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Lisa Leonard Giveaway at Simple Mom

1 September, 2009
tags:

lisa leonard 2

Awesome giveaway over at Simple Mom. You have until Friday to enter, and three chances to win.

lisa leonard1

Head over to Lisa Leonard’s site, and check out all the great things she has. You will love everything. Enjoy and good luck!!!

Fabulous Links 8.29.09: Home, Kids and You

29 August, 2009

coffeeinparis

Photo by John Althouse Cohen

My favorite posts, searches and other odds and ends for the week…

coffee

For Your Home

Simple Nest~~Being Content with Our Homes

Daily Eco Tips

Unclutterer~~Alternative Uses for Colanders

For Your Kids

Simple Mom~~20 Indoor Activities for Kids-Besides TV 

Simple Kids~~Finger Food: 11 Ideas for Breakfast and Snacks and Finger Foods: More Ideas for Toddler Meals 

Amazing Moms~~Fun School Lunches

Make Your Own Baby Stuff

For You

Small Notebook~~My Favorite Place at Home

Planet Green~~Face the Facts: Homemade Facemasks are Greener

Real Simple~~Turn Everyday Objects into Still Lifes

Rocks In My Dryer~~The Beauty of a Catchphrase

Keeping the Castle~~Tips for a Great Cup of Coffee, Part 1 and Tips for a Great Cup of Coffee, Part 2

Buying Produce: Seasonally and Locally

28 August, 2009

market day

Photo by funadium 

There is really nothing better than waking up early Saturday morning and heading to the local farmers’ market. Not only are you able to get a great deal on most of the items, but you build relationships with your local growers. The farmers that “head to town” every week are excited to be able to offer you the best of their products. Obviously, they’re there for the sale; but they also really seem to enjoy helping you select the perfect melon. In my experience, they love to talk about how the vegetable that you are holding in your hand was grown, the best way to prepare that perfect tomato (usually eaten as is, with just a touch of kosher salt and pepper), and they can’t wait to begin haggling. Oh, haggling. Somehow the farmer and I both walk away from the sale feeling like we got the better end of the deal. A few more reasons to shop seasonally and locally:

  1. By building a relationship with your local farmer, you not only get the inside on how their food was grown or how the animal was raised, but they will answer any question you might have about the local conditions like, “When will tomatoes be in season?”. Not only does the answer to that question vary from place to place, but it is also dependent upon how the weather has been that growing season.
  2. If you are trying to live in a way that is friendlier to the environment, you have to buy locally. More than likely, the spinach you are holding from the supermarket travelled thousands of miles. The spinach at the market, maybe 20 miles. Did you know that a majority of the fruit that Americans consume is grown overseas? Not only will you save money because you won’t be paying for the fuel mark-up, but your food will be much fresher.
  3. You will support your local economy. Farmers are making a lot less money these days growing food, while production has increased dramatically since the 60’s. Many smaller farms make only enough to cover the costs to operate, and many farmers are forced to work a second job. Doesn’t it make more sense to buy from them? Not only will they be able to keep almost all their profits, but the money will stay within the community which translates into more jobs.
  4. When buying seasonally, you can rest assured that your fruit or vegetable is ripe and, well, will taste good. Don’t waste your money on tomatoes in December. Instead, look forward to when they will make their appearance in August. Ever had a strawberry in February? Wait until June and the taste and texture will be much better. You have to remember that when buying apples in a supermarket in May, those apple were probably not picked at their freshest (which will have an impact on nutrition, as well as taste), they travelled MANY miles to get to your produce department, and they were more than likely grown in artificial conditions with a lot of fertilizers.

A few links…

Ceres Secrets

Peak-Season Map

Net Mums

Seasonal Chef

 

 

Kitchen Knives: The Basics

26 August, 2009

knives

Photo by davidrossharris

Knives are arguably the most used, as well as, most important tool in the kitchen.  When selecting knives for your kitchen, there are several things you need to take into consideration: from what material the blade is constructed, how you will be using each knife, and how much time you are willing to spend caring for them. Always go for quality, not quantity. While the 30-piece knife set (in butcher block, of course) may be $19.99 and may seem like a great deal, the quality of the knife is more than likely poor. It is wise on your part to pay (substantially) more for one knife, made by a reputable brand, because as long as you care for it properly, it will last nearly a lifetime. And honestly, how often will you use every one of those knives in the set? I bet you will consistently use only two, maybe three of them. So, put away your steak knives (they’re for the table, not the onions) and read on.

Blade Materials:

-High-Carbon Steel: Carbon Steel blades are tough, will keep a sharp edge well and are fairly easy to sharpen. These blades will discolor when they come into contact with acidic foods, but this does not affect the quality of the blade. Using steel wool can be used to remove stains and rust from the blades. You can also rub vegetable oil on the blades when storing to prevent rust and discoloration.

-High-Carbon Stainless Steel: These blades are nearly as tough and sharp as High-Carbon Steel, but have enough chromium to make them nearly resistant to rusting and staining. They are slightly harder to sharpen, but they have become the most popular blade choice for the higher-end knife brands.

-Stainless Steel: Stainless Steel is highly resistant to staining and rust, but make sure to dry completely after washing because they will rust or discolor under the right conditions. These blades will hold a sharp edge longer than most other blades, but they are extremely hard to sharpen.

-Titanium: Titanium is a very strong and durable blade, but it is much more flexible than steel. It is wear resistant, rust resistant, and fairly easy to sharpen. This is a good choice for boning and filleting knives.

-Ceramic: Ceramic is very hard, but prone to chipping. Because the blade is much thinner than steel, they are very easy to slice with, but should not be used for chopping. They hold their sharpness for a longtime, but must be sharpened but a professional.

 Types:

Chef’s Knife: This knife is used for chopping, slicing and dicing. The blade is between 8-14 inches long. It is more difficult to handle a longer chef’s knife.

Paring Knife: This knife is generally 3-5 inches long. It is perfect for peeling and coring, or mincing and cutting small items like garlic or herbs.

Santoku Knife: Usually more expensive because it is precision made. Perfect for slicing, dicing, and chopping foods into fine pieces, or to butterfly a chicken breast.

Serrated Knife: This is the blade to skimp on. Serrated edges are much harder to sharpen, therefore, it is usually easier to by new. It’s only worth buying a knife with a longer blade to slice bread.

Utility Knife: This knife to 4-7 inches long and used for items to large for a paring knife and too small for a chef’s knife or Santoku knife like cucumbers, apples, and larger pieces of garlic.

Other types of knives, that while fun to have, are not very necessary: Tourne Knife, Boning Knife, Cheese Knife, Chestnut Knife, Clam or Oyster Knife, and Cleaver.

Maintaining Your Blade:

-Never put your blades in the dishwasher and make sure to dry completely before storing.

-A dull knife is much more dangerous than a sharp one.

 Sharpening You Knife:

Whetstone: This is used to sharpen your blade. Place the heel of the blade against the stone at a 20 degree angle, and press down on the blade while pushing it away in one long arc. Repeat on other side until sharp. This should be done every 3-5 months.

Steel: This will not sharpen the blade, but is used to straighten the blade. Place the heel of the blade against the top of the steel at a 20 degree angle with the tip pointed slightly upward and draw the blade along the entire length of the steel. Repeat on other side. Use the steel periodically between and right after sharpening.

Watch this video to better understand how to use these tools to sharpen your blades.

Back to School

24 August, 2009

school bus

                   Photo by Zemlinki!

 

It’s that time again. School buses are circling around the neighborhoods on practice runs, and parents are running out to get the last minute pair of scissors or a new pair of shoes because the last pair was used as a bucket for mud pies. It’s back to school season, and whether you dread or look forward to it, it’s here.

It’s easy to get lost in all the paperwork sent from the school and your own lists you’ve made, so here are some reminders…just in case you forgot.

 1. Get those immunizations early, and documentation turned in to the school nurse.Don’t wait for the week before school. Not only do you not want your child to associate shots with school, but you don’t want to be told by the school to keep your child home until you can provide them with the necessary documentation. Oh, the embarrassment! Or, if you aren’t vaccinating your child, make sure the school has the necessary paperwork.

2.  Start the Back-to-School bedtime early. You don’t want your kiddo to be exhausted the first week of school because they can’t be asleep by 8:30. The first week is stressful enough. I started this with my kindergartener two weeks before. Not only was he in bed by 8:30, I had him out of bed by 7:15 the next day.

3. Make sure to register your child for after-school activities/sports early. Don’t miss the deadlines or lose a spot because you remembered a day too late. Also, put all dates that are important for your child on the family calendar or in your planner.

4. Make sure all new clothing is washed and put away. Also, pull out any clothing that is too small or threadbare. Don’t waste precious morning minutes sending your child back to their room seven times to change their clothes.

5. Get your kiddo ready for school by reading a few of these back-to-school books at bedtime:

  • You Can’t Go To School Naked by Diane Billstrom

                      can't go to school naked                                           

  • Butterflies in My Stomach and Other School Hazards by Serge Bloch 

               butterflies in my tummy

  • First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg 

              first day jitters

  • On My Very First Day of School I Met… by Norman Stiles 

               on my very first day

  • The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing and Julie Durrell 

               night before kindergarten

  • Curious George’s First Day of School by H.A. Rey

              curious george

  • Morris Goes to School by B. Wiseman

              morris

6.  Attend the Open House with your child. If your school doesn’t offer an Open House, ask if you can schedule a time that you and your child can meet with his or her new teacher. This will do wonders for your child’s confidence and may even help with any anxiety they may be feeling. Just knowing where he can put his backpack and where she will be sitting can provide them with quite a bit of confidence and give them a little control. 

Other last minute reminders:

  • Make sure that all supplies are packed in backpacks and near the door. Find old shirts to be used as art smocks, put their initials on them, and put them in large plastic Ziploc bags along with a change of clothes (if required to bring in).
  • Charge the battery for your camera.
  • Pack lunches and hang a note next to the door so they won’t be forgotten.
  • Make sure all alarm clocks work.
  • Buy tissues…just in case.

What are some of your favorite back-to-school memories? Do you have any tips to make it a smooth transition for everyone?

10 Things

21 August, 2009
tags:
ten

 

  1. I have an amazing hubby and two kids under the age of five.
  2. I live in Ohio…I came by choice, but I can’t wait to leave.
  3. I’m obsessed with anything British. I drink British Tea, I read British papers and watch their news, listen to British music, I read British authors (most of them dead), my TV frequently stops and rests on the BBC, I search for Homes for Sale in England, and my favorite city is London…particularly Bloomsbury.
  4. I’m a voracious reader…although I’m pretty picky about what I read. Okay, I’m a literature snob…although I have been known to pick up a tabloid or two from time to time. Some of my favorite writers include: Virginia Woolf, Doris Lessing, James Joyce, Natalie Goldberg, Leo Tolstoy, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Franz Kafka, Ernest Hemingway, Proust, William Faulkner, Kurt Vonnegut and Jack Kerouac. 
  5. I love music, particularly the oldies: The Beatles, The Stones, The Who, The Kinks, Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Billy Joel, Ani Difranco, The Shins, Fiona Apple, Big Leg Emma, Ben Lee, Jack Johnson, Pink Floyd.
  6. Coffee, Water, Wine, Tea-in that order.
  7. I adore making lists and crossing things off of them, I aspire to be organized (I’m really good at starting a system, but never actually using it), and I really want my house to be clean-but comfortable.
  8. I love playing with my kids, making things, cooking, cutting things out of magazines, gardening and rearranging/decorating.
  9. I’m really interested in living green: making my own cleaning and beauty products, recycling and composting, reusing found objects, growing my own food and buying produce grown locally (seasonally) and organically.
  10. I love to write…I could do this forever.  

 

Welcome

19 August, 2009
door with boots
 

Hello…

And welcome to the Simple Life Chronicles. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I was going to write about on this blog. To narrow down your entire scope of interests to just a few topics is not only time consuming, but, damn, it’s hard. I spent a lot of time looking through the blogs that I regularly read, the books and magazine clippings I have spread throughout the house, and the things that I have saved in Evernote when it hit me. What interests me most in the world is motherhood and every little thing that the word encompasses. Granted, it’s a big theme; and God knows, there are plenty of blogs out there centered on that theme. But, it’s my hope that I can bring a new perspective, not only to raising babies, but to having a happy and maybe even organized household.

So kick off your shoes and enjoy.

Here’s to all the Moms’ out there who work tirelessly to make their houses homes.

If you have any suggestions or ideas for posts, or any questions you would like me to address, please feel free to e-mail me at: simplelifechronicles@gmail.com.