CSA Adventures – Week 8

As has become my weekly modus operandus, I’m linking up to the “What’s in the Box?” linky party over at In Her Chucks. You really need to check it out when you get a chance. I’m having so much fun reading about everyone’s CSA experiences and trying out their delicious recipes!

Now – onto this week’s bounty! This week our cup really runneth over with fresh, crisp vegetables:

  •         3 lbs of Asian Eggplant
  •         2 lbs of carrots
  •         2 lbs of red beets
  •         1 head of cabbage
  •         5 cucumbers
  •         3 zucchini
  •         2 summer squash
  •         1 lb of heirloom tomatoes
  •         1 quart of cherry tomatoes
  •         1 bunch of lemon basil
  •         1 stalk of garlic

 We had friends over for dinner this weekend and we tried made this simple zucchini side dish. It was AH-MAZ-ING and so easy to make! In fact, we made this dish again last night, and scarfed it up!

This weekend we also made this beef stuffed zucchini. P was wonderful and actually did all the work on this one. He altered the recipe slightly (but I don’t have his version written down). I can tell you that in addition to the tomato sauce, he also sliced up the heirloom tomatoes and layered them on top. He also grilled the zucchini instead of microwaving it. It was SO GOOD!

The cherry tomatoes have become our go-to snack for the week. Fresh off the vine tomatoes are oh-so-tasty! They make me never want to eat a store-bought tomato ever again.

Since I’ve yet to make my traditional coleslaw and since this was our last week for cabbage – I finally made coleslaw with the cabbage and some of our carrots.

The remainder of the carrots (well, the one I hadn’t already eaten raw) were cooked up in a honey glaze as tonight’s dinner vegetable.

Tomorrow, I’m planning on making this Eggplant lasagna recipe. I’m also hoping to pick up some fresh local peaches tomorrow and plan on making a peach salad with the lemon basil. Yum!

The summer squash I’ve frozen, so we can enjoy it later this year, when our CSA is over. Freezing squash makes me nervous though, so I think this is the last week I’m going to do that. I really hope I’ve not ruined it!

I’m still trying to figure out what to do with the beets. I’m been reading lots of recipes that use beets in cakes and breads and I’m very tempted to try that…although P isn’t a big fan of sweets, so I try not to bake too much since I end up eating all most of it. I’m also thinking about trying to make some candied beets. We’ll see…

I used the cucumbers to make pickles. Can’t wait until they’re ready! 🙂

Thanks for reading through this week’s bounty. Despite my best intentions, it seems that every week it takes me a little bit longer to get this post up. I’m hoping to fix that this week – so I apologize in advance to those of you who like to tell me “enough about these vegetables – we want more Monster!” (you know who you are) for the influx of CSA posts you’ll see from me this week. I promise to make it up to you somehow. 😉

Life Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This

One of the perks to being a parent is that when your child is small, you get to “relive” your childhood all in the name of “showing your child how to (fill in the blank).”

This week, I’ve gotten to play with sidewalk chalk AND play on a playground. All of course, for the noble purpose of showing Monster how it’s done. 😉

Turns out, Monster LOVES playgrounds – especially swings and slides.

Love his expression!

Scaling the wall

Made it!

Again! Again! To the top!

It’s Tough Raising Parents

It’s taken me a long time to write this post. I’ve started it half-a-dozen times, but always stopped after writing the first couple paragraphs. Apparently succinctly describing our parenting philosophy is much more complicated than I thought it would be!

Before Monster was born, we had never heard the term “Attachment Parenting” (typically called AP, for short). Although we hadn’t heard the term before, we were still planning on incorporating many of the AP “guidelines” into our parenting style. For instance, we were planning on breastfeeding and baby-wearing from the beginning. We were not, however, planning on co-sleeping. But then Monster was born and turned our world upside down…

We were planning a natural birth for Monster at a local birthing center, but alas – that was not to be. Instead, Monster was born in a hospital via c-section. I’ve read that c-section babies are typically very sleepy for several days after birth, often needing to be woken up to eat. Supposedly this is due to all the medicine used for a c-section, which usually makes its way into baby in a smaller amount. I don’t know if this is true – I’m sure someone, somewhere did a study on it and found a statically significant difference in the “sleepiness” of babies born vaginally via c-section. But as we all know, while statistics work well to describe a general population, they shouldn’t be applied on an individual basis. 😉 Monster came out screaming, hungry, and not-at-all tired and remained that way until…well, he’s still that way, so I guess it’s just his personality.

While we stayed in the hospital, Monster “roomed-in” with me. He only spent a few hours in the nursery the whole 3 days we were there. Most of the time during his stay there was spent in someone’s arms – often when we tried to put him in the portable crib after he’d fallen asleep, he would wake up and scream and cry until he was picked up. The temperature in our room was really cold for a day or so, so we thought maybe that was why he preferred being held.

And then we brought him home…and he continued to scream and cry every time he was put down. Soon, we found ourselves taking naps while Monster slept on our chests. After several weeks of this we began just bringing him into bed with us, because we HAD to sleep sometime. I felt so guilty about co-sleeping though. After all, doesn’t everything you hear about it tell you how unsafe it is as well as increasing the risk of SIDS?!?! I also felt really alone – none of the friends and family I talked to ever had a similar experience – all the advice they could offer was the “cry it out” method, which I didn’t have the heart to do. (Disclaimer: My mom co-slept with all of her children and has encouraged this sleep arrangement ever since I can remember. I, however, thought science was on my side when it came to NOT co-sleeping.)

One of Baby Monster’s favorite places to sleep

In desperation, I began searching the internet for alternative sleep advice, which is when I discovered the amazing Dr. William Sears and his AP philosophy. After reading through his website, I realized that Monster fit Dr. Sears definition of a “high needs” baby. It was such a relief to know that there were other parents out there who had similar babies! It was comforting to read other parent’s experiences and know that all the energy and attention Monster requires will (hopefully) pay-off in the long run.

Shortly after discovering Dr. Sears, I attended my first Le Leche League meeting, where I met a lot of lovely ladies, some of whom also co-slept and practiced AP. And it was there that I first learned of Dr. James McKenna and his sleep studies at the University of Notre Dame which proved that, when done appropriately, co-sleeping does NOT increase the risk of  SIDS. By this point I was already a firm believer in both AP and co-sleeping, but it was nice to have that additional knowledge to share with others who questioned the safety of our sleep arrangement.

Sleeping wasn’t the only difficulty challenge we had with baby Monster. Aside from refusing to sleep on his own, he also wanted to be held all the time when he was awake. It was really difficult at first, but eventually I figured out how to do many household chores while holding a baby. As you can imagine though – there are many things you just can’t do while holding a baby (cleaning a bathroom, for instance). Eventually I got Monster to at least sleep in the bed without being held – which freed me up to take care of the household chores I couldn’t do while holding him. P was also great and helped out whenever he could – but since he’s going back to school part-time in the evenings, there were lots of times when it was just me and Monster at home. Just thinking about all of the benefits we were (hopefully) reaping by APing helped alleviate a lot of the stress I was feeling by not “keeping up” with household chores.

As my maternity leave began to come to a close, I started worrying about putting Monster in daycare. My mom had offered to watch him while I worked, but I knew there was no way she’d be able to handle him 5 days a week. I pictured him crying in a crib many hours of everyday and worried what that would do to his personality. I began searching for a nanny as an alternative, but the cost of a nanny just didn’t seem feasible.

After returning to work full-time for a couple of weeks, I was ready to call it quits and become a full-time stay-at-home mom.  Thankfully, I was able to transition to a two-day a week work schedule (more about this another time). On the days I work, my mom is able to watch Monster for me, so I felt better about leaving him, knowing he’d have one-on-one care.

Now the big question – has AP really made a difference?

I think so, although it’s probably too soon to tell. Not much has changed now that Monster is a toddler. He still co-sleeps with us. Lately we’ve been working on transitioning him to a toddler bed during nap times. However, he moves around a lot and typically wakes up from his nap sooner when in his toddler bed (because rolls into the side and wakes himself up). At this point, it’s still TBD when he’ll make the transition to toddler bed during the night. He also likes to be carried around a lot still (even though he’s perfectly capable of walking). He loves exploring on his own though – so being carried around is hit or miss – it’s typically dependent on where we are, how tired Monster is, if he’s teething, etc.

Monster has a vivacity for life that I think can be greatly attributed to being AP’d (as well as his – ahem, persistent personality). I’m sure the same is true for all small children, but Monster is our first, so don’t have anyone else to compare him to yet. 😉 It’s so fun to watch him grow and learn. He loves exploring and learning new things and I love traveling with him on his amazing adventure through life. I’m always amazed at his powers of observation and his ability to apply his observations to similar situations/objects. Most importantly, he’s happy.  Which is really what we were going for when we choose to practice AP with Monster. So far, we’re happy with this parenting lifestyle as well, which is equally important.

Toddler Monster – still happy when he’s close to Daddy

Now this isn’t to say AP is best for everyone, of course. Had Monster been a laid back, easy-going baby – we would have done everything differently. Since I wasn’t blessed with an “easy” baby this time around, I have to conclude that God was trying to tell us something and it was Providential that we stumbled upon AP. Should we be blessed with more children in the future, we’ll definitely continue to practice AP with them as well (although I hope these future children prefer their own sleep space!).

What parenting style/technique work best for you and your little one(s)?

Cloth Diapering Confession

I have a confession to make – shortly after writing this post about trying to find a good nighttime cloth diaper solution for Monster, I switched to using disposables during the night.

I switched over in the hopes that Monster would sleep for longer periods at a time (we’re still breastfeeding, so Monster typically wakes up 3-4 times a night to eat). It seemed to work for the first couple weeks, then Monster started cutting molars and a restful night’s sleep eluded all of us for about a month. Now that Mosnter’s molars have cut through, he’s gone back to sleeping longer periods at night, although some days are still better than others.

 

Given how much I extol the benefits of cloth diapers, I kind of feel like a cheater by using disposables at night. I still have plans to try to make my own fleece liners for nighttime use, but this summer has been hectic and every time I plan to go to the fabric store, something more pressing comes-up that needs to be dealt with immediately, and so the trip to the fabric store gets delayed.

 

I also have been looking into cloth diapers specifically designed for night-time (translation – really absorbent cloth diapers). However, these usually come with a pretty hefty price tag (typically starting at $25 for one diaper). I know, I know – given the rising cost of disposables, a $25 cloth diaper will pay for itself in approximately 4 months (since I only buy disposables at Costco, when they’re on sale – making them ~$0.20/ea). If I knew one of these diapers would keep Monster feeling dry all night long, I’d buy one in a heartbeat – my hesitancy is in spending that much on a diaper that DOESN’T end up working out.

 

So, with that in mind, do any of you cloth diapering mamas have any nighttime cloth diapering solutions? I’d love to hear them!

 

Mom! You know I hate wearing clothes!

 

Daytime diapering – rocking the cloth diaper (and chocolate smears on the face…)

CSA Adventures – Week 7 & A Recipe

First things first – I’m joining the “What’s In the Box” linky party over at In Her Chucks. If you’re looking for a new recipe to try, you should definitely head over and check out what everyone’s linked up. There are tons of fantastic ideas and I always find it so much fun to see what vegetables and fruits are in season in other regions of the USA.
Ok – now on to this week’s share. “Wait a minute…” you say “…week 6? Last you posted was week 5 – have you forgotten how to count?” There are many things I have forgotten since birthing Monster, but so far counting hasn’t been one of them. When our week 6 share was ready for pick-up, we were off gallivanting in the mountains, visiting with P’s family. My lovely mother was kind enough to pick up our share that week for us. If you’re interested – week 5’s share included: cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, garlic, red cippollini onions, cabbage, & eggplant. I told my mom to keep our share – but she never listen’s to me, so we got many of these items upon our return.
Now down to business. Here’s the list of this week’s share:
  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 1 head of lettuce
  • 1 bunch of garlic
  • 1 bunch of red cippollini onions
  • 4 cucumbers
  • 3 zucchini
  • 3 summer squash
  • 1 bunch of carrots
  • 1 pint of gourmet cherry tomatoes
  • 2.5 lbs of red beets
This week I’m going to be brave and make home-made sauerkraut with some of the cabbage (it’s a HUGE head). I’ll reserve just enough cabbage to make this delicious Chicken and Cabbage Slaw recipe. I made it earlier this week and it was delicious and SO easy to make! Perfect for the hot weather we’ve been having lately.
We’ve never had red cippollini onions before, but they are to die for! They kind of remind me of green onions with a spicy kick to them! I’ve been using them in salads and in place of white onions in my regular cooking – today we added some to scrambled eggs – yummy!
I’m starting to run out of ideas for the zucchini and summer squash. I think I’m going to make some zucchini bread and freeze, as well as attempt to freeze some “plain” zucchini. I’m a little scared of blanching it though. Freezing and blanching broccoli and Swiss chard didn’t faze me, but for some reason I’m afraid I’ll mess up the zucchini and it will turn out rubbery and inedible. Don’t worry though – I’ll get over it (after all – there’s WAY too much zucchini in our fridge to eat and people are starting to decline my offers of free zucchini…). Does anyone have any experience in freezing zucchini? If so, any suggestions?
Now – here’s the recipe. We had a leftover eggplant from last week and P and I were trying to find a creative recipe to use it in. P found an online episode of Chow Ciao! that showed how to make Caponata. I google’d it and found this recipe. P swears it’s not true to the episode and I believe. But I’m also currently too lazy to search for and watch it again (which is actually pretty said, since it’s only 6 minutes long!) I modified the recipe slightly to use what we had on hand. I’m hoping we get more eggplant soon so I can try it again, following the directions given in the actual episode.
 
Adapted Caponata Recipe
  • Ingredients
    • 2 c onion, chopped
    • 2 c of carrots, chopped
    • 1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped
    • 1 whole eggplant
    • 1 whole zucchini
    • 1 c pine nuts (got a super good deal on them at Costco a while back…)
    • Extra virgin olive oil (I don’t measure, I just put in what “looks” like the right amount. Highly scientific, I know…)
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1/2 c brown sugar
    • 1 c red wine vinegar
    • 10 lemon basil leaves, chopped
    • Dried thyme, to taste
    • Dried mint, to taste
    • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • Directions
    • Heat EVOO in a saute pan, over medium heat.
    • Add carrots, onion, and parsley and cook until caramelized.
    • Turn heat to high, add eggplant, zucchini, salt, and pepper. Cook until it’s wilted (<– I’ve no idea what this means. What, exactly does wilted eggplant and zucchini look like? i cooked it until it looked soft.)
    • Turn the heat back to medium, add pine nuts.
    • Let everything caramelize, stirring occasionally.
    • Add brown sugar and 1/2 c vinegar.
    • Add basil, dried thyme, and dried mint. Let the vinegar reduce.
    • Mix 1/2 c vinegar with tomato paste.
    • Add the vinegar/tomato paste mixture. Let cook an additional 3-5 minutes.

Yummy Caponata

This was delicious! Next time I make it, I’m hoping to have enough eggplant to just use that exclusively as the “squash” – as well as use fresh thyme and mint.
Now it’s your turn. What new recipe have you tried recently?

Let’s Talk Nail Polish

Hello, hello! Lynn approached me about guest blogging on her site. After some hesitation on my part (what would a 20-something accountant whose life can be summed up with this website http://howshouldweaccountforme.tumblr.com/ write about that other people find interesting?) And after getting a bit of a push from Lynn (she gave me a few ideas on what I could possibly blog about) –here I am! But who am I, you ask? I’m B – Lynn’s sister and aunt to the ridiculously cute Monster.  What am I going to blog about? My sister suggested fashion/nail polish/trendy-things (I mean who do you think bought Monster those adorable white & blue loafers and his first pair of jeans?!) So, I’m going to start off my first post about nail polish.

I change my nail polish almost as often as I change my underwear (I hate chipped nails, so if they get chipped after I painted them the previous day, it comes off and a new paint goes on).  Needless to say – I’ve experimented over the years, which is why I find this new nail polish explosion to be pretty awesome.  Currently, the trend seems to be the more outrageous – the better – be it stripes, polka-dots, marbling, gem stones, the list goes on. I love the fact that nail polish can “make a statement” and is almost like an accessory – 10 year-old me was totally ahead of this new fashion fixation when  I thought I was being super cool by painting my nails different colors – clearly I missed my calling.

One of my favorite new trends is the marbled nails. However, I still have yet to master the art of not getting nail polish all over my hands, plus it’s pretty time-consuming (each nail gets dipped individually) so I haven’t experimented with this too much. I plan on tackling the gem-stone look before the summer ends (it also seems like it might take a wee bit longer than a regular paint job takes).  If you’re looking to mix up your nails a bit, but don’t want to go too extreme, there’s a simpler look I am also really into at the moment. This look involves painting all nails the same color, with the exception of the ring fingers. The ring fingers get painted either the same color plus a splash of sparkles or they get painted an entirely different, complementary, color (for the 4th this year, I painted all my nails blue and then my ring fingers silver – so festive, I know).

As I mentioned above, I plan on attempting the gem stone look sometime soon. When I do, I’ll be sure to post some pictures! Does anyone have a favorite new way to decorate their nails?

Monster and shoes – since he doesn’t wear nail polish 😉

Shoes on – success!

 

Thanks for guest posting for the day, B! Looks like i need to get some polish and start painting! 🙂

Asian Inspired Broccoli Salad

My brother and sister-in-law had us over for the 4th of July. They had a marvelous cook-out with tons of delicious picnic foods. While all the food was noteworthy, there was an Asian Broccoli Coleslaw that was really good. Since we had a TON of broccoli to use up, I thought I’d try my hand at my own “version.”

After lots of recipe reading, I couldn’t quite find what I was looking for. Eventually I decided to adapt this recipe. Adapted recipe is as follows:

  • Asian Inspired Broccoli Salad
    • Ingredients
      • 1 head of broccoli (I used everything, including the stalk and stems)
      • ½ of a medium sized onion, chopped
      • 1 package of oriental flavored Ramen noodles
      • A couple handfuls of raisins
      • ¼ c sliced almonds
      • 1 T sesame seeds
      • 1/8 c butter
    • Dressing
      • ¼ c apple cider vinegar
      • ¼ c extra virgin olive oil
      • 2 T soy sauce
      • ½ T sesame oil
    • Directions:
      • Cut broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Since I was using organic broccoli, I steamed it for 3 minutes to kill off any “hitchhikers.” If you’re not using organic broccoli, I think you can skip this step.
      • Pre-heat oven to 350ºF. Melt butter in a bowl. Break up the ramen noodles into bite sized pieces and mix into butter, along with the almonds and sesame seeds. Spread mixture on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
      • In a small box, mix together vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, and oriental noodle flavor package. Add noodle/almond mixture in.

      Noodle mixture

      • In a large bowl, mix together broccoli, onion, and raisins.

      • Add dressing and toss. Refrigerate for a minimum of one hour.

I thought this recipe was delicious. P’s comments were that there was too much vinegar and in his opinion it wasn’t “Asian” enough. I thought I was making the recipe healthier by leaving the sugar out and substituting raisins instead, but apparently the combination/ratio of cider vinegar to sugar is what makes it Asian inspired (at least according to P).

Next time I make it I’ll add in the sugar, for P’s benefit. Hopefully it’ll pass the “taste test” then! What’s your favorite broccoli recipe?

16 Months!

Has it really been a month already?!?! I know I say this all the time – but seriously, where is the time going???

Yesterday, Monster celebrated his 16 month birthday. He is continuing to grow and he learns new things everyday! He attempts to say most words – but he still hasn’t quite gotten two syllable words down yet. This month he learned to say “grill” but soon abandoned calling it that in favor of the easier to say “cook!” (at least he knows what it’s used for I guess…). He’s also started saying a couple two-word sentences – “all gone” and “hi dada”. We’ve also preliminarily begun potty training. Monster now has his own potty and he’s actually asked to use it a couple of times! I should probably get a book on potty training though, as it’s infrequent he asks to use it. Something for us to work on…

Monster is still fascinated by cars and vacuums – really anything with a motor. He also loves animals, but he’s still learning to be gentle with them. One of his favorite games right now is to practice putting caps on and off of bottles. He’s also getting more into books now, although he still doesn’t really want to have them read to him. He prefers to turn the pages himself and point out everything he can name. His favorite books right now are his “Baby Einstein First Words” book (which has lots of pictures he can identify) and his board book copy of “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See” that has a “slide and find” feature on it. Apparently “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” is a popular book for little boys because Monster can practically fill an entire book shelf with all the copies he has. Amazingly, they’re all different styles, so in that respect he doesn’t have any duplicates. If you’re in need of a copy though, we should talk. 😉

Monster still does not sleep through the night – I have a feeling it’ll be years before we get to that point. But he is getting more independent and loves to explore. He really tries to act grown-up – often insisting to drink out of a cup like a big person. He needs help doing this of course, and sometimes he gets too much water at once this way, but he doesn’t let that deter him. It’s so fun watching him try new things. His perseverance really is inspiring.

This past week, we got to spend a long weekend with P’s family. It was great seeing everyone! While we were there visiting, Monster’s great-grandma and great-grandpa got him a Cookie Monster donut. Somehow we kept forgetting to give it to Monster while we were there, but managed to make the trip back with us. Yesterday seemed like an appropriate day to give it to Monster, since it was his sort-of birthday.

Hmm – not bad…

 

Sugar before bed was a great idea, Mom!

Hehehe – there’s something on my face, isn’t there?

 

Happy 16 months, my wee little Monster-man! You truly are a blessing!

Budding Artist?

So I mentioned recently that Monster isn’t quite ready to be using markers on his own. After our little test run earlier this week, I put the markers out of sight until he’s older. I couldn’t find a couple of the markers, but I didn’t worry about it as I assumed Monster put them in one of his hiddy-holes and they would show up sooner or later.

What I didn’t foresee was that Monster would be able to remove the caps from the marker by himself. And that they when they showed up, it would be with a vengeance.

While we were playing this morning, Monster wandered out of the living room and returned with an uncapped, green marker. When I offered him paper to draw on, he refused – instead preferring to use himself as his canvas. Since that didn’t go so well last time, I took the marker away from him and after very little fuss, we moved on to a new activity.

At nap time this morning, I discovered this little piece of artwork:

Apparently white sheets are too boring for Monster

Later, P noticed that Monster had tried his hand at some interior decorating as well:

At least he used a complimentary color?

Does this mean we have a budding artist or interior decorator on our hands? Either way, he’s definitely not going to be allowed to play with markers again for quite some time. Good thing they’re washable! 😉

Acting innocent