Barefoot Kids

Barefoot Kids

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Flowergirl Dress That Never Quits...live long big puffy cream and mocha dress!

Olivia was the flower girl in Leah's wedding 2 years ago, and we picked up the cutest fluffiest, twirliest cream and mocha flowergirl dress for her (to match the bride of course) and Mestads. I paid $120 for it. How can something so little cost so much?? It's all in the craftsmanship and the quality is outstanding, SO I didn't complain. However, with a dress that cost that much for one day I couldn't justify so it was designated to the dress up box and has served it's purpose for multiple dress up parties, balls, "weddings", princess fashion shows, store trips, gym trips, lego play, nightgown, and the list goes on and on. It's one heck of a tough dress and has even withstood the wash machine! It's now Nyla's and she's probably put more mileage on it than Olivia ever did (most of the uses listed above were Nyla's creations). Live long and prosper little dress!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Eggless Zucchini Fritters and Lemon Rice

Tonight, another creative night, we had eggless ( I tried to convince Olivia to run to the neighbors for an egg...just used up last egg yesterday, you know like asking for a cup of sugar. It's neighborly isn't it?) It was too hot and the neighbors were nowhere in sight, didn't want to drag the kids to the store for a carton of eggs so I searched around for some eggless zucchini fritter recipes. Based on my findings I came up with my own recipe:
1c flour
2T flax meal (opt)
garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste
2c shredded zucchini
Mix together and make patties. On medium-high heat, heat oil and when it's ready ( try the flick of water test, if you flick some water on it and it crackles...it's ready) drop your zucchini fritters in the skillet. A few minutes on each side should do the trick, they'll be nice and golden when done. They're crisp and delicious! We ate them plain with a bit of salt, but I bet they'd be good with a southwestern sauce or a creamy chipotle sauce.
The Lemon Rice was also a variation of different recipes I'd seen online.
1c uncooked long grain rice (we use Jasmine)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2c chicken broth
3T lemon juice
1t lemon zest
1t fresh broken oregano leaves
sprinkle of dried parsely
1T butter
Over medium-low heat, in a heavy bottom saucepan, heat butter until melted adding onions. Sweat the onions (cook until just soft and translucent). Add (uncooked) rice and toss together with onions, turning heat up to medium to toast the rice a bit. Mix together lemon juice (you can reduce amount, this makes for some pretty lemony rice), zest and herbs/spices. Pour into rice and stir, then add chicken broth. Increase heat to high, bring rice with liquids to a boil (stirring occasionally to keep rice from sticking to the bottom). Once it's reached boil, reduce heat to low, cover. Set your timer for about 20min, check after 20min is up. If there is still liquid, add another 5min. Remove heat and let sit for about 10min, fluff with a fork and serve! Verdict, Nyla (3yrs) loved it, Olivia (7yrs) thought it was ok and Max(5yrs) wouldn't even try it. I thought it was fantastic, I LOVE lemon rice.
Happy cooking!

Low budget calls for creative menu planning!

So, we've been pinching our pennies which is hard but a blessing in disguise because we/I am able to come up with some pretty creative meals (luckily my kids will at least try anything, Ian...well, if it's got meat in it, he'll eat it). Menu planning has, in itself, been a grocery bill saver; I'm guessing that by planning out each week's dinners has cut my grocery bill in half and has left me with bare cupboards and fridge by the time we're onto next week. Rather than filled with spoiled uneaten, don't know what to do with food. I make sure to keep the staples on hand, of course, which come in handy for the creativity when we're making chicken salad out of chicken shit (thanks Dad for that one :) ). AND with summer time here and veggies in full swing in our garden with lots of our usual veggie staples (tomatoes, green peppers, onions etc) we're really able to cut our grocery costs. PLUS it's organic, I know where it's been and what's been on it or in it from seed to thriving plant. Growing your own food rocks, and for some reason, kids who will not likely touch a slice of a cucumber that you buy from the store but will pluck ready to go (or even not so ready to go) cukes right off the plant and eat it (dirt and all) from the garden. I love summer, if only I could have a veggie garden all year long.
So creative meal number one:
Black Bean and Spinach Quesadillas with Sauteed Green Peppers and Onions
1/2can black beans, rinsed
shredded cheese of choice ( I used mild cheddar)
baby spinach leaves
corn tortillas (flour-white or whole wheat will work or Labash)
1/2 green pepper, sliced
1/2 medium onion, sliced
cumin,garlic powder and salt to taste
In skillet, sautee green peppers and onions (and raw garlic if you have some on hand) in a bit of canola or olive oil. Meanwhile, layer one tortilla with a bit of cheese, black beans, spinach, cumin, garlic and salt and a bit more of cheese and top with another tortilla (you want cheese touching both tortillas in order to hold itself together, esp important during flipping). On medium heat brown both sides of your quesadilla, letting cheese melt. Top with sauteed peppers and onions (cilantro and sour cream would be awesome on this too). Enjoy!


Next is Blue Cheese BST (Bacon, Spinach and Tomato) Sandwiches
This is basically a regular ol BLT, though in place of Mayo (happened to run out the day before) we used Blue Cheese dressing (chunky), put a few slices of havarti cheese, crisp bacon, baby spinach leaves, tomato slices on some french bread and Voila! Blue Cheese BSTs:)

Big time staple lunch around here for me, is the Green Pepper and Onion Egg Burrito
Perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner
1/2 green pepper
1/2 med onion
1 egg, plus 1 egg white beaten with a tbsp of water
corn or flour tortillas
black beans rinsed and drained
salsa
Sautee green pepper and onion in either olive oil or canola oil, on medium-high heat until slightly tender. Spread peppers and onions over skillet evenly and pour egg over top, let cook and flip (there's an art to this, and sometimes I can manage a clean flip, most times not) to cook the other side. Once cooked on both sides and all the way through (just a few minutes), remove from heat. Turn heat up high and toast tortillas on both sides (about 30 seconds each side, or until golden). Divide egg/pepper/onion "omlet" into tortillas, spoon in some black beans, salsa and cilantro (opt). roll up like a soft shell taco and enjoy! Great with sour cream and guac too. It's excellent plain or all doctored up, just depends on how big of a meal you want to make out of it.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pancake Fridays! (with flexibility)

For the last 4 years, we've had pancakes every Friday morning (with a few exceptions, vacations, moving the day so all kids can get their pancakes in). For instance, today is Saturday but we'll be having Friday Pancakes for breakfast because Olivia was away at camp yesterday morning. Having gone through box upon box of bisquick I decided to research recipes on how to simply (and cost effectively) make my own pancakes. Lots of recipes were flops, but one stuck and worked. I've modified it and don't even remember the original, but years of making my own experimenting with ingredients has given us the perfect recipe.
1.5c unbleached flour
2T flax meal
2T sugar
2T baking powder
1t salt
Mix well together dry ingredients
1 egg beaten
1.5c milk
1T canola or olive oil
Mix wet ingredients well then pour into dry ingredients. Gently mix all ingredients, don't over mix. Your batter will be slightly lumpy and bubbly.
Over medium heat, heat skillet with a little bit of canola oil and cook pancakes. They don't need much time on each side, about 2min or so. Until golden, and edges start to dry just a little, bubble pop.
We make all kinds of variations of pancakes, using this basic recipe. We add cornmeal in place of flax and some of the flour, for corncakes. Berries for berry pancakes. Oatmeal (in place of half of the flour) for oatmeal pancakes, sprinkles, food coloring (for different colored pancakes), chocolate chips, bananas, applesauce etc. Variety is the spice of life! And we love our pancakes, served with butter and syrup or raw sugar or peanut butter with maple syrup or cinnamon and sugar or whip cream with berry sauce...the possibilities are endless!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The art of yogurt making, apparently whole milk is best!...or not


So, I've tried 4 different batches of yogurt and so far the best batch was that made with whole milk. Recipe as follows:
Pour a quart of whole milk and 1/2c powdered milk (you can also add your sugar and extract/flavors at this point, for a quart of yogurt, I use a scant 1/4c sugar) into a heavy bottom saucepan, cover and cook over medium-low heat until it reaches 180 degrees. Stir constantly. Remove from heat and cool to 110-115 degrees, then scoop out about 1/2 cup of the warmed milk and in a pyrex and add 2T room temp plain yogurt (I just used Dannon, though may venture to try other starters, they seem to affect the taste of the yogut. A good organic plain greek may be good). Whisk together, then add the yogurt milk mixture to the warmed milk into a quart sized Mason jar. Mix well, cover tightly then place the jar (horizontally to be able to put the crock cover on) in a warmed crock (I let mine heat up on low for about 30min, then unplugged it). Then wrap the crock up with thick towel and a fleece blankets and let it sit overnight (or for 8-10hrs, the longer it sits the more tart it is, I've made it in as little as 7hrs and it's very mild...much to the kids liking). That's it! Fresh yogurt :)
I tried both 1% and 2% and they produced a more lumpy, thinner yogurt. Taste was still good, but that made with whole milk was pretty creamy and delicious. May have to say, ta hell with the fat and calories and just go with what's good:) Always room to skimp on fat elsewhere, might as well stick with the good stuff where it counts most.

From Daisy to Brownie, Bridging over at Girl Scout Camp




Sigh, my baby is growing up! Olivia is off at Girl Scout camp for the first time ever, over night! She and her troop buddies bridged over to Brownies this evening and will now continue along their path to great world leadership! Of course I forgot the camera, though I've got connections (Thanks Triscia) so will upload pictures when I get them:) We had a potluck, Max Nyla and I were so excited to see Olivia (she'd been gone at camp all day and for sure she missed us as much as we missed her). Nope. She was having so much fun with all of her school's other girl scouts that she barely had time to give me a hug. Sniffle. The story of the Bridging over ceremony and the story of the first Brownie. Then was the Bridging Over and some fun skits the girl scouts put on by, wrote up, directed and acted out themselves, Invisible Bench, Dancing with the Cookies (Stars ;) ), Is it Time Yet (the troop leaders acted this one out, hilarious), JCPenny and much more. My baby's growing up and taking steps toward her way of becoming the first woman president of the U.S. She's got goals :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Wait, Mom'" 'yes Max' "You're beautiful and you're pretty"

The bedtime saga continues well into the years with my kids, they've never let me off the hook easily for bedtime/nighttime. They're right when they say that you aren't done with your parenting shift when the kids go to bed. That's when all the fun starts around here, starting with a gabillion bedtime stalls from each kid and with each bedtime stall sparks a new bedtime stall from the kid in the next room. It's a fun little game we play for about an hour at bedtime. Sigh, and I thought I simplified by giving each of them they own, only ONE snuggle night a week (before I was reading each a book giving each snuggles for a good 10min and still dealing with a gabillion and 1 stalls. So now we have a family book time, rotating in each of the kids beds around snuggle nights (your room if it's your snuggle night), tuck in, hugs, kisses, special led lanturns from Lola and Papa, another kiss and covers fluffed......and "Mom, wait! one more kiss, one more hug, I'm scared, I'm thirsty. Mom wait! I'm hot, I can't feel my fan. 2min later, I want my covers. I have to pee. I have to poop. I need a kleenex. Fix my butthole (yes this is Nyla's request at my helping her to fix her wedgie) I can't find my blankie (which is usually shuffled under the covers that have been tossed on and off and on, off then back on again 10 times). "Mom wait"...big sigh, I will not lose my nerve, bite tongue, breath...."yes Max".... "You're beautiful and you're pretty too. I love you" (sheesh doesn't that make a Mom feel like an ass for just about to release a little bit of Mt Everest on his little butt" Little turds, they always find a way wiggle their way back into my heart when they are riding my last nerve.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Homemade Granola Bars


I made granola bars for the second time today (used less oil, forgot to double it...so they turned out more scone like..but still slightly chew and yummy!) Nyla loved both and I even got at least a thumb up from Ian, slightly hard to please husband. Olivia and Max are indifferent, I think they prefer the chocolate loaded chewy (aka, more oiled up granola bars that actually tasted more like oatmeal chocolate chip cookies). I made craisin walnut and chocolate chunk (though didn't have much chocolate so the chocolate pieces were a bit sparse. Today's recipe:
  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flax meal
  • 1/4 cup dry chia seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (only in the craisin walnut batch)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • handful of craisins (used only in craisin walnut)
  • handful of walnuts
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (should have doubled it to 1cup but they turned out pretty good,held together nicely and were still chewy enough)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease 2 9x13 inch baking pans.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, flax, flour, chia and salt. Mix together honey, eggs and oil in a separate mixing bowl. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg and oil. Mix well using your hands. Separate the batch if you're using different added ingredients (ie, chocolate chips, dried fruits, nuts etc). Pat the mixtures evenly into the prepared pans.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (my oven bakes them up nicely in about 28min, started to brown more on the edges by 30min) in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars ( I rely on my handy dandy, use for everything around the kitchen, heavy duty Kitchen Aid pizza cutter ) while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Waka Waka at Thursdays on First

Just giving this a test-a-roo to see if I can upload videos (avi) to my blog....A bunch of us Zumba gals headed downtown for a little lunch hour Zumba Demo, we had a nice turn out. Always lots of good energy surrounding the Zumba scene, we were fortunate to be able to share the love, along with RIDS (Rochester International Dance Studio) and Amber McCornack's Nia with the rest of Rochester. Shakira's Fifa World Cup Waka Waka song is one of my new favorites, great energy, great fun. Shakira is just an amazing ball of energy for such a bitty little thing, very powerful and I'm happy to respond with my own high energy, power house of a Waka Waka dance. She's partnered up with 1Goal to help promote equal education opportunities for children around the world (starting with the little learners in Africa). I'm all about education for all and agree that equal education for everyone globally will be the first step to global peace. video

Back to barefootin', my feet are happy


Running that is! My 6 week 'stress fracture sentence' is up! I got out a few days ago for a short jaunt (about 1/2mi) which went well, so I decided to go for it today and work in a short 2mi run. Felt great, I can tell that I've lost some strength in my left foot, though my right foot is going very strong. I'm not able to splay my toes as nicely on my left. Hoping to regain that strength in no time. It sure feels good to have my feet back out on the road though, really looking forward to the upcoming first MN Chapter of the Barefoot Runner's Society meet up at Minnesota Half Marathon and 5k (I'll be doing the 5k this time around, hopefully with my UMD amiga Breanna!..that's if we can behave the night before, no partying until AFTER the race!). Depending on how things go this fall/winter, I'm looking at the prospect of going for a full marathon (likely the Med City) in the spring of next year...of course barefoot ;)

My new favorite lily, the Leopard Lily and Cloe's new puppies

The kids and I spent the afternoon at Nana's digging around in the gardens. Well, kids played around on Nana's toys and Nana and I did played in the dirt. She sent me home with the really cute little white button flowers, japanese iris', white iris, pink lilies, another ground cover purple flower and eventually the Leopard Lily (once they're done blooming). She'd gotten some babies from Darren (the 'oldest Button sister' and they took off like wildflower (everything does out at the Ranch, we suspect it's all of the horse poop she puts on everything). May be hauling some horse doo home if my gardens don't take off soon. So when I saw this beautiful little lily, my heart melted. It's beautiful, yellow delicate petals spotted red. I've decided that I will not only plant these in the Island Lily Garden (my middle front yard), but will also work these little beauties into my scroll work tattoo (which will be a while before I get) and dedicate it to my beloved Mother. I love you Mom!
The kids also practically tripped over themselves at the chance to hold Cloe's (the littlest Button sister, little mini Yorkie) puppies. They weren't used to holding such little sprouts (2 weeks old today) and were a tad rough, though with lots, LOTS of reminders they did ok and loved every minute of it. Soon the puppies will be big enough to wrangle around, for now...just lots of snuggling, nursing and warming themselves with the sunlight that peeks through the windows.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Busy Day Down at Thursdays on First



We started the day with Olivia's 8-11am summer school, then from there shuffled off to downtown for a Zumba demo performance shared with Amber McCormack's Nia (fabulous stuff this Nia, may have to make time for this in my schedule). We parked about 1/2mi from down town, in that time Olivia got a bloody nose, Nyla whined (the whole way) to be picked uppie and Max topped the cake by falling face first onto the sidewalk.
We managed to make it to the South Stage by Dooley's (cool little downtown pub/sports bar) in one piece despite our setbacks. Did some mingling with other Zumba-ers and the fine folks from the Rochester International Dance Studio. Nana and Papa Al showed up ready for the show, as did Abe, Elsie and Jo. The girls were quick to grab up some extra jingly hip scarfs and did some mad shimmying down in front of the stage while we shook what our Mama's gave us on a hot stage. Not sure how Amber's feet held up on that super hot stage, my feet were burning through my shoes!
The kids and I ditched our shoes shortly thereafter and headed down to the Peace Plaza, and of course the fountain was immediate bait for the kids. They were in there and wet from head to toe within 20 seconds of spotting it. I dipped my feet in too and it was wonderfully refreshing.
I'm working on converting videos to post, with our Nia/Zumba performances....

Later on, Nana kids and I headed back down to Thursdays 1st and established our "spot" in front of the stage, so I could partake in Rochester's first flash mob! There were 150 of us, who performed a mix music. It was orchestrated by KTTC news and Xtreme Fitness (thank you Kris Thomas and Dawn Underwood) and it couldn't have been a more fantastic event. Will be posting video of this when it pops up online.
Overall, wonderful day! It felt great to be barefoot tooling around downtown Rochester, my kids felt the same.

Ok, so I caved and started another blog...

With hopes that I can keep up with it this time, seems like a nice way to keep track of myself. I tend to lose myself sometimes amidst life's craziness. Be on the lookout for a hodgepodge of all sorts of things ranging from kidisms, barefoot running, zumba/dancing, cooking/recipes, community resources, education, health, gardening and just life. Life's good stuff, why not share the little things with the world.
Thanks for taking the time to read about my life's inspirations!

Testing

Just getting started, really...just wondering what template I chose as a backround