Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Back to School, Back to Green

It's almost that time: the one that Staples refers to as "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year". Pip, Sprout and I have had a wonderfully relaxed summer thanks to my new work schedule but now we are watching the summer days slip away and hoping for a wonderful start to September.

Here are a few ideas I have for making sure that we don't lose sight of our eco-friendly lunch habits as we head into a more hectic fall.

You may recall my reluctance to let go of the plastic baggies, but I think we have found a nice, if not entirely eco-friendly alternative. For everything from Pirate Booty to sliced cucumbers, I've been using small, plastic containers with screw-on lids. They are small, light, reusable, and the reliable lids give me the peace of mind that their lunch boxes won't return to me smelling like Eau de Spilt Yogurt.

I usually don't go for juice boxes, but when I do I go with the less compact juice pouch option. Why? Because Terracycle can turn them into radical pencil cases or homework folders! We only hope that Terracycle will have their new website up and running soon with details on how you can turn this reuse opportunity into a school fundraiser! **Update - Terracycle emailed me letting me know that they are frantically working on a much needed website makeover. Stay tuned!**

After much teeth gnashing and price comparing, I finally settled on a decent water bottle option: the bpa-free offerings from Nalgene. I was able to pick them up at Target and they have proven to be quite successful. The wide mouth lets me plunk in some ice cubes or, better yet, I can freeze water in them overnight so that Pip and Sprout will still have some icy cold refreshment when snack time finally rolls around.

And as for reusable cloth napkins, don't even get me started. Etsy is seriously draining my bank account when it comes to adorable, handmade accoutrements for les enfants!

I realize we are heavy on the plastics, but for now these are the best choices for my family. Perhaps after I steal, er, glean some ideas from the Green Moms Carnival {**updated link!} back to school edition we'll be making some even greener choices in the future.

How about you? Any ideas for healthy, waste-free lunches?

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Three Hundreth Post

I'm hitting the 300 post mark today and I can scarcely recognize myself from when I began.

A new job that is basically a new career.

Two sassy seeds that are growing before my eyes.

One thing remains the same, the love of my husband. Always there beside me, encouraging me, giving me those little pep talks disguised as chit-chat.

My blog started out very green. I have diverged somewhat from that topic, although greening has never left my consciousness.

My readership has waxed and waned, and that's okay. I have lost some readers. Gained some new ones. My interests have run the gamet and so do my bloggy friends.

Welcome to my 300th post and thanks for stopping by.


Who am I? Making an omelette yesterday and then today, I hardly know myself anymore!, scurrying off to Whole Foods to pick up some free range chicken breasts (yes, I know the chicken ends up the same (read: dead), but I've read a few articles on "conventional" chicken and it's not pretty). Why you ask? To make Parmesan Chicken from this cookbook. I mean, what the...?

So I buy the chicken breasts (not on sale) that are thin(ner) cut (more expensive) because frankly those big breasts (oh the google searches that will end up here now) scared me and I needed breasts that were a bit closer to the 1/4 inch thickness required. I also buy a nice chunk of parmesan cheese (not from that green shaker thingie) and miraculously the rest of the ingredients were lurking in my pantry (lo! Kosher salt!).

At 4:30 I bring the children in from the slip-n-slide (heat index: 105 degrees) and plop them uncerimonously in front of the television. I Cannot Be Disturbed, as I am making Parmesan Chicken a al Ina Garten and I am scared.

I mis en place (I think) all of my ingredients, pound the chicken to within a 1/4 inch of its life, drink a quarter of a bottle of wine and ignore that fact that "dredge" and "dip" are not really vocabulary with which I am familiar, but nevermind.

Using a cast iron skillet that allows me to cook one breast at a time ("Never apologize!"), I solider on wondering what exactly "medium-low" means and trying to ignore the voices in my head that are whispering "Shake and Bake! Shake and Bake! Why aren't you just using Shake and Bake?", I manage, one and one half hour later to produce delicious Parmesan Chicken (so says Green Husband) with some fancy French green beans and some Near East grain product.

All's well that ends well.

Providing that I interpreted "Until Cooked Through" correctly. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Stop the Presses

I made an omelette.

It was delicious.

Who knew that the key was to turn the flame on high about 30 seconds after your pour the egg into the pan?

{And since you've stopped by, please join us and Mr. Linky by linking to your most recent (or only, natch) clothesline-related post}

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Julie & Julia: WON-derful!

I wanted to like Julie & Julia, really I did. But I did not have much hope for it. I felt like it would let me down, despite the brilliant Meryl Streep, and that I had overextended my expectations. Nevertheless, I was giddy with excitement when I arrived at a 7:30 screening opening night.

Now having seen it, I have but one word to say for Julie & Julia: WON-derful!!! (Said in a certain voice like you-know-who). I may have to see it again - it was one of those bittersweet movie experiences where the laughter of the audience often obliterated the following line. Love that.

Why was it so wonderful? As Green Gramps reminded me, after reading the New York Times review, it was not just a campy imitation of this inspiring woman; Meryl Streep was much more than the exterior Julia Child. It was a movie that went deeper than her omelet-flipping fiasco or exclamations of Bon Appetite! There were moments, dear readers, when I cried.

There were several things I learned from this movie:

1) Having a small cramped "less-than-perfect" apartment or home, whether in Queens or Paris, is no excuse for a) not cooking or b) not entertaining. Nobody cares. Taking time over some good food, cooked in the smallest of spaces, some fresh flowers, candlelight, and even some big, red paper hearts pinned to your chest are truly all your friends want. My excuses for non-hosting have ended.

2) "Never Apologize!" Julia uses it in a cooking context, but so perfect for so many other situations. Give yourself some credit. Really.

3) Life begins at 40, the year Julia got married. Or 50, the year her cookbook was finally published. 'Nuf said.

4) I may try cooking. And I won't apologize.

***Updated*** 5) Letter writing. My goodness, how could I forget letter writing. The pure giddy about to jump out of your skin excitement of tearing a letter open. I will be writing one "real" letter per week for now on. There's MY Julie/Julia project!

My reading list based on Julie & Julia and cooking in general...

The real Julie.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Neglected Baby

No, not my children. Don't worry about them. They've been up to their ears in activities. Let me update the tally:

::made popovers
::spent many hours idling at the pool

More to follow.

I suppose I could be referring to my dear Green Husband. He truly treats me like a Queen but sometimes I feel like I treat him less than perfectly. Not intentionally, but when I ask him about his day and then from the corner of my eye I see one child climbing up the door frame and from the corner of my other eye the other child taking LOCKS OF HER OWN HAIR out of her PURSE, I just can't seem to concentrate. I believe the solution is called date night.

My blog has been rather neglected as well. Oh, my dedicated Clothesline Challengers...how ARE you? Please let me know by signing on to this new-fangled Mr. Linky widget (not so new-fangled...this old dog is just learning some new tricks) and highlighting your most recent (or not so recent) clothesline-related post (clothesline-related posts only please).


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Everything's Popping Up Popovers

Yesterday I decided to a try a little, ehem, cooking. {"For her birthday, my wife asked me to take her someplace she'd never been before. I said, 'How 'bout the kitchen?'"}

I dusted off this thing called a COOK BOOK which happened to be Mollie Katzen's Pretend Soup. Pip, Sprout and I were rewarded handsomely because with just a few ingredients and some simple steps (really, I would not lie about these things), we were eating pouffy, moist, yummy popovers hot from the oven.

I do believe that this success story will be the first on my Summer Redux list:

::Made popovers

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Four Years Ago

Flowers from Aunt Suzie Sent on Your Original Birthday

Four years ago, right about now, I gave birth to you, the baby girl of my dreams.

My "Sprout". My laughing Allegra. My daisy. My sunshine. My love. My "Mr. Golden Sun".

Your daddy and I checked in to the hospital at 6:10 a.m. (so said the admission papers I found in my suitcase during last week's trip to the beach) and five peaceful hours later you arrived.

My darling girl. What more can I say?

Happy birthday, Sprout.


Your Mama

Monday, August 3, 2009

Preparing for a Party

The Evites have gone out for Sprout's fourth birthday party and now I come to you, crafty, baking followers, for advice on The Cake.

In an effort to get back on the green wagon (don't worry - I'm still line drying) and to go a little less artificial, I would like to bake the cake myself. I'll give you a minute to stop laughing. Okay, so, she wants an Ariel cake. Is this hard to do? Here's the rub - I do not want to do one of those fairly bizarre looking cakes where a Barbie doll is disembodied with her top half popping out of the batter.

So tell me...any ideas? What's this about baking a cake in a Pyrex bowl and then inverting it?


And while we're on the subject of birthdays...

Happy Birthday, Green Gramps!! The best is yet to come!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Coming August 7th to a Theatre Near You

I really don't care what the reviews say and please don't burst my bubble:

I Can't Wait!!!!

**Update: Our tickets have been purchased!**

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Back from the Beach

A little tanner but not burnt.

There were a lot of quotable quotes from the trip, but my favorite was from the trip home. Sprout saw a car towing a boat and said, "Mommy, I just saw a boat! And it was pushing a car!"

Now that August is upon us I suppose it's time for taking it reeeeeeal easy as the new school year will be here quicker than we think.

I'm finishing up a P.D. James from the beach, "The Lighthouse". Not my usual fare, but I am enjoying it. How about yoooou?

Speaking, or writing, of books, I wanted to highlight a new find called Learning Parade that is all about teaching, crafting, exploring, whatever through stories and books. I am hoping for find some good ideas and inspiration for my students this fall. Check it out!