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Enchanting Tales

5 Feb

I have avoided the “princess phase” for nearly four years…but alas, here we are in full princess mode. I suppose it was inevitable. So, since the princess world is not to be skipped I need to find some stories that do not revolve around Disney characters and being saved by a prince. Because she has already latched on to Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, I am on the hunt for cool renditions of these classic tales…more on that later. (Still on the hunt for the perfect ones)

But I did find some great princess stories that didn’t involve a prince rescuing the poor lass in the end.

rootchildren3 sibille_olfers_blackberry_smallThe first is The Princess in the Forest by Sibyille Von Olfers about a princess’s day in the forest and all of her friends that help her and play. No mention of a prince and no moral dilemma to solve. Just a simple lovely story. She has a whole series about nature children – the snow children, the wind children, the root children…they are all so adorable I am having a hard time picking a few to purchase.

Elsa Beskow In the forestThe second is Princess Sylvie by Elsa Beskow about a princess who wanders off into the wood and befriends a bear. This is the best children’s author I have found yet! I am going through each and every one with great delight. Again, having a hard time choosing just a few. I highly recommend looking these up at your library…I find it hard not to fall in love with the beautiful illustrations and story lines.

danie Kunstdruck_Zwergenmuetzen_A3_grAnother author worth mentioning is Daniela Drescher. Talk about magical! The pictures take you to another world and the stories are full of fantasy that my children fall right into. Fairies and elves are big in our house now too.

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What’s Cooking

28 Jul

I have a variety of cookbooks but only five that I keep on constant rotation. I would like to share them with you.

First up is The Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef by Shauna James Ahern – fabulous book for those gluten-free and not. The stories really pull you in – this is actually a cookbook that you will want to sit and read cover to back before cooking. It just pulls you in and won’t let you go. The braised beans are an absolute must in our house – every week I make these. This book gets all lovey-dovey about local and seasonal foods which I am totally on board for.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s My Father’s Daughter is actually quite divine. I am really loving almost every recipe in this book and have made quite a few of them staples in our house. Yes, she is perfect and looks way better in the kitchen than I do (where is the nagging toddler at her heels and bits of shredded kale on the floor? Tomato sauce all over the stovetop? No? Ok, fine) but the recipes are damn good too. Simple and good for you and super yummy.

Baking in my house is hands down due to this book by Jennifer Katzinger from the storied Flying Apron bakery in my old hood. Baking gluten-free is sometimes annoyingly difficult to assemble the 10 different flours you need to replicate good ol- fashioned white flour but this book uses primarily two different flours. TWO. And they are delicious, obviously. All my muffins, scones, cookies and pie crusts come form this book. The savory fares are also wonderful and simple. She has a new book out that I am eager to browse through as well.

The River Cottage series are unbeatable. They are the bibles of my kitchen. The Everyday River Cottage cookbook holds all my favorite basics – sauces, lunch staple, veggies, meat, fish, dessert etc…and some wow-your-guests-dishes as well. Like I said, it is my cookbook bible – where I go when I forget the ratios for pesto or how to roast a duck. Essential.

Lastly, Taste Eat Heal by Thomas Yarema, Daniel Rhoda and Johnny Brannigan. This is an Ayurvedic cookbook which I try to base most of my meals on when summer is over and fresh produce is harder to come by. It is chock full of hearty, yummy meals that really get me through the winter. I studied Ayurveda and have been captured by it ever since…it is truly a life-changing way of looking at food. This book explains all the background behind Ayurveda and how each dish will or will not benefit you.

And there you have it. My top five favs. My go-to mainstays. The reason we eat great meals…most days.

Photo credits: First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth

My Favorite: Pregnancy Books

18 Jun

A few friends have asked what pregnancy books were the best to read- there are SO many bad ones that it is nice when someone else filters them for you. When I announced I was pregnant, I received a stack of books. A stack that had been handed around among my friends, growing by one or two books at every turn. I devoured them all – wanting to know every last thing I could. It turns out that only a few were worth my time and here they are:

Penny Simkin is a local childbirth expert and she wrote the one and only guide that I feel was comprehensive without a lick of judgement or patronizing wording. Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn is basically the only book you need. She also wrote a book for the father-to-be called The Birth Partner which again was the only words written for the father that didn’t sound moronic. My friend Chris wrote a great post about the condescending tone that most parenting books use when talking about the Father’s Role. Who writes these books? And the better question, who is buying them?

Anyhoo, I digress. My all time favorite pregnancy book for your mind, body and soul is called Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful by Gurmukh. While I never got around the doing the actual breathing exercises, the words are calming enough. It is a beautifully written book that alleviates any worry or stress you may have about your upcoming birthing experience. It was just a really nice read and one that I would recommend if you are into yoga and such.

If you are planning on having a home birth or a drug-free birth, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth is a classic. It is written in another lifetime entirely but illustrates the best variety of birth stories I have read so far. It is a magical book full of the raw knowledge that can only come from birthing hundreds of babies on a farm. She literally changed the way the midwife profession is perceived in the States. I am super excited to see the recent documentary about The Farm.

Once you have that gorgeous little nugget of a baby, you will be faced with a gazillion decisions. One of the first will be to vaccinate or to not vaccinate- or to vaccine a little. I read The Vaccine Guide and thought it to be a pretty thorough guide. It gives you the history of each vaccine and spells out what they are all used for. You can make your own decision thereafter.

That’s it folks. That is all I needed to read to make confident decisions. Quality or quantity…then you can spend those last precious pregnant moments relaxing on the couch or walking through the woods. Enjoy!

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For the Love of Community

4 May

Where did our sense of community go?

I check outside my window before grabbing my mail to make sure my next-door neighbor isn’t sitting in her car smoking for fear of getting sucked into a converstaion. How bad is that? I know only a handful of our neighbors (our favorite ones sadly moved to another part of the city) and for some reason, I don’t mind it. This is weird considering I loved growing up in a tight-knit community. We lived on an island where everyone knew everyone – you knew the lady at the grocery store, your best friend’s mom knew that Sally got her hair cut yesterday (ok, that part was a little annoying) and you always ran in to someone you knew on the ferry or in town. I really liked that sense of belonging to something greater than yourself.

Now I live in the city where, yes, I run into people I know quite frequently, but obviously there isn’t a sense of shared community like there was on the island. And I’m not certain that if I moved to the country I’d find that same oneness – times have changed. People seem to be more interested in their own self-interests more than ever. Being a stay at home mom has made this more obvious – it is a lonely profession. You really need to put yourself out there to make new friends and new connections. Just because you are a mom doesn’t assure your automatic inclusion into some mom club or what have you. You have to work for those connections lady.

In Judith Warner’s Perfect Madness, she touches on how our society has delved inwards and stepped away from the help of community. She went from raising her children in France, where the community took care of new moms to Washington DC, where you took care of yourself. She says, “I put my elder daughter in DC public school and watched the light in her eyes go dim. I did not have a pediatrician available for human contact in an emergency. I felt like all the responsibility for my daughter’s care, health, and education resided within our family. Often enough, it seemed to rest on my shoulders alone. I knew what had worked for me in France. It wasn’t just that I had access to a slew of government-run or -subsidized support services; it was also that I’d had a whole unofficial network of people to help and support me – materially and emotionally – as I navigated the new world of motherhood.”
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Cinderella Ate My Daughter

2 May

Peggy Orenstein, of Schoolgirls fame, recently wrote a thoroughly thought-provoking book about raising a daughter amid our grossly overly-pink girlie culture titled Cinderella Ate My Daughter. If you have a daughter, I would say that this is a must-read although reading it may make you more ter

rified than when you began it. You know from the onset of meeting your daughter that it may be a hard road ahead but this book really nails that idea on its head. The world is such a different place than the now-so-seemingly-innocent one that you and I grew up in (that statement alone should give you worry). She concludes, albeit a bit skeptically, that there is hope. You can raise an independent and lovable girl – it just takes some mindful choices in the beginning and following through to the bitter end (supposedly around 13 when they just stop listening to you).

Here is a oh-so brief summary (seriously, go get this book – at the store or at the library – it is worth your time):

Peggy is a journalist who has spent much of her career writing about issues that face adolescent girls so when she is expecting a child of her own she prays for the boy that wasn’t to be. Of course, she has a girl, how silly of her to think otherwise. So when her toddler girl becomes infatuated by princesses (despite never have read princess stories) she decides to dive head first in to this crazy pinkalicious world of baby/toddler/tween girls and what this could mean for her future.
“According to the American Psychological Association, the girlie-girl culture’s emphasis on beauty and play-sexiness can increase girls’ vulnerability to the pitfalls that most concern parents: depression, eating disorders, distorted body image, risky sexual behavior. Even brief exposures to the typical, idealized images of women that we all see every day has been shown to lower girls’ opinion of themselves, both physically and academically…The pursuit of physical perfection was recast as a source of young women’s “empowerment.” Even as new educational and profession opportunities unfurl before my daughter and her peers, so does the path that encourages them to equate identity with image, self-expression with appearance, femininity with performance, pleasure with pleasing, and sexuality with sexualization. I didn’t know whether Disney Princesses would be the first salvo in a Hundred Years’ War of dieting, plucking and painting. But for me they became a trigger for the larger question of how to help our daughters with the contradictions they will inevitably face as girls.”

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