on unplugging the "tube".

I have a confession. When I was pregnant I said to myself (and probably to others a few times as well) that I was not going to let my child watch television for at least the first two years. At all.

Well guess what people? My little one is only 14 months, and has definitely seen TV. More than I would like to admit actually. It is probably the one thing I feel the most guilt about as a mom, and yet if I am making dinner or answering an important email, or just going to the bathroom or… (fill the blank with just about anything that doesn’t directly involve a toddler), and Seth is not having it, I switch on the TV. It allows me to do what I need to do. He is distracted by it. Maybe this isn’t sooo bad, but then sometimes I leave it on for a while. Because it’s nice to be able to get things done.

I am not justifying this, I know how bad it is for him. I know I shouldn’t let him watch. That’s why I’m writing this. TV time, especially at such a young age, has been linked to lower IQs and attention spans, lack of creativity, lack of brain and language development, commercialism and materialism, and obesity (those are just a few). Yes, these things even apply to “educational” programs.

I have decided that while this is still my habit, rather than his- before this gets out of control and I have a TV-addicted child… I have to stop. Just turn the damn thing off. and leave it off.

There are so many other ways to distract him and keep him occupied. He is really easily occupied actually. Even when he’s “watching TV,” most of the time he’s not really looking at it anyway, he’s playing (and yet he’s still absorbing it, I can tell). And most of the time the thing I want to do isn’t really that important, and I can wait to do it when he’s occupied on his own or he’s napping or Manny’s around.

I want this to be a TV-free household (with the exception of a movie for me and Manny sometimes after Seth’s gone to bed). I would so much rather fill our days with lots of time outdoors, gardening, baking and doing art projects when Seth’s older, and with reading and music… things that enrich our lives and his childhood.

All of this leads me to also think about the time I spend at the computer, too. It has come to be quite a lot, and not all of it is completely necessary… But that, friends, is another day and another post. :)

p.s.- You might notice, I got a little tired of my blog banner today and did a little redesign.
I love design- I’m always getting new ideas and tweaking and changing the look of my online spaces.

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easter eggs, naturally.

I’d been hearing for a while about using natural dyes for eggs, and decided to give it a go today. I wanted blue and green, and while the spinach was a big fail (I probably did it wrong), that red cabbage produced a nice light blue color. Next year Seth will be old enough to appreciate this more, so I’ll probably do more colors. I’ve heard turmeric can make a nice yellow, and cranberries a pretty pink. Here is my hard-cooked handwork, ready-to-eat:

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Paris. Ah yes, that would be nice…

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{photograph by Orsolya Ganzler}

Manny and I almost went to Paris on our Honeymoon. We talked to a travel agent about it, we almost booked it… and then realized that we just couldn’t pull it off financially. So we went to Georgia, had a wonderful time, and told ourselves that we would go to Paris when we could. We are going to start a fund for the trip, and add a bit to it here and there so that we feel like it will eventually be a reality. Of course now it will be a family trip. We have always been advocates of globetrotting with kids in tow- I think it is good for them, and I think that it just isn’t right for parents to feel like they must put all travel dreams on hold for 18-plus years. As we’ve daydreamed about our big European adventure, it has evolved to include not only Paris, but other parts of France, and Barcelona, and possibly even Portugal. It is going to be involved, possibly quite tiring, completely breathtaking, fairly expensive, and positively wonderful. We will get there.

In other news…

My little one is still miserably sick. Poor thing.

I kind of wish I needed a new camera bag, because I have a serious crush on the Ginger bag from Epiphanie. Just gorgeous. Manny got me a new camera bag for my birthday, which is also beautiful:
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And I really am thankful for the bag I have and the wonderful husband who was thoughtful enough to pick it out for me. : )

Oh and speaking of Epiphanie, they are doing a giveaway on their blog right now, for either a Canon 5D Mark II, or a $2500 gift certificate to Southwest Airlines. I keep wondering which I would choose… I have been a Nikon girl all along, but this camera would be a significant upgrade from the one I have, but I would need to buy lenses for it because all my lenses are of course Nikon… and well, my goodness- $2500 in airfare!? That we could certainly put to good use. With our plans to go to Colorado. And probably another trip to visit my family in Massachusetts as well. And maybe Maine- I have been dying to bring Manny there… Yes I think that I would choose the airfare. {I do have plans for a future camera upgrade though, once my business grows to the point where it makes sense.}

Desserts need to be banned from my house. I have been eating Key Lime Pie and homemade brownies lately. Too much sugar. But seriously, yum. I am inspired and slightly ashamed by this post by my friend Jami who is fasting from sugar right now. As far as healthy eating goes, sugar has been one of the hardest things for me. I’ll do really well for a while, and I know a lot about how bad it really is for me, but once I start eating sweets I have trouble fighting the cravings. And it makes me feel so sick too. I think I might just have to commit to a total fast from it as well, to break the cycle. After the pie and brownies are gone… {shame on me lol}

Oh and speaking of food, I saw Julie & Julia a few nights ago. I loved it. It was beautiful and funny and made me want to cook all kinds of beautiful, delicious things. I wanted to buy Julia Child’s book and master the art of French cooking myself. I wanted a mortar and pestal and a really good knife and an adorable kitchen with pans hanging on the walls (you’d have to see it).

I really like this article from Simple Mom about creating a rich childhood for your kids while living a frugal life. I want to raise our children this way.

I want a vintage-style clamp task lamp for my desk. Better yet, one that actually is vintage. I see a flea market in my future…

I cut up my new Anthropologie catalog and pinned a bunch of the pictures on the cork boards above my desk. I love the photography (and of course the items) in those catalogs.

Photographer Nancy Neil’s home, featured on Design Sponge,
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it is so beautiful and inspiring to me. The story behind the house is pretty amazing as well. I love her work too- it is so real and raw and in breathtakingly beautiful way. Here is the Flickr set with more pictures of the house. I want to create a home that speaks of who we are as a family, in every detail. I want to find unique and beautiful things at flea markets and thrift and antique stores, rather than just going to Target, you know?

This post, from Becoming Sarah, made me tear up a bit.

And finally, Happy Birthday (yesterday) to the one and only Theodor Seuss Geisel- Dr. Seuss. Some wonderful quotes of his:

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

“I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!”

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!”

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Oh my goodness I could go on and on. What a truly special person. He would have been 106 years old.

This can officially go on the top ten most random posts ever list. I am okay with that. : )

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Truffles!

I already showed you the card/mini book I made for Manny. Here is the other part of his Valentine’s Day surprise:

I got the recipe from one of my all-time favorite cooking blogs- The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

You better believe I was taste-testing this all along the way. Yum!

Melting the chocolate:
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The insides of the truffles:
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The box I put them in for Manny:
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I still have more of the inside mixture- this was my first batch, just for Manny- I wanted to get it done in time. I’ll make the rest tonight :)

It was so easy and they are such an elegant treat- I love it!

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Wish List Wednesday

(Idea from the Foster Family blog.)

I think that it would be just amazing to have one of these:

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It’s a Blackbird Fly 35mm twin lens reflex camera from Four Corner Store. These are such fun cameras- here is a Flickr pool of photos taken with them.

A vintage TLR like this would also be very cool, but the awesome thing about the Blackbirds (besides that they come in great colors!) is that they take 35mm film- the kind readily available at the store (at least I think regular stores still carry film…). Just about any other medium format TLR takes 120mm, which you’d pretty much have to order online. Ahh maybe someday I’ll be lucky enough to have both in my collection.

I have also been admiring clothes from Gaia Conceptions on Etsy. Gorgeous, comfortable-looking eco friendly handmade clothing. Love, love, love. I couldn’t choose just one thing to post- I would love a skirt and a pair of pants from here and a couple of shirts.
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(photo courtesy of Gaia Conceptions- not my work!)

Hoorah for wish list Wednesdays :)

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oh, the wonders {thrift store therapy}

Seth and I desperately needed to get out of the house a while ago, and I’d been thinking I’d like to browse Goodwill, so off we went. Oh my goodness, I have never gotten so many wonderful things in one trip to a thrift store! I was definitely meant to go in there today. This is my own, much less expensive version of retail therapy : )

I found a couple skirts for myself, for $3 each. The first one has the tags on still (!) and is from Kavu in Seattle, made of hemp and cotton. I was so surprised, because it’s something I would totally get myself at full price- I’ve browsed the Kavu site in the past and love it.

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The other skirt I am wearing. I put it on as soon as we got home.

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I got three of these little plates for 39 cents each. I love blue and white and had been wanting a few more smaller plates.
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I also got a copy of my favorite book, The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, because I don’t have a copy but I will definitely re-read it and want to be able to lend it out too. The other book is for a certain craft project I have in mind- details coming soon. I just loved the little test tube- I think it makes an adorable flower vase. {flower courtesy of my backyard that needs mowing} The sweater underneath is 100% wool to be felted and used for projects.
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And…

last but far from least…
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Yes, my dears, this is the real reason I feel I was destined to enter that shop today. Was I not just saying the other day that I would like a Polaroid camera? This was just sitting there for $2.99. A friend who read that previous post also says she might have one from her grandmother, and from what she described it would produce a very different look from this one. So my Polaroid wishes have been answered- possibly even twice over! I am so excited to use this- I just ordered some film from Polapremium. I will of course post when I get it!

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Lovely Rice Pudding

Rice pudding always makes me think of this poem by A.A. Milne, which my grandma used to read to me a lot. I had a book of A.A. Milne poems when I was a kid.

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
She’s crying with all her might and main,
And she won’t eat her dinner - rice pudding again -
What is the matter with Mary Jane?

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
I’ve promised her dolls and a daisy-chain,
And a book about animals - all in vain -
What is the matter with Mary Jane?

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
She’s perfectly well, and she hasn’t a pain;
But, look at her, now she’s beginning again! -
What is the matter with Mary Jane?

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
I’ve promised her sweets and a ride in the train,
And I’ve begged her to stop for a bit and explain -
What is the matter with Mary Jane?

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
She’s perfectly well and she hasn’t a pain,
And it’s lovely rice pudding for dinner again!
What is the matter with Mary Jane?

The whole thing has a totally new meaning to me now that I am the parent of an almost-toddler…
(who by the way just went to bed at 10:45!)

Anyway…

I had leftover brown rice from dinner the other day, and so I decided to make rice pudding and blog about it. I have fun taking pictures while I cook.

Ingredients:
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The rice, of course. 2 cups.

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3 cups of milk, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/8 teaspoon of salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla, 1/2 cup raisins, and nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves to taste.

So I am not one of those really awesome food bloggers who has a great photo for each and every step, a la the Pioneer Woman or Smitten Kitchen, but bear with me here…

First you combine the rice, milk, salt and sugar in a medium saucepan. Then get ready to add the vanilla…
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And, added! lol…
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And the raisins.
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Then bring it to a boil over medium-high heat.
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Allow it boil gently for a couple minutes, then lower the heat and let it cook, covered, until most of the milk is absorbed and it looks “puddingish”.
Then add the spices and enjoy it, hot or cold it is so yummy. I ate it for breakfast two days in a row.

I haven’t the faintest idea what the matter was with Mary Jane anyway. Maybe she was teething? Actually she sounds a bit spoiled- listen to all the stuff they promised her, just to try and shut her up!

Enjoy the recipe friends!


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The Teeth are Coming!

After months of drooling and fussing and chewing and drooling and sleepless nights and fevers and DROOLING… Seth’s first two teeth are finally coming in!

I first felt something there earlier while giving him teething oil because he was obviously very uncomfortable, and then this afternoon his grandma Jackie and I could actually see the bits of pearly whiteness on the surface of his gums. I’m sure that in the next several days they will really pop up and be seen more easily, and I will definitely take pictures for you.

By the way, I have a sore spot on my gums where one of my wisdom teeth used to be, so I decided to try Seth’s teething oil, and I am amazed at how well it works. It numbed it really well for a while. It is called Gum-omile Oil from the company Herbs for Kids, and I got it at Whole Foods. It contains clove oil, willow bark extract, and chamomile extract, and you just rub a little bit on their gums when they seem to be bothered by teething pain. It is safer and more natural than regular OTC teething gels like Oragel. It, along with Hyland’s homeopathic teething tablets, have been working really well for us.

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A Christmas Tradition

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I wanted to post this closer to Christmas, but I am just going to go ahead with it now since that obviously didn’t happen.

My mom and I have been making poulla for the holidays for years. It is a traditional Finnish coffee bread, the wonderful key ingredient being cardamom. I love it. My whole family loves it.

One recipe makes three loaves. If you are going to make it, prepare for it to take over your whole kitchen and half your day. But it is so, so worth it.

You need:

2 cups of milk
1/2 cup of warm water
1 (.25oz.) package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp.)
1 cup of white sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of ground cardamom
4 eggs, beaten
9 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons of white sugar

First, warm the milk on the stove in a saucepan until it just starts to bubble, then remove from heat and let it cool until it’s lukewarm.

Meanwhile, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Then stir in the milk, sugar, salt, cardamom, 4 eggs, and about 2 1/2 cups of the flour. Beat until batter is smooth. Add about 2 1/2-3 cups of the flour and beat well until the dough is smooth in appearance. Add the melted butter and beat until dough looks glossy, then stir in remaining flour until dough is stiff.

Turn out onto a floured surface and cover with your mixing bowl, and let it rest for 15 minutes. Knead the dough until it’s smooth and satiny. Place in a lightly greased mixing bowl, and turn dough over to grease the top. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise in a warm place for about an hour. Punch down, then let rise again until almost the size it was.

Turn out again onto your floured surface, and divide into 3 parts. Divide each third into three again, and roll each piece between your hands into a 12 to 16 inch strip. Braid three strips into a loaf, tucking the ends under a little, and lift the braids onto greased baking sheets. Let rise for 20 mintutes.

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Brush each loaf with a bit of the beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Check occasionally to avoid burning the bottoms. I usually brush with a little more melted butter and sprinkle a bit more sugar on top then. Because it tastes good.

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Enjoy!

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My New favorite Shoes

I just submitted a review of these sandals at Simpleshoes.com, and I wanted to mention here how much I love them. This a great company that makes eco-friendly shoes that are comfortable and very stylish. Definitely not frumpy hippy shoes at all! Their sale prices are spectacular too. I got some soft soled early-walker shoes for Seth, and I am planning to get a pair of their TOEst boots for thewinter months for myself. Worth checking out, for sure.

Here’s my review:

Originally submitted at Simple

I have BLC certified leather uppers. I have full grain leather linings and topsoles. I have an Ortholite footbed. I have cork and recycled EVA midsoles. My outsoles are made of natural rubber and recycled car tires. My outsole logo detail is made of recycled metal alloys. I have 100% post consumer …

Glider - BLC Leather

These are great sandals!

By Sasmama from West Palm Beach, FL on 10/26/2009
5out of 5

Sizing: Feels true to size
Width: Feels true to width
Pros: Cute, Stylish, Comfortable
Describe Yourself: Casual, Stylish

I am a mom to an 8 month old, and these have become my go-to shoes for everything from playdates to walks in the park to the grocery store. They are cute and very comfortable and look great with everything.
(legalese)
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