Friday, March 28, 2014

Fashion: My Favorite Things

Finding the right top, shoes or just about anything takes time. Once we have kids, time is something we moms lack! When we do find that right piece of clothing or accessory, how great does that feel?! Here are a few items that have helped me feel great personally while running around with two kids under my arms.

Everyone needs that casual chic top that you can throw on with any outfit. I found Séraphine Sapphire Long Line Snap Down Nursing Top. Don't let the nursing top part scare you away. I myself am always running late in the morning. After feeding two daughters, getting them dressed, packing lunches and snacks, I almost forget that I have to dress myself too! Long gone are the days of having all morning to figure out what to wear. I now have to think quickly. My go-to top is the Sapphire Long Line Snap Down Nursing Top. It's a light weight top that you can throw on to add a sophisticated look to jeans or slacks. For the cooler weather you can layer it with a tank underneath. Now here is the secret... it's a nursing top. No one will ever know unless you tell them. The stylish snaps on each shoulder are not just a fashion statement they are the secret weapon of the ... nursing top. So love.

was not a fan of using a nursing bra after I had my first little one, but that quickly changed when I finally found the right one, the second time around. I would love a cute lacy bra, but comfort is key. Don't get me wrong I also don't want to use an out of date bra from the 1950s either. My friend told me about the Sport Clip Down Nursing bra from Maternity Motherhood, she was so excited about it.Wow! I love it. It feels like a sexy sports bra. Yes, I said sexy sports bra. It doesn't flatten my breast as a traditional sport bra does. It helps me keep my shape and femininity. It is reasonably priced ($21.95) and it doesn't lose its form after all the nursing and washing. Now, i find it a must for mothers who are nursing.

Another Séraphine piece that I love is the Chestnut rollback knit maternity and nursing sweater. I just adore it. It's hard for me to look stylish when my kids are wiping their dirty hands on me. This top really holds up and gives a mom confidence with a form fitting style. Don't worry you don't need to suck in your tummy. It's meant for comfort, style and warmth. The sweater shirt is perfect for this spring. And here is another Séraphine secret... it's another nursing top. Not only can I look stylish, but I know that my style doesn't have to suffer because I have to nurse. I am getting close to the end of nursing , but it doesn't mean that I will be discarding these tops. They are here to stay. As I mentioned no one has to know they are nursing tops. That will be our secret.


When it comes to my skin, facial wipes are a must have for the season. I have a 3 year-old and a 1 year-old so when it comes to putting them to bed it doesn't always come easy. In the last month I have been so tired that I have done the unthinkable. I've gone to bed without washing my face. I have found that it is much harder to find time to wash my face in the evening. That is a huge no, no. Well not any more. My friend Cynthia (my co pilot at/mothersofthevalley.com) told me about the Up and Up cleansing wipes and they are key. Now while giving my girls a bath I pull my cleansing wipe and wipe that day's grind and dirt away. Great for mommies running around with kids. When we can not take time to do our nightly facial routine, a wipe is a great substitute. We can't neglect our skin even when we are dead tired at the end of the day.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Garden: Garden Journal March 15-March 20

March 15
It really has been feeling like spring these last few days. It has been in the 70’s and 80’s with the sun out every day.  I decided to spend some time outside with Tristan and continue working in the garden.  This Christmas, Santa brought Tristan some gardening gloves and today was the first day he got to use them in the garden.  Most of the time he pours water on them and uses them to pretend he is taking his red car through the carwash. I love the imagination of kids!

We pulled out lots of weeds from the vegetable bed and step areas. I also took as much old dirt out as I could so that I could add new fertilized soil. I did not like how there were so many leaves in the planter above the vegetable bed and took out the old plants and the dried up leaves. I left a lavender plant there but another lavender plant did not make it through the winter. I really don’t understand why, because they are getting watered each day.  I want to get some flowers to fill up the planters and I am thinking about getting some rocks or mulch to cover the dirt up. My plan is to start from the bottom and work my way up so the vegetable plants  have the most time in the garden.  Another day of progress and I cleaned up so much. Tristan is having lots of fun helping me and getting dirty in the garden. We saw lots of worms, ants and bees in the garden and I was surprised he did not get scared and just kept helping me clean. This is going to be a good bonding time for me and him. I decided to take him with me to the nursery tomorrow and Robert will stay with Austin. It is important that he has some alone time with me and this can be a project him and I do together. 

March 16
It did not take long for me to have my first problem in the garden. Some pests/rodents have gotten into the garden bed and uprooted one of the broccoli plants, four of the lettuce plants and one basil plant. Not much harm was done to the plants but if this continues to happen the plants will not be able to survive. I went to Sego Nursery, my favorite plant shop, and spoke to one of the employees and he advised me that it was most likely raccoons, squirrels and or skunks causing the havoc in my garden. They are searching for insects and bugs under ground and it is easier for them to dig right after I have loosened the soil.  He told me to sprinkle black pepper, chili powder and ground mustard over the loose soil and that will deter the animals from digging up the soil and plants. I only had chili powder and black pepper and decided to also sprinkle red chili flakes and make it really spice for those little critters.

At Sego I picked up some more vegetables and flowers to continue filling in the garden. Tristan and I went and we bought squash, pumpkin, tomatoes, thyme, butter lettuce, chives, green onions, white onions, cucumbers, and swiss chard and flowers.  We spent the whole morning planting them and our so excited to see them grow.
                                                                                                          
March 20, 2014
Another beautiful day in the 80’s. It's the first day of Spring! It has been a few days since the pests have returned so I think the chili powder/black pepper mix I have been sprinkling at night has deterred them.

Today I went to grocery store with the boys and Tristan and I noticed that they had some plants and trees for sale. He quickly stops me and says “Look mom some plants, lets get some.” I can tell he is really liking this gardening thing and we have not even picked vegetables yet. I look at them and tell him there is a blueberry plant and we don't have one in the garden and he responds “I like blueberries. Lets get that. I want to plant it in the garden.” So of course we got a blueberry plant for our garden.

As soon as we get home we went to the garden and found a spot that has a sprinkler to make sure the plant will be watered, and we dug up a hole and planted our blueberry plant.  I also had some bell pepper seeds and decided to start those in a pot. We made more progress in our garden and Tristan is so excited for his blueberry plant.

Here is a recap of the citrus and vegetable plants we currently have growing.

In the top section of the garden we have planted; one dwarf orange tree, one lemon tree, one rosemary plant, one grape vine, one blueberry tree and one avocado tree.
In the garden bed we have; broccoli, basil, parsley, shallots, tomatoes, bib lettuce, red leaf lettuce, swiss chard, cucumbers, thyme, mint, cilantro, green onions and chives.
in the small bed on the side we have one pumpkin plant and one zucchini plant.
In pots we have bell pepper and white onions.



We have continued to sprinkle chili powder, black pepper and red pepper flakes over the garden and so far the pests have stayed away. I hope it continues that way.

 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Beautifying Plagiocephaly: A Mothers Story

My friends sister, Chelsea, has a six month old daughter Willow who has been diagnosed with Plagiocephaly, a condition in which the side and back of an infants head is flatten. Chelsea is sharing her story with Mothers of the Valley to help parents deal with the various concerns and situations that inevitably arise when they have a child diagnosed with Plagiocephaly. She also wants parents to learn about “Wrap Buddies,” a program that has helped her immensely, by creating attractive covers for unattractive medical devices that small children may need. This is free of charge and available to those in need and not exclusive to the helmet. For any parent in a similar situation as Chelsea, as she will explain, the stresses go beyond medical and her child’s health—you need to deal with the various looks you get while at the supermarket or the wide range of questions you get while at the park. A river of tears has been shed by Chelsea, but lucky for us, she is sharing with us a few ways to add some sunshine to the situation.  

Written by Chelsea Perrish

 
Willow was born September 10th, 2013. After a rough 24 hours of labor and eventually a c-section, Willow came out with a smile on her face.  A few weeks of getting to know our girl, we noticed Willow’s tendency to sleep with her head to one side. We saw a physical therapist who showed us exercises and tips. Weeks later, at our 4 month check up, our pediatrician recommended we have an evaluation at Cranial Technologies. While she assured us it was a mild case of plagiocephaly, I couldn’t stop crying! I was devastated and felt it was all my fault. We did tons of tummy time. How did this happen?



Right away we scheduled our first meeting with Cranial Technologies
in Pasadena. On our first visit they took detailed photographs of Willow’s head. Once they reviewed their photos with us, it was clear – our daughter needed the helmet.  Our specialist explained that our birthing had a lot to do with her torticollis. She assured us we did all we could do and the helmet really was the only option. Again, I imagined the worse – our happy baby girl would now be a sad, sweaty, smelly and uncomfortable baby!  While the specialist tried to tell me the babies do not mind the helmet, I just couldn’t believe it.  I was so worried what people would think.  Before I was a mom I didn’t know what it was, and now I felt other people would think something happened to her.


A week later we got our helmet. The specialist was right – while it took a night or two of adjusting, Willow did not mind the helmet one bit! One week after wearing the helmet 23 hours a day and I already noticed a huge improvement in the shape of her head. Now four weeks of wearing the helmet and they are estimating only 2 more weeks to go.



Cranial Technologies also referred us to Wrap Buddies, a non-profit organization that decorates the helmets for free! We drove an hour to Camarillo to meet with one of their Partner Shops, Eyedentity Graphics. There we picked out designs and colors for Willow’s helmet. One week later our helmet was decorated with butterflies and flowers.  It is so beautiful that I have even had a stranger ask if the helmet was a new fashion statement!
I have stopped thinking it was my fault that Willow needed the helmet, and have started embracing how lucky we are to have this technology! Thanks to Cranial Technologies Willow is going to have a perfectly round head. While I cant wait to put her bows back on, her pretty pink helmet (with butterflies and flowers) is very stylish in the meantime.

"The Wrap Buddies program provides a colorful wrap over the not so attractive medical device free of charge for families who suffer from Plagiocephaly.  Since the inception of Wrap Buddies (they) have wrapped over 900 helmets, as well as prosthetic legs, walkers and a few scoliosis braces for children."  To learn more click on Wrap Buddies to be directed to their web site.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Garden: Minsky Garden Journal March 12, 2014

Spring is quickly approaching so I decided to clean up the garden and plant some new vegetables. It is always so overwhelming to start cleaning the garden. I finally decided I had enough, put my gloves on and went in to clean. So quickly in fact that I forgot to take pictures. So I am sorry there are no "before” pictures. 

It was a wild overgrown winter mess. Even though we had a pretty dry winter, there were still a good amount of weeds to take out, an old rose tree that did not make it through the winter and lots of leaves.  After some cleanup was completed I went to Lowes and picked up some butter lettuce, cilantro, basil and parsley plants to start in the vegetable bed. While Tristan, my 3 year old, was at school and Austin, my 1 year old, napped I spent some time planting the new herbs and vegetable plants I had purchased. This is my third year planting and I have not really learned how to keep the plants from the previous year healthy through the winter. This is one of the things I want to focus on learning this year and hopefully have some of these new plants bloom and produce vegetables next year for us.

I still have the other half of the vegetable bed to clean, the planters above to clean and also I have to fertilize the avocado and citrus trees. I also need to go to the nursery and pick out some new vegetables to plant. I am so glad I finally got in there and started cleaning and also I took a few “after” pictures.


Posted by Cynthia Minsky


Garden: Gardening: Journal of My Gardening Adventures

Planting a vegetable garden was always a dream of mine and then one year my husband said, "Lets do it!" He gifted me my own secret garden in our backyard. I was completely excited
and overwhelmed that first year. I thought it would be as easy as planting seeds or seedlings, watering them and watching them grow and give you fresh veggies. Not so easy!
That may be true with some plants, some are just harder to grow and some take special care to assure they thrive. I am on my third planting year and although I am still a novice, I have learned to have patience and also how to deal with some pesky pests along the way.
I wanted to share my gardening journey with you and also some delicious recipes that I have found or created using the fresh ingredients from my garden. This is definitely my favorite cooking season. I love picking herbs, citrus and vegetables from my garden and using them to make healthy and satisfying meals and save a few dollars along the way.

This year Tristan has also joined me in the gardening fun and you will see how we bond over the joy and struggles of taking care of our garden.

  

All pictures were taken today March 20, 2014.
Happy 1st day of SPRING!

Join me on my adventure from my secret garden to the table.

Posted by Cynthia Minsky


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Food: Family Favorite: Rice Bowls with Cream Cheese Wontons

When I am not in the mood for experimenting with something new and feel like getting something on the table that I know will be a home run I go for this rice bowl and wonton recipe. It's a favorite of ours and sometimes it's hard to have any left for lunch the next day. I used to make just the rice bowls for dinner and then one day I saw a recipe for shrimp wontons and I made them at home. They were good but they took too long to make and I felt we needed something creamy as the filling. So I wrote this simple cream cheese wonton recipe and easy dipping sauce.  They were an instant hit and much easier to make. It became a great pair with the rice bowls and now they are on constant rotation in my meal planning.  You can also make this a meatless dish my substituting any of your favorite vegetables for the chicken.
Serving for 2.


Chicken

2 whole chicken breasts sliced in half

2 teaspoons of olive oil

1 tablespoon of garlic salt

 

Rice

2 cups of long grain rice

3 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 tablespoon of garlic salt


Wontons

1 8-oz package of cream cheese

18 (approximately) 4-inch wonton wrappers

4 green onions sliced

Bowl with 1/4 cup of water

canola or vegetable oil


Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup of soy sauce

1/8 cup of ponzu sauce

1 inch piece of ginger

1 teaspoon of shiracha

1 green onion sliced


Vegetables

1 cup of broccoli florets

1 cup of peeled and chopped carrots

2 diced green onions

 Panda Express Mandarin Sauce

Place rice, water and salt in rice cooker/steamer and steam according to the instructions.

Let the cream cheese sit out for about 20 minutes to soften or place in a bowl and place in the microwave for 30-45 seconds to soften.

For the wontons, mix green onions into softened cream cheese. Place approximately  one teaspoon of cream cheese mixture into each wonton. Dip your finger in the water and run it along the edge of the wonton and then fold diagonally. Place finished wonton on a plate and cover with a moist paper towel. Repeat these steps with the remaining wonton wrappers until you have finished the cream cheese mixture. Make sure to keep them covered with a lightly moist towel.  The moist paper towel will keep them from drying out and then cracking when you fry.  Also be careful to not overfill them because if the filling comes out the oil will splatter.

Fill a sauté pan about 1/2 inch up with you choice of oil and set to medium heat. Shallow fry the wontons in the oil for 1-2 minutes on each side, until they are golden brown.  Place them on a paper towel lined plate so that the towel absorbs the oil.  Once they are dry transfer to a serving plate.

                                               


For the sauce: mix soy sauce, ponzu sauce, ginger, shiracha, and green onions together and set aside.


Place the broccoli and carrots in a microwave steamer with water and steam for 5 minutes.

Place one tablespoon of  olive oil in pan over low heat and cook the chicken 5 minutes on one side and flip. Finish cooking on the other side.  Let chicken rest for 4 minutes then slice.

To serve place one cup of rice in a bowl, top with carrots and broccoli and slices of chicken. Sprinkle green onions on top. Serve with mandarin sauce. I like to just put out the bottle of mandarin sauce on the table rather than to put in the bowls myself so everyone can choose how much they want to use.



Thursday, March 13, 2014

Fashion: Mothers of the Valley Event Got Girly

As a mom, I'm shopping on-line now more then ever. I do still love the local mall, but I am always looking for unique pieces. Now with Pinterest I am being introduced to many new fashion lines and styles for my toddler and infant. At our Mothers of the Valley Holiday Boutique and Fashion Show we featured Persnickety, Baby Girl Dress and Whimzyprimzy.com. Their style is all about being a girly girl with great style and quality all rolled up into one.


PERSNICKETY 

"It's hard to believe that Persnickety Clothing Company began just a few years ago as a little clothing company that produced small quantities of girls' clothes to sell at farmers markets and fairs across Utah." Those are the humble beginnings of Persnickety. I found this treasure on Pinterest (click here for Persnickety boards) and was impressed. From all the follow board I can see I am not the only one. As a mom I was dazzled by the quality and the fabric. The cotton is thick and soft, and can handle any amount of play and wash. They have taken your basic color and made it into gold. I say that because I was never a yellow fan, but Persnickety took it and gave it a warm and rich appeal. I can now see my girls wearing it all the time. The Patch Work dress is just darling. The colors and the details of the dresses are excellent. They stand great on their own and flourish when combined. 

Persnickety is not just for special occasion, but for everyday wear. But, let me be honest they can only be so casual. They are classy with a touch of a Parisian style. Persnickety will make a splash at any party and will keepfriends  talking the next day. At the end of the day it's quality and style that count and Persnickety delivers. Don't over look the accessories section, they are just as fabulous as the clothing. 

       BABY GIRL DRESS CLOTHING

I was wowed by the coats by Baby Girl Dress on Pinterest (click here for Baby Girl Dresses follow boards). The clothing is very girly girl with a touch of pizzaz. Now this designer is not your local designer, she is all the way from China. With over 90% of her sales going to the USA, she knows what we like. The Baby Girl Dress collection has classic styles of past generations and all that is girly. The clothing  has great details of lace, feminine colors, and girlish ruffles. She gives me the feeling of a child playing dress-up in mom's closet. With your local stores having the basic prints and designs, it's nice to see clothing that has more details and flare. Oh how fun it truly is to dress up the kids!  Just looking at the clothing makes me want to sing, "I Feel Pretty."


WHIMZYPRIMZY.COM

One of our local mothers, Michelle, is adding girlish style to her party wear designs at Whimzyprimzy.com. She designs posh crowns, tutu skirts and dresses, birthday attire and hair accessories. She designs birthday Tutu and dress for girls, which can be a must have for an all girly birthday party. Her combination of the tutu fabric is like cotton candy or a mousse cake. She takes something simple and adds fairy dust to make it as girly as can be. Don't be fooled she can also make boys birthday shirts upon request. But her passion is all girly.



It was a great event, but not limited to clothes. Their was something for everyone and memories were made. Each of our guest received The Honest Company wipes, lotions and baby body wash to take home. The little ones enjoyed story time by author Barbara Gibson-Paul herself reading her book Max Pays Attention book. Moms were able to capture some moments with a mini photo shoot by Denis Butler and create a hand design with Piggies and Paws. Some found the healing powers of Amber Heals necklaces for baby teething pain and jewelry for moms with Origami Owl Jewelry. For the little ones an educational toy by Kidtyme is always a great thing to have especially on the car rides. And how can we forget the yummy Yo Pops Cake Pops. It was a great day for all. We hope to see you at our next event.



Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Celebrating a Fashion Super Mom


Everyday mothers are trying to find a balance between being the disciplinary parent and fun parent. You may not always feel like Super Mom, but we want to tell you that you are. This month we are putting a spotlight on Amber W. for incorporating something she loves into her little one's life and making it their own. Recently, we saw a picture of a princess dress Amber made for her daughter Ella, who loves to play dress up. It was super cute, that she inspired us to have her as our March's Super Mom.


Amber is a stay-at-home mother of two. One teenage son and a three year-old daughter. Running around balancing both is not easy. She is always trying to stay on top of the school work, soccer games and finding creative ways to spend time with her daughter. One day as they were watching Project Runway, Amber told me Ella said, "We could sew too, right Mom?" No pressure on mom right? But Amber rose to the occasion. "Lets go pick our fabric and make something," Amber said, "her first request was sleeping beauty's party dress.  I sewed that one with just needle and thread. Then my mom leant me her sewing machine for the rest."  



Ella's Belle Dress
Ella's Elsa Dress

"I sewed a little in high school, but mainly made pillow covers and sewed curtains for my VW bus.  This was the first time I actually made a dress or clothing. " Amber said, "Most of my sewing was altering clothes that I owned.  I wanted to make them new again, so I would turn jeans into shorts or T-shirts into tank tops or grip tops." Now she faced the toughest critic .... a toddler. After the Belle dress was made Ella wore it all day and said "Mom I love it! You are such a good sewer and I'm a lucky girl" Amber said, "My heart just melted. That's why I wanted to make them. Just to see her happy." Amber may see the imperfect seams in Ella's first princess dress, but all Ella sees is the princess dress mom made just for her.  



We don't get a paycheck and we don't always get a thank you, but once in a while, it's great to hear that you're doing a great job. This month, we at MothersoftheValley.com want to  put a spotlight on Amber. We want to remind her she is a Super Mom that we noticed, and that she continues to inspire us to be creative. You Rock, Amber!