Thursday, July 31, 2008

Firecracker Baby Diaper Bags

We are working SO hard at getting our new website up and running. It has been a long process, but hopefully it will be worth the wait! We've been scouring the area for the best new designers and would love to hear from more of you if you are interested in being showcased on Cat.

One of the fantastic new products we will have VERY soon are Firecracker Baby diaper bags. These are the brain child of my very good friend (lucky me!) Anne, who was so fed up with the ridiculously expensive diaper bags out there that are WORTHLESS, that she set out to make the perfect AFFORDABLE bag herself! She has worked her various bags into the very best three - a messenger bag, an over the shoulder bag, and a tote bag. All have tons of pockets, magnetic clasps, GORGEOUS fabrics, and are: wait for it: COMPLETELY MACHINE WASHABLE. I mean, honestly, why are diaper bags not machine washable?? (I got a teeeeny tiny spot of desitin on the inside pocket of my uber expensive diaper bag I carried for a few weeks with my son, and that tiny spot smeared all over the inside of my bag, and I never did get it all off.)

Just for Cat in an Apron, Anne has agreed to do CUSTOM bags! You choose the exterior fabric, YOU choose the interior fabric, YOU choose the style that best suits you!! I know. Genious. I'm including a few images of some of the fabrics, and some of her gorgeous bags just to give you a tiny fix until you can have the real thing.

Pure Joy

My daughter Miss Mae IS pure joy. She feels everything she does so deeply, and exudes those feelings in gigantic sunbursts out of her little 3 year old body like a volcano. Sometimes I think Ican taste her happiness it is so thick. She feels her sadness as wholeheartedly, although it is usually short-lived which has caused my husband and I to, in a turrets sort of way, blurt out "SYBIL!" She can be SOBBING one second and then turn around with "I'm HAPPY NOW!!" and she truly is HAPPY. It soaks into my skin and makes me happy to be alive. Wow, the preggo hormones must be taking a drastic swing right now, but she is just so amazing.

Today she was able to continue her ballet classes that we started earlier this summer with a 'camp' through the community center. She burst out of bed and the first thing she asked was "is it BALLET DAY???" She walked into the dance studio and her smile was so big and her shoulders were up by her ears and there she was - pure happiness. This is my daughter who usually can be found playing with her big brother - pretending to be a velociraptor, or Indiana Jones, or a transformer - and slipping on her tiny little ballet slippers and grasping the sweet little girls' hands next to her in her ballet circle turns into miss prima ballerina!

I HIGHLY recommend her class and Miss Erica her teacher. The class is at Laurelhurst Dance Studio and offered through Portland Parks and Rec. This is no bunny hopping tots class like they show in the movies. Miss Erica is teaching them all of the positions with real names, and Mae doesn't "tiptoe" around the house anymore, she "Bourre'e's".
I wish I could feel a 10th of her love of life. I'm lucky to know her and get to spend so much time with her. I hope I can learn from her!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New Products!

We are going to be carrying the coolest damn t-shirts, made by a super cool mom here in town. Wait till you see these! They are incredibly soft, and the applique's are made out of 100% recycled t-shirts. SO stinking cute. We are getting them all ready for the website, and they'll be up for sale in August.

Now if i can just get her to make one for my HUSBAND!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

CitizenJane Politics

I've just come across this site, and from what I can tell, this seems like an actual UNBIASED site. I didn't think there was such a thing, and I'm a little skeptical, but it seems like you can actually get true information!!
Here's what their about us page starts with:

"I call CitizenJane Politics "The Modern Girls' Guide to Picking the Leaders of the Free World" because that's exactly what it's designed to be. This is where you can find plain-English answers to where the candidates really stand on issues. You can also find out when and where to vote, what all that political jargon means, and whether there's a debate next week that you might want to watch on TV. Finally, you'll see politics through the eyes of women instead of the eyes of men. God love 'em, but why are men most of the voices in the political conversation when women are most of the voters?"

Check 'em out. If I'm wrong, PLEASE let me know!

Just Between Friends

I've not had a chance to attend one of the Just Between Friends sales, but I've heard that they are really fantastic. They seem like a great avenue for selling your "ready to pass on" baby and kid items, as well. If you sign up as a volunteer, you get into the PRESALE, which is great, because i guess the product moves FAST (especially things like double strollers or sit and stands for those of us with more than one little person). They are in 16 states, so check the website to find a sale near you.

Here is the Portland event info:
September 27th 10 AM - 5 PM
September 28th 9 AM - 3 PM (many items half price on Sunday!)
(Volunteer and consignor pre-sale on September 26th!)
Rose City Rollers practice facility at Oaks Park.

This is the last day of the season for Oaks Park, and it will be open until 7 pm - good "positive incentive" for good behavior if you are bringing the kiddos with you.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Chicken Thighs

No, this is not a reference to the state of my preggo thighs, although I could go OFF on that as well... It is instead a review of the recipe I posted below. WOW is this GOOD!! Great flavor, great texture, great smell. It is kind of cold here in Portland today, and my house smells like Thanksgiving. ALMOST makes me crave the change in season. Wait. NO IT DOESN'T!

So as a recipe for new parents/families, this doesn't really work at all, unless you live quite close, or have some sort of way to keep something warm. I like to be able to drop of a COLD meal, and let the family pop it in the oven at their convenience. This IS a one pot meal, but it is on the stove, and when it is done, it is done. I imagine it would freeze alright, but I don't think it would be as good as the night it is made. However, as a new addition to my repertoire (yes, I’ve adopted it) it is SO great! The soft texture of the beans with the chewy kielbasa and the tender chicken is perfect. And the bread crumb topping gives it a little crunch while soaking up some of the liquid and making it even thicker. YUM. I made it in my Le Cruset, though, I can't imagine a skillet that could handle this much food, and I am always having trouble keeping everything in a skillet anyway. We had it with market fresh green beans and asparagus (and peaches and carrots for the kids) I also recommend a nice chewy loaf of bread along side.

My husband liked it even though he has a 'thing' about "stew-type-meals", my daughter ate quite a bit, and I loved it. Henry wouldn't even try it. Not even for an extra X on his meal chart. (I’ve talked about his eating 'issues' on here a little. He DID however eat an entire piece of asparagus!! So that was a bonus. He said he loved it, however, one piece was quite enough thank you, and he still got his X for the night.

SO, my summation is:
  • GREAT dinner,
  • Not too expensive,
  • Goes quite far,
  • Lovely smell,
  • Not too many dishes to clean (even with all of the "make this and set aside" parts)
  • NOT GREAT as a meal to take to a new family unless you live close or they are sitting at the table waiting for it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Recipes For Families With New Babies at Home??

SO many people I know are having babies right now! (Including me in a couple of months…) It is such a giant help to have people bring food when you are home those first few weeks by yourself with this new little person, and I love to bring food to my friends. The problem? My cooking skills have seriously taken a nose dive since starting our family almost 6 years ago. The woman who used to make fresh pasta for FUN, now hardly takes the time to boil the spiderman shaped ones for my kids. I used to be a serious foodie – loved finding new recipes and trying them out on my husband and friends, loved hitting the newest restaurants in town, and took pride in how well I knew them and who the chefs were, where they used to work, etc. etc.

Now?? Now I can name the top 5 restaurants in town that have playrooms and train tables. The food is generally not great, and usually overpriced, but in them we can actually finish a meal in some kind of normalcy. Okay, we are wolfing down the not so great food between taking turns dashing to the play area to make sure no trains are being thrown or some other unsupervised kid isn’t bashing my kid’s head with the previously thrown train. BUT, I digress.

The point is, I’m trying desperately to find great meals to deliver to new parents, and I think there are certain criteria to follow:
  1. It must be easy to prepare, and easier for the new parents to prepare. One dish meals are the best I think – they can pop them in the oven and eat whenever the new kiddo decides to bless them with sleep.

  2. Having been through different kinds of births, and all of the lovely AFTER birth joys they bring, the food should be HEALTHY. HIGH FIBER. HIGH nutritional bang for its buck.

  3. As most moms are breast feeding these days (and even if they aren’t, see #2 above) they should be low in GAS producing ingredients.

  4. Freezable would be nice. How great to be able to just throw it in the freezer if 3 friends decide to drop by on the same night with dinner.

  5. Family friendly – for those families who already have kiddos, it is much better to offer something they will be interested in, as well – maybe not your famous burn-your-tongue-off crock pot chili.

  6. Something DIFFERENT. I mean, how many baked pasta and tuna casseroles can a family eat no matter how convenient??

  7. Finally, the very best recipes are ones I can double or even triple so I can feed my own family without having to make another dinner, and even throw one in the freezer for when our new little one comes.

Sound easy to find these recipes? I’m having a heck of a time! Most things I find online are loaded with cheese (again, see #2 above), or one can of this and one can of that with some rice – not so palatable to me… I thought I’d do some good research, and if any of you can write in and help, we’ll get a great list going.

I’ll try them out and deliver to my new family friends and try them out here, and report back to you. YOU try them out and report back to me!

Here’s the first one from Food Network’s website:

Cassoulet-Style Chicken Thighs
Classic cassoulet recipes can take days to make and of course contain rashers of duck, smoked meats and the like. This version keeps it simple and not quite so rich with one skillet, healthier ingredients like low-fat kielbasa, and just 45 minutes to prepare.

2 15-ounce cans white beans, rinsed
3/4 cup fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs (see Tip)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut into thirds
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1/2 pound low-fat turkey kielbasa, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Put 1/2 cup beans in a small bowl and mash with a fork. Add the remaining beans and set aside.
Toss breadcrumbs with 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring often, until golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet over medium heat. Add chicken in a single layer and cook until browned, turning once, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
Add onion and garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add rosemary, thyme and pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine, increase heat to high and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits, until the wine has reduced by about half, 1 to 2 minutes. Add broth, water, kielbasa, the reserved beans and chicken; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Top with the toasted breadcrumbs and parsley.
To make fresh breadcrumbs: Trim crusts from firm sandwich bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor into coarse crumbs. One slice of bread makes about 1/3 cup crumbs.

Nutrition Information
Nutritional Analysis Per serving
Calories 370
Carbohydrate Servings 1
Carbohydrates 40 g
Protein 29 g
Fat 13 g
Saturated Fat 3 g
Cholesterol 68 g
Monounsaturated Fat 6 g
Dietary Fiber 10 g
Sodium 749 mg
Potassium 631 mg
Exchanges 2 starch, 1 vegetable, 4 lean meat
Nutrition Bonus Fiber (41% daily value), Folate (37% dv), Iron (20% dv).

I’m going to go shopping tomorrow, and i'll make it on Tuesday – I’ll let you know how it turns out! (white beans aren’t as "musical" as other beans, right??)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pregnancy, round THREE

Here's my theory. a woman's first pregnancy should be nine months long. She needs time to read up on everything, wrap her brain around the idea of becoming a mother and the changes her life is going to go through, daydream about the incredibly perfect mother she'll be, decorate the NURSERY including making sweet little shadow boxes and photo collages for the walls... She needs to spend hours scouring the internet and local shops finding the PERFECT things for each room that might be affected by new baby... Her body needs nine months to stretch slowly into pregnancy shape. She needs at LEAST 9 months to contemplate BIRTH.

Second pregnancy? Should be 6 months, tops. Scratch out the first "wrapping her brain around the idea" related items. The shopping the second time around is cut at LEAST in half, even if the second baby is a different gender. Second time mama is prepared and ready to handle birth and feedings and sleepless nights, etc. etc.

This is my third pregnancy.

My THIRD. All i'm saying is this pregnancy shouldn't be really more than FOUR months long. My mind needs no wrapping around anything except maybe that my husband and i are soon to be out numbered. I have all the clothes, accessories, gear, etc. anyone could ever need. I have no allusions about being the perfect mother. My arse popped right out into its gigantium state that took nine months the first time, by month 3. and birth?? I've had just about all the experiences a woman can have - BRING IT ON.

Four months is PLENTY of time to be ready for this new person to arrive. Too bad biology doesn't depend on a mother's SHOPPING needs....!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tonight as i was making dinner for my family, my husband and i were talking about what kind of salad i was making, and we each said "Caesar" a couple of times. In the back ground, my son was asking "what is CAESAR?? WHO is CAESAR??" Finally, I focused my attention on him and said, "Honey, we are talking about the salad dressing, but Julius Caesar was sort of like the KING of Rome over 2000 years ago, BLAH, BLAAAH, BLAAAAAAH......" all the while i'm silently congratulating myself on what a good mother i am teaching my 5 year old about history during dinner, etc. etc. When i finally stop to take a breath, my son says, "you know what?" I'm waiting for some heavy insight from him that will further puff my ego, and he says,

"you know what?? i can scratch my BUM at the same time as i eat my dinner!!"

Yep. that's my boy. WATCH OUT HARVARD!!