Thursday, September 18, 2014

Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

I am slightly sad that Summer is ending  but I love the Fall and cannot contain my enthusiasm for Fall foods.  My taste buds are screaming for pumpkin, squash, apples, and s'mores. 

 I definitely associate flavors and seasons, being a Foodie will do that to you.  I am ready to put aside my cheeseburger and welcome a slice of pumpkin pie.  I started fulfilling my Fall foods craving tonight at dinner, and of course I had to start out the season appropriately.  Butternut squash soup was the first food to hit my flavor palate this year and I am not sorry.  By far one of my favorite Fall foods and soups. 

Here is my basic recipe:

Pre-heat oven to 400.  Halve two Butternut squashes lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Lie them cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet and add about a 1/4 inch of water to the baking sheet.  Bake for about 40 minutes, or until fork tender.

(To cut down on time, I baked the squash the day before, let them cool a bit, and refrigerated them).

2 cooked butternut squash 
2 Tbls olive oil
1 vidalia onion diced
3 cloves of garlic chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1 carton of chicken broth (about 32 oz)
a dallop of light sour cream 

Heat oil in sauce pan over medium heat.  Add onion and let soften for about 3 minutes.  Add garlic, thyme, parsley, and rosemary.  Saute for additional 3 minutes.  Remove the skin from the cooked butternut squash and cut the squash in to chunks.  Add to the pot and stir with onion and garlic.  Add the broth and cover.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Using a hand blender, puree until smooth.  (You can use a blender and work in batches as well).
Ladle in to bowls and top with a dallop of light sour cream.

Feel free to let the creativity flow with this versatile soup, I always do.  Sometimes I add pumpkin seeds as a topping, I've added apples to the mix, changed the seasonings around (nutmeg and cinnamon work well), and replaced the sour cream with greek yogurt.  

Enjoy! Yummmmmm....

Friday, September 12, 2014

Every Day Heroes

There are people we think of when the word "hero" is mentioned.  Police officers, firefighters, soldiers, and people who sacrifice themselves for a greater good are the images that typically come to mind.  Of course I agree, how could you not.  These individuals risk their own lives to save, improve, and protect others.  They should be honored and respected for all they do.

Today, as I did the typical duties of a stay at home mom, I was a bit enlightened.  Walking into my exercise class I saw the faces of women who live and work in my area.  They do not run in to burning buildings or capture hardened criminals, but they do care for, shape, and guide the lives of others.  Today I thought, women really are everyday heroes, albeit, different from the above mentioned figures, but the everyday things I see women do is absolutely inspiring.

There are women who regularly attend my exercise class with serious injuries, just recovering from surgery.  There are moms who recently sent their first child away to school and miss them intensely.  Moms who spend their days caring for their home and children, then spend the night working while their family sleeps safely at home.  I meet women who are pregnant with second and third babies running around the playground with their kids.  I know moms who spend their only free minutes volunteering their time to help less fortunate people in the community.

Besides the unrepresentative number of amazing tasks I mentioned, we do these while lacking months of sleep.  Women work that hard to care for their families regardless of what might be happening in the rest of their lives.  We are women with very personal stories who put it all aside to create, help, and enrich the lives of others.

We easily adjust ourselves as needed to fit the current role of the day, from business professional to house cleaner to nurse to chef.  We become teachers when our kids come home from school with homework, then wives when our husbands come home from work.

There are times I think I am jealous of my husband, sometimes being a man seems so much easier.  If they need to make a doctor appointment or get a haircut, they just go on the way home from work.  Being a man allows you to be just a professional when you are at work and then a husband and father when you get home.

I thought I wanted to be a man, so I can put on nice clothes every morning and head out the door, coffee in hand and just one job to think of.  They get to shower alone everyday, and listen to whatever radio station they want to listen to in their cars.  So many perks of manhood, how could you not be jealous?

But after my realization today I no longer want to be jealous of these small manly bonuses.  I am proud to be a part of the hero gender.  The gender that wholeheartedly cares for their families and takes on the roles of many to get the job done.  I love being a part of the feminine gender so that I can easily transform from a responsible mom in to a giggling best friend.  I am so proud of women and everything they do every day to make life special.  Women are my every day heroes.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Stop Hating

This Is Me

I already know I annoy some people, I must.  I am back to my pre-baby weight five months after giving birth, I find the time to exercise everyday, and my kids are always well groomed.  I also spontaneously decided to take a writing course at Duke University requiring about ten hours of school work a week.  During pre-school orientation I volunteered myself to be the class mom and was super excited to do so.   Besides all of that, I blog,  and care for my house in a meticulous manner. To top it off, I always have a smile on my face. I am not bragging, I am acknowledging the reasons why you hate me.  I am THAT mom; the one who turns her kids food into smiley faces and remembers to label all of their school belongings.

I just want you to know, I do not do these things to irk you.  When I smile at you, I am not judging you.  I am just nice (I know, now you want to hate me even more).  I do what I do because I am a doer.  I like to have a lot of things on my plate at once because I enjoy being busy.

  What you do not realize about me is that sometimes I am jealous of you.  Your ability to relax is actually a skill I am working on gaining.  I am sure that sounds ridiculous and quite frankly I know that is hard to believe but,  I am the person who sits on her hands just to stop fidgeting.

 So, here is the point of my posting.  Rather than judge each other, maybe we can all learn from one another.  Perhaps I can teach you how to accomplish more tasks while you help me calm the F down.  In fact, the  more involved I become with my children's social life the more moms I meet that I want to learn things from.  We should all stop judging and instead make an effort to help each other and learn from each other :)

Monday, September 8, 2014

What I Have Learned As An Adult

My older daughter started preschool today with the excitement of a young and eager learner.  I listened to her new teacher as she told us about show and tell, the letter of the week, and the many projects that young children use to explore the world. Even the teachers had the first day disposition of excited preschoolers as they shared their expectations of our young ones.

Driving home from the school this afternoon, I had that natural high that follows a wonderfully eventful morning.  I am ready to admire all of my child's art work and letter tracing and share my love of learning with her as we begin our school year.

My daughter is very young, turning four in the beginning of November.  She has two decades of schooling ahead of her.  With the start of her academic life, I thought it only proper to share with you the things I have learned recently, in my adult life:

  • The perfect hard boiled egg is simmered gently for 11 minutes.
  • Exercise is very important, but sometimes lunch with your bestie is more important.
  • Do something for yourself every day.
  • You are NEVER too old to climb around on playground equipment with your kids.
  • No matter how many "new mom" articles I read about ignoring the laundry, I know that cannot happen.
  • Toxic relationships are just that, TOXIC.  
  • Children exhibit very frightening symptoms when they have the every day virus.
  • You will not treasure every single moment of parenthood.
  • You can learn as much from a child as you can learn from an adult.

Friday, September 5, 2014

It happened to Us

We are now a family of four, and the inevitable finally happened to us:

My older daughter got sick.  She had a nasty virus for over a week.  She could not sleep which means Mommy and Daddy could not sleep.

At the tail end of my daughter being sick, it was transferred to me, the Mom.  My daughter is still coughing all night, so we do not sleep.

My daughter is better, and so is Mom, but now the baby has something and she could not sleep.  Mom does not sleep.

We are on the third week of being awake ALL the time at my house.  By week two I came up with some ways to get through the days:

1.  Pretend that you actually slept very well.  This mind over matter trick works wonders until about 3pm!

2.  Enjoy the spaced out feeling - it is like you are back in college, it makes you feel young-YAY!


4.  Loud music, very loud music.

5.  Partake in the ice bucket challenge.

6.  Tell your kids you really want to watch that show with them again, then fall asleep watching it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My Kids Listen

Me: "Why do you listen to me?"
My Daughter:  "because Mommy loves me."

My daughter is running around with her friends on the playground and she is about to do something I am not comfortable with.  I say, "Please do not do that." and my daughter listens.  The mom next to me is astonished, and turns to me with a questioning look, then tells me what a great listener my child is.  I am always proud, and thank the mom for the compliment.  This situation has happened to me many times and so I decided to write about the relationship I have with my child, and why she listens to me so well.

My parenting style is my own, as I did not read about it online or find it in a text book.  I am a smart woman, college graduate with many employment positions that involved caring for or teaching children.  Through my life I was always "good" with children, other people have said that many times.  I definitely feel like I understand kids and relate to their needs and emotions.  Also, I always wanted to be a mom, a really great mom who had great relationships with her children, and so I adapted a parenting style that allows for that kind of growth and respect.

If asked to describe the type of parent I am, I would say I am authoritative.  There are a set of rules and guidelines that I expect my children to follow, however my household is democratic and everyone is listened to and responded to in a respectful manner.  I do not use punishment if I am disobeyed, but rather a system that allows my daughter to learn from her wrong doing.  Parenting to me involves communication, clear boundaries and guidelines, and support for each other within our family.

I believe that rules for my children should be based on their health, safety, and happiness.  For example; holding hands in a parking lot, not going near the oven, and no hitting or causing harm to people or animals are some rules that I enforce strictly.  I use rules to set clear boundaries for my children, so they know what is not allowed, and my daughters know that the rules I enforce are for good reason, I tell them my rules keep them safe and healthy.

Beyond the above mentioned nonnegotiable safety rules, I try to approach each situation that my daughters and I encounter during our days as if they were my best girl friends.  I am not saying that I am the mom who thinks their child is their best friend, I know the difference.  But, when my child is upset about something, I listen to what is bothering them and try to help them feel better.  If my judgement seems unfair to my kids, I give them the open floor to tell me why they think it is unfair.  That does not mean I will change my answers but I do give my children the opportunity to be listened to.

I treat my children with respect and they in turn treat me with respect.  Kids learn a great deal through observation and repeating what they see other people do.  If I yell they will learn to do the same; but if I use patience and kindness hopefully they will copy my behaviors.  Also, I always try to put myself in their shoes before I react to anything.  Trying to see the world through their eyes really helps me approach each situation with a level of fairness I believe is appreciated.

I do not believe that being a mom means being in power over my kids, but rather a role of nurturing, teaching, and guiding.  Listening is a communication tool that I need to teach my children.  The best way to accomplish that is by listening to them which in turn teaches my children to listen to me.