Friday, December 30, 2011

Homemade Christmas Follow Up

Hi all.. I hope everyone had Happy Holidays and is looking forward to the New Year. We had a wonderful Christmas. Now that everyone has been given their gifts.. or almost everyone.. I am going to do my follow up post for our Homemade Christmas.  So here is what we gave each other.

I will start with a crafty decoration Bug and I made for the house. These are recycled water and juice bottles, covered with decoupage tissue paper and painted.

Next is a crocheted dragon that I made my good friend. It was all done in one piece except for the wings which are a different green.

 Up next is a blanket fleece tied pillow that I made for Bug out of an adorable dino print fleece scrap piece that was given to me from a friend.
 Then there is this adorable crocheted owl hat made for my baby cousin by me.
This next one was not made by me.. but it was made for me.. by a good friend. It is a gorgeous Celtic style hand crafted necklace.

 Next up is a giant plushie D 20 made by me for my husband, who is a D&D geek.
 For the grandparents (Bug has 4 sets as both my and Rob's parents are divorced and remarried.), we made these linen wreath prints using Bug's handprints and fingerprints.
 From Hubby to me was this hand made silhouette print of our son. Framed to match our photo wall pictures.
 For my best friend I made this delightful giant plushie crocheted squid.

 And for her birthday which is in a few days I made her this awesome Dr. Who TARDIS themed tassel ski hat, hand crocheted and embroidered.

 So there you have it.. our homemade Christmas. We have a few other gifts we made but we still have to finish them or haven't given them yet. For instructions on any of the things seen here just comment and I will let you know how we made these.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Homemade Christmas

Ok this blog entry is more about intent and less about examples because sadly... friends and family read this blog.. and since I would be telling them what their gifts are for Christmas... I can not.. but I promise I will take lots of pics and share with you all after the holidays. So instead I will explain a bit about what we are doing this year and why.
This year we were all set to spend our normal but small amount of Christmas money on presents, stocking stuffers, friend and family gifts and Christmas pajamas. Instead we had our breaks fail.. and 400$ later we were broke. We had money for bills but none for Christmas. So at first I cried... and then I realized...I make things for a living... and as gifts all the time... if i just got super creative I could make this the best homemade Christmas ever!
So we selected fast to make but very personal and delightful gifts for everyone this year. The 4 sets of Grandparents are each getting the same thing... but it is handmade by Bug and very personal. My baby cousin is getting a few cute gifts and his parents are getting a sweet handmade gift also. My best friend's mind will be blown when she opes her gift and my husband will like his too I hope. I am also hard at work making a wedding gift for my Father and his new bride. Even the Aunts and Uncles on Rob's side will be getting something small. Hubby and I decided we each would make each other something. Bug's gifts had already been bought before but any new things we would like him to have have to be homemade. Each thing we make or I start to plan is one less thing we have to buy and it is so much fun. Bug and I will be spending our holiday making so much. We even are making some homemade decorations to add to the festive feel in our house. So far NOT having money has turned out to be the best Christmas ever!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

101 Ways To Use Butternut Squash (or more like 15)

One thing we have in the Northeast in our gardens is Butternut Squash. Well any squash but in my case this year it was Butternut so I will stick with that. We ended up with about 30 huge giant squash this year from our accidental patch. So what can you do with a a kitchen full of squash? I will tell you.
1. Give away some to friends. This sounds simple but in this economy.... maybe your neighbor might be living on ramen.. a squash could help.

2. Puree. This will be the 1st step for a lot of recipes so this is good to prep ahead of time and freeze. Peel the squash, remove seeds and cut up into chunks. You can leave the seeds and pulp in some of your purees because in some recipes they are very good. Boil in water or bake in the oven until soft. Blend until smooth.
3. Squash Pie. Butternut Squash pie is delicious and simple. Simply replace the pumpkin is a standard pumpkin pie with the squash puree. Bake as normal. It is lighter and less sweet than a pumpkin pie. It often tastes more refreshing and airy than the dense pumpkin pies do.
4. Butternut Squash Soup. This recipe you can either use fresh squash or puree. I prefer fresh because they cook in the chicken broth. Cut up a whole butternut squash (peeled and remove seeds) and fill a large pot about halfway with chicken broth. add squash and a whole onion chopped up. Season how you would like and simmer until soupy. Blend it to get out any lumps and return it to the stove to simmer until is is a rich creamy texture.
5. Squash Bread. For this I take my favorite zucchini bread recipe.. or squash bread recipe if you can find one and replace all the oil, butter or squash in the recipe with squash puree. So if it says 1 cup squash and 1.2 cup oil put 1.5 cups of puree. It is that simple and it makes for a super healthy bread. This is one where seeds add to it and make it that much yummier.
6. Squash Muffins. Same as the bread.
7. Squash Cake. Again take a cake recipe and replace the oil or butter with puree.
8. Squash Ravioli. Roll out your pasta dough and cut into small squares. Mix some puree with whatever else you would like, cheese, sausage...etc. spoon a small amount on each square and cover with another square. Pinch sides to seal and boil to cook. Serve with whatever sauce you like.
9. Squash Pasta Sauce. This is one Hubby and I invented with leftover squash soup. Take the soup and mix in milk, cheese, and chicken broth. simmer until sauce thickness and pour over penne or whatever pasta you like.
10. Squash Jam. For this you take the puree and cook it with apple cider. Add a few tablespoons of brown sugar and cook down until it is the consistency or Apple Butter.  Spread on toast.
11. Squash Cookies. There are recipes online for these.
12. Squash Face Wash. Add 2 tbs puree with 2 tbs yogurt and 1 tbs honey. Leave on face for 10-15 mins and wash off.
13. Candle Holders. Dry out the squash. Remove innards and place a candle inside.
14. Canteen. This one I found online here.
15. Last but not least, the puree itself... when heated up with a little maple syrup and maybe some dun da dun... SQUASH! Like traditional Thanksgiving Squash.
So there you have it. 15 ways to use Butternut Squash!

Thanksgiving Recovery

So you are probably slowly recovering from Thanksgiving and wondering what to do with those leftovers. Well I have two recipes for you that are sure to wow. Both will use up a good majority of your leftovers.
The first is my mother's recipe. You take a pie dish and your leftover stuffing. I use my cranberry, pecan wildrice, cornbread stuffing... which I can give the recipe for that later if anyone is interested. Take the cold stuffing and mold it like you would a graham cracker crust for a pie. This is the shell of your leftover pie. Now take the gravy and turkey and mix pieces of chopped up turkey into the gravy. This is the filling. Now take your cold mashed potatoes and pile them on top... forming the top crust. Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top and bake at 350 for about 30 mins. It is delicious!
The second recipe is one of my own making. Now if you are like me and you use wild rice in your stuffing you probably have some leftover (uncooked) if not egg noodles or what ever rice or pasta you would like to use is fine. Take whatever turkey is left on the carcass (after you make your pie of course) and throw the whole turkey carcass and leftover meat in a big pot of boiling water. Boil it for about an hour (or two) then drain the broth into a bowl making sure all meat and bones are in the colander, then pour broth back into pot. Return pot to stove and add, carrots, celery, onion, and anything else you may like in turkey soup. Then bring that to a soft simmer. Add the rice now but if using pasta add that right before you are ready to eat... like 10-15 mins before. Now pick all the cartilage, skin and bones out of the turkey in the colander and return the meat to the pot. You now have a delicious turkey and rice (noodle) soup.
So I hope this helps empty your fridge out a tad. Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Broken System: The Cost of C-Sections

We were sitting down relaxing the TV was on and Anderson Cooper was on the screen. His topic of the evening was women addicted to prescription drugs. While the subject matter was valid I felt the particular case he brought to light was a much bigger subject than what he seemed to view it as. To Cooper (who I will state right here and now... I adore and respect) she was just a drug addicted mother and wife trying to hide her addiction and hurting those around her. Which that in itself is bad enough but that was not the whole story at least not to me... and not to thousands of other women around the country. I heard what she was addicted to OXYCODONE and immediately listened for one word one word that would explain so much...... C-SECTION.
The woman in question had been talked into a c-section by her doctors, told it was the ONLY option and then afterwards given an oxycodone drip that she had a push button to control her own meds. Not only that but then like all post op c-section Moms, she was sent home with a bottle full of pills. According to Cooper's statistics he said a surprising amount of women are addicted to prescription drugs. I will almost guarantee that at least half are post op c-section Moms addicted to oxycodone.
We live in a broke system. The business of being born in this country has become insane. According to an article ( there has been a giant rise in the amount of c-section births most of which were first time mothers and a plummet in the amount of VBACs (vaginal birth after c-section) done nation wide. They estimate c-section rates at nearly 35% of all births in this country as of 2009. The VBAC rate is only around 9% and the amount of c-sections done to first time mothers is at 20%. Astounding!
So why is this a broke system. 1. Doctors make more money off a c-section. 2. They can keep you in the hospital longer ensuring more money for the hospital as well. 3. Not performing VBACS takes the risk off their shoulders and 4. in getting a mother to make the decision herself or declaring it an emergency is easier than taking the blame if something goes wrong and lastly 5. the first sign of trouble and the doctors throw in the towel and grab a scalpel. The worst part is that is all just the issues that are in the c-section itself but the even bigger issue is what comes next. You are pumped literally pumped full of morphine, oxycodone, and prescription strength motrin. Often at higher doses than would be given a victim of a car accident or major ailment. You are given levels of these drugs designed almost to get you addicted.. and it doesn't take long. So why do I hate this system of being born? Why do I cry when I hear stories like what happened to this poor woman and the damage it caused her family. Yes she could have gotten help or stopped.. but sometimes you don't have the strength. I did but it wasn't easy. Here is what happened to me.
In 2009 we conceived our son. He was born late that year in the end of September. At 40 weeks he was estimated to be 11 lbs. My midwife until then had been supporting my wishes for an all natural childbirth which originally I had wanted a water birth but found out our hospital could no longer do those, so I had plans to carry out my labor in a tub and give birth in a squatting position in a birthing room. The day my last ultrasound showed a larger than normal baby I was told it was in my best interests as a first time Mom as well as my sons to choose a c-section. I talked it over with my husband but I knew the decision was out of my hands.. I knew if I chose to try and give birth naturally they would be itching to pull out the scalpel anyway. I knew he would most likely be born c-section anyway and this way it was my choice not theirs. They told me if I chose natural there was a large chance of dislocating his shoulders. I was terrified. This was not what I had wanted. I had until that day not had so much as a mole removed or stitches let alone major surgery. I had never had a cavity or a broken bone. My body was pristine... an unscarred uncarved blank slate. I was now being told for the sake of my son I should let a doctor for the first time ever slice into my flesh, open me up pull my major organs out, possibly let me bleed out on the table and pull my son out of me and hopefully put everything back inside me right and hope I don't die.
So I chose my son. I was lead to believe that no woman could deliver such a huge baby as a first child. I believed them and was put into the OR first thing the next morning and my son was born. I was then brougt upstairs where for the next 2 days I was given a morphine IV drip and 2 oxycodone every 4 hrs and 1 prescription motrin every 6 hours. After two days I was taken off the morphine but was kept on the rest. At the end of the week I was sent home with enough oxycodon to easily lead to a massive addiction. The only warning I was given was to ease myself off the pills. However I was breastfeeding and wanted to be rid of these drugs as quickly as possible since they were going into my son as well as me. So a mere 2-3 days after being sent home I cut myself off. For 2 days I was almost suicidally depressed. I thought I was going through postpartum depression. I was shaking, cold, hot, I threw up, I cried and cried. I felt like I had the flu. Finally on the second day I was at the worst of it. My husband came home to me sitting on the couch cradling the baby and rocking back and forth hair greasy and matted, sweat dripping from my face, sobbing into our nb son. I confessed I thought I had an infection from the c-section and was dying and that I also had postpartum depression and needed help. My husband thought it unlikely that I had both a massive infection and postpartum depression so he asked me to describe my symptoms. When I did he told me “You are going through withdrawal, hunny. For all intents and purposes you are going through what a heroin addict goes through but to a lesser degree”. I was shocked! How could my doctors have let this happen to me? I wondered, how many other women realize it's the drugs and stay on them to make that feeling go away? How many women, like that poor woman on Anderson cooper's show... need help or are hopelessly addicted because their doctors convinced them that their own bodies were incapable of something the were designed to do and then gave them dangerous drugs to ease the pain? Apparently the answer is 35%. It is a dangerous game these doctors are playing and I truly believe that until things change their will be a lot more stories like that one, and like mine. These stories must be told to help turn the tide and prevent this misuse of the health care system. People have wondered why the rise in home births. It is because being born shouldn't be ruled by commercialism and commerce. Being born should be wonderful and most of all safe... and most women do not feel that doctors today have their safety at heart.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gender Neutral Toys: Keeping Commercialism From Raising Your Children

I am going to step away from Green Life for a post to discuss something important to me. Gender Neutral Toys. With Christmas just a ways away I have decided to address this subject. We have always tried to avoid gender specific toys with our son and instead let him play with whatever he likes. He loves dinosaurs but he also loves his play kitchen. He loves swords but also loves his baby doll and shopping cart. He loves super heroes but also loves tea sets. He is a very happy kid. Yet whenever we go to find him Christmas or birthday gifts I am shocked when walking through the toy departments now that he is getting older because unlike baby toys which are mostly gender neutral to begin with toddler and children toys are not. Suddenly your child hits an age where he/she must choose between pink cooking and cleaning toys, pink musical instruments, and pink baby dolls and teddy bears or camo machine guns, violent looking action figures, swords, axes, or trains and cars in very blue packaging and clearly for boys only.
We were walking through Big Lots yesterday (but every store is the same.. Walmart, Dollar General, Family Dollar, Target.. etc) and the "girl' aisle had all the cooking, pretend play and mommies helper toys, for example kitchens, pots and pans, vacuums, tea sets, play food, and everything was pink or purple or had the words "Girl power" written on them. Even the art kits all had pictures of girls on them or were pink. The "Boy" aisle had toys machine guns, everything camo, dinosaurs but only ones with big scary teeth or fighting dinos, trains (which that's ok but girls can play with Trains too) swords, action figures, and basically just death, destruction and violence. Then there is an aisle of board games, science kits, and puzzles. Most toy departments are set up the same, always baby aisle, boy aisle girl aisle, puzzle aisle, but I was in shock at Big Lots because it was more overt than usual. The girl aisle was a sickening wash of pink (which by the way what if a girl doesn't like the color pink?) and the boy aisle was completely camo. Are we honestly still trying to teach little girls that they need to know how to cook and clean, and sending boys to war. Those toys had a purpose in the 30's and 40's to help set up a world where boys wanted to protect the country and go off to war and girl would be left behind to keep the home fires lit. We haven't been there for almost 100 yrs so why are toys still there?
We have had luck with keeping our son's toys gender neutral but to do so we have stuck to mostly educational toys, and shopping online where you have more options.We have had to order the majority of his gifts for the last few years on or simply make them ourselves. His playfood for example was crocheted by me.
So I have this to say to toy manufacturers.. Boys like to pretend play.. they like to cook, and clean and even yes play with baby dolls... and guess what girls like dinos, trains, and cars. Not every car toy needs to say something about being powerful or macho and not every play food set needs to be pink. STOP! This Christmas try and look at your child's gift list especially if they are still very young and maybe delete some of those very gender specific toys. If we as consumers stop buying these toys, the toy manufacturers will stop trying to brainwash our children.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hiding Veggies

So if you have a kid or kids that don't like to eat veggies.. I have decided to start doing a series like I did with the backyard edibles.. but recipes to hide veggies in yummy ways. So this is my first one. I made up a homemade marinara sauce that can be used in any pasta dish, or lasagna, or even as a pizza sauce replacement in pizza, pizza bagels...etc. It is 99% veggies. I took 2 jars of garden veggies marinara to start with. Now if you would like to start entirely from scratch that is good too. just start with a basic marinara recipe. Put both jars in a big big pot (needs to be really big). Now add two jars of water for each of the jars of sauce. This allows for the veggies to really cook down. Now add one whole large eggplant (or three smaller ones) peeled and chopped up. Add one lg zucchini and one whole red or Vadahlia onion, a few cloves of garlic, 2 whole green peppers (or 4 sorranno peppers if you would like a bit of spice), 4 or five whole carrots, and then optional meat either ground turkey, beef or pork. Now this is just what I added to mine.. feel free to go wild.. through in squash...or olives, or mushrooms...etc. Now just let it slowly simmer down over the day until it is cooked down, thick and the veggies are mostly cooked into the sauce.
My son is 2 and he looooooooves this sauce. He recently has started getting picky but a pizza bagel made with this sauce, low fat cheese and a whole wheat bagel is a healthy meal all around. ENJOY!

Chemtoberfest, Green Chemistry, and Polar Fleece

 So yesterday the Chem department of my college put on a celebration for the children of the town called Chemtoberfest. It was in honor of this being the International Year of Chemistry.
 It was amazingly well done for a small town University Chem Dept. They had demonstrations on how ice cream, popcorn, cotton candy, smores, candy apples, gak, cheese, and a few other things are made. They had a Haunted Room full of everyday products that glow under blacklight. Some of which may surprise you, such as Zest soap and Tonic water.
 We also learned that polar fleece which is what a lot of people wear as pajamas, jackets, used in cloth diapers, sweat pants...etc. is made from recycled grocery bags. So every time you collect a bunch of used grocery bags and bring them to the store to be recycled you are helping to make a new pair of fleece jammies that may very well end up on your little one.

Another thing we learned about was the influx of Green Chemistry being used not just in labs and industry but taught in college and even high school Chemistry classes. Where once chemicals were just dumped willy nilly into the garbage or down the sink, now they are being broken down in to less toxic chemicals or even recycled to be reused in experimentation. All in all we had a fun and informative day.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Nothing Says Fall Like Apple Butter!

So somehow I have managed to make it 28 yrs as a DIY guru (well at least the last 15 yrs or so) and had yet to make homemade apple butter. How I have no idea. Nothing says Fall in NY like apples and with that goes applesauce, apple cider, and of course apple butter. So I decided I was going to make some and so my cousin and I were each given my Aunt's recipe. Her recipe was pretty basic apples, cider, cinnamon, brown sugar, nutmeg.... a few other things I can't remember now. So I set out to make my own but realized I was out of cider. Now normally this would not be an issue since it is fall and every grocery store in NY carries locally pressed cider in abundance. However today Bug was sick and it was a damp bleary cool day so I decided to keep him inside and not walk to the grocery store with him. So I searched the kitchen for a replacement. I decided that usually white grape juice might just work. I figured what could it hurt.. worst case scenario we end up with interesting applesauce.
So I peeled and chopped the apples. I started with a mixture of some baking apples (I don't remember the name) and some Granny Smith.
I added 3 cups of white grape juice, 1/4 cup brown sugar and a dollop of cinnamon and nutmeg. Then I let it simmer and simmer and simmer.
Then when it was a soupy applesauce I blended it in the blender and returneed it to the pot. I simmered it down until it was APPLE BUTTER.
 It was without a doubt the best tasting apple butter I have ever had!!!

The Littlest Dragon

So as you know I recently endeavored to create a dragon costume cheaply using an old horse costume we were given a few years ago. We didn't use it last year because we wanted to do Star Trek last year and the horse costume was a tad large on him anyway. So this year despite it being a tad small it still fit and so after we decided to have him be a dragon I decided I could turn the horse costume into a dragon. 
So I started with this. It is hard to tell from this picture but it has a horse head over the head hole and a mane and tail.

So I started by buying green fabric paint and putting it in a spray bottle with water in a 50/50 ratio. Then I spray painted the entire thing green. 

Then I removed the mane and tail and sewed intheir place a felt dragon tail and spinal spikes that I made for his costume. Then I sewed felt horns and wings and sewed those to the costume. I also added white felt teeth to the face part to further change the horse face to a dragon one.  

With the simple addition of green and brown striped feety pajamas you have one cute dragon. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Birthday Pics

Ok so this is less Green related as it is Mommy related. I wanted to share some pics from Bug's 2nd Birthday.

 The decorations. I used a lot of his own toys to cut down on waste. I also used reusable bowls, and trays. Only the paper plates and cups are disposable. The cupcakes and cake and food was all homemade and the cupcakes were made with pumpkin and squash puree.
 The cake made by my best friend. She did a great job!
The cupcakes made by me decorated by my best friend.
 Bug opening his gifts.
 Bug blowing out his candles.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Happy Birthday Jim Henson

So for those of you who don't know today would have been the 75th birthday of Jim Henson.
For those of us born before 1990 we probably have a pretty big part of our childhoods marked by this great man's influence. We were taught that sharing is good by Elmo, that it's not easy being green by Kermit. We laughed with the Fraggles or cried with Emmett Otter and his Mom. We were frightened by the Dark Crystal and Enchanted by Labyrinth. I honestly don't remember a part of my childhood that didn't have a part of Jim Henson in it.
Yet even in the next generations his presence is still felt, his vision still key in shaping so much of what we love. My son for instance could not start a day without Dinosaur Train and Sid The Science Kid, two new shows created by the Henson Company using muppets to inspire computer animation. The shows teach about science in a way kids can understand but are not bored by, in a way that teaches the whole family.
If I were to scan my DVD collection, or my Netflix account I would find movie after movie all created by or inspired by one man. I do not own many DVDs but those I do are almost exclusively his. My childhood is filled with happy memories of Yoda, Hoggle, Big Bird, Snuffy, Kermit, Fozzie, Emmet and of course Miss Piggy. So if you get a chance just think for a moment today about how happy that one man helped make your life, and wish him a Happy 75th.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Halloween Funtimes!!!!

So Halloween is right around the corner and more and more people are buying costumes these years. I don't think I know anyone who makes them, or uses old costumes to create new ones or buys used costumes. Yet doing these things not only would save you $$ each year but alsohelp reduce, reuse and recycle which we all know helps the planet. We make ours (well I make them) every year. So I am going to walk you guys through what we are doing this year and maybe you will be inspired to do some of this yourself. First off we almost always do a themed family costume. Last year we were original Star Trek people. Now this year we are going as a Wizard, Witch, and Dragon.
So let's begin with my costume.
I am wearing a victorian dress I found at a thrift store years ago. I am dyeing it black (3$ for rit dye). The pic here is the closest I could find to my dress online right now. I will try and post an actual pic of my dress. I am wearing black heel boots also from a thrift store.

My cloak is hand made by me, I use it for my garb. I am also wearing the underskirt from my wedding gown, and my garb corset. My hat will be store bought since my old hat is getting worse for wear. (3$). Total cost for my costume = 6$.

Bug's Costume is a dragon. We bought him green and brown feety jammies which we can use as regular jammies so I am not adding them into the price of the costume but they were 1$.
This pic is his horse costume and a (badly done) mock up of what it will look like as a dragon. His main costume piece is an old horse costume that I am painting green with homemade fabric spray paint. Fabric spray paint is not actually aerosol but is in a perfume style spritz bottle. It is about 10$ for a few ounces. So I bought a 4 ounce bottle of just fabric paint (which you dilute to a 3:1 ratio of water to paint so it makes 16 ounces of "spray paint") and mixed it in my own spritz bottle. Fabric paint 2$ for the 4 ounce bottle. I am going to make white teeth out of felt and a brown spine down the back (felt) and yellow or brown felt wings and a green felt tail. Total cost of all felt should be about 5$. Total cost of Bug's Costume = 7$.

Hubby's Costume is a Wizard. His hat, beard and wig were bought years ago for a previous costume. His outfit is his garb, hand made by me. This pic is that garb, but he won't be using the hat or shield or sword. His cloak is going to be hand made by me and we spent 20$ on cloth. Total cost of Hubby's Costume:  20$.
Total cost of all our costumes this year: 33$!!!! The average child's costume bought at a store is about 25$, adult 50$. To buy 2 adult and one toddler costume costs the average family 125$.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

To My Bug

Over the last 2 years you have made everything better. You made my life worth living.. not just existing.. but living.. really living. I see the world a new through your eyes. Some nights I just watch you sleep and breathe and know that in this singular moment everything is perfect.
The day you were born the world stood still. The doctors were all talking at me.. making me sign things that said I could die.. that you could die that this was a risk. Everything just was so hushed that morning. It was black outside and so quiet. I laid back in that bed holding you tight inside of me. I watched your foot move across my belly as though you were saying... "hi Mom soon I will be here".
When they came to take me to the OR I could just see the first lights of dawn coming up on the horizon. My room was slowly getting sunny and I knew that in a few moments my world would change forever. They had taken Daddy away. They told him he had to eat breakfast in order to not faint. They took him away to eat and walked me towards the OR. I remember everything as a blur. Doctors talking.. but really I was all alone. The only friendly face was my dear midwife who came to hold my hand and talk me through. Needles, wires, tubes.... all a blur. I do remember though that at precisely 8 AM they let Daddy back in and he took my hand. We smiled at each other. I was so calm but Daddy was already misty eyed. I held my breath. I did not let it out again it seemed until the moment I heard you cry. You were born at 8:17 AM. They lifted you up, cut the cord that bound us together for almost a year of our lives and in that moment we both sobbed. It was the end of something so precious but the start of something so amazing. Daddy cried too. You stopped first I think. They weighed you all laughing because you were the biggest baby they had seen in a while. You weighed 9 lbs 7 ounces and were 21.5 inches long. You were so pink and round and perfect. You came out perfect! Not blue or squished.. just perfect.
At some point it became apparent to me that you were being passed towards me. I could not hold you because of all the tubes and wires but Daddy held you. He held you and I saw something change in him forever. Then all in a moment they took you and Daddy away. They told me to just lay back and relax. After another half hour or so I was being told I was all set and now could be brought back to my room. A few minutes after I was brought back to our room they brought Namma and Daddy back in. I was so groggy and tired but I wanted so badly to hold you.. to feed you. Then as if by magic you were in my arms. I was so scared. I didn't know if my heart was big enough to love someone so much. I did though. I held you and my heart just burst. My heart exploded into a million fragments. I loved you more than words could ever say.
That was 2 years ago tomorrow. It seems so long ago... and yet at the same time like it was just yesterday. Now as you hover on your second birthday I need you to know how much you are loved. How much I wake up everyday knowing no bad can come to us while your bright face still has a smile on it. I know we spoil you sometimes... and I know you have daddy and I wrapped around your finger.. but you are still polite, kind and careful. You are the sweetest child I have ever known and I may be biased but I know plenty of people who agree. You are a dear little man and everyday I see more and more of the man you will become someday. You have always been amazing, reaching milestones far faster than expected. You smiled at 8 days, laughed at around the same time, rolled over at 2.5 months, had hand eye coordination at 3 months, sat up at 4 months, spoke your first words at 5 months, crawled at 5 months, stood at 5 months, walked holding on to things at 6 months, walked without anything at 9 months and walked well at 11 months. You said 2 word sentences at 11 months, and were speaking full sentences by 21 months. Now at 2 you are just a wonder. You help with dishes, draw, tell us stories, help feed the pets, know all your animals, colors, letters, numbers, even all the dinosaur names. You are just amazing.
I love you more than you will ever know. May your 2nd birthday be as happy for you as the day you were born was for daddy and I.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Smoking... bad for you and the environment

So I was walking around campus today and started to see something strange. People everywhere smoking. So often around town I see so few people smoking anymore. With NY taxes on cigarettes at an all time high the poorer % can't afford them and most people who can afford them have quit for their health or their children's. So what does that leave if most of the population has quit. That leaves the young and the old. The old for the most part generally speaking don't care if they are polluting their bodies because they have smoked their whole lives and they will continue until death most likely from lung cancer or emphysema. Anyone between the ages of 10 and 25 most likely still smoke because they haven't yet decided to have children or they think that the "coolness" factor outweighs the deadly side effects. What caught my eye on campus today wasn't just the fact that kids were smoking, it was the fact that many of them had "Go Green" plastered on their t-shirts, or "Recycle, Reduce, Reuse" on their notebooks or bags. Yet there they were sucking down a death stick.
If you have already noticed this blog post is very opinionated and yes biased against smoking and smokers then yes you are right. When I was born my mother smoked. I am pretty sure she smoked during her pregnancy with me too. She didn't just smoke cigarettes, she also smoked pot. It wasn't until my sister was conceived that she thought it might be a good idea to give up pot and maybe not smoke during her pregnancy. By the time I was about 5 (old enough to remember) my mother was a carton a week smoker. Sometimes more. She smoked inside the house and often blew the smoke right all around us. Fast forward 28 years. I now have asthma. I had undiagnosed asthma as a child but my parents never treated me for it. When I was 20 I found out after I got walking pneumonia. I have had in the last 28 years asthma, walking pneumonia, about 10 cases of serious bronchitis, two bouts with tonsillitis (the last one the doctor warned I may have to have them removed if I get it again) and of course severe allergies to among other things CIGARETTE SMOKE. So yes I am that girl that walks by a group of smokers coughing and waving the smoke away from me. I am that girl that will tell you to your face not "those can kill you" but "those are killing those around you".
So when I was 21 I met my husband who smoked and so did all his friends. I made him promise that he would never smoke inside the house or let anyone else and he would try to quit and that if we ever got married and had kids he would quit for them. Well when I was 5 months pregnant with bug he quit. He quit cold turkey and it's been almost 3 years now. So I learned something from my husband. If someone wants to quit they can they just need to want it bad enough and have a good enough reason. Therefor if someone especially a mother and even more especially a green mom continues to smoke.. then she just doesn't care.
So yes this is a lecture on health and yes you all know what can happen to babies exposed to cigarette smoke. That smoking inside can cause SIDS, that childhood obesity and asthma are related to it. That cancer and many other deseases can be the end result.
But what do cigarettes do to our environment. Why is it so hypocritical to be a Green Mom or Dad and smoke? According to an article I found "Researchers estimate that 1.7 billion pounds of cigarette butts accumulate in lakes and oceans and on beaches and the rest of the planet every year. Discarded cigarette butts and filters contain the same dangerous chemicals contained in a cigarette, including carcinogens and other poisons." ( Birds and other animals can eat them. Children can find them and play with them or eat them (I know I have had to clean my sons hands several times after he has picked up a cigarette butt.) Cigarette butts do not biodegrade. They stay around for a very long time. As most of them end up in lakes and streams they also end up inside the fish we catch and eat and the pets we love so much among lots of other animals. "Globally, about 4.3 trillion cigarette butts litter the earth every year. Smokers in the United States account for more than 250 billion cigarette butts, in the United Kingdom 200 tons of butts are discarded, and Australian smokers litter more than 7 billion cigarette butts every year. In most Western countries cigarette butt litter accounts for approximately 50 percent of all litter." That is a lot of non biodegradable waste but what about those carcinogens leaking out into the water we drink and the food we grow? Cadmium, lead and arsenic can begin leaking into the drinking water within 1 hr of being flicked into a stream or lake.
So what does this all break down to? It comes to this. Do you smoke or know someone who does? Do you care about those around you, your children, your pets, the food you eat, the water you drink? Do you care about getting cancer, emphysema or other worse things? If you do please quit. Smoking is at the very best a disgusting annoying habit.. at the very worst a deadly game of Russian roulette only the chamber has 4 bullets instead of one.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Coffee Table Re-Do

So many years ago before Hubby and I moved in together I had a gorgeous coffee table that my grandmother had given me. It was stained though and so I decided I was going to refinish it.
After we moved in together though we used Hubby's coffee table because it was the bigger of the two if not nearly as nice as mine. So my project was left until we many years later were moving furniture around and decided that with a baby his old cheap falling apart table was not as nice as mine.

So we got rid of the old one and started using mine again. Unfortunately it was half sanded from where I had started to refinish it. So the other day Bug was yet again drawing all over the top of it with chalk. Suddenly I had an idea. Why not turn the table into a giant chalkboard? It would refinish the table, tie our livingroom together and also be a giant drawing board for our son.

So I went to the store and bought chalkboard paint and I painted the table top. All in all it looks amazing. Both Hubby and I think it just pulls the whole room together and Bug loves it because he has this awesome new toy.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pickling Spices and Diaper Decor

I have been a busy Green Mommy. So over the last few weeks I have been back in school. Last semester too. In 3 months I will have my bachelors degree in biological sciences. Yet all that school work hasn't stopped me from working on some great projects.
Currently in the works I am converting our coffee table into a cute chalkboard for Bug. It will still be our coffee table but the top will be covered in chalk board paint so he can draw to his hearts content. After we have some extra money to redecorate the livingroom someday we will buy a new one and put our old one in his room as an art table. I will post pics as soon as it's done.
I also have been hard at work harvesting the garden, freezing squash purees, and pickling. Bug and I went to the Farmer's Market yesterday and bought some tart apples and green beans and cucumbers.
So today I set about pickling 2 quarts of dilly beans, 2 quarts of garlic dills, 1 pint of sweet pickles, and 2 quarts of a new pickle I made up. I call them Apple Spice pickles. The basic recipe is start with basic brine (vinegar, water, picking salt) then add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, mustard, and red pepper flakes. Add sliced green apples to a quart jar and pour the boiling brine over them to the brim.

I also have been working on decorating some of Bug's plain diapers. I finished the first three. The first 1 was a test diaper and the other two are Halloween patterns. They all came out pretty well. I was excited and Bug loves them.

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