Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Purchasing New = Big Carbon Footprint

There have been quite a few moments recently where I have realized my negative impact on the environment.  I typically try to watch this but sometimes experiences sneak up on me, giving me a "whoops!" reaction.  This happened last night.

A few days ago our microwave officially died.  (I secretly wanted to try to see how long we could go without one, but my s.o. called me out on it and said "not happening".  Perhaps someday I can gently coax him into it and in the meantime, practice finding ways not to use it. He claims that it is more environmentally sound than using alternative methods of heating and cooking, so this is to be continued until I do more research)

Anyhow, we went out to the store last night to purchase a new microwave.  For a microwave, this definitely makes me happy seeing it on my counter.

When we came home, we opened it up to put on our kitchen counter.  As we took it out, I realized just how much packaging was involved in bringing this microwave to our home in new condition. I had the same experience when we moved across the country using a full-service company. Oh my goodness, we spent 2 months of putting boxes and packing paper in our recycling bin.  Even though I posted on Freecycle and kept a bunch in storage, it was a massive amount of paper.

Have you had any experiences like this recently where you realized your negative impact?


Jen Starks, Owner www.ecologicalbabies.com ecologicalbabies@gmail.com 574.275.1235

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mind Your Children's Manners

Meet my spirited 4 year old, Rita Clare!  For a long time, I didn't care too much whether my baby was loud in restaurants or throwing food on the floor.  I mean they are just babies, right?  For a while, I'd even bring my daughter to higher end restaurants, almost using it as a way to show that parents with young children deserve the opportunity to eat in these types of establishments too.

I have been given some stern comments in the past.  And unfortunately, I'm a lot more anxious about my children's behavior in public, especially in places like church and nicer restaurants.  Today though, I was given a gift from a senior lady who sat behind us during a dedication ceremony.  My daughter seemed to be showing her wild colors and I was a bit concerned about the distraction.  But this elderly lady came up to us after and said how impressed she was with our kids' behavior.  Honestly, I was shocked.  But I really did appreciate hearing positive feedback.  I do care.  I do care about how I'm perceived, as this has been ingrained in me since I was a little girl.  I don't go overboard to please other people at my own expense and will comment back to rude and judgmental people if they say something to me (as respectful as I can).  So, if you compliment me, I appreciate it.  We can all use a little support these days, don't you think?

Jen Starks, Owner www.ecologicalbabies.com ecologicalbabies@gmail.com 574.275.1235

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Giveaway: Trainer of Your Choice

I know we all hope that our children will eventually stop using their adorable cloth diapers someday.  Why not be prepared for the day when it comes by winning one of our new trainers?

The two trainers we now carry, Flip Trainer and GroVia's "My Choice" Trainer, have brought cloth trainers to a new level.  We've tested a bunch before these and I have not had a trainer that is as trim and versatile than these.

The Flip trainer comes as a kit and give you 5 pads.  That's an awesome deal.  It also goes up to 50lbs.  This is a great trainer for getting started with potty training.  At first you'll need to assist them in pulling it up and down.  Later, they'll be able to do it on their own.

GroVia's trainer is more like an extension of underwear with added protection.  It will accelerate the training process and will appeal to those toddlers who want something that makes them feel like a "big boy" or "big girl".  It's not made to be an absorbent diaper like the Flip Trainer.  However, it has a pocket, so you could add more protection if you need it.

This is an easy giveaway to enter!  Some of these entries can be entered daily, so check back in and earn more points!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Jen Starks, Owner www.ecologicalbabies.com ecologicalbabies@gmail.com 574.275.1235

Monday, January 23, 2012

Journaling in Time of Need

These past couple weeks have been tough for me.  It had become quite apparent that the preschool my 4 y.o. daughter was attending (montessori) wasn't panning out.  She is high spirited and her teachers kept writing me notes about another "incident" that was happening.  Without going into all the details that only bring up resentments, the breaking point occurred last Tuesday when I was notified that Rita Clare was being "terminated" from school for failure to progress in the direction she needed to be going.  I have until the end of the month to set a new plan up in motion.

While she's in school, I have been using these couple hours to work from home without the struggle of managing kids in the background.  During this time frame, my 2 year old son is napping.  It has been really nice to have this carved out time in the middle of the day.  Now what??

I've been dappling in homeschooling, joining a gym with child care, hiring a babysitter to consistently help out, other child care centers that will take kids after a semester has begun, etc.  I don't have everything figured out just yet, but I'm starting to feel a plan emerging.

During my many panicky moments, I have come back to my journal.  It is a space I can say anything and let it all out.  I can come up with lofty goals and feel a sense of direction.  It's a spiritual space, much like prayer or meditation.  It's always my hope that I will continue to journal regularly.  But usually I come to it when I'm overwhelmed and need to purge my emotions.  It's funny to read through my past journal entries as they are often similar in their theme and take me back to certain events.

Do you journal?  How has it impacted you?

Working on peace,


Jen Starks, Owner www.ecologicalbabies.com ecologicalbabies@gmail.com 574.275.1235

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The best calzone filling EVER!!!

Before we get started, let me apologize for the weird spacing and formatting. I promise one day I'll get the hang of blogging!
I've had leftover chicken in my fridge for longer than I care to admit. It's from a chicken I boiled for stock, which means it needs to be in a casserole or something because there's not much flavor in boiled chicken. I was thinking I would make a pot pie with it, but I just haven't been inspired to make one.
One of the meals I was planning to make this week was ham, cheddar, and broccoli calzones. But the ham I got from the deli counter this morning was just too darn tasty and was just begging to be made into sandwiches.
Also lurking in the fridge was this odd, Amish-style Swiss cheese that I bought because it looked interesting, and I'd never heard of Amish-style Swiss cheese before. It's delicious, but for some reason we hadn't used much of it. I got my cheese from Publix a couple weeks ago and threw away the wrapper, and I grated it before thinking to take a pic, but the gorgeous cheese in the photo can be found here.
I made dough this afternoon from the recipe in an earlier post, and was planning to make extra steamed broccoli with dinner to go in the calzone filling. I wasn't making the calzones for a particular meal, just to have on hand in the freezer for my husband's lunch, quick dinners, or snacks.
All of a sudden it hit me - Chicken, Swiss, and broccoli calzones!!! As my pal Ina Garten would say, "How bad could that be?" Grant was happy on the porch playing with his tools at his tool bench making a "new invention," so I figured I'd go all out and make an actual cheese sauce instead of just using shredded cheese.
If I do say so myself, they are AMAZING!!! In fact, I don't even have a picture to show you because we ate all 12 of them after Grant went to bed. No, just kidding. Actually I just forgot to take a picture because I was too busy and excited making them. I know, I'm a food dork.
I kind of threw this together, but I will attempt to recreate the recipe because seriously, these were delicious and totally worth the extra steps of making a cheese sauce.
Chicken, Swiss, and Broccoli filling for calzones
For the cheese sauce:
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
salt and pepper
1 C chicken stock (or broth)
1/2 C milk
1 C shredded Swiss cheese
1 C finely chopped steamed broccoli
1 C shredded chicken
Melt the butter on low heat, stir in flour, salt and pepper. Whisk for a few minutes to cook the flour. Whisk in milk and stock, and turn up the heat. Bring it almost to a boil, and keep whisking until it's nice and thick. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese. Stir in broccoli and chicken, and assemble your calzones as directed here.
A note - For this recipe, only divide the dough into 8 pieces. You need thick dough rounds since the filling is a little runnier than the other ones I wrote about. If the dough is too thin the calzones could burst in the oven (and if they do it's not a big deal, just push the filling back in).
Eat all twelve at once, or eat a few, let the rest cool, then wrap individually in foil, label, and freeze.
Please note, credit for the photo above comes from http://www.cubacheese.com/.
Claire Williamson, Representative for Ecological Babies
(850) 228-8322

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Cure for the Common Toddler Hunger Strike

Even at the ripe old age of 3 1/4, my son Grant still occasionally stages a hunger strike just like he did when he was a toddler. You know the drill - all the sudden your child who typically eats his normal three little meals and two little snacks a day has suddenly decided that in a last ditch effort to establish autonomy that he will eat only (and I mean ONLY) Cheerios and milk. And you don't even buy Cheerios!
'Round these parts, we have a cure for this type of behavior. Hot chocolate! But shhhhh!!! With a hidden egg yolk. I know that sounds really weird and maybe a little gross. Have you ever had pudding, though? No, not from a powder in a box. I mean real pudding. Know what that is? Hot chocolate with tempered egg yolks, cooled down in the fridge.
What little kid wouldn't want their own mug of nice, steaming, thick, frothy liquid chocolate? Oh yeah, mine wouldn't. That's because everybody knows things that are steaming and labeled "hot" will burn you. And so, we have re-titled this recipe, "Warm Chocolate." Because if you ask Grant if he wants hot chocolate, he will say "No, I just want it warm, Mom." Makes sense, I suppose.
Step one - Pour one cup of whole milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and warm gently, on
Step two - Gather up a few simple ingredients. One tablespoon cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon sugar (or maple syrup), 1/4 teaspoon vanilla.
Step three - Find a cute little boy to help whisk. (This step isn't crucial, but I do find it necessary.)
He looks serious about his whisking, doesn't he?
Step four - Separate an egg, and put the yolk in a little bowl. Scoop out some of the hot chocolate and stir it into the yolk with a fork, to warm the yolk. This is called tempering, and keeps you from ending up with an egg yolk poached in hot chocolate, which sounds pretty gross.
Step five - Whisk the warm yolk mixture back into the pot, and keep whisking until it's steaming. This way you know the yolk has cooked.
Step six - Serve to your child and watch them gleefully drink up 2 1/2 grams of protein, and a day's worth of essential fatty acids, carotenoids, Vitamins A, D, E and K, not to mention lots of iron and many other minerals and nutrients. And that's not including the milk, just the egg yolk!
Eggs are a powerhouse of nutrition, and I love them and could eat them every day. I just about do! My son and many other kids, I hear, though, are not big egg fans. This easy recipe works great for breakfast or a snack, and is a delicious way to slip a boatload of nutrition on days when your child has decided to exert a little control over what goes down the hatch.
Note - if serving to a child, you will want to let the hot chocolate cool off the burner for a few minutes before pouring it into an appropriate mug. Look for one with two handles.
Another note - if you have a beige couch, you may want to consider NOT letting your child sit on it while drinking his hot chocolate. It's really hard to get out of microsuede. Just a thought.
One last note - If your child is into semantics, like mine apparently is, be careful what you call this recipe. Everyone knows you shouldn't eat or drink food that is hot and steaming. It can burn you.
Claire Williamson, Representative for Ecological Babies
(850) 228-8322

Core Strength Pre/Post Pregnancy

We welcome Tara Valentine Jennette Posey of Healthy Mama, Happy Baby to our blog today.  Tara is a physical trainer and one of the healthiest people I know.  Today she shares her wisdom on the importance of mamas having core strength all the way from before conception to post partum.  If you haven't already, head over to her blog and to learn a lot more ways of being a fit and healthy mama (or daddy).

The Importance of Core Strength: Before, During and After Pregnancy

Before you get pregnant is the best time to build your core strength (as seen in 1st photo). But don't think it is too late if you are already pregnant (as seen in 2nd photo- 6 months pregnant). I will show you how to do both.

If you have a strong core, you shouldn't have any back or hip problems during your pregnancy. Your core muscles will be able to hold your growing baby without putting stress on your back or hips. When your baby is born, the core muscles will help you carry your growing baby and toddler. They will also help keep you from hurting your back when you have to lift that stroller, car seat and all the other stuff in and out of the car.

You can do all of these exercises before and after you are pregnant. But only do the last two if you are pregnant. When you are pregnant, you don't want to do anything where the muscles push directly against the baby.
This first move is a Suitcase Crunch. Lying on your back, cross your leg over, try to crunch your legs into your upper body. So picture opening and closing a suitcase and your upper body is one side and your legs are the other. Make sure you don't arch your lower back or pull on your neck. Try to do 10 with one leg crossed then cross the other leg for 10.

This move is really good for your Transverse Abdominus (lower abs or internal girdle). Lie on your back with your hands under your bottom and push your bellybutton into your spine. Make a scissor motion with your legs for 20 flutters.

The Plank is a wonderful core strengthener. When you do this exercise, you pull in your stomach and help place all your organs in the right place. Very good to prevent and reverse incontinence. Try to hold for 30 seconds at a time without letting your low back sway towards the ground.

This is a great move to do while you are pregnant. It works your obliques (the muscles on your side). Make sure your shoulder is over your elbow on the arm you are propping up on. Stack your legs on top of each other. Lift and lower your hips. When you come back down to the ground don't rest your weight, just slightly touch your hip and then rise up again. This is a very small motion. Try to do 10-15 on each side.

All of this hard work will definitely pay off between not having those annoying back aches and no accidents when you sneeze : ) Most of all these muscles will help you do the most important job ever- push out those babies during labor! Believe me I know- after 22 hours of labor and a 9 lbs. baby with her hand up- I NEEDED my core strength!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ugly pies and reflections on embracing imperfection…

I can say with absolute certainty that the most difficult part of parenting for me is learning to accept failure, or rather, less-than-perfect results. To say that I am particular about things is an understatement. I like things just so. I like them done immediately. I do not like change. I also like to be right. I like plans, schedules, and rules.

As a child, my parents had very high expectations for my sister and me. They were also very conservative and had fairly strict rules. My mom was far from a “Tiger Mom,” but she still expected us to make good grades and do a good job with whatever extracurricular activities we chose. But we thrived! I had a very happy childhood and learned to have a strong work ethic and to expect success.

When I was pregnant, what I worried about most was that I would hate having a child because my life would lose its comfortable predictability. Friends and family would ask if I was nervous about parenthood, and I would tell them I wasn’t worried if I would be good at it, because I (arrogantly) was pretty sure I would be. What I did worry about was whether or not I would enjoy being a mother in the first place. This doesn’t exactly make for fun chatting at showers, as you can imagine. Even though our son was definitely planned for and wanted, pregnancy totally snuck up on us and happened much, much sooner than we expected. Did I mention I don’t like change?

As a matter of survival over the past three years, I have had to accept that having a child means life will rarely go as planned. Life with a baby teaches you that you must learn to accept failure. Things will not be perfect. Your baby will cry, you will get poop on your hands, and eventually you will come to terms with not showering regularly. Then later on your toddler will throw a fit in a store, you won’t be able to eat in restaurants, and your living room will turn into a giant playpen. Soon you’ll have a preschooler whose favorite word is “mine,” takes 20 minutes to get in the car because he wants to do it himself, and frequently goes to the grocery store wearing a cape.

Things definitely do not always turn out RIGHT, but they do turn out. I’ve learned to accept less than stellar results in exchange for contentment. At least I’m working on it.

Today at the grocery store there were these nifty tetra packs of organic pumpkin pie filling that simply required an egg and a pie crust. They were only $1.50! My 3 year old ADORES pumpkin pie, and I figured it would make for a fun afternoon project, and it did. He got shortening all over his hands and his shirt, but he learned how to use a pastry cutter. We counted tablespoons of cold water, and then he helped me roll out the pastry into a (lopsided) circle. I forgot to lower the temperature on the oven after the first 15 minutes because we were doing a new Berenstain Bear puzzle I scored at the thrift store today, so it turned out a little too brown around the edges. But you know what? It was delicious, and we all ate two slices for dessert this evening.

Five years ago I would have been horrified to serve a pie that looked like this. But today, I am so proud of my son for just about making it himself, crust and all. Cheers to motherhood, ugly pies, changing expectations, and accepting – and embracing - failure.

Claire Williamson,
Representative for Ecological Babies

Ode to All My Imperfect Moms Out There!

You know, I am often humbled by how much my mom did for me.  Without becoming a mom myself, I'm not sure I would have been able to recognize all that she did.  Was I thankful at the time?  Unfortunately no.

She wasn't perfect and I am definitely not perfect as a mom.  I think at the end of the day, we moms just need to cut ourselves some slack.  Shake off that mommy guilt that we aren't doing enough.

So what if your child ate fast food, watched too much tv, and you yelled at them?  Are they alive?  Do you feed them well on other days?  Do they feel safe and know you love them unconditionally?  Really, it's all about balance.  You are a good mother and you are doing VERY hard work.  I know this is absolutely the hardest thing I've ever done and maybe will do.  Every day, you get out of bed, sacrifice so much of yourself, and take care of your children and many other responsibilities around the house.  If you are working outside of the home, you are doing all that AND your extra work on top of that.  Wow.

Give yourself a little pat on the back, take a deep breath, and recognize all the great things you are doing.

From an imperfect mom,


Jen Starks, Owner www.ecologicalbabies.com ecologicalbabies@gmail.com 574.275.1235

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Calzones with Homemade Dough

How many times has dinner snuck up on you, and you end up standing in front of your fridge at 5pm thinking, "well great – what are we going to eat for dinner?" Don’t feel bad. It happens to everybody, even cook-aholics like me. Inspite of careful meal planning and grocery shopping, there are still those nights when you just don’t feel like cooking, but a bowl of cereal or scrambled eggs just won’t cut it.

So what’s the solution? Keep a stash of highly-processed, MSG-laden bagged meals in the freezer? You know, the ones with the sauce pellets that you nuke, stir, nuke some more? The ones that go on sale buy one get one every other week? Yikes!

There’s a better way to beat the 5pm dinner woes than a bag of mystery stir fry. I like to call it Investment Cooking. You put in a little extra time on the weekends or on a weekday when you’ve got some extra time, and you cook extra meals, double recipes, or just cook large quantities of a protein (roast beef, chicken, etc) to save for using on a later date. One of the best Investment Recipes that isn’t a recipe at all is a roasted chicken, or a boiled chicken. From a single chicken, you can end up with 8 cups of delicious homemade stock and at least 2 cups of meat. You can boil it to use the meat in casserole type dishes like enchiladas or pot pies (then you already have your stock made), or you can roast it and eat it alongside rice and a side salad, then boil the carcass (isn’t that an awful word?) for stock. The humble chicken is a power house in Investment Cooking.

Today’s topic, however, is one that’s a little more fun to think about than boiling a dead bird. Homemade hot pockets! Or if you want to be fancy, we can call them calzones. Whatever you title it, this recipe is my family’s all-time favorite food to have on hand in the freezer for work lunches, Sunday nights, or random Tuesdays when I just don’t feel like cooking. And let’s just say it – hand-held food is fun! And if one of your diners is a child, then hand-held is pretty much a guaranteed hit, at least at my house. It’s easy to double or even triple, and you can fill them any number of ways.

On a side note, any other children of the 80s out there? Is it just me, or can you still sing the Hot Pockets jingle? What about Bagel Bites? My mom never would buy this stuff for my sister and I – she insisted on homemade food, which I recall as a child thinking that was very uncool. Surely all the cool kids got food that magically cooked in the microwave. I also distinctly remember asking for those nifty Kid Cuisine TV dinners each time we went to the store and always hearing a resounding NO. We got the occasional grape soda in the summer, but that’s about as wild as things got. Man, I didn’t know how good I had it. Thank you, Mama, for laying the foundation of good homemade food (even though for a long time I thought you were just being mean not buying me nasty fake rainbow colored food).

Sorry, I get sidetracked easily. Back to homemade hot pockets! I mean, calzones. Dinner pockets? Whatever.

Let’s make some dough! This is a very versatile dough, and one you will do well to learn and have in your repertoire. You can make it ahead of time and stick it in the fridge, or double/triple the recipe: some to use now, some for later. You can make pockets, regular pizza crust, mini pizzas, plain little dough rounds (great with butter and jam for breakfast), or even pitas. If you’ve
never made bread before and phrases like “proof the yeast” freak you out, this is a perfect beginner recipe. Try it! I promise you can do it!

Our humble cast of characters: Flour, oil, salt, yeast, sugar (not pictured) and water (in the sink).
For the record, yes, I know many people think canola oil is evil. It was on sale, and works well in baking. Please don’t let this change your opinion of me. Feel free to substitute olive oil.
I’m not really a recipe follower (except for cookies and candy, which are sciences and not to be trifled with), so bear with me. Measure 1 ½ cups of warm water (tap is fine) into a glass measuring cup. How warm? Like a baby’s bath water. Lots of dough recipes call for taking
temperatures. If you are particular about these things, feel free to google yeast temperature charts and bust out your thermometer. But here’s a good rule of thumb: if it feels like it would be cold on your baby’s bottom, your yeast won’t like it either. If it would burn your baby’s bottom, you would kill your yeast. Simple, right?

Into your 1 ½ cups of baby bath temperature water, add 1 packet of yeast, or 2 ¼ teaspoons (this you do need to measure accurately) of bulk yeast. Sprinkle in some sugar (about a teaspoon), or a squirt of honey to feed your yeast. Set this aside for 10 minutes or so while you get out your mixer, bowl, dough hook, etc. This is called proofing. Your yeast will eat the sugar, and create lots of lovely foam on top of your warm, toasty water.

Ta da! Happy, well-fed yeast:

Now for the mixing. What?! No stand mixer? Never fear, a wooden spoon and your hands will do just fine. (But seriously, though, make a mental note to ask Santa for one next Christmas.)

Measure 3 cups of flour into your bowl. We’ll start with that, then add more as necessary. Use your favorite flour, so long as it is all purpose, not self-rising. Please don’t use bleached flour. Bleach doesn’t belong in food. Or diapers, either, but I guess that’s for another post.
Add 1 teaspoon of salt, and turn your mixer on low to start stirring. Use the dough hook. If you don’t have a mixer, just stir. Slowly pour in the yeast/sugar (or honey)/water mixture. Add 3 tablespoons of oil. Keep stirring or keep the mixer running on low until it’s all incorporated. Stop and scrape your bowl, then turn the mixer back on. It should look about like this, kind of ropey and gooey.

Slowly add in ½-1 more cup of flour, and continue kneading with the dough hook until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl, like this:

If you are doing this by hand, you’ll probably have to knead in this last cup of flour, since by now the dough is slightly stiff and stirring would either be too hard or not effective.

At this point, cover your bowl (or put your dough back in the bowl) with a towel and set aside for a couple hours to rise. Or put it in the fridge and think about it tomorrow, Scarlet O'Hara-style. After a couple hours, it should look like this, and will smell amazing! Really! I love making dough and watching it change texture like magic. So does my 3 year old, which makes my heart happy.

At this point, you can turn your dough out onto a floured counter or board and have your way with it. Roll it out for one big pizza, pull off little bits and roll for mini pizza or pockets.
Or, once you roll out the little pieces of dough, let them rest and rise for another 30 minutes, then bake at a high temperature and you have pita pockets! Or if you’re 3, you can eat it as is. Raw. Yum?!

By the way, I highly encourage you to allow your children to help you in the kitchen. With practice, they can probably do much more than you might think! Here are Grant and I, working together to knead the dough after turning it out. I think it is so very important to teach children where real food comes from. Make bread together, so they know it’s not all pre-sliced from the grocery store. Put cream in a jar and shake it so they see what butter really is. Pick blueberries in the summer and make jam together. I even let my son help me stir things on the stove and slice vegetables (with a Pampered Chef spreader with a blunt serrated edge). Children learn by trying, and the more you let them try (and inevitably fail and make a huge mess) the more they
learn. And if they’re anything like my Grant, anything they make themselves they will be much more inclined to actually eat.

But back to the recipe…at this point, we pulled off bits of dough and rolled them into small circles. Don’t roll it too thin, or your calzones (or are we calling them pockets now?) might burst and ooze filling onto your baking sheet and it’s hard to scrape off. (Don’t ask me how I know this.)

I’m pretending you can’t see thesink full of dirty dishes. I cook a lot, ok? Let’s focus instead on the ¼ cup of flour my son is wearing and the fact that my fabulous husband is helping roll
out the dough. Dinner is a family affair around here. See? Here he is with Grant making the filling:

One of our favorite fillings is spinach ricotta, and we dip the finished calzones in marinara sauce. Here’s a basic recipe:

1 small container ricotta cheese
1 egg
½ package frozen spinach, thawed
and thoroughly wrung out
¼ cup parmesan cheese
½ C mozzarella cheese
Basil, oregano, onion powder,
garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste

Ta da! Thank you, sweetie!

Put a little blob (that’s a technical term) on each circle (use your imagination) of dough.

Fold over, and seal with your fingers or a fork.

Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes until golden brown.

I really wish this picture wasn’t blurry. Oh well. See the one in the middle that’s deformed? And the one on the left that’s oozing filling? That’s what happens when you let a 3 year old make your dinner. You know what, though? He ate it! So there!

Make a big batch of these with your family next weekend. Let the ones you don’t eat right away cool completely, then wrap them up in foil and toss them in the freezer. One night down the
road when your baby has a leaky diaper, your 3 year old has a tantrum at preschool, and your husband has to work late, you’ll be so glad you’ve got these yummy things tucked into the freezer! Just thaw them out, and warm in the oven. Ta da! Instant dinner, no microwave required.

Here is our other favorite filling – cheeseburger!

Brown a pound of ground beef with some diced onion and garlic. Drain, then stir in about ¼ cup of ketchup, a few tablespoons of mustard, and a few spoonfuls of dill or sweet relish. Put a slice of cheddar cheese on each rolled out dough round, then put a heaping spoonful of the meat mixture on top of the cheese. Seal and bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes.
Seriously, these are so good. It feels naughty, like fast food, or college-style from-the-freezer food. But guess what - you made it yourself! Hooray! Eat some more!
Happy Cooking, you guys! More recipes to come.
Claire Williamson

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Habit Worth Changing!

I just read this quote about consumption that was spot on for me.  It said:

"Stop Consuming So Much Information without Doing Anything. Seriously, do you really think that next eBook for $27.99 is going to tell you way more than you already know? It amazes me how many people would rather ‘consume’ all day than actually apply the teachings they’ve been reading and hearing again and again and again. The fact is most of us don’t need any more information, we just need to actually do something." 

I don't know if this hits home for you as much as for me.  I never considered pouring myself into parenting books, cookbooks, or business books as a way of consumption.  But I couldn't help nod when I realized that often I read books with the same message just reiterating what I already knew.  Just reading these concepts isn't producing any results unless I use the knowledge already in me and put it to good use.  Duh!  

Honestly, sometimes I even purchase a few books on a topic I'm excited about and then only get to a couple of them before my enthusiasm dies down.  Fortunately, I'm into used books. :o)  But what a waste of time and money, I'm realizing!

Here's to getting out there and practicing all that wisdom we've been reading about!



Note: This quote comes from "The Sales Lion" at http://www.thesaleslion.com/life-changing-habits-make-2012-best-year-ever/ on 1/4/2012.

Jen Starks, Owner www.ecologicalbabies.com ecologicalbabies@gmail.com 574.275.1235

Sunday, January 1, 2012

January Newsletter

Here's our January Newsletter!  It is shows our current specials, new products, and themes for the upcoming blog posts and conversations on Facebook.  We hope you'll subscribe!


Jen Starks, Owner