Friday, January 11, 2013


If you are suffering from one of the many cold and flu viruses circulating [and then re-circulating] the nation, check out the "COLD / FLU: PREVENTION & REMEDIES" page I recently added to this blog. 

Nasty germs are clearly on the prowl so remember prevention is everything.  Do whatever you can to keep you and your family healthy. 

May you enjoy a healthy winter season!

Monday, January 7, 2013


The week or two prior to Christmas I steadily worked on Christmas presents for the various people I love [some of which, I'm a bit ashamed to say, are still in progress]. In elf-like fashion I sewed, mixed, drew, and printed. I measured, cut, cooked, and taped. In the midst of all the merry-making, I also carried out my mom-duties including waking throughout the middle of the night to nurse a hungry 4-month-old.

Prior to all of the creating and designing and bopping along to George Winston [you can bop to that right?], I was exhausted and drained. I'm not sure the word "zombie" could cover it. When you can't remember if you've taken a shower....this's bad. Really bad.

Then, a few days before Christmas, I realized something. It was nearing the end of a long, busy, toddler and infant packed day where tantrums happened, tears were shed, games were played, hungry mouths were fed. Bouncing on the bed was a must, balls were thrown, snuggles were had, puzzles were completed, books were read, [and then read again, and then again...], and "mom!" was yelled much more than it should have been. Despite all the activity of that day, I wasn't anxious to collapse into bed, something I am normally more than ready to do. For some reason I had an extra reserve of energy, a life that wasn't there before.

This of course leads me to roughly five minutes of contemplation [Five minutes? Yup, five. I don't have the luxury of dilly-dallying with deep thoughts - two active, giggly girls are about to wake up]. In this five minute space I am able to acknowledge something. I was born to create, to design, to imagine, to dream. Some people have been wired to run, or to organize, or to speak, or to help, or to give. We all have our something - the thing that fills us with hope, and joy, and contentment, and excitement, and energy, and a bit of crazy zealous happy. It's the thing that you want to wake up for, the thing you think about as you go to bed, the thing you wish you had more time to do, and, unfortunately, it is typically the first thing to go when life's demands and realities step in and take over.

I can go days, weeks even, without creating something. And I feel it. I sense it in my soul. There is less bounce in my step, more sigh in my days. My eyes loose a little sparkle, eyelids droop, and black and blue bags set in. Pretty, right? My outlook on life shrinks to simply surviving the tasks that never seem to get finished. My girls sense it. My husband senses it. The people closest to me sense it even if they aren't able to name what is off. Shoot, the nice man who greets me at the grocery store senses it when I give him that pitiful, "I'm too busy and tired to offer a hi" look.

On a regular basis I give up the thing I love to do [create, design, and imagine] in order to do the things I "have" to get done [dishes, laundry, picking up toys, washing counters, running errands, picking up more toys, doing more dishes, folding more laundry, etc.]. The irony is, when I don't make space to do the thing that gives me life, I can't really do any of the other things well. Eventually I stop living and just exist and the world dulls a bit more each day.

So, as I reflect back on the holiday season and enter into this new year, I am making space to create on a regular basis in hopes that it becomes habit. And I'm taking my girls along with me. I want them to see life as more than housework and meals, baths and bed. I need them to know that life is less about the "have-tos", not at all about the "shoulds", and completely, fantastically about the "I love tos". And it needs to start with me.

So dump the dishes, ignore the toys, and give the vaccuum a break. Hang up the phone, kill the TV, shelve the computer. Put on your favorite music or enjoy a little quiet. Gather your kids or go it alone. However you do it, may you find what gives you life [or reclaim it if lost] and, without apology, indulge in doing whatever it is that gets you to loose track of time.

Oh, and do it again tomorrow. And the day after that.

On a completely different note [I'm not even going to attempt to tie in my babe's butt with the bulk of this post], I recently realized that diaper wipe juice is easy and extremely inexpensive to make. You would think I would have know that...some things just go "whoosh", right over the head.

Here is my slightly-edited version of a wipe juice I love and works wonders on my daughter's bum. I like to make a large batch of the calendula tea and keep small jars of it [pre-measured] in the freezer so I don't have to make it each time. Use with unbleached, organic cotton, hemp, or bamboo cloth wipes.

Adapted from Mountain Rose Herbs "DIY Herbal Baby Wipes" 

4 c. of boiling water
1/4 ounce [appx. 1/2 cup packed] dried calendula flowers [use fresh when in season!]
2 tsp. organic castille soap
1/4 c. 100% aloe vera juice [gel needs to be refrigerated]
5 drops of organic lavender essential oil

Place calendula in a wide-mouth quart jar. Pour in boiling water, making sure flowers are soaked, and cover with a lid. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Once calendula tea has cooled, strain and compost flowers. Measure out two cups of the tea and place in a jar to be refrigerated [up to a week] or frozen. Add soap, aloe juice, and essential oil to the remaining two cups of calendula tea [add a little water to make 2 cups if necessary]. Cover and shake well to mix. Pour over wipes, saturating cloth completely. Ring out and add more cloth wipes if necessary. Or pour wipe mix in a spritz bottle and spray wipes individually prior to use. This is a great option for travel.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


I'll get to the squash, I promise. But first...

All together now - BIG SIGH. Holidays are over, families are back home, travels' wrapped up. Kids are becoming themselves again, snow is falling [depending on what latitude and longitude you call home], and what do you know - it's a new year.

For as much as I love the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, I equally look forward to the soft quiet of January. To me it's like a warm blanket to wrap myself in as calm and peace descends  It is in this month I hope for snow. Not just a dusting but a real snow storm - ten inches plus.

There is brilliance behind each of the seasons. Spring is full of newness, restlessness, and energy. Summer is marked by beach time fun, long hot days, and hard outdoor work. Bounty, gratefulness  football games, and more hard outdoor work lace the Autumn days. But winter - winter is for rest, rejuvenation, reflection, and hunkering down by the fireplace. It's the time for looking at your life and recognizing areas you are doing really well, finding areas you want to change, and building good habits to take with you throughout the year.

Enter New Year's Resolutions.

I have never been the biggest fan of January 1. The pressure to be better, do better, always weighed heavy on me. I would half-heartily make a resolution or two knowing that within a week said resolution would be long forgotten - replaced by guilt. Happy new year to you too.

This year however I'm going about it a bit differently. Rather than ruthlessly picking my persona apart, I've decided there may be a more constructive [and feel-good] way of going about change. This year I have listed things I want to do, to change, to work on, to accomplish and am giving myself the entire year to do them. Real novel, huh? I'm also giving myself the freedom to fail. I'm beginning to realize that life throws curve balls, God has other plans [wait, what?! I'm not in control????], and that two little girls really drive my life these days.

This brings me to one of my goals for the 2013 year - cooking with my 2 1/2 - year old. Time if precious these days and generally I am frantically trying to throw dinner together before the girls wake up from their generally-to-short naps. I'm half way into the meal preparation when one or both yell / cry for my attention. Stress and under-my-breath muttering ensues.

Then, the other day, I brought the step stool to the counter and had my daughter climb up. While I was cutting potatoes, she dutifully cut her wooden produce alongside me. It was beautiful - a memory I won't soon forget. And thus, a goal was born. If my daughter is up, and the baby allows, we cook together - side by side. Maybe she'll get bored with it [okay, she is bound to get bored with it], but for now it's a way for me to turn what would be a stressful, draining activity into fun, teachable moments - especially in this season that should be laced with slow and intention.

Now, what you've been waiting for - the tie into squash [I promised you I would get there]. This is one of the recipes I have my daughter help me with. It is fantastically easy and one she absolutely loves. The beauty in delicata is the skin is tender enough to eat - no peeling required. If you have ever tried to skin a butternut you are saying "hallelujah!" right now.

If you have never tried any recipe from this blog - start here. You can find delicata squash almost everywhere and will probably have all the other ingredients [all 4 of them] in your cupboard or pantry. If you don't like rosemary, use sage. If you don't like sage, use cinnamon. If you don't like cinnamon, go plain or use whatever herb you do like. If you don't have oil, use melted butter. If you have never tried squash, this is the one to start with.

In this season of reflection, may you be gentle with yourself as you look at ways to work towards wholeness and well-being in your life. May you give yourself the room to fail and recognize the constraints in your life. May you hunker down by a fire and enjoy a cup of tea. May you find the beauty in winter and this new year.

Happy 2013.


1 medium size delicata squash
extra virgin olive oil
ground rosemary
Celtic or other sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half length-wise. With a spoon, scrape out seeds [you can save your seeds and roast using one of these recipes]. Cut each half into slices about 1/2-inch thick.

Place cut pieces in bowl and drizzle with a little olive oil. Using your hands, rub oil onto each all sides of each piece. Place oiled squash slices onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Lightly all pieces with salt, pepper, and ground rosemary.

Bake at 400 degrees for 12 - 15 minutes or until a deep golden brown and a little crispy on top. You can also broil once the squash has become soft to get that color and crisp.

Remove from oven and cool slightly. Serve hot. This goes really well with black [forbidden] rice.