Thursday, August 29, 2013

Article worth reading.....

Hello! :) Long time no post! :) - I am not very good at keeping balanced. This blog to me is sort of like wearing my heart on my sleeve and it can get exhausting :) I like to think of my readers as my best friend that I am sharing the insights of my soul with.. :) Sharing my favorite recipes.... talking about my failings and my successes. I am only 28 .... typing that out looks old, but seriously, it is not. My oldest child is only 4 which means I am bran-spakin' new at this mother and homemaker thing... I have a lot to learn and am learning a lot and I feel like this blog is a place where I can process my thoughts and findings. :) It started out as a blog to live frugally, which I do love ... but now it is just about life in general... just as I would speak to a friend. :)
google images

So! As a "friend" ..I just found this article on Pinterest and I had to share it..... when I first read the title "How to talk to your daughter about her body," I kind of rolled my eyes in my mind and thought, "C'mon! Can't we think for ourselves??" I suppose I've seen one to many "How to ..... let pinterest tell you how you should live your life" articles :) ... I really do love pinterest and again, am amazed at the incredible things people do...buuuuttt.. I think we all know that so much of it is completely unreasonable. I scrolled past it and I realized that so much of what I have learned has been from articles that were like gems to me..... Soooo... I reluctantly humbled up a bit and went back to the "pin."
The post was wonderful. It was pure and it was totally "real".
I highly recommend reading it, even if you don't have a daughter... "Aren't We All Mothers?" ... We as women have such a great opportunity to be an example to the rising generation. :)  ... I love articles like this that just make sense :)

Have a great day! :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Grandma's Chocolate Mousse

Growing up, every single summer my family and I would pack up and drive to Kansas during the summer. My grandparents lived there and we loved it! We spent almost every day at the pool down the street. Mom and Grandma would go to the mall to shop, and we'd go to "Mr Bulky's" and drool over the possibilities of an entire store of bulk candy!

We'd catch fireflies, play checkers... but a major highlight was Grandma's Mousse! :) As they got older,  they moved close to us. One day after my Grandpa had died, I made some of her mousse and brought it to her. I will never forget her face! :) She closed her eyes and said "This is divine!" .. it made me so happy :) I love making it and feeling her close to me. 
Now, I will share her specialty with you :)

Grandma's Chocolate Mousse

1/4 c water
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
12 oz semi sweet chocolate chips FROZEN
Large carton of Cool Whip 

Blend chocolate chips in blender or food processor, set aside.

Boil water and sugar. Pour into blender with chips along with the 2 eggs. Blend. Then fold into the whipped cream

DONE! It is that easy and SO good :) I hope you enjoy!

We were always there over my birthday, so! I figured since today is my birthday, I'm gonna make me some mousse! :) Now, if I could somehow pop fireflies in my backyard, my birthday will be complete! :)..... Okay, so no fireflies... but it has still been a wonderful birthday!

Monday, August 12, 2013

I said NO!

This subject is one that I have been thinking about for a long time. 
It isn't an easy subject to talk about and I think that a lot of people are so sickened by it that they push it out of their mind.
Child Molestation.
I know, this is a very heavy subject and I have a lot in my heart about it. This is a long post and not very entertaining, because - it is not an entertaining subject. It is one that makes me sick... literally sick. PLEASE hear me out. Please read to the end and also the attached article. I have been blessed to have avoided this as a child but I know way. to. many people.. personally and closely who weren't as lucky. 
When Sammy was born, it seemed I was being flooded with stories from friends, loved ones, acquaintances, news clips, etc..where small children were being taken advantage of sexually. I was outraged! My heart ached for these children and my fear for Sam and future children was overwhelming. I knew people personally who were taken advantage of and it was really really hard on them. The saddest was when I would hear stories from adults that had never told another soul until then. They had been living with grief from when they were 3 or 4 years old. 
Did you know that 1 in 3 girls and 1 and 4 boys are sexually abused at some level in the United States? Doesn't that make you your heart ache? 
I found myself not trusting anyone. 
I wanted so badly to somehow protect my precious children from this evil. I knew I needed to arm them with knowledge but I had no idea how to talk about such adult things with such innocent children. There was so much that needed to be said, how do you actually get through to such young children?
I didn't want them to live in fear or think the world was full of bad people out to get them... but I did want them to be aware. It is my job as their parent to give them the knowledge and tools....their armor necessary to be safe.
I searched for ways to talk to my kids in a way where again, I wouldn't scare them. Fear gets us no where. I want them to feel confident and in charge. I came across a few books. Some of them would be excellent if they were 8 or older, but WAY too much for a 4 year old. I found some books that were way too vague and beat around the bush too much. I found others that crossed the lines when it comes to our family values. 
A few weeks ago, I was thinking about my kids' Imagine Nation and went to the library after Mike got home to search for some fun books for them. After I had an entire basket full, I went to the cook book section and out of the corner of my eye on a different shelf I saw this book:

I seriously feel like it was an answer to my prayers. This is BY FAR the best book I have EVER read or found for teaching our children on the subject... BY FAR. I would go as far to say that EVERY single school and home should have a copy.

It is a story that a little boy and his mother wrote together after the little boy had a bad experience at a sleep over. There are several things I love about this book. For example, the book begins like this:

"My name is Zack and this is my mom. I had a not so good time at a sleepover party last year. Mom always said, "keep your privates... private!" So what are privates? (It shows a drawing of boys underwear and another drawing of a girls undershirt and kids in them, just the clothing.)  "Private parts for boys are the parts of your body that are under your underwear. Private parts for girls are the parts of your body that are under your underwear and undershirt. There are doctor names and lots of other names for your private parts! We are sure you have heard a few of them! You might want to talk about some of those names now"  .......

This is ONE of the many reasons I love this book. As I read this to Sammy, it lead into a very good opportunity to talk about the actual terms for men and women's "private parts." This is hard for me. I know, I know... but it is. I gulped in my mind and faked being completely comfortable using the words. As we talked, his big eyes got bigger a few times, but I was proud of him when he was able to say the actual terms without sounding embarrassed. I know experts say that you shouldn't make up cutesie words like "pee pee" or things like that - but I don't care. That's just what we call it for now.. but now he knows what the actual term is.  ..... I'm going to give a few more examples from the book that I absolutely love - 

"Your body is a wonderful thing! It is important to keep it healthy, safe and clean. It is important to learn about your body. When you are a kid, learning about the world, it's natural to be curious about bodies. Say you are a boy like me, my mom says that it is natural to be a little curious about what girls bodies look like. Or if you are a girl with no brothers you might be curious about what boys look like... But Mom says that once you are not a baby anymore, privates just stay private. Mom says that this is called modesty. Maybe you are a little curious about the differences between girls and boys. You might want to talk about your curiosity now."

Again! Awesome segway into an otherwise awkward conversation. When I asked him if he had any questions, at first he said "no." .. but I knew he was VERY curious and didn't want this opportunity to pass by. It was clear he was totally confused about breasts. He is a boy through and through. So, I said something. He then poured out the questions.. "why do you have those?" ... I explained to him that Heavenly Father is so smart, he made it so when mommies had babies, they would be able to feed them... I asked him if he remembered me nursing Ben and Claire. It was so interesting to hear his response. "Mom, do you just drink a bunch of milk and then he gets it out of your tummy?" ... (I think he was thinking back to our conversation about umbilical cords while I was pregnant) ... I explained to him that my body just naturally MADE milk! He just couldn't get past the idea that I didn't have to drink a bunch of milk before I could feed milk to Ben from my body.. but he honestly thought Ben was drinking from my tummy. So I told him that babies use their mama's breasts to drink like a bottle. His eyes got huge... where do they drink from? ...SO many questions. After our girl questions were over, he had this grateful look in his eye.

The book then goes on to talk about many different things. The author, Kimberly King, Zack's mom suggests reading the book in sections if it is too much in one sitting as it goes over absolutely everything. From good touch to bad and secret touching, lies,bribes and threats versus friendliness and rewards. It gives examples of what the book calls "red flag" people and "green flag" people. All the way to the "what if's" when it is someone very close to them... it gives opportunities to pause and talk about your plan if they find themselves in dangerous, or "red flag" situations. 

There is SO much good to this book I couldn't possibly write it all out without typing out the entire book and I am totally tempted to do it, but that would be wrong I suppose. YOU NEED THIS BOOK. If I had the money I would buy a copy for everyone I knew. 

Sammy had no trouble having me read the entire book in one sitting. I had planned on taking a few nights to read it, but he was so attentive through the entire book. He had a grateful and confident look in his eye. We were able to have a conversation where I was able to tell him that if he had ANY questions about any of this kind of stuff, then I would be happy to talk about it. I told him that I wasn't embarrassed about talking about this stuff with him and that he never needed to feel embarrassed to talk to me. We talked about how these things about our bodies are private and  personal and they shouldn't be broadcasted, but that they aren't bad and he could talk to me or Mike about anything. He has already come to me with other questions and it has been very comfortable. 

I feel like I am doing a commercial for this book or something, but you really  need to own this book and read it to your children. They will be grateful and you will be doing duty to keep them safe and protected.

What have you done to help your children to understand these things? This is a serious topic that NEEDS to be addressed. If you have any good ideas, please please post them. We could all use ideas.

I read an article on CNN's website on this subject - I would HIGHLY recommend reading this.. every word. As I read it, it just made sense. Whether you are a parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent, neighbor, friend.. EVERYONE should read this. :)  I just read through it trying to capture a few quotes, but really, the entire thing should be read.

The article is basically about letting our children know that they are in charge of their bodies. Although many many many loved ones are well meaning in wanting hugs and kisses from these little cuties, it gives them the perception that they need to be physically there for someone to make them feel happy and if you don't, it will hurt their feelings. Interesting hu? But doesn't it totally make sense? It talks about the problem with people in authority tell them need or have to hug and kiss someone.  I will be teaching my children this week that they never have to give a hug or kiss to anyone if they don't feel like it. Again, I will definitely teach them that kindness and respect is a must, but touching is not. I like that the article talks about high fives or handshakes as alternatives - You may read this and think "oh brother, it's just a kiss from a 4 year old!" .... but you do see what the article is saying right? Our kids need to know that they have ownership, and that if their little instincts say not to hug someone, then allow them to follow through. I'm willing to bet that MOST of the time, it's not necessarily instincts, but that they are just not in the mood to hand out hugs or even possibly just wanting to win at a power struggle.... but isn't that what we want? Don't we want them to know that they have the power to tell someone NO? As innocent as these interactions may be, they are learning that what they say matters and that they are in control. It's an excellent training ground. If relatives could read this, maybe instead of feeling offended when this happens, they could be proud that their little family member or friend is learning to keep themselves safe, then give them a high five or pat on the back instead without making the child feel like they have hurt their feelings. - We can't put so much emotion around what they decide to do, children are inherent pleasers... they want people to be happy and so many are taken advantage of because of this.

Again, what are some insights, advice and ideas that you have?

We as parents and loved ones to these children need to be their advocates. In some small way, I hope that the information that I have found is a step in the right direction. This is my way of being that advocate - this is a sick epidemic, seriously, think about it, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 4 boys. That number blows my mind. I don't write all of this to put fear into hearts, I have felt fear for my kids for the past 4 years now and it got me nowhere. Hopefully these resources will cast out the fear and help our kids to feel confident and secure.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

You NEED this recipe. Tomato Basil Chicken.

(Google Images)

Tomato and basil.... yum - a perfect combination. Who ever discovered how well these two foods work together ought to be Knighted. 
With the Fall Harvest rolling in, I was happy to have found this recipe on Pinterest. ... It seems people have tomatoes and basil running out of their ears! 

(Ha! That reminds me of Sammy. Last year I was bottling peaches and I told him, "We have peaches running out of our ears!!" .... His eyes went big, he looked on both sides of my head examining my ears and informed me that I do not, in fact have peaches running out of my ears.... "You were really worried about that, hu, Mom?" ..... I seriously L.O.V.E that little man.)

Anyway! - You know how there are a few good things that get WAY over done? Like owls and the chevron design?... This is not an over used chevron design! :) This Tomato and Basil recipe will leave you wondering when you can possibly make it again. .... I just made it for the 2nd time in  two weeks and the "MMmmMMms" and "Yummmm!s" were plentiful :)

This recipe is excellent as is - So in effort to not waste time and to avoid redundancy, I will direct you to the recipe rather then taking my own pictures and typing it out. I was just looking over it and clicked on the recipe the blogger adapted it from- and I was so impressed with how well she "upgraded" this recipe. I have made this with regular tomatoes on the vine and it was great. The grape tomatoes are recommended, but definitely don't go buy them if you already have some other tomatoes on hand :) I served this over whole wheat linguine with my rosemary bread and dipping oil.
I hope you click and take a look!

Tomato Basil Chicken

Rosemary Bread with Dipping Oil

Rosemary Bread 
 (2 Loaves)

Seriously, it doesn't get better then this :) This was a recipe I found about 4 years ago. It was originally called "Macaroni Grill" bread, but I don't think it really tastes like that... to be honest, this is better!
Don't bother slicing bread, just tear and enjoy :).
Below this recipe I will post the dipping oil we use with this bread. It was originally called "Jonny Carino's dipping oil" ... It is SO so delicious. You really are going to LOVE this recipe.

1 T Yeast
1 T sugar
1 c warm water
2 ½ c flour
1 t salt
2 T rosemary
2 T butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Combine sugar water and yeast and allow mixture to bubble
Mix 1 T butter (melted or room temperature), salt and 2 c flour 
Add Rosemary
Continue to add the flour until it forms a ball and almost (but not completely) cleaning the bowl as it mixes.
Knead for about 10 minutes by hand, or in food processor about 3-5 minutes until smooth and elastic. ( I use my Kitchen Aid for this recipe, and have also made it by hand, either way works) 
Let dough rise in a warm place until doubled
Divide dough in half
Spray baking pan or cookie sheet with cooking spray.
Shape the dough into 2 small rounded loaves
Let loaves rise again until doubled
Bake until lightly browned (10-15 minutes)
Carefully remove from oven, brush with remaining butter. (I just do this step like pictured above :))

Dipping Oil
1 t. Rosemary
1 t Oregeno
1 t. Parsley
1/2 t Crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 t Black pepper
1/2 t Salt

Olive Oil
Crushed roasted garlic (optional)
2 t. Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Blend first 6 ingredients in a food processor. Store this mixture in tupperware or other container. When ready to use, crush roasted garlic (you can get this for really cheap at Costco in the spice and baking isle) into a shallow dish. Sprinkle desired amount of spice mixture then pour olive oil on top..... voila! So easy and SO delicious.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Body Image: For real!

Body Image:

Blah... I think from the moment in 7th grade when my crush looked up at me and said "Wow Cara, only in 7th grade and already have a double chin hu?" I have had a poor view of my body image. ... I shouldn't have let it affect me like that, but I did. It was just the beginning of realizing I didn't fit the "mold"
This is a hard post for me to write about... BUT- I know that we as women and even men struggle with this, So, I'll just put myself out there! "Take one for the team!" :)
The other day, I was getting ready to go to the store and I was frustrated with the way my clothes were fitting. Ben will be 7 months old soon and I still felt huge. I sucked in a bit and smoothed out my shirt as I did my usual subconscious nip and tuck in my mind.. when I realized what I was doing! I was staring at my body while comparing it to my body I had in high school! Now, I'm not saying it's not possible to loose the weight... but I'm certain that in high school, I did the same thing- looking in the mirror feeling huge and unattractive.
"What's the deal with that?  Why do I do this to myself??" I thought. I reminded myself that I have had 3 babies and that I hadn't been exercising, so this is what it is. It wasn't that I was trying to justify, it was just me being REAL with myself. I don't think I've been "REAL" to myself while looking in the mirror since age 12. (I know, sounds ridiculous, but true). Then I did something. It's simple and I'm pretty sure nothing novel, but I looked at myself in the mirror as if I was seeing someone else. I looked at myself as I would look at a stranger, and you know what? All of a sudden I didn't look so bad!
It was so L I B E R A T I N G!
I saw myself in a whole new light. I saw who I was instead of what I needed to do to get where I thought I needed to be. This may sound really strange, or  maybe you can relate.... but it was if I was looking at a different person! I hadn't seen ME in so long, I actually felt like someone else was in the mirror. It was a really eye opening experience... literally! I looked at my eyes, the ones that I always wished were larger and more catching... but I saw my small eyes with barely any sight of eyelid... and I actually liked them. I went through my features and I felt "OK" with myself for the first time in a really really long time! I vowed right then and there to accept myself for who I was. I didn't want to "hide" anymore. From myself, or anyone else. This was my body! I needed to love it, I needed to show my kids that so they wouldn't acquire my complexes. I felt so good.
Thennnnn..... I went to Saint George.
I love that place. It is like a 2nd home to me. My parents own a condo there and we have visited almost my entire life. It has a very retro feel to it, and thankfully for the condo, mirrors and coral colored everything seems to be back! :) The condo has an INSANE amount of  mirrors.
(This isn't the condo, but imagine this in every room, in the hallway, in the entry way and bathrooms.) 
Mirror closets, full mirror walls in the bathrooms and showers, mirrors for the door for the laundry room.. MIRRORS everywhere.
I quickly regressed and was sick with the way I looked.
I felt like hiding.
I quickly had a little pep talk with myself and I decided I obviously needed to loose weight and that I was not going to allow the goal to only be to "look good"... Appearances are important, but there was so much more to me then being pleasing to look at.
 I thought back to an experience my SIL shared with me about her 7 year old daughter who already started having body image issues....What she had said to her daughter turned on a light switch for me. It was a tender moment I didn't want to slaughter with trying to re-tell, so I asked her to type out the experience so I could share it here......

"A while back my super confident and bubbly daughter was having a rough day. After talking for a while, I finally got to the root of her problem. My beautiful, tall, gorgeous 7-year old daughter was worried that her thighs were too big. The moment I had been dreading as a mother of 3 girls had come...the moment when my girl started doubting herself and comparing herself to the worlds standard of beautiful. The worst part was...I could completely relate to what she was saying. I remember in kindergarten being teased about being fat...those things always stay with you. Even when I was fresh out of high school and wearing a size 0, I still always thought of myself as a "bigger" girl. Now my daughter was beginning to think about these things and compare herself to other girls, it nearly made me sick to my stomach. Thank goodness...I have learned a few things since those kindergarten days, and I felt impressed to
to share a few things that have helped me in my quest to appreciate this body that I have been blessed with. I told her to take a good look at my thighs. "Do you think I have really skinny legs?" I asked her. The answer was OBVIOUSLY no   Then I went on to say, "You are right! I do NOT have skinny legs. But you know what? These legs are STRONG. They are getting stronger every time that I go running, and my muscles are getting bigger, and I am getting closer and closer to achieving a goal that I have worked really hard towards. That is what I see when I look at these legs." Then we talked about my tummy. It's not a perfectly flat stomach...and lets face it, after 5 babies it probably never will be  But it is a stomach that safely carried 5 beautiful children until they were strong enough to come into this world. I am grateful now that we had that experience. It was not only a wonderful teaching moment for me and my daughter, but a wonderful reminder to ME of how blessed I am to have the body that I do. Throughout 4 of my 5 pregnancies I have spent significant amounts of time on bedrest, unable to do even the smallest of tasks for myself. Each time it happens, I am always reminded of what a tremendous blessing this jiggly, saggy body of mine is. I may not fit into those skinny jeans (YET!;) but I can play duck, duck goose with my kids. I may not be ready for swimsuit season, but I am getting closer and closer to running a half marathon in September. I may fall short of the worlds definition of beauty or skinny, but I want my kids to know every single pound, stretch mark and dimple was worth it!"

-Tonii Johnson "Blue Skies Ahead"

Isn't that wonderful? I love the concept of ability rather then looks. Being grateful for what our bodies have the capacity to DO rather then how we can appear to ourselves and others.
Outward beauty is just that - BEAUTIFUL. But beauty is a broad word because we are all different. Beautiful doesn't have to mean the same thing for everyone. I feel like focusing more on developing ourselves to our capacity will bring a confidence that will scream beauty.

This is a hard subject for me, but I don't want it to be. What are your thoughts and observations? How do we get our minds out of the habits of insecurity in our image? How do we allow ourselves to look how we REALLY look without always having a "project" for our various features to make them look they way "beautiful" has been defined in our culture? I want us all to get out of this never reaching mindset. I'd really love to know your thoughts on this! :)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Pork Chops with Raspberry Sauce

Pork Chops with Raspberry Sauce

You are going to L.O.V.E this recipe... Here is another "tried and true" recipe! It is absolutely delicious and again, it does not take very long to make at all. Every time I make this my kids devour it.  (And really, that is the true mark of success right? :) ) 

1 t dried thyme, crushed
1 t dried sage, crushed
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
4 (4 oz) boneless pork loin chops
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1/2 c seedless raspberry jam
4 T orange juice
4 T white wine vinegar
4 sprigs of fresh thyme (OPTIONAL .. it's just for garnish)

  • Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees. In a small bowl combine first 4 ingredients. 
    I totally would not have added the above picture if I didn't just discover the smile in the spices! Ha! ... I just stirred it together and took the picture! ... anyway... 
  • Rub generously on both sides of each porkchop.
  • In a skillet, melt butter and olive oil, then add pork chops. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until cooked all the way through.
  • Remove pork chops and place in different dish in the oven to keep them warm while sauce is made.
  • In the same skillet you cooked the pork, (DO NOT REMOVE OIL AND SPICES from the pan.. this will be used with the sauce!) :)  add the jam, orange juice and white wine vinegar. Let heat through and boil  until reduced to the desired consistency. Make sure to whisk occasionally ...                                                                      (Or if you are Claire.. constantly :)
  •   The sauce will thicken as it cools. 
  • Spoon sauce into a pool on your plate and place pork chop on top. Add fresh sprig to each chop if you have it. :) ENJOY!!! :)