots, many are native-born Canadians who learned Spanish as a second or third language.

In between songs, as parents chat with the group instructor or each other, you can hear Spanish with French or English accents, blending in with the regional dialects from several countries.  The result is a combination of families who want to make sure that their children continue speaking Spanish at home, and others who are introducing their little ones to a new linguistic world.

Based on the results to date the program has been a success.

“Since the program started, the amount of Spanish-language material that has been taken out of the library has gone up,” says Karen Molina, who works at the Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization and who organizes the singing program at the library.

Buoyed by this positive reaction, other Spanish-language programs have been launched. For instance, a creative writing pilot program for children aged seven to twelve was launched on February 23. (Full disclosure: My mother Camila Reimers runs this program).

The writing program – which also takes place at the Main Branch – is run in Spanish, but when it comes time to write a story the children can pen their first draft in French, English or Spanish.  Once the story is written, the draft is either translated into or polished in Spanish. The program is currently filled, but it’s possible that a second group will start in the spring.

Another planned idea is to have storytelling for children in Spanish.  Alvaro Duque, who volunteers for both Vamos a Cantar as well as the pilot creative writing program, tells Apartment613 that he would like to create a program where parents and children can engage in storytelling.

“We can start to tell stories that parents can then discuss,” says Duque.

Vamos a Cantar takes place on the first and third Saturday of each month.  It is divided into two sections, with the group for babies to 18 months (10:30am-11am), and the second for toddlers 19 months to 4 years (11:30am-12:15pm).
General  Learning  Music  Learn_Spanish  Ottawa_Public_Library  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Photoshop Tutorial – Making a Silhouette
Welcome back to Tutorial Tuesday!

It’s kinda ironic to me that I am teaching ANYTHING.  I mean…I’m a homeschooler…who went to college to be a teacher…realized VERY quickly that I am not cut out for it and will praise the fine educators of the world till kingdom come…took up a camera less than five years ago and photoshop after that….to be here, attempting to teach you little tricks with no real training myself except a whole lot of trial and error (emphasis on the error!).  That’s irony people.  At least I think it is…I was homeschooled afterall

So today I am going to show ya a VERY easy method to make a silhouette in photoshop.  Basically you can take any photo and make it into one of those cool personalized gifts or artwork.  I love the idea of doing it for newlyweds or as a baby shower gift.  But first, the things to note….I use Photoshop CS4…not all photoshop is created equal.  This method works but there are several ways to skin a cat…not that I condone skinning anything.  That’s like Silence of the Lambs creepy.  It rubs the lotion on its skin.  Let’s get started.

This time around I am gonna make a silhouette out of a picture of me holding Will.  Jeremy took this photo and it was late in the evening and we were moving a bunch so the original was blurry…but that’s okay!!!  This is a silhouette!  It can be done with a blurry photo!  That’s one of the best parts   I did edit it so that it was artsy fartsy because I loved our expressions…so that is what we are working with.

And we are making this…

First things first, you wanna open your file in photoshop.  I like to look for profile shots – they show the face so much better.  Also I like it when the legs are separated a little…and when there is little overlap of limbs.  It just produces a better image.

Now you want to select your pen tool.  (shift and P are the shortcut)

Make sure your color is on black and the shape layers box is selected (indicated by red arrows below).

Next thing you want to do is start your dots.  Basically we are outlining the entire picture with little dots….it’s like connect the lines.  Also, you may want to adjust your opacity till it’s down near 50% (I circled it in red)…that way you can see what you are outlining.

Make sure you give hair and faces a little more life by using closer dots and showing the separation.

Once you connect all the way back to the beginning – the dots should disappear and you are left with a solid line around your image.

(Oh and yes, my shoes were disappearing into the grass so I created some – remember that if your original photo doesn’t show it, you have to remember to create it!).

Now adjust your opacity back to 100% to see your silhouetted image.

Now we are gonna open a new layer.  (shortcut is Shift + Control + N).  Make each window smaller so that you can see them both.  Remember that you are gonna see the different layers of your window in the sidebar but only for the selected window….so click on the top bar of the window to make sure you are on the right one.

So what we are gonna do is click on the top of the original image and select our shape layer.  Then you are gonna hold a left mouse button it (this grabs that layer) and drag it onto the other open layer (our window that is untitled!)….this copies the layer onto the new window that has a white blank background.

After you resize the silhouette to fit the background (just grab the little boxes on the corners to stretch it bigger or smaller), you can move it around to your hearts content.

If you are trying to make artwork, you can add words…

It ends up looking like this…

Or you can change the background with another layer to make the silhouette over words.  Wouldn’t this be a cute project for a childs birthday or for fathers day?  Or for a thank you note to someone that helped watch your kids or a friend that that needs some cheap personalized art on their walls?

Happy photoshopping!

p.s.  We only have two more photoshop sessions left!
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
black + white + brass kitchen inspiration
My style tends to be very colorful, and I love a statement. But since this isn’t “our” kitchen, I’m keeping it pretty simple: plain white slab cabinets, butcher block counters, white subway tile backsplash with dark grout, and brass hardware.

These are the images I’ve been referring to over and over while designing the kitchen. My husband has started to accuse me of harboring a secret desire for a country house. He might be right about that.

If you want even more kitchen ideas, I have a handy pinterest board for that.

{Images: Elle Decor via /  Decorpad /  Terracotta Properties / Light Locations - this whole house is gorgeous! / House Beautiful / Desire to Inspire}
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
What I’m Designing // 5 Voices – A Workshop.
5 Voices They Will Hear // WordPress Design
This summer, I launched Neil’s site for him (he’s a writer, editor, super awesome funny guy) and when he came back this winter with an idea to launch a workshop about engaging people, I was in. Not only because I like work (and I do), but because I loved the idea for an non-boring workshop. And I’ve never met Neil, but I can tell you that if his emails are any indication, that if anyone can make a workshop fun, it’s Neil. He is kind, really hilarious, and just all around fantastic. (Allie Larkin agrees.)

Neil wanted the site and logo to be playful, engaging, and confident. He wanted to appeal to a wide array of individuals as his target demographic – teachers, yoga instructors, corporate managers, and entrepreneurs.

After several rounds of revisions, we ended up with a site that was a complete departure from our original direction, but that I seriously love. It’s simple, clean, and engaging. I used a beautiful brush script, plenty of white space, and several images to complete the look.

I also included a few playful additions, like the hidden arrow hover effect on the link back to Neil’s site:

An essential part of any one-page website is a call to action: Tell the visitor where to go or what to do. 

And that’s 5 Voices They Will Hear. Another fun project and another fantastic client!

I’m currently booking for mid-to-late April if you or someone you’d know would like to work with me!

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february 2013 by lacurieuse
10 Essential Email Habits
10 Essential Email Habits: A visualization of my email habits post, by Melanie Schwarzer on Prezi
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
How to Read a Label
If you’ve picked up a newspaper in the past decade, you might be aware of a few basic strategies for shopping smarter in the grocery store. Most of us, for instance, likely know that:

♦ It’s wise to stick to the perimeter of the store — produce, dairy, meat — where the fresh products are sold. (Interior aisles are filled, floor-to-ceiling, with processed foods.)

♦ Everything is positioned where it is for a reason — i.e., the most alluring items didn’t end up directly in your line of vision (and, more diabolically, your kids’ line of vision) by accident. To find the healthy stuff, you need to look up high and down low. (To see what we mean, check out the photo above.)

♦ It pays to read the label. I know that a quick scan of the nutrition facts panel will give me a sense of when something is high in fat or calories. And thanks to recent campaigns waged largely by enraged parents, I know to avoid trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, horse meat, pink slime, etc. I also know that it’s not a good sign when an ingredient list is so long, you need a magnifying glass to read it. (Unless it’s a birthday party or a barbecue; in our house, it’s never a birthday or a barbecue without the Reddi Whip or some S’Mores made from Hershey bars.)

But what I didn’t know until I had the opportunity to work with Michael Moss on his book, Salt Sugar Fat, was the degree to which processed food companies have formulated their products to not only get us to eat them, but to eat more and more of them. I didn’t know about the “bliss point,” or “mouthfeel,” or the high-stakes race for “stomach share.” I didn’t know that sodium was not the same thing as salt. I didn’t know that the average American now eats 33 pounds of cheese a year, that the most die-hard Coke drinkers — known within Coca-Cola as “heavy users” — drink up to 1,000 cans a year, or that the processed food industry accounts for $1 trillion dollars a year. Michael is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, and it shows: If you’re interested in the inside story of how the food giants have hooked a nation, if you believe that knowledge is power, if you want to know the marketing strategies that are behind those “convenient” items so many of us are feeding our children, this book might be a life-changer — or at the very least, a family dinner-changer. (You may have seen Moss’s book excerpted in The New York Times Magazine last Sunday.) We asked Michael to annotate the labels of a few of the country’s most popular, kid-friendly supermarket items to illustrate just how bad it is, and what we’re up against. He was kind enough to oblige. – Andy

Hot Pockets is owned by Nestle, the Swiss-based food giant. In 2002, it paid $2.6 billion for this microwavable snack, and now counts it among its “billionaire brands” — with annual sales in excesses of $1,000,000,000.
At a mere 4.5 ounces per sandwich, who wouldn’t be tempted to eat them both? But doing so could get you up to 12 grams of saturated fat (3/4 of a day’s max for most adults), 1,180 milligrams sodium (more than 2/3 of a day’s max), 5 teaspoons of sugar, and 700 calories.
No trans fats? Well, yes, thanks largely to the fierce pressure consumers put on the manufacturers when the deleterious health effects of these fats became more widely known. But beware of any brag like this on the front of processed food labels. The fine print on the back usually reveals a host of items just as problematic for one’s health.


Nutrition advocates have a simple rule of thumb when it comes to ingredients: avoid anything you can’t pronounce. Laden with chemical preservatives, emulsions and conditioners, this would not be a label for them. (Seriously, try counting the number of ingredients in there — if you can even read the microscopic type.)
This label is actually a fascinating study on food processing. Consider the chicken alone, represented here as both “ground and formed,” whatever that means. And note the numerous mentions of salt, sugar, and cheese, including imitation.

The FDA bears responsibility for failing to update its serving sizes, which grossly underestimates the power of salt/sugar/fat-heavy processed foods to compel overeating. But the food giants reap the benefit. A “serving” of these gushers weighs less than an ounce, which helps keep the numbers in the nutrition facts panel from looking too scary – 3 teaspoons of sugar per tiny pouch, versus 17 teaspoons per box. The problem is, lots of kids can’t stop at one pouch.
First launched by General Mills, these “fruit” snacks have exploded in popularity and now have their own stretch of the grocery store, a million miles from the real fruit aisle. The reason for the growth: a huge, fruit-centered marketing ploy is driving sales. These sugar-bombs convey the illusion of health.
Real Fruit? Not really. In truth, real processed fruit. Companies add these fruit derivatives to foods and drinks, sometimes in miniscule amounts, which allows them to splash the word fruit on the front of the label.

Is table sugar worse than corn syrup? Nutritionists say they are indistinguishable, bearing the same number of empty calories.
Pears and grapes are the most commonly used fruits in processed foods because they are cheapest to buy. The processing typically “strips” them of the fiber and the filling water that makes fresh fruit so wholesome. The result is just another form of sugar (often known as fruit sugar or stripped fruit).
In this small of an amount, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil likely has negligible effects on your health. But nutritionists say there are far better choices to look for, like canola.

Each year, the dairy industry spends tens of millions of dollars trying to get Americans to eat more cheese through a marketing scheme overseen by none other than the USDA, and it’s a boon for the food giants. Average consumption has tripled to 33 pounds a person a year, thanks to new products like this all over the grocery store that use cheese as an alluring, fattening ingredient. Cheese used to be something we ate on occasion, when friends were over, before dinner. Now it’s in everything.
The more cheese, the better: it’s an industry mantra. And companies are vying to outdo one another with the types of cheese they can pack into one can or box.

With more than half of the calories coming from fat, it’s no surprise that oil is the largest ingredient after potatoes. Companies use these four oils — corn, cottonseed, soybean, and sunflower — and others interchangeably, depending on market supply and cost. Oil and fat are what give processed foods their sought-after “mouthfeel,” as industry types call it, which is a crucial part of a product’s allure.
These Pringles have moderate loads for salty snacks… if you stick to a single, one-ounce serving. But let your child eat the whole can over two days, and they’ll get more than a full day’s max of saturated fat, two-thirds a day’s sodium, and a teaspoon of sugar thrown in for good measure. (Not to mention 2,000 calories.)
People trying to limit their sodium have a lot to worry about when it comes to processed foods. These Pringles have four sodium compounds, including MSG, along with salt (added by itself and in each of the four cheeses).

Tune in to Fresh Air today, Tuesday, February 26, to hear Michael Moss talk more about Salt, Sugar, Fat. 
Cameos  Kitchenlightenment  Posts_by_Andy  Uncategorized  how_to_grocery_shop  how_to_read_a_label  michael_moss  salt_sugar_fat_michael_moss  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Classement d’une bibliothèque d’enfant: tasse-toi de là, Dewey!
Pendant les deux années qu’ont duré mes études au Cégep, j’ai travaillé à la bibliothèque. En plus de classer les retours au fur et à mesure, j’étais aussi en charge, chaque été, de la relecture des rayons. Un beau job ... Suite
Cet article Classement d’une bibliothèque d’enfant: tasse-toi de là, Dewey! est apparu en premier sur Banlieusardises.
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
Classement d’une bibliothèque d’enfant: tasse-toi de là, Dewey!
Pendant les deux années qu’ont duré mes études au Cégep, j’ai travaillé à la bibliothèque. En plus de classer les retours au fur et à mesure, j’étais aussi en charge, chaque été, de la relecture des rayons. Un beau job ... Suite
Cet article Classement d’une bibliothèque d’enfant: tasse-toi de là, Dewey! est apparu en premier sur Banlieusardises.
Éducation  Livres_CD_et_DVD  bibliothèque  classement  enfant  livres  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Scouting: Pizza Night & Amazing Pizza Dough Recipe
This weekend we went to Minneapolis to celebrate Febgiving (the celebration of Thanksgiving in February, natch). We ate like royalty all weekend between Friday night pizza with Kate (amazing photographer and food blogger) and her husband Kyle and the feast itself on Saturday afternoon (photos of last year’s event here).   Friday night the wine was flowing and the pizzas were amazing:

1. San marzano, fresh mozzarella, sautéed mushroom and truffle oil
2.Cambazola, prosciutto and pear
3. Roasted butternut squash, asparagus, goat cheese and garlic oil

Kate and Kyle have a pizza night every Friday night so they make a sourdough pizza dough from scratch every week, using a recipe from Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in 5 Minutes a Day. (Wordy, but, delicious recipe after the jump!)

Mixing and Storing the Dough 1. Warm the water slightly: It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature, about 100 ° F. Using warm water will allow the dough to rise to the right point for storage in about 2 hours. 2. Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5-quart bowl or, preferably, in a lidded (not airtight) plastic food container or food-grade bucket (see here). Don’t worry about getting them to dissolve completely. 3.Then mix in the flour— kneading is unnecessary: Add all of the flour and mix with a wooden spoon, Danish dough whisk, 14-cup food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle). You might need to use wet hands toget the last bit of flour to incorporate if you’re not using a machine. Don’t knead; it isn’t necessary. You’re finished when everything is uniformly moistened, without dry patches. This step is done in a matter of minutes, and yields dough that is loose enough to conform to the shape of its container. 4. Allow to rise: Cover with a non-airtight lid lid (see Equipment). Allow the dough to rise at room temperature until it begins to flatten on the top, approximately 2 hours, depending on the room’s temperature and the initial water temperature. Do not punch down the dough! With our method, you’re trying to retain as much gas in the dough as possible, and punching it down knocks out gas and will make your pizzas and flatbreads dense.  5. After rising, refrigerate and use over the next 14 days; the dough will develop sourdough characteristics over that time. Fully refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and is easier to work with than dough at room temperature. So, the first time you try our method, it’s best to refrigerate the dough overnight (or at least 3 hours) before use. Once it’s refrigerated, the dough will collapse, and it will never rise again in the bucket— that’s normal for our dough.
On Pizza Day 6. Prepare and measure toppings in advance: This will help you top the pizza quickly so you can get it into the oven before it sticks to the pizza peel. 7. Thirty minutes before you’re ready to bake, preheat a baking stone at your oven’s highest temperature, placed in the bottom third of the oven (consider a longer preheat if you’re finding the crust results are too soft;). 8. Shape a ball in 20 to 30 seconds. First, prepare a pizza peel with flour, cornmeal, or parchment paper to prevent your pizza from sticking to it when you slide it into the oven. Sprinkle the surface of your refrigerated dough with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1/ 2-pound (orange-size) piece of dough, using a serrated knife or kitchen shears. Hold the piece of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won’t stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the dough a quarter-turn as you go to form a ball. Most of the dusting flour will fall off; it’s not intended to be incorporated into the dough. The bottom of the ball may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out and adhere when you roll it into a pizza or flatbread. The entire process should take no longer than 20 to 30 seconds. 9. Roll out and stretch the pizza crust: Flatten the dough with your hands and a rolling pin on a work surface or directly onto the pizza peel (or shape the disk by hand, see here) to produce a 1/ 8-inch-thick round, dusting with flour to keep the dough from adhering to your work surface. A little sticking to the surface can be helpful in overcoming the dough’s resistance to stretch. Use a dough scraper to unstick the dough as needed, and transfer it to the prepared pizza peel if you haven’t already stretched the dough directly on one. (See Tips and Techniques, if you’d rather bake on a sheet pan). When you’re finished, the dough round will be about 12 inches across, and should have enough flour under it to move easily when you shake the peel. As you add toppings, continue to test for sticking by gently shaking the peel. The pizza should move freely. If it doesn’t, use the dough scraper and some flour to free it.
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
Evolution of Mom Dancing
Words can not express how much I heart Michelle Obama for dancing along with Jimmy Fallon in honor of her Let’s Move Campaign.
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
Sneak Peek: Caroline and Olivier
When they bought their first home, Caroline and Olivier discovered a passion for renovating old houses in Provence. Their current home, located in St. Maurice de Cazevieille, Uzès, is their third home to date. In each home they renovate, they never adhere to a particular style; rather, the style is informed by the home itself, some basic element of the house that inspires them, such as how the light hits each room. Especially in this home, the layout is based on how the light illuminates every corner and key areas. Caroline and Olivier showcase original details such as the stone work and tiles, accenting the space with flea market finds and finely crafted textiles and objects from their travels. This particular home is very typical of the region, and they love the village they live in. They enjoy views of the church and watching the old men playing pétanque every day. Nestled amidst olive trees, lavender and rosemary bushes, the village has everything the couple needs: a school, a bakery, a butcher and a farmer’s market. Olivier is a fine artist specializing in landscape portraits. His inspiration, not surprisingly, comes from the views of the Cévennes Mountains. Thank you, Caroline and Olivier, and a special thanks to Fabien Barral, who fell in love with Caroline and Olivier’s home while pet sitting and sent us these lovely photos! — Shannon
Image above: “Caravane” sofa made with old northern African grain bags. The handwoven rug is also African.
Image above: Many of the things in this room are from local flea markets. The counter is made from concrete; we built it around an existing structure and added a pair of sinks we liked.

See more of Caroline & Olivier’s home after the jump . . .
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
How To Be Happy In Business
How To Be Happy In Business Venn Diagram by Budd Cadell.

(via Craig)
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
seven months!
Avery turned seven months old yesterday!

I picked up this hat at a Gap Outlet yesterday and couldn’t resist using it as this month’s “prop”. It is ridiculous and I love it.

This last month has been a developmental explosion (as other parents told us it would be) and it’s been so fun to watch Avery eagerly try new foods, wiggle across the floor (she currently prefers the worm move) and attempt to stick her entire foot in her mouth.

I think she might also be working on a first tooth, as sleep these last few nights has been a little rough.

(Mmm, coffee.)

Good thing she’s pretty sinkin’ cute.

Oh, and thank you all for the feedback on highchairs from our six month post. We used Laura’s Albee Baby tip and scored a Stokke Tripp Trapp for $180 (with no tax and free shipping!). I’m still on the fence whether to pay another $70 for the baby set. So far we’ve just been using the included harness which seems to be ok (though she does slouch a bit to one side if she’s tired). I might keep an eye on Craigslist as I’ve seen them pop up from time to time. Thoughts?

One last thing – did you read this blog post about work-at-home moms? Even though Avery is still little and on a (somewhat) predictable schedule, it’s a topic that I’ve been thinking more and more about lately. I know we’ll need to tweak our current set-up as she gets older and it’s good to know that others are asking for help.
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
A simple, yet stylish grey bedroom. Love the mirrored "barn door". Photography by Jody Kivort.
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
Toasted Oat and Coconut Muesli
I always welcome an opportunity to change my mind.  Is that actually a true statement?  Not exactly.  I can be hard-headed.  Let’s talk about muesli.

I’d always categorized muesli in the part of my brain that tolerates both cold oatmeal and mushy bread.  It’s a very tiny part of my back-brain that I generally ignore.

I love granola, but we all know that granola is easy to love.  It’s the sexy/crunchy/toasty version of oats and nuts.  Add chocolate to granola and it’s like eating oat candy.  Muesli makes you work for it.  It’s not sugared or overly sexy.  Muesli makes you accept its simplicity and actually be grateful for it.  Grateful for simplicity.

Wait… did a breakfast cereal just teach me lessons about life?  I think so… that was awesome.

Muesli is a traditional Swiss breakfast.  It’s usually made with uncooked oats and dried fruit and is served with milk, cream, or even orange juice.  In this version of muesli we’re toasting both the oats and the coconut.  The coconut is golden and fragrant.  Toasting the oats brings out their nutty flavor.  It’s just an extra layer of flavor.  You know… no biggie.

I like to add a touch of sweetness and spice to everything.  Why not… it’s just a touch.  Dried cranberries and candied ginger add a lovely sweetness.  Cinnamon and nutmeg bring in the spice.  Dry roasted almonds add crunch and chia seeds are for health.

I told you about chia seeds before with this Spinach and Kiwi Smoothie.  They’re especially good in this muesli because they thicken as they’re exposed to liquid.  Perfect.

All of the dry ingredients are tossed together in a bowl and …. that’s it.

It looks like a soft version of granola.

You’ll make this and stand in front of the bowl thinking… that’s it.  Sometimes it’s weird when things are easy.

Let’s talk about serving the muesli.  You’ll need a bit of advanced notice.  Muesli needs some time to soak.  It’s best to soak muesli for at least 2 hours or overnight.

You’ll need as much muesli as you think you’ll eat, a handful of frozen blueberries, and enough almond milk to cover the whole situation.  Easy!

I like to use frozen blueberries because I like how juicy they are as they thaw.  They’re a bit soft after the freezing and thawing process and that’s perfect in this preparation.

If you have time to pour almond milk into a jar before you fly out of the house in the morning, you have time for a real-life, super cheap, totally healthy breakfast.  Game changer, right!?

I was fully prepared to be completely eh on this whole muesli situation.  I didn’t think cold oats could surprise me, and yet… they totally did.  This milky concoction is hearty and completely satisfying.  The oats drink up the almond milk and become tender and soft.  The dried fruit plumps.  The almonds maintain their crunch.  The blueberries thaw and tint the milk a pale purple.  I added a drizzle of maple syrup just before serving and enjoyed every bite like it was the last bite of perfectly soggy cold cereal in sweet milk.

Such a welcome surprise.  This really ought to teach me to be less hard-headed.  Next I think I’ll make myself like eggplant.  And… go!


Toasted Oat and Coconut Muesli

recipe adapted from Food52

Print this Recipe!

4 cups old-fashioned oats

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (if all you have is sweetened coconut, that’s fine too)

1 cup coarsely chopped dry roasted almonds

1 cup dried cranberries (or any dried fruit you like)

1 cup coarsely chopped candied ginger

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

To Serve:

frozen blueberries

cold almond milk

pure maple syrup

Place two racks in the center and upper third of the oven.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place oats on an ungreased and unlined baking sheet.  Place coconut on a second ungreased and unlined baking sheet.  Toast oats and coconut until coconut is golden brown and fragrant, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Coconut browns quickly, keep an eye on it.  Remove both the oats and coconut from the oven and allow to cool.

In a large bowl toss together oats, coconut, dried cranberries, chia seeds, spices and salt.  That’s it.  Just toss it all together.  To store, place in airtight jars or a well sealed plastic bag.

Prepare muesli the night before, or at least a few hours before you’d like to serve it.  To serve, scoop desired amount of muesli into a bowl.  Top with a handful of frozen blueberries.  Pour almond milk over the muesli and blueberries just to cover the blueberries.  Cover and place in the fridge overnight, or for at least 2 hours.  When ready to serve, drizzle with pure maple syrup and enjoy.  
Breakfast  Fruit  Gluten-Free  Healthy  Nuts  Recipes  Vanilla  Vegan  almond_milk  coconut  featured  oats  recipe  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Office in a Box
If you have a small space or are just lacking an office I made a post for you. It seems like a "Blank in a box week" with our remote in a box post yesterday and today I have an Office in a Box post over on I Heart Organizing.

Office in a box: 

If you have a second pop over to I Heart Organizing this afternoon for an office in a box. I LOVE small space organization and this is something that I think can work for everyone, whether you have a small space or a large one! :)

Make sure to check back this afternoon to see if you won our Made by Maru Giveaway!!!
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
Coconut Quinoa Granola
I can’t put a finger on exactly when I became aware of quinoa. It wasn’t on our dinner table when I was a kid, but I remember eating it once or twice when I was in college (the dining hall served it occasionally, but they had not yet figured out how best to cook it during my years eating there). However, by the time I had moved to Philadelphia and was cooking for myself, it was one of my staples.

I’ve gone through several hot and heavy periods with quinoa. There was the phase in mid-2004 when I ate garlicky Swiss chard, homemade turkey burgers, and steamed quinoa for dinner at least twice a week. I’ve also eaten a great deal of a dish my sister dreamed up and calls “Bean-wa, Green-wa, Quinoa.” It consists of a can of garbanzo beans, some sautéed kale, a jar of Trader Joe’s Masala Simmer Sauce and a couple cups of cooked quinoa. It’s incredibly easy and fast, particularly if you have leftover quinoa.

When Scott and I had our potluck wedding in 2009, three different people brought quinoa salads. When people ask us what kind of wedding we had, sharing that tidbit typically paints a picture. It’s funny what a cultural indicator quinoa has become.

These days, we eat quinoa a few times a month in salads, soups or under juicy braised dishes. I love it dearly, both for its grassy flavor and the fact that it cooks so quickly. I do grapple with some guilty feelings around eating quinoa, since global demand has made its price too dear for the Bolivians who have long eaten it as their staple foodstuff. I know that I’m part of that problem, but I also know if I were to give up quinoa, my individual act would be invisible in the larger picture. There’s no perfect answer.

A few months back, I got a review copy of Camilla V. Saulsbury’s book 500 Best Quinoa Recipes. I left it on the stack for a while as I struggled with my quinoa guilt, but finally picked it up a few weeks back for a quick browse. Immediately I found a number of recipes that appealed to me. I used up half a pad of little sticky notes marking breakfast bakes, waffle mixes, energy bites, muffins, quick breads and salads.

Once I was finished flipping through the book, I hopped up and headed to the kitchen to make a batch of the Coconut Oat Quinoa Granola that’s on page 36 (I had all the ingredients and was curious what toasted rather than steamed quinoa would taste like).

I followed the recipe fairly closely and only made a few tweaks (I reduced the coconut oil by half, left out the dried fruit and added a little salt). The finished product is terrific. It’s deeply coconut-y, with lots of crunch from the bits of quinoa. It clumped nicely and it good with yogurt or eaten in clusters as a snack. I will definitely make this one again.

Note: I left out the dried fruit from the finished granola because I recently discovered that the moisture content in raisins, apricots and the like can end up making granola soggy over time. These days, instead of stirring it all into a batch once it has cooled, I add a palmful of dried fruit to a bowl just before eating. It keeps the granola crunchy and ensures that I get just the amount of fruit that I want.


Coconut Quinoa Granola

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup quinoa
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
3/4 cup slivered almonds
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed
1/2 cup brown rice syrup (you can also use honey, but I liked what the brown rice syrup did in this recipe)Instructions
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine oats, quinoa, coconut, almonds, and cardamom in a large bowl.
Measure coconut oil in a 1-cup measuring cup. Swirl it around and then pour over dry ingredients.
Using the same, unwashed measuring cup, portion out the brown rice syrup and pour it into the bowl (the coconut oil residue will help the syrup slide out of the cup easily).
Stir until all the ingredients are well-combined.
Scrape mixture out onto the prepared pan and spread out evenly.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring 2-3 times during baking. The granola is done when it appears to be uniformly toasted.
Let granola cool completely before moving. Once it is cool, break it apart and store in an airtight container.
Recipe adapted from 500 Best Quinoa Recipes by Camilla V. Saulsbury.
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Related Posts:

Preserves in Action: Five-Ingredient Fruit Butter Granola
Homemade Granola for a Bake Sale
baking  500_Best_Quinoa_Recipes  Coconut_Quinoa_Granola  granola  Quinoa  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Pint sized Pinterest Challenge
Followers on Instagram and Facebook knew that we had some very special visitors last weekend…

Yes, our dear friends John & Sherry Petersik had their final book signing in Atlanta on the 7th of this month.  Let’s just say that I considered it a birthday present a couple days late because having Sher come see me is the best gift ever.  This friend is one amazing girl.  I love her like a sister.  And I am so so proud of her.   All that to say, John & Sherry’s first book came out.  It’s amazing.  If you don’t have it, you need to buy it now.

And just like the other million point million fans, I couldn’t wait to get my photo with them behind the signing table.  I couldn’t wait to be their front row cheerleader.  And I really couldn’t wait for them to meet baby Weston.  We did all that and much much more over the weekend.  I’ll tell ya about it soon…I promise.  The one thing I do wanna tell you is that while we were doing our Bower-Petersik fest, we decided it was high time for another big announcement…

Freakishly cute. I’m totally not biased…it is just a fact. I can’t wait to hear them say their vows one day

I’ve very excited to agree with our pint-sized bundles of energy – the Pinterest Challenge Winter edition is here!  Motivation is right in front of us!  Let’s get something done!

For those of you that are new to the scene, the Pinterest Challenge is really REALLY simple.  Basically it’s just a little accountability to get something done.  Here’s some of the details on how we do it…

Like the tikes said – pick your Pinspiration project.  Do your own spin.  Blog about it.  Celebrate!
In your blog post, we ask pretty please for everyone to share the link love!  Link to the Pinterest item, the ORIGINAL source of the inspiration photo on Pinterest, and it would be soo nice if you also linked to the four Pinterest Challenge hosts below (you have no idea how much we appreciate the linkage love too!)
Linky Party at the Bower House!  Each host has the option to linky party – so if you blogged about your project, link up with us too so that we can all see your completed projects and we can share it to our readers.
Have fun!  No matter what the project is – it can be small, big, super-sized, seasonal, decorative, cooking, crafty – anything goes…just as long as it “Pinned then Spinned” you can consider us fans!

And now to introduce you to the other beautiful cohosts…

Yes indeed…our cohosts rock….here they are…

Megan from The Remodeled Life

Sherry from Young House Love

Michelle from Decor & The Dog

I have no idea what I am tackling yet but I know that getting ANYTHING done will be a huge huge thing.  So I’ll see you back here in one week to share what we tackled!


p.s.  I added a little button on the sidebar that gives you a glimpse into past projects and you can see all the gorgeous girls that have cohosted in the past.  Hopefully there will be many many more in the years to come
Uncategorized  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
How Does Google Glass Feel
Really fantastic video showing what Google Glass feels like. Truly wonderful to see an experience through someone else’s point of view.
gadgets  videos  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Non-Consumer Mish-Mash — Library Opinions, Non-Consumer Advocate Book Club and How to Darn Socks

Darning illustration from The Zero Waste Home.

It’s time again for Non-Consumer Mish-Mash, where I write a little bit about this and a little bit about that.

Talking Smack About Libraries

British children’s author, Terry Deary recently stirred up some controversy with some rather odd views about the current role of libraries.

“We’ve got this idea that we’ve got an entitlement to read books for free, at the expense of authors, publishers and council tax payers. This is not the Victorian age, when we wanted to allow the impoverished access to literature. We pay for compulsory schooling to do that.”

At the “expense of authors?” Does he think that all library readers would automatically buy his books if it weren’t for libraries? Does he not realize that those library copies were bought in the first place, and that book buyers often discover authors and decide to buy books after reading library copies?!

What a gassbag!

Click HERE to read the full article.

Click HERE to read my Love Letter to the Belmont Branch Library.


Non-Consumer Advocate Book Club in Full Swing!

Did you know there’s a Non-Consumer Advocate book group? They’re currently discussing Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial Indepenence, by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin.

It’s awesome book, which I highly recommend!

The book club is run by Crystal, a Non-Consumer Advocate reader and is happening over at the Facebook Group.

Come join in!


A Great Tutorial for How to Darn!

I am a fan of darning my family’s socks when they find the lord. (Get holey.) And even though readers have asked for a tutorial, I’ve never quite gotten around to it. Luckily, other people are better about these things than I am. For example, Bea from The Zero Waste Home.

Click HERE for a great sock darning tutorial, complete with illustration.

And Ms. Bea Johnson is coming out with a Zero Waste Home book next month, and I’ll be hosting a giveaway for five, count ‘em, five books!

You are some lucky readers.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

Non-Consumer_Mish-Mash  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Home is where the tonic is
I’ve had a few requests to go back in time, to my previous life. Why not?

Before I was a writer, I was a musician, including 15 years as a music professor. I conducted a college orchestra, composed and arranged music, and taught music history and music theory. Once in a while someone will ask if I miss it. I really don’t. I enjoyed it, then had enough.

There’s one exception: I never tired of thinking and talking about music, especially how it does what it does. I do miss that. It’s like magic, the fact that pitches arranged through time and bumping and grinding against each other can make me feel happy or sad, scared or triumphant. Except it’s not magic. I know how it works.

I’d ask my theory students to bring in CDs of music they liked, and we’d start each class by listening to that for a minute or two. I’d ask what was going on in the music, what was making the emotion happen. For the first few days of the year, the freshmen would point to the lyrics, every time. I weaned them off of that by week two. Lyrics are window dressing. Good lyrics can enhance the emotion, but they’re almost never the root of it. Take the saddest song you know, put polka music under the words, and watch what happens to the emotion. Elton John broke the mold on this technique when he takes these lyrics…

I’m getting bored being part of mankind
There’s not a lot to do no more
This race is a waste of time
People rushing everywhere, swarming ’round like flies
Think I’ll buy a .44
Give ‘em all a surprise

Think I’m gonna kill myself

…and puts them over an upbeat honky-tonk piano.

But take a heartbreaking song, keep the music the same and change the lyrics to la la la… and most of the time it’ll still break your heart.

A lot of the emotion in music comes from the skillful use of dissonance and consonance, tension and release. But the best composers also know how to toy with one of our most deep-seated narratives — the quest for home.

It’s a quest that’s laced into every human culture. Think of Odysseus wandering the Mediterranean in search of Ithaca, the children of Israel in search of the land of milk and honey, even the idea of humanity working its way back to Eden.

Films that aren’t beating the dead horse of unrequited love often return to the story of the search for, or return to, or loss of, home. Think of Gone with the Wind, The Trip to Bountiful, Apollo 13, Cast Away, all three Toy Story films (especially 2), Planet of the Apes…. And the two films that elevated home-lust to a fine art –- The Wizard of Oz and E.T.

Music mines the same ground. Composers establish the idea of home, then take you away and tempt you with the promise of return, measure by measure, phrase by phrase, and over the course of a full composition.

Music has several ways to establish an emotional home. The tonic pitch (or keynote) is one of them, and the harmony (or chord) built on that note is another. If you’re in the key of F, then F is home. Sing with me:

Hap-py Birth-day to you
Hap-py Birth-day to you
Hap-py Birth-day dear Sally
Hap-py Birth-day to…

Aack. Unsettling, isn’t it? And not just because a word is missing. It’s unresolved because the missing last note is the tonic, the arrival. It’s home:


Two notes in the scale are most important: the tonic, which is home, and the dominant, which is a big neon arrow pointing to home. In “Amazing Grace,” the first two notes are dominant and tonic, respectively:

A-ma-(zing grace)…

See how the first pitch points to the second, and how the second feels like home, the center of the tonal universe? There’s a cool reason for that I won’t get into now. But you can feel it, can’t you? First there’s the promise of home, then the promise is fulfilled. That’s grace for you.

If I were playing “Amazing Grace” on the piano, I’d be playing chords, and most of the chords would be the tonic chord, built on that tonic pitch, and the dominant chord, built on the dominant pitch. If the key is F, the tonic chord is F-A-C, and the dominant chord is C-E-G. So now there are two ways to promise home, and two ways to be home: the melody and the harmony. And composers can do wonders by promising home, then fulfilling, delaying, or denying that promise, or fulfilling it in the melody but denying it in the harmony, and on and on.

No surprise that Phillip Phillips’ song “Home” plays with the idea of home. In the second verse, for example (“Settle down, it’ll all be clear”), the melody floats up above the tonic while the harmony is on the tonic. But when the melody drops down to the tonic home (“trouble it might drag you DOWN”), the harmony moves away from home. It’s cat and mouse. Melody and harmony don’t both find home at the same time until a strong downbeat on…what word?

I’m gonna make this place your HOME.

Not a coincidence.

There’s a moment in Tim Minchin’s “White Wine in the Sun” that always makes me choke up. Yes, the lyrics are wonderful, but it’s the way he underpins them musically that closes the deal. This song is about home too, and being away from it, and coming back — perfect for this device. The part that always gets me is, “I’ll be seeing my dad, my brother and sisters, my gran and my mum.” Start around 1:25 and listen for about 20 seconds:

The melody on “gran and my mum” is a straight walk home in the melody — Bb-A-G-F. He could have gone home in the harmony at the same time, and it looks for a while like he will. “My brother and sisters” is all dominant, pointing straight to home. If he’d gone home to the tonic harmony on “mum”, it would have sounded like this:

But he didn’t do that…because that would suck. Instead, he did something nuanced and wonderful:

It’s called a secondary dominant, a kind of momentary harmonic trap door into another key. You think he’s headed for home (F), which is of course the whole message of the song. The melody does head for home (Bb-A-G-F, “gran and my mum”), but the harmony under it sidesteps through A major to d minor. The result is an unfulfilled yearning for home. It also happens every time he says “me and your mum” and “make you feel safe in this world.”

It’s made even more effective because he stretches the measure by a beat each time he says “me and your mum.” Then, at 5:20-5:26, “your brothers and sisters, your aunts and your uncles, your grandparents, cousins” is one long, beautiful, building phrase extension on the dominant, all pointing toward home (F), then resolving home in the melody but again, not in the harmony on “me and your mum (5:27-5:30) will be waiting for you in the sun.” And I cry.

Knowing why it works doesn’t diminish the impact a bit. It just adds a deep sense of wonder over what music can do.

I’ll throw one of these into the mix once in a while. I do miss it.
music  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Printable letters for party banners
HP has a big library of printable files, including these letters and numbers you can print and string to make banners. Nothing says "I love you" like using up an entire ink cartridge on someone you care about.

(Or use the smart tip Krysalia left in the comments on this post: get the letters printed by a photo service. Twenty 4x6 prints might only cost you $2-$3.)
printable  entertaining  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Heart Books
photo credit

Back when the book blogosphere was young, we would dream up lists of questions to ask each other, which would then do the rounds in true chain letter style. Being, as most bibliophiles are, an introspective, word-y type of person, I loved these. But there was one question that always troubled me: “What is a book that has changed your life?”

Now. Reading has certainly changed my life. Certain authors have done much to shape my beliefs. But a specific title, altering the course of my existence? I never had an answer, and I secretly worried that this lack meant something, something about whether books were truly powerful for me.

I have grown older, and more secure, since those days, and I no longer trouble myself over whether I’m a ‘real’ reader. I also now take a less literal view of that question. In spirit at least, I believe it’s asking “What is a book that has touched your soul?” And I have many such heart books, as I think of them.

Allow me to share one with you. Jane Austen’s Emma became a heart book for me in the fall of 2008, when I was twenty-two. My life, that I had so meticulously planned since I was seventeen, was beginning to derail, and I had no idea why. I burst into tears at least five times a day, and despite all of my outward signs of success and a promising future, inside I felt hopeless. So I turned to Austen, and Emma’s story suddenly became my own. Here was a young woman, just about my age, who also thought she had everything figured out, only to have her world turned upside down. The harder she tried to fix things, the more she seemed to mess things up. Emma’s fall from grace and her eventual recovery of it soothed the large part of me that was terrified I would destroy my entire future if I didn’t figure everything out right now. Austen’s gentle, loving portrayal of Emma allowed me to see myself in a kinder light. That was a profound gift, and ever since Emma has had a place in my heart.

All of this came to mind because I’m in the middle of a heart book right now: Sara Maitland’s From the Forest (also published as Gossip From the Forest). It’s a book I connected with in an instant, from a visceral place, and I now find myself reading just a chapter at a time to prolong the experience. It is teaching me truths about myself, truths I already half-knew but couldn’t quite articulate. It’s also breaking my heart, as I currently live in a forest-less land, but it’s worth it.

In the spirit of nostalgia, I’d like to ask all of you to name a heart book, either in comments here or on your own blog (do leave a link in the comments so I can come read your post). Pass it along, chain letter style, and let’s embrace those books that resonate with our truest, deepest selves. I know they can be difficult to talk about (I actually didn’t mention the one book that has most literally changed my life; perhaps in another few years I’ll be ready), because of course claiming a book as soul-touching bares at least a bit of your most vulnerable self to the world. Yet I believe that the much of magic of book blogging lies in that combination of the literary with the personal, and that we have built a community that is supportive enough for that to take place. I look forward to hearing your stories.
Bookish_Musings  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Vie de papa: Eliot – 2 mois
Déjà 2 mois avec mon bel amour! Beaucoup trop de plaisir et de bonheur depuis qu’il s’est joint à nous. Comment ne pas être complètement gaga de ce petit bout d’homme qui évolue si rapidement? Dimanche, nous l’avons pesé et mesuré. 60 centimètres et 12 livres et 13 onces. Je vous rappelle qu’il est né [...]
Vie_de_papa  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Motherhood Mondays: A lullaby that actually works
Which lullabies do you sing to your child? We recently started singing one that works like magic...
Read More >
personal  motherhood  toby  motherhood_mondays  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Weekend Links
I’m in love: A No Sew Teepee

This girl? Genius.

Kristen created a budget friendly flush mount.

Frame a tea towel like Emily

My husband wrote about Freedom and Choices at Boy Dads

PS, I did a little Podcast with Tsh, if you are doing something and need something to listen to as you pass the time, click on over.

Also, I’m totally stealing this from Tsh, I saw it at her place, enjoy the laugh


Freshen up your home this year with Jeanne Winter's encouraging art.
bird_watching  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Oreo Truffles: Three Ways
Today really isn’t one of those holidays I get terribly excited for. I do like the idea of showing people extra love, but I prefer spontaneous surprises on ordinary days. The kids enjoy Valentine’s Day so I spend most of my energy making them feel special, however I will accept any  excuse to whip up delicious chocolate treats and this year it was Oreo truffles.

My cousin Stephanie introduced me to these over the Christmas holiday when she brought them to the Christmas Eve gathering. I declared I’d never tasted anything more heavenly and she told me they were Oreo truffles. I had never heard of Oreo truffles before, perhaps I’ve been living under a rock but apparently they’re as All American as Dairy Queen and here I had no idea. But their deliciousness haunted me and I decided to whip up a batch of them, using Valentine’s Day as an excuse to indulge – I also gave them a little something extra with a few ingredients.


The recipe is one of the simplest, have you made them before?  All you need is a bag of Oreo cookies, a package of cream cheese, and some melted chocolate. The recipe can be found here, and to make them you need these:

First grind the entire package of cookies to a powder in a food processer.


Add the package of cream cheese and pulse until you have a soft dough like substance. It’s okay to nibble a bit at this time, you have my full permission.
Melt the chocolate chips or chocolate squares in the microwave on medium heat, stirring every 30-45 seconds. Make little balls and smother them in melted chocolate.

I found it was easier to spoon the melted chocolate over the top instead of rolling the cookie balls directly in the chocolate since they’re prone to crumbling.

And I got a little creative. In one batch, I placed a maraschino cherry in the center, surprise!


In the other two batches I added two other favorite toppings.  First, coconut!  Yes, I’m a lover not a fighter when it comes to coconut and chocolate together.


And a little toffee crunch with some crushed Heath Bar – a match made in heaven.


Refrigerate for an hour and you’ll have some divine treats very difficult to resist!


Happy Valentine’s Day everyone – more than anything, it’s a great day for chocolate!!




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Oreo Truffles: Three Ways is a post from Centsational Girl Republishing this article in full or in part is a violation of copyright law. © 2009-2013, all rights reserved.
Foodies  oreo_truffles  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Sugar Cookies
We are giving up sweets for Lent here, but I made these last week just to get our pre-Lenten fix.

Here is our favorite recipe:

1 cup white sugar

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup butter

2 eggs

1/2 corn oil

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp baking soda

4 cups flour

Cream together first six ingredients and gradually add the flour, tartar and soda.

Refrigerate for an hour until firm.

Roll out onto floured surface and punch out with cookie cutters. (We like thick ones!)

Bake at 375 degrees for 7-9 minutes (watch carefully for the right timing-just lightly browned on edges) on greased cookie sheets.

For the frosting:

3 cups powdered sugar

6 TBS butter

1 TBS vanilla extract

2 TBS milk

food coloring 

Adjust for thickness, adding a little more milk if necessary.
recipes  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Ce que je déteste de la maternité
La mortOu plutôt, l'éventualité que la mort me fauche un enfant. Ou pire, les deux. Cette mort que je ne craignais pas auparavant me donne des nausées quand j'y pense aujourd'hui. Sans compter la possibilité que moi, je meure. Depuis que je suis mère, j'ai compris qu'il me fallait être immortelle pour de nombreuses années. J'ai laissé tomber mes projets de saut en parachute, je porte un casque quand je fais du vélo, je ne texte jamais au volant, je coupe mes raisins en deux pour éviter l'étouffement. On n'est jamais trop prudent.La maladieCelle qui me fait dormir dans une chaise berçante, les bras chargés d'un petit paquet d'amour fiévreux et incapable de gérer sa douleur sans la présence réconfortante de maman; celle qui m'oblige à laver des tout petits draps trois fois dans la journée parce que l'odeur de vomissure y est imprégnée; celle qui me fait attendre des heures à l'urgence entourée de gens, sans doute attentionnés, qui n'ont pas l'air de comprendre qu'un enfant malade n'a pas envie de faire des guilis-guilis avec des inconnus; celle qui me fait me ronger les ongles d'inquiétude et me donne des migraines d'impuissance. Cette maladie, du petit rhume désagréable à la crise d'allergie paniquante, qui gruge mon énergie et s'attaque férocement à mon propre système immunitaire, elle me fait royalement chier.L'hypersensibilitéL'incapacité d'écouter le bulletin de nouvelles. Les absences prolongées des réseaux sociaux quand il y est question mur à mur d'une actualité qui me déchire le coeur. Les moments où j'ai l'air d'une folle, assise dans mon salon à répéter inlassablement «ben non, ben non, ben NON», parce que j'écoute de superbes émissions du point de vue artistique, mais qui abordent des sujets qui me donne mal au ventre. Cette fois où j'ai pleuré avec Bébé fille qui se faisait recoudre le front à l'hôpital; cette autre fois où j'ai versé des larmes avec Bébé fiston qui répétait en pleurant maman en frottant ses petits bras couverts de plaques rouges boursouflées et brûlantes. Toutes les fois où je pense avec fierté à mes deux petits monstres qui deviennent chaque jour des êtres plus bons et généreux. Et puis, cet instant où j'ai compris que les montages photo/vidéo d'accouchement, accompagnés d'une petite musique douce, ne m'apparaitraient plus jamais quétaines...La conciliation travail-familleLa course, le matin, pour être à l'heure. Répéter sans cesse vite. Vite, mange tes céréales. Vite, enfile ton chandail. Vite, brosse tes dents. Vite, mets tes bottes. Vite, assied-toi dans la voiture. La course, le soir, au retour à la maison. Le souper, la vaisselle, le bain, les histoires, le dodo. Vouloir à la fois stopper le temps pour qu'ils ne grandissent pas trop vite, mais leur pousser constamment dans le dos pour ne pas être en retard. Vouloir passer un maximum de temps avec eux, mais être incapable de rester à la maison à temps plein. Avoir envie de s'investir corps et âme dans leur éducation, mais ne pas négliger pour autant la carrière qui contribue, elle aussi, au bonheur. Jongler avec les horaires, prévoir à la seconde près, rentabiliser les déplacements. Gérer deux business: le boulot et la famille. Acheter du cache-cerne en caisse de 24.La culpabilitéCelle qu'on se fait lancer en plein visage à grands coups d'études se contredisant, de commentaires désobligeants et de situations impliquant des gens qui ne savent pas se mêler de leurs affaires et une maman. Celle qu'on s'auto-afflige pour tout et pour rien: parce qu'on a risqué notre immortalité maternelle en prenant la route malgré la tempête de neige ou en oubliant de couper nos raisins en deux; parce que le petit a assurément chopé ses otites par notre faute, mère indigne qui l'a laissé à la garderie avec un peu de morve au nez; parce qu'on a perdu patience trop vite et qu'on pense avoir puni trop fort; parce qu'on a fini plus tard que prévu au travail et que la course du soir s'en trouve plus effrénée que jamais; parce qu'on s'en veut de se sentir coupable pour tout et pour rien.Les petits désagréments du quotidienMettre le pied sur le coin d'un bloc Lego à 4 heures du matin. Devoir changer de petites culottes après un éternuement. Constater qu'il n'y a plus de lait à 22h. Poser la main sur une crotte de nez gentiment déposée là par la plus grande. Changer une couche qui a débordé. Manger froid. Manger équilibré alors qu'on a juste envie d'une grosse poutine. Chercher la télécommande ou le téléphone. Les trouver, pleins de bave, dans une craque du divan. Et, malgré tout ça, les aimer plus que tout au monde, nos enfants.
en_vrac  maternité  moi  féminité  sommeil  boulot  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Families in Small Homes: Brooke from Slow Your Home
This is the third in a series on families living a bit smaller in home size and/or possessions. You can read about Britt and her RV quest for the a new hometown for her family of four here and about Jules’s choice to have only have items with a purpose or memory in her home here. Want to share your story of downsizing or right-sizing with us? Email me at the minimalist mom at gmail dot com.

Today: Brooke from Slow Your Home. In Brooke’s words she’s an: Aspiring Minimalist. Blissful Gardener. Frequent Swearer. Passionate Writer. Inappropriate Laugher. Shit-Hot Dancer. Sometimes Exaggerator. Gin Drinker. On a Mission: To slow the hell down.

Tell us about your home and the people that live there.

I live in the Blue Mountains, just outside of Sydney, Australia. Home is a renovated cottage in the suburbs shared with my husband, Ben, and our two kids – Isla, 3 and Toby, 2. We also have a dog and three chickens.

The house itself is a 4-bedder, with en-suite and main bath, family room and a combined living/dining/kitchen space. It’s by no means small but it allows us to entertain (which we do a lot of) and means the kids have options when the weather is either excessively hot or cold and wet.  Plus, I can still vacuum the majority of the house while using just one power outlet – so it’s definitely not enormous!

I read that you decided to renovate and expand your home when you got pregnant with your second child. Now that you’ve pared down your possessions do you look at that decision differently?

You know, I was terrified of this question when I first read it. I was scared of what my answer may reveal – that we over-capitalised, that we fell for the myth of ‘bigger is better’, that we have more space than we need.

But the truth was the original house was too small for a family of four. It had two tiny bedrooms, no space for the kids to play, was poorly insulated and uncomfortable in both summer and winter. But we bought it because it was in a suburb we loved, close to family, close to good schools and close enough to the railway station that we could avoid buying a second car. So extending was the only option if we wanted to stay in the same place.

If it was up to me now, we would still make the same changes. The only difference is – since paring back and embracing a simpler life – we now have much more white space. Things feel calm, everything has its place and it feels like the haven we had hoped for.

What’s next for your family? I know you have ambitions to do some long term slow travel. 

Ben and I traveled a lot before we were married and we’re in the midst of plotting out our long-term travel plans right now. We definitely would like to live abroad in a few different places – taking time to live like locals and soak up the culture. We’re thinking a six-month stint in a few different places will be the way to go – namely Canada (the Rockies specifically), Thailand and Spain.

But it’s a delicate balance to strike between going while the kids are young and avoiding the complications of school transfers etc, but them being old enough to benefit from it. Plus there’s the issue of, you know, earning a living.

Most likely we will take a few shorter trips over the next year or two and then head off into the world come 2015/16.

Name three things that make you happy.

Just three?! I’ll give it a shot…

Gardening. Having my hands in the soil, coaxing seeds into plants, soaking up the sunshine and showing our kids where their food actually comes from brings me so much pleasure. It’s the ultimate exercise in mindfulness and a wonderful escape.

Snow. Growing up in Australia I didn’t see snow until I was 22 and working in Canada. Even after six months I marveled at it every day.

Curling up at the end of a long day, having a red wine with Ben or reading a good book.
Families_in_Small_Homes_Series  minimalist_with_kids  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Devon And Melissa’s Tiny House
I have been holding on to this one for a while and finally had some time to get the video up.  This is a really neat house in Alaska that is quite a nice size, but also not your typical tiny house.  I like their shelves that double as a stairway to the top floor for their sleeping loft.  It’s quite a cozy little place nestled in the wilderness.
Tiny_House  alaska  cobin  small_house  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
This Week in Deconstructing Dinners
Probably when most people spy a book like Jeanne Kelley’s Salad for Dinner at the bookstore or in their library they pick it up and think Mmmm, this looks nice and healthy. Or: I could afford to shake up the Romaine routine. My first thought? A veritable treasure trove of potentially deconstructable dinners. True, I can look at almost any meal and envision how it can break down into child-friendly, nothing-touching, no-green-speck meals to please the sauce-o-thropes at the table. (Soup works, so does a pot roast.) But salads have got to be the most conducive. And if ever there were a cure for the parents who cannot seem to find common ground between their craving for The Way They Used to Eat and their toddler’s Craving for White Pasta…it’s this book. Kelley’s recipes take you far beyond the barren world of tomato-and-bagged-lettuce salads into the promised land of hearty, healthy, grain-rich, colorful, incredibly flavorful masterpieces you’d serve to any dinner guest — Seared Salmon with Quinoa, Asparagus, and Spinach; Thai Style Grilled Beef Salad; Toasted Barley, Long Bean, and Shitake Mushroom Salad with Tofu. And yet, very few of them seem out of reach. I opened the book during breakfast, found this jackpot Indonesian Chicken Salad recipe below and realized I had every single thing I needed to get it together for that night. Maybe you do, too.


Indonesian Pineapple, Chicken and Spicy Peanut Salad
Adapted from Salad for Dinner, by Jeanne Kelley
The peanut dressing is what ups the wow factor here, but it’s definitely spicy, so if you are worried about that with the kids, I’d limit the Sriracha to about a teaspoon. Also, Kelley instructs roasting the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet along with 1/4 cup of water then tented with foil. (About 40 minutes at 375°F.) I usually poach, but was curious about her method and found it to be much easier. The chicken (bone-in breasts) ended up incredibly tender and shred-friendly.

Spicy Peanut Dressing
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons (packed) brown sugar
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 large garlic clove, pressed

8 cups thinly sliced cabbage (from about 1 medium head)
1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into strips as shown above
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 pound shredded cooked chicken breast (see note above)
1/2 cup chopped roasted and salted peanuts
lime wedges

In a large bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients. Season with salt to taste. Add the cabbage, pineapple, carrots, red pepper, scallions, cilantro, and chicken and toss to combine. Serve sprinkled with peanuts and a squeeze of lime juice.

If you are deconstructing this salad for kids: Whisk dressing in a separate small bowl and serve separately from salad. (Or in a little dipping bowl, as shown above.) Instead of tossing all the salad ingredients together, place each one in its own clump in a wide shallow bowl, have the kids pick what they want, then proceed to toss for the normal people.

Last year, I couldn’t walk into a food editor’s office without seeing Jeanne Kelley’s book right on the very top of their cookbook pile with post-its sticking out of every side. I don’t know what took me so long to get my own copy, but I have a feeling I’m going to be using it a LOT.
Chicken_and_Turkey  Dinner  Sides_Salads_Soup  Deconstructed_Dinner  Healthy_dinners_for_kids  indonesian_chicken_salad_with_spicy_peanut_sauce  jeanne_kelley_salad_for_dinner  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Whatever You Do, Just Don’t Call it Time Out, Right?
Time out has been a fickle friend.  From its initial burst onto the scene it was a positive alternative to corporeal punishment.  Hooray for time outs, right?

With time and popularity of a practice comes greater research and scrutiny and we’ve now learned that time outs may not be working and, in fact, may be counter-productive, engendering greater feelings of social isolation and rejection in children who most need to build social connections and competency.  Boo to time outs, right?

When we know better we do better.  What’s interesting to me, however, is when I come across parents and child care centers who are aware of the more current knowledge on time out and so they sort of, kind of change.

I’ve observed in classrooms where teachers proudly tell me they don’t use time outs.  Then they explain to me what they do instead — essentially time outs by another name.  The power chair.  Cubby time.  Taking a break.  I’m not saying all these things are wrong.  Many are being used in exactly the right way.  And others could maybe use some serious tweaking.  What I find interesting is that our focus has been on the name, and not so much on the practice.

Tools are about function.  Names are merely for convenience in referencing.  You can call a Phillip’s screwdriver an X-head if you like, as long as you know how to use it.

Time out is the same way.  We can use it inappropriately, shunning and shaming children, hoping to magically change their behavior simply by changing their location.  It doesn’t work.  So we use a different name.  But if the technique is the same, it doesn’t really matter.  It isn’t the name that prevents it from working, it’s the technique.

Similarly, if you’d like to use time out as a tool, in an effective way and with proper technique, by all means you can call it time out and not get the stink-eye from me or anyone else.

As I’ve mentioned before, time outs are for coaching, as the term implies.  You would never expect to see the coach of a professional basketball team call a time out when his team is performing poorly, only to shout “NO”, give stern looks, and then walk away from them as they waste away the remainder of the time out clock sitting in silence.

Watch seasoned coaches.  They call time outs to get their players out of a situation that has gotten out of control.  They give them a chance to calm down and catch their breath.  They look them right in the eye and let them know what’s not working and what they need to see instead.  They get input and create a plan.  And then they send them out again, watching closely to see if the new plan works.

If you’d like to use that time-out with your child, I dare say you’d get the blessing of even the biggest opponents of time outs.  It’s not about the name.  It’s about the level of connection and support.  It’s about giving kids the opportunities and the tools to be successful.  That doesn’t come from isolation or shame, it comes from practice and supported learning.

I’m getting ready to start my third session of my Parenting with Positive Guidance Ecourse, in fact, the first class “goes live” today!  The whole course is about principles, tools, and real world applications.  We don’t get bogged down in semantics and linguistic gymnastics, because it isn’t about terms, it’s about tools.  Using time outs appropriately is just one of the topics addressed.  Along with an overview of the philosophy of positive guidance, I share ten tools that will help guide child behavior in positive ways.  These are tools that are considered best practice by child development professionals and they are tools you can start using today.

I’d love to have you join me!  Registration has been extended through this weekend.  Head on over to the registration page and you can jump right into today’s class material.  Be sure to use the TEAM discount, and you can register for you and a partner for less than the cost of a single registration!  That’s because I believe real learning takes place when you discuss information together and support each other as you implement new tools.

Head on over and read what past participants have said.  You can also check out the money back guarantee and frequently asked questions.  I hope to see you in class!

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The post Whatever You Do, Just Don’t Call it Time Out, Right? appeared first on Not Just Cute.
Positive_Guidance_and_Social_Skills  ecourse  time_out  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Skuut Balance Bike
Balance bikes teach balance before pedaling. Learning to pedal is easy if you know how to balance. Learning balance is fairly easy, too. But learning them concurrently is hard. With a balance bike instead of a trike or a standard bike with training wheels, it’s much easier for a child to learn the balance, steering dynamics and handling required to ride a bike. My son, at 2 1/2, can go at least a mile on his Skuut bike, and is learning all the skills he’ll need, so that when I get him a normal bicycle, with pedals, he won’t need training wheels.

The design of a balance bike is brilliant—it’s actually similar to the design of the first bicycles (velocipedes) that had no drivetrains. The particular brand of a running or balance bike for kids is not of much concern. Cool Tools previously featured the Likeabike, which was imported from Europe and lovingly crafted, but notably expensive. You can find cheap $50 metal balance bikes these days, but we use the current wooden standard Skuut which is good enough quality for $85.

-- Elon Schoenholz
Skuut Balance Bike

Available from Amazon
Manufactured by Skuut
Autonomous_Motion  bikes  kids  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
How I wrote this book: the nitty-gritty
Alright, so I promised to give you a few more of the details behind the how of writing my recent book. It’s a great question, how to write a book, because on the one hand, you can simply open up a word processing document and start typing. On the other hand, there are a few things that’ll make the process a bit easier and more enjoyable.

Just like I already shared, I made my environment work in my favor as much as possible for working smart and not hard. I had our babysitter come as often as she could, Kyle rolled up his sleeves even more than usual and cooked most of the dinners, and I cleared my calendar to do almost nothing but write.

But I picked up on a few tricks of the trade that helped me, and I’d love to pass them on to you. Read on.

Evernote is my best book-writing friend.
Whenever I’d research quotes or statistics, I’d click on the Evernote Snipping Tool in my Chrome toolbar, and it’d immediately toss it into my Evernote file. I’d add tags to help me filter my stuff—I’d use things like “quote” or “stat,” and I’d also include the chapter number where I thought I’d need it.

Then, when it was time to work on that section, I’d simply open Evernote, and voila—there it was, waiting for me. Another helpful thing—Evernote timestamped my bookmarking, so when I needed to write the bibliography, I could easily reference when I accessed it.

A shout-out for Clearly.
Clearly is a little compendium to Evernote, and I love it. It’s another extension for Chrome, and when you click it, it slides away all the needless clutter and gives you a beautiful thing to read. If you get annoyed by ads, sidebar flashies, and general clutter on a site that otherwise has great content, you’d love Clearly. So helpful when I needed to concentrate.

Let me show you an example—here’s a screenshot of an article on the New York Times:

And here’s what it looks like in Clearly:

Lovely, no? Made for much easier researching and reading when I needed to focus on my book and not on the shiny thing in the sidebar. And even cooler—Clearly has a highlighting tool:

When you highlight text, it automatically dumps it into Evernote. Beautiful!

(I promise, I’m not affiliated with Evernote in any way—I just love their stuff.) All this brings me to…

Bookmark as you go, whatever tool you use.
Even if you’re not an Evernote fan, use something to bookmark your stuff as you go. Because in the end, you’ll need to cite your sources in a bibliography, and it’ll be a PAIN if you don’t catalog it along the way.

The Chicago Manual of Style Online was a helpful tool—I kept this open the entire time I was writing the bibliography.

Use Pages, if you can.
I prefer Apple Pages over Microsoft Word, a thousand times over. But not many people have it (including my editor), so I love that it seamlessly converts to Word without a hitch.

It’s an incredibly intuitive program, it’s easy to make inner links (meaning, the Table of Contents links to the start of each chapter in my document), and the Full Screen feature means everything around my doc is a lovely black. No distractions. (Can you tell there’s a theme? I don’t like distractions when I’m writing.)

Write digitally, edit analog-ly.
I obviously write my book on my laptop. But then? I harken back to the 90s when I had dial-up Internet and had that get-on-get-off mentally with the Internet, and I print my chapters. I file them away in a white binder, which I would collect and watch my book grow. (A good motivator.)

Then, when I finished, I took a pen (the four-color clicky type from junior high, if you were curious) and edited with the classic editing symbols. And then I passed it to Kyle, who did the same thing, though with more comments than carets. Which brings me to…

Let other people read it, and have thick skin.
For the first few chapters (mostly for my proposal), I had my friend Sarah read and edit my chapters. She’s a brilliant editor and gifted writer, so I trusted her judgment. But she’s busy with some of her own work, so for the bulk of the book, I had Kyle and my friend and assistant Katie read the rest. They gave lots of feedback, and I agreed with most of their edits, so I’m thankful. Katie would read straight on her own computer and add notes in the Pages doc. Which leads me to…

Save your stuff in Dropbox.
I saved every bit of my writing in Dropbox. For one thing, I was scared of my laptop doing something crazy and deleting all my hard work some unassuming weekend when I wasn’t paying attention. But secondly, saving it in Dropbox makes it a breeze to share.

I gave Sarah, Katie, and Kyle access to my book file, and they could open it up whenever they were ready to edit. No need to send more email attachments—my latest versions were immediately in this file, which they already had on their own computers.

Another option for this is Google Drive, which I use a LOT for blog work, but for the book, I preferred Dropbox so I could use Pages.

Capture your thoughts.
Your best ideas WILL come as you’re drifting off to sleep, when you’re stuck in traffic, as you’re taking a shower, or when you’re otherwise not sitting in front of your computer. My absolute favorite tool for collecting these thoughts? The Voice Memos app on my iPhone.

I’d just hit the record button, start rambling, and it’d automatically save as a file in my iTunes, whenever I was back at my laptop. Remember that Seinfeld where he thought of a brilliant joke as he drifted off to sleep, so he quickly jotted it down, only to find an indecipherable note from himself the next morning? Yeah… ain’t nobody got time for that.

Also, I love Evernote for thought-capturing as well. If I was reading something on the Internet that I thought may come in handy down the road, I’d quickly clip it in Chrome—I wouldn’t even bother opening up Evernote. But the next time I did, I’d have all those clips waiting for me, and I’d organize and tag to my hearts’ content.

Leverage good ideas when you’re stuck.
There were definitely days that I just did not feel like writing, or if I did, nothing good came from my time in front of my computer. This is when I was incredibly thankful for the outline I already wrote for my book’s proposal. I’d just look at the chapter summaries like a to-do list, and start writing wherever I last left off. And the cool thing? Inspiration usually came.

Very rarely did I actually stick to that original outline, but it certainly helped me stay on track when I didn’t know what to say. After all, the publishers have already said they liked the idea based on those chapters.

I’d also read posts from my Writing Inspiration pinboard whenever I needed a pick-me-up. It was so encouraging to read words from friends (and crazy-smart mentors) in the writing trenches with me, to hear how they’ve all been there, too.

Okay, this is already a crazy-long post, but I know you all have more questions about how to secure a book deal with a publisher. That’s a whole other topic all together, but I’m willing to address it if enough of you are interested. Though I’m a bit reticent, because nothing I’d say would be gospel—this whole book thing is different for everybody. But I’m happy to, nonetheless.

Anything else you’re curious about?


Plan to Eat - Meal planning made simple.
MightyNest - Helping create healthy homes.
Tsukihoshi - Children's shoes designed exclusively for the comfort and health of children's feet.
Pine Bros. - Softish throat drops.
The Confident Mom - 2013 - the year to get organized.
Every Breath I Take - Virtual yoga studio.

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How I write
Work  You  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Sweet Little Angel
Abbey was letting Janey chew on her finger the other day and said, "Mom I think she might have teeth!" I brushed it off and said, "No, not yet."  And Abbey said, "Mom really something feels pretty sharp."  I looked and sure enough her little gum had broken and a tooth was poking through.  What a surprise!  For two days she hadn't taken a great nap and wanted to nurse more than normal, but I thought it was just a growth spurt, nothing as big as a new tooth.  

She is such an easy baby now, always smiling, almost never ever fussy, and if she is, all I have to do is pick her up and she is happy again.  But those first few months-oh, they were hard.  She was a very very fussy newborn, and add that to the nursing issues we had in the beginning, it wasn't easy at all.  I know of course, by experience, that "this too shall pass" but when I was in the thick of it, no matter with #4, or #5 or Janey, (all fussy newborns), it sure seemed like it will last forever.  

Each time I felt like every day I was pushed to the max-emotionally and physically exhausted.  Fussy babies take a lot of tender loving care from their mommies.  A lot of exercise ball bouncing, a lot of nursing (a whole bunch of nursing!), a lot of pacing and shushing and rocking.  Of course, Jeff would relieve me when he was home, but if my baby is crying, my brain rattles and my hormones make it impossible to not just take her and do it myself.  

One day magically, Janey turned from high maintenance to completely utterly enjoyable.  They all did.  The hard part is not knowing when that magic day will happen, but with each of these darling babies, it did.  The days that were once a blur slowly become days when I might just have more chances to come up for air and it sure feels good.  I think what I learned over the years is that it is completely OK to have time stop for awhile-for those hard months.  I tried so hard to give myself a giant break-and give Janey a big old chance to get used to this world while giving her as much love and care as she deserves.  

I feel sometimes like there is a message out in our society today to "get back to life" as quickly as possible after our babies are born.  Back to our old selves, back into shape, back to work, back to our old routines-just keep life going like a truly amazing miracle didn't just land into our lives.  To go on and appear as if nothing ever happened-this makes me mad that this is applauded and praised today-it's truly ridiculous, but very sad also.  It's an indication of a deep chasm in the most important bond of mother and baby.  

I think babies deserve to rock the world of those around them a little.  To stir things up, to make us rethink priorities, to bond-totally and completely giving ourselves to them when they need it most.  Even if that means little things like fat pants for awhile, or a makeup drawer that goes untouched for months, or big things like lots of "no's" to invitations and commitments, or everything that once seemed so important plummeting down that priority list and maybe even disappearing.  Of course we can rebuild slowly-on the baby's timeline-but things shouldn't look the same ever.  We all need to move over and make space for this precious new life we brought into the world.  Babies deserve it, and we moms do also.
mothering  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
let me introduce you to our son...
Jack Kapitan

arrived on February 6th, 2013 at 2:04 pm...

... at 7 pounds 14 ounces and 20.5 inches of wrinkly old man good looks.

His birth was beautiful and quite an honor.

This little boy didn't even have to steal my heart...

I gave it right to him the second I held him in my arms.

We are now blessed with two lovely babies.

Thank you for your sweet words, bloggy friends, they mean so much.

a few moments after he was born!!!

first sibling kiss - melted my heart.

 Note:  How I am doing, where my sanity went, and if I will ever find
it again will be discussed at another time.  As will the "story of
Jack"... but all of that will have to wait until another time.  My
mother has been here for the past week and a half and she leaves
tomorrow (which makes me weep!) SUCH an angel to be here with us to help
navigate the road of having two babies under two.  Tomorrow I will be flying solo...sooo... until we meet again!
baby_jack  baby  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
In which I realise my car is my hamster ball
Queen Emily posted this on FB earlier in the week: Dr Carmella’s Guide to Understanding the Introverted. For anyone who can’t be bothered to click on the link, the gist is that the introverts amongst us (that would be me, the woman who deliberately spent the entire Christmas vacation alone) live in a hamster ball of personal space. Socialising is exhausting, so we have to be lured out of the hamster ball, and there has to be a good reason for it. Then we have to run away and recharge by not talking to anyone.

My immediate thoughts on reading all this were:

1. ZOMG, yes. I’ve always found being around people completely knackering and it’s getting worse as I get older and more selfish. If I have more than two social occasions planned in any one week, it’s too much; it’s really terrible planning if they’re on consecutive nights. I love my friends but I limit my interactions precisely because I’d rather spend less time with them that is enjoyable, than more when I am guiltily aware I’d prefer to be at home with a nutritionally balanced meal bowl of cereal.

2. Where can I get me one of them hamster ball things for reals?

3. Hey, my car is a virtualization of my hamster ball. My home is too, but the car is the only space I own. It’s the ultimate in defensible territory because, unless I get car-jacked on the rough streets of Oxford, I decide who, and when, someone else is in there with me. Most of my journeys are solitary commutes, and even then I sometimes put on a headphone so I can listen to an audio-book and be a step further removed from the exterior world. (Only one headphone; I think both of them might be illegal or something.)

So I ask my fellow introverts (quietly, and non-invasively, and don’t answer if you don’t feel like it, I totally understand): what is your hamster ball?
Life  go_away  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
DIY cut-paper Valentine banner
Hi, Friend sent me a link to their free template to make this Valentine's Day fiesta banner. So nice! And so time-consuming. You'd better get out your X-acto knife immediately. Do it. Tell your boss you've got better things to do, go home, and start cutting right this instant.

P.S. This would be a great DIY garland for wedding receptions, too.
valentine's_day  tutorials  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Paleo (and Vegan) Cauliflower Rice
Most people think of bacon and bloody steaks when they contemplate what it means to eat paleo. But while meat is a fundamental staple of the paleo diet, other than fish, it's not something I eat. "Wait! What!? Then what do you eat?!" is the typical response to that. In short, I eat lots of vegetables, eggs, some fish, and lots of healthy fats like avocado, coconut and nuts.Here is an example of what I eat – a bowl full of delicious vegetables. This recipe is modified from the Cauliflower "rice" pilaf that appears in Mel's cookbook Well Fed. You can also refer to this recipe on her blog.Vegan / Paleo Cauliflower "Rice" 1 head of cauliflower2 delicata squash (or 1 butternut squash)1 onion1 bunch of kale1/2 cup sliced almonds 1/2 cup raisins 4 cloves garlic 1" fresh ginger 1 tbs cumin1 tbs cinnamon 1 tsp fenugreek salt & pepper2 tbs coconut oil1 tbs olive oil 1 bunch of cilantro1-2 limes 1. First you'll want to roast your squash. Preheat your oven to 425F. Slice or dice your winter squash and in a large bowl toss the squash with 1 tbs of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Spread evenly over a baking pan and let it roast for 40-50 minutes (until it can easily be speared with a fork).2. In the bowl of a food processor using your S blade mince the garlic cloves and ginger. Remove the garlic and ginger, set aside.3. Now dice your onion - you can do this in the same food processor.4. Heat a tablespoon of coconut oil in a large pan (I use my wok). Throw your onions, almonds and raisins together.5. In the meantime, mix all your spices together, including the ginger and garlic. Once the onions are translucent in the wok shove everything to one side of the wok. Heat another tablespoon of coconut oil in the pan – once melted throw all your spices on that patch of oil. In about 30 seconds, or once the spices become fragrant, mix everything together.6. Wash your cauliflower and cut the florets off the stem. (If you're ever confused on how to cut or prep a certain veggie do a video search for it online. Jeremy and I are constantly learning new tricks on how to efficiently prep & cook by doing this). In the bowl of your food processor pulse the cauliflower until it has the consistency of rice. You may need to do this in two batches.7. Add the cauliflower to the pan or wok and stir until the onion / spice mixture is thoroughly incorporated into the cauliflower. Stir occasionally (like once a minute). At this point you can add a splash of balsamic vinegar if you dig it.8. This is a good time to wash and dry your kale. You can remove the leaves from the stems and rip or chop the leaves into smaller bit sized pieces. But don't add it to the pan too soon!9. After the cauliflower has been cooking for about 5 minutes add the roasted squash to the mix. And just before everything is good to go add your kale. You'll need to add bits at a time until it's wilted enough to all fit.10. Wash and chop your cilantro. In a small bowl squeeze your limes on to the cilantro. Stir and incorporate it into your cauliflower "rice".Serves 6-8 as a side, or 4 as a main course.
vegetables  vegan  well_fed  paleo  it_starts_with_food  whole30  what_we_eat  melicious  vegetarian  recipe  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Did a reading at Starbucks HQ. wild! Guess what book is pick of...
Did a reading at Starbucks HQ. wild! Guess what book is pick of the week for Valentines! Crazyyyy!
GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
The Unfinished Shelf
Recently, I stripped all of the books off of my bookshelf in our bedroom. My wife and I each have a bookshelf in there, stuffed with books and other miscellany. Many of the books I’ve already read wound up in a box headed to goodwill, with the handful of absolute “must-keeps” and the unread ones set aside for the moment.

Once I’d done that, I spent the next few hours filling the shelf with things left undone.

I put a couple boxes of stationery cards on there. I put several books I’ve always wanted to read on there, along with my Kindle. I put a box of my home electronics gear on there, along with my miniatures paints and brushes and a couple of books on learning acoustic guitar and the harmonica. I put a book on garden planning on there, as well as a few of my favorite solitaire board games. I put a little box of video games on there, too, and many other little things.

The reason for making this shelf is so that whenever I’m tempted to buy something for personal entertainment, I know that I can just go look at that one place for something to do and I’m almost instantly overloaded with options.

Did I really need a physical place for this? Actually, I did.

So often, when I’d think of buying something new for my hobbies or my personal entertainment, I won’t necessarily be reminded of all of the things I already have available to me already. I might think of two or three things, but if those things aren’t immediately exciting me, it’s easy to just blow past that and buy something new.

Instead, now I have one place for a lot of my hobbies.

Even more important, the shelves are situated in a place where I see them every morning and every evening. They become a constant reminder of all of the unfinished projects that I have going on.

The more I see the shelves, the more all of those projects slowly burrow their way deep into my mind, so that when the moment comes where I’m thinking about buying something else, I have many, many more items that pop up in my thought stream telling me that I really don’t need anything else.

A final touch: whenever I’m in one of those “what shall I do today?” moods, all I have to do is walk over to that shelf and there’s a multitude of great ideas that cost me nothing at all.

It’s pretty straightforward to set up a “hobby shelf” like this. Just find a bookshelf in your home, preferably one that your eyes visit on a regular basis, and just fill it with little pieces of each of your hobbies. You don’t have to have all of your knitting supplies there, for example – just enough so that you can get started.

I really enjoy giving my own shelf a nice long glance. It just gets me excited and raring to go for the day, because I want to get all of my tasks done so I can have some time to tackle one of these interests.

Best part? It doesn’t cost an extra penny. It’s all stuff I already own, just waiting for me to put my own time and energy into it.

The post The Unfinished Shelf appeared first on The Simple Dollar.
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
[no title] is really neat.  Left click and move the mouse around to see everything.This is taken over Kamchatka, cruising over 4 volcanoes that recently exploded. 
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
Ottawa Woman
My painting in the Art Beat section of Ottawa Woman for February. Nice article - Thanks, Claudia. Yes, I am an Ottawa Woman!
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
friday inspiration
Childhood of a Circle from Kadavre Exquis on Vimeo.

Childhood of A Circle is an endearing tale about Archibald and his curious journey through exquisite landscapes as he searches for a circle. I've been watching it over and over again, mesmerized by the beautiful backgrounds. Created by Kadavre Exquis. Happy Friday!

via It's Nice That
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
Eight Ways to Preserve Meyer Lemons
It is Meyer lemon season and I am in the midst of my annual binge. As I’ve chopped, juiced, dried, fermented and otherwise infused my way through ten pounds, the though occurred to me that it might be useful to have all my favorite ways to preserve this citrus hybrid in one place.

Some of the recipes are mine, some link out to other folks. I’ve tucked my recipe for Meyer lemon jelly in at the end of the post (it’s a recipe from the cookbook, but I feel compelled to share). Enjoy!

I think that marmalade is one of the highest forms of preservation for Meyer lemons. There’s a recipe in my cookbook, but if you don’t have it, use this recipe for Small Batch Blood Orange Marmalade. It will work just as well. If you want something a little different, consider trying the Strawberry Meyer Lemon Marmalade recipe I wrote for Simple Bites last year.

For those of you who like their citrus with a little funk, make Salt Preserved Lemons. Use them in salads, braises, stews and even salted lemonade. If you struggle with them in their whole state, blend them and scoop the puree into vinaigrettes and smooth soups.

Dehydrated lemon slices are good for dropping into mugs of tea, water bottles and even braises that need a little acidity. If you store them in airtight containers, they last up to a year.

Whenever you find yourself in a situation where you’re going to juice a bunch of lemons,  make sure to zest them (either with a vegetable peeler for big chunks or with a rasp for fine bits) thoroughly before you give them the big squeeze. Then stir that zest into sugar or salt, let it dry on a plate or baking sheet for a bit and then pack it into jars. You’ll get good Meyer lemon flavor, all year round.

This recipe for Meyer Lemon Caramel is not mine and I’ve not yet tried it (but I plan to). However, when it comes to delicious things, I trust Janet without question. Her blog is a delight and you should be reading it. And then you should make Meyer lemon caramel.

Meyer Lemon Curd is one of my weaknesses. I love it a little too much, which is why I make it just once a year. It’s dangerous for me to have around. But in January or February, it just seems right to whisk up a batch and stir it into greek yogurt. It beats the winter blues better than a trip to the tropics.

If you like limoncello, I implore you to make this version of Meyer Limoncello that Heather posted on her blog (Voodoo and Sauce) about two years ago. I’ve made it following her instructions twice and it’s divine. I’ve not changed a thing (which is rare for me).

After the jump is my recipe for Meyer Lemon Jelly. The set can be a little tricky to hit right on the nose, but since I like to spoon this jelly into sparkling water, it’s no great loss if it’s too loose. For a slightly pulpier preserve, substitute segmented Meyer lemons for the grapefruit in this jam recipe.

What’s your favorite way to preserve Meyer lemons?


Meyer Lemons Jelly

Yield: 3 half pints

2 1/2 cups freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (approximately 20 lemons)
2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons powdered pectin
Prepare a boiling water bath and 3 half pint jars. Place canning lids in a small saucepan of water and set to the barest simmer.
Squeeze lemons to extract juice and save all the seeds. Place seeds in the center of a 6-inch length of cheesecloth. Roll the cheesecloth up and tie it tightly so that no seeds are able to escape.
Whisk pectin into the sugar.
In a large, non-reactive pot, combine Meyer lemon juice, sugar and the bundle of seeds.
Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, until the volume in the pot is greatly reduced. While you continue to stir, clip a candy thermometer to the pot and watch until the pot reaches 220°F. It should look thick and syrup-y and the bubbles should look glossy.
Use the frozen saucer to test doneness.
When jelly is finished cooking, pour it into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and bands and process in a boiling water canner for ten minutes.
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Related Posts:

Air-Dried Lemon Peel
Dehydrating Meyer Lemons and Limes
Meyer Lemon Curd
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
Canning 101: Extending the Life of Open Jars
One of the dangers of doing as much preserving as I do is the number of open jars that are constantly in the fridge (jars from brunches, from tasting events and those jars holding the overflow from recent projects). No matter how much I use, there’s always a fresh flow of jam, fruit butter, chutney and pickled things rushing in to fill the void. Because I can only eat so much on a daily basis, part of my refrigerator management is making sure that I’m taking steps to extend the lifespan of my preserves.

Now, for those of you who live in bustling households where a jar of jam empties in a day, you might not be particularly concerned about this issue, but for those of us with small households (and partners who aren’t interested in anything having to do with fruit), preventing spoilage is a real concern. Here are a few things that you can do to keep mold and other funks at bay.

Use clean utensils. This might sound obvious, but often, the temptation to dip into the jam jar with a buttery knife is there. Using clean knives and spoons every time you go for a dollop will keep foreign bodies out of your preserves and keep them fresher longer. 
Keep jars tightly closed. This is particularly true if you’re keeping fermented foods in your fridge. If things aren’t sealed well, you run the risk of having the fermentation bacteria leap from sourdough starter to jam. Not good.
Label the jars with the date that you open them. This keeps you aware of just how long the jar has been opened and will remind you that the jar of peach jam from last summer should be finished before the more recently opened jar of cranberry jelly.
Wash off dried, gloopy jam from the lid. I don’t have any scientific evidence here, but I have found that when I wash the lid of the jar, the preserve lasts longer. Less medium for the mold to grow, I think.
Eat the fruit butters first. Sugar is a preservative. Because fruit butters typically have less of it, they just don’t last as long once opened. The same goes for preserves sweetened with honey. Eat them first.
Consider canning in smaller jars. If you’re finding that you’re losing much of your preserves to mold, consider using smaller jars. This will mean that you’ll have less open in the fridge at any one time and so will be able to move through it at a more timely clip.

Do you have any other tips for extending the lifespan of your open jars?
Related Posts:

Canning 101: Tips For Making Good Marmalade
Canning 101: Allow Your Process to Evolve
Canning 101: How to Use One Piece Lids
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
Photoshop Tutorial – Boob Job
I’m so excited to have a new regular feature here on Bower Power!  It’s the start of Photoshop Tutorials…and hopefully (fingers and toes officially crossed) it will land here every Tuesday morning.  See me and my bad scheduling self!  Yup…Mondays will be a project post of some sort and Tuesdays you can expect to see something photography related…this time, it’s something for Photoshop.  If you don’t have Photoshop and aren’t interested in photography related bizness, may I suggest a whirl in the Project Gallery?  It’s chalk full of yummy goodness like DIY projects and arts & craft stuff and an entire section dedicated to tablesettings.  Pappap get on that

Today our Photoshop Tutorial is for the girls.  Not just the female gender…but specifically THE GIRLS on us girls   Yup…we are talkin’ boobs.  Hollah! Twinsies!  Yup…you get to see me giving myself a boob job.

After you fish your mind outta the gutter, let’s go.

First open the file you would like to edit in Photoshop.   I have CS4 so that is what I’m working with today folks.  And this photo is straight outta the camera (SOOC)  so please disregard the bald spot, undereye darkness and cool white balance.  I first made a copy of my file by grabbing the ‘background’ in my layers box and dragging it down to the ‘create new layer’ icon on the bottom.  Let go of it with your mouse and bam!  background copied.

Then I select that copy of the background (indicated below with a red arrow) and go to FILTER down to LIQUIFY.

A new liquify window should pop open.  First I select the BLOAT tool on the left (indicated with white arrow) and make my brush size roughly the size of the boob I wanna plump.  I keep my brush rate in the low 20′s so it doesn’t bloat too fast (nothing can ruin a boob job like rushing).  Then I click on the very center of my flat boob until it looks about right.  Sometimes, you gotta fill out the sides.  Go slow.  You are playing doctor.

You can see that the image gets stretched (or bloated) and the pixels get pushed around that circle tool to make it look more natural.  If you make a mistake, just click the RECONSTRUCT tool and paint over the area that got funky and it should return the deflated boob once more.

Now before we go on, let’s talk Tata Responsibility.  Let’s be perfectly honest.  In a land full of Instagram filters and photoshop, there can be an urge to make yourself look like a Real Plastic Housewife of Barbie County.  You might have the thought of giving yourself huge ole boobies that are so perky that your chin is resting on them.  Don’t.  Everyone will think you are weird to virtually modify your boobs and crazy that you believe yourself to be 14 again.  This is a tool for enhancement…make the girls look age appropriate and believable.  The key here is to make it completely unnoticable that you pumped up the funbags.

After you have bloated the jugs, time to make the background look unbloated.  Time to click on the little box with an inner circle on the bottom of the Layers box.  This is ADD LAYER MASK.

Now see the part that got bloated that looks weird?  The purple arrow is pointing to the bit that has the bushes bloated too.  It looks like my chest is having some sort of radiation effect on the shrubbery.  Not cool.

So you are gonna first select the Layer Mask by clicking on it (circled in red) and then use your paintbrush to paint the bloated-but-shouldn’t-be area in black.

Now the background isn’t bloated but the boob is.  Nice, eh?!  Flatten your image down and BAM.  Instant boob job.

The best part?  You don’t have to pay a plastic surgeon   May the Facebook profile picture editing commence!

p.s.  Please like me on Facebook.  I’m asking very nicely and I did just give you new chimichangas :)  also…it’s my birthday
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
“You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.”
- Henry Ford

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february 2013 by lacurieuse
the only thing better to me than instagram is a moving instagram. short and sweet and ripe with juicy bits of meant to be forgotten and embarrassing and vertigo-inducing and random albeit sometimes pretty or interesting to one or two people and why bother seconds of our is called vine. and i love it. i especially love it when i catch a loud indo noon rain and get reminded that my curbs are cute. i forget that too all too often during rainy's also a nice app to show esmé how there was a year when i let her sleep five extra minutes in the handwriting and horrible mood and also this hedgie of ours.oh. and the year i bought the girlies three tap shoes. absolutely made for marble floors but not the tile ones in the sunroom that are now skidded silver. lillie and grae have a dance this weekend, and i'm trying to persuade them to bring along their taps. i figure it could buy me at least one more year of no dating, yes?related: when we lived in jordan, there was a dance studio right by our place. i wanted the girlies two to turn out just. like. me. and so i signed them up for tap. pat suggested "how about latin instead?" to which i answered "that's boring! tap is so happy!"to which he answered "let me see what you remember from your years of tap."if i remember correctly, my routine looked a lot like this.and that is why the girlies two took latin. but as you can see, despite all efforts to the contrary, they turned out just. like. me.
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
The Flying Canoe!
One of the funnest winter nights I had last year was going on the Mill Creek Adventure Walk!The walk has since then graduated, and is now referred to as The Flying Canoe Adventure Walk because it was picked up by La Cité Francophone - the new organizer.Some things are the same, some are a little different.My winter crew and I decided to gear up (it wasn't really cold) and met to have burgers before heading into the snowy ravine.Leisha was so organized she brought a bottle of Bailey's and travel mugs. The only thing we were missing was the coffee, so we went and bought a box of it.She also magically produced a tray of nanaimo bars... (super mom)We stopped for a group pic before the light got even more challenging (for me).I ate my nanaimo bar on the 1.5 block walk from Lisa's place, but if you look closely, Lisa had hers wrapped up in a napkin in her pocket for later on. Pro styles.You go down these pretty stairs,Over pretty bridges,Into the Métis camp,Where there is a canoe,Fun, and a fire.Further along the walk there is this awesome star display in the trees.Then once you climb out of the ravine on the other side, you go a few more blocks in the Bonnie Doon neighbourhood and find yourself at La Cité Francophone where there is a luge run!I ran into several fellow Belgravians there, including my student, Alex!There was ice furniture.Inside, we caught Acadian dancers! And some of Allez Ouest's set...Then it was time to say goodbye.Found the queue for horse-drawn wagon rides, and enjoyed a lovely roll down the back alleys of south Edmonton.Got off, went back into the ravine and quickly back out the other side again. Dropped off some supplies, and found that the night was still young, so we took our plaid and sweaters to Bibo wine bar.Look closely and you'll see that Don is wearing one of those sock monkey sweaters (had his custom made on a loom in Prince Edward Island so he could get the arms long enough), and Jason has a Nordiques wool jersey!Classic winter wear for our winter city.
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
Hand-lettered wallpaper for devices
My current desktop wallpaper is this lovely creation by Dave Foster. Download your own copy for desktops, tablets, and phones right here from The Fox is Black.
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
Où aller en vacances avec 1000$?
Il y a quelques semaines, j’ai présenté trois possiblités de vacances de quelques jours à une semaine avec un budget d’environ 1000$ à l’émission Libre-Service, diffusée à MAtv (c’était le sujet de ma toute première chronique à l’émission). Comme l’argent préoccupe plusieurs d’entre vous, j’ai eu envie de reprendre la formule ici. Voici donc quatre options [...]
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
Good bye?
Unfortunately last week we received very big, and not very good, news. Nothing life-threatening, but still, news that pretty much changes everything, our whole life.News I know I shouldn't be discussing here, while still not really being able to think about anything else. So I think that after nearly five years, the time has maybe come to say goodbye? I have some grieving and reeling and slowly rebuilding our comfort zone to do,  and in order to do that I think I need to take a step back from my online life.I'll probably leave this content online for the next little while, then print it out and delete it.Thank you so much, so much, for everything. I'm not disapearing; reach out by email if you want to!
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
Vegan Chickpea Gumbo ♥ Guest Post by the Fatfree Vegan
Could I pick 'em or what? Way back in 2006, I invited SusanV from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen to write a guest post for A Veggie Venture. Her blog was not even a month old! Now of course, Fatfree Vegan Kitchen is the source of inspiration for a wide and passionate community of vegan eaters. But until now, 2013, a full seven years later, I'd never made Susan's Chickpea Gumbo myself. Whoa – was I ever missing out, WHAT a gumbo. I made it once and was very sorry to not be able to make another batch right away! This is one of the best things I've made in a long time!! And naturally, it's not just vegan, it's "Vegan Done Real". It would be a great choice for a Mardi Gras party! (Looking for ideas for Mardi Gras? Check out Mardi Gras recipes!)
~recipe & photo updated & reposted 2013~
~more recently updated recipes~
Please welcome SusanV from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen:

Look through any Cajun cookbook, and you’ll notice that meat or seafood is in everything, even in most of the vegetable dishes. In fact, many vegetable recipes are so heavily “seasoned” with meat that the vegetables get lost in the mix. So to my family and friends back in Louisiana, I’m something of an eccentric: a vegan, someone who eats no animal products at all. “How could you give up gumbo?” they ask. “Or jambalaya or red beans and rice?” The answer is — I didn’t!

The first thing I did after becoming vegetarian was to start adapting the recipes I grew up with to eliminate the meat and seafood. At first I used a lot of “fake meats” to try to replicate the taste and “mouth feel” of the original recipes. As time went on, I wanted to lighten up my cooking even more, to use more natural, whole foods and to reduce the fat. I’ve stayed true to the seasonings of my native cuisine, but I’ve tried to add an element of freshness.

This Chickpea Gumbo, for instance, started off life as a Chicken Gumbo — a chicken gumbo that also originally included bacon grease and smoked sausage. I’ve eliminated all of the meat — as well as the cholesterol — but kept the wonderful seasonings: the “trinity” of onions, green pepper, and celery and the spiciness of the black pepper and cayenne. And I’ve added a little Liquid Smoke to impart a smoky, ham-like flavor.

A word about the okra: Some people never get past the slicing stage of okra preparation. They see the slime oozing out, and they toss the whole batch into the garbage. But I’m here to tell you that once it is cooked, okra is not slimy at all. If anything, it helps to thicken the gumbo. So don’t be afraid. But if you can’t get over the sliminess, feel free to use frozen, sliced okra. You don’t even have to thaw it before adding it to the gumbo, so you never see the sliminess.

And a word about spiciness: This is not an extremely spicy gumbo, and for most people it will be spicy enough just as it’s written. In fact, if you know you don’t like spicy foods, you should cook the recipe without the red and black pepper or the Tabasco and add those ingredients at the end, to taste. But, if you’ve got a real “hot tooth,” feel free to add all the extra spiciness you want.
Keep Reading ->>>
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
The Magic Onion Effect
A cherished ritual seems to have sprung up in this house, without us ever consciously putting it into effect: we go out to a local restaurant, just the four of us, every Friday night for dinner. The culinary options in our neighborhood being somewhat…limited, we usually end up at a sushi place run by a super friendly Japanese man who I will call Bob. Bob works as hard as is humanly possible. Bob cares. He is the great patriarch of the place, demanding and loving, standing by the door in sushi chef garb, directing traffic, taking pickup orders by phone, making the rounds to check on general levels of satisfaction. He has a photographic memory, as well, which manifests itself in a remarkable ability to remember every customer’s name, which I know because he shouts every customer’s name the second they walk in the door. ANDY! TODD! JENNIFER! EMILY! HELLOHOWAREYOUUUUUUUU! There’s a big, well-tended fish tank by the door, and some mermaid murals on the walls, and the fish is good and fresh; the kids love it here. We always order family style, and we’ve got it down to a science: yellow tail scallion roll, eight pieces of salmon sushi, spicy shrimp tempura roll, a few pieces of tuna, coupla orders of shumai, coupla bowls of miso, and most important, one chicken teriyaki dinner, which is served in a sizzling cast-iron skillet. The chicken is tender, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and cut into strips, but it’s the onions that we end up fighting over. They’re sweet and still slightly crunchy, caramelized in the pan and doused in teriyaki sauce. Abby drizzles them over her rice and goes to town; Phoebe just takes her chopsticks and shovels them in until the pan is picked clean. Without fail, they are the highlight of the meal.

We’ve chronicled our caramelized onion obsession here before — and in Jenny’s book — but a little homemade teriyaki sauce takes things to another level. The first time I made these, I spooned them over some fresh tuna, which I seared in a grill pan on the stovetop. The next time, we served them with roasted salmon. They go with almost everything, is the thing: steak, chicken, fish, tofu, they’d even be good on a burger (with some hoisin instead of ketchup, mmmmmm). The downside is, we never have enough. My hard-won advice: use more onions than you think you’ll need, because you’ll need them. — Andy

Teriyaki Onions

Teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp chicken broth
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 cloves minced garlic
3 scallions minced
2 tsp sesame oil

Add all of the ingredients above to a bowl or large measuring cup, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Thinly slice two or three large yellow onions and sautee in cast iron skillet (with one tbsp canola or grapeseed oil) over medium heat until they soften slightly, about five minutes. Drizzle in a few spoonfuls of the teriyaki sauce, to coat the onions, and stir. Cook 2-3 minutes, until sauce is absorbed. Then, do it again: drizzle some of the sauce over the onions — but don’t let it get soupy, you don’t want to boil these things — and cook another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and serve with chicken, fish, or rice.

Speaking of cast iron skillets, the newsletter giveaway winner of the super-awesome Lodge Cast Iron Skillet that we use daily is Sarah L . Thanks to everyone who participated! 
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
links: the home
$10 DIY One Hour Upcycled Firepit | House & Fig. Made from the drum of a washing machine.

Cool Tools – Belkin WeMo Switch. A simple device that you plug into the wall and it allows you to turn things on/off from your mobile device. This would have saved me so much worry when I was using my iron on a daily basis, I was always heading back inside to double check that it was off.

Iron Out Carpet Stains | Pintester. It actually works! You open the windows, spray Windex (or diluted ammonia) on the spot, put down a towel and use the steam setting on your iron to get all the gunk up. (Spot test first, of course, and beware scorching.)

The kitchen has been painted! | Door Sixteen. Here Anna used a gray paint from Valspar called Filtered Shade which we used in one of our bathrooms and love. This particular gray paint has also been recommended to me by Holly at Nothing But Bonfires.
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
Bunk Bed Hideout
Remember my initial mood board for the boys’ shared bedroom? Let me jog your memory…

You can read more about it here. Or you could save your time and forget it. Because things have changed. I loved the mood board. Really. I did. But there was a problem. Layne and Everett didn’t approve. They said it was okay but too boring. Since I want the boys to have a room they’re excited about, I asked them how I could make it better.

“I want it to feel like a hideout.” – Layne

“I want it to be colorful.” – Everett

So, now I have the task of creating a colorful hideout that still looks like it belongs in our house. I’m working on it. Recently, we repainted the boys’ bedroom switching out the light blue-gray walls for taupe. {It’s Valspar’s dry riverbed in case you’re wondering. It was the color of the front living room in our previous house.} Then we hung floor-to-ceiling curtains around the bunk. Take a peek – don’t mind the messy beds and non-ironed everything. These are by no means ‘afters.’ This is real life. Be happy there’s not a naked four-year-old photobombing every picture.

The curtains are four LENDA panels in the bleached color. The ceiling track is KVARTAL with coordinating glides. I cut the top loops off the curtains and sewed RIKTIG gathering tape onto the backs at the top so I could hang the curtains from the glides. {Everything I’m referencing here hails from IKEA.}

I tried the RIKTIG clips {seen on the right above} but thought they looked unfinished.

I’m all for casual but the clips weren’t cutting it.

Ahhhh. Much better. One curtain hangs at the foot of the bunk and three panels hang along the side.

The boys don’t like their enclosed bunks. They love them. I love that they love them. And I like the way the curtains soften the metal bunk but I have to admit…the floor-to-ceiling curtains remind me of the triage units at the hospital. I tried to make them feel more posh by hemming them so they pool on the floor.

Fun fact: This time last year, I was watching the Super Bowl from a similar curtained bed in the labor & delivery triage unit. I was in pre-term labor with Mabrey.

I’m still wishing the boys would have chosen a wooden bunk bed. But, whatever. It’s their room.

Each boy has their own book light and ledge.

Sometimes I’ll walk into the room to find the boys camping out on their beds with the curtains closed, lights on and a pile of books at their disposal. It makes my day.

So, I think I’ve got the hideout thing covered.

I’ve got work to do on the colorful part. I’m not good with lots of color. Now, pops of color I can do. Hopefully, they’ll appease Everett.

I’m thinking that ladder {it’s separate and removable} would look cool if it were different from the rest of the white bed. Spray-painted yellow? Wrapped in rope?

If you’re looking for an easy way to DIY a freestanding hideout bunk…

My boys love it and I can live with it. More to come as the room evolves!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
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february 2013 by lacurieuse
links: misc
Reclaiming Wife: Chore Monsters, Feminism, and Zombies. Love this suggestion on how to mentally sort domestic skills balanced against being a feminist: “you can always bring in the zombies. As in, would doing or being good at this thing help me survive the zombie apocalypse if I were alone?”

Seeking movies to help me think about clothes. | Ask MetaFilter. A great list of movies I wouldn’t seek out but am intensely interested in.

Make-Yer-Own Oscar Pool Page 2013, at Defective Yeti.

Pamie » Hey, Pamie: “How Do I Not Give the Fuck Up When Other People Get What I Want?”.

Cool Tools – Human Dimension & Interior Space. A comprehensive set of measurements to help you design interiors, furniture and wearables for all people: “Good for architects, costume designers, gadget makers, interface designers, and interior decorators.”

Read Better: Five Steps to a More Balanced Media Diet | Media on GOOD. Via Juniper Moon Fiber Farm.

Sometimes when I am in a three-person conversation the other two people make lots of eye contact but I am excluded. Am I doing something wrong? | Ask MetaFilter. This happens to me all the time and I’d love to know what is going on.

What You’ll Need to Escape New York – Puts my bugout bag to shame.

Monday Music – “Sexy Sexy!” The 2013 Brooklyn Valentines Day Playlist at The Amber Show. See also The Makeout Playlist.

The Business Cards of Alt Summit 2013 – Creature Comforts. See also this roundup at Giverslog. It’s true, the business cards at Alt were amazing this year.
links  misc  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
RECIPE: Ham & Cheese Skillet Quinoa
A couple of evenings ago I was once again reminded of how important it is to be able to cook without a recipe when you need to get dinner on the table fast and "Plan A" suddenly becomes untenable.I had some leftover ham in the fridge that I wanted to use up. I was planning to make a ham and white bean casserole (a variation of this recipe), but right about the time I had the ham all nicely diced up, my hubby informed me he had an evening appointment at 7 p.m. (it was already after 5). Okay, not enough time to make a white sauce and bake a casserole before he has to leave. My next thought was that I'd make a ham and rice skillet dish which is much quicker to prepare. A couple minutes after that, I discovered we didn't have enough rice to make a casserole (I've been scouting out prices on organic rice in anticipation of stocking up). Oops. So now the clock is really ticking and I have to come up with a workable plan, fast!And so this Ham & Cheese Skillet Quinoa came into being. Even though quinoa is quite a trendy food these days, I've been slow to warm up to it. Now that I've finally gotten the hang of cooking it properly, I have been experimenting with it a bit more and I have to say it's growing on me :)So, even if you're not quite a die-hard quinoa lover yet, I think you'll like this recipe. It was enthusiastically gobbled up by all four members of my family (no leftovers!). Two key things to remember for quinoa cooking success: Rinse and drain it before cooking, and then cook until the little "tails" pop out (you'll know what I'm talking about once you see it happen).Because I was cooking this on the fly, I didn't actually measure much of anything except the quinoa and liquid, so all measurements are approximate and flexible!Ingredients: 1 tbsp olive oil1 medium to large onion, chopped 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained1 1/2 cups chicken stock1 1/2 cups water1 carrot, grated1 cup frozen peas1 tbsp dried parsley 1 tsp salt1/2 tsp black pepper1/8 tsp cayenne pepper about 2 cups of chopped cooked ham 1 cup grated cheddar cheese1/4 cup sour creamInstructions: In a large frying pan, saute the onion in oil until tender. Add the quinoa, stock, water, carrots, peas, parsley, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Cook over medium heat until most of liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender and the tails have popped out, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stir in ham, cheese and sour cream and cook for a few minutes longer until cheese is melted and ham is heated through.Serves 4-5.Do you have a favourite way to prepare quinoa?Want to know more about the specific food products I use and where I buy them? Check out my new "What's In My Pantry" board on Pinterest. I will keep this board updated with current information on what products we use, where we're buying them, and how much we're paying. It's a work-in-progress, and you can find it HERE. Love what you read here? Find out how you can help support this blog. Want to stay connected in between blog posts?Click HERE to follow me on Pinterest  Click HERE to follow me on TwitterClick HERE to like Abundance on a Dime on Facebook and get updates and tips on living frugallyClick HERE to like Cheap Appétit on Facebook and get updates and tips on frugal eating and cooking
Main_Dishes  grains  ham  food  GR-starred  from google
january 2013 by lacurieuse
This simple, inexpensive, reusable cap for open caulking tubes has saved innumerable partially used tubes of adhesive or caulk from being thrown out and has paid for itself many times over. This cap forms an airtight seal around the entire tip of the caulking tube and the long center spike creates and keeps open a channel for the material to flow out. It has never failed over several years to preserve all sorts of  materials. I have often been left with a partial tube of material after some project or other and this cap has always allowed me to pick up that tube,  even after many months and  to continue to use the contents.

Like all of us, I had tried wrapping the tip in cellophane, shoved a nail down the tip or tried some other solution. None was successful. The other advantage is that the center spike is slender enough to fit down a tip which you have cut with a very fine opening. There is no distortion of the tip and no need to recut it. All in all an elegant solution to a common annoyance and a real money saver.

-- John Bennett
Two pack for $8

Available from Amazon
Manufactured by Prazi USA
General_Purpose_Tools  GR-starred  from google
january 2013 by lacurieuse
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