A Millie Favorite

A Millie Favorite

Monday, June 27, 2011

Snack Mama-2

When I arrived at Millie's school to pick her up today, one of the amazing teachers there told me that the trail mix I made was a big hit. I have decided to name yesterday's snack "Millie Mix" from here on out.

For tomorrow, I decided to keep it simple. Standing at my kitchen island tonight, I started a little assembly line. Whole wheat crackers, peanut butter and delicious strawberry jam which was about to be made into tiny sandwich crackers.

 I see a lot of people packing sandwich crackers with their kids lunches and snack packs, because they are simple, delicious and no fuss. However, there is a lot of processing to these little sandwich crackers and I thought that making them myself would cut down the icky sugars and unnecessary preservatives.

Even though it is a simple snack, there is a little time and love that goes into the assembly process. You do have to make sure, that the simple sandwich cracker adheres to itself and does not fall apart. Yet, when you are finished, the final product is salty, sweet and crunchy. This is a combination that children just love. Tomorrow, it will be served with a side of local blueberries. Hope the kids enjoy!

Handmade sandwich crackers and fresh local blueberries. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Snack Mama

I am in charge of snacks this week at Millie's school. When I saw it was my week, I started to obsess what I could make for all the kids. As if I were preparing a fully catered meal for adults, this became a big deal for me. Yes, I know, it is snack time at school and does not sound sexy or exciting. Well, I would like to say, that the more we play dull on such things like snacks, the more our children will become complacent about food.

Showing enthusiasm when it comes to preparing food, I believe is a good thing to encourage my daughter to embrace good solid nutritional values. I get to share my recipes for snacks with other kids this week and I could not be more excited! 

For the first time since starting this little blog, I am going to post my snack recipes every day that she is in school, starting with tonight's recipe. I hope this encourages you to make your own snacks for your children's school, or even just for yourselves at home. Being a part of my daughter's school helps me connect to our little community. I am happy that they embrace parents to be in charge of snacks, because it keeps us involved. 

Cinnamon-gram trail mix: 
  • 2 cups of plain cheerios 
  • 1 cup granola 
  • 1 cup gram cracker cookies (I like gram bunnies by Annie's) 
  • Local honey
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1tbsp of cinnamon 
In a large bowl bring dry ingredients together first. Then when they are fully incorporated, add honey and brown sugar. Place on a baking sheet in the oven for about 7 minutes on low heat around 257-300 F, just until the brown sugar gets a little crunchy with a little melt to it.  

When the mix is out of the oven, place into individual serving containers. The reason I do individual containers, is to control portions and lessen germ sharing. But of course, whatever works for you go ahead and do that to your comfort level.  

Sliced local peaches and cubed cheese: 

Go to your local market and pick out some beautiful peaches and really good white cheddar cheese. There is not really a recipe, just slice and serve! The combination of white cheddar with peaches is just creamy and amazing. 

Monday's snack will contain a local fruit, protein and grain. This is well-balanced and energy-boosting for small kids. 

Snacking is fun for little ones, so let us give them snacks from the heart, that are good for the heart. Cheers! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice

I grew up in Fayetteville Arkansas, home of the University of Arkansas. It is a college town nestled among the rolling hills of the Ozarks. Being a child in a town like this, meant that I grew up with the freedom to ride my bike anywhere I pleased, I listened to conversations of intellectuals at my parents' dinner table and swam in the pool from open till close. Summer to me was amazing.

Fast forward 20 years. Here I am 31 years old, with a beautiful child of my own and I have come to learn something quite frightening about myself. I have spent the past several summers watching it come and go. Working for many political campaigns, I would spend my summers organizing volunteers, coaxing them to understand that knocking on doors in the heat was the best way to turn out the vote. Even last summer, when I should of soaked up all that beautiful time with my own daughter at the pool, I was busy working for a candidate. While, I am proud of my work, I want to make a resolution for this summer and doing so today, during the solstice seems to make the most sense.

We tend to make resolutions on Jan 1 and by this time of the year, they are but a dusty exercise machine in the corner memory. I think the middle of the year, when everything is green and warm is a better time to sit and reflect on our lives.

My summer solstice resolution is to spend more time in the present. I have a tendency to always think of the future. Forever planning and looking ahead. Which I suppose is a fine thing to do, but what about all the time we have right now? Last night, I was rocking my daughter to sleep while she was nestled in my chest. In that one moment I started to think, one day she is not even going to let me be seen with her. Enjoy this now! Our children grow up so fast and in the blink of an eye, the summer is gone and we prepare for the cold months ahead.

I resolve that I will enjoy and drink up life. To always love and live in the present and to nurture and my daughter to walk gently through this earth. No longer will I live in my ego-driven past or worry about what people think of me since quitting politics. I know I have done my best to move forward. That is all anyone can ask of any of us humans.

This week, make a resolution for the summer. It is a more freeing time for you mind. The more sunshine you are exposed to, the more open your thoughts tend to be. Like I said, this is a brilliant time to make a resolution. Sit down with your children tonight over a lovely summer salad and iced tea and talk about what everyone's resolution could be. It is a great time to reboot and connect with your family.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Locally Delicious

Summer in the South is hot, humid and down right sticky sometimes. It is the kind of heat, that when you get out of a cool shower, you are sweating immediately. A lot of people would scoff at the notion of choosing to live in a place that gets well about 100 degrees for weeks on end. I even have to admit that the older I get, the less I can take the heat. I just keep telling myself, that people pay thousands of dollars each month to have spa treatments that are the same conditions as our natural weather patterns.

Despite all the hot temperatures, I have to say that the produce that comes out of the summer is some of my favorite. There are some theories about why things grow when they do. One such theory is that in the summer, we humans are designed to be leaner and more active. Thus we get bright and sweet fruits and veggies. While the heat can be awful, the produce is amazing.

Every Saturday morning, I get up early and head to the market downtown. It has become sort of ritualistic to our family routine. This past Saturday, I had a thank you dinner to make for my in-laws for putting us up last week while the air conditioner was broken in my house. (We have a brand new one now) My in-laws like "meat and potatoes" and do not stray too much from their comfort foods. I wanted to show them, that a local meal is delicious and easy to make. Not to be intimidated by the process, but to embrace it.

That night watching my daughter wash the veggies with her grandmother standing next to her was very special to me. In a way, Millie was showing her grandmother how easy and fun it is to be in the kitchen and really participate in the food prep process. Usually it would be the other way around. But not every grandmother is "traditional" and not every child is the student. Some happen to be teachers too.

We all sat down to dinner and enjoyed the meal. To say thank you is more than just words, it is showing someone gratitude. What better way to do this, than by sharing a meal you prepared?


Millie washing off carrots and potatoes grown here in Tennessee and Northern Mississippi.

I find the coolest looking veggies at the market

Locally made ciabatta bread, with grilled zucchini and fresh sliced tomatoes. 
 When making your dinner from any market, whether it is a chain grocery store, or from a farm stand on the highway, keep one thing in mind: Is the meal that I am preparing have the love I have for that person cooked in it? 

Yes, I encourage everyone to check out their local farm stands or start a local garden for yourself. But at the end of the day, just putting love into your meals is the best ingredient you can every use. Oh, ya and it is free! 

Enjoy the summer!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Recently, I have had one friend give birth to a beautiful baby boy and another friend who is about to deliver any minute. I was thinking of these two women today and all the wonderful excitement that is surrounding them at this time. However, with all the blessings and joy that come with having a baby, there is also some stress as well.

A real sense of community and involvement surrounding a woman after she has a baby is so important. Giving her the support that she needs, whether it be emotional, physical or spiritual is one of the best baby gifts one can give. I was thinking about all of this today when it occurred to me that in America, we tend to shy away from the "tribal" aspect of raising a child. When we help those who are doing the hard work of giving birth and raising good and productive members of society,we all win.

If there are people in your life that are new parents or a family who just needs some help here and there, I encourage you to go out and find a way that can give them a hand. Here are two recipes and a couple of suggestions on how you can help a new family out. Cheers!

Pregnant woman who has one or more children at home:
Offer to take them to a pool, museum or even just to your home for a few hours. This gives the mother and father some time to just relax or get some things done around the house. Like nursery prep.

Pregnant woman recipe: Triple Berry Smoothie 

  • 1/4 cup strawberries
  • 1/4 cup raspberries 
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup whole milk organic yogurt 
  • sprig of mint
  • tsp of honey
Blend over ice and serve. Many women when they are pregnant do not have a lot of room for a big meal. This is a lovely and refreshing way to get good nutrients in their system, without creating bloat and fatigue. 

Family that has just had a baby: 
Offer to help out with chores or errands. Bring the new mom comfy socks or teas, anything that will ease any pain or uncomfortable moments.

New family recipe: Shrimp and corn salad 

  • Five ears of corn, kernels cut off 
  • One pound of cooked, tail-off and deveined shrimp
  • Two roma tomatoes cubed
  • One mango peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 of one red onion sliced thin
  • Juice of one lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dash of hot sauce 
Toss in a large serving bowl and bring over to the hungry new family. It will keep for several days and is good in omelette's, in a whole wheat wrap or on a bed of greens. It is versatile and will be a big hit for hungry folks. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Homemade Birthday Bash

I wrote a couple of weeks ago the ideas I had for my daughter's second birthday. One that would be special and amazing, while doing everything homemade and local.

I am proud to report that I pretty much stuck with my vision which I had laid out for the entire shindig. Complete with homemade crayons, handmade bags and a local and organic menu. The party was a huge success, and my beautiful daughter was so happy to celebrate her fete in the backyard with all her little friends. I could not of been happier to see her have a smile from ear-to-ear the entire time.

When planning a party, especially a children's party, doing a lot of the prep before hand is critical. I stayed up the night before with a friend of mine, making salmon and black bean sliders. That entire day was spent making the little gift bags and crayons, which I could not of completed if I did not have the help of my friend Cindi. As Hillary Clinton says "it takes a village" and that weekend, I needed my tribe. We sat around my dining room table making the charms, cutting ribbons and tearing off the paper of old crayons.We used old fabric from Millie's dresses to make ribbons to hang from the trees, instead of balloons that can choke a bird or create garbage. There is something special about making it all from scratch and with your own two hands. After all, this is my daughter and I wanted it to be from my heart.

On the morning of the party, I got up early and headed to the farmer's market for the rest of the food that we needed. I really lucked out, because peaches are finally in season and they would become to the centerpiece of the table. I even found bright purple and orange cauliflower. I have always said, that kids are attracted to color and that flew off the serving tray like hot cakes. No one even mentioned that there was no meat, we still had a grill going, but this time we would have the black bean sliders on it, not hot dogs and hamburgers.

A child's birthday party is very special. To me it is even more special than a wedding. It is a time we celebrate the life of someone that has graced us with their unconditional love, joy and wonderment. And we can celebrate that without breaking the bank. As a matter of fact, they may even love it more, because you did it with your own two hands.

I hope you enjoy some of these ideas. Cheers!

The veggie tray that was produced my our hardworking local farmers. Love that purple!  

Homemade salmon sliders 

Black bean sliders 

Local peaches instead of cupcakes on the cupcake stand.

Host the party in your own backyard! 

Music for Aardvarks 


Gift bags with handmade charm bracelets. 

 Broken crayon bits ready for the oven. I made these circle ones as well as the hearts. Done in a tiny cupcake tin.

After the pieces of broken crayon that were laid out on a cookie sheet had cooked for a bit. Ready to be cut into little hearts with a small cookie cutter. 

Finished heart crayon

A beautiful and festive sign that a friend made for Millie out of recycled materials. Amazing! 

My amazing daughter on her special day! Cheers Amelia, I love you more than words can ever say!