Latest Posts

garden prep and compost FAQ

We are probably moving this year.  It is all still a big question mark, but we’re about 90% certain.

I had decided not to try to start seeds indoors this year and not to purchase any seeds at all.  We’ll be selling our home, right?  Why spend the time?

Then spring started to happen.  My dad gave me some of his leftover seeds.  I starting thinking about growing kale the first time, which would be planted now.  In the end, I just couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t not grow things. Read More

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and I NEED YOUR HELP!

Cancer is cruel.  It has no conscience. My mother, Carrie, is a health nut who never misses a checkup and won’t even eat a piece of fruit if it isn’t organic.  She isn’t exactly in the common candidate for Colon Cancer, yet she was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer in March, 2011.  Again, cancer doesn’t follow rules and it doesn’t care who you are.  Read More

must watch/read this week #4: yoga and wildflowers

This is the last–and lightest–of my four suggestions this week.

Dreaming of Wildflowers on the Kripalu blog, Thrive


Kripalu’s Thrive blog is one of my very favorite blogs now and I recommend it to everyone, not just yoga lovers. This brief post, which happens to be a video called “Dreaming of Wildflowers” features Kripalu landscaper, Kevin “Moose” Foran’s description of his planned transformation of the Kripalu grounds.  65 years ago, the property was primarily lawn, which needed to be mowed.  Each year since, he has turned a few acres into wildflower meadows, resulting in now only 25 acres that need to be mowed, thereby creating ecosystems and lowering carbon emissions.  He describes the land as an “open canvas.”  Lets all be happy that February is over because the month of March brings something that will make those of us who have been utterly worn out by this winter breathe a sigh of relief: the first day of spring.
hydrangea with snow
working parents

must see this week #3: the many personas of working mothers

Apologies, readers.  I meant to publish this days ago, but I got hit with a really terrible case of good ol’ Influenza and I’ve been in bed for four days.   Enjoy this next recommendation.


Working Mothers by photographer Alice Proujansky


While looking something up at work, I stumbled upon a photography project that blew me away and touched me so much that it made me choke up.  Alice Proujansky has an ongoing project on her site called “Working Mothers.”  Without words, it shows just how many personas are wrapped up into one working mother.  Working mothers have to be powerful and articulate enough to present in meetings, yet flip the switch at any given moment and kiss boo boos, clean vomit, nurse fevers, and buy diapers.  They have to maintain an air of professionalism yet also dash away to private places to hook pumps up to their breasts to nourish their babies.

I struggle every single day with trying to understand how a full-time working mother could ever find balance.  I think about it at stop lights on my terrible commute home; while in the shower or tub, which is my place of peace and solace; when I start to do a yoga pose that reminds me of a part of my body I don’t love; while paying bills; when deciding which dinosaur cake to make my son; when I’m making dinner for my family; when I’m longing to sleep but can’t because there are still a million things to do; when I drive to work with tears in my eyes because I just want to be with my baby; and when I realize that days have gone by without kissing my husband because life can be so overwhelming.   I’ve always been really career-driven, and yet nothing has pulled me harder than the biological yearning to be with my child. Women’s roles are so vastly different now compared to the generations preceding us and I do feel I’m part of a pioneering group that future generations will dissect.  I think it is possible that the working mother appears selfish, but I don’t agree.  If my family could survive on one income, we would.  I don’t feel like an anti-feminist by admitting that I’d gladly stay home full or part time if I could while my child is young.  I think that, economically, it is extremely hard to survive on one income now and it is more common to have two parents working just to keep afloat.  I also think that the U.S. Government’s lack of support for working mothers (6 weeks of disability for bringing a child into the world? Really?) hurts us as a society in the long run.

Back to the photo portfolio, I can’t wait to see how it develops. I am in awe of the project.
working parents

One baby, two working parents.

must read this week #2: growth and development are not a race

11 Things I Wish Every Parent Knew by Dr. Stephen Cowan on such a busy, rushed culture, I often hear things like “I can’t wait until this stage is over,” or “When will he/she sleep through the night?”  These are very normal things for parents to say because child rearing is freaking hard. We’re also programmed to praise all things early: early walkers, early talkers,  early potty users, etc. and we all know those weird parents that like to make things competitive for some reason.  Social media can add to the “race” if you let it in.  In 11 Things I Wish Every Parent Knew by Dr. Stephen Cowan, #1 on this list is “Growth and development are not a race.”   In a world that is so go-go-go, cherishing the development of our babies is one thing that should be savored, I think.  Every person is different and every baby is different in terms of development.  Anderson started counting fairly early and I’m really proud of him, but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t necessarily guarantee him a spot in an advanced academic program in the future.  On the flip side, he won’t sing and dance, another item on the “what your toddler may be doing” lists, but I’m not going to push him into these things so he’ll “keep up.” He’ll get there when he gets there.
That clichéd statement that we tire of hearing over and over: “Enjoy every moment because it goes so fast” really does mean something, because it does go too fast. As much as we ache to hear our children speak articulately, we’ll ache just as much (or more) to hear their endearing baby babble later.  As much as we wish for them to walk, we’ll someday feel nostalgic because it means we won’t see them crawling around with a goofy diaper bum anymore.  “Enjoy every moment” is unrealistic because there are challenging times, too.  Nights where you just want sleep and your four week old is up 4 times or when you are sick yourself and you find you have to take care of another human being, regardless of how you feel.  Or even past the infant stages when you want to have a conversation, but you have your toddler with you and they are just so active you can’t take your eyes off them for a second.  Enjoying “every” moment is near impossible while IN the moment of a temper tantrum (that could be brought on by something as simple as a toy train running out of batteries) or a night when you are dead tired and your child wakes up and just wants to be with you.  However, what is “hard/challenging” in the moment can later seem so sweet in memory, and I’ve experienced this many times already.  For example, though I can remember crying from exhaustion during those first few months, I’d now give anything to go back to the middle of the night with my four week old baby, when the world was asleep and it was just the two of us. I could stare at his beautiful face and smell his baby smell and hear his little newborn sounds and simply hold him.
middle of the night feeding

Anderson a few weeks old at 5 AM

I also wouldn’t wish away this current stage of watching my spirited child run around and giggle and chase dogs and cats and chat with anyone who will listen, even if it is exhausting at times.  And call me crazy, but with each step towards independence, I feel a twinge because he needs me just a little bit less.   Having that little boy need me is the most fulfilling, happiest thing I’ve ever known and if I could hear him yell MOMMA at the top of his lungs and sprint to the door for a hug when I get home for the rest of my life, I’d be OK with that. Alas, he will grow up and he won’t need me to put on his shoes or cut his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for him, but I hope he’ll always need me in some way.  For now, I won’t wish the moments–even the tough ones–away.
I also really liked the part about the importance of creating traditions.  This past December, we were asked to send in a list of our family holiday traditions to daycare with Anderson as our weekly “parent activity.”  All of a sudden, I paused.  “Do we have any traditions?” I asked my husband.  Bit by bit, we started to realize that traditions had started to form organically already.  “Making pomanders,”  he said.  “Going to the same Christmas tree farm each year.”  Anderson has been to that tree farm three times.  Once in my belly and two times in real life.   “Watching Santa coming down the street on Christmas Eve,” he added.I remember so clearly our traditions as a child and they were truly what made the holidays, because they were enjoyable and predictable (and by predictable, I don’t necessarily mean that my mom hid the Easter Baskets in the same place every year!), thereby creating structure and happy anticipation.    At Christmas, we’d painstakingly choose one present that we were allowed to open at the table at breakfast time, making that one present REALLY special.   On my birthday, I’d always be allowed to pick where I wanted to go out to dinner, which I looked forward to each year (and I always chose Red Lobster).  These little things in life are such powerful memories and I want to be sure my child has his own memories of our traditions, whatever they evolve to be.

The 2013 Christmas Tree Hunt

The 2013 Christmas Tree Hunt


must watch this week #1: Rachel Parent, Kevin O’Leary, and the ickiest corporation out there–Monsanto

I originally intended to quickly share a selection of things watched and read that I found inspiring so far this week, but as it turns out, I have a lot to say about some of these things!  So, for the next four days, I’ll share with you one interesting thing to watch or read each day.  This first item is a video that you must watch and I’ve provided an opinionated context for you if you aren’t in the know regarding Monsanto.
Rachel Parent Rips Kevin O’Leary a New One in GMO debate
This is actually not new at all, but it was new to me.  Rachel Parent, a 14 year old activist (founder of Kids Right to Know) is quite vocal regarding Montsanto and the lack of GMO labeling.  Her young, articulate, fresh voice gained media attention and she challenged Kevin O’Leary (business/finance guru and journalist, though I use the word “journalist” loosely) to a debate, which he accepted and had her on his show.  Click here to watch the video.  If I could be 14 again, I would choose to be Rachel Parent.  Why couldn’t I have been this cool?

Her main issue is with labeling.  Because these Frankenfoods have not been extensively tested for safety and long-term health (not to mention environmental impact…oh I could go on), it is only fair that we have the right to know–as consumers–if a food product we are buying contains GMO ingredients.  O’Leary is clearly pro GMO and definitely tries to—condescendingly—show Rachel how wrong she is to oppose GMO (what planet is he on?).  Instead, he makes himself look like a bit of an ass by suggesting she is anti-science and is a “shill for environmentalists.”  This young, informed woman knows the facts – that GMO foods are simply bad on every level.  

If you are unaware of what is going on with Monsanto and GMO foods, I would suggest doing a little research because it is pretty terrifying.  If you think it doesn’t affect you, let me leave you with some (non GMO) food for thought.  Do you eat Morningstar Farms, Pepperidge Farm, or Pillsbury foods?  If yes–and most of us eat these items–then this affects you.
If you eat a plant that is genetically modified to grow its own pesticide, simply imagine what the long term effects on the human body will be when research has continually shown the negative health impacts of pesticides. The EPA even lists pesticides as being carcinogens as well as having an impact on the hormone and endocrine system.  Yum!  Sign me up for corn that causes cancer, please! Also, imagine what the world will be like if ONE CORPORATION basically owns the rights to all food.  Yes, all food.  Approximately 80% of U.S. corn and 90% of soybeans are attributable to Monsanto. If you grow Monsanto seeds, you are legally not allowed to use the seed the following year for a new crop.  You’ll have to go back to Monsanto to get another batch of seeds.  If they find out you have harvested seed, they will sue you, and they’ve won every single case in court thus far.  Oh and God forbid you grow open-pollinated, heirloom plants anywhere near where GMO seed can blow over to your field and contaminate your organic, non-GM plants.  If they do, and you find yourself growing Monsanto patented plants on accident, they can sue you, the small farmer.   Read more about this here.
Stick to the heirloom plants and don’t trust Monsanto’s propaganda that sends messages out there that GMO food/seeds are OK.  They aren’t OK.  Unfortunately, nobody has as much money as Montsanto does, and money usually wins out.  (PS. Our Chief Agricultural Negotiator, appointed by Obama, is a pesticide lobbyist and VP of Science at the lobbying group that represents Monsanto.  So, our government is definitely not looking out for us on this issue. Great.)  We need biodiversity, friends, and Monsanto is slowly but surely eliminating diversity, creating a food system that is completely dependent on this really scary company.  I don’t want the world food supply and my ability to eat and live to be in the hands of a greedy, corrupt, huge corporation.
For a printable list of Monsanto brands to avoid, click here.

love and dinosaur cards

I confess, I’ve never been a fan of Valentine’s Day. One might call me a Valentine’s Day Curmudgeon.  I always thought of it as a cheesy Hallmark holiday loaded with materialism geared to women.  I know…I sound like the Grinch.

A few things happened this week to change my tune, however.

It started with a conversation with a co-worker–who is a strong, independent woman–discussing her lack of understanding of the Valentine’s Day haters that are all over social media right now.  Why not celebrate love?  Why not have a day to remind us all to share love, because in the busy day-to-day, it is so easy to forget?  She had a point.

Next, another dear friend of mine gave to me a Valentine and a little box of chocolates.  She gave this with no expectation of receiving anything back.  She just took the time to say, “Hey friend, I love you.”  The chocolates didn’t even last five minutes, by the way.


Suddenly, I started to think about sweet confections I could make for my husband or maybe a nice dinner I could make for my family to show my love.

I rearranged the “Photo of the Day” images at my job to ensure the Valentine’s Day-ish photos would be featured this week leading up to Valentines Day.  What?

I even came downstairs one morning to discover that my mother-in-law shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches into hearts for her grandson.

Yup. I took a quick picture.

pb&j hearts
My next sign from the Valentine’s Day Gods happened yesterday. I went to bring my son to daycare on and realized I missed a note about a Valentine’s Day party and the request to bring cards in for his class and perhaps a snack for their party.  I dropped him off empty-handed, hanging my head in shame that the sheer hectic nature of life my life made me miss a large sign on the door announcing these events.  That same morning, however, he and his little friend played as I chatted with her father.  I decided to take a video of them because they were so happy together.  I happened to catch, on video, this sweet little girl kissing my son.  How could that not be another sign that love is worth celebrating?  If you need a dose of happy, please watch this short video of these two lovebirds.  It will warm your icy heart.

I decided to stop fighting it; to stop being a curmudgeon.  I kicked this new attitude off by using an hour of my life for something completely impractical and not on the “need to do list.” I put Pandora on and made Valentine’s Day cards for Anderson’s class.  Since he is giving them out, they had to be something he is attached to. Everything in his life revolves around dinosaurs.  This morning, he said, “Hi Dinosaur Mama, ” and proceeded to ask me for “Dinosaur Papa, car?”   A few weeks ago, I went into his room in the middle of the night and without opening his eyes or waking up, he murmured “dinosaur” in his sleep.

I brought out my bin of scrapbooking paper and decided to make dinosaur cards of course.

Some glue, patterned paper, and you have some very easy dinosaur cards.
I made a quick dino drawing with two separate stencils: one for the dino and one for his plates, so they could be a different color.

I used the stencils to make eight dinosaurs.

And with some green paper for grass and some hearts, I now have eight cards for Anderson to give out on Valentine’s Day.

dino cards
I’m telling you, this was good for my soul.  As a working momma, the things I feel I miss out on are “mom” things.  Sitting down to do a “mom” thing made my day.

Wait until Dada Dinosaur sees his card!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!  I’m a believer now!  I still don’t think it needs to be about gifts or material things, but why not celebrate love?  What is life without love?  I’ll leave you with this great read from called Falling in Love with Life that came out this week.  It is about loving someone else that is very important: YOU!


**Update: The woman that inspired this post wrote a touching piece of her own about Valentine’s Day.  You can read it here. 
Pardon the bad cell phone photography.  I was too focused on my dinos to bust out my camera. 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Family

I just discovered the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge, which promotes inspiration and creativity to all of us in the WordPress Community.  I love assignments.

This week’s challenge is Family, which is easy for me.  I’m an obsessive photo taker when it comes to family because my family is everything to me.

These photos are all from the month of January, the most recent being from this past weekend when I had the honor of celebrating my 35th birthday with Grammy Alice, who turns 92 this year.

Grammy Alice holding a sleeping little boy.

Grammy Alice holding a sleeping little boy.

Our beautiful joint birthday cake, though if you look closely, you'll see that this cake is really cupcakes!

Our beautiful joint birthday cake, though if you look closely, you’ll see that this cake is actually a bunch of cupcakes!

Our visit to the aquarium where Anderson yelled "BIG BIG FISH" continually.  He was completely enamored by this place.

Our visit to the aquarium where Anderson yelled “BIG BIG FISH” continually. He was completely enamored by this place.

Little feet jumping up and down in a puddle.

Little feet jumping up and down in a puddle.

My boys have the best hair.

My boys have the best hair.

Group hug with Grammy and Papa A.

Group hug with Grammy and Papa A.

From Pretty Ponies to Shrinky Dinks, this toy bin held all sorts of treasures from when my sister and I were kids in the 80s.  Anderson was so thrilled that he laid down in the toys and started swimming through them.

From Pretty Ponies to Shrinky Dinks, this toy bin held all sorts of treasures from when my sister and I were kids in the 80s. Anderson was so thrilled that he laid down in the toys and started swimming through them.

The bird tree stays up well into the new year at my parents' house.  It makes a great hiding spot for little boys.

The bird tree stays up well into the new year at my parents’ house. It makes a great hiding spot, too.

There are also many family members out there that I’m missing very much. XO

veggie chowder

I made the best soup in the world a few weeks ago.  Actually, the best soup in the universe.  My cute husband came in from outside looking like a snow man during our last snow storm and I felt compelled to dig through our cupboards to create some sort of hot comfort food for him. Note: we hadn’t gone grocery shopping.  I didn’t realize the leftover holiday remnants of my fridge and freezer would turn out to be likely my favorite soup ever.  What could I possibly do with an unopened container of cream as well as a partially consumed bottle of champagne?  Add some veggies of course to create Veggie Chowder!

1 pint of heavy cream (yeah, I know – this is not low fat!)
1 cup of champagne or white wine
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
3 tablespoons of butter or margarine
3 tablespoons of flour
1 onion, chopped
1 tub of Knorr Homestyle Stock
1/2 10 oz package of frozen spinach
4 small potatoes
3 carrots, chopped
1 cup of frozen string beans, chopped
1 cup of frozen corn
1 red pepper, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
herbs on hand to taste (I used a pinch of chopped fresh thyme and rosemary as well as dried oregano and dill)
a handful of chopped parsley

First, cube your potatoes into small pieces, add just enough water to cover them and the Knorr stock, and boil for 5 minutes.  You just want them to soften slightly rather than let them cook all the way through.  Save the potatoes and water and set aside.

Place your spinach in water to thaw and set aside.
Get all of your veggies ready to toss into your soup.

Next, sauté onions and garlic in butter or margarine.
sautee onions and garlic

Add flour, mix until it is a paste (roux) and let it bubble for a moment.  Add champagne and simmer for 10 minutes to reduce the alcohol.  Add the can of cream of mushroom soup.  Add your potatoes and the water they cooked in with the seasoning.

Add your cream and stir together.  Add the vegetables and herbs.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

Add salt, pepper, and chopped parsley.  Turn heat off and give the soup a final stir.  Do you have herb scissors?  We received this pair as a wedding gift and I couldn’t imagine living without them.

Hubby Chris declares this soup–loaded with veggies that offer B vitamins, iron, calcium, fiber, vitamins K and A, and vitamin C–the best soup I’ve made to date.


If you are wondering what those bright orange things are in the background of the picture above, they are pomanders, a favorite holiday tradition that–in mid January–still smells deliciously like orange and cloves.

Ps. This was my first post with pictures taken with my new Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens (courtesy of Best-Husband-Ever). I’m getting to know it, so be patient with me as I work on my obsession with (and overuse of) the 1.4 part.  If you aren’t sure what that means, you can read a little tutorial here on

And speaking of photography, here’s a shameless work plug for two recent reviews I wrote:
Canon Powershot N Facebook Ready Camera Review
Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 Review

2013 in review

WordPress sends users an annual report every year.  It is so fun to see how many people have visited, where they are from, and what the most popular posts have been.  Four out of five are older posts, actually.  Which one is most popular, STILL?  Why, the post I wrote with my father on creating a leaning string bean trellis (July 2011)!  This is followed by a step-by-step guide to creating a cucumber trellis, making blackberry lemon coffee cake (with blackberries from our garden – another happy surprise from 2013!), cruelty-free baby products, and a recipe for vegan bruschetta.  So, note to self: more garden tutorials and recipes in the future!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.