28 Days of Jane: Everybody Has a Story

Before Jane, I was a judger. A hardcore judger. If you gave your baby formula. Judged. If you couldn’t kick postpartum weight. Judged. If you gave your kid sugar too early in life. Judged. It’s a wonder I had any friends at all!!

But then came Jane. Jane taught me that everybody has a story.

See before Jane was born I had a great story. Simple really. My husband and I dated for 2 years. Married on the 2 year mark. Got pregnant and had Jane on the next 2 year mark. We had good jobs. We had just bought a house. I had an easy pregnancy. We went on vacations. Young wild and free. Easy. That was my story.

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After Jane, I had a different story. I had messy unkept hair. I never wore make up. I wore the same navy blue zip up hoodie everyday in the hospital with maternity leggings. It was suspected that my baby had galactosemia, a disorder in which she could not absorb my breast milk. So my baby was fed soy formula (a HUGE no no if you had asked me prior, and a huge no no amongst the “natural” minded people I hung around) through a feeding tube.

With such exposure to diseases that lie dormant in a hospital environment and no first line defense of my skin to skin contact, or breast milk, vaccinations seemed almost like a no brainer where before we were “on the fence”. My sciatic nerve was pinched in giving birth to Jane and made walking postpartum almost unbearable. So I hobbled everywhere and it took me double the time to do “normal” things during our 4 week hospital stay. I ate nothing for 1.5 weeks out of nervous shock, then ate EVERYTHING for the next 1.5 weeks out of… aftershock?

My how my story had changed.

We would go to places like Whole Foods (ya know, where all the cool soccer moms shop? Oops, I just judged again…), and a little hip coffee shop full of entitled college students (Whooooaaa, judging again!) that became our oasis. It was in these public places that I could feel the eyes. The questions. The judgement.

“Wow that girl should do her hair”

“Well that girl’s not a threat in those grungy clothes”

“Why is that girl limping?”

“Oh, she must be like 5 months pregnant” (All you postpartum mommies feel me on that one)

It was then that I realized that they didn’t know my story! They didn’t know that I had JUST had a baby. That she was currently getting hooked up to IV’s in ICU. That we hadn’t been home in 3 weeks. That I had only used a public/community shower since I had given birth. That my husband and I weren’t just 2 college kids on a date, we were celebrating our 2 year wedding anniversary in a way we never expected right after being told that I could no longer breastfeed my baby.

I just wanted to scream, “Don’t you judge me! I have a story!”

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Or more recently, today at Big Lots I did a REALLY bad job of pulling into a parking spot . I guess I cut off a lady walking in the street because she not only gave me a really dirty look but started talking to another guy in the parking lot about me. Then as she drove away she pointed her finger at me and her lips were moving really fast and her face looked really mean and based off her countenance I’m guessing she was thinking things like,

“Irresponsible”

“Selfish”

“Rude”

And probably lots and lots of expletives :)

What she DIDN’T know was that I hadn’t slept in 2 days. Jane is teething or growing or manifesting demons. Not really sure which one. Maybe they’re all the same? She didn’t know that I was a sleep deprived woman thinking about money, groceries and the evening’s dinner plan, trying to squeeze in an errand between work phone calls and while my mom watched my cranky child. And while she may have been right about my horrible parking decision, she was most likely not seeing that I actually had a story.

And everybody does. The trendy hipster at the coffee shop. The nurses who do or do not administer your child’s vaccines. The mom who doesn’t breast feed. The one who can’t lose weight after baby. The one who loses “too much” weight after baby. They all have a story.

Instead of seeing a person at face value I began to try to my very hardest (we are only human afterall) to see passed the “obvious”. That woman looks really happy on Instagram but is she actually really lonely right now? That mom acts so protective over her children but did something traumatic happen to her as a child? That woman sure does post a lot of selfies! Is she reaching out for compliments she never receives? That single girl does whatever she wants, what a life! Is she really longing to settle down and for a family of her own right now?

I guess my point to all of this is, be kind mama.

Be kind to the woman handing her kid a bag of cheetos for a snack, be kind to the one who breastfeeds till 2 yrs old. Be kind to the full time working mama who can’t wear her baby all day long and the one who doesn’t let her baby go. Be kind to the one who cosleeps and doesn’t cosleep. To the telemarketer and the door salesman. To the one who vaccinates and to the one that doesn’t. To the one who is back at the gym and the one who can’t get out of bed. To the angry checkout clerks, or hasty baristas. To the mommy who wants to work. To the one who doesn’t , and to the one who has to.

Their story may not be yours, but they have one. Everybody does. Even the soccer moms at Whole Foods and the cranky ladies found in Big Lots parking lots :)

 

 

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28 Days of Jane: And We Danced

This summer I am thrilled to be writing for a fantastic team of  REAL women, sisters, daughters and mommies at Eco Chic Diaries!

Stay tuned every week through the summer for what I’ll be posting here and there for the Eco Chic team! 

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28 Days of Jane: And We Danced

you've got mail bench

 

I have watched You’ve Got Mail over 475 times. You can not beat 1990′s/early 2000′s Meg Ryan. Can. Not. Beat.

I love the line in You’ve Got Mail where Kathleen Kelly talks to big business owner Joe Fox about how her and her mother used to “twirl”.

“What is that you’re doing in that picture” he asks.

“Twirling. My mother and I used to twirl”.

Love. It.

You see, Kathleen inherited the bookstore she operates from her mother and her mother has since passed. Her mom must have built a pretty successful business in order to pass a healthy retail store along. That would mean long hours, meetings and agendas. But what does her daughter remember most about her? Twirling.

This month I had the opportunity to speak at our church’s Mothers Day Service. Code for: Watch out! Your kid is not going to sleep and everything is going to fall apart as you prepare! And that’s mostly what happened :)

Jane was absolutely crazy, she slept maybe 2 hrs in 5 days ;-) I had my actual job to do, groceries to buy, house to clean, and still prepare something encouraging to say for all the nice church people. All the while my daughter had the nerve to NEED me, and was actually being quite cranky and somewhat of a bully. Did you know you can be bullied by a 4 month old? You can.

cranky

In that moment I realized I had 2 choices: I could remain a stress case and get bitter at my messy house and crying daughter, OR, I could dance.

Hard decision, easy choice :)

I put on a new song we love from the album “You Make Me Brave”, entitled “We Danced”, I picked up my baby girl, and we danced around the living room. I think we did the waltz. Not really sure. Either way, I pressed her little cheek next to mine, sang her the words I knew, started praying for her future husband who would someday sweep her around a dance floor, and my baby and I had a little moment.

I still had a lot of things to do. I was barely prepared for the message I had to speak at our 3 Sunday services, I had no dinner planned, I still had laundry and vacuuming and dusting and and…

But I decided that while I hope Jane would someday recall me as a strong, brave, successful woman who loved her God and was dedicated to her work, I would LOVE, if when asked about me, she would say,

“She danced”.

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PB&J Affair (Steel Cut Oat Cups)

“So what are your cravings?”

Is it a requirement for everyone to ask this question to a pregnant woman every day? I feel as if people are either vicariously hoping to live through my bizarre food concoctions or perhaps they are just waiting to feel better about themselves. “Well, atleast I don’t eat meatball sandwiches at 12am like THAT pregnant woman” (which I don’t by the way). Who knows. But really, I get asked this alot.

My first response would be, “Um, FOOD. And lots of it!” Except not all at once cause I feel like my stomach will explode. But definitely not longer than 2 hrs apart because then I just feel like I’m gonna die.

But this month in particular I can answer, without a shadow of a doubt, that I am craving… PB&J. In all forms. In all ways.

The other night it actually came down to this:

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A grilled cheese PB&J.

“Ew! Only a pregnant woman would eat that!”

To that I say “Wrong.” or “Fine. More for me”.

Do not knock this until you try it. It’s the most precious blend of warm, crunchy, sweet, salty, savory, and buttery.

I’m unstoppable. It led me to further discoveries of PB&J delights.

I had originally planned on talking about chicken for my next post. But the rain started falling here and I came across this GREAT recipe for warm, delicious, hearty, healthy Personalized Baked Steel Cut Oat Cups from Sugar Free Mom and I love.. I love… I love them.. (P&P for you fans). I had made her Personalized Baked Oatmeal Cups before and Rich and I both loved them and they contain NO sugar and only real ingredients and even some fruit! ( This is a win for me and trying to feed my picky-ish husband).

The best part is these steel cut oat cups give me the quick snack I need to stay feeling full and they absolutely DELICIOUS with a PB&J filling. Like ABSOLUTELY. She lays out the recipe beautifully at Sugar Free Mom, so make sure to click the link. The only changes I made were:

- Almond Milk instead of cows and – A flax seed egg instead of a chicken’s (1 tbsp flax seed, 3 tbsp water, let sit till like a gel, add)         – No Stevia, and not as much honey as suggested.

Still turned out AMAZING. I just heated 2 in the microwave and was SO satisfied.

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Here’s to preggo cravings around the world!

Baby Moon & Monterey Eating Adventures

Once upon a time, aka 4 months ago, I thought I could be pregnant, work full time, run a food blog, keep up with laundry and also make time to work out. That was really cute of me. I’m so glad there is nothing but grace in the blog world (right!?), so I’m back and let’s all act like 4 month intervals are TOTALLY acceptable to maintaining a “successful” blog :-)

BABY MOON

Rich

People have made a point to let Rich and I know that once baby comes we won’t be doing a lot of things: Sleeping, going to movies, thinking straight, going on dates. Sounds like a real blast! I know their intentions are good and this is all not entirely true, but well, some of it very well may be so we decided to soak in some last days together in Monterey, CA. before the holidays hit and little baby love angel arrives. (No, her name is not Love Angel).

We enjoyed 2 nights in Monterey, eating our way through the day and at one point taking a 2 hr siesta on a beach in Carmel. ROUGH! I loved sharing my NY eating adventures with you all so decided to share what the food scene looks like in Monterey (For two soon-to-be parents on a budget on a mini vacation.)

WILD PLUM – ORGANIC CAFE & BISTRO, Monterey CA

Wild Plum

Yum. This one came suggested by a friend. And it was just about as organic/fresh/hippie as you could hope for. Rich was THRILLED. ;-)

What you see is my veggie sandwich on HOUSE MADE FOCCACIA, and  FRESH TOMATO SOUP. No really. Our waiter used words like “The tomatoes were picked yesterday” and “We roasted them this morning”. It was as about as garden to table as you could want.

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PARKER LUSSEAU- PASTRIES & CAFE, Monterey CA

Parker Sign

parker chalkboard

Long had we waited to try this great little spot! Delicious espresso (rich, creamy, mocha. DECAF, obviously) and pastries. Sweet, personable owner. Didn’t get to try their sweet little cakes or mini macarons but everything is baked right around the corner about a mile away and delivered fresh daily. It was worth the wait and a definite gem just a skip away from a major coffee chain. So if you are in the area and see elusive coffee chain, know that 5 yards behind you and around the corner is THIS place! So good we went twice.

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LA BICYCLETTE – FRENCH EATERY, Carmel CA

I’d be embarrassing everyone involved if I posted my dimly lit Iphone pictures of our meal here. Bottom line is it’s a cute, atmospheric french eatery in Carmel that has budget friendly brick oven pizzas available, or not so budget friendly french cuisine. A fun find not far from Monterey.

ALIOTTIS VICTORIAN CORNER RESTAURANT, Pacific Grove CA

Charming and classic diner style breakfast in an old Victorian blocks from the ocean in Pacific Grove. One word: Raspberry pancakes. Oh, and hashbrowns… Delightful, quality, locally sourced goodness.

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1833 , Monterey CA

Yes, its as yummy as it’s name is cool. We had been here before and actually returned and left even MORE satisfied than the last time. Again, dimly lit and I was not about to make a ninny of myself taking amateur flash shots with my Nikon. Bing Crosby is practically seeping through the walls and I want Bing to think I’m as cool as possible.

Just think cheddar bacon biscuits with maple chile butter, gnocchi with braised lamb, steak with creamy carrot butter sauce, bourbon pudding and sugar cookies.

The building is an old adobe with low ceilings and rooms restored to accommodate outdoor patio with fire pits, indoor bar, community bathroom sink (in a cool hygienic way) and dining room. A great romantic spot.

I did happen to land a sweet pic of this hottie : check out that cushioned chair!

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LOU LOUS GRIDDLE IN THE MIDDLE – Monterey, Ca

They boast about having “Good food and crazy waitresses”, which should tell you everything. Except I want my money back because our waitress did not seem too crazy…

Lou Lous

How random is this place!? We literally walked down the warf until like the land of Narnia it just appeared. The inside consists of only a bar to sit at (from what I could tell) and the outdoor seating you see. Super low key, good diner breakfast with the smell of fried calamari (for breakfast!) or maybe just the smell of REALLY fresh actual fish from the ocean wafting in. In every way a beach diner on the pier. A great last stop for our trip.

Pollo de verano (Summer Chicken :) & Tara’s Review

Hi all,

There’s been a flurry of test recipes happening here. Mostly involving me trying to satisfy “pregnancy” cravings and making them “healthy”. I tried “The Ultimate Cinnamon Bread” from Pinterest. But after my healthy adaptations it just tasted, well, healthy. And then there were the “World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies” from Pinterest. One flax seed “egg” and a cup of apple sauce in place of butter later and we had pretty good but not great chocolate chip cookies with the weirdest texture ever. I think I’ve learned that I’m not a baker. You have to use too many bowls and more butter and sugar than I’m comfortable with. BUT I’m really good at eating YOUR baked goods! I’ll stick with the savory where I feel safe and secure and you can keep spoon feeding me your cookies and pie :) Please and thank you!

Speaking of savory, I have to give a shout out to this little organic ice cream place my friend and I came across in Berkeley, CA, called Tara’s Organic Ice Cream. It was PERFECT because the majority of their flavors were savory! It’s a funky little place for sure but SO delicious. My flavor of choice was Beet Balsamic while my friend chose Rosemary Pear. I know RIGHT!? They also had Berbere, which is a crazy fusion of eastern spices, and Sweet Corn, which was a fancy way of saying “This tastes just like Captain Crunch cereal, AKA delicious”.

The icing on the…icecream… was that you could choose a sesame seed waffle cone. Oh my sweet goodness, I had no idea it could pack that much flavor. All in all, if you’re in the East Bay, try this little spot out. And here’s our cute little babies stolen from my friend’s Instagram …

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Ok, I was excited to finally get back to a post that involves the elements of Hil’s Kitchen. This chicken (which turned into chicken tostadas for us) really had to do with:

1. Using up what leftovers I had in the fridge

2. Hiding some healthy ingredients in said chicken.

Our local market will have ridiculous sales on their free range chicken. I’m talking 10 free range drumsticks for $2.45. So cheap. After using half of our pack the day before (and Rich taking some to work) I still had 4 that needed to be used.

I put these thawed legs in a baking dish over olive oil. Seasoned the chicken. Then started chopping and packing all the leftover summer veggies we had on top. Garlic, onion, tomato, and zucchini.

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Look at all that goodness just waiting to sneak in to our immune system!

I baked at 350 for about 35 min. During this time I chopped lettuce for the tostada topping, and started frying our corn tortillas in coconut oil.

Sidenote on this: We can definitely taste the difference when we fry in coconut oil. It tastes like coconut! I wasn’t satisfied with this so I just sprinkled our shells over with garlic salt after frying and WOW. Delicious. Masked the coconut flavor and made them so tasty.

After 35 min. of baking, I pulled the meat out of the oven and shredded whatever meat I could off of the drumsticks and covered and mixed all the veggies and all the juices and returned to the oven for an additional.. let’s say 15 min.

Now, drumsticks are not ideal for trying to find substantial pieces of meat, which I’m sure you already gathered. This recipe would be much easier and substantial if I had used chicken thighs or breasts. BUT, drumsticks is what was in the kitchen and this recipe cost me about $2 to make sooooooo, drumstick meat it is! :)

During this 15 minutes I refried our organic can of black beans. This is the way to go people! Making your own refried beans is so much healthier and still so tasty! They won’t EXACTLY taste like a can of lard infused pintos beans (which don’t get me wrong, have a special place in my heart) but they still totally do the trick.

I just emptied my can of black beans into my skillet of leftover frying oil and mashed and stirred and mashed and stirred. You can add garlic, garlic salt, onion, chili powder. Go hog wild! I just make sure to mash and stir until I can hear the beans sizzling like they’ve been nice and fried up.

Tortillas, beans, toppings, and the end of the movie Big Fish (which totally made me cry and cuddle with my husband this time around. Pregnancy hormones??) were all over by the time my chicken was finished. cooked summer chicken

Now this chicken was so stewey and savory and comforting that you could really just eat it over rice. But my problem with that is my husband could then see all of the little pieces of veggie that it entailed :) By layering it onto the tostada and adding hot sauce he was sure to be blinded to a few pieces of zucchini and onion. I got a picker on my hands! But he has gotten much better :)

We both loved this meal. So comforting and tasty. Savory chicken with crisp lettuce on a crunchy salty shell. Mmmmmm… Not gonna lie, I felt back in the game guys. I really did…

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Chicken Recipe:

Drumsticks (or whatever leftover chicken you have to use up)

Onion – 1/4 cup chopped

Garlic – 2 cloves

Tomato – 1 small whole chopped

Cumin – to taste

Chili Powder – to taste

Garlic Powder – to taste

Sea salt – to taste

Pepper – to taste

1. Bake at 350 for 35 min. Remove and shred chicken. Return for 15 min.

Miscellaneous Recipe:

2. Fry tortillas shells flat in coconut oil. When you dip the edge of the tortilla and the oil sizzles, it’s ready to be fried!

3. Re-fry black beans in leftover tortilla oil. Mash and stir and add spices and fry until satisfied :)

4. Layer all ingredients and chow!