Friday Favorites

Oh my, this week brought some great moments and discoveries, and I thought I would share them here with you on this Friday.

Favorite Moments: (1) Having an impromptu afterwork margarita at the beautiful Four Seasons Scottsdale. (2) Games, books, coloring and snacks in a pop-up play tent with my daughter.

10984609_10206522574126275_9215590507756367101_n _DSC3908Favorite Healthy Snack: Snapea Crisps. I can’t seem to put these down once I put one in my mouth. We just go for the lightly salted flavor. Delicious, healthy and portable. You can see in the above photo they are great for snacking in compact tents, too.

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Favorite Baked Good: Fresh Strawberry Muffins from Real Mom Kitchen. We made these last night and shared one as an after-dinner treat, and again for breakfast this morning. They are fluffy and tart from the strawberries, but sweet from the cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top.

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Favorite Dinner Idea: Cauliflower pizza crust. I must try this in this next few days. I really like cauliflower rice and this looks right up my alley with the mozzarella cheese, artichokes, sundried tomatoes and olives.

Favorite Blog Post: 10 Life-Affirming Reasons to Live a Simple Life over at Slow Your HomeThis wasn’t so much about the information as it was about the timing of it.  May is usually a very busy month for me with birthdays, visitors and an annual work banquet, and this year we’re adding our first dance recital to the list.  Simplicity is hard to come by during these times, but I need to strive for it because I don’t want to lose focus on my priorities.  Decluttering and meditation are on the top of my list, so stay tuned for further musings on these.

What are your favorite things this week?

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Homemade Ginger Chews

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As you may have read here, here and here, I’m a big fan of fresh ginger – the spicy taste, the aroma and the health benefits.  Did you know ginger can help alleviate nausea, sore muscles, boost the immune system and promote digestion?  Check out The Ginger People to learn more.  Meanwhile, I’ll take the largest root available, please.  Of course, it does mold quickly once cut, so time is of the essence when working with this little gem.

While visiting my mother-in-law a few weeks ago, she shared with me these delicious homemade ginger chews.  Once I returned home, I immediately purchased a root and took to the kitchen.  These are easy to make, they taste amazing and you can reserve the liquid to add a little kick to your next club soda cocktail or juice.

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HOMEMADE GINGER CHEWS
Peel and very thinly slice 1 large ginger root (about 8 oz). In a large saucepan, cook 2 cups water, 2 cups sugar (I used 1 cup and they still taste great) and a pinch of salt over medium heat until just boiling, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add ginger slices. Simmer gently, uncovered, 30-40 minutes or until syrupy. Remove from heat; let stand 1 hour. Strain the ginger, reserving the liquid for another use (see above suggestions). Arrange ginger slices on a wire rack set over a shallow baking pan/cookie sheet. Dry overnight.  Eat plain or add 1 cup of sugar to a large bowl and toss in ginger to coat. Store in sealed container and refrigerate up to 1 month.

Do you have any favorite ginger recipes?  If so, please share them in the comment section.  

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Five Senses Monday

I use Five Senses Monday as a way to reflect on the past few days. Feel free to join in if you’d like and leave a link in the comments. You can also visit my friend, Mandi, who posts on Fridays.  

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Seeing. My all-star husband in his lead role of lunch production artist.  It’s his Sunday evening ritual that makes our weekday mornings a breeze, and this mama happy to see a fridge stocked with healthy lunches.  If you’re looking for tasty, healthy meal ideas that are geared toward the whole food diet, check out Marla Meridith’s post where she provides ideas for adults and kids alike.

Hearing. While trying out a new lunch spot over the weekend, this song came on and I was transported back to the many road trips T and I have taken together over the past 12 years.  Talking Heads is in our iTunes library and well played – from up and down the west coast, to the Four Corners and in between.

Tasting. At O.H.S.O., I tried their veggie burger made with black beans and kale and loaded with guacamole and pico de gallo – absolutely delicious!

Smelling. Homemade ginger chews brewing on the stove.  Stay tuned for photos and recipe for this little treat.

Feeling. The beginning of warm weather in the air. Not warm enough for the air conditioning yet, but enough to bring the summer dresses out of storage.

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Through the Lens of a Five Year Old

Over a year and a half ago, I posted photos of D’s first “photoshoot” adventure with my camera titled, Through the Lens of a Three Year Old.  I loved seeing her perspective through those stills.

Now, at nearly five years old, I thought it would be interesting to see how her perspective – and skills – have grown.  While playing in the backyard yesterday afternoon, I gave her the point-and-shoot and told her to take some pictures.  Her first response was, “Of what?” I told her to look around the yard and take pictures of anything she thought was worth capturing.  She immediately took off with a smile and began clicking away.  I loved watching her move things around, bend down, hover over and play around with different vantage points.  Furthermore, she was excited to share her snapshots and I can see why. Here, I share with you my top favorites from our budding photographer…

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Five Senses Monday

A couple years ago, my friend, Mandi, over at No Apathy Allowed posted a regular series called Five Senses Friday.  It’s an opportunity to sit down and reflect on the past few days, being mindful of both the big and the little things that fill my, well, senses. And since I tend to have more down time…and my camera…on the weekends, I thought it would be a nice way to begin my week, hence, Five Senses Monday. I would love for you to join in through the comments or on your own blog.

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Seeing

My daughter running through the sprinkler on a warm Sunday afternoon.

Hearing

Crickets chirping through my open bedroom window as I wind down for the evening.

Feeling

Satisfied from a relaxing, but productive weekend.

Tasting

New teas – Pu-erh (an earthy but very smooth black tea) and White Peony (a nutty, but smooth white tea).  

Smelling

The blooming star jasmine bush on our side yard – best smell of the season! Open windows and vases of blooms bring this lovely scent indoors.

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Weekending

Hiking, parks, backyard play, very few errands, less housecleaning and no dance created a very fun and spontaneous weekend.  During our hike on Sunday, D said she didn’t want to go to school because she always wanted it to be the weekend.  I really can’t begrudge her statement because it was a great weekend – spent out of doors enjoying the warm weather and springtime beauty.

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Does anyone play Chutes & Ladders anymore?

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I love this sign by BarnOwlPrimitives.com

Every day when I pick up my daughter from school, I inevitably dodge a parent who is rushing down the hallway with their reluctant child in tow, barking at them, “We have to go, we’re going to be late for fill in the blank practice.” The other day a mother of three rhetorically asked her children, “Why are we always late to everything?”  Well, it’s obvious…isn’t it?

Now, as a working mother, I’m very familiar with, “Honey, we need to go now or we’re going to be late,” repeated more than a few times in elevated frustration each time – I get it, I am the parent of a lolly gagger.  Let me take that back, I’m the parent of a four year old.  That’s what they do.  And I only have one.  But now, there’s this heightened need to cram schedules with multiple activities…for whatever reasons. And in the circles with which I’m most familiar, these are on top of a full day of preschool which is already dictated by a strict schedule.  Have I missed something? I did start motherhood a little later than many, but what happened to free time?  When did, “Do you want to go to the park or have a tea party this afternoon?” get replaced with, “Don’t forget, we have t-ball team photos tonight followed by hockey practice.”?  These are four year olds! To rush a demographic that is intrinsically slower and, as a result, more curious, imaginative, observant and mindful is a shame. This age is precious, and it’s a blink of an eye. Balance is necessary…for everyone.

I believe involvement is necessary. I believe challenges are necessary. I believe life is meant to be experienced. Overscheduling, however, has no place in my life or my child’s.  It gets in the way of creativity, play and, well, childhood. And to the well-intentioned mother of three with the crazed eyes, I would answer you with this, “Maybe your kids don’t care that they’re late. Maybe they just want to go get ice cream and pretend their mint chocolate breath can stop an entire herd of fiery dragons.” And they should, they’re four.  Give them some space; give them some simplicity.

Tell me, is the overscheduling a phenomenon in the U.S. or does it stretch to other westernized countries?  What do you think of extra-curriculars for young children?

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