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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sprouted Quinoa Salad with Goat Cheese, Peppers, and Olives

This is adapted from my lovely sister's fabulous pasta salad recipe. But even more nutritious because I've substituted quinoa for the pasta. Mind you, I don't really measure my ingredients, but here's the best estimate I've got:

1/2 cup quinoa (dry, unsprouted)
2 peppers
1/2 large log of goat cheese
kalamata olives
sundried tomatoes (can use dried or oil packed)
a few splashes of balsamic vinegar

First, you need to sprout your quinoa. To do this, put it in a mason jar and fill the jar to the top with water. Soak for 2-4 hours. Then, cover your mason jar opening with fine cheesecloth (not the cheap netted stuff you can get at the grocery store) or a clean piece of pantyhose and secure with a rubber band. This functions as your "colander," so to speak. Pour out your water through this mesh and the quinoa will stay in the jar. Rinse by pouring water into the jar and pouring out (I use the sprayer nozzle on my sink). Rinse every morning and every night, and in between rinses, keep the jar tilted with the opening down so the water can drain (I prop it up in a drinking glass). In 1-2 days your quinoa will sprout. Once it sprouts, I give it a final rinse and keep it upside down in the fridge until I use it.

Now cook your quinoa. I cooked mine in equal parts chicken broth, adding chicken broth when necessary. I stopped cooking when it looked and tasted like it was done (maybe 15 minutes)?

When still hot, dump the quinoa in a big bowl and mix with goat cheese and the rest of your ingredients. Mix well so the goat cheese melts a bit.


Sweet Potato and Caramelized Banana Pancake Recipe

Caramelized Bananas (make these first)

bananas caramelizing in pan

2 bananas, peeled and sliced
4 Tbsp butter
1/8 cup maple syrup
1/8 cup brown sugar

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. When butter is melted, add maple syrup and brown sugar, and stir until melted and liquidy. Add sliced bananas in a single layer. Let the bananas cook and caramelize for 8-10 minutes. Flip, and cook on other side for about 5 minutes. I let them do their thing while I prepared the pancake batter, and didn't pay attention to time at all. I just let them get nice and soft and brown. Divide bananas. Save half of your bananas for a topping. The other half will go in your pancake batter.

caramelized banana topping


1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons brown sugar
Pinch of cinnamon
2 cups 2% milk
1/2 of the caramelized banana mixture from above, mashed
1/4 cup plain yogurt
5 teaspoons melted butter
2 eggs
1 sweet potato

Wash your sweet potato and pierce with fork. Microwave for 6 minutes or until soft, flipping it halfway through cooking. Let cool, then peel and mash with a potato masher or ricer.

In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients (all-purpose flour through cinnamon). In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients into your mashed sweet potato. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. (I found I had to break up the pockets of flour that formed so I could mix it in).

Cook your pancakes over medium heat in a skillet, griddle, what have you.

pancakes cooking on griddle pan

Top with the caramelized bananas you saved, maple syrup, and voila:


Cranberry Lambic Bread Recipe

Or What To Do With Fruity Beer, adapted from Farmgirl Fare's recipe for Beyond Easy Beer Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup dried cranberries (I used Craisins)
12 ounces Sam Adams Cranberry Lambic beer

Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl, then add the cranberries and mix well.

Slowly stir in beer.

Mix until combined, then spread in greased baking pan.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let it rest out of the oven for 10 minutes, then remove from pan.

A weekend of cooking

Sprouted Quinoa Salad with Goat Cheese, Peppers, and Olives; Sweet Potato and Caramelized Banana Pancakes; Cranberry Lambic Bread

After eating way too much bread and sugar the week of Thanksgiving, I decided I need to eat better: fresher, more whole foods, less bread, and less sugar. It's amazing what sugar can do. As soon as I started eating less bread and sugar, my digestive system immediately felt better (**cough--less gas--cough**). I re-discovered sprouting. Sprouting grains makes them more easily digested, and more nutritious as well. I discovered quinoa, which is basically a nutitional powerhouse and a complete protein.

I do try to budget with my grocery shopping, and yes, buying fresh foods can be a little more expensive. During the growing season I participate in a CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture--I pay for a share in a farm, and in exchange, get a box of organic, fresh, local veggies every week). That comes out to about $17/week for vegetables, which is a steal for organic produce. But during the off season I tend to eat fewer veggies because they aren't in season, aren't local, or aren't cheap. This week, I bought a lot of my veggies at Costco. Certainly not local, but some are organic, and some are dirt cheap: a 1 lb box of organic lettuce for $3.99, a huge clamshell of blackberries for $3.99, a log of goat cheese for about $6, a giant tub of mushrooms... can't remember how much. You get the idea though.

I made some quinoa salad with goat cheese and fresh peppers, goat cheese and olive stuffed chicken with sauteed mushrooms, burgers with mushrooms in them and sauteed mushrooms on top, asian stir fry with asian flavors and lime squeezed on it, served over jasmine rice...

On Saturday morning, I was craving pancakes. Since I had bought several sweet potatoes when they were on sale the week before Thanksgiving, I still had 2 left, and needed something to do with them. Big T isn't a huge fan, so I had to incorporate something else. And banana pancakes are always delicious. I googled, and came up with 2 recipes for Sweet Potato and Banana Pancakes. The caramelized bananas from this recipe from That's Not What the Recipe Says were calling to me. But I wanted bananas IN my pancakes. The pancake recipe at Chi Town Cook had the right amount of sweet potato and banana that I wanted, but too many spices. And I didn't have ricotta cheese. So I adapted it to suit the ingredients I had on hand and came up with my own version.

On another note, I also have 3 fruity beers left in my fridge. We buy the sampler packs, and they always sneak fruity beers into those. Who actually drinks those? I love a good beer, but I draw the line at juice flavored beer. I've been wondering what on earth I can do with those, and thought about bread. I have some Sam Adams Cranberry Lambic, and I've made bread with beer before. What about a bread with the cranberry beer and some craisins? After some internet searching, I came to Farmgirl Fare. Wow. And yum. First of all, if you say "farm girl," I come running, since it's always been my secret wish to be one. So when I found her recipe for beer bread, I immediately began my worship and added her to my list of blogs I follow. And appropriated her recipe for beer bread.

Finally, I had been sprouting garbanzo beans for the past few days and put them to work this afternoon in a roasted sprouted garbanzo bean snack.

Click on the links below to view some of my recipes from the week:

Roasted Sprouted Garbanzo Bean Snack

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Never did I think that my boob loving little man would not love the boob. But we have hit a speedbump on the road of breastfeeding. My little man is having a love/hate relationship with the boob right now. I want to tell him, "Not now--there will be plenty of time for that love/hate stuff when you start having girlfriends" but he is growing up so fast. So he's starting early.

I have been away for a week or so for Thanksgiving. I had a great holiday visiting family. There is so much to be thankful for this year, having brought my beautiful son into the world. I have such a happy, healthy family. Baby T is able to be with his dad every day and doesn't have to be with strangers in daycare, his grandparents love him to pieces, and one set of grandparents lives close by. I really am very lucky.

But I am not thankful for the fact that babies can get sick! If only there was a rule that babies who can't talk or quite understand what is going on don't get sick. It is awful to watch your little one choking with mucus and unable to eat because he can't breathe. Even though I gave Baby T herbs before our Thanksgiving trip, he still got sick. Granted, it's not incredibly severe, but it is bad enough that he is--gasp--not nursing!

His favorite activity has been turned on its end either by me screwing with his routine, or by his being sick. It all started on our plane ride on Tuesday, on our way to my parents' house. He was starting to get cranky, and was so overtired, and we were about to land, so I figured he should nurse to avoid his ears getting clogged. I laid him down to nurse, and he screamed bloody murder! The poor people on the airplane. I have never seen Baby T cry so hard, even when he had a sitting mishap last week and fell over, bumping his head on the bedframe hard enough to get bruised and need ice. I thought maybe his ears hurt, and that nursing would definitely help, so I kept trying to put him onto the breast.

No dice. You would have thought I was hanging him by his toenails.

After that, the week progressed as normal, until Saturday morning. Again overtired and ready for a nap, I settled in the rocking chair in the dim room to nurse. FREAK OUT!! Baby T adamantly closed his lips and sharply drew away from the breast and proceeded to cry. For about 2 hours. Big T and I switched on and off bouncing, rocking, swadding, unswaddling, to no avail. Finally he calmed down after a bath, and starvingly reached for me as he said "mama" for the first time. Probably a coincindence, but I'll take it.

On the flight home that afternoon, Baby T nursed pretty well. He had a slight freak out but settled down quickly and nursed for the majority of the flight. Sunday went by without a hitch. Monday morning came, and when Baby T woke at 5:30, I really wanted to nurse him back to sleep. I was tired myself. I needed another hour. This was my first day back to work after a week off. Well, Baby T proceeded to scream until I pulled my shirt back down and got him into the living room. He had a doctor's appointment at 8:30, and I figured we'd try again after that. So come 10:30AM, Baby T is starving, but will. not. nurse. I ended up feeding him with a medicine dropper, with him starvingly opening his mouth for more. So he was hungry, but wouldn't suck. He had some issues with the bottle, too.

Phew, at least Mr. Gerber NUK is also feeling the rejection. Tougher than you could have imagined, huh, Mr. NUK? While little miss medicine dropper is happily rolling around in my baby's affection.

The past few days have been on and off with the nursing. When I get home from work, Baby T flings himself at me. The first day I came home from work, he buried his head in my chest immediately. It was so sweet. I carried him into the nursery while he pumped his fist in the sign for milk against my arm. (Not sure he knows what he is doing, but I am convinced he has finally picked up this sign, since I've been signing it every time he nurses since he was born). We sat down on our comfy chair, I lifted up my shirt, he bobbed at my breast, and proceeded to scream.

The rest of the evening involved a lot of toplessness, my wrap, the bath, Miss Medicine Dropper (damn you!) and milk all over my breasts. I assure you this is not as kinky as it sounds.

Eventually, dribbling milk on myself convinced Baby T to latch on, and he has nursed pretty well the past few days. But if he even catches sight of the medicine dropper out of the corner of his eye, he pulls off and tries to grab it and shove it in his mouth. So I have to be pretty stealth. Last night, when I came home from work, he practically sucked off my cheek and chin as soon as I picked him up. This morning, he didn't want any part of me or the medicine dropper (ha. take that.)

So it has been a long week. I have been so emotional. This is very draining. I love my cuddly quiet time with Baby T and always imagined that I could soothe him when sick by snuggling and nursing. But I'm only frustrating him half of the time, because he bobs at me and frantically pumps his fist, but then becomes upset when I offer him food. I am hoping he feels better soon and gets back to normal. I hear and read a lot of anecdotes where moms tell me that their babies weaned themselves at 5 months, 8 months, 10 months, etc: "I tried to nurse my baby one day and she just looked at me like, 'What on earth are you trying to do?'" But I don't believe that a baby under 12 months old would willingly try to wean himself. I have a feeling their baby wasn't feeling so hot and something was making nursing challenging. But then one of my friends said that I'll be laughing about this when I'm trying to wean him when he's 3. I sure hope so.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Astragalus, New Moon, Witchcraft, and Other Herbal Miscellany

I ordered a box of herbs this week (the completely legal kind). My friend had learned all about herbs to support your immune system in a recent herb class she took, and had given me an herbal tincture to use a few weeks ago when my family came down with a cold. Baby T and I were only sick for a few days, but Big T was sick for at least a week. Baby T and I took the tincture, and Big T did not. My friend had told me all about how elderberries were so good for your immune system, and I decided I had to get me some of them. So we placed a big order, and got some elderberries, astragalus, echinacea, lemon balm, and elder flower from Mountain Rose Herbs.

The box arrived yesterday. I dug through it and was surprised at the amount of stuff we got for about $40. Big T dug through it and pronounced it "weird." I think the astragalus freaked him out. He asked me what I was going to do with it, and I started to tell him about the tincture we were going to make:

"You put it all in a glass jar, and cover it with alcohol, and let it sit for a few weeks---shoot, we have to start it this weekend! See, you're supposed to start it on the new moon---"

And Big T cut me off:

"Ok, that's it!! I don't want to hear anymore! Lalalalalalalala."

I tried explaining that it wasn't all just voodoo magic. It made sense. If the moon has such an effect on tides and liquids, then it makes sense that it may help with the extraction of the herb into a liquid. But all I got was "Nope. Nope. Nope. Lalalalala."


He said if science told him this, he would believe it, but since I read it on various blogs, he wasn't buying it. I don't know who this Science is, or why he is so persuasive.

He said he was with me until I had mentioned the moon (which apparently brought the whole idea into the realm of witchcraft, at which time he called me a devil worshipper and tuned out). Now, I don't believe in the devil, so I can't really be a devil worshipper, can I? I also don't really believe in science. I think that a lot of people are right, and a lot of people are wrong, and I like to learn what different people believe and decide for myself what I think sounds the most convincing. The Wiccan religion makes a lot of sense to me. I believe that Nature has more power over us than we realize. This freaks Big T out a little bit. I also explained to him that there is a lot of proof that herbal remedies work, and that is quite scientific. Any credibility I had earned by that last statement was quickly wiped out when I was searching for an elderberry syrup recipe and Big T looked over my shoulder and saw a blog with a gothic-looking web banner.

In any case, we are traveling by plane for Thanksgiving, and with all the H1N1 germs flying around, I don't want to take any chances. So this morning, since Baby T woke me up at 5AM, at which time I was wide awake for the day and he went back to sleep until 8AM (which rarely happens), I decided to make myself some immune boosting potions. While my elderberries were simmering in a pot of water, I made myself some tea with elderflower, lemon balm, and astralagus. I clipped some mint from my garden (which, incidentally, was supposedly pulled up when Big T stripped our garden a few weeks ago so we could start fresh... now we have a wonderful new crop growing along side the morning glories and sunflowers that just won't go away). When the elderberry syrup was done, I added a few tablespoons of it to my tea. I brought it to work so I can sip some iced herbal tea today. Yum!

I realize that reading a blog is no fun without pictures. Since I'm always doing 5 things at once (and trying to get it all done before work), I keep forgetting to take pictures. So I will add another post soon with my tea and syrup recipes, as well as some pics.

Oh, and this morning Big T told me that if I become a witch, my witch name should be Herbal Miscellany. And that he "will totally try [the tea I made] once the moon settles into its sixth sign and delphi becomes visible in the western sky."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ten Uses for Nursing Pads

Now that I'm making my own nursing pads, I don't really have a use for the flat Gerber nursing pads I had been using. So I've come up with some other uses for them.

*I have actually tried the ones starred with an asterisk.

1. *Coaster
2. *To stop your door from banging in the doorjamb
3. Clean the grime on the inside of your windshield
4. Shoe insert (for the ball of your foot in high heeled shoes that are too big for you.)
5. Hot mitt for a hot cup of coffee
6. *Wipe mildew out of your shower when you run out of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers
7. *Pincushion
8. Eye patch for your Halloween pirate costume
9. *Trace it when you need to draw a perfect circle
10. Seed starter

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Perfecting the Nursing Pad

I don't know why it didn't occur to me earlier to make cloth nursing pads. Probably because I had gotten a few bagloads from my sister, and bought some more boxes of nursing pads with an awesome coupon I had early on, so I had plenty to go around. I didn't love any of them... the Lansinoh and Medela ones were great in terms of absorbency. They soaked up liquid like a sponge. They are contoured so they fit well, but they have an adhesive tab that you peel off so they stick to the inside of your bra. When is the last time you tried to stick something fairly non-sticky to fabric? Then, add the fact that there is moisture in there, plus, you're flapping your bra cups down every time you feed your baby. They didn't stay put, and they would get so contorted and misshapen every time I pulled my bra down to nurse, that it would take minutes with my hand down the neck of my shirt, gumby-style, trying to get everything back in place. Or possibly worse, forgetting to reposition the pad, so there would be an odd growth-like lump on my chest for the rest of the day.

The Gerber pads were much cheaper, and I went through a few boxes of those, but they are flat discs. If you put a flat disc on your breast and try to wear a t-shirt or any kind of fitted shirt with smooth fabric, it is going to look like you have 2 small saucers for breasts. This was no exception.

So now that I am:
A). running out of my nursing pad stash
B). am no longer edging out the super soaker as a favorite summer toy
C). am drowning in ideas for things I can sell in my Etsy store

I decided to make nursing pads. Well, it wasn't my idea, actually. A friend challenged me to make some. She is my rat. My monkey. My guinea pig. I spent 2 days putting together different combinations of fabrics, in different shapes, and stuffing them in my shirt. I wanted the pads to be absorbent, but I also hated having to always wear 2 or 3 layers (a camisole, tank top, and t-shirt) every time I left the house because otherwise my nursing pads would show.

I thought I had it down, and sent a few to my guinea pig, when she proceeded to tell me that they soaked up about as much moisture as a tissue. So it was back to the drawing board, and adding some more padding actually helped smooth the pads out and make them less noticeable under shirts. My favorite have a lush velvet exterior. The plush velvet helps the pad not to touch your clothing, so even if the outer layer gets wet, it will keep the moisture away from your shirt. And they are so sexy, I might just have to tape them on and wear them to some holiday parties.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Quandaries? Oh, you mean boobs?

How long do you breastfeed? (This one's for you, Ash)

Ah, the age old breastfeeding quandary. Actually, it's not really age old at all--the quandary, that is. For how long do you breastfeed, and for how long do you breastfeed in public? I've been having this conversation recently with a few different friends, and it's always interesting to hear people's opionions on the subject. Most of my friends' opionions are along the same lines: when your baby is old enough to lift up your shirt himself and ask for a drink, it's time to stop. It's just weird.

I used to think breastfeeding until a baby was 4 or 5 was a little weird too. Until I had a baby of my own. And realized, "Oh--THAT's what those things were put on my chest for." I am obsessed with breastfeeding. I love everything about it. It was never painful, even at the very beginning, and Baby T took to it immediately. I always knew I wanted to breastfeed (even when I thought I didn't want kids. I still wanted to be pregnant and breastfeed. Go figure). I love how I can provide Baby T exactly what he needs, whenever he needs it. I love how cozy it is to be able to relax in a quiet room at the end of a long day, enjoying a bond with Baby T that no one else can replicate or interrupt (unless you make a loud, strange sound, dangle a colorful object in front of his face, or bark). I love how in the middle of a long, content drink, Baby T will look up at me and smile, as if to say, "Oh hi, mommy! I didn't know you were up there!"

I always said that I planned on breastfeeding until Baby T was at least 2 years old. If it was up to me right now, I would do it until he goes away to college. I'm weird. I know. I guess I will let him wean himself when the time is right for him. The question is, when he is running around hitting baseballs with his little friends, will I still breastfeed in public? The majority (as in, all but maybe one or two) of my friends think that is strange. Even my liberal sister, who still breastfeeds her 19 month old, only does it in private and offers him a sippy cup in public. She had the most reasonable comments in regards to breastfeeding: she understands the way society works, and to socialize her kids in a way that fits into society's ideals, she offers the sippy cup in public, and breastfeeding is her cozy, special activity that's done in private now. Whether she agrees with society's ideals or not isn't the issue. She just wants her kids to be perceived as normal and not be made to feel uncomfortable or ridiculed for breastfeeding in public.

I get that. I don't want Baby T to ever go through the torture that other kids can put you through. Even though it is inevitably going to happen at some point. But I want him to be unique. I want him to realize that what other people think doesn't really matter. During my middle school years, I was tortured. I know what it is like to try to fit in when you don't always have the right clothes, the right cars, or the right friends. You play the violin and speak a different language. Your parents have accents. "Cool" is not a word your parents use around you, and you don't care about it. Until everyone else does. I went through that phase. Where, to avoid having your locker decorated with maxi pads for your birthday, you went along with what everyone else thought and said.

And then as I got older I realized that no one really cares. And I did get weirder as I got older. But at the risk of sounding cliche, I found the people who liked me for who I was. It bugs me when people try to be just like everyone else, and it also bugs me when people try to be different just for the sake of being different. I just became who I was. That's who I want Baby T to become. That's who my sister is. Everything she believes, and everything she does, she believes and does because that's the way she wants to do it. She understands the idea that people think it's weird to breastfeed a toddler. She doesn't want to make people (or her son) feel uncomfortable. So she doesn't breastfeed in public.

When Baby T was first born I didn't want to make people uncomfortable either. Now, I'm not very shy about my body, and I personally didn't care about whipping my boob out in public. But I didn't want other people, like Big T's brothers, or random men in the park, feel uncomfortable. So I was always careful to cover up with a blanket. That lasted about a week. I'm just as coordinated as I am shy--not very. So trying to lift up my shirt discreetly, undo my nursing bra with one hand while trying to tame a writing infant with the other, get a glimpse of Baby T so I could latch him on properly while trying not to suffocate him, and avoid tiring my arms out by this whole process was quite difficult with a blanket tucked into my bra strap. And the Hooter Hider? Forget it. A strange looking, brightly colored apron hanging around your neck doesn't really blend into the background and give you privacy. Everybody wonders whether that strange new piece of clothing is part of the 80s trend or the bohemian look. And Baby T hated having his head covered anyway. So I finally gave up and just whipped em out. In public. Around Big T's brothers and dad. It was just easier. I was just feeding my baby.

Breasts are designed to feed a baby. That's what they are there for. They aren't sexy. Mine sure aren't. It's only society that makes them out to be. And if Baby T is still breastfeeding at age 4, I certainly hope he's not thinking about the sexiness of his drinking vessel. (Although he WAS enjoying flipping through Victoria's Secret catalogs at 3 months).

I don't feel weird about whipping them out in public now to feed my baby, and I don't think I will feel weird about it in two years, either. Part of me understands the socialization aspect of it, and I agree that our society in general perceives it as odd, but I don't agree that they should. So shouldn't I do my part in trying to change society's perception? When my baby is 3 and pumps his little fist in the sign for milk while we're at the mall, am I going to hand him a sippy cup or am I going to disrobe? I guess we'll find out in a couple of years.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Goo Goo Ga Ga Oo Boo Booky Shmooky Shmoo

Baby Talk
Since I had Baby T, I am constantly making up words that don't exist. Monkey became Monk, and suddenly it was "Hi little monk-bunk! I missed you today!" When Baby T would cry bloody murder in his car seat, I found that the faster and louder I talked, the more likely he was to stop and listen to me. "MonkeymonkeymonkeymonkeyMOO monkeyMOO! MonkeymonkeymonkeymonkeyMOO monkeyMOO!"

This actually became a little rap (a la Jenni Pulos from Flipping Out):
MonkeymonkeymonkeymonkeyMOO monkeyMOO
Monkey MOO said "Who are you?"
Tieren said "I'm Tieren, who are YOU, Monkey Moo?"
Monkey Moo said "I'm a monkey that moos."
Tieren said "Monkeys don't moo"
Monkey Moo said "Well, I do. So whachoo gonna do?"

Honestly. It makes him stop crying. He probably thinks it's ridiculous.

Muchkin became Munch. "How's my little Munch doing?" Or when I talk to the dog: "Hi my big Munch!" Big T said to me the other day, "Everything isn't a munch, you know." Um, I know. I just can't help it anymore. And the songs. Put any tune to "My little poopie monkey, how are you? Get em out, get em out, farteroo!!" Again from Big T: "Why does everything have to be a song?" It entertains Baby T... Geeez. Actually, it just slips out. The words and songs leave my mouth before I can stop them. I can't wait until I see my boss in the kitchen: "Hey, time for lunch, munch?" [Sings] "Get the soup out of the microwave doop doo doo. Before it explodes and makes a mess badoo, badoo."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Trash to Treasure

Discovering Yard Sales

Baby T in his Superman Hat
On Saturday morning, I joined the hordes of bargain hunters, collectors, and just plain crazies. I went to a yard sale. Actually, I went to 5 of them. When I emailed a friend and told her I had never been to a yard sale, she emailed me back and said, "Surely that must have been a typo."

Apparently I was slightly unAmerican. Well, pledge allegiance, because I'm not anymore.

I live in a small suburban/rural town. Normally, I would have ventured into the bigger city I live outside of to delve into the world of yard sailing but I had to work at 9AM and there was a triathlon going on in town, tying up traffic.

I carefully mapped out my route. Mom-Mom (my mother in law and Baby T's grandmother) was to meet us at our house at 6:45AM sharp. From there, we were hitting 3 yard sales that started at 7AM, and then another that started at 8. I was on the hunt for wool, fabrics, and a playard, since Mom-Mom just realized that she has nowhere for Baby T to sleep now that he's a giant rolling maniac. We packed Baby T into his warmest clothes and strapped on a hat since we had a frost advisory the night before, and headed out.

At the first yard sale, we meandered through the trailers until we found the sale. This was supposed to be the most promising one. Crafting, crochet supplies, books, etc. I couldn't wait. We walked into the backyard to find three tables teeming with containers, all dulled on the bottom with ash. An elderly couple, both smoking cigarettes (at 6:55AM!!) welcomed us. We looked around. Not much between the VHS tapes and ashtrays. Baby T spit up. We left. False advertising, to say the very least.

Next, we stopped by the free yard sale at the local church. The pastor had just been arrested this past week for indecent liberties with minors, and the sign in front still said "Youth Meeting Monday, 7PM". Who was going to go to THAT? We debated leaving Baby T in the car. But we brought him out anyway. This yard sale was free. We debated what this meant: Is it free to set up a table and sell your junk there? You don't have to pay a cover charge to shop? Nope. It was free. As in, come in, fill your bags, fill your bags some more, fill your trunk, and skidaddle. Yup, we didn't have to pay for a thing. I found a few 100% cotton and wool items that I could use for my sewing. It felt kind of weird to just walk away with it all in my arms. But what a great way for people to get rid of clothes they didn't want anymore, and for local families to replenish their closets.

Next, we drove into a neighborhood we had never visited before. This yard sailing is a great way to get to know your town! Nice things, raising money to send the high school girls in the family to Washington, but nothing I was looking for. I was tempted to buy a few pairs of JCrew and Nine West jeans (the owner of the house was quite the sales lady) but I declined and we continued.

At the last yard sale, we found our playard, and some toys, clothes and shoes for Baby T. Mom-Mom practically had to drop kick a man with a truck and trailer who showed up looking specifically for playards, but we got it! Complete with bassinet and changing table. And it might even vibrate. All for $10! (Now if only Baby T will nap when he's at her house.) I was tempted to haggle for the baby clothes I was buying, but forgot all about it and ended up paying $7 for 4 pairs of pants, a vest, a pair of shoes, a Superman hat and gloves (my favorite purchase of the day) and a Lamaze soft stackable ring toy.

Baby T in his new hat and pants (how are these supposed to be 12M size? They are practically cutting off the circulation of his 5M waist!):

Baby T's Yard Sale Outfit

Driving home, I felt pretty satisfied. In an hour and a half, I had managed to learn more about my town and find some much-needed gear. Next weekend, I'm sure the "much-needed" will fall away from that statement. And we'll probably be looking for more shelves for the garage within 3 weeks. Oh wait, there's a sign--YARD SALE TODAY! Gotta stop here, sorry...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Oreo Bon Bon Halloween Eyeballs

Oreo Cream Cheese Ball Recipe
I already told you that I was going to be a week late in terms of relevant posts to this blog. So I don't feel bad. For the Halloween party I went to on Saturday, I made Oreo Bon Bon Eyeballs. I stumbled across the recipe in a magazine for the bon bons at the midwife's office a few months ago. I got creative with the eyeball aspect. They are chocolatey and amazing. Some say they looked like nipples, but I don't care.

Oreo Bon Bon Halloween Eyeball Recipe

Ingredients for Bon Bons:

1 package of Oreo Cookies
1 package of cream cheese


Put the entire package of Oreos into your food processor. It's hard not to eat one now, but hold off. You can have a bon bon in a minute, and it's even better than the cookie itself.
Oreo Cream Cheese Ball Recipe
Pulse the food processor until your oreos look like coffee grounds.

Oreo Cream Cheese Ball Recipe
Add a package of softened cream cheese.

Oreo Cream Cheese Ball Recipe
Pulse/process until it is all blended together and rolls around inside your machine like dough.

Oreo Cream Cheese Ball Recipe
Roll into 1" balls and place on a cookie sheet.

Oreo Cream Cheese Ball Recipe
Freeze for an hour. After they have been frozen, they will be firm enough to dip in your melted chocolate. Melt a few bars of chocolate (I used Hershey bars)

Oreo Cream Cheese Ball Recipe
Dip the oreo bon bons in your melted chocolate. I used tongs to do this, and only dipped the top half. Put them back on the cookie sheet.

Oreo Cream Cheese Ball Recipe
Put them back in the fridge or freezer to harden the chocolate. To decorate them, I melted a little white chocolate, put a drop of it on top of each bon bon, and stuck in a semisweet chocolate chip, face down.

Oreo Cream Cheese Ball Recipe

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Suck It

Making suck pads for a baby carrier

The product "suck pads" sounds weird. I'm trying to find a way around it, but that's what they are called. Ergo makes them for their baby carrier, and when I bought my Ergo Organic baby carrier a few weeks ago, I debated buying them at the same time, but I passed. But that's what they are called. That's what Ergo calls them.

When I got my Ergo, I immediately put it on, stuck Baby T in it, and he proceeded to--well, whine a little bit--and then suck on the straps. This is the baby who refuses any and all pacifiers. Believe me, I have tried. We have a canister next to our coffee and sugar full of pacifiers. All different brands. He won't have it. But he will suck on anything--and everything--else. His thumb (usually when covered by his shirt sleeve or another piece of fabric), clothing, blankets, toys, our dog's tail (yes, that actually happened. The other day, his Mom-Mom found him holding our yellow lab's tail between both hands and sucking away happily). So I don't know why I didn't buy the suck pads to begin with. Especially because on the instruction booklet that came with the Ergo, 2 of the 3 pictures show the babies sucking on the straps. Apparently it's all the rage in baby paraphanalia.

I had been frantically sewing diapers recently, and figured that suck pads are essentially just a diaper for the Ergo, so I decided to make them. And they are cute. Appropriately enough, Baby T started to get fussy when I was at Joann's Fabrics looking for supplies. And he totally calmed down when he started sucking away. You can find them in my Etsy store. They are made with 2 layers of absorbent cotton sandwiched between a cute and fashionable cotton flannel pattern on the outside, and a moisture-wicking fleece on the inside. One of each pair is hand embroidered with the Tmuffin insignia.

But back to the name. Because I tried to think of something different to call them. But couldn't come up with anything.

Halloween Costume Part II

A Milkmaid, a Farmer, and a Cow meet a Girl Scout

I fear that I'm going to be a week behind in all of my posts this week. A week past what is relevant. Oh, well. If only there were 50 hours in a day. Halloween was great. We were the cutest farming family around. So much so that I think we should just move to the country, buy several acres, goats, chickens, and cows, and live off the land.
Tmuffin family Handmade Halloween Costumes--A Farming Family

I also made a Girl Scout Uniform for a coworker. She asked me a week before Halloween, and I was swamped, but really wanted to help her out. I told her I couldn't make it from scratch, but if she found me something to work with, I could rework it into a uniform. She found the most hideous knit mock-turtleneck, long sleeved, calf length shift dress at the Salvation Army. It was absolutely perfect! I was able to transform it into a vest and skirt with the leftover green ruffle from the dust ruffle I used for my milkmaid costume. We printed the patches on the computer, laminated them, and sewed them on for an official look. I can't wait to get a picture of her wearing it! Now if only she could make me some cookies. Farming is hard work.
Halloween Costume - Girl Scout Uniform

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Costume Part I

Tiered Skirt/Petticoat Tutorial
Since I'm going to be a milkmaid for Halloween, I needed a tiered, ruffled skirt to show underneath the main part of the skirt. I was a little overwhelmed by the idea of making it from scratch. It seemed like it would take a lot of fabric--I wasn't sure how much, or how expensive it would be. So I went to goodwill and bought a dust ruffle. I would use the center of the dust ruffle (the part that goes under the mattress, which is just cream colored fabric) for the skirt, and use the ruffles for the ruffles on the skirt! For $1.99 it would be fine if it didn't work out. Especially since I had measured nothing and just figured this would be enough fabric. The dust ruffle had 3 layers of ruffles, in cream and green, and it seemed like plenty to go around. This is what I started with:
Tiered Skirt/Petticoat Tutorial: Dust Ruffle
I figured I would make 3 tiers so it wouldn't get too complicated, and I would put the ruffles between the tiers.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Simple Roasted Acorn Squash Seeds

Roasting isn't just for pumpkin seeds!

  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt
After cutting your squash for the Easy Roasted Acorn Squash Recipe and scooping out the seeds, put the seeds and stringy pieces of squash that are stuck to them in a colander and rinse under cold water. As you rinse, pop the seeds off of the squash that it's attached to and discard the squash strings.

Drain and leave the seeds in a colander for a few hours, mixing periodically to get rid of all the water, then spread on a large plate or baking sheet overnight or for 8 hours or so. This just helps to dry them out so they become as crispy as possible when roasted.

When you are ready to roast them, coat with olive oil (I sprayed them with the oil), salt or any other seasonings, and toss with a spoon or your hands. Spread them out on one layer in a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10-15 minutes, or until golden on the tops. Turn off the oven and leave the seeds in until evenly browned. (Turning off the oven makes sure that you don't forget about them and burn them, like I almost did while trying to make them, shower, lanolize diapers and get ready for work at the same time.)

You can also get creative and use any oil/spice combination you want. Go crazy!

Easy Roasted Acorn Squash Recipe

The perfect complement to my Easy Roasted Chicken Recipe
This is a great way to take advantage of squash when it's in season (and cheaper!) in the fall.

  • Acorn Squash
  • Butter
  • Brown Sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut acorn squash in half lengthwise. This is done more easily with a serrated knife. If you try to use your giant non-serrated knife, it might get hopelessly stuck in your squash, making you feel like you are involved in a gourd massacre. And possibly a gourd-and-your-own-finger massacre.

Scoop out seeds with a large spoon, and put them aside in a bowl to make Simple Roasted Acorn Squash Seeds. Place squash cut side up on a cookie sheet or roasting pan. Add 2 pats of butter, and 2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar (or to taste).

Roast in oven for 90 minutes or until soft and slightly browned on the edges.

To serve, you can cut into wedges (watermelon-style) or simply serve the entire half of the squash on a plate and scoop out the flesh with a fork.

Easy Roasted Chicken Recipe

Stretch one roasted chicken into 3 different meals!
I realize it helps to see a picture of the recipe. I'm new to this whole blogging thing, and forgot to pull out my camera. So here. This is all I've got:

Roasted Chicken Recipe

  • Roasting Chicken
  • Olive Oil
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Remove innards and wash chicken. Pat dry with paper towels. Rub a few tablespoons of olive oil (I don't measure) all over chicken, inside and out. Rub in some salt, pepper, basil, and oregano (I didn't measure this either, but if you're a stickler, use 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp of each). Roast, breast side up, in oven for one and a half hours or so, until a thermometer inserted into the thick part of the breast reads 180. (I roasted it for 2 hours since I also was roasting an acorn squash with it).

I use Rachel Ray's Bubble & Brown Dish as my roasting pan. I love this thing! Functional yet super cute and stylish.

You can eat some chicken tonight and use the leftovers for Chicken Noodle Soup and Chicken Nachos.

Losing the Pregnancy Weight

And eating healthfully on a budget
I was working on my Halloween costume last night, and pulled out my dressmaking dummy to work with. I hadn't used her in a while, and I needed to adjust her measurements to match mine. She's a vintage dummy, so I had to manipulate her in several different places. Well, I adjusted everything I could. To the max. I pulled and tugged and tried to make her go out farther, but she was as big as she could get.

And she still wasn't close to my waist size. Grrrr....

I did just have a  baby (5 months ago).

Oh, and I guess I should also mention that I also ate root beer floats every night during those 5 months. I think it's time to stop that.

I really try to keep to a budget when grocery shopping, though. I try to spend $50 a week, and eat healthfully at the same time. Sometimes it's hard to get all your veggies in when you're trying to budget. For example, this week, whole chickens were on sale for $.59 a pound. This is what my weekly menu looked like:

Monday: Easy Roasted Chicken and Easy Roasted Acorn Squash.
Tuesday: Chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese sandwiches
Wednesday: Nachos with chicken

I finagled 3 meals out of one chicken, which was great for the budget, but even if I squint, I can't see the veggies. (Other than the acorn squash on Monday). Looks like I'm having salad tonight!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Deciding on a Halloween Costume

(That's not too scary, sexy, or cliche--Hey, I have a baby now. I don't want to scare him or attract strange gentlemen callers by my getup.)
For Halloween, Baby T is going to be a cow. It's a hand-me down costume hand made by my very own sister. So that was a no-brainer. The main issue was deciding what Big T and I were going to be. Big T doesn't love Halloween or dressing up, and I've been a vampire every year since freshman year of college (so the past 13 years. Creative, I know.) But now with a kiddo, a scary vampire is out.

So Big T is going to be a farmer (i.e. wearing jeans--adventurous) and I'm going to be a milkmaid. Since baby T is nursing and I'm slightly obsessed with breastfeeding, I thought that was quite appropriate. Plus, the milkmaid nursing the cow is kind of funny in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way, isn't it?

Of course, this adds to my to-do list this week:
1. Start business blog, make inventory, clothing tags, business cards
2. and--oh--make Halloween costume! (Please please please sleep, Baby T.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009


What's in a name?
When baby T was just a few weeks old, we got a smile out of him. Of course, it was when he was falling asleep. We used to get those sleep smiles quite a bit. The happiness was sweet, however involuntary. When he started becoming more alert, a fun game was trying to make him smile. I found that if I called him silly names, the smile came out. The first time I made him smile was when I called him "Tmuffin." I will never forget that first sweet smile.
Baby T First Smile

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Getting Off My Butt

Finding time from the whirlwind of life with baby
I have had years to get off my butt and do something. Thirty-one, to be exact. Well, I did a lot up to about age 13. I would take out books about different crafts from the library and come home, perusing them in bed on Saturday mornings, dreaming about the toilet paper roll dolls and clothespin characters I would make. I sewed my first outfit when I was maybe 5 or 6 years old. Actually, all I sewed was the button on the back of the skirt and on the vest. I think I glued the gingham ribbon to the flowered skirt. And you might have been able to see my butt from the back. But check out the trendy mixing of patterns:

Sewing at an Early Age @ Tmuffin
I woke up early on Saturday mornings to make pancakes for my family, made friendship bracelets in the porch on hot summer days, and coveted a pottery wheel for Christmas when I was 9. My favorite gifts to receive were the ones that included a project of some kind: a kit of embroider-it-yourself Christmas stockings, DIY ornaments, jewelry making kits, etc. I loved to sit and draw. I even submitted my work to those art education schools from the back of magazines (where you copy the drawing of the cartoon turtle).

Then I hit high school age. I was so busy with schoolwork, friends, and theater that I didn't have time for making things anymore. I thought I'd be able to do more once I was in college and had more time to myself. Then I got to college. Between my sociology classes analyzing the effects of social movements, Phish shows and Indigo Girls concerts, and all night talks about the intensity of art with my roommates, man was I inspired. I had ideas jammed in my brain. But I didn't have time to make anything. I thought one day I could travel the U.S. in a van, making things and selling them along the road. THEN I would have more time to make everything I wanted to make. And so I graduated, joined the rat race, turned 30, and had a baby. I would CERTAINLY have time during my maternity leave to make everything I wanted to make!


So here I am, 31 years old, with my almost-5-month-old baby T, up at all hours of the night, working full time, with my free time taken up doing public relations for a nonprofit group. And all of a sudden I have found the time to make everything I wanted to make. I made the most important thing: a family. And now I am flooded with inspiration, motivation, and most of all, a desire to support my family doing what I love. And so the saga begins.
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