Archive | July, 2011

Quinoa and other food obsessions

28 Jul

Confession: I have a new food obsession: quinoa. And, I know– I am not the only one! Over the past year, I have sampled this great non-gluten grain at various gatherings. It wasn’t until I took the plunge and made some myself that I became completely infatuated with quinoa. The rational is quite logical: it’s packed with protein and fiber, low in carbohydrates, versatile and extremely easy to make. I can get the quinoa craving and 25 minutes later, I have enough to make savory salads and even breakfast porridge. My most memorable quinoa moments include: 1. Making it for Passover (yes, non-gluten and allowed during Passover!) and receiving rave reviews. My friend gave me her recipe which includes walnuts, peas or string beans, green onions, garlic, balsamic vinegar and a bit of olive oil. 2. Making it for my brother-in-law who is controlling his blood pressure by going gluten-free—and for a friend who has recently given up gluten. I consider each to be a food connoisseur and each devoured it. 3. Making it for breakfast!!! A friend’s porridge recipe (mix with almond butter, almond milk, apple sauce, raisins….) is so delicious and nutritious.

As I have become increasingly obsessed with quinoa, I keep flashing back to the time that my mom first roasted soybeans. It was 1980: I had just turned 16 and she had just quit smoking. To help herself, she became vigilant about not smoking and living a healthy life.  Her soybean obsession was just a start on her new extremism. There is a Part 2 to this soybean experience which I’ll save for another post. And, there is a non-healthy food obsession we shared that will be yet another post.

I am sure my mom would have shared my quinoa obsession. I wish she could have enjoyed creating quinoa concoctions with me.

I wonder what food obsessions you or your mom have had and were there any you shared?

Those Summer Days

20 Jul

It’s that time of the summer, the middle, that brings back mixed memories from my childhood. There were times that I wished summer would never end and days that dragged on.  I remember, as if it was this morning, standing outside of my mother’s room while she got dressed, complaining, “I’m so bored. What am I going to do today? There’s nothing to do and no one to be with….”

Most of the good times were spent at our pool club, Lakeridge West Swim Club.   Some years it was THE place to be. They had arts and crafts clubs where we used popsicle sticks to construct miniature houses. There were occasional Pre-Teen and Teen Nights and outdoor movies on a huge screen. There were some day trips and great days at the Jersey shore.

Although my best friend went to sleep away camp for the whole summer, my first and only experience at sleep away camp made me a stay-at-home girl.  I joined my sister during her second year at Camp Sacagawea –a rustic Girl Scout Camp. Perhaps because I was only 8 years old or maybe it was the spiders and other bugs, I cried non-stop for the 2 week session and refused to leave home like that again. I tried day camp, but did not like the long bus ride. I could never learn the bus songs or master lanyard to help pass the time.

My own children’s summer activities are different from mine and from each other. My daughter has gone to day camp or sleep away camp every summer. She thrives on the non- stop 18 hour action. My son has played baseball and now soccer each summer. Most summers he has plenty of friends to hang out with and participates in sports camps when his team is not practicing. Neither of my children cries out in boredom.

As I have helped my children choose from the abundance of summer options, I think about how good it was to be bored sometimes! I wonder what my mother would say-would she say our children are too busy during the summer? Also, I wish I could tell her, or maybe she knew, those moments of boredom certainly did not leave any scars. In fact, maybe they helped me to be more imaginative and inventive with my summer days.

What type of summer activities and rigor did you enjoy and what do your children enjoy?

Barbie’s Runway

6 Jul

Fashion by Phyllis

I loved dressing my dolls as a child and always appreciated the unique and custom-made clothing my mother crafted for Barbie, Crissy and Kerry. You might notice in the photo that Kit, a current American Girl, is not wearing one of her usual outfits. She is wearing a dress my mother made for Crissy (remember her from the 70’s?) –a great sign that classic fashion stays or comes back in style! This was proven last week while my nieces were visiting and chose that dress for Kit to wear to our New York City American Girl lunch. My daughter  has not played with or dressed Kit for about 7 years so it was great to see her getting attention and a makeover.

I have told my daughter and I told my nieces all about the clothing my mom would craft. She would buy the Singer patterns or create her own. Usually she used fabric left over from hemming or making her own clothing—illustrating her special talent and typical economical habit. She even made a fur stole with the extra from her Flemington Fur Coat.  Sure, her motivation was saving money while giving my dolls a tremendous wardrobe, but I am still grateful for her ingenuity. It certainly took a ton of time and planning to provide such beautiful ensembles.

 I wish my mom could see these dolls now! Her creations/their outfits certainly have stood the test of time and still provide a very special link to my mom. I do not know of any other moms who also made their daughter’s doll clothing, do you? While my daughter and nieces did not mind the “no brand” clothing, would girls today be satisfied with this clothing or would they pine for the “real” designer doll dress?  What memories do you have of things that your mom or dad created for you to play with?  

Shout Out to my sister-in-law

1 Jul

During the last 2 weeks, I have had the great fortune of spending time with family and most intensely with my almost 6 and almost 7 year old nieces from Montana. They stayed with us while their mom and dad worked. I couldn’t be more impressed with these little ladies. As sad as we are to see them go back home, I was excited to get to this post and write about what a truly wonderful job my sister-in-law is doing as a motherless mom. Her mother, who would have been (I can only assume based on knowing her for a few years) a wonderful mother-in-law, would be SO proud. Her mom died when she was just 16.  She was a huge presence in the family’s life: orchestrating celebrations, gatherings, travel. While the family does not dwell on the sadness, she has been sorely missed; largely for her warmth, generosity and style. I could go on….

I am just thrilled to see her daughter thrive as a mother, loving her life with her daughters and husband. And, her daughters are the fun, spirited, respectful, gracious and stylish girls their grandmother would relish.  It’s a great tribute to her that a few of us have remarked about her grandaughters’ genetic link to her personality. I often say (and people easily agree), that my daughter’s great sense of style comes directly from her paternal grandma!

But, it’s not all nature. I firmly believe that nurture plays a key role. It is obvious in my sister-in-law’s certain je ne sais quoi that she received more than enough of both.

What genetic links, even subtle personality traits, do you see in your children? What parenting techniques do you think you’ve inherited from your mom? Doesn’t all of that help keep our moms in our lives?