Have you tried Plum Organics yet?

Thanks to Plum Organics for sponsoring my post about tips for baby feeding magic. What if you let baby choose what’s for dinner?

Check out their cute “Quest for Yum!” video and see what happens! [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIMWdA5K9pw&w=560&h=315]

Today Wren and I went to our local Target and picked up a couple Plum Organics for Tots fruit purees to try – strawberry and banana “mish-mash.” Wren loves fruit smoothies so I thought they would be a hit with her – and they were! And truth be told, me too. Usually I add some kind of juice or vanilla yogurt to sweeten a smoothie, but now I’m thinking that a super fresh fruit puree like this obviously doesn’t need any extra sweeteners. And with Halloween around the corner and candy everywhere we look (sigh), we don’t need ANYMORE added sweeteners, thank you very much.

While I didn’t use too many pre-made baby foods with Wren, I bet I will be more likely to take advantage of them with our new little birdie. And I’m pretty sure these will make me feel better about not doing everything from scratch because they’re healthy, tasty, organic, portable, resealable, easy to use. No jars, yessssss. I’m a bit disappointed that they can’t be recycled, but I’m sure the packaging engineers at Plum are working on this, right?!

One thing I love about the product line is the range of flavors, from traditional banana to more interesting blueberry oat & quinoa and spinach, peas & pear. We didn’t shy away from introducing any strong flavors or textures to Wren and this has served us well because she eats almost anything now at two and a half, and is willing to at least try a bit of everything new-to-her that we put in front of her. Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures and adventures for us and we hope to continue to encourage this with our little birdies. I’m sure she’ll go through a pickier stage like most children, but I’m very grateful that hasn’t hit home quite yet!

Have you used the Plum Organics products? What are your thoughts? Have any favorites?

Lovelies, this was my first sponsored post – yee-haw! I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. To learn more about Plum Organics, visit their Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/PlumOrganics.

back to school granola bars

Whenever we need a change of attitude around our nest, I try to get the little birdie involved in a cooking, baking or gardening project. Yesterday was a no-nap (read: edgy) day so we made another big batch of our new favorite granola bars and a huge batch of guacamole for dinner. We also picked a bunch of cherry tomatoes as well as all the rest of the leaves off a basil plant to make pesto today. Whew. It got us through the sleepless afternoon without any major meltdowns, yesssss. How do you manage those no-nap days, lovelies?

Since I’ve made several successful batches of these granola bars now, I thought I would share them with you. They are based on a recipe I found here. One great thing about them is that they are pretty versatile. Have some dried fruit or nuts? Sure, throw it in. Don’t have vanilla, but want to throw in some cardamom? Sure. They’re simple and delicious. And great to have a healthy-ish, portable snack on hand.

Back to School Granola Bars

2 1/2 C. quick oats
1/2 C. crisp rice cereal
1/2 C. mini chocolate chips
1/2 C. dried cherries
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C. canola oil
1/4 C. honey (or maple syrup or even brown rice syrup)
1/2 tsp. vanilla or some other kind of spice (we like cinnamon or cardamom)
* optional: ground flax seed and/or wheat germ (we use 3 heaping Tbs. or so of each).

Mix all ingredients (except for the chocolate chips and dried cherries – keep those out for now) really well. If your mixture seems dry after mixing then you may need to add a little more honey – a bit at a time – until it starts to clump up a little.

When your granola mixture gets to this point–not too wet, not too dry–then stir in the chocolate chips and dried cherries.

Line a 9X13 (or so) glass or metal pan with parchment or waxed paper and let some of it hang over the edges so you can use them as handles to lift out. Pour in granola mixture and spread evenly. Ready to bake!

350 degrees for 17-22 minutes.
They are ready to remove from oven when the tops are golden.  If they don’t cook long enough they may not hold their shape. If they cook too long they will get too dry.

Important! Let them cool in the pan for a day or overnight. Really! Then lift out of the pan, flip over onto a cutting board and slice into pieces. I then wrap them in waxed paper and keep them in a sealed container.


nesting: dark, leafy greens

The little birdie and I worked in the empty patches of our garden yesterday afternoon. Early summer’s bright greens and peas are only a healthy memory now. It was time to turn our minds and spades toward fall. We weeded, turned soil, dug trenches, planted seeds and watered. Hardy, healthy, robust, iron-rich kale and spinach will take up a couple rows. We threw in a couple rows of beans too because somehow I forgot to plant them earlier this year. We’ll see how they do…

It dawned on me as the little birdie was burying the seeds with soil (her favorite part of gardening so far) that–with a bit of luck–we’ll be harvesting these dark, leafy greens right around the time little birdie #2 is due to arrive. Must have been on my mind as I chose these particular things to plant. Probably what my body will need most. And, who am I kidding?, some halloween candy to balance things out…

Bagels? Oh yes, you can.

I never thought I could make bagels myself. I’m not sure exactly why, but I just thought it was something that I could only buy from someone else. And since I don’t think very highly of the huge, soft & fluffy things that some bakeries like to call “bagels,” I was thrilled when I stumbled upon this post about making bagels. Really?! I could make (good!) bagels at home? The recipe didn’t even look too daunting. Could this be?! I had to find out. So Friday afternoon I jumped into the process of making the simple dough and by Saturday mid-morning, we bit into our first batch of crunchy, chewy homemade bagels! Yes, it can be done! You too can make bagels, lovelies. Click here for the recipe. Note on the recipe: I made a double-batch, which made twelve bagels instead of 6; I wasn’t going to just tip-toe into this, folks.

I can’t tell you how empowering it is to accomplish something like this. It makes my head swirl with other things that didn’t seem possible, but of course, they ARE. Do you have something that you love to eat, but think you can’t make them at home for some reason? I’d love to hear about it. Write me and let’s figure out how to make it, shall we? Please and thank you.


P.S. I wrote the other day about how I just can’t find a good bagel north of Detroit. Oops! Chris reminded me that I forgot about L’Chayim in Beulah; excellent bagels, just not open all year…

Click on, please and thank you

Almost 50 and sunny here today! The robins are twerping, the crocus are blooming, the puddles are growing. Bye bye, winter, bye bye. Wait a minute! Didn’t we already go through this?! Ahem. We’ve got some fun things planned for tonight and Saturday, but Sunday? Nothing planned, just how we like it. Any fun weekend plans, lovelies? Thanks for clicking in on me today. Here are a few things I thought you might like. Enjoy!

Happy April, friends. Was that the longest March EVER? Whew.

pizza party!

One of my favorite decadent foods is pizza. You too? I thought so. So I thought it would be fun to revisit the local-only pizza tasting party I had for my birthday last month. We are grateful to have a lot of independently-owned pizza joints in the Traverse City area and we love to support the mom-and-pops, but I always forget what I like the best. Hence, a pizza tasting party! Plus, wine and cheese tasting parties are so 2005, right?! Ha. Actually, if you invited me to one, I would be very excited and try to wear a pretty dress, but I digress…

So here’s how it worked. I invited a bunch of friends and their families to come to a local microbrewery that allows patrons to bring in their own food. Each family was assigned a different locally-made pizza to bring. I assigned the pizza place to each family based on geography so it would help with pick-ups on the way to the brewery. Each family got to choose what kind of pizza they ordered. I originally thought I wanted to have two categories, e.g., cheese or meat, to even the playing field, but Chris and I decided this would be too bossy (who, me?) and each family would have more fun if they picked out their own kind. People then ordered and brought the pizzas, or had them delivered to the brewery, around 5 p.m. on a Saturday. I thought this would be a family-friendly time for a party and also would be quieter at the brewery.

I created simple signs for each pizza that we posted and we cut most of the pizzas into smaller pieces upon arrival.

Let the mayhem fun begin!

I created a “Local Pizza Tasting Card,” that guided the tasting experience. The categories under consideration were: appearance, crust, toppings, cheese and overall favorite pizza. Each person circled his/her favorite choice in each category.

Hard work, but someone had to do it…

And the overall favorite? Pizza from our favorite Italian restaurant, Trattoria Stella. Crispy, airy, cheesy, fresh, seasonal toppings… ooh la la. Of course, there weren’t any pizzas that people didn’t like, but we all got great ideas for branching out into the cornucopia of toppings that our local pizza joints offer. Therein lies the beauty of a tasting party! Most of us wouldn’t ordinarily commit to a Friday night pizza for the family with something new like roasted eggplant and goat cheese, or chicken with blue cheese and bbq sauce. But now, heck yes we would! Delish.

Dear pizza, you are a wonder food that often brings me back from the dead. And unites my friends and family. For this I thank you, pizza!

Ponyo Soup!

Why hello there, lovelies. How are you today?

I had to share this little idea with you because it’s a big part of life in our nest right now. We are experiencing a major Ponyo obsession in our nest. The little birdie wants to watch the movie every day, all day! Have you seen the movie? It’s a beautiful movie – amazing animation and wonderful music. The story is inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen story, The Little Mermaid. It’s much more abstract and interesting than the Disney original The Little Mermaid, don’t you think?

In one of the scenes, Ponyo escapes the ocean again and comes to visit her new friend, Sōsuke. Sōsuke’s mom brings them inside and makes them big bowls of ramen soup with ham, Ponyo’s favorite. I thought it would be fun to have “Ponyo Soup” for lunch so I bought some ramen and ham. I threw in some frozen mixed veggies and voila! Big hit. I have a feeling Ponyo Soup is going to be a regular thing around here for a while…


Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day, lovelies! Have any love-filled plans for the day?

I wanted to share this last-minute dessert idea with you. An easy-peasy, yummy flourless chocolate cake. If you need a last-minute dessert idea, check it out. You probably have all the ingredients too: chocolate, cocoa powder, eggs, sugar, butter. It only takes about 45 minutes to make, including the 25 minutes of baking. What could be easier?! Make it a little fancier and sprinkle some powdered sugar or cocoa powder on top. mmmmm.

May your day be full of chocolate and time with people you love. XO XO

just plain weird

How are things in your nests today, lovelies? Cold and snowy here at 605, big surprise. It was actually blindingly bright and sunny earlier today when Wren and I were on our way across town. Every time I turned a corner, the sun seemed to blast her in the back seat and she would scream, “sun, all done! Sun, all done!” Of course, I too was caught off-guard as I had no idea where my sunglasses were hiding because I didn’t think I’d really need them for at least another three months. And this is being optimistic. Don’t laugh.

So in an effort to transport ourselves someplace warm and sunny without slathering on the white goopy stuff, we tried another tropical fruit in our mini-series: Kiwano Melon, say what? We also tried some starfruit the other day with mixed reviews.

You know you live in the midwest US when this looks very alien to you. But wait, it gets weirder.

The weird oozing fruit reminded me a bit of a cucumber, except more expensive and I wouldn’t dare pickle it. Hmmpph. Chris and I didn’t really enjoy it (at all), but someone else seemed to be very intrigued. She loved it and hated it at the same time… that funny little birdie!