Weekend Reading, 4.18.14

“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old,
they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”
Gabriel García Márquez

I had planned to write about Easter eggs today. They are very much on my mind right now, as my family gets ready for the holiday. But then, as I was preparing this post, I heard the news of the death of Gabriel García Márquez.

I first read his work the summer before my senior year of high school. As an AP English student, I was assigned to read a book of my choosing from a long list prepared by my teacher. I selected García Márquez’s 100 Hundred of Solitude.

It changed my life.

I had never experienced writing like that before. García Márquez’s use of magical realism just simply blew my mind. He redefined quality and evocative writing for me. In honor of his death, I’ll be rereading 100 Hundred of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, and I am sure to enjoy them again and again.

Speaking of reading, here’s my roundup of interesting things around the web… enjoy… and Happy Easter to you and yours!

1 | It’s not too late to decorate for Easter – here are 8 great ideas

2 | One mom’s story about being racially profiled

3 | Are you undone by school half days?

4 | How to have a green Easter: compost or recycle those Easter Eggs

5 | I’m on Team Ketchup – are you?

6 | This post has opened my eyes to a new way of shopping at Target

7 | Two posts about kids: it’s hard to be kid and passing up opportunities to cease yelling at your kids

8 | Two stylish ideas for the home: modern looking watering cans and a customizable shoe organizer

happy_weekend_redshutters

Healthy Cooking 101 (with a Giveaway!)

What’s your go-to quick dinner meal?

You know, the dish you make when it’s a Wednesday night, you’re running late, the week’s meal plan has dissolved despite your good intentions, the kids are hungry, you forgot to defrost a protein, you had your can’t-miss dish—spaghetti—last night, and you want to get a healthy meal on the table—fast?

(Or does this just happen to me?)

redshutters_healthycooking101

Chef Sewall sharing healthy cooking tips.

Thankfully, a few weeks ago, I was invited to attend “Healthy Cooking 101,” an evening sponsored by Stop & Shop, as part of the company’s 100th anniversary, to promote healthy eating and cooking. Hosted by Julie Menounos, Stop & Shop’s nutritionist, the evening featured the cooking of Chef Jeremy Sewall, the chef/owner of several Boston area restaurants including Lineage and Island Creek Oyster Bar. I left armed with resources to, hopefully, end my dinner dash.

Chef Sewall developed several recipes for the event, sending us home with our very own mini-cookbook. I also learned a number of tips, including a delicious (and oh so easy) way to cook salmon: 250 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Before, I was a broil-the-heck-out-of-that-salmon kind of a cook (in other words, overcook the fish). This slow roast recipe would have perplexed me before (that will take too long, I would have thought), but 20 minutes goes by fast when you’re trying to get the meal on the table. I cooked the salmon this way for my family, and it went over very well, especially with my husband (a home run for me!).

One of my favorites of Chef Sewall’s recipes was what is now my go-to quick dinner meal: Whole Wheat Carrot Pancakes. You can find the recipe below. This is a great alternative to the sugary, white flour-filled pancakes I had in my repertoire. The best part? My kids loved them, and these pancakes make an easy, fun breakfast-for-dinner alternative. The kids were intrigued enough to help, which I always enjoy, though it does lead to extra clean-up. Next time I make them (which I definitely will), I plan to add shredded zucchini to my pancakes.

To help you get started on your own Healthy Cooking path, Stop & Shop has provided a $25 gift card to use at a Stop & Shop near you (how’s that for yum?). Enter the drawing by leaving a comment below. Entries are restricted to those in the United States who are 18 years or older, and must be submitted by Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at midnight ET.

Happy cooking!

redshutters_healthycooking_pancakesWhole Wheat Carrot Pancakes
Serves 4
©Jeremy Sewall

2 very ripe bananas, mashed (instead of sugar)
1 large egg
½ C whole wheat flour
½ t baking soda
¼ t salt
¼ C almond milk
½ C shredded carrots
¼ C toasted almonds
¼ C honey

Mash bananas thoroughly. Mix bananas, eggs, flour, salt, milk, and baking soda, beating until you have a smooth mixture. Warm a nonstick pan over medium heat, adding ½ t canola oil or oil spray to the pan, ensuring it is evenly coated.  Pour ¼ cup of batter into the pan, and cook until it begins to bubble. Flip over and heat until cooked through. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Serve warm with toasted almonds and a bit of honey.

Note: This contest is now closed. Congratulations to Martianne who won the $25 Stop & Shop gift card. Thanks to all who entered!

Disclosure: I was a guest of Stop & Shop at this event, and received a thank you pack for attending. All of the ideas included in this post, however, are all mine. 

Weekend Reading, 4.11.14

Friday!

Oh, did I need the weekend to come. I was walking the kids to school today, reviewing all of the things I need to get done in the next few days, when my son turned around to say, “Mama, you’re talking to yourself.”

Ugh.

I was completely distracted. And, I guess, sort of out of it, to be talking to myself. Out loud. On the way to school.

So, tomorrow, my first weekend home in ages, I am not setting the alarm, our family has nothing on the calendar (except some spring cleaning and haircuts for the boys), and we may even get our first ice cream of the spring season.

Already I feel better.

Here’s something else that makes me feel better: Weekend Reading. Enjoy, my friends.

1 | This “Love” video, in response to the backlash against a recent Honey Maid commercial, is all over the internet, but it can never be shared too much.

2 | Kids don’t get enough time outdoors. Here’s new data to explain this growing concern.

3 | My husband sent me this video (share it on the blog, he said!), and I love it—even though it’s a commercial for phone service.

4 | I’ve been looking for eco-friendly deodorant options (is that too much information?) and this post about creams has me intrigued.

5 | I often wonder how to find a good TED talk (there are so many); here are five from inspiring women.

6 | Wondering how to master Twitter? Here are some useful tips.

7 | I found this profile of Chris Christie and “Bridgegate” fascinating

8 | This house makes me think of vacation.

9 | Have you read this poignant article, titled “The Trick of Life”?

10 | Is daycare more expensive than college in your state? In mine, it is.

happy_weekend_redshutters

The Three Piggy Opera

If you’re reading this between 11:30 AM ET and 12:00 PM ET on April 9, 2014, I can guarantee what I’ll be thinking about.

The Three Piggy Opera

The Three Piggy Opera is a performance my son, R, will be in during that time. He and all of the other kindergarteners at his elementary school will gather in the cafeteria to put on this short musical skit for their families and others in the school community. The Three Piggy Opera, according to Once Upon an Opera website, is “the whimsical story of what happened AFTER the wolf blew down the Pigs’ houses.” Sounds cute, right?

Three Piggy Opera

R before he heard we were missing his school performance.

The kids have been practicing for a while, and I am sure the show will be wonderful.

I, however, will be 20 miles away in a meeting at work.

[Read more...]

Weekend Reading, 4.4.14

I’m home! I arrived this morning at 1 AM from a weeklong business trip to Denver, so I am a little more than exhausted today. But a cup of coffee is on the table in front of me. The kids are at school and day care. My husband is at work. I have free time to write this post, while sitting on the sofa in my den (as opposed to last week’s Weekend Reading post that I finished in the airport). Last night’s Scandal is waiting to be watched. I might even take a nap.

Ahhh…perfect, right?

If you have time ahead of you this weekend to find your own space to relax, or even if you’re on the go, I’ve pulled together links to great reads. Enjoy them, my friends.

1 | I’m in love.

2 | A rejection of “mean moms”

3 | Where are the kids’ shoes?

4 | Spring cleaning alert! How to clean your oven

5 | My husband and I have been discussing when to start reading “Harry Potter” with our son. Here’s a helpful guide to figure out if he’s ready.

6 | I wish this pregnancy tracker had been around when I had my kids!

7 | A special story about speaking up against ignorance

8 | Teaching kids the beauty of different

9 | How to make homemade journals (I can do this!)

10 | As I near the end of day care, this post completely resonates

11 | What’s your best worst?

happy_weekend_redshutters

Organizing My Books with Color

RedShuttersatHomeOh, spring! I love you so much. You make me excited to get my house ready for your arrival. I want to clean, sweep, wash, and dust. (Oh, ok, maybe not dust.)

To welcome the time of tulips, I’ve been reading Organize & Create Discipline by Justin Klosky, a how-to book for those seeking organization tips. (I was given a complimentary copy of the book to review.) It’s an encyclopedia of sorts, moving from A through to Z of strategies to keep you organized and efficient.

This book is a good resource for the organizationally challenged. Not sure what to do about…well, anything? You can likely find it in Organize & Create Discipline. From how to get through airport security (at first, not what I think about when I think about getting organized, but a recent trip through TSA changed my mind) to how to efficiently store paperwork, Klosky’s book offers some helpful tips.

Despite my self-proclaimed super-organized status, I took away valuable lessons from Organize & Create Discipline, including:

[Read more...]

Happy April Fool’s Day!

Happy April Fool’s Day!

Do you celebrate April Fool’s Day? This holiday—a day to prank your friends, family, and colleagues—dates back to the sixteenth century Netherlands. Or maybe it was France? Or fifth century Constantinople? The mystery of its origins could be a prank, of course!

With the ever-expanding holiday celebrations my kids now know about (Dr. Seuss’ birthday, 100th day of School, St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day), I don’t typically voluntarily embrace yet another one. It’s too much! But, when the folks at Family Fun magazine, which I have read for years now thanks to a subscription from my mom, shared their Faux Cookie Dough Dip recipe, I thought it might be time to embrace April 1.

This recipe is just the kind of prank I would try on my kids. They, after all, love chocolate chips (they get that from me), and I am always looking for a new snack options.

If you give it a try, tell me what you think!

Cookie Dough Dip

Faux Cookie Dough Dip

Ingredients: Chickpeas, brown sugar, peanut butter, oats, milk, vanilla, salt, baking soda, chocolate chips, and apple slices

Directions: In a food processor, blend 1 1/2 cups chickpeas, 6 tablespoons brown sugar, 1/4 cup peanut butter (such as the natural, unsweetened variety), 3 tablespoons oats, 1 tablespoon milk, 2 teaspoons vanilla, and 1/8 teaspoon each salt and baking soda. Fold in 1/3 cup chocolate chips. Serve with apple slices or other fresh fruit. When snack time is over, tell your kids they are now full of beans!

Weekend Reading, 3.28.14

Hi all! I’m sitting in the airport, awaiting my increasingly delayed flight (I’m off on a business trip for work) and indulging in one of my favorite things: people watching. I love wondering where people are off to, where they’ve come from, what they’re reading on their Kindles, and how they may or may not be connected to the person or persons sitting bedside them. I always make their stories romantic and hopeful, though the longer my flight is delayed, the more dark and dreary I may make my tall tales.

Regardless, with the not-so-good wifi connection I have today, this wondering kills time.

For your Weekend Reading, there’s no wondering: I have good stuff for you. Today, instead of sharing links to a variety of different articles or blog posts that I found inspiring or engaging, I am highlighting Boston area bloggers. They are women (yes, this list is all women!) who are funny, kind, and talented. I know several of them personally, so I can confidently say “check them out”! I’m listing their Facebook pages below. Go visit, “like” their pages even, and tell them Red Shutters sent you…

Dollops of Diane

Fortuitous Housewife

I’m More Awesomer

Keeping Mommy Sane

Masshole Mommy

Napkin Hoarder

Real Food Real Deals

Viola Cay

And, have a great weekend! I’ll be in the Mile High City, where, lucky for me, I get to carve time out of my business travel to see dear family and friends. I already know it’s going to be special.

happy_weekend_redshutters

Froyo Innovation: Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearl

What’s round and cold and yummy?

A pearl, a yogurt pearl that is.

frozenyogurtpearls_redshutters

Stonyfield launched a brand-new product last week, the Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearl, and it is the latest “I must eat this now” foodstuff in our house. We were lucky to get a special home delivery of the Pearls from the team at Stonyfield, and they were—truly—inhaled within five minutes of opening the package.

[Read more...]

Weekend Reading, 3.21.14

crocus

Oh Spring!

There was a shift in the air yesterday, on that first day of Spring. The temperature reached a high of 54 degrees F. I did not wear snow boots for the first time in what felt like forever. A colleague proclaimed that she had spied her first crocus of the season. The kids ran outside without zipping up their coats and hiding under hats. It was delightful.

Speaking of delight, I do so love perusing the blogosphere to find things to share with you. Here’s this weekend’s reading list for your enjoyment.

1 | No dairy, no added sugar Nutella? Sign me up.

2 | What “Frozen” says about depression

3 | Easter is coming! Maybe I will make these yarn wrapped Easter eggs.

4 | I like to use natural, eco-friendly cleaning products and this lemon rosemary cleaning spray looks so good.

5 | Instead of ban bossy, let’s be bold

6 | A clever idea for all those Instagram photos

7 | Helpful tips about using Google+

8 | Making a basket a dip dye DIY success

9 | Five ways to be more productive today

happy_weekend_redshutters

Photo credit: Puzzler4879 via photopin cc