Sunday, May 20, 2012

Plain Please

When Gracie was little I did the introduction to food just as the pediatrician told me to. One new food every week or so to see if there were any food allergies. She ate all of the foods like a champ. Fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and meat. Never did she grimace at anything. I was lucky. Some of the moms in our play group would talk about how their kids were resistant to new foods. Some of the diets of these kids were limited to three or four things.

I worried. As did these moms. What are you to do? One mom tried blending smoothies. This worked until her child saw what she was putting into the smoothies. He didn't trust the blender after that. Another mom had her child drinking supplements and taking vitamins. And she felt so sad that her child wasn't getting enough nourishment by just eating.

So as the weeks went by we talked about all sorts of options for this mom. We made snacks and brought them to play group. I brought orange slices, raisins, strawberries one day. We encouraged the kids to make faces out of these fruits and then eat them. They were so creative. The faces were so cute. And then the snacking began. So this was all geared towards helping this one little fella experience new foods. Where was he? He had wandered into the bathroom and his mom caught him dumping his snack in the toilet. Oops.

The next week another mom brought dips. Ranch, of course, for the veggies and chocolate yogurt for the bananas. We had fancy toothpicks to use for dipping. It was a party! The kids loved it. But not the little fella we were targeting. He had dumped the toothpick cup over and was building with them.

And then this family relocated to a different state. So I can't give you the happy ending I had wished for. The one where I could tell you that the kid asks for fruit now and turns down chips. And this food issue isn't unusual. I see it all of the time. In fact I live it. Gracie is the champion for trying new foods. Guess who isn't? Yep. Scott. I had an awakening to his fussy eating when we first dated. I didn't know how to cook. I did however know how to open containers. So I made the man a spaghetti dinner. He loved it. He even ate seconds.

The following week we were visiting with his family and they said that they had heard that I made Scott dinner. He complimented my culinary skills. And then it happened. His mom asked, what did you make? Spaghetti. The whole family gasped and then started to laugh. Turns out the man doesn't eat red sauces. Or ketchup, mustard, relish or mayo. This was news to me. He even asked for seconds. It must be love someone said. And it was.

So this fussy eating husband of mine made my cooking a challenge. No red sauce. No chicken salad. No condiments of any kind. And yet now that we are about to embark on our healthier eating I wonder what is so bad about that? Scott may have had the right idea. We should taste our foods for their actual flavors. Just eat a carrot sometime. No ranch. Just the carrot. Not the baby ones either. Get a big one. Maybe even organic. Peel it and eat it. The taste is enough on it's own.

I now make my own salad dressing. My family prefers it. It's made with olive oil and we use very little. I don't use salt hardly ever. Pepper is more common. So I guess the happy ending to my food story, at least for this family, is that less is more. Trying foods in their natural state is a great experience. The flavors are fresh and real. They don't come from a bottle with a list of ingredients that I don't recognize.

Foods the way they were made. Not hard to digest, just plain simple.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Busy weekend + sick child = late post. I'll be back soon. Please stay tuned...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Store It With Style

I had lunch with a friend who shared interesting information with me about closets in Europe. She said there are hardly any. And the ones that they do have are small in comparison to our American closets. I wondered why. My friend said that Europeans will choose quality over quantity every time. Wow. That's a new concept.

We have so much stuff. It's always on sale. It's always tempting. Retailers make it impossible to resist. And so we buy. And buy and buy. One is never enough. We stockpile. We always want to have enough. Crazy, huh? When a holiday or season is over and the items go on clearance we are hard wired to crave these things. Never can have too many Christmas decorations. Valentine napkins? We need them. Easter basket stuff? We'd be crazy not to keep a huge supply. The red, white and blue stuff. Well, that can be used for Memorial Day, the Fouth of July and Labor Day.

Then there are the out of season clothing items. Marked down fifty, seventy-five and even ninety percent. Gotta have them. Then we store all of this. Often in bins that are color coordinated to the respective holiday. We have these bags that hook up to our vacuums. We in a sense shrink wrap out of season stuff. We store these under the bed, under the couch, wherever we can fit them.

We need to get a handle on this. First we need to stop spending. Then we have to start with sorting. Ask yourself these questions. Do I love it? Do I need it? Can I let it go? And for Pete's sake donate the stuff that you can live without. Then sort and store logically. If you don't it will be too hard to find it when you need it. And then the whole vicious cycle starts again. I can't find it when I need it, so I buy it again. For example, I have cleaned out my cupboards in the kitchen well enough that I actually have holiday platters and bowls in a designated area. No more digging. Stop at your local liquor store and ask for a few of the wine boxes with dividers in them. They are great for storing ornaments.

When it comes to clothes, towels and linens, make sure you can see everything. I hang items and stack things so they are visible, not pushed back where thet can't be seen. In drawers of toiletries, I use plastic take out containers to keep like things in order. The sock drawer? I usually buy white socks and black socks. Not hard to sort.

My junk drawer is sorted using Dixie cups. Rubberbands, nails, all those little itty bitty things? In cups they don't roll around anymore. Same thing in my car. Take a plastic cup and put it in a cup holder. Great place for a pen, pencil, a few stamps, a lip balm a couple of extra straws and napkins. All at your finger tips.

Roll things up in drawers and it makes more room for clothing. It keeps them wrinkle free and ready to pack in suitcases, too. Always ready for a quick spontaneous trip. When it comes to furniture buy ottomans and coffee tables with storage in them. Roll up the blankets that are usually on the back of the couch and store them inside. You know all of that stuff in the middle of the kitchen table that you need? Buy an attractive box with a lid or a box with a hinged top and put salt/pepper, napkins and toothpicks inside. All contained and pretty to boot.

Overall less is more. You should be able to open a cupboard, drawer or closet see everything at a glance. You should pretend you are selling your house and stage your closets in a way that would make your realtor proud! And for certain don't forget the golden rule. Take it out, put it back. This is more than half the battle. We should start thinking like Europeans. Buy quality over quantity. And store it with style, too.