Saturday, June 29, 2013

GMOs and better eating habits

Life is good: let's share!

I have always tried to eat healthy foods, but since becoming a parent, it has become even more of a priority. I want to take care of my body so that I have a hundred years plus with my family! I also want to give my children a good foundation for making smart food choices. 

We found out our oldest had some major food allergies (eggs and peanuts were the first) when he was nine months old. This meant that I would start an adventure in eggless baking and cooking. It also meant that there would be no "convenience food" options for us since he is so sensitive to eggs that he cannot even eat a product manufactured in the same facility as eggs. This wasn't too big of a deal for me because I had always cooked from scratch anyway. What it does mean is that I have to be prepared. Eating somewhere at the spur of the moment is not an option. We take eggless cupcakes to parties and I bring food I've prepared from home when we eat at a restaurant or friends' houses because we can't risk cross contamination from someone else's kitchen. Our kids are used to it; it's all they have ever known. And I have learned not to be concerned about how others feel about this because I am just protecting my children. The allergies have made me start to pay more attention to where foods were grown and the strange words contained on the ingredients list of bottles of soy sauce and ice cream and mustard.

My friend, Brandy, is a designer with a son close to the same age as our big kid. She recently had an food epiphany, if you will, and we have had online chats about why food allergies are more prevalent and GMOs and "natural flavors"and canola oil, among other things.  I am someone who likes to share and I like to hear others' thoughts and opinions. Even if I don't agree or take their advice or whatever, I think it is important that we listen to each other, contemplate, and consider. So since I am such a "sharer", I asked Brandy if she would like to share her story of becoming more "pleasant" about the food that goes into her family's bodies. And she kindly obliged. Brandy, thanks for your guest post! (She shares a great video that explains what exactly GMOs are.) I guess this is where I am supposed to say something about "the following are not necessarily the views supported by How to be Pleasant Blog, etc.". ; ) 

Here's Brandy's story:

What was IT that caused me to change how my family and I ate? That’s the question I get asked most from people who know me. Just a bit of background about me—I am inherently lazy with a tendency to have a bit of OCD. This means when I do something, I tend to go to extremes. I am a skeptic. I am a mom. I am a wife. I am a busy designer. What I am not—is a foodie. In fact, my husband and son have a common saying, “You’re not allowed in the kitchen.” The kitchen is my husband’s domain, except for when it needs to get cleaned. We used to eat out A LOT or have it delivered. So much so, that a food delivery company once gave us a gift certificate at Christmas because we ate out that much! Crazy, right?  

So back to my food transformation. 

Never one to put too much thought into what I ate, I lived a happy existence. And then IT happened. I came across this company that grew hydroponic lettuce—tried it—and loved that it stayed fresher longer and didn’t grow in dirt. By the way, did I mention I don’t like dirt? I started an account with the company and needed to spread the word to my friends so that I would qualify for free delivery. On one such day, I stopped off at a friend’s house to deliver her lettuce and we began to catch up. Then she asked me if I had heard about “Natural Flavors” such as vanilla, strawberry and raspberry. I answered, “No” and proceeded to inquire about the subject. Little did I know (trust me, I wasn’t prepared for the answer) this would be the start of a new journey to totally change my eating habits. She told me the “Natural Flavor” of vanilla and the like were actually something from a beaver’s anal glands (that’s right, the animal). We finished up our conversation and then I left. When I got back in the car, I asked my husband if he had EVER heard of such a thing—to which he replied, “No.” Surely my friend was mistaken ... right? I immediately googled the topic. Then I checked with Snopes. I was so shocked and disgusted, it was hard to focus on anything else. I then posted it on my facebook page because that’s what everyone does, right? I also came to the realization I was drinking “beaver butt” as we affectionately called it every day in my coffee. Bleh! No more beaver butt for us.

As a result of my “Natural Flavors” posts, my sister, who is much more a foodcentric person started sending me info on other food-related topics. For some reason, I also had other friends send me info/links. It’s as if they all came out of hiding. One of these was a short clip about GMOs. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind I had heard of this but had no clue what it really was. Also rBGH came up as part of this discussion. It was like the perfect storm of knowledge. Up to this point, I was always under the belief that the term “organic” was just some frou-frou way to charge extra money and was some hippie-dippie lifestyle. Not me at all. I like technology and conveniences. I never bought into the whole world of “organic” and Whole Foods seemed like the ultimate hippie-dippie place. This is the video that put it all into perspective.

The information was presented in simple terms. Once I understood what Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) were and why Genetically Engineered foods were not good, my mind started racing. Why were there so many more food allergies? What about the increase in autism rates and behavioral issues—could all of these be linked to our food source? Remember me mentioning my OCD—well, I started going through the food in our pantry and refrigerator. I was absolutely floored. The more research I did, the more incensed I became. I felt cheated. Lied to by our government and food companies. It ALL had to go, and out it went. Whole Foods became my home away from home.

My quest for knowledge led me to seek out facebook pages and blogs, you might even call them food activists. Well, let me say—they were a bit too radical for me. I have since pared down who I follow and what info is relevant to me. Thankfully my husband told me he was on board as long as it was still real food. No chia seeds or juicing for him. We tossed out all of our GMO products and restocked with new non-GMO brands. I would not recommend going to this extreme as it is costly. If you can afford to do this, then great. If not, then just replace as you use up your items. Do I feel any different since making the shift to non-GMO foods? Not really. But in my head, I feel better. I am going through great strides to try and educate our 6 yr old son to making better food choices. And now the term “organic” is part of our lifestyle. We began a garden (in containers of course)...

We also joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and try to buy from local farms/fruit stands. It has been an amazing transformation and we continue to learn. We even started a facebook page to share news, recipes and food-related things. It’s been a fun journey!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Traveling with Young Children

Life is good: I earned a new "mama badge of honor"!

A few days ago, I did something I have never done before...I drove 10 hours from Minneapolis to Kansas WITH both children and withOUT my husband, who needed to stay home and hold down the fort. This earned a new mama badge of honor for me, for sure!

The drive is pretty simple and my kids are pretty good. (Oh no. Did I just jinx myself?) I wasn't too trepidatious about the trip. But I knew I would be happy when it was done!

One of the treats of going to see my parents is that I also get to see some dear friends. I had lunch with one cherished friend and she asked, "What do you DO for 10 hours!?!" I laughed. It just doesn't seem that long. The time really flies.  There is a lot of talking. A. lot. of. talking. These kiddos inherited more than my blue eyes and upturned nose. They got my motormouth and gift for gab. Quiet moments are a rarity. On a car trip and in general. We talk about things we've done and things we'll do, what we see on the road and the side of the road. And keep in mind, I am spending ten hours with two of my favorite people in the entire world. Two, albeit small, people whose every thought and word I devour with joy and excitement. And we accomplish quite a bit. We answer life's great mysteries like what color you get when you mix a primary color with a secondary color like blue and purple or what Michael Jordan likes to eat for breakfast. On this particular drive, we talked a lot about assassinations of presidents. I'd like to publicly thank my husband for introducing that subject to our 5-year old during a nightly round of presidential trivia. That made for an interesting car ride. Can you read my sarcasm?

I also have some key items that I take on road trips (and a different list for airplane rides) that have proven to make our car rides easy. Every kid is different, but these things work for our family.

1. Music: This includes favorite CDs as well as new, downloaded music. Both of my kiddos love love love (did I say love?) music and so they will listen intently to new stuff to learn the words and music. I also bring along quieter music when I sense we need some "zen moments". I believe that atmosphere can affect moods (at home, too). If the natives start stirring, I pop in some Enya or Coldplay. I also bring along "kid music" for emergencies. ; ) My kid music is from our Music Together music class, so it really isn't that bad. (Love their music philosophy!)

2. Coloring books, coloring sheets, crayons, stickers, sticker books, plain paper, notebooks, dot to dots, etc. The stickers do a great job of occupying both kids. I encourage the big kid to create a backdrop for his stickers, so that takes more time and the little one takes a lot of time just working on the fine motor skills aspect. Please not that I DO NOT bring markers! Markers can write on leather seats and faces. Not that my sweet angels would ever get those ideas. NO MARKERS!

3. Books, books, and more books. Plus new books. I pack the books away a week or two before a trip and that way, they seem "new" again. I pick out a couple of new ones, too. I take books that have lots of illustrations or images to stare at and wonder about. Busytown and ISpy books are great for that.

4. Small, handheld puzzles and games. Recently for our plane trip to Florida, I bought a Rubic's Cube for the big kid (talk about keeping a kid busy!) and a Tangle Toy for the wee one. 

5. Snacks! And I don't mean everyday snacks. I mean stuff that I rarely let them have like Cheezits or fruit snacks. Plus, I bring along string cheese and yogurt tubes in a hot/cold bag.

6. Little toys. Eespecially favorite "guys". This might include Playmobil or Imaginext figures or Pez dispensers (they don't get the candy and they don't care) that have been "missing" (hidden away by me a few weeks prior). I also bring along Hot Wheels cars and Schleich animals. A lot of pretend play goes on in the backseat and I love to hear the stories or listen to the little one make animal sounds.

7. Recently, I made a "sewing kit" for the big kid to take on our road trip to Mt. Rushmore (more about that later). I bought a plastic hoop, some cotton fabric, embroidery thread, and plastic needle from Joann. Then I cut the fabric into hoop-sized squares and drew pictures on the fabric (dinosaurs, robots, a lion, etc.) with an ink pen.

After the fabric was in the hoop, I took the needle and poked holes every so often along the outline of the picture to make a sort of "dot to dot" with thread and fabric.

The big kid loved it! It was a great fine motor skills activity and he just plain had fun with it!

I think it is important to teach boys things like cooking and sewing (things often associated with females) and try to put gender stereotypes in the past where they belong!

8. I also bring the Ipad (with apps, not movies), though I always keep it hidden. My just-about-to-be-two-year-old (gasp! where has the time gone?) is not allowed to watch TV at all and my five-year old watches TV only sparingly (I know, gasp!), so I try very hard not to give the Ipad to the big kid. This doesn't mean that I won't need to on the way back to MN, but it will be my last resort. It's just something we have committed to. And I know that once we watch a movie or movies on car rides, I have set a precedent and can't turn back, so I remain resolved. For now.

I also discussed my expectations for our trip with my children once a day for a few days before our trip. I told them that I needed them to be my helpers. I explained that distracted driving is dangerous. I discussed the drive with our big kid and asked for him to be a good example for the littlest one. Growing up, my parents always talked to me like I was a person, not a kid and we have chosen to do the same with our children. So having a talk about the car trip and my expectations was very natural and helpful. (And in general, I think it creates an environment of respect and understanding of individual responsibility in a family.)

So I want to give a big shout out and three cheers to my dear children who made the 10-hour drive enjoyable, peaceful (except for rocking out to The Clash), and non-eventful (except for all of the memory-making). I share my new "mama milestone" trophy with you!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Eggless Zucchini Bread

Life is good: thank goodness for chocolate! 

This past year, we were so fortunate to enroll our oldest child in a magnificent preschool. All of the staff were joyful, kind, nurturing, and encouraging. To top it off, the school had a carpool lane, which meant that teachers stood out in the rain and snow and everything in between so that parents didn't have to. I felt especially grateful that I didn't have to get our littlest in and out of the car to drop off the big kid during inclement weather. So the last week of school, I made some chocolate chocolate chunk zucchini bread for the teachers at his preschool as a way to say, "Thank you!!!" for weathering the carpool lane (pun intended!) as well as creating an atmosphere of safety and fun for our child.

Eggless Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Bread
2 C flour
2 C sugar
3/4 C cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
mixture of 3/4 applesauce and 1/2 T baking powder (mixed together in a separate bowl until foamy)
3/4 C canola
3/4 C buttermilk (I have often used milk and it has turned out well)
3 C grated zucchini
3/4 C chocolate chips or chunks (My friend Merie used a 1/2 bag rather than measure them)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease and flour two loaf pans.
3. Mix applesauce and baking soda together in a small bowl and set aside.
4. Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl.
5. Add applesauce mixture plus oil and buttermilk into large bowl of dry ingredients and mix well.
6. Mix in zucchini and then chocolate chips.
7. Pour into pans (half of batter in each) and bake. In my oven, this recipe is done after about 45 minutes. However, all ovens are different, so I suggest that you start checking the middle of the loaf with a toothpick or cake tester after 38-40 minutes.

I leave the cocoa powder out of the recipe when I make this bread for my kids since they are allergic to nuts. Most cocoa powders are processed in facilities where nuts are present. The absence of cocoa powder doesn't affect how delicious it is. However, the addition of cocoa powder kind of "takes the flavor over the edge", if you will, and makes the bread much, much more rich. Try it both ways and see what you think!
The original recipe calls for 1 tsp of cinnamon, but it makes for a very obvious cinnamon taste and I prefer it more subtle, especially when leaving out the cocoa powder.
This recipe was originally a cake made with eggs that my friend, Merie, who happens to be a marvelous and adventurous cook, posted on Facebook a few years ago. (Thank you, Merie!) I adapted it to be eggless and the result was more of a bread than a cake, so I bake it in loaf pans, but if you want to try it in a cake pan, go for it!

I made two different recipes--one with cocoa powder (for the teachers) and one without (for my kiddos). Here is a pic of both recipes in the dry ingredient stage.
In this pic, the batter is ready to be poured into the loaf pans.
Here is the Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Zucchini bread version...
And the Chocolate Chunk Zucchini bread version (I used Enjoy Life chocolate chunks.)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Contact Me

Life is Good: and busy!

Well, I'm still working on the functionality of this blog as well as content. My little bosses don't give me a lot of coffee breaks! (So many ideas, so very little time!)

Thanks for hanging in there with me. You may have noticed that my "Contact Me" tab is just a tab. Until it has a function, you can contact me at: or "like" the blog on Facebook to get the latest posts on your news feed. You can also follow me on Pinterest.

I have really appreciated the emails and Facebook messages so far about the blog. It means a lot to me that what I am documenting for our family means something to others, too. 

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” (C. S. Lewis)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Summer in Minneapolis

Life is Good: it isn't winter in Minneapolis!

A lot of people who know me well ask me how I make it through the winters in Minnesota. After all, I am a beach baby! When I moved here, it was for a job and I told everyone I was staying for a year and then moving on. Well, the only moving I did was back and forth to a job that gave me a lot of big brand experience writing and producing TV spots. Minneapolis proved to be good for my career, so I stayed.

At our wedding, my husband (who moved from Florida to Minneapolis, so that means he is nuts!) and I told friends and family that as soon as we returned from our honeymoon in Maui, we were starting our job hunt to move out of state. And then my husband found a job he loves and my freelance career was more successful than I could hope and, well, we stayed. Minnesota has been good to us in that way and we are grateful.

The truth is that spring, summer, and fall are so incredibly gorgeous and lovely here that you forget how awful the winters can be! Kind of like how women forget the pain of childbirth...if they didn't, the world would cease to exist. So if it weren't for three glorious seasons, Minnesota would cease to exist? Ha!

But seriously, this is why we stay in Minneapolis...

This is our bike path. When we're riding around this lovely little lake, taking in some Vitamin D, gazing at the sun washing over boats bobbing up and down, winter feels a million months away. And so we stay.

And yes, then one morning in the middle of January, we wake up with icicles dripping off of our noses and scream, "Why are we still in Minnesota????!!!"

But for now, this is our reality and we will soak up every drop of it!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Inner Voice of Toddlers

Life is Good: my kids are listening to me!

Yesterday during naptime, or rather, what was supposed to be naptime, I heard the little one on our monitor repeating three phrases, "Oopsies. Oh no. Aw, man!" Over and over, "Oopsies. Oh no. Aw, man!" I'm always grateful for the video portion of the monitor (have I ever mentioned that I would have made a terrible pioneer?). However, in this case, I couldn't really see anything except our littlest sitting in the bed with his back to the camera. But I sure could hear, "Oopsies. Oh no. Aw, man!"

I hesitated to go into his room; I didn't want him to think that naptime was over. It had never begun, after all! Then, he stood up and turned around. And I knew why, "Oopsies. Oh no. Aw, man!"

I zipped up the stairs and opened the door to a completely naked 22-month old.  He had unsnapped and unzipped, pulled, stretched, untabbed, and thrown off every stitch of clothing as well as his diaper. He greeted me with a smile and, "Oopsies. Oh no. Aw, man!" followed by belly laughs.

Let it be known: I am a giggler. If I had an automatic setting, it would be "smile and laugh". It is just my nature. So I took a big breath and did my best not to even smirk as I re-diapered and clothed my wee one and explained ever-so-gently that it was time for nap. Big, smiling blue eyes looked at me as if to say, "Aren't you proud of me? Look how skilled and independent I am! Praise me for this big development milestone, lady!" I am sure that my clamped-down jaw and strange, fighting-not-to-smile lip configuration was quizzical at least. After a back rub as I sung "May All Children", our littlest obliged me by finally taking a nap. With all of his clothes on.

Before I got back to the tasks at hand, I stopped to ponder. "Oopsies. Oh no. Aw, man!" Okay, "oopsies" I get. I say the word a lot. It's my way of making light of mistakes. I want my children to understand that everyone makes mistakes and no one is perfect or infallible. Nothing sounds too awful when accompanied by the word, "oopsies", right?

And "Aw, man!" Hmm. I didn't know that you could say that, little person. Then again, the past six weeks or so, you seem to repeat every word and phrase you hear. Often, it is accompanied by a little giggle of delight. A kind of verbal, self pat on the back. I'm sure you've heard each one of us in the family say this phrase from time to time. You are a developmental dynamo right now. It is so exciting to be witness to this special time in your life.

As for "oh no". Well, I guess that comes from me, too. You never know yourself as much as when you hear or see it through the form of your child's words and actions. I seem to say those two little words with a variance of inflection and tone, 99% of the time light-heartedly and most of the time when I have forgotten something (like where I left my brain...oh, yeah. I am pretty sure it fell out with the placenta!).

You may be little, wee one, but you are listening. And watching. You have your eyes and ears open twenty-four-seven. Which means I have to be committed to showing you the best of me and this world. That's the pact I made with you when you were born and I am sticking to it. I am not perfect, as you have already discovered (thanks for not mentioning that..." make a lot of mistakes, mama. Oh no. Aw, man!") but I am committed to doing my best and each morning, I wake up, thank God for the chance to do things right today and feel grateful beyond words that I get to be your mommy. So I am going to be intentional about my words and my tone and my expressions. Because I know that what flows out from me, spills onto you. And you deserve nothing but goodness and kindness and love. Because I know that what I give to you in the form of my words and my actions is what you will take out with you into the world. “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” (Peggy O'Mara)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Butterfly Activities for Kids

Life is Good: we're not molting and eating it!

I often say that I feel like my children are my teachers and I am the student. They have taught me so much---of exceptional note, to live in the moment instead of constantly looking ahead to tomorrow or the next big thing. They've also taught me how exciting and wonderful the world is when you look at it through their young eyes, minds, and hearts. However, from the time I entered parenthood, I not only took on the role of mother, but I also adopted the title, "teacher". I know that with my every breath, I'm teaching them. My demeanor, my words, my actions, everything is a direct influence on who they are and who they will become. I also feel it is my responsibility to teach them about this wondrous world. So this is the wonders of BUTTERFLIES!
We've been talking about nature and transformation and reading lots of books. Here are a couple of our favorites.
Ten Little Caterpillars combines a rhythm that toddlers love and facts & info to keep preschoolers engaged. I love Lois Ehlert's style and Bill Martin, Jr has written so many modern classics for kids. The Life Cycles book has tons of information. It is a bit dry for the little one, so he perused the pictures in the Critter Counting book while the big kid and I learned about how butterflies lay their eggs. One of the biggest moments of the day was the discovery that caterpillars molt (shed) their skins up to five times before it grows into its chrysalis. And often eats its own skin! EWWWWW!
We've also been making caterpillar and butterfly art like these (below) using printmaking techniques.

For the butterfly, you fold a piece of paper in half...

Then paint half of a butterfly on one side of the folded line...
After, fold the paper over on top of the painted side and smooth it...
Peel it back slowly...
And voila! You've made a butterfly "print"!
To make a caterpillar "print", we dipped the end of an empty herb container into paint and then made a series of circles, then the big kid added legs, eyes, and a smile. 
And of course, we needed some sunshine in the picture, too!

I love the face on this caterpillar...

So cheery! I guess it is not aware that it might molt and then eat its skin soon! : )

I love making art and it is my sheer joy and delight to make art with my children. I try so very hard not to influence their style and to explain the difference between "crafts" and "art". The process of exploration, experimentation, and examination of art is more important to me than the end product. However, I have never found an end product that I didn't rejoice over! If you look closely, you can always find something beautiful in a child's work!
Today was no exception. We played around and had fun. We used recycled materials (YAY!) which I hope teaches my children that they can make art anywhere and from anything. Using recycled materials encourages stretching your brain to think of alternative uses and purposes and promotes creativity. I love watching the wheels turn in these little minds. 
And those wheels are exactly how we got this...
The big kid asked if we could make a caterpillar using our hands. Of course, we can!
Upon further inspection, we decided we could make a dinosaur out of our hand!
First, we painted the bottom of our fist...
 And then our hand...
Looks like a dinosaur to me! A T-Rex, maybe?
And a Spinosaurus, too? (With the addition of fingertip "spines".)
 Not to be outdone, little brother created some prints of his own using paint, the herb container, and the end of an empty cardboard spool.
 I think it is beautiful work! 
All of this reading, learning, art making and dinosaur creating made us hungry! So we went back to butterflies...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday Reflections

Life is Good: I have the power to see things differently!

Music has always been of significance to me. I can remember, as a kid, wearing headphones, sitting in front of my dad's stereo, listening to a new song from the radio over and over until I knew every single word. Then, I'd belt it out like I was in front of a stadium of 20,000 people. I could even hear the applause. And farther back to the age of two, I can see myself standing to the side of the piano while my sister played music from The Carpenters impeccably, encouraging me to sing. Her smile seemed to overflow. (I'm sure it was, from holding back laughter.) You could even say the honks of a recovered, antique church pipe organ were the soundtrack of my teen years---for my mom used hers to awaken me when she thought I had slept in too late on a weekend. (Not passive-aggressive at all, mom!)

The melody, the harmony has always enticed me. As I aged, the delicate recipe of instruments knitting sounds together raised my curiosity. But it must have been the writer in me---even when it hadn't been awakened yet---that made the lyrics reach right in to my heart or my head and not let go.

This summer, our church has only one service on Sunday mornings. Or should I say, one glorious service. Glorious because it begins at 10 AM. That deserves a hallelujah! Oh, how our family loves the slower pace of Sunday mornings in the summer that this 10 AM service provides. Another new piece is a lovely musical addition to our contemplative prayer time. A few generous talents from our congregation sing the (slower arranged) chorus of Michael W. Smith's "Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord" (written by Paul Baloche) over and over while we all have time for silent prayer. Their voices are sweet and pure. And it is a lovely mantra for meditation. My mind becomes a backdrop of crystal blue sky and the words pop out in the shape of fluffy clouds of white cotton candy floating by.

Yesterday afternoon as well as this morning, I kept hearing those sweet words, "open the eyes of my heart, the eyes of my heart..." and I started to think about what life would be like if each one of us lived and loved like this. What would happen if we looked at each other through the eyes of our hearts? What would happen if we looked through our hearts to see each other? If we looked from our heart into another's heart?

If we used the eyes of our hearts, would we see more clearly? Would colors be brighter? Would everything look like "The Wizard of Oz" in Technicolor? If we used the eyes of our hearts, would we feel more at peace? Or giddy with excitement and love and bliss for all that this world has to offer?

More importantly, if we use the eyes of our hearts, we surely would see better into the hearts of others. We'd surely see that a friend needed a hug instead of a hello or an embrace instead of a hug. We'd see that someone needed a visit--the gift of our time and our attention-- instead of just a passing wave or a quick phone call. We would see that a little child needed to be listened to, truly listened to, so that they could feel confidant and confirmed, secure. We'd see need...emotional, physical, spiritual, time.

If we see with the eyes of our heart, would we show love differently? Would our hearts open up wider? Would we be more accessible, honest, tender? More selfless, more intentional, more inclusive? How might that affect the people in our lives--everyone from our closest family member to the guy behind us in rush hour traffic and the checkout person at the grocery store?

Might we draw conclusions, make inferences and choices, truly "see" differently?  The eyes of our heart might see a woman at the grocery store who wishes she could buy organic, but can only afford that Kraft macaroni and cheese that you are turning your nose up to. We might see a man watching our family intently from a park bench because he aches for time spent with his own children who are separated from him instead of seeing prying stares. We might see heartache instead of disturbance, compassion instead of annoyance. The eyes of our heart might see a woman who doesn't wear the latest magazine trends because her nose is stuck in books all of the time. We might see a family who happily chooses time together over careers that afford fancy cars, enormous houses, and the latest everything and anything.  The eyes of our hearts might see intention and powerlessness and everything in between. And humanity. Would we be blind to judgment? Would we see truth?

This goes beyond churchgoers or any particular faith. This is a call to the human race. To open the eyes of our hearts so that we might let love spill over onto each other.  If you open the eyes of your heart, what will we see? How will you see your world differently? How will we change our world?  By seeing through one open, loving heart at a time...

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Potty Training Toddlers

Life is Good: I'm not potty training anybody!

It's all about your perspective, right? So when you are having a rough day, just think about how rougher it could be! You could be toilet training a little one! Ack!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Black Beans Recipe for Preschoolers

Life is Good: I'm not letting my creative skills sit still!

Our five-year old is was such a good eater. We eat most everything from scratch and we eat a lot of "whole" foods, partially due to allergies and partly because I have just always eaten this way. He loves flavors that many kids don't--lemons, olives, curry, black beans, and more. He's always been adventurous about trying things and likes just about everything (except broccoli).
Well, he did. Until he started eating lunch at preschool sometimes. And learned that "some kids don't like..."
So, sometimes, the way to get your kid to eat healthy, protein-filled black beans is to do this...
Whatever it takes! Can I get an "Amen!" to that?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Eggless Asian Turkey Burgers

Life is Good: it's dinnertime!

Last week, I got a hankering for Asian turkey burgers. I perused some recipes, but nothing caught my eye, so I decided to wing it! That is what I love about cooking. You can totally be creative and it usually turns out edible if not delicious! (Baking is a science, though!)

So I grabbed everything I had in the fridge and threw it all together. The fam devoured them! The big kid had seconds and the littlest one had thirds! I cooked the burgers inside due to weather (brr!) but they would be fab on the grill.

Eggless Asian Turkey Burgers
1 lb ground turkey
1/2 T minced garlic
1 T fish sauce
1 T  lime juice
1 T garlic-seasoned rice wine vinegar (doesn't have to be garlic-seasoned)
Dash of ground ginger (1/4 t approximately)
5 T Soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish with avocado, peppers, (sprouts would be good, too!) and spicy hoison sauce (recipe below)

Spicy Hoison Sauce*
1/4 cup hoison sauce
2 T soy sauce
2 T sriracha sauce 

1. In a bowl,  combine all ingredients (except the buns and garnish, of course!). 
2. Mix ingredients together, being careful not to over mix.
3. Separate mixture into equal parts and form into patties.
4. Cook on the grill or in a hot skillet until done. Use a meat thermometer to test the internal temp. It should read 165 degrees.
5. Remove patties and toast buns in your skillet utilizing the turkey burger drippings.
6. Place patty on bun and top with avocado, peppers, sprouts, and other crunchy veggies.
7. Spread spicy sauce (mix all three ingredients together) on top bun and place over burger. Serve.

Charred buns with spicy hoison sauce...

The finished easy!

*You may discover that you want more hoison and less sriracha. It all depends on how spicy you like things! I did not serve the spicy hoison sauce to my kids---it is too "hot" and they are allergic to sesame, which is in hoison.