The CHERISHED Life of Heather Leigh

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Little Things

Stole these journaling prompts from Ali Edwards and decided to spend five minutes documenting my Little Things right now:

•warming | wearing my warm, comfy Oxford Girls Golf hooded sweatshirt today
•waking | Ashton keeps waking up at 6:30 instead of 7:30 because his internal clock has not “fallen back”, yet
•eating | my mom’s white chicken chili for lunch that she brought over on Sunday when she found out I was sick
•seeing | the leaves on my Bradford pear trees out front have finally turned yellow-ish orange-ish
•snuggling | with the remote control ALL day yesterday as I continued to recover from this throat infection
•playing | Liam and Owen have been playing a lot of chess lately even though I don’t think they know all (or many) of the rules
•knowing | that we won’t spend Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or New Year’s with my dad this year makes me sad
•planning | Jordyn’s Sweet Sixteen and the City party
•asking | Owen is already asking for things for Christmas, like his own TV and Wii for his bedroom (dream on, fella)
•anticipating | the upcoming weekend with absolutely no plans, no parties to host, and no places we have to be

Friday, August 19, 2011

Food Inc. Friday - Waste Not

Today concludes my fourth week in the journey of Food Inc. living. I have to admit that week three had me being pretty lazy. I went out to eat a LOT, but didn't order meat...OK, I ordered tuna a couple times. I don't know enough about seafood manufacturing practices to know whether or not there is something I should be concerned about. It's on my list of TO DO's to research that. But, I'd like to occasionally sleep and go to the bathroom once in a while, so time has not allowed me to check that TO DO off the list yet. I'll get to it. I will.

Anyway, this Food Inc. living is very time consuming. The planning and the shopping (at not JUST Meijer, but a thousand different' markets and online and everywhere in between) and the chopping and the research, oooooooh the research! Which explains why after two solid weeks of living this way, I was exhausted. Hence, my week three laziness. But, by the end of week three, I was back on track with grilling my organic chicken and sauteing yellow squash for dinner.

So, one of my goals that I mentioned from my last Food Inc. post was to not waste any food....something I have been extremely guilty of in the past. However, the organic carrots I purchased from the Clarkston Farmer's market....limp before I could peel them. The organic grapes I bought from Meijer...moldy on day three of sitting on my counter (store them in the fridge next time, I know). The left over roasted chicken and corn on the cob and green beans from dinner....add some whole wheat pasta and chicken stock and make it a soup (frozen for a crisp fall day).

But the broccoli? The broccoli that was left over from a veggie tray?? What to do with that when you really aren't a raw broccoli eater and when steaming broccoli just isn't your speed? TURN IT INTO BROCCOLI SOUP!!! Which you love!!

So, I researched how to make broccoli soup and I came across a formula that a blogger had posted. For any veggie soup you can imagine...3 parts stock, 2 parts veggies, 1 part dairy. Simple Simon.....except when you get the math wrong and you DOUBLE the amount of stock. Which meant that I had broccoli water after puree-ing the soup in batches in my blender, which previously had only seen use for smoothies and daiquiris.

WHAT?! Broccoli WATER? So, this morning I got up early to add some more veggies to the water, I mean soup. I cooked some more potatoes, cooked some cauliflower (which would have gone bad had I not used them), realized that HEY! I have two bags of frozen broccoli, I can add those to the soup!!! I did ALL of that work. More pureeing in batches in my blender, I added the purees to the water, I mean soup, and it turned out to be the PERFECT consistency! Cue choir of angels! The soup was saved!!

But since I added more veggies, I figured I should add some more dairy. Out of whipping cream, I threw in a couple dollops of sour cream and turned the enormous stock pot on medium heat (just so that I could melt the sour cream a little)....and then I left for the gym. And FORGOT. ABOUT. MY. SOUP. I returned an hour later to a boiling pot of waaaaaaaaaay overcooked soup. It was back to a watery consistency and the broccoli smelled burnt.

And I'm going to have to dump the whole damn thing. Easily two hours of my time, and a ton of FOOD, down the drain.

At least I'm trying to Waste not.

And guess what? I will NOT make this mistake again.

(Hits and Misses will be included in the next installment of Food Inc. Friday!)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Food, Inc. Friday - The lesser of evils

As I've continued my Food, Inc. journey this past week, I've discovered that choosing the lesser of evils, in most cases, is really what this journey is all about for me.

For example, I want to eat meat that is hormone free, free range/pastured, grass fed (beef), and treated as respectfully as one would treat something that is about to become dinner. I also want to eat locally grown, organic fruits and vegetables with out the use of GMOs.

This, of course, only occurs 100% of the time in Food, Inc. Utopia. However, we do not live in a perfect world. So, I recognize that in many cases, especially at the beginning of this journey, it's about choosing the lesser of the food evils that are in front of me.

For example, when at a restaurant - Do I order the meat that I have no idea what's in it (probably hormones) nor how it was treated (probably poorly)? Or do I choose a veggie option that I have no idea what's in it (probably not organic) nor where the vegetables came from (probably not from Michigan)?

From my personal opinion, the vegetable option is the lesser of these evils. And that's what I've tried to do when I've gone out this week: veggie pizza after golf on Tuesday (and no, I wasn't golfing at a pesticide or chemical free course), side salad and potato wedges at BW3's this afternoon as the rest of the family (except for Jordyn) all chowed down on the evil chicken.

But even when I'm going for an all fruit/veggie option, I've found that I still have to choose between the lesser of evils. For example, at our local Farm Market, Harvest Time, I was hard pressed to find ANYTHING that was labeled organic. Although I did find several items that were from Michigan. So, do I go with the Michigan blueberries or the California organic oranges? OK, in this case I bought both, because I haven't really decided which of these two is the lesser of the evils. I'm leaning towards organic over locally grown. But, I need to do some more research to come to a conclusion that I'm comfortable with. For now, I'm comfortable with both choices, because at least I now have an awareness about my food that I didn't have before. And that's empowering.

OK, enough about evil schmevil....onto this week's Hits and Misses:

I went to the Clarkston Farmer's market (HIT!) on Saturday and found the Fresh Source Farm booth where I met Lindsay Maybee (HIT!), the owner and farmer who raised the organic, pastured chicken that I made for dinner on Monday. I found it very gratifying to be on a first name basis (OK, she probably forgot my name) with the person who raised my chicken. And - GET THIS! I roasted a whole chicken. ME! All by myself!! For the first time ever!!! When I mentioned this to my girlfriend Kim, that I ROASTED MY FIRST WHOLE CHICKEN CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!! I'm pushing 40 and I just roasted my very first chicken!!!! She confided that she also had never roasted a whole chicken. I'm not alone! Well, I wasn't alone. Let me just tell you, the meal was absolutely delicious, even though we only got two meals out of the 4lb, $12.75 chicken when Lindsay told me that she usually gets four meals out of her chickens (my mom turned the left over chicken and rice into a soup that we all ate for lunch through out the week). I am heading back to the Clarkston Farmers market tomorrow to put my down payment on a fall poultry share (12 chickens). And last week I put down the deposit on our Thanksgiving turkey. Super excited. Like, beyond excited. Actually, no one should be this excited about chicken. But, here I am. Excited about my chickens.

On Sunday, my cousin Glenn (who plants a garden in Utica that's roughly an acre) brought some of his bounty to our family reunion....zucchini, yellow squash, mini tomatoes, green beans, & jalapenos. Most of which we've consumed already this week (we had jalapenos on our nachos tonight, and WOW! were they spicy, fresh, and delicious!!) My mom recently told me about how my grandma (my dad's mom), used to slice zucchini, dip it in egg, and then dip it in cornmeal and she would fry it up. This is now on my summer bucket list. Fried zucchini slices a la Lennie. Maybe not the epitome of clean or healthy eating, but it sounds YUMMO to me and will connect me to my roots. I also was given a couple of green peppers and cucumbers from a friend and a tomato from another friend's daughter, bless her heart. Produce from friends and family is definitely a HIT!

When I was at the Clarkston Farmers market on Saturday, the selection of organic lettuces was out of this world; the variety and the quantity was just amazing. But, of course I didn't buy any then! And, of course, I wanted to make a steak salad for dinner Wednesday night (using beef that my brother in law had bought from a grass fed cow). So, on my way home from work I made a point to go off the beaten path, through the mess of construction, to hit the Lake Orion's Farmers market. MISS! What a disappointment. No lettuce. Maybe half a dozen booths. It was quite sad, actually.

Organic pea pods that I had purchased a week before at the Oxford Farmers Market went bad before I ate them. Wasting food is a TOTAL MISS! And, ashamedly, something that I am guilty of all too often. I am now on a mission to only buy what I think we will eat, rather than buying in bulk and having things go bad before I get to them. I want to waste as little as possible. This, I think, might be my toughest challenge, yet since it will involve more frequent trips to markets, a task that I used to dread, but now I'm not minding all that much.

Hoping for more hits than misses this week. And hoping for more good than evil.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Food, Inc. Friday

If you've never watched the documentary Food, Inc.....DON'T! Unless you're prepared to change the way you think about and consume food.

Before I watched this film (a little over a week ago), I didn't think about, nor did I care about where my food came from. As a matter of fact, I was one of those people who would say, "Don't tell me, I DON'T want to know!" Ignorance is bliss, no? So, when my daughter and I were looking through Netflix for a film to watch together, I stumbled across the documentaries genre. There were several other documentaries that I wanted to see, ones that I had heard about on NPR and had filed away in my someday category, right there at my fingertips. I passed up on those films, figuring that Jordyn would have no interest in them. But being a body conscious teenager, Food, Inc., while not one that really appealed to ME, seemed like one that she would enjoy. Little did I know, that it would complete change the way I look at my food.

And there's no going back.

So, here I am, about to embark upon this journey. This journey of caring about and knowing where my food comes from, how it's prepared, understanding what's in it, and how the production of this food impacts the planet...and not just the earth, but the people on it.

In sharing this new found awareness with others, one of my girlfriends suggested that I keep a food journal, to track how easy or hard it is to follow some of my new, self imposed guidelines for eating. Voila, the idea for a "Food, Inc. Friday" blog post was born.

These posts are not intended to preach, but rather to record what I'm learning and what I'm doing as it relates to food. And also to share the resources that I've found to be helpful in my journey.

One thing I'm trying to do more of is to support local farmers. In that effort, I visited the Oxford Farmer's Market yesterday. I had some hits and some visits during my trip.

Let me deconstruct this photo for you, top to bottom:

TOP - Michigan Sweet Corn - I bought some of this earlier in the week from Harvest time, and it was so sweet and juicy that I didn't need to season it at all! It was perfect, just the way nature (plus some boiling water) made it. Hoping this stuff is just as good. HIT

MIDDLE Left - Zucchini and String Beans - Ready for the second of two stir fry's. I made the first stir fry for dinner last night (which also included one small yellow squash which we ate before taking this photo). Delish. HIT

MIDDLE Center & Right - Spinach pasta and whole wheat pasta from Pasta e' Pasta in Chesterfield Township. Ingredients in the Spinach package: Wheat flour, eggs, spinach, water, olive oil, salt. Recognize the names of all of those ingredients? Can you pronounce them all? Yeah, me too. HIT

BOTTOM Left - The Ultimate Pretzel Company's Tots pretzel balls with blended chocolates - At $2 for 4 oz, the price was better than what I found online, but why did I buy this? They didn't taste all that great, and when I looked at the ingredients (AFTER I got home...note to self, even at a farmers market, read the ingredients BEFORE you buy!) there were a boatload of unrecognizable things listed...things that had only initials or ended in '-erol' or '-ide'. And don't even get me started on the fact that it contained soybean oil. A total MISS!

BOTTOM Center/Left - 13 Bean soup - I don't know where the beans came from. Next time I will ask. But they offered free samples and it was delicious. Sold. JURY IS STILL OUT.

BOTTOM Center/Right - Uncle Peter's Pasties from Clarkston, whose is USDA approved and grown locally as well as hormone and antibiotic free. Hopefully they taste good. Assuming this will be a HIT.

BOTTOM Right - Tomatoes. Nuff said. HIT

NOT PICTURED - Apples and oranges. OK, this one had me thinking...are apples and oranges even in season in Michigan right now? I wanted to ask the farmer, but I thought I would look stupid. So, I bought three of each and Googled it when I got home. Apples are in season in Michigan July through October. Oranges? According to the list of seasonal produce in Michigan that I found online....Yeah, not even on the list. So, did these "farmers" hit Meijer before hitting the Farmer's Market? Next time I WILL ask. Better to ask and "look" like you're dumb than to make a purchase and prove it. MISS

Friday, July 22, 2011

I'm no Yogi, but I AM a Varti

Having recently joined a gym in an effort to hold myself accountable in my fitness journey, I attended a one hour yoga class this morning. I had attended this same class a couple of weeks ago, and the forty something instructor was very gentle and encouraging, using mostly seated, not too difficult poses.

However, today's class was being taught by a substitute teacher, a fit and "perky" young thing who apparently had vision problems because she failed to recognize that this was geriatrics hour at the gym. At 38, I was the youngest member of the class by easily 15 years, excluding the energetic and very flexible instructor, of course.

Now, I've been doing yoga off and on for about 15 years. Never in my experience with Yoga has it been done with U2 or Lee Ann Womack playing in the background. Not once did the sub ask us to set an intention, or to repeat a mantra, or to OHM, or to "go within for a moment". This chick meant business. As in, "I'm going to kick your ass" in a very friendly way business.

Most of my previous yoga experience has been at home with DVDs or the Wii, and while I am by NO means a Yogi, I consider myself pretty proficient at the basic, and some of the not so basic, poses. During one of the DVD's I have used at home, Tony Horton's Power Half Hour Stretch, there is a 10 minute section of "Power Yoga" which is pretty intense. Yeah, well, the sub gave us 45 minutes of "Power Yoga" today. Downward dog, plank, chaturanga, cobra, plank, forward fold, repeat, and repeat, aaaaaaaaand repeat. And repeat again. Between that neverending segment and the warrior II, triangle, warrior II, triangle, warrior II limbs were on fire. And, remember, I'm the YOUNG one here!

I kept up pretty well until the instructor showed us how to invert ourselves where our thighs were resting on our arms kind of like a mini handstand, except you keep your head up and you don't kick your legs up into the air above your let the weight of your legs (which are supposed to be OFF the ground), rest on your arms along with the entire weight of your body. Are you kidding me? Have you SEEN your audience?

During the last 15 minutes of class, we were asked to lower ourselves to our mats for some seated poses. Relief! FINALLY! As I lowered myself to the mat, I let out one of the loudest varts the world has ever heard. Nice. Thank you Jordyn, Liam, Owen, and Ashton. Thank you very much. Hopefully the old people in class left their hearing aids at home. That's what I've convinced myself of, anyway.

As we laid there in shavasana (dead man's pose) at the very end of class, I wondered how many students the instructor had managed to actually kill in the last 60 minutes. Fortunately, and surprisingly, everyone arose at the end of class. One of the students asked the sub, "Are you going to be subbing again on Monday?" When she replied with an enthusiastic, "YES!" I could hear everyone's thoughts silently screaming through the looks of dread on their faces...they are totally not showing up for Monday's class. Guaranteed. And while I don't have it on my calendar to attend on Monday, I kind of want to show up just to see how many people don't return.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Perspective on Distractions

I've mentioned before that I love the Duggars. Would I ever want to BE a Duggar? No effing WAY!! Ok, maybe a little.

The other day I was watching one of the recent 19 Kids and Counting episodes (yes, I DVR the show, but please don’t tell anyone…. I can even name all of the kids: Josh-with his wife Anna and their kids McKynzie and I think the new baby is named Michael- then there are Jana, JohnDavid, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, JoyAnna, Jedidiah, Jeremiah, James, Justin, Jackson, Johanna, Jennifer, Jordyn, and their tiny, precious addition, Josie. Oh shoot, I forgot one. I always forget one. Just like Maria forgot Curt when she said her bedtime prayers for the VonTrapp family. But, I know that their adorable cousin’s name is Amy, do I get points for knowing that? Talk about a fun party trick.)

As I was saying, I was watching the show a few weeks ago while JimBob and Michelle were writing their latest book. They sat together, focused at the kitchen table, poring over the last draft with a deadline to their publishers looming as chaos from their offspring erupted all around them. Someone off camera asked if the kids were a distraction to finishing the book.

Michelle’s response really struck a chord with me. While this isn’t her response verbatim, you’ll get the gist of it. She said that raising the kids was their job and that the book was a distraction to raising their family. Not the other way around.

Wow. What a perspective.

How many times have I said no to playing a board game because I was paging through Facebook?
How many times have I said no to reading a book because I was flipping through US magazine?
How many times have I said “tuck yourselves in” because I was glued to the snuggler watching Real Housewives of some city that I don't live in?
How many times have I said “not now” because I was doing dishes or folding laundry or re-organizing the junk drawer for the bazillionth time?

Certainly enough to eliminate me from the running for any Mother of the Year awards, but, fortunately not enough to warrant a call to CPS, either. Most definitely more than I’d like to admit, though.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to do anything dramatic like quit my job so that I can focus on raising my 4 kids and not counting. I, personally, enjoy the lifestyle that my career provides. But, next time my kids interrupt me, I’m going to ask myself, “What is the distraction here?” And turn my attention away from the distraction to focus on what is most important. At least that’s what I’m going to try and do.

So, next time you hear me say that I am channeling my inner Michelle, you’ll know what I mean. It doesn’t mean that I’m trying to get knocked up again (LORD knows). It simply means that I’m trying to be a better, more patient, more focused parent, with fewer distractions.

BTW – I Googled it….I forgot to mention Jason in between Jeremiah and James.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

O-WENsday Chill Pill

The sarcastic things that Owen says from time to time, really are funny. But, he’s starting to get a little big for his britches. And it’s all our fault. His wit is biting and his timing is spot on. How can you help but laugh?

The other day, Owen was tired. Let me rephrase that, Owen was the ringleader of the crankmeister convention. He had stayed up until GOD KNOWS WHEN the night before (yeah, it was one of those awesome parenting nights where Kev and I consume alcohol in the Hillary Tavern with friends, while the kids have the run of the house until they collapse in a heap somewhere from utter exhaustion) and still managed to get up around his normal time the next day (7am – ish). He was a whiny mess the entire next day. And it was all our fault.

After I responded to a question of his or asked him to do some small menial task (I can’t even remember what, but believe me when I say that it was something inconsequential) he exploded into the ugliest whining fit ever…and not a cute ugly... as in Ugly Doll ugly. But ugly as in dear gawd please stick ice picks in my ears instead of make me listen to this irrational child ugly. So not cute.

“Owen, Relax. Take a chill pill, dude.” What? This phrase, coined in the 1980’s as a result of ADHD medication and its calming effect on people, is a totally appropriate behavior correction response to such an ugly fit of whine, right?

“Mom, I would take a chill pill. But, I. Don’t. Even. Know. Where. Those. Are.” Not WHAT those are, but WHERE those are. Can someone say “Dripping with Sarcasm”?

So, of course, I laughed.

What would you do?