5.10.2017

Simple Kids: Making time for our family and Popcorn Recipe



Last week I had one too many distracted days - instead of going through our normal morning routine of preparing a couple of cups of warm milk, pouring one of coffee for myself and lots of wake-up time on the couch, I found my mind being preoccupied with tasks to be finished, floors to be mopped and laundry to be done, while absent-mindedly refilling two sippy cups. It was a sort of disconnected week, I fear. 

At the end of the week, I felt we were in serious need of an afternoon with lots of laughter, snuggles, and kisses. An afternoon of Pre-Mother's Day quality time for our family. 


We had beautiful weather on Sunday, so we decided to collect all the blankets we could find, laid them on the grass watching JC built a fire for roasting S'mores. 

You see, even though I'm at home with them, striving to include them in daily homemaking activities, while also emphasising on the role of imagination in learning, encouraging their intellectual, practical and artistic development especially during their early childhood years, I do occasionally cease to hum songs and get caught in a rut. Hands-on activities decline and I clearly notice the change in rhythm in their creative play.


So this past Sunday, we made the day all about family. After church that morning, I chopped up some of our favorite fruits and popped some corn (recipe below), while the kids helped collect branches for the fire. 

Watching them run around in anticipation was heart warming. They played tag together, covered and uncovered their blankets, and snug some chocolate while I wasn't watching. Our batteries were recharging more and more with each Marshmallow.



As the sun set slowly and the air turned cool rapidly, we moved our family day indoors. After a quick bath, we settled in our favorite comfy spot, grabbed the popcorn and I turned on a good wholesome cartoon for them. That night I chose Theo for us, a cartoon off of PureFlix,. We don't have TV service at our home and we exclusively rely on streaming. PureFlix offers a wide variety of faith and family friendly movies that I don't hesitate for my children to watch. And on a side note, they currently offer a free month trial if any of you are interested. 

After they were in bed, JC and I snuggled up together and continued our quality time with another movie, while finishing off the last of the popcorn. All in all, it was a wonderful day with the kids and if I may encourage you, Mother's Day is just around the corner, if you are not the gift giving type or if you are, but would like to add that extra little something, go and spend some time with your loved ones. It doesn't have to be all elaborate with a fire and S'mores, but maybe curling up in your favorite spot, with your favorite snack, and a family friendly movie might just do the trick.


Popcorn Recipe:


3 TBSP Oil 
1/3 c popcorn kernels
3 TBSP butter
salt to taste

1. Add the oil to a medium pot that has a lid. Place 3 kernels of corn in the oil, close the lid and let sit on medium-high heat until you hear the three kernels pop.

2. Remove the pot from the heat, add the 1/3 cup of kernels, close the lid - and now this is important - count to 30. Out loud. 

3. After you counted (you did, right?) return the pot to the heat, lift the lid ajar and proceed by shaking the pot softly all through the popping. Once the pops cease, take the pot off the heat and empty the popcorn into a bowl.

4. Add the butter to the hot pot, once it is melted, pour it over the popcorn and gently mix to coat.

Enjoy and live loved!



Also sharing here.
This post was not sponsored but partnered with Pure Flix, all opinions are my own. 

5.04.2017

Simple Moments: April


A few snapshots of moments that made our April.


Baby snuggles as long as he wants them.


With the first warm rays of sun, they wanted to play in the water. 


A pear tart I made for Easter Sunday. The recipe will follow soon. 


They enjoyed many a fun hour on the swing.


My roses are blooming - saw this two toned one amongst all of them. 


The good ol' trusted bucket. E got sick (twice!) with a stomach bug this month. 

4.11.2017

Simple Kids: An honest feeding story


I can't believe it has taken me over four years to write this post. Every time I would sit down to type it, I would hesitate as self-doubt entered my mind as I'm not the first mother out there, feeding a newborn baby or two.

We have all heard the "Breast is the best" mantra, seen the shaking of heads behind the backs of bottle feeding mothers, and then watched the scolding looks of others when a new mom would nurse in public. Without a doubt, my thoughts continued, do we really need another post on this? Then I realized, no matter which road we as moms take, there will always be an opinion about it. And even though I sought all the advice possible, reading as much about this topic as I could before my daughter arrived, I found that each experience is unique and we may always benefit from having one more to read about.  And I'm not posting this to persuade you that what you are doing is anything but fine, rather, I'm sharing this because I hope that you will find some encouragement here. So here I am, typing away.


Before my oldest was born, I already decided I was going to nurse. To me, the decision was a natural one, brought on by tradition and watching my own mother nurse my younger siblings. In the first days of breastfeeding, the physical and emotional transformation was mind-blowing. My breasts were so engorged and burning hot - nothing could have prepared me for this. My nipples were sore, my throat ever so thirsty. E wouldn't latch on right, and only suckled lightly. She was less than a day old, and already the afternoon nurse suggested supplementing. Here I was, a first-time mother, who somehow imagined that nursing was so ingrained in a mother-child bond that we would magically find our way to it the minute my daughter was born. I was in tears.

I sought advice from experienced friends. I called the lactation consultant, a very straight forward Eastern European lady, who walked up briskly to my bedside, reaching for my burning breast with her ice-cold hands, Just to find out, she still wouldn't latch on right. Finally, though, with the help of a plastic shield, I was able to feed my daughter as best as I could.

During the next few weeks at home, we continued our shield nursing regiment. There were days when I still tried to wrap my head around the fact that my ever so small boobs could produce enough liquid gold to feed and nourish a tiny human being. And every time the milk would flow while nursing her and later my son, a wave of calm washed over me. Those were the days I thought of nursing as my secret weapon, my own personal drug.

I cherished the moments when both my babies would reach up and play with my hair while nursing, feeling my face as if ingraining my features with their hands. My son was also very particular about where he wanted my free hand to be placed. These are the moments I love and will always be carefully stored in my imaginary Mommy files.

And then there were days when I felt that breastfeeding was more of a burden. My impending return back to work hung over my head like a dark cloud. I had to begin pumping and build my freezer supply. Those were the days I cried, strapped to this humanless machine, feeling more like a cow being milked than a mother to a human baby. I cried when I barely filled a bottle. I feared I was failing my daughter before giving us a chance. I cried because leaving her with a sitter required planning, more pumping and returning home to her with aching breasts leaking milk. But I continued to take my prenatal vitamins (like these), drank my liquids and faithfully pumped as much as my body would produce for the next months.


Eventually, I introduced formula to her. In a combination of weaning and drying up, we stopped nursing altogether at ten months. And you know what? As much as a blessing it was to nurse her, it turned out just fine once we transitioned to formula. If I could give my first-time-mom-self any advice, I would tell her to relax and know that it is going to be okay. Whichever way works out, my child and yours will receive the nourishment they need to grow and flourish.

With my son, I was very blessed to nourish him full time until six months, and then continue until we weaned just last month at 17 months. His experience seemed like an all around easier one, but maybe, just maybe I had already learned the little tidbit of information that if for whatever reason I couldn't nurse, I knew I had a good formula, like the Honest company's Organic Premium Infant Formula to fall back on, providing premium organic nutrition while also being gentle on the tummy. 
  

Also sharing this post here
This post was encouraged but not sponsored by the Honest Company. 

4.07.2017

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs




It is no secret that I like to do things the simple and natural way. A couple from church keeps chickens that produce eggs in the most beautiful natural shades and shapes, and every so often they bring us a dozen or two as a thank you when JC helps out with their cars (thanks, y'all). 

To celebrate the season of eggs, I decided to dye some today, naturally. So, in case you're on the hunt for a last minute and easy easter egg activity, here is an idea that is about as easy as chopping up some vegetables. 

Begin with the fruits, vegetables or spices of your choice - mine were blueberries, red onion skins, yellow onion skins, turmeric, and paprika. But I've also used red cabbage before with beautiful results. About one cup of fruits and vegetables per one cup of water, 2 TBSP of spices per one cup of water.

Mash the blueberries and skin the onions, place each in a pot and simmer roughly 15 minutes. If using cabbage, chop the cabbage. For the spices, boil the water and pour over the spices. 

While the dye is simmering, go ahead and hard boil your eggs. I used a dozen plus two for our project today.

Strain the fruits and vegetables, and let cool to room temperature. Once cooled down, add 3 TBSP of vinegar to the dye (2 for the spices) to help set the color. 

Submerge the eggs and let them sit in the dye until the desired color is reached. Roughly 10 minutes, but some might take up to 3 hours or longer. I highly recommend using white eggs. Brown eggs work, but your colors will turn out different. 






The beautiful thing about this project is it's almost completely waste-free. Just keep your vegetable peels from dinner, hunt down the spices in your cabinet and you're all set to go. 

Live loved!


4.04.2017

Simple Foods: Sweet Potato, Red Lentil and Coconut Soup Recipe


After spending most of this winter snuggled up inside in front of the fireplace, book in one hand, hot chocolate in the other, we are two weeks into Spring now and ready to face the warmer season of the year.

And what a season it will be.

Some of you already know, but I've kept it pretty quiet overall - we are adding on to our family, god-willing,  this summer.

And where long and cold days beg for warming winter soups, they are also a fine way to help cope with those early miserable days and weeks of baby growing. So we ate them, lots of them. Taco soup, chicken noodle soup, roasted red pepper soup, butternut squash and carrot soup, you name it we had it.

So if you're a soup person like me, here's an easy recipe for you adapted from here:

Red Lentil, Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

2-3 medium sized sweet potatoes
2 red onions
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 fresh red chili
1/2 bunch fresh coriander (optional - our family is not a big Coriander fan)
125g red lentils
1 L vegetable stock, heated
1 can light coconut milk (400ml)
1 lemon

How to:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2.Peel and dice sweet potato in 1 inch thick chunks, peel and cut onions into 1 inch thick wedges. (I had baked sweet potato left over from a previous dinner and used them instead of roasting fresh ones)
3. Place vegetables on a roasting tray in one layer, sprinkle with cumin seeds, coriander, salt and fresh pepper. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes - since I had already cooked sweet potatoes, I just peeled them and roasted the onion in a pan.
4. Peel and finely slice garlic, followed by finely slicing the chili. If using, pick coriander leaves and set aside, finely slice the stalks.
5. In a large saucepan, on medium-low, heat about a tablespoon or two of oil. Saute the garlic, chili, and coriander stalks until lightly golden.
6. Add the red lentils to the pan, stir to coat well. Stir in the heated vegetable stock and coconut milk.
7. Increase the heat and gently boil, reduce to a simmer and cook lentils for about 20 minutes.
8. Once the vegetables are ready, carefully add to the saucepan, together with most of the coriander leaves.

If you have a submersion blender, blend the soup to desired thickness. I recently minimized ours, thus I transferred most of the soup to the blender and (carefully!) blended until smooth. A few pieces were left un-blended for some chewiness.
Another option is to just mash your vegetables with a wood spoon as desired. It's your soup, prepare it the way you like it :)

9. Lastly, squeeze in some fresh lemon juice and season to taste.

Enjoy!

This soup is also on my list for nursing friendly soups. More on that topic very soon y'all!

Live Loved!



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