Sunday, May 23, 2010

Shame on you, Better Homes and Gardens

**Update** BHG did issue an apology for the offensive article. The left the article up, but removed the breastfeeding portion. They also rewrote the article using advice from actual parents, including me. You can read that article here

Typically, I like to keep my activism off this blog. This blog is a place where I can feel peaceful and share the beautiful corners of my life. However, a horrendously arrogant and ignorant "article" written for and published in Better Homes and Gardens has come to my attention and I would like to address it.

The author writes, " recent years, I’ve noticed a pronounced blurring of the boundaries between “adult world” and “kid world”, especially when it comes to dining out."
Wait, what? The "adult world" and the "kid world?" Don't we all live in the same world? Apparently our author does not. If we don't allow children to participate in the "adult world" how will they learn to be adults? Are we supposed to hide them at home until they are of an "acceptable age" to interact with society?

The author's tone is extremely arrogant and patronizing. I see her sitting at her desk wagging her finger at parents everywhere, "tsk, tsk." Not to mention her ridiculous generalizations and stereotypes. This "article" basically encourages parents to keep their noisy, picky, gross, unacceptable children home because the author does not want them to ruin her night out. The author attacks photo-taking, leisurely eating, not ordering from the kids menu, and worst of the worst, in my opinion, breastfeeding. This author is absolutely appalled that she has seen women breastfeeding in 4 star restaurants! And she assumes that you'll be equally as upset at the thought.

Yes, I have seen table-side breast feeding at a four-star restaurant. If at all possible, take it to the ladies room. (Note: most upscale restaurants have really nice restrooms!)"

Really?  Really? You want me to tell my child that they can't eat at the table with the rest of the family? You want me to feed my child on a toilet while someone in the next stall is defecating?  You know what, "Heather W.?" The next time you eat at a 4 star restaurant why don't you take your gourmet meal into the "really nice restroom" and eat your dinner there because I'll be BREASTFEEDING my baby AT THE TABLE and I won't be covering up. Enjoy your meal.

I have been to a lot of restaurants and I have seen a lot of things go on in restaurants. What about the couple necking in the corner? What about the extremely loud and drunk frat boys at the bar? What about the teens eating dinner after prom running around the restaurant taking pictures? Aren't those just as distracting? Why target parents just trying to do their job?

Also, you might notice that after every "Commandment" there is a suggestion for a recipe. After all, if you have kids, you should be staying home to eat anyway and BHG is here to help.

Friday, May 21, 2010

This moment

Inspired by Soulemama -  A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Freed from the can!

For a while I've felt guilty and a little nauseous when cooking with canned condensed soups. It doesn't look appealing, it usually doesn't smell appealing... Last Christmas at my husband's family's get together someone made a scrumptious Green Bean Casserole with what I think was homemade Cream of Mushroom soup. There were these nice big tender (but not mushy) chunks of mushroom in it. It was fabulous! It inspired me to try and make my own soups, I don't know why I hadn't thought of that before. I mean, it's bound to be cheaper than buying the can of gloop!
So I went in search of a something to replace Cream of Chicken soup and I found a great, easy recipe.

Here's what it looks like finished:
And the mess?
And that's more mess than was needed because I chopped up some fresh parsley instead of using dried (it's prettier). It only too me about 15 minutes total, and that includes waiting for the broth and milk to boil.
It needed a little salt, but I think that has more to do with the fact that I used a low sodium broth. Next time I'm going to try and make my own broth.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

the Rain, the Park, and Other Things

It's  rainy outside today. Not the usual sprinkling we get constantly in the fall, winter, and spring here, but a nice, constant musical rain. And it smells so clean and fresh! I'm thrilled that I get to have the windows open. So is my little guy.

Here's a peek from our adventures outdoors when it was nice this past weekend.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Saving Money

Lately, people have been asking me how I save money. So I've compiled a list of ideas and suggestions.

Start using cash only - Start using an envelope or jar system. They are labeled: Food, Gas, Etc, Haircuts, Change, and Leftovers.

Start a change jar - At the end of every day take all the change out of your car, pockets, and bags and put it in this jar. It's surprising how quickly it can add up!

Cut unnecessary monthly bills - Prioritize. Think of the things you are missing out on because you are short on cash. Are they worth having what you have now? Example: Is having to work an extra 4 hours every week worth having Cable and "the works?" Cut out cable, movie channels, subscriptions, extra phone lines, minutes you don't use, etc.

Find your "Money Leaks" - Where are you slowly leaking money? Do you make frequent trips to the convenience store (where most things cost nearly twice as much!) when you run out of things? Are you making unnecessary car trips? Do you buy coffee or fast food? Find out where you might be spending a dollar here and a dollar there and stop it!

Stop throwing away money - Stop buying paper products such as paper towels, napkins, maxi pads, and disposable diapers. Go cloth! You'd be surprised how easy it is and how much you'll save. It really doesn't add that much to your laundry. If you're really daring try "family cloth" aka reusable toilet paper.

Turn it off - Keep your lights off during the day or when you aren't in the room, unplug kitchen appliances and doodads when they aren't in use, plug your video game consoles and television into a power strip and unplug it when they aren't in use, do the same with lamps, and don't keep phone charges plugged in unless you're using them. This should shave quite a bit off of your electric bill.

Hang 'Em - If weather permits, hang your clothes out to dry. After taking them inside, put them in the dryer for a few minutes to shake off pollen and fluff them a bit. Throw some vinegar in the rinse cycle as a fabric softener. If it's rainy or cold, hang them on a covered porch or patio on a drying rack.

Get crafty - Before buying something ask yourself: "Can I make this?" If you can, go for it! At least give it a try. Extra points for making it out of things you already have.
Get thrifty - If you can't make something yourself ask yourself: "Can I buy this used?" Then head to the nearest thrift shop and see if you can find it.

Go au natural: Stop buy commercial cleaners. Use natural ingredients to clean your house. Vinegar and baking soda are pretty cheap and they're great for cleaning many things. Castile soap is inexpensive as well. You can use it to make almost anything from an all purpose cleaner to shampoo! A great book on how to do this is Make Your Place. It's full of recipes and ideas.
Make your own - Make your own laundry detergent. There are a ton of recipes out there. Try a few and see what works best. You can clean your clothes for pennies a load this way and you can even customize the scent with essential oils.

Grow your own - Start a vegetable garden. This can save you tons!

Whole Foods - Stop buying convenience foods. Start cooking from scratch. Bread, pizza dough, condensed soups, mashed potatoes, spaghetti sauce, etc. It might take a little extra effort, but not only are you saving a ton of money but you're now completely aware of everything that is in your food. No more hidden additives!

Empty it - Do a complete overhaul of your house, including your garage and basement. Clear out and then sell or give away anything you don't use or need. Be harsh and honest. Try not to hold on to things that you aren't going to display or use. Check out Fly Lady for ideas on how to do this. Having less will allow you to enjoy what you have more which might help squelch any frivolous spending. You might also make a few bucks in the process.

Cars - Can you become a one car family? This might save you a car payment and insurance! Check with your insurance company to find out how much you'll save before you get rid of the car. Some companies give multi-car discounts, so it might hurt you to get rid of it. Also, check to see if raising your deductible can lower your payments.

Check your bills - Are you getting the best deal on car insurance? How about cable (unless you canceled)? Now is a good time to call and see if you can negotiate a better deal or at least make sure that you're getting all the discounts you can. Most companies want to keep their customers and are willing to work with you. Call your creditors and see if you can negotiate a smaller monthly payment if debt is overwhelming you.

Make each trip worth it - Gas is expensive. Try and plan out each outing to maximize your tank.

Do you have any suggestions to add?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Been a while/ This moment

Inspired by Soulemama,
This moment: "{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. "

It's been a while, but I'm back! This weekend I'm going to compile all of my suggestions for saving money, working towards sustainability, and living with less. I'll be posting it on Monday!
Thanks for reading!