Parenthood

Granola Guilt // how our parenting methods can make us feel bad

I think that most Americans would label me as a “crunchy mom“.

You know, a mother who goes out of her way, usually including nontraditional alternatives, to ensure their child(ren)’s health, nutrition and development are the best. Some of these “nontraditional alternatives” may include things like prolonged breastfeeding, delaying the introduction of solid foods, baby led weaning, using cloth diapers and homemade, chemical free wipes, omitting processed foods and sugars, using organic and locally grown food whenever possible, homeopathic remedies and attachment parenting.  In other words, a perfect parent.  In less words, Beyoncé. Yes, many of these alternatives are things that we try to adhere to as we raise our child.  And yes, if possible, we try to do whatever we feel is best to ensure that our child gets the best upbringing possible.  But sometimes, all the alternatives, just make you feel plain guilty.

First off, let’s talk about the “mom” label.  Jazz and I parent together.  We make choices about Willow’s health, life, etc together.  I do not hold a mom “trump card”.  We share in the parenting as well as in implementing these healthy alternatives.  Jazz will most likely never be called a “crunchy dad” because he refuses to feed his daughter processed soy and makes healthy dinners from scratch for his family half of the week.  The crunchiness adjective cannot be separated from our parenting as a team.  Also, my own personal “crunchiness” has nothing to do with being a mom and everything to do with being Stacy; I was like this before I gave birth.

Now that I got that off my chest, I will proceed.

There are moments when I’m wearing Willow in the baby carrier, in her cloth diaper of course, after she’s breastfed and ate a full meal of whole foods from the farmer’s market, as I make my home brewed kombucha that I drink on the daily, when I feel really freaken proud of myself.  Like I am hot stuff and my parenting skills are superior.  Go me.  I’m amazing.

Then there are those desperate moments when I am out of the house, and give Willow a snack of white bread with Jif peanut butter (you may have heard of it.  It’s one of those non-organic, hydrogenated oil filled, wanna be nut butters {sarcasm}), as I push her in her stroller with a tray full of toys that were made in China, one of those being my iPhone.  And I feel like I am either a) poisoning our child b) making her feel isolated and alone down there in her stroller or c) both.  And she’s been wearing disposable diapers all week because we are too lazy to wash the cloth diapers. And we haven’t ready enough books together today. And our parenting is really failing at the moment because we let our child, who sleeps in a separate room, cry for 10 minutes last night before we went and comforted her. Because sharing a bed with our baby just isn’t in the cards for us and I really need her to sleep through the night because I have to get up at 5:30 am to get ready for work.

Then I see other parents who are more “crunchy” than we are, much more conscious about what they feed their family and how they spend time together, and then I feel even worse.

And all of the non-crunchy parents are rolling their eyes.

Listen, health, nutrition and child development are very important to me.  Most of the time, I am kind of a Nazi about what goes into our child’s mouth (just ask my parents).  But if there is one emotion that I could sure use less of in parenting (besides exhaustion) is guilt.

No matter your parenting style and nutrition preferences, parenting is rack full of guilt.  Because no one wants to mess up their child, no one.  And no one knows what the hell they are doing, really, no one.  But we compare and measure ourselves against one another, and although we have moments of pride the size of mount Everest, we probably spend a lot of time feeling like we aren’t doing a good enough job.  Because we aren’t a perfect parent, and doesn’t our perfect child deserve a perfect parent?

But if we put so much pressure on ourselves that we are ridden with guilt while our children are small, imagine what our children will grow up thinking about themselves if they learn everything from watching us?  Will they not also put too much pressure on themselves and be ridden with guilt?

Here is what I am thinking.  We will never be perfect parents.  Hold on to your convictions and quirky parenting methods.  Embrace them and love them.  And then cut yourself some slack.  Drop the guilt and celebrate the fact that your child is healthy, alive and happy.  Pass on the harsh judgement of both yourself and others.  Chances are, at some point, we will probably screw up our child in one way or another.  Because we’re human (we will be setting aside some money so that our child can see a counselor when they are older, just in case). And being human is awesome because we get to love and play and eat good food and make babies.

And even Beyoncé is not a perfect parent.
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Keeping Willow by Stacy Feyer-Salo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Snacks

Chai Banana Smoothie

People are serious about their chai.

I am familiar with the run of the mill coffee snob or beer snob– mainly because we could possibly be labeled as such and we live in Beer City USA— but chai snobs, they are an entirely different breed.  I have heard many an angry, I mean really angry, rant from people who have had their chai messed up or how thy refuse to go to a particular cafe because the brand of chai used is inferior.

Chai snobs are scary.

I get it.  While I was pregnant I drank the stuff by the gallon– literally.  It was one of my very few cravings over my pregnancy.  So I really didn’t want to mess this one up.  I made several batches of this chai smoothie before landing on it.  The first lacked sweetness and that true chai flavor.  The second was a little heavy on the cardamom and had a chalky residue from all the spices.  But the third, oh man, with a little tweaking and a little ingenuity I think I nailed that one.

And the great thing about this smoothie, it’s healthy. I used raw, unprocessed honey, unsweetened yogurt, ripe banana and almond milk, so I had no problem giving it to Willow (do not give a child under the age of 1 honey).

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And I had no problem drinking a lot of it.

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So here you have it folks.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.  If you hate it, please don’t burn down my house.

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Chai Banana Smoothie Recipe
Serves 2
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups ice
1 c plain, nonfat yogurt or coconut yogurt for a vegan option
1/4 cup milk of choice (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
1 banana
2 t honey or maple syrup
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground cardamom
1 dash allspice
1 dash nutmeg
1 dash ground cloves
1 dash ground anise (optional)
2 dashes fresh ground black pepper

Method:
1. Before you go throwing all these ingredients into your blender, please read this first because there is a step that is very important in order to avoid that chalky texture. First, warm up your milk in the microwave, like 45 seconds to 1 minute. Don’t let it boil. Just warm it up. Stir in your spice mixture and let it dissolve and steep. Warming it up like this gets rid of that protein shake texture that I find to be so unappetizing. After you do that, throw it in the fridge or freezer to let it cool down.
2. Once the milk is relatively cool measure out your ice and put that in your blender first. Add your yogurt second and then add the banana. Drizzle in the honey and lastly pour in your spiced up milk.
3. Blend, serve and enjoy.
4. Let me know how you liked it.

May your chai never be anything but up to your high standards and may anyone in your way when it isn’t have a good life insurance policy.

xoxo
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Keeping Willow by Stacy Feyer-Salo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Life, Parenthood

Oh How I Wish These Moments Lasted Forever

A year ago it all just seemed like too much.

If I had known then that in a year she would be walking around, stuffed llama in hand, babbling to herself– throwing in an “uh-oh”every now and again– laughing out loud to the jokes in her head, I might have been a little more chill about how difficult life had become.  Parenting during a child’s first 6 months is hard.  Much harder than I ever imagined.  But now the adorable phases she goes through are fleeting and though I do not wish to go back to those crazy newborn days– ok, maybe just for an hour or so– I want, more than ever, to savor these precious moments.

IMG_1983IMG_1981IMG_1986If only the bills, laundry, dishes, meals  and grocery shopping could wait forever. And ever.

May your day be filled with long, savory moments of bliss.

xoxo
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Keeping Willow by Stacy Feyer-Salo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Dinner

Sweet Potato Gnocchi, Beurre Blanc, Spinach and Sauteed Mushrooms + Sage and Lemon Roasted Chicken

There is something magical about sharing a table with someone.

You may be seated at a table with complete strangers, but somehow, the feast before you– the red wine, the crusty bread– gives you commonality with one another and transforms your relationship into something new.  You leave with new friends.

Or maybe you’ve been friends forever, and sharing a meal together speaks louder about your friendship than words ever could. You leave feeling connected and loved.

And then there’s the people you live with–  your family, roommates, a spouse or significant other.  You see them everyday, maybe not always in their best light, and sharing breakfast in the morning or dinner that  someone spent hours preparing, brings you closer together.

Last night Jazz and I decided to make an “easy” dinner.  It was a spaghetti kind of night.  Jazz caramelized fennel and Field Roast Italian sausages and tossed it with perfect al dente spaghetti and a beautiful pasta sauce.  He served it with a baby kale salad, crusty ciabatta and a glass of cabernet.  Maybe not every family’s idea of easy, but to us it was just the right kind of simple.  And we sat at the table, Jazz, Willow and I, and ate this delicious meal together.  And Willow threw spaghetti all over the wall, and Jazz spilled his glass of wine all over himself. And it was probably one of my favorite meals, not because of what we were eating (although it would be an understatement to say it was delicious), but because of who I was sharing it with.

So when you try this Sweet Potato Gnocchi recipe– which is much easier but as delicious as it looks, trust me– make sure you are sharing it with people you love.  Let it be more than just nourishment to your body, but something that feeds the collective soul. And these caramelized, golden bites of rich sweet potato tossed with a white wine sauce, wilted spinach and sautéed mushrooms is sure to do the trick.

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May your table always be full of people you love and a delicious feast!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with a White Wine Sauce, Spinach, Mushrooms and Roasted Chicken

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Ingredients:
GNOCCHI
3 Sweet Potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 egg yolks// for a vegan version use 2 T chia seeds a 2 T water and let sit 5 minutes
1/4 tapioca or corn starch
1/2 cup coconut or almond flour
1 t kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 cups button mushrooms, quartered
5 oz fresh baby spinach
BEURRE BLANC
3/4 cup dry white wine– I used sauvignon blanc
3/4 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 T thinly sliced fresh sage leaves
2 T butter
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
ROASTED CHICKEN
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
6 leaves of fresh sage
1 lemon
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Method:
1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Place your sweet potatoes in a pot of cold, salted water and bring to a boil.  Allow to boil for 10 minutes or until tender.  Drain the sweet potatoes, season with salt and pepper and puree with an immersion blender or food processor until there are no more lumps.  Allow to cool slightly.
2. Combine all ingredients for the gnocchi and cooked sweet potato in a large mixing bowl. Divide mixture into quarters.  Using one quarter at a time, roll out the dough until it is a long roll, about 3/4″ in diameter.

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Cut the gnocchi into 1/2-3/4″ pieces and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  You can use a fork to make traditional gnocchi marking.  Bake for 30 minutes, flipping the gnocchi halfway.
3. Meanwhile, season both sides of your chicken breasts.  Heat up a sauté pan on high with a little cooking fat (pure olive oil, coconut oil, grape seed oil, lard) and sear the top of the chicken breast until golden brown.  Make sure the pan is really hot for the best sear.  Place chicken in a oiled or foil lined roasting pan.  Squeeze lemon juice over the breasts and place sage leaves on top.  Place the squeezed lemons in the pan with the chicken and bake for 20 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 165°F.

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4. Saute your mushrooms until golden brown and wilt the spinach.  Set aside (if you are a vegetarian like me, omit the chicken and add more mushrooms and spinach).
5. To make the beurre blanc, deglaze your sauté pan with the white wine and reduce by 3/4.  Add your stock of choice and the sage and reduce by half.  Pour in the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and finish with butter.
6. Toss the gnocchi, spinach, mushrooms and white wine sauce together and serve with the roasted chicken.  If you have a little balsamic reduction for a garnish, be my guest.

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xoxo
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Keeping Willow by Stacy Feyer-Salo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Craft

Knit Polka Dot Baby Hat

I was browsing through the very eclectic, one of a kind store called “Target”, looking for a winter hat for Willow, when I came upon this adorable black and white polka dot hat.  The price wasn’t outrageous.  It matched Willow’s winter coat.  It was just so precious.

But I didn’t buy the hat.

Because I am really stubborn.  Because I knew I could make a hat like that; therefore, I couldn’t bring myself to buy it.

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As you can see, I finished it.

I have what some may call an “addiction” to yarning–whether crocheting or knitting, although I prefer knitting (nose up to the air).  I find a ridiculously, adorable; yet equally difficult pattern on ravelry and I dive in like a pregnant woman into Ben and Jerry’s, I just can’t stop (I can only say that from experience).

But there is really something mesmerizing about making things with your hands.  To have a vision, to work for hours towards that vision, and see that scarf or artwork as a completed piece is really fulfilling.  Therapeutic even.

My Oma–dutch for grandma– God rest her soul, was not only one of the sweetest people I have known but was a pretty mean crafter.  Watching her knit was liking watching sprinters in the Olympics, your jaw dropped just from the utter speed with which she could move those needles.  She taught me to knit and crochet at a young age but I never completed the project she had me start, and the well learned lesson became long forgotten by the time I went to college.  And it was at this time that something inside me craved to learn to knit.  So did I call up Oma?  Nope.  Youtube taught me everything I know.  What a shame. In my life I have spent hours upon hours and movies upon movies either knitting or crocheting.

Now that I have a little toddler– did I mention Willow’s walking– I am forced to indulge my addiction in moderation.  But that is the nice thing about making things for babies, it’s much faster making a tiny baby hat than a hat for some big, melon-headed adult.

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I found this pattern on ravelry and added my own polka dot pattern. It will fit a child in  in sizes 12 and 18 months.  I knitted on size 8, bamboo, circular needles. The yarns I used can be found at Joann’s Fabric. The blue is Martha Stewart Crafts Roving Wool Yarn in Sea glass blue and the black is Lion Brand Vanna’s Glamour Yarn in Onyx.  I doubled the black yarn as it is much thinner than the blue.  You can download the pattern I used to make this hat for free here.

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May the work of your hands bring you much joy and fulfillment throughout the year.

Happy Knitting!!

xoxo

Creative Commons License
Keeping Willow by Stacy Feyer-Salo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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