Saturday, June 27, 2009

CSA Veggies

I think I've mentioned here that this is our families first season as part of a CSA. I was a bit worried at first (and still am!) about how to use all of these fresh veggies, many of which I had never eaten before. The farmers have been great about giving me suggestions each week of different ways to prepare the veggies. Here are few things we've done (and a few things I need ideas for!):

Bok Choy - I wash and chop the whitish stem part and then the leaves too. I just make separate piles because the leaves cook faster and need to be put in the recipe later than the stems. I make stir fry with the bok choy and a package of sliced assorted veggies I grab from the produce section at Meijers. The assorted veggies includes baby corn, mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, and a few peas. I just find it quick and easy to mix the package with the bok choy rather than buying and chopping all of the veggies individually. I've also used a frozen package of stir fry veggies as well. We've been making stir fry every Tues night after CSA pick-up and its tasty, but getting a bit old. I do like that it gets us to eat a lot of veggies I don't normally serve otherwise. I wonder how much longer bok choy is in season? I got the recipe for the stir fry sauce off of a package of Freshlike brand stir fry veggies:

2 tsp beef bouillon
1/2 cup water
4 Tbs soy sauce
2 tsp corn starch
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Mix together.

Heat vegetable oil in pan. Stir fry chopped up chicken. Add veggies for 2-3 minutes, add sauce and cook until thickened. Serve over brown rice.

Kohlrabi- Last week was the first time the inside of my fridge had ever seen a kohlrabi. I'd call it a success! Katie, one of the farmers, told me that it tasted similar to a broccoli stem, and she was right. She suggested eating some raw, but we ended up putting it all in our stir fry. I chopped off the top leaves and then sort of peeled/ chopped away the outer skin until I just had the inside part of the bulb. I diced it and threw it in the stir fry. The taste was so mild I probably could have just steamed it and served it with butter and salt on top. I'll have to check into more ways to use kohlrabi.

Spinach- We like to eat spinach raw in salads. Another favorite recipe is Tofu Pasta Shells- large pasta shells stuffed with cheeses, chopped spinach, and a bit of tofu then covered with spaghetti sauce. Lucy loves this dish and chose it to have for her birthday dinner this week. I'm not sure if I can post the recipe, its from the book The Healthiest Kid In The Neighborhood.

Salads- I usually pick out whatever type lettuce is mildest tasting when I pick up our share and we make up a big salad several nights a week. I add my homemade croutons and some chopped tomatoes on top. My biggest problem is that we tried buying organic ranch dressing, but didn't like it. I feel bad topping my fresh organic lettuce with junky ranch dressing! I have a recipe to make your own that I need to try. We also use Italian dressing, which is healthier. I usually save some of the greens like Sorrel and others to put in tortilla wraps to send with DH for his lunches. Sorrel has a tasty lemony flavor that is nice in a wrap. I use a wheat tortilla, cheese, lunchmeat (I can find nitrate free at the Meijer deli now.), lettuce, and some ranch. I have been wanting to make up some sprouts again to add to the salads and wraps, they add a nice tasty crunch and are sooo healthy. I posted my first sprouting adventure series here.

Chives - We've chopped some of these a few times and added them to mashed potatoes which was tasty. I still have too much and am not using it all though. I wonder if there is a way to freeze chives? I think DH would probably like some in an omelet, but he doesn't often eat breakfast at home.

Green Onions - I spread cream cheese on a piece of ham and wrapped up a green onion, a tasty treat I'd had before. These were too spicy for me! I tasted green onion all afternoon and that was not helping my pregnancy nausea. They did eventually get eaten by other family members though everyone agreed they were spicy.

Radishes - Again, too spicy for me! I sliced them and put them in a bowl beside the salad so that people could add them if they wanted to.

Basil - I have made pesto sauce in the past and frozen it in ice cube trays. We use this on pizza, pasta dishes, and tortilla wraps. I need to harvest a bit of basil from my garden and add that to my CSA basil and make a batch. Homemade pesto is so much cheaper than buying it at the store and we really enjoy the flavor. When I put it on pizza I spread the pesto on, then add slices of tomato, cooked chicken, garlic, and mozzarella - delicious.

Cilantro - We have cilantro growing in our own garden as well, because DH likes it and wants to make fresh salsa with it this summer. Tomatoes aren't quite ready yet, so I'm planning to puree this in the blender with a bit of olive oil and then freeze it in an ice cube tray until we need it.

Parsley- I think I used some of this in a potato soup that I made once, but otherwise I'm not sure what to do with it.

Kale, Swiss Chard - Sadly, I haven't used this the past few weeks! I did just try this recipe for Creamy Swiss Chard Pasta this week. DH and I both felt kind of sick after, I think it had too much milk in it for us. Another idea would be to just add a leaf or two to a smoothie, which both girls love and would probably not mind it being green. It was also suggested that I chop these and add them to omelets.

Vegetable Stock - I've been meaning to do this. Someone suggested making vegetable stock with the leafy tops and veggies that I might not be able to use up. I guess you just simmer everything with some onion and garlic for 20-30 minutes and then strain and freeze it. I could use this for cooking rice with or making soups. I've been afraid to do it because I'm never quite sure what to use - if I use the radish tops, will the stock be spicy? Can I throw in the kohlrabi leaves or not? I just need to try.

Cookbooks - I have Simply In Season, which is a wonderful cookbook about using produce in season. I've had this cookbook for a year or so and we've been trying recipes from it. Some have been successes, some not. I'm waiting to purchase the cookbook From Asparagus to Zucchini from our CSA. Otherwise I've been looking up ingredients on, I like that the recipes are rated so I can pick and choose the ones with lots of good reviews.

Other - I picked up an OXO brand salad spinner on sale 50% off at Meijers a few weeks ago and after some conversation with OXO I did find out that it is BPA free. (Pampered Chef refused to tell me what their salad spinner was made of and I've been searching for a safe one ever since.) I also got some of these green bags to keep produce fresh. I'm still deciding, but I think they are helping a bit.

Overall I think I'm doing fairly well so far. Considering that I'd never even held bok choy or kohlrabi or sorrel before, and I have a nauseous, not very adventurous feeling pregnant stomach... If you have any more ideas for the things I've mentioned, please let me know! If you've never tasted a kohlrabi, go buy one! Or better yet, sign up for a CSA next year. :)

(This post is linked to Kitchen Tip Tuesdays.)

Homeschool Update Summer/ Fall

I'm officially out of the first trimester this week Wednesday and have been having more good days than bad the last few weeks, so I'm hopeful that the nausea is leaving me. I have been on low maintenance around here for the last few months - barely keeping the dishes done, napping whenever Julia naps, and trying to use my free time to play with the girls and not stress about housework too much. Somehow we've survived!

I've been preparing Lucy's preschool curriculum for the fall and finishing up a few things I had on my list to do with her yet this year. I wrote a post here about what we used this year for homeschooling. We read lots of books - Lucy looks at books on her own, "reads" them to Julia, and Daddy always read a few with the girls before bed. Lucy has a few workbooks she enjoys doing and colors or works on some sort of art project quite frequently. We've enjoyed the My Father's World preschool package and have had fun with the toys and ideas they include. I have two shelves on a bookcase in my room that are filled with "preschool toys" that we pull out and play with together at times. Our learning is rather spontaneous and depends on the girls' interests that day.

Before Five In A Row seemed to be too simple for us, and while we enjoyed making a few lapbooks from Homeschool Share, I found it to be a lot of prep work on my part. We haven't used Handwriting Without Tears yet, as Lucy was enjoying some other workbooks she had and I didn't want to introduce another workbook yet.

Lucy actually just turned 4 this week. Although I agree with not pushing a child to start schooling, and some of the "better late than early" philosophy, I also believe that homeschooling gives you the freedom to follow your child's lead. Lucy is very interested in learning, is very bright, and is at a level where we think she will do well with starting My Father's World Kindergarten this fall. We're not calling it K, we're just calling it preschool and will take it slowly if we need to. I read through the teacher's manual and feel like she's ready for this. My Father's World is a very gentle K program and I anticipate it being a lot of fun! I've been working on ordering the books and supplies I'll need, cutting and laminating pieces, and trying to get organized. I cleaned out a hall cupboard so we would have room for our school supplies and I'll post a picture and explain my setup once I figure out how its all going to work best. I'm not finished yet...

This summer we are working on a few more lapbooks that I had printed out things for and hadn't gotten to. We're on Goodnight Moon this week and are enjoying it. I want to do a few more of these throughout the summer; Lucy has fun with it and I think its a good transition into the fall where we'll be doing schoolwork every day.

Handwriting Without Tears - I ended up purchasing the wooden pieces, capital letter cards, chalk boards, and song cd used from friends. I laminated all of the capital letter cards and we're going to play around with them a bit and start the pre-K workbook soon. MFW includes handwriting, but I just love the wooden pieces and multi-sensory approach of HWOT. We're going to start the workbook this summer and then we may use this along side MFW as we get to the various letters and are learning to write them throughout the year.

I am also revisiting the MFW preschool activity idea booklet and using that this summer. We pull out a preschool toy every now and then and check their idea booklet for a different way to use the toy. I love all of their ideas and want to be sure we get through them before heading on to K.

Some of my other goals for the summer are:
-to listen to the cds of David Hazell (founder of MFW) speaking, have DH listen to them and then talk about them together
-read For The Children's Sake again. I read it once last year but now own a copy and need to read through it again as MFW recommends it.
-organize and prepare for starting K as much as possible

I'll post more about specific resources we'll be using along with My Father's World and how I'm organizing things, as well as fun ideas as we go! I'm excited about continuing our homeschool journey this coming year and starting "for real". We may take a few breaks, especially with the baby coming in January, but I think Lucy is ready for this and will enjoy the learning time with mom! Julia is going to be a handful, she wants to do everything Lucy does and will definitely need to be kept busy during school time. Anyone else starting K or preschool this fall?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Boob Nursing Wear - Product Review

As I mentioned in my Nursing Necessities post, I've recently been given the opportunity to try out some of Boob Nursing Wear's spring and summer line of clothing.  I'm always on the lookout for cute nursing clothing - problem is, I can never find any!  I breastfed both my girls for almost two years each, and with more babies to come... add up the years... that's a long time to go without having cute clothing to wear.   

I've gotten many strange looks from store employees when I ask if they carry any nursing clothing.  Even places that carry maternity clothing don't bother to think about what you are going to wear after the baby arrives and you're breastfeeding.  (Old Navy, Gap, etc)  Motherhood Maternity, a store in our local mall, carries a few nursing clothes, but they are huge - I guess they assume a person is only going to be nursing in those first post-partum months when you are not quite back to your old size in clothing yet and don't want to wear fitted shirts.  I've found a few places online that sell nursing clothing - Motherwear, Expressiva, and recently I came across Boob Nursing Wear.  

My main nursing attire so far has been Target nursing tank tops worn under everything day in and day out.  In the winter it works okay, but it can be hot to have two full layers on in the summer.  Other brands of nursing tops I've tried also consist of two layers, a layer to lift up and another underneath to cover you.  Although you can find some cute styles made this way, they are still quite hot to wear.  I also end up feeling a bit baggy, like I have too many layers on.  

Boob Nursing Wear has a unique double layer fabric over the bust which allows for easy access yet remains stylish looking.  You aren't wearing two full layers- just over the bust area.  The opening is easy to manage, no strange bunchy fabric to pull around and try to find the opening, no snaps or clips to play with- just slide the opening up with one hand.  Boob Nursing Wear is a Swedish patented innovation, and I must say I'm in love!

Boob's company policies are equally as impressive.  They keep all of their production in Europe and have developed a Code of Conduct addressing issues such as compliance with local labor law, statutory pay and working hours, abolition of child labor, health and safety in the workplace, and more.  Agents visit their factories for regular check ups so that standards are maintained at all times.  Boob is concerned about the environment and chooses producers with advanced technology necessary for handling chemicals and water purification.  As of Spring '09, 50% of the entire Boob collection is made from organic cotton.  Within the company, they are also concerned about environmental impact and contribute in many different ways to this.  Read more about that here.  (Click on About Boob at the bottom of the page.)  I was very impressed to read all of this on their website and feel great about supporting a company with these kinds of goals.  

I was sent four different items to review - (Sorry, these are not pictures of me!)

My favorites are probably the two tank tops.  Again, I love that there aren't two layers to the tops except for the bust area and that the top is so easy access for nursing.  The tops both fit nicely and look great on!  The fabric is nice and lightweight, but feels like great quality.  The tops are both organic cotton with a bit of Lycra.  They are a nice longer length and have a great style about them.

The dress is adorable and has the same style opening (just lift the smocked part).  The straps on the dress are actually a bit too long on me, I'm going to have to sew them shorter to make it fit properly -an easy fix.  I've had several weddings or parties to go to with a nursing baby and just did not have anything to wear.  I love having this cute dress in my wardrobe and I'm sure it will get lots of use.

While I love the style of the smocked blouse, it is not a good fit for me.  The opening is a bit too wide and my bra straps kept showing.  This is something that they have noticed and changed in their fall line of clothing.  Overall I'm impressed with the clothing and will definitely be putting more Boob Nursing Wear items on my wish list for when our newest little nursling arrives.  I'm thrilled that I can wear cute stylish clothing while providing my baby with wonderful mommy's milk.

You can purchase Boob Nursing Wear at,, or check their website for more local and online retailers.  Boob also has a line of Maternity clothing that looks wonderful as well.  Thanks for letting me share my fun find with you!

Saturday, June 20, 2009


We've unexpectedly been without internet for this past week.  I've got several things planned ...coming up soon!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Croutons (Salad Series part 2)

This year is our first year as part of a CSA.  I'm loving all the fresh veggies we get each week, although its definitely challenging me to figure out how to eat some things we wouldn't normally (bok choy, kale, swiss chard, anyone?).  So far we've had lots of fresh lettuces and have been enjoying salads with our meals.  This recipe for croutons is extremely easy and tasty.  My girls love to help me make these and they beg to snack on them as soon as they are cooled and ready to eat.  


Cut bread into bite size pieces.  Mix 3-6 Tbs olive oil with spices (1 tsp garlic salt, onion powder, basil, seasoning salt, Parmesan, or Italian spices) and toss with bread.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, stirring once.  (You can use up old bread or leftover buns.)

Here are my bite size cubes.  We had leftover French bread to use up, but these are just as tasty (and healthier) with wheat bread too.

I started with 1 tsp of each spice but had to add almost twice as much oil and more spices since I was using a good amount of bread.  Its not hard to figure out, just keep adding spices and oil until you have enough.  Be sure the bread all gets covered with oil when you mix it together.

And finally, a blurry picture of the finished product.  My girls have already eaten almost half of this batch for a snack this afternoon.

For more yummy salad ideas check out A Slew of Summer Salads and Laura's Eat More Fruits and Veggies Challenge.  Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sweet Baby Things

Sweet Baby Things is a store started by a friend of mine to fund their family's adoption of two children from Ethiopia.  Monica is an expert seamstress and her items are amazingly well made and gorgeous!  The baby shoes have non slip soles and are animal free, lightweight, yet very durable.  I'm in love with her newest addition - the pillowcase dresses.  Sooo cute!  Take a minute to stop by her store here and pick up a gift for a loved one.  Monica and her family recently brought home their two adopted children (making a total of five children for their family) and are continuing to raise funds to cover the adoption fees and some dental surgery that one of their children needs to have.  Read more on her blog here.  Thanks for letting me take a moment to share about this wonderful mom and her store.  (If you'd like a chance to win one of Monica's wonderful items, check out her blog for all the ways you can enter the giveaway she is hosting.)