Sunday, May 31, 2009

What's Cooking 6.1-6.7

Oops! I forgot to post our CSA share from my trip to the Farmers' Market last week. Again, it yielded abundant greens and delicious strawberries. No kohlrabi, but some tasty beets!

This week I kept the shopping to one market again. I wonder if I will ever make it to Amazing Savings again. The savings are pretty amazing, but my time is at such a premium that I just don't want to make the long drive there and back.

Our pricey whole foods market is only a 5 minute drive. I am so grateful for the proximity as well as the quality of the food that the cost is worth it. And for this week's groceries I only spent $68.81. Nice.

Again, I bought very little vegetable produce this week, just a few to add to my juices before I get back to the market again this Wednesday. (Still a thrill!)

Here's what we're eating this week:

Guadalajaran Swiss Chard Quesadillas (This recipe looks amazing - and we've got leftover tequila from the margarita party - I can't wait to try it!)
Green Salad

Very Easy Vegetarian Sloppy Joes
Homemade Whole Wheat Buns
Sweet Potato Oven "Fries"
Green Salad

Late Night at the pool again! Time to fire up the grill!
Chicken Sausages
Homemade Whole Wheat Buns
Grilled Veggies

Greek Lentil Salad
Homemade Whole Wheat Garlic Toast

Pizza with homemade crust and sauce
Roasted Peppers and Pepperoni
Green Salad

Veggie Pan Bagnat
Potato Salad

or Breakfast for Dinner

Life Expands

Life expands and contracts in proportion to one's courage. Anais Nin
My life is feeling very expansive at the moment! I love that! I look back over the last month or so and I am extremely pleased by what I have accomplished. In just a little over 4 weeks I launched a new website and a business!

I've had the dream of doing both for a long time, but they stayed rather nebulous goals until I adopted a practice that I call the Weekly Manifesto. ("Manifest-o" - get it?)

Here's what it looks like: Every week I take out my notebook and record the answers to these 10 questions:

1. What have I accomplished this week? (I keep a gratitude journal and record my accomplishments nightly. I don't think I would be able to remember them all by the end of the week!)

2. What awakenings or breakthroughs have I had this week? What unexpected gifts did I receive? (Again, hopefully I have captured these in my daily journal.)

3. Is there anything I wanted to accomplish but didn’t? (When you get in the habit of this practice it will be easy to look back and see what you might have missed. If the action is still relevant, I put in in the list with my top priorities - #6.)

4. What challenges am I experiencing?

5. If I were coaching myself, what would I tell me about these challenges? (And then I always note an action to address the challenge in my top priorities for the next week.)

6. What are my top 3 priorities for the coming week? (At least one of these should come from my intentions, goals and dreams.)

7. If I could get nothing else done this week but ONE THING, what one thing would I choose to do? What one thing would make me most happy and proud? (I refer to #'s 6 and 7 consistently through the week to make sure I stay on focused and purposeful.)

8. How do I want to FEEL this week? Who do I want to BE?

9. What is (at least) one fun, joyous, delightful activity I can plan to do just for me?

10. Am I aware of any new, wonderful, creative, exciting ideas, dreams, goals, prospects that I want to add to my manifesto for future weeks?

I always do my manifesto on Sunday. But I've heard others like to do a weekly review like this on Friday. You will know what's best for you.

Here's an example of my manifesto in action:

On Sunday, April 19th I wrote for #3: I wish I saw more progress on my website.

When I wrote the statement I realized that I had been hoping that my husband would do it. He had agreed to do it the month before and yet not much was getting done. So I had been hoping for weeks.

I had put myself in a passive - and undesirable - position: I was relying on my husband to make this happen. And he's a busy guy with his own dreams to manifest. I realized that if I wanted this to get done, I would have to hire - and pay - professionals.

So then I knew that my #1 priority for the next week was going to be to find a company to design and build my website. (And then I broke it down in to daily actions: Talk to people I know who have a website - who did they work with? Call those sources, etc.)

And then at the end of the next week I was able to write "contracted with a website company" in my accomplishments! (Slab500 is fabulous by the way! I can't say enough good things about my experience working with them!)

So that is the Weekly Manifesto.

This week I am rejoicing in dreams made manifest.

By the way, have you seen my new website yet? Please do visit!

What awakenings, breakthroughs, or accomplishments have you had this week? Any unexpected gifts? Challenges? I'd love for you to share them - either here in the comments section or using the contact page at my website.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Margaritas with a Mission!

If you follow my blog you know that I'm always looking for an excuse to have a party, and this time I had three.

First, we wanted to celebrate a great cause - Heifer International!

We asked our friends to bring a small donation (if they were so inclined) and we provided the margaritas, Mexican beer, tamales (chicken with chile, veggie, and one variety for the kiddos without chile), Mexican black beans and chips and salsa and two very delicious varieties of flan.

It was a fine feast and we raised over $150! And because Heifer is currently running a Matching Gift campaign, our little fiesta will mean more than $300 worth of farm animals to families in need.

(If you don't know about the great work Heifer does, you can read more here.)

We also celebrated the launch of my new coaching business: A Midwife for Your Life.

And, last, but not least, it's time to celebrate that summer is almost here!

It was a wonderful night to cap a wonderful day of another wonderful week. It just gets better and better!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Smiles Await You

This painting is titled Smiles Await You When Rise. Isn't is beautiful? OK, so the painter, Daniel Nevins, is one of my dearest friends, but I loved his paintings before he became my friend, so I don't think I'm biased at all.

All of his paintings are magnificent. They are my spiritual food.

I asked Daniel for a print because it makes me think of how it can be in the world: You are loved and valued for who you really are. You get to make your life a masterpiece. Smiles await you when you rise.

I also asked Daniel for this print because I wanted it to be a testament to this time in my life when I am making a huge leap and imagining a giant cloud of gorgeous flowers to catch me.

For a while I've been hinting that I am up to something big - I alluded to breakthroughs and accomplishments and not having much time for this blog. And now I'm thrilled to reveal the reason: I'm launching a personal coaching business!

How did this happen? Well, let me take you back about 10 years ago when I was reading everything I could about Mt. Everest. W.H. Murray led early expeditions to that little mountain and wrote the following passage in his memoir, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951), and it has informed my life more than any other:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.

For years now, I have been telling my family and friends that I am open to discovering a completely new path for my life. The only issue has been that I love my work as a midwife and it was hard to imagine being drawn away from it and toward something else. Nevertheless, I sensed that the time was coming for me to try something new, and I have been paying attention to the signals that the universe has been sending me.

And to be very clear: I am still very much devoted to providing health care to women. I will happily keep my "day" job while enjoying this work, too.

Over the past year, I have been getting some very strong signals. I noticed that friends were coming to me for advice—and that my advice and support actually seemed to help them feel better. I noticed, too, that after years of reading positive psychology, I had begun to synthesize what I had read into an approach that seemed both extremely satisfying for me and unique.

Finally, a few months ago, I put a name on the path that was opening before me, and decided that, I was interested in becoming a life coach. And then the strangest thing happened. I got on a plane in April . . . and ended up sitting next to a life coach! And in the course of that flight I made the connection between what I do now—serve women in childbirth—and what I want to do more — serve people hoping to make a shift in their lives.

Because childbirth, after all, is a series of transitions. There is actually a stage of labor that is called "transition"— the very last before the woman pushes the baby out. But of course good midwives know that good outcomes for mothers and families require supporting women through this major life change—addressing fears, calling out hidden strengths, and focusing the mother on the wonderful new world that awaits on the other side of this challenge.

And so, after years of waiting and months of listening, all the pieces fell into place: I wanted to become a midwife for people's lives, helping people who had identified a new path for themselves to create a meaningful, satisfying, and above all else, happy life.

I would be honored if you would visit my new website to learn more!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

What's Cooking 5.25-5-31

This is going to be a busy week for me (more on that later!) - so I'm keeping it simple with one shopping trip to one store and a simple menu plan.

I spent a whopping $98.89 at Earth Fare, our pricey whole foods store, and includes food and alcohol for our party this Friday.

Not all of the food made it to the picture, though, because my husband and son put the party food in the basement before I noticed and I wasn't going to bring it back up again.

"Keep It Simple" is my motto this week.

Here's What's Cooking:

Memorial Day Parties
2 of Them!
The Joys of Summer Begin!

I'll be at my mom's all day to declutter and organize her home. (Did you know this is one of my passions?)
I'm bringin' home some of mom's home cookin'.

Wednesday: (Market Day again!)
First Late Night at the Pool! And they have gas grills! It's gonna be smokin'hot!
Hickory Nut Gap Farm Bratwursts
Homemade Whole Wheat Rolls
Grilled Peppers and Onions
Green Salad

Whole Wheat Pizza (Homemade dough and sauce)
with Spinach and Pepperoni
Green Salad

Margaritas with a Mission
We're hosting a party! (More about the mission later!)
Margaritas and Mexican beer
Tamales (Chicken with Green Salsa, Vegetarian, and some for the kiddos without chile)
Mexican Black Beans
Chips and Salsa


Whole Wheat Pancakes
Turkey Sausage

Chicken Love

I'm in the hospital today for a 24-hour call shift and it is busy, so I am going to leave you mostly with pictures that tell a wonderful story.

Here's what I have time to write: I love our chickens.

We live in a fairly urban area where you are more likely to hear the booming of a car's stereo, or the buzzing of a scooter, than something more bucolic, like the sounds of happy chickens.

Chickens are amazing! They magically convert veggie scraps to, wonder of all wonders, food! (And a *whole* lot of compost!)

Their excited clucking when I bring them treats will get me out of bed on even the coldest and rainiest mornings.

They practically crow when they lay eggs - you can hear them from a block away! - with what sounds like a combination of delight and surprise. And the other girls chime right in with what sounds like the most appreciative praise.

And I'm not the only one who loves our chickens:

I don't think these pictures really do our biddy beauties justice, because it was a little crazy in the hen house with all those little ones around. I feel lucky to have been able to capture just a bit of the sweet story.

This week I'm rejoicing in chicken love.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Food Waste for the Week

I didn't manage to get in a post on our food waste last week. We had a portion of a green pepper go bad, but I didn't have time to document it. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it!)

I am happy to report, though, that there is no waste this week!

And I'm even happier to report that the kohlrabi curse has been broken! I feel a bit like the fellow in Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham who grumpily maintained that he did not like green eggs and ham - only to learn on the last page that he did "SO like them" that he would eat them with a mouse, and he would eat them in a house...

Okay, so you know I have a 4-year-old son, right? This book gets a lot of play in our home.

But the point is we do SO like them! We cut up the greens and put them in with the kale for our spaghetti on Thursday and we've been eating the root portion, peeled and sliced or diced in our salads.

They do taste very much like the peeled stalk of broccoli, but a little sweeter - like a mix between broccoli stalk and jicama.

Try them! Try them! You will see!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Full Sun Farm 2nd Week!

Here's what we got:

Lettuce, Green Leaf or Red Leaf
Spinach, 1/2 lb.
Sugar Snap Peas, 1 pint
Bok Choy
Red Russian Kale
Garlic Scapes
Strawberries, 1 pint

What? No Swiss Chard? We got a beautiful and tasty bunch of Rainbow Chard last week and I was really hoping to make Alice Waters' Gratin. Such are the vagaries of the farmers' market - what is plentiful one week is absent the next.

If you read my blog last year you know that kohlrabi was the bane of my market experience. We get it for many weeks at the beginning and end of the growing season - it seems you can always count on the dreaded kohlrabi!

So what is my problem with kohlrabi? It's so freaky looking!

Actually, I realize at the present moment it doesn't look so freaky, but the root portion is really tough and reminds me of an almost non-nutritive and practically inedible tuber found in Haiti that is mashed into a paste and forms a staple of the diet.

Now, I've never been to Haiti, but the stories I've heard obviously made quite an impression!

In the past, before the food waste challenge, I would chop it up and feed it to our chickens and they seemed happy enough.

This year, though, I'm determined to find out more about this odd root vegetable and ways to prepare it. To that end I finally asked my farmers about it and they, as always, were very helpful.

Here's what they had to say:

It is a Brassica, and is therefore related to broccoli and kale, both of which it slightly resembles.

Think of the greens as tender kale leaves, and prepare them as such. The bulb from which the leaves grow can be thought of as a swollen broccoli stem, but its taste is sweeter, and more refreshing. (My note: Huh! You don't say!)

If this is your first experience with kohlrabi, don't cook any until you have tried it raw; peel the bulb and cut it into sticks or coins for easy eating. If you're ready to cook, kohlrabi can be steamed whole or halved, and is also easy to dice and saute or stir-fry. To use the entire plant in one dish, try this easy recipe:

1 lb. kohlrabi, including greens
1/2 lb. onions, chopped small
olive oil
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel kohlrabi and cut into small chunks. Saute in oil with onion until onion is golden. Add kohlrabi greens, cut into ribbons, and continue cooking until wilted.

Meanwhile, grease a baking dish. Put cooked Kohlrabi mixture into dish, top with breadcrumbs and cheese and bake 10-15 minutes. If you want to incorporate more greens, dice the stems of this week's kale along with the kohlrabi, and cut the leaves into ribbons along with the kohlrabi greens.

I'll let you know how it turns out and if I've managed to shake the Kohlrabi Curse!

Monday, May 18, 2009

What's Cooking 5.18-5.24

As you saw from my post last Wednesday, my trip to the Farmers' Market yielded abundant greens. I added greens to our salads, soups, sandwiches, eggs, stir-fry, and juice and they were delicious!

This week I spent $45.14 at Amazing Savings and $30.82 at Green Life for a grand total of $75.96.

I bought 3 dozen organic/free-range eggs because they were on an amazing sale (Buy 2 for $1.29 and get 1 free) and we depleted the supply of our home-grown eggs over the weekend. I plan to do a lot of baking in the next week to use up this surplus and my husband and son are very excited by the prospect.

As you can see I bought very little vegetable produce this week, just a few to add to my juices before I get back to the market again this Wednesday. (Can't wait!)

Here's what we're eating this week: (See a theme? Lots and Lots of Greens!)

Monday: (My mom sent us home from dinner at her house with leftover chicken and we will be using it up in this delicious recipe)
Green Chili
Brown Rice
Green Salad

Tuesday: (Back in the hospital for 24 hours)

Wednesday: (Market Day, Hooray!)
Tofu Stir-Fry
with lots of greens in the mix!
Brown Rice

Garlic and Oil Spaghetti with Greens
Green Salad

Pizza (with homemade crust and sauce)
Spinach and Pepperoni
Green Salad

Very Easy Vegetarian Sloppy Joes (we didn't have these last week because of a visit with my family)
Homemade Whole Wheat Rolls
Sweet Potato "Fries"
Spinach Salad

Asparagus-Ricotta Frittata
Roasted Potatoes and Garlic
Spinach Salad

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Dolce Far Niente

In Italian "dolce far niente" literally means "sweet doing nothing."

Isn't it delightful that a culture values pleasant relaxation in carefree idleness so much that they have a common expression for it?!

I try to make every Sunday a dolce-far-niente-kind-of-day, but the last few weeks have been quite full of activity. Full of wonderful doing, mind you, but doing none-the-less.

Today has been wonderfully unstructured. We didn't *have to* do anything or be anywhere.

We had friends over for a lovely brunch of local, free-range eggs and homemade cinnamon rolls. We took a walk in the rain. We played hide-and-seek. We read stories.

My husband and son are playing soccer in the rain at this very moment. I'm going to join them.

Today I'm rejoicing in the dolce far niente.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Your Most-Trusted Advisor

At the end of Sue Ludwig’s insightful essay about how our bodies desire and seek balance she asked, “What does your body teach you about balance?”

I consider my body my most-trusted advisor. I think it assimilates information from the Universe that I can’t understand fully at first. You see, I know the Universe wants my best life, but sometimes I don’t heed its advice – sometimes I’m convinced I don’t even hear it.

It’s like Oprah says: Life sends you messages - first it will put a pebble in your path, then a rock, and then a brick wall. If I don’t hear the plink of the pebble, the rock shows up - usually as a bodily symptom. I pay attention because I really want to avoid hitting that brick wall.

My one quibble with Sue’s essay is when she states that our bodies don’t do drama. I’ve noticed that if I ignore its message, mine is quite capable of drama. In fact, I’ve seen my body produce some Oscar-worthy performances.

I work as a nurse-midwife in a hospital. I consult with physicians when I am caring for a woman who is considered high-risk and occasionally I don’t agree with the physician’s plan for managing a particular case.

One night I told a doctor that I was disinclined to follow his plan and he responded by saying, “That’s why I’m here, to tell you what to do.” Those weren’t his exact words, but you get the point.

I knew the doctor’s plan was not going to cause harm and I didn’t want further conflict, so I followed his orders. Within a few hours I lost my voice. My throat hurt and I couldn’t speak above a whisper.

As soon as I got home I looked up laryngitis in my well-worn copy of Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life. I believe the book provides clues to understanding the messages underlying an illness. If you decipher these messages and, more importantly, act on them by changing your thinking, you will improve your life.

For laryngitis she writes that the probable cause is “So mad you can’t speak. Fear of speaking up. Resentment of authority.” I was struck by the truth of this: I was mad. I had been afraid to speak up to the doctor. And I resented that he didn’t seem to value my expertise.

The new thought pattern she offers is “I am free to ask for what I want. It is safe to express myself. I am at peace.” I drank it up like a healing balm and got my voice back quickly after that.

The affirmation also helped me gain insight into the fact that I don’t need to compel the doctors to agree with me or even to see my side. All I can do is use my best judgment and present a plan of care.

For me, being at peace means that my worth is not predicated on others valuing me. I value me.

Since that epiphany I’ve had other differences of opinion with my physician colleagues but I haven’t had that sense that my value as a practitioner was diminished. And I’ve never lost my voice again.

You don’t need a copy of Louise Hay’s book (although I highly recommend it!) because all you really need to know is that if you ignore the wisdom available to you, your body can create a painful drama.

The Universe wants you to know that you are worthy of love and respect and you can have a life filled with health and happiness – you just have to listen.

Do you think there is anything your body is trying to tell you at this moment?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Full Sun Farm CSA First Week!

When I wrote in Monday's post that I was hoping for greens from my first box from Full Sun Farm, I could not have anticipated this bounty:

Here's what we got:

Oak Leaf Lettuce, 1 head
Spinach, 1/2 lb.
Rainbow Chard, 1 bunch
Green Kale, 1 bunch
Green Onions, 1 bunch
Bok Choy
Strawberries, 1 pint
Cornmeal, 1 1/2 lbs.

Strawberries! Already?! How is it possible? I had to sit on my other hand while I was driving home so as not to eat the whole pint before my husband and son could have some.

This is the first year (this is my 4th year with this farm) that the farmers are offering cornmeal they milled themselves and I am altering my menu plan tonight to include this delicious recipe for cornbread.

1/2 cup rye flour (whole wheat flour is okay too)
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk (or regular milk, or yogurt)
3 tbsp vegetable oil or butter, melted
1/2 cup molasses
2 whole eggs or 3 egg whites
3/4 cup raisins, chopped dates, or currants

Preheat oven to 350 and grease and flour a bread pan. Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl; whisk the wet ingredients in a second bowl. Pour wet ingredients into the dry and stir quickly to combine. Stir in the fruits. Transfer to the prepared bread pan and bake for 45 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes in pan before turning out onto a rack or serving.

I am in heaven! I'd love to hear that you are also enjoying some SOLE (sustainable, organic, local and ethical) food! Please share what you have in your CSA box or what you're hoping to find at your local farmers' market this week!

This post is also my contribution to Fight Back Fridays found at the wonderful Food Renegade.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What's Cooking 5.11-5.17

Our first week in the CSA starts this week (I am SO excited!) so I will probably change up my vegetable side dishes/salads by the end of the week. Judging by what our farm (special shout out to the wonderful folks of Full Sun Farm!) offered at the Farmers' Market on Saturday I think we can count on baby bok choy, kale, green leaf lettuce and radishes. I'll let you know on Wednesday how it turns out!

I bought 2 bunches of kale when I was there because I know we always use it up - usually in my morning vegetable/fruit juice. And I bought 7 tomato and 4 lettuce starter plants. I may be forgetting something but the total came to $20 even.

At Amazing Savings I bought 4 cucumber seedlings ($1.49) and the bulk of our groceries for $48.46. At Green Life, another of our pricey whole food shops, I bought 4 basil starter plants ($2.99) and 6 other items for $17.14.

Including the trip to the Farmers' Market, my grand total for the week is $85.60. I think that is great considering the total includes a bunch of plants that will be providing us with the most sustainable, organic, local and ethically produced (if you don't mind a little child labor) vegetables that can be found in these parts. :)

Here's what we're eating this week:

Curried Vegetable Saute
Brown Rice

Tuesday: (I'm back in the hospital for a 24-hour shift.)

Grilled Tofu Steaks with Veggie Kabobs
Brown Rice

Banana and Black Bean Empanadas
Stir-fried Spinach and Garlic

Pizza with homemade crust and sauce
Roasted Peppers and Pepperoni
Green Salad

Very Easy Vegetarian Sloppy Joes
Homemade Whole Wheat Buns
Sweet Potato Oven "Fries"
Green Salad

Broccoli-Potato Strata
Spinach Salad

A Very Happy Mother's Day

Even before I became a mother, Mother's Day has meant something important to me: Time to plant my vegetable garden!

Conventional wisdom in the mountains of Western North Carolina is that a hard frost could happen up to this very day, and I have learned the hard way (snow and ice in late April wrecking havoc on my tender blueberry blossoms!) to respect this wisdom.

Yesterday my son and I went to the Farmers' Market to buy seedlings for our garden. Of course I wanted tomatoes galore and we chose many new-to-us varieties based mainly on their delightful names - Mountain Magic (a red slicer, known to be disease-resistant and prolific), Sungold (our one repeat because we all love them so much - they are small and golden and so sweet my son calls them "chocolate 'matoes"), Taxi (bright yellow), Orange Glow (also promising to be hearty and productive and don't they sound like they will be a lovely color?), and Green Zebra (bright green and striped).

We also got some lettuce seedlings and lots of marigolds. I'm hoping to find more greens (spinach, kale and chard) and cucumber starts at the market this Wednesday, but if I can't, I can still start from seed and be all set. (Did you catch that: I'll be at the market this Wednesday to pick up our first CSA box! Hooray!)

This morning my son got decked out in his gardener's garb and we made quick work of the planting.

It is such a happy thing to see all the little plants in their new home.

This week I am rejoicing in being a mama: nurturing young life is a profound joy.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Food Waste for the Week

This was another challenging week: my husband was gone for a couple of days to attend a funeral (for his 95+ year-old grandmother - so it was a lovely celebration of a wonderful life) and came home with a stomach flu. That meant he wasn't able to help as much with left-overs at the beginning of the week.

Fortunately he recovered fully and set about helping me eliminate food waste. Today we both finished off less-than-exciting split pea dahl and brown rice for lunch.

But that still left some food that even I was unwilling to eat: 3 whole wheat pancakes (requested for lunch by our son on his birthday) and a small portion of the oven "fries" from dinner on Wednesday night.

He promised to eat the pancakes for dessert tonight and plans to make a Spanish-style torta (an omelet with potatoes) for breakfast tomorrow.

So if you look up the word "trooper" in the dictionary you should see a picture of my husband.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Birth Necklace

My son was born 4 years ago today. Before he was born most of my dearest friends were able to gather for my Blessingway - a ceremony to celebrate and honor my becoming a mother.

I treasured having so many amazing and wonderful women with me that day, all of them mothers or beloved aunties.

One of my favorite parts of the gathering was the assembly of my birth necklace. All of my friends chose beads that symbolized their hopes for me. We strung the beads together to form a beautiful necklace and testament to our friendship.

In this picture one of my friends shows me the bead she chose and explains its meaning.

And here I am wearing the completed necklace.

I put the necklace on as soon as I realized I was in labor. I wore it during the entire labor and through the birth of my son. I felt the connection to all those amazing women and I know it nurtured and sustained me through the most challenging and joyous time of my life.

I now keep the necklace in a place of honor in my room where I see it often. I always wear it during the celebration of my son's birth.

We all have such full lives now: Even if we don't get to see each other as much as I'd like, I am immensely grateful that I still share an incredible bond with the women who blessed my way to motherhood.

My friend who is featured in the first picture is in the one below, too. She came to my son's party on Saturday with her son - the child I caught in my hands as her midwife 10 years ago.

Monday, May 4, 2009

What's Cooking 5.4-5.10

Crunchy Chicken's Sustainable Food Challenge is officially over but I found it easy to stick to its principles again this week. I was a bit short on time so I only went to our pricey whole foods market and I may have forgotten something in my haste (but I don't think so). I spent a total of $74.18.

Here's what were eating this week:

Middle Eastern Lentil-Bulgur Loaf
Green Salad

Tuesday: Cinco de Mayo Fiesta con las Chicas!

My girlfriends are coming over. (It's kind of a celebration of my son's birth - you gotta celebrate the mama, too! - and an excuse to drink some of the leftover Mexican beer from my son's birthday party Saturday.) My husband will take our son out for a boys' night in honor of his birthday - the restaurant and movie of his choice. (We will also take him for a picnic lunch at a park with a lake and sandy beach - he's been asking to make sand castles at the beach for a while.)

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos
Green Salad
Chips, Salsa and Guacamole
Beer with Lime

Grilled Portobello Po' Boys
Homemade Whole Wheat Rolls
Oven "Fries"
Green Salad

Bow-tie Pasta
with Broccoli, Garbanzo Beans and Kalamata Olives

Pizza (with homemade dough and sauce)
Roasted Peppers and Pepperoni
Spinach Salad

Curried Lentil Soup
Homemade Whole Wheat Rolls
Spinach Salad

Whole Wheat Pancakes
Turkey Sausages

Sunday, May 3, 2009

First Olympiad Birthday Party!

Ah, four years! Stellar athletes spend 4 years to become an Olympian and my son spent the last 4 years to become...himself. And he is quite stellar in his own right.

Yesterday we celebrated his birthday and it was a glorious event. My son was born on May 5th - Cinco de Mayo - so we always have a Mexican-themed fiesta the first Saturday of the month of May.

Every year it rains. I remember this upset me quite a bit for his first birthday party.

Around the time of his second birthday I learned of the Law of Attraction and used the "energy flows where attention goes" principle to my advantage for his second birthday party. I looked for what I wanted to see (happy children) and not what I didn't.

Last year it rained in the morning but then cleared and was sunny and beautiful by the time his third birthday party started in the late afternoon.

This year it rained all day, but it didn't phase me a bit. I *knew* it was going to be a great day with a wonderful party and it was!

I have lots of pictures to tell the story (and more should be coming in a few days from my dad's and sister-in-law's cameras):

Me and my little Olympian:

Me and my mom.
Me and my dad.

Every morning I ask my son if he remembers any of his dreams. For quite a while he has been saying, "I dream that Grammy and Papa give me the big Optimus Prime Transformer." (Thank you, YouTube!) Well, that long-awaited day finally arrived!
Thank you, Grammy and Papa, for making a little boy's dream come true! (And p.s., this morning he said, "I dream that Grammy and Papa give me the Bulkhead Transformer.")

Luckily we have a large wrap-around covered porch so we put all the tables and chairs for dining on one side and created a kids' play area on the other side. My sister-in-law is a genius and created a game that everyone loved: She cut a swim noodle into 5 pieces to create bats, blew up a balloon and let the kids at it. Such a cool (and thrifty!) idea and the kids LOVED it.

The kids - especially mine - REALLY loved this game!

Even when the balloon popped (look in upper-right corner) he was delighted. (And luckily, Aunt B. had a whole bag of them so we got right back to playing again.)

It was so wonderful to have Doug's sister and her family with us!

And then - the Taqueria Truck arrived! Folks place their order for exactly what they want and go back as much as they want. The food is incredible. My dad got pictures (and I hope to post them as soon as he sends them) of me with the owner, Wily, inside the truck - with a kitchen - it is so amazing! I want it in my driveway every weekend!

This is what I love to see at my parties - people who are happy and sated.

We have so many wonderful friends of all ages. Here we are with our next-door neighbor who just celebrated her 14th birthday. I asked her dad if he thought 4 or 14 year-olds were more challenging and he joked that they just keep turning up the heat in the pot, but you don't even notice.

Here's my tip for a kids' party on a rainy day: buy bright yellow balloons - instant sunshine!

Remember Olga of Olga's Desserts?

Here's the cake she made for the party!

It was the largest cake she had ever made and she was worried. She needn't have - it was SO delicious! Everyone LOVED it!

It's not a real fiesta until you get a piece of that pinata!

Everyone had such a wonderful time. It was so fabulous. I've already received emails from folks saying they are counting down the days till the next fiesta and I'm with them.

Some others may need a little more time to recover. After everyone left, and I cleaned up, I went to check on my boys. I found this picture :
This week I am rejoicing in my son and our family and friends that love and celebrate him!