Meatless Monday: Overnight Oats

I’m a huge fan of grab and go breakfasts not only for the kids, but for myself too.  I usually just drink my coffee early and don’t really want anything right away but I am one of those people who gets hangry pretty quickly and taking something with me is key.  Usually it consists of a smoothie of one sort or another, but I’m definitely on board for this whole overnight oats craze. I found one on The Greatist. It has a great schedule too: make a 3-jar batch on Sunday night and a 2-jar batch on Wednesday night. They recommend making 3 at a time due to their shelf life.

Overnight Oats

Ingredients:

3 cups rolled oats

5 cups almond milk or milk of your choice

3 bananas

1 1/4 cup blueberries

5 Tbsp chia seeds

5 tsp cinnamon 

Directions:

Add all ingredients into a mason jar, give it a good shake, then seal with a lid, and leave overnight for up to three days.

You need to meal prep three jars on Sunday night and two on Wednesday night. Why? We don’t recommend leaving your oats for longer than three days, because they will get super goopy, and we’re not into that.

Grab a spoon and dig in.
The only effort you need to put into breakfast in the a.m. is a twist of the mason jar lid (hey, sometimes that’s tough, so don’t think you’re being lazy!). Open the fridge, grab your mason jar, dip your spoon into the kick-ass morning meal, and try to think what life was like before you were so organized.

Notes:

We’ll say it again. Overnight oats can get soggy if they sit too long, which is why we recommend making a second batch on Wednesday.

You can swap in or add any milk, fruit, nut butter, or spice to the mix. The world is your oatmeal.

If you follow a gluten-free diet, gluten-free rolled oats are available at many grocery stores or Amazon.

Wish your oats were warm? Pop them in the nuker.

Untapped Talent

On a recent trip to Prescott, AZ for Ryan’s annual ride of the Whiskey, (check out my previous post) my friend Tara and I were discussing my plans to go to school and her current job as a reading specialist at her children’s school. Tara was explaining that she has it really good with her position because it allows her to still be a mom and enjoy fulfillment professionally. And then she said something that gave me one of those Oprah “Aha!” Moments: “There is immense untapped talent in SAHM’s who could work 9-3.”

With that sentence I realized that in our society’s archaic notion of an all or nothing work/parenting balance there are many parents, myself included who struggle with the professional desire to work and the emotional and logistical desire to be a present parent. I don’t NEED to work, but I desperately want to. I went to college for crying out loud! I had a career for 10 years! I don’t want to just look at that time of my life as “in the past” or “another time”. I enjoyed what those experiences gave me and did for me as a person.  Those experiences have made me the mom I am.

I am infinitely thankful that I did not have to go back to work when Chase and subsequently Andrew were 10 weeks old. I know that would have crushed me emotionally. I am glad that when I’ve had to pick them up in the middle of the day, the only inconvenience it causes is not being able to Barre 3.  I cannot replace the time I get with them when I pick them up from school and take them to one of the many, many sports they are trying out right now.

There is a pervading argument that states that we women can have it all, just not all at once.  I agree to a point.  I agree with that when I think about it within the confines of the all or nothing work formula that we modern women are forced to see our careers.  However, I vehemently disagree with that notion because of the fact that someone else is determining the parameters in which a woman can have it all. If we truly value what caregivers do for our families, we wouldn’t be so rigid about balancing our duties as parents.  Our work culture needs to respect the desire of mothers and fathers to have a more balanced existence.

As I embark on a new experience and a second chapter in my career, I intend to make my own way by filling in the 9-3 gap. I do not expect full-time benefits if I’m not working full time. I don’t expect to get paid full-time if I don’t work full-time. I know that this mindset will prevent me from moving up the professional ladder quickly but if Millenials have taught us anything it is that priorities can be different. Quality of life is my number one goal. In fact, I want to change the rules and encourage other parents to demand a true work/parenting/life balance. I want not only other SAHMs to pursue professional fulfillment and work fulfillment but fathers too. Once I start working, I hope Ryan can step back from full time employment to not only enjoy his own personal endeavors but also take part in more parental responsibilities. (Note: Ryan has never lacked in parental participation).

I cannot accept the notion that our years should be filled with non-stop work and crushing fatigue due to trying to balance working and parenting. The success I see for myself will be a equilibrium of parenting and professional work. I’m sure there are those of you who may think that it is naive of me to think that way, but I am not going to fold just because someone tells me no, once or twice.

We need to be in control of the narrative, now. I think People of my generation can start to make the decisions without someone patting me on the head and saying: “Your time will come.”  With all of the definitions of “success” out there, why can’t we add one more? How about this for an option: The present parent who is able to drop the kids at school at 8:30 am go work and then be there to pick them up at 3:00 pm for afternoon activities, homework and dinner prep?

What are your work/parenting/life balancing questions? Have you had experience in making this formula work? Comment below.

Meatless Monday: Skillet Seared Green Beans with Lemon and Cotija Cheese

Tori Avey’s website has been a life saver being a shiksa married to someone who is “Jew-Ish”.  I want the boys to know about their heritage and be familiar with the rituals of Judaism.  Passover begins tonight and we are hosting a seder!  Below is one of the recipes that I’m using.  As soon as I saw the words: cotija cheese, I was in.  Make this for Passover, or any night because these green beans are delicious!

Skillet Seared Green Beans with Lemon and Cotija Cheese

Ingredients

1 lb green beans, trimmed
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp crumbled cotija cheese (optional – you may substitute feta or omit to make it dairy free)

Directions:

  1. Pour about 1 inch of water in the bottom of a medium pot and bring to a boil. Add the green beans and cover the pot. Steam the green beans for 3-5 minutes until bright green and tender-crisp.
  2. Drain the green beans and rinse them with cold water to stop the cooking process, then shake in the colander to drain completely. Spread the beans out on a kitchen towel to get rid of excess moisture. These steps can be done 1-2 hours ahead. The rest of the cooking should be done just before serving.
  3. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high for a few minutes to get it very hot. Pour in the olive oil; it will begin to smoke slightly. Quickly add the drained green beans to the skillet and turn the heat to high. Sear the green beans for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beans have color and are slightly blackened in places. Remove from heat. Sprinkle the beans with fresh lemon juice, then add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Place the beans on a serving plate and sprinkle with crumbled cotija cheese. Serve warm.

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After School Tailgating…

The boys get out of school at 3pm.  But if you don’t get to the parking lot by 2:40, you have toimages park in Canada and walk through fire ant hills, uneven gravel and weeds to get to the front of the school (It’s best to keep hiking boots in your car for these instances).  Most parents sit in their cars heads bowed to their phones.  I propose: a daily tailgate for all caregivers while we wait for the kiddos to be dismissed!

It is pleasant to sit outside with the light breeze and beautiful flowering bushes and trees.  Why not do that with a beer, margarita or glass of rosé?  I’d be happy to make some guacamole and chips to share.  Why don’t you make a batch of brownies (without nuts though because our school is a nut-free zone!) and we can talk about something other than the beautiful weather here in Southern Arizona.  Who’s in?

It’s not going to get crazy or anything.  We’re not talking keg-stands and open flames!  I’m not going to show up with a smoker and throw on some ribs (we are a vegetarian school!).  Let’s just make this waiting game a little more fun.  It is Friday, let’s get this weekend started the right way!  And, as soon as my backyard is finished…we can just move the party to my house!

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I Don’t Want to Get Political…

My friend Leah’s Boys and Chase with the packed bags at Emerge!

The boys are on Fall Break this week.  Filling the days hasn’t been too difficult now that the weather isn’t 108 degrees every day.  On Monday, I took them with me to drop off something called “blue bags” to a great shelter from Domestic Violence here in Tucson called: Emerge!  With October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I wanted to shed some light on an issue that needs to be addressed.  Blue bags are given to kids when they are removed from their homes (often with just the clothes on their backs).  They contain a change of clothes, jammies, clean underwear and socks and some simple toiletries.  As part of an online group that finds worthy causes to which we can contribute, we coordinated with Emerge! to put together these bags for tweens/teens.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence or abuse and need to talk with someone, call the number below and know that though you feel alone and isolated, you have the support of the community around you whether you know it or not.

800.799.7233

or go to http://www.thehotline.org

I don’t want to get political so I’ll just say that with this political season and being a mother of boys I want to ensure that they respect all people regardless of their gender, station in life, religion cultural heritage or political affiliation.  We all have our own story and having the ability to empathize with others is a true measure of character.

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I’ll Be Back!

Not in the way Arnold came back.  But in the way you expect me to come back: with recipes, venting and information on how to stay sane as a mom.

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Captain and Poopsie: Take the Passport to Dry Creek Festival By Storm!

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Getting their wine passports are Captain, Abe and Tracy Elsenraat of Columbia. MO; also dear friends of ours

Rewind to February 1st…Captain and Poopsie were getting ready to enjoy a day of skiing in none other than Ketchum, ID.  It was Poopsie’s first snow adventure in a long time…Poopsie could barely contain herself…

Then, the texts started.  “At 9am Pacific, the site will open and we can purchase tickets for the “Passport to Dry Creek” Festival. Let’s all order tickets at the same time before it sells out!”

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Brad and Tara Hochstetler of Traverse City, MI and our dear friends!

That is unless the site crashes.  Thank goodness our friend Tracy volunteered to buy all of the tickets and we could pay her.  Phew!  Captain and Poopsie have skiing to do!

Hotels are researched, dinner reservations are made and outfits are coordinated…looking good in Napa and Sonoma Valleys was an important aspect to Poopsie.

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The Barrel Room at Pedroncelli

Our focus: Passport to Dry Creek was the perfect opportunity to learn about wine, eat delicious food and ride around all day on a party bus with the coolest driver ever!  We wound around and up and down the beautiful roads between Napa and Sonoma Valleys and made it to our first winery: Pedroncelli.  It was the best introduction to the day!  The owner greeted us and talked about the house that his father was born in, he grew up in and that now serves as offices for the winery operations.  The Sauvignon Blanc was Poopsie’s second favorite of the day and the food was delicious.  We could have stayed all day!  If we had, they probably wouldn’t have been so nice to us.  There were over 40 more wineries to visit!

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Trattore Winery

See how beautiful Poopsie is?  Isn’t Captain a hunk?  Oh, and the beautiful grounds of Trattore winery are too shabby either.  Each winery stamps your “passport” so you can keep track of where you go.  The “Red Tractor” Rhone Blend at Trattorie was one of our favorites.  It is highly recommend by all members of our party.  Plus, they make amazing olive oils too.  The story is, when the owners bought the land, they found olive trees on it and so resurrected them and now have successful harvests to make tasty olive oils and olive wood cutting boards too.  It was a beautiful tasting room and friendly atmosphere.

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No, Poopsie didn’t drink the WHOLE bottle, but she could have!

Poopsie can’t help but to love an Indiana connection, so when she saw that “Kokomo” was on the tour, she made it a point to check it out and buy a mixed case.  Captain and Poopsie have some friends who love wine just as much as we do and told us about Kokomo last winter.  The owner, is from non-other than Kokomo, IN, and went to Purdue and Poopsie will forgive him for that because she’s all about Big Ten love.  The food was amazing and provided Poopsie’s FAVORITE Sauvignon Blanc of the day.  Oh, and the band playing at Kokomo played a beautiful version of Purple Rain as a tribute to Prince, who had recently passed away.

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Salmon and arugula dish paired with a Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine. Delish!

As we moved through the two-day festival, the food was eaten and discussed, the wines were tasted and analyzed.  We all became well versed in the terminology and our own personal preferences.  Though many pictures and notes were taken, it doesn’t do it justice.  The Blanc de Blanc at Fritz Winery was divine.  In addition, the grounds on which the winery was situated were beautiful!  Fritz is built into the side of a hill.  We entered through a cave!

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Tracy and Martha at Ferrari-Carano

By the end of the two days, we had reconnected, caught up and bonded over a beautiful combination of food and wine.  Inside jokes were created and shared and our friendships made stronger.  We’ll definitely go back again.   Though we don’t often get together, we talk often via texts and share our lives digitally.  Poopsie is certain that we will again join together for food, wine and lots more fun.

Next week’s post focuses on the next phase of jet setting: San Francisco. Put on your seat belts!  Captain and Poopsie drive into the city, meet up with some other fun friends and enjoy sports, history and fashion!!!

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Captain and Poopsie: Jetsetting Around in Napa, Sonoma, and San Francisco

Captain and Poopsie have been lucky enough to travel during April and May.  And, we are about to embark on our triangle of travel for May and June.  Over the next couple of weeks you’ll get to read about our adventures.  Buckle up!

Sacramento –> Napa –> San Francisco –> Tucson –>Prescott –>Tucson.

Traveling can be exhilarating.  There is excitement in going to a new place.  Though Captain isn’t a pilot

The Vintage Inn, Yountville, CA

The Vintage Inn, Yountville, CA

of a plane, Poopsie was happy enough to let him make the plane reservations to Napa and Sonoma Valley.    It was Captain’s birthday weekend and a chance to reconnect with some friends from residency and to experience the Dry Creek Valley Passport Festival.  A delight in all ways.

Captain and Poopsie arrived on a Thursday and checked out the lay of the land by staying at The Vintage Inn and going to a “off the radar” restaurant recommended by the staff of hotel.  It did not disappoint.  The beautiful grounds of the hotel were filled with water features and roses.  It was just a short walk to Ciccio, which was outstanding!  Along the way, the gardens of the famed “French Laundry” called our names…”Come to us!  We may have small unusual portions of overpriced food, but we make a great story!”  Maybe one day we’ll go to FL, but for now, we’ll enjoy getting our feet wet with the approachable and delicious IMG_0454selections from Ciccio.  You can’t find it on Open Table, but if you get there early enough, you can put your name in, grab a glass of wine, and sit out front while you wait.  It was one of the best meals we had on the trip.  Take advantage of the fact that it is not on the beaten path. It was a delicious meal that kicked off a weekend that was full of laughter, delicious food, and lots of wine.  Bacchus would be proud.

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My dear friend Martha…drinking wine on a Friday afternoon? Never!

Friday morning was raining…after a late night dip in the hot tub at Vintage Inn, Captain and Poopsie hit the steamy gym on the grounds and sweated out the remnants of the night before.  We packed up and took our luggage to Hotel Yountville.  We headed up to Calistoga for lunch, which was a recommendation from a friend: Sam’s Social Club.  Our friends James and Martha joined us.  It was delicious!  We then made the trip back down to Yountville to meet two more couples.  This was a fun start to a weekend that we will definitely remember…kind of.

Stay Tuned for the next installments of Captain and Poopsie’s Spring adventure…

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It’s a Sign!

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You’ve seen this image on products that you use. How far past the date have you been using your products?

It’s a sign that you should throw out that eyeshadow palette that you paid way too much for but thought, of course “I’ll use that color combination but haven’t worn it in two years.”

You see, beauty products have a shelf life.  I admit, I have a product or two that I have not let go of even though the use by symbol time period has long since passed.

Here is what I found in my own collection, some of which needs to be thrown away.

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Product                                                                    Life                                  How Long Since I Opened It

La Prairie Creme Blush                                              12 months                          24 months

Well People Altruist Foundation Powder              24 months                           2 months

Natura Bisse The Cure                                               12 months                           8 months

Trish McEvoy Mascara                                              12 months                           3 months

NARS Dead of Summer Eyeshadow Pallette        36 months                            6 months

Chanel Eyeliner Waterproof in Cassis                   18 months                             12 months

YSL Rouge Pur Couture lipstick                               24 months                           12 months

And, how often do you wash your brushes?  Everything I’ve read says to do it as often as once a week.  I don’t do that…I wash them MAYBE every six months.  Yikes!  With products that I put anywhere near my eyes, I have made a vow to follow the instructions.  I am still reluctant to toss out the La Prairie Creme Blush…it was expensive!  I don’t want to break out though…

Here are some links to information on the shelf life of cosmetics and brush maintenance:

FDA

Cosmetics Shelf Life FAQ

Makeup Brush Maintenance

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GMOs: Elisha Modisett of Dow AgroSciences

Now that you have heard some of reasons why people are against GMOs, let’s explore some of the information from someone in the industry.

DISCLAIMER: Elisha Modisett and I have known each other personally for 13 1/2 years.  She is an employee of Dow AgroSciences, married, and a mom of one darling boy.  She and I have a long standing friendship and a history of healthy debates on issues that we find important.  In our conversations about GMOs in our food supply, I trust that she is honest about the information that her company releases and respect her duty as a mother to feed her child healthy foods.

Here are several questions that I had for her:

What exactly is a GMO?

“It is important to realize that GMO is a process, not an ingredient so that is why the FDA has determined that there is no difference in food that is derived from GMO and those that haven’t.  GMO is a type of plant breeding technique – also called genetic engineering – that enables plant breeders to take individual traits from one plant or organism and transfer them to the plant that they want to improve. It can also be used to make a change to an existing trait in a plant.”
Where is the FDA in all of this?

“All foods that derive from GMO are approved by the FDA first.”

How long have GMOs been in our food chain?

GMOs have been used and tested for over 20 years now without a report of a single person getting sick or having an allergic reaction to it.

So, GMOs or no GMOs what is my take-away?

At the end of the day, everyone should be eating more fresh fruits and vegetables

Further Reading:

Popular Science Top 10 Myths about GMO

Top 10 GMO Myths 

Video Information regarding labeling

In May of 2016, The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released a study that deemed that there is no evidence23395-0309437385-450 “genetically engineered crops have caused health problems in humans.”

In continued discussion concerning GMOs, Elisha pointed out some of the most significant findings concerning the report.  “It was a huge study that looked at the long term impact from GMOs. Their recent findings are extremely important to the debate because most people’s concerns are about the long-term health affect from consuming foods derived from genetic engineering. Here are a few takeaways from that report:”

– The 408 page report reviewed 20 years of health data.
– Nearly 900 studies were examined.
– Over 50 scientists were involved in the report. No one from a crop biotech company like Dow AgroSciences or Monsanto were on the committee.
– The committee compared health data between populations in North America (where GMO foods have been eaten for two decades) and Europe (where they aren’t widely consumed) as a way to investigate claims linking GMOs to various health problems including cancer, obesity, kidney disease, autism and allergies.
– The panel found that there were no differences in the “incidence of cancers and other human-health problems over time and found no substantiated evidence that foods from genetically engineered (GE) crops were less safe than foods from non-GE crops.”
– Animal feeding studies were also conducted with results showing that animals are not harmed by eating genetically engineered crops.
– The panel also found that genetically engineered crops can actually benefit humans more than non-GMO’s because of their increase in vitamins such as vitamin A, reducing blindness and deaths to due to vitamin A deficiencies prevalent in developing counties.

Here is a link to the report: http://nas-sites.org/ge-crops/

To take a look at some of the media regarding the findings, see the links below:

Joel Athenbach – The Washington Post

Chris D’Angelo – Huffington Post.com

Jason Kelly – The New York Times

Aside from from my feelings regarding GMOs, I feel that debate is healthy and informed consumers are always better consumers.  Please see the post that originally sparked my interest in the GMO debate.  If you have questions or concerns regarding this post or have questions for Elisha, please put them in the comments below.  Please keep questions and comments civil and respectful.

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