Month: January 2011

The cleaning issue

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

It’s pretty quiet at my house. My parents left after being with us for just about two weeks and everything is starting to get back to normal. It was awesome to have extended-stay visitors and I really got used to all the help around the house – and extra collection of hands to play with the babe. So, I’m missing the parents. But, especially, I’m missing my cleaning machine. My mom helped scrub, wipe, wash and fold just about everything in the house while she was here, which was a great help for me – but now what am I supposed to do?

I’m not a good cleaner.

At least I can admit it.

My laziness takes over when it comes to cleaning. And, I’m an expert procrastinator. Sometimes I get motivated and start strong but then lose my oomph. So, most things look pretty good from afar, but if you get up close and personal with my stuff, the dust is unmistakable, the finger marks on all the windows become extra shiny in the sunlight, and the ring around the tub glares like a new wedding band.

UGH.

The idea of someone coming over unannounced makes me shudder. But, do I change my ways? Nope.

I have a cleaning issue and it is in desperate need of some serious attention.

While perusing the latest stuff over at the Motherboard I found an article that solved all my problems! This shiny, tidy list of ideas not only made me grin from ear to ear, but also snicker a bit. Who doesn’t want someone to walk into their house and instantly feel jealous because it is shiny clean from top to bottom?!

First off, I followed the great suggestion of giving the guest bathroom a good scrub down. I also picked up some nice guest towels, which made me feel all grown-up and adult like. I folded them nicely next to a lovely scented candle and then shut the door. Yup, I shut the door. This would ensure the babe wouldn’t walk in and toss toilet paper all over the place and also remind the hubs, if he decided to venture in, to keep things the way they are – CLEAN!

I also purchased a cute little spray bottle, filled it with my favorite cleaner, and happily positioned it on the kitchen counter. This way it’s easily in reach and not hiding in the dark depths of one of the cabinets. Right next to that lovely spray bottle I placed a fresh roll of paper towels all set to help wipe up any messes and keep things sanitized. My daughter really likes to “help” so I figure, while I’m cleaning, I’ll give her a water-damp paper towel for her to use, too! Why not get her involved in the fun of cleaning, right?

Well, I still have lots of clutter hanging about, but instead of leaving those magazines in a disorderly collection, I’m nicely arranging them – and tossing the ones I’ve already read. I’m also going to try to make the bed everyday (but, I can’t guarantee anything).

Ahhhh, the wonders of a somewhat clean house!

Now, who’s coming over?

Meditation and stuff

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

The other day I wrote an educational article about meditation, memory and the young developing mind, which got me thinking about meditation in general. I totally admit to not buying into the whole “pondering” thing, but have never tried meditating myself. I just don’t really have the time to sit in a quiet corner to chant and ring a bell for a couple of hours.

Yes, as you can see, I’m totally uneducated.

I love yoga, have spent my wad on acupuncture (when trying to get pregnant), and eat pretty healthy. But, the whole chanting-breathing thing just doesn’t bring to mind relaxation, memory building, or weight-loss assistance. It makes me think of feeling silly and time that could have been spent baking cake.

I do love cake.

So, imagine my surprise when I found some pretty positive research linking meditation with building healthy memory. I don’t know about you, but the idea of not remembering things scares the bejesus out of me. I have a hard enough time getting through the grocery store without a list. I would hate to miss out on memories of my child growing up later in life.

I totally can’t remember half of the 90’s (ugh).

One study I stumbled across suggested that spending 12 minutes daily practicing Kirtan Kriya meditation aided in promoting healthy brain function and building memory development. 12 minutes daily. Maybe it’s time I got over my silliness and spent some time meditating.

I think I can do that, right?

After picking a meditation spot (I put a pillow in the bathroom – yes, the bathroom. It’s quiet and I can shut – and lock – the door), getting all comfy-cozy, and setting a nice chiming timer for 12 minutes, I started following the directions for the meditation pose. Yup, I felt pretty foolish at first, but then, I started getting into it. I tried chanting out loud, silently, and then quietly. And, before I knew it, I was feeling pretty good.

In fact, really darn good! Then the chimer chimed, and I set off on my day.

I’m already looking forward to meditating tomorrow…

*And, yes, that is me meditating (I took the pic while finishing my morning chant). My husband thinks I look like I should be in a Sudafed commercial.

Persimmon banana muffins

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

While out for a walk the other day I couldn’t help myself from picking up some persimmons that were littering the sidewalks. Their bright orange skins were bursting with ripeness, and luckily many had survived the fall from the tops of the trees. For some reason persimmons seem to really flourish in my neighborhood. But, it doesn’t seem like everyone’s rushing out to gather them up and concoct goodness out of them.

I’ll be honest. I’m not real versed in the wonders of persimmons. In fact, the only persimmons I’d eaten were barely ripe bitter things that left a dry hacking feeling in the back of my throat. So, I wasn’t REAL excited about all those persimmons, but I was determined to figure something out. I mean, they were just lying there on the sidewalk. Lying there.

Once I got home, I discovered I also had some squishy brown bananas ready for baking and decided to combine the two for some persimmon banana muffins. I figured the wee tot would like them (I call all muffins cake). And, persimmons are wonderfully good for you –  full of fiber, vitamins A and C, and other stuff like antioxidants and iron. If your persimmons are a deep orange color and give a little when you press your finger against their skin, you’re good to go. If they feel hard or seem almost apple crisp – you’re heading toward bitter disaster! Dicing up persimmon and adding them to a muffin mix is a simple way to enjoy their flavor and wonderful health benefits!

And, you can call the muffins cake, too. Your kids won’t know the difference! And, these muffins come out with a funky-fun orange tint, which makes them even more neat to eat!

Ingredients

3/4 cup peeled and chopped persimmon (about 2 or 3)

3 really ripe bananas

1 small lemon (Meyer, if you’ve got it)

1 orange, zested

2 Tablespoons butter

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

dash of salt

1 1/4 cup flour

How to make the muffins

Start by cutting the skin off the persimmons and then chopping them into a small dice. There’s no core to a persimmon, so once you’ve skinned the wee thing, you can chop chop away. Go ahead and pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, too.

Add the chopped persimmon to a bowl and mash the three bananas into the mix. If your persimmons are really ripe, they might get all mushy, too.

Now cut your small lemon in half (a Meyer would really make things tasty!) and juice, making sure to pick out any seeds. Go ahead and add to the bananas and persimmons.

Get out your zester and zest the orange getting all that goodness into the bowl. Add a dash of salt along with the vanilla and cinnamon while you’re at it!

Give everything a good stir and incorporate the oil and egg. Once everything is all whisked up, you can add the baking soda, baking powder, and sugars.

Now, all that’s left is to mix in the flour. Once there aren’t any big lumps, you can scoop the mixture into your greased and floured or muffin-cup lined muffin tin.

Bake your muffins for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are nice and brown. Let everything cool before taste testing.

Enjoy!

Inside fun

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

Well, the weather outside is frightful, and the wee tot has decided to NOT be delightful. This means there are lots and lots of activities going on at my house attempting to keep the babe from being a pill. With holiday guests still at the house (my parents) it’s nice to have an extra set of hands to help out and keep the little monster occupied. Living in northern California is great, but during this time of year it’s all about rain, rain, RAIN.

The other day I was starting to run out of patience, ideas for activities, and we were all a bit exhausted from turning the upper floor of the house into a race track, peek-a-boo hang out, and imaginary play kitchen/hair salon (seriously, my daughter can whip up a great pretend snack while working on your hair).

So, I figured it was time to actually get in the kitchen and do some real cooking with the daughter. And, we adults needed to eat, too! AND with the rainy weather, we’d all been cooped up way too long with those icky-kid germs. I found some great snowy (or rainy, in my case) indoor fun activities from the Motherboard and came across the perfect solution! Chicken soup! I happened to have some matzo ball mix hiding in the back of the pantry, which was a great addition. The babe loved rolling the balls and watching as they poofed and boiled in the soup. This also encouraged her to actually TRY some of that tasty soup before turning up her nose – or tossing it to the floor!

Now that we all had a yummy lunch, I got out my go-to watercolor paints and markers. We do a lot of art activities at my house and on some days we all get caught up in making something fun to hang on the fridge. But, I had come across the idea to make some really cute thank you notes (seriously, these are REALLY CUTE IDEAS) and created a tot-art-making assembly line!

Once I had a good pile of creations to work with, I figured I would add my own personal touch by using some letter stamps to write “thanks” on selected cut out pieces of artworks and then pasting them on construction paper. Add a sprinkle of glitter for some bling, and – voila! Fantastic grateful thankful cards!

My daughter is a bit young to understand the concept of being grateful, but I’m glad we created something together that we can send off in the mail to recognize and acknowledge the nice things that others have done for us – and given us – over the last couple of weeks! I also love receiving stuff in the mail, which means I assume others do, too. Right?!

Hopefully some of my grateful-ness will rub off on my wee tot and she’ll remember to say “please” and “tanks” (yes, TANKS) when we return to preschool….

Maybe.

Healthful Mondays: Birthdays

 - by Sarah Lipoff

It’s my daughter’s second birthday today and as much as I can’t believe she’s two, I can’t believe how the time flew. I used to snort when others would tell me how fast time goes with kids, and now I get it. I really get it.

My daughter is two today and the time has crashed by like a big-ol monster truck hell bent on crashing through whatever gets in its way.

It’s funny because I was just talking with my parents about things we remember and our first birthday memories. I seem to have some lacking areas of brain as most of my early birthday memories are nonexistent. I have fleeting glimpses of cakes, party hats, crying (because someone didn’t do what I wanted), and more cake. There was a pretty special Barbie cake one year….

As we get older we put so much pressure on the whole birthday thing. We spend our early years trying to be older and then our older years pretending to be younger. We lie about our age, throw grand galas for ourselves, or hide in the dark eating ice cream all alone watching movies about being alone the rest of our lives and then eat more ice cream (that hasn’t happened to me – really).

My husband’s birthday follows our daughter’s and then mine pops up a couple of months later. Both the hubs and I grumble about our birthdays and get haggard thinking about how “old” we are.

Bah.

Here’s the thing, we can’t stop time. We are all getting older and older and older. Instead of hiding in the corner and shoving chocolate down my throat, I’m going to embrace this whole birthday thing and set a positive example for my daughter.

So, when I was trying to figure out if we should do it up for the babe’s second birthday or just make a cake and let her go at it, I figured I’d opt for just the cake this year. She’s got lots and lots of years ahead of her for planning big gatherings and enjoying overwhelming sugar-crazed madness with her friends. Her future birthdays can be about if so-and-so is invited or if it’s time for that big overnight-birthday sleepover. I think this year I want her all to myself (and her dada, api and oh-mama). I’m being selfish and enjoying through her this year.

And, this way we all get cake, and you know how I love some good cake.

Sometimes my husband drives me batty

 - by Sarah Lipoff

Yeah, I think we’ve all been there. Whether you’ve got a husband, boyfriend, partner, girlfriend, gal-pal, or cat, at some point or another they drive you batty. They do something that drives you crazy, makes you really ticked, or slam-the-door mad. I’m not going to go into detail or anything, but there are a couple of things that my husband does that really get me going. And, it seems that every time he does one of these things, I point it out, tell him WHY it bothers me, and we have a somewhat loud discussion about it.

Then, after a bit of time, he does it again – like we never talked about it.

Really?

It’s not like he’s doing these things on purpose or is hurtful or out to cause drama, he just forgets or gets caught up in the moment – and then does what he does. I guess I can’t really get mad at him.

Really.

Then, there are times the hubs does things that are really awesome when he hasn’t been asked first and I forget all about that other stuff. Like the other morning when he took care of the wee tot uber-early so I could sleep in. That was awesome.

Awesome.

And, I didn’t ask first.