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Watermelon Salad with Avocado, Feta, Mint and Pomegranate Dressing

2 Jun Watermelon Salad with Avocado, Feta, Mint and Pomegranate Dressing

Whew!  The blog has been silent for quite sometime, but I have a good excuse…

We packed up Baby Bird for her first international jaunt to Paris and Ireland (Yes, I realize that it sound weird to list a city and then a country as separate destinations, but I figured it was easer than listing every town we visited in Ireland!) where we all ate entirely too much bread and cheese for 15 days.  But we ran it off…

The Hubs on a morning Paris run

The Hubs on a morning Paris run

The Hubs completely dominating The Cliffs of Moher

The Hubs completely dominating The Cliffs of Moher

International travel even has a way of making ME look like a competent runner

A little run through The Burren- International travel even has a way of making ME look like a competent runner

So I guess we sort of had baguette immunity since we were running.  That’s a thing, right?

We’ve only been home a few days- we are currently struggling to get a toddler back on the correct time zone… YIKES!- and I’m trying to keep things simple, so when we got an invite to a friends house for dinner* I went with my very favorite, super simple summer combo of watermelon and feta for our addition to the fete.  Just to be fancy, I jazzed it up with avocado, mint, and a pomegranate simple syrup that were still all very easy but felt slightly elevated.

To be clear, this is the salad that will accompany me to all gatherings in the next few months.  So if you invite us over, don’t you add this to your menu and then expect me to arrive with a berry crostada embellished to look like the American flag.  You’ve been warned!

Okay, okay… if you ask really nicely, I’ll still show up with a patriotic dessert.

But you better have plenty of watermelon salad!

 

*If you invite people over for dinner after they’ve been out of town with a toddler for awhile, you are totally awesome.  Chances are anyone traveling with kids is exhausted and looking for any excuse to not have to cook a meal at home… and then clean it up!

Watermelon Salad with Avocado, Feta, Mint and Pomegranate Dressing

Watermelon Salad with Avocado, Feta, Mint, and Pomegranate Dressing

  • about 1 lb watermelon, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 avocados, cubed
  • 6 oz solid feta, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 2 sprigs of fresh mint
  • 1 cup unsweetened, pure pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

In a small saucepan, bring pomegranate juice, sugar, and maple syrup to a simmer and reduce to form a thin simple syrup.  Set aside in a container to cool.

Layer watermelon, avocado, and feta in a large serving bowl.

Pick the mint leaves from the springs and chiffonade.  Sprinkle leaves across the top of the feta layer.

Serve with dressing on the side (the most attractive presentation) or toss with simple syrup dressing just before serving.

 

Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings

31 Jan Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings- Paint free tissue paper paintings for inspired little minds at Go Running, Mama!

More heart fun at our house!  Baby Bird is all about making Valentines for people right now.  If she had it her way, art time in our home would be extended to a 10 hour daily paint and glitter fest until February 14th but sometimes I need a little break from all the mess.  Tissue paper painting satisfies Bird’s desire to paint without making a huge mess or necessitating a trip to the craft store to purchase special supplies.  Plus, the end result looks far fancier than you could ever imagine!

Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings- Paint free tissue paper paintings for inspired little minds at Go Running, Mama!

I guarantee you have all of the materials for this one floating around your house already: printer paper, parchment paper, scissors, a paintbrush, and colored tissue paper squares.  Whenever we are given a gift with tissue paper inside, I stash it away and cut it down into squares for craft projects galore!

Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings- Paint free tissue paper paintings for inspired little minds at Go Running, Mama!

Cut a heart stencil from the parchment paper.  Depending on how heavy handed your kiddo is with water and paint, you might want to cut several heart stencils as overly saturated parchment paper has a tendency to roll up which would be a problem if you want to make multiple heart paintings.

Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings- Paint free tissue paper paintings for inspired little minds at Go Running, Mama!

Lay a piece of printer paper over a placemat and cover with the heart stencil.  Anchor the stencil (we use awesome triangle crayons).

Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings- Paint free tissue paper paintings for inspired little minds at Go Running, Mama!

 

Let your little layer tissue squares over the stencil and paint away with water.

Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings- Paint free tissue paper paintings for inspired little minds at Go Running, Mama!

Peel the squares from the paper- Baby Bird loves to help with this step and it’s excellent for her small motor skills.

Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings- Paint free tissue paper paintings for inspired little minds at Go Running, Mama!

 

Once you remove all of the tissue squares, pull up the stencil and lay out to dry.  Et voila!

Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings- Paint free tissue paper paintings for inspired little minds at Go Running, Mama!

 

Baby Bird decided to transition to a free form project after making several hearts.  Though she covered the entire page with squares, she only decided to paint a few.

Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings- Paint free tissue paper paintings for inspired little minds at Go Running, Mama!

 

She enjoyed inspecting her work in the light!

Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings- Paint free tissue paper paintings for inspired little minds at Go Running, Mama!

 

I’ve claimed one of the hearts as my own Valentine’s gift from my little sweetheart!

Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings- Paint free tissue paper paintings for inspired little minds at Go Running, Mama!

 

 

 

2013: The Rundown

5 Jan

Even though I didn’t have this platform at the beginning of 2013 to share my goals, I thought it would be fun to look back at the year to see the pluses and deltas (the former inner city educator in me still rules my assessment technique vocabulary).  Reflection is a handy tool when setting yourself up for success in the future.

Resolutions

Running/Fitness

  • 2 Hour Half–  I was thrilled to complete a sub-2 hour marathon in March (at Zooma Texas which gave out PR medals last year… totally sweet perk!), which meant I quickly reloaded this goal to a 4 hour marathon.  Leah (my coach) and I set my training sights on a 4 hour finish at the BCS Marathon in December… which didn’t happen.  The 4 hour marathon goal will show up once again in 2014.

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

  • 25 Miles a Week– I was hoping to put in enough mileage over the year to average at least 25 miles for the year.  My actualization? 623.71 miles for the year which averaged out to 11.9 miles a week.  Weak.  464 of those miles were January-May.

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

  • Take Class–  In 2013, I wanted to commit more to taking dance classes instead of just teaching.  I did a great job during the summer when my training was stalled, but I didn’t come close to the diligence I was hoping for… probably because I didn’t really establish a measurable goal.

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

Personal

  • Personal Blog– I enjoy sharing my thoughts with the interwebs, but before when I was blogging for other people’s sites I really only got to share on a limited scope.  I wanted a platform to simply do my own thing on whatever topics and whatever pace seemed natural.  After I had surgery in June, I found the time to start this blog.  Hooray!

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

  • Artisan Bread Baking– I wanted to greatly improve my artisan bread baking skills and push myself to try a new type of bread baking each month.  I had visions of bigas, starters, and soakers. Empty visions.  In reality, I greatly improved my bread baking prowess on my go to bread recipe and did a great job at adapting that recipe to high altitude baking, but I didn’t really push myself out of my comfort zone.

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

  • Learn Basic French– Knowing that Baby Bird will start French school Fall of 2014 made me keen to start learning basic French in 2013.  We started working with a French tutor weekly in August and my comprehension has greatly improved, but I frequently defer to The Hubs to speak for me… even in a lesson.  I need to get braver.  I’m a big girl.

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

Parenting

  • French Vocabulary– So that Baby Bird doesn’t feel overwhelmed by the dual changes of starting school and learning a new language in Fall of 2014, I wanted to help her to learn French in 2013.  She loves her French tutor, sings French nursery songs, and surprises us frequently by incorporating terms into her daily speech so this one feels like a victory!

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

  • Number Sense– When I was a teacher, I was shocked by the number of students I would see in middle school who didn’t have a basic understanding of what numbers represented.  It was my goal for 2013 to help Baby Bird develop a basic understanding of numbers and number concepts through play and manipulatives.  I feel that she has an appropriate understanding of numbers for someone with her cognitive development level which she has demonstrated through her basic usage and actions.  Awesome!

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

  • Social Skills– More easily put, 2013 was the year of establishing “Don’t be an a-hole” social basics and empathy training.  Obviously, I’m not using the term “a-hole” with my toddler but when we boil it down, that’s what this goal represents.  We worked on empathy, affirmations, and managing and respecting big emotions.  In the end, I have a toddler who can identify and acknowledge many of her emotions, verbalize them, and let me know when she needs a quite time or to have a conversation… most of the time.  And some of the time she still melts down.  Because she is two.  All in all, she is better emotionally equipped for life than I was at 25.  Win.

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

Race Recap

The first quarter of 2013 was packed with races.  We kicked things off with a bang at the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend at which my husband ran the half marathon as an easy training run (1:25:42) and I ran The Goofy Challenge- a back to back half (2:33:01) and full marathon (5:23:57).  They certainly weren’t my fastest finish times, but the name of the game was completing each day’s race with enough remaining energy to enjoy the rest of the at the parks with Baby Bird.

Go Running Mama- WDW Marathon 2013

If you’ve never run a Disney race, I highly recommend it.  Disney puts just as much attention to detail into their race courses as they into everything else- fabulous scenery in and out of the parks, character stops (not my thing when I’m running, but a fun break for many), ample aid and restroom stations, great entertainment and music, fantastic crowd support, and tons of little magical surprises.  Once your running, it’s easy to ignore the fact that you had to get up at 2:30 am to ride the monorail to EPCOT to make your corral call time of 5 am or some such nonsense.

The Goofy was my first back to back race and marked my highest mileage week ever.  And it was HOT for a January race- thankfully I’ve trained through an Austin summer.  I was a little tired and a LOT nervous on marathon day, especially since I realized that the only way I would be able to run comfortably would be in my sports bra since I’d packed running gear for a colder temperature.  That was a big move for a woman who had a baby less than two years prior and a major “shirtless” victory for a lady with some lingering post-partum body image issues.

Additionally, I was corralled back further than I should have been and I didn’t want to wait in the corrections line at the expo because we might have missed our dinner reservations with Mickey so I decided to simply run with the corral I was assigned.  This turned out to be a blessing in disguise- since my assigned corral’s start was so delayed I was able to see The Hubs in his final miles as I was within my first five, and two days of having to run around slower people who started ahead of me provided enough of a push to buckle down in my training to start running the paces I was capable of (at least for a good six months).  All in all it was a fabulous experience that I will definitely repeat (next time with a better corral), even if I spent a good portion of down time chilling in Baby Bird’s stroller following the marathon.

WDW Marathon- Go Running, Mama!

One month later, I ran the Austin Half Marathon (2:24:59) pacing my dear friend Rachel through her first race ever (That’s EVER y’all… no 5k or middle school track meet to speak of in her past!).  Her goal was to finish in 2:30 or better, so 2:24 was an awesome result.  I hadn’t had much time since WDW to make any real progress which was fine since that race was about Rachel and not me.  Even better than sharing a personal victory with one of my closest friends was the fact that The Hubs finished the marathon in 3:00:07, securing his BQ for 2014.

Go Running, Mama!- My BRF's Runiversary

Once Austin was over, my amazing coach Leah helped me buckle down and make some serious progress.  My goal was to run a sub 2 hour marathon the next month.  A PR by 23 minutes is totally reasonable, right?  When I joined my girlfriends for Zooma Half Marathon (1:58:34) in March is was ready to make the most of any improvement that could be made from a month of hard work.  My mama friends and I stayed at the Hyatt Lost Pines the night before the race and had a wonderful, relaxing girls’ night out before race morning.  With the support of my good friend Casey who met me on the golf course and paced my last few miles after her 5k, I managed a sub 2 hour finish followed a lot of happy tear and hugs with Casey and a fabulous brunch with the ladies.

Go Running Mama- Run Gorgeous

After my Zooma success, I buckled down ready to try my hand at some night trail races during the summer to vary my training before my fall race schedule, but that didn’t really end up working out as planned.

Bumps in the Road

Once I’d really built up some great training momentum in June, I had a brush with melanoma and had to have surgery.  Total bummer!  My incision was on my abdomen, right where my running shorts rubbed which further delayed my training.  When I could finally start running again it was in the dead heat of Austin summer… pretty oppressive.

In September I was diagnosed with mono and a severe Vitamin D deficiency which once again stopped me in my tracks.  Fall races? Cancelled.

In November, Baby Bird got pretty sick and our family was introduced to febrile seizures.  As every mama knows, the health of your family trumps all “me” time activities so there was no time for stress reliving activities but plenty of stress… which led to some time at the cardiologist for me.  Makes total sense for a marathon running, health conscious (moderately) young woman.

It’s all made it interesting and made us really flexible.  And compared to the hardships faced by multitudes of families these were infinitesimally small challenges.  And they will make the high points of 2014 even sweeter!

Top 13 in 2013

2 Jan My 5 Favorite Posts of 2013- Go Running, Mama!

This blog has been a new adventure for me and, even though it only covered the second half of the year, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at my 13 most popular posts of 2013.

It’s been a lot of fun sharing, and I’m excited about another year with y’all!

Top 13 posts in 2013- Go Running, Mama!

13. Exhaustion, Smoothie Pick Me Ups, and a Virtual Half Marathon Comedy of Errors (September)- Forgetting water during a high altitude half marathon, finding out I had mono, and the smoothies that got me through the ordeal!

12. Carrot Top Tacos (July)- Spiced carrots and beans with carrot top chimichurri.  Never, ever waste your carrot tops again.

11. Maple Bacon Biscuits (September)-  Maple.  Bacon. Biscuit.  Trifecta.

10. Gifts from the Heart: Apple Cinnamon Ornaments (December)- An ultra non-toxic clay that makes heavenly scented ornaments or an amazing material for sensory play.

9.  #FirstontheFirst Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Penuche Frosting (October)- We were supposed to make candy, but I cheated and frosted a very yummy cake with this praline-esque frosting.

8. #FirstontheFirst Gateau Larsson (September)- My Scandinavian twist on a traditional Basque dessert.

7.  Gifts from the Heart: Baking Soda Clay Ornaments (December)- These smooth ornaments are an inexpensive (and toddler friendly) alternative to a trip to a ceramics studio.

6. Creamy Garlic Kefir Pasta (July)- A probiotic packed easy meal.

5. Cinnamon Quinoa Lunchbox Bars (August)- Lunchbox snacks don’t get much healthier.

4. Meeska… Mooska… Mouseka Cakes: Zucchini Quinoa Lunchbox Patties (August)- Healthy food tastes even better in Mickey Mouse form.

3. #FirstontheFirst Candy Canes for Cheaters (December)- Once again, we were supposed to make candy.  And I didn’t.  But I think you’ll forgive me when you taste these cookies.

2. Frosty the Cheese Man: Snowman Cheese Ball with Hand Cut Tortilla Chips (December)- The most adorable, toddler friendly appetizer you’ll ever bring to a gathering.

1. Gifts from the Heart: Homemade Ornaments– Salt dough ornaments are a classic go-to holiday activity.

Looking for even more fun?  Here are my five favorite posts you may have missed this year…

My 5 Favorite Posts of 2013- Go Running, Mama!

Long Run Breakfast: Maple Walnut Kefir Biscuits and Fruit Salad

30 Dec Maple Walnut Kefir Biscuits- Go Running, Mama!

Hey, Jenn… remember when you stated a blog and called it ‘Go Running, Mama!’ because you spent all of your ‘me’ time running?  Remember that? Do you think you should… I don’t know… actually talk about running again sometime soon!?

Fair point, Inner Dialogue. Very fair point.

Except I haven’t been running consistently since the summer because the second half of 2013 has been a bit of a comedy of errors for me.

So what’s a mother runner on hiatus to do?  Post about my husband’s runs.  Obviously.  It’s smoke and mirrors, y’all… just enough to get myself back into training mode (which is happening TODAY) so that you forget that you read the last 10 posts and thought “She should have called this blog ‘Go Make Ornaments and Cookies, Mama!'”  It’s all a clever ruse.

This weekend The Hubs had his first long run with the Team Rogue Sisson crew.  We’ve both been working with an amazing coach, Leah Soro at Enlightened Performance, for a almost two years (I like to describe myself very officially as the most infuriating runner Leah has ever had to coach) and she has pushed The Hubs to a level of excellence… not to mention the miracles she always works with me in the inevitably short period in which I focus before each race and claim I’m going to be consistently dedicated forever and ever from that point on (Spoiler Alert: I never follow through on that promise).

The only thing that is lacking with one-to-one coaching is teammates.  For me, this is is fine- I need someone who is going to help me work around toddler illness and playdates, late nights and nap boycotts, and who understands that workouts change based on whether or not I might need to push a stroller that day (Hill repeats?  During a week filled with freezing rain? With a toddler in a jogger?  It’s great to be able to send a text to Leah and get some different direction); when I need a running buddy I toss mine in the stroller; and there are no shortage of ladies I know willing to run my pace during a race.  I need the world’s most flexible way to be a coached runner- which Leah has patiently and graciously provided for me.

The man of the house is different.  If it’s on his plan, he will do it.  If there is a blizzard he will still do it, and he will probably do it better and faster than you asked him to perform.  And then he will come home and do double the conditioning exercises you asked him to do, a focused yin yoga series and foam rolling, and commence to quiz me on his appropriate nutrient intake based on that specific workout given our current elevation and a slight fluctuation in his temperature and heart rate.  And then he’ll do 100 burpees because he’s been standing still for too long.  So he’s a little serious.

In his less than three years as a runner he has made major strides, much of that with Leah’s guidance.  Joining Team Rogue is going to give him a new edge- the ability to push himself to the performance level of even faster athletes.  Peer pressure at its finest.  I don’t know if you can tell, but he’s not the kind of guy who likes to be left behind.

The Team Rogue Sisson crew was scheduled to run 20 miles on Saturday.  The Hubs is coming back from a calf injury so he said he thought he’d run 15 or 16.  I know him, so I figured that meant he would run a 10 mile warm up at 4:30 am and then decide to run the full 20 with Rogue as well.  Judging by his extreme focus and determination when laying out his gear on Friday night, the odds seemed in my favor.  30 miler, anyone?

Big training events are celebration points at our house, so Baby Bird and I decided to make a big breakfast for Daddy.  After a long run, he needs around 20 grams of protein and ideally we aim for around a 3:1 carb to protein ratio for his meal 30 minutes after his run.  Though I knew he would come home and immediately ask for bacon and eggs, I wanted to back off of the cholesterol and rely on healthier fats.  I decided on scrambled eggs, fruit salad,and maple walnut kefir biscuits.

Maple Walnut Kefir Biscuits- Go Running, Mama!

Our scrambled eggs are eggs with just a pinch or salt, butcher cut pepper, with a little olive or grapeseed oil in the pan- no extra daily mixed in.  (Last year we did an elimination diet in which we discovered The Hubs performs better when he avoids uncultured dairy) We mixed up a fruit salad with berries (high in antioxidants), bananas (potassium), mint (abundant in nutrients such as vitamin A and iron), and avocado.  In addition to the abundance of healthy monounsaturated fats contained in avocados, they also help to slow down the flow of glucose to your cells so they provide a bit of a balance to the high sugar content in fruit salads (especially if they contain high glucose fruits like grapes, date, bananas, or oranges).

Maple Walnut Kefir Biscuits were born of my love for all things drop-biscuit married to the prolific use of walnuts, grade B maple syrup, and kefir in my kitchen.  We are seriously obsessed with kefir.  I often use it as a substitute for sour cream, creme fraiche, or yogurt when cooking.  It’s a great probiotic addition to smoothies and make a really simple pasta sauce.  Plus, it’s about as toddler friendly as probiotics get.  Lifeway Probugs have been a game changer for us, Baby Bird thinks they are the greatest dessert in the world.  When she saw that Lifeway had a booth at ACL Kiddie Limits this year and were giving away free Probugs push pops, she declared it the coolest event in the universe.  She is still talking about how much she loves ACL.

Maple Walnut Kefir Biscuits- Go Running, Mama!

A maple walnut biscuit should clearly be a sweet biscuit.  Using maple syrup in the biscuits lets me cut down considerably on the sugar content, and using grade b maple syrup lets me use even less maple syrup in the sugar’s place without sacrificing sweetness or mapleyness.  Glazing the biscuits with grade B maple syrup packs an extra punch of manganese and zinc for a guy who is sufficiently sweating out huge quantities of salts and minerals on a daily basis.  Walnuts are high in omega-3s but, more importantly, research shows they may have significant cardiovascular benefits.  And a healthy heart is a very good thing for an endurance athlete.

When The Hubs returned home from his run (20 miles… underachiever) he was in great spirits and very much in need of a post run meal.  Once he hit the entryway, I heard the expected question… “Can we have some bacon?”

The answer was yes… a little… spread sparingly on a walnut kefir biscuit (in the form of bacon beer jam) and enjoyed with fruit and eggs.

Maple Walnut Kefir Biscuits and Bacon Beer Jam- Go Running, Mama!

That was an acceptable compromise.

We all sat down to enjoy a recap of that morning’s run over a fabulous breakfast.  And admire the sweet new Adidas Glide Boosts he purchased at Rogue after his run.

And, of course, to enjoy a little family core work and yin yoga.  And to discuss the carb to protein ratio in the exact breakfast portions The Hubs had just consumed.

Some things never change.

Maple Walnut Kefir Biscuits- Go Running, Mama!

Maple Walnut Kefir Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted cultured butter (slightly softened)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbs grade B maple syrup + more for glazing biscuits
  • 1/4 cup plain kefir
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • generous 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine butter, sugar and egg in the bowl of a stand mixer and cream.  Add the maple syrup and kefir and mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda and whisk well to incorporate.

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until just combined.  Gently stir in the walnuts.

Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto a baking sheet lined in parchment paper.  Bake for 12 minutes until biscuits are beginning to brown slightly.

Remove to a cooling rack and brush biscuits with maple syrup to glaze.

Make 12-14 biscuits.

Gifts from the Heart: Baking Soda Clay Ornaments

17 Dec Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

Looking for even more ornament ideas?  Check out our Salt Dough Ornaments and Cinnamon Clay Ornaments!

I’m pretty close to breathing a a sigh of relief because we’ve almost completed all of our homemade gifts for this year.  I grew up with a mom who could command salt dough to do some pretty spectacular things, so that’s what we’ve used for our homemade ornaments in the past.  There are a couple of challenges with salt dough though- it takes forever to dry completely so you can paint and varnish and the surface isn’t completely smooth which gives it an adorable, shabby appearance but makes it hard for a little one to decorate with anything other than a paintbrush.

This year we were getting a later start and we also wanted to get started with our gift ornaments with some other playgroup friends during what Baby Bird referred to as her “ornament play party” so I decided that we would switch to baking soda clay for this year.  Baking soda clay bakes to dry much quicker than salt dough and dries with a perfectly smooth finish- my beautiful friend Kristin who joined us with her son for ornament creation pointed out that they looked and felt exactly like the ornaments available at the ceramics studio she and I have visited with our kiddos in the past.  She is right- they have a smooth, non-porous finish with a light sheen from the baking soda that makes them look special even without decorating.

The best part is they can be decorated with crayons and markers should you choose to keep the paint packed away.  You could even toss a few dried ornaments and markers into a ziplock bag in your purse to tote along for moments when your little one needs a fun activity if you are in a waiting room or stuck in traffic.  Baby Bird and I packed up a few with some markers to deliver to the porch of a friend with a sick kiddo who had been stuck at home for a few days.  There is nothing better than a virtual playdate delivery!

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

The night before our “ornament play party” I made a batch of baking soda clay and Baby Bird and I cut lots of fun ornament shapes with our cookie cutters.  I baked them that evening so the kids would have an activity to work on while I made fresh clay for the kiddo’s handprint ornaments.

The precut, baked ornaments were a big hit and kept little hands very busy.  So busy, in fact, that I ended up sending the baking soda clay I made for handprint ornaments home with my mama friends…so I’ve been on the hook to provide step by step instructions for just what to do with that bag of clay I sent home!

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

As you can see, Baby Bird is on a monochromatic kick.

This year I decided I’d like to give handprint reindeer and fingerprint Christmas trees since it has been two years since made anything that included Baby Bird’s fingerprints.  Instead of doing relief  handprints for a second year in a row, I opted for cutting a stencil of Bird’s hand to use for the reindeer.

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

I moved the cut shapes to a baking sheet lined in parchment and had Baby Bird make little fingerprint indentions on the trees-pinky finger at the top down to thumb at the bottom.  Then into the oven!

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

I started with the trees since I knew they would be my most time consuming project.  I’ve discovered that things turn out better when you paint the edges of your ornaments first.  Otherwise, you end up with a slightly noticeable border on the face of your ornament.

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

Once the trees were painted and dry, I primed the fingerprint reliefs with white paint I applied wit a cotton swab so that Baby Bird’s fingerprints would really stand out.

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

I let Baby Bird select the colors we would use for each fingerprint and made sure we had wipes close at hand before we started adding colored fingerprints to the tree.  Two things to know- 1) there WILL be mess when you paint on a toddler hand so prepare for it and 2) you have to work at the speed of light to ensure your tiny artist doesn’t grow weary of the project in the middle!  So be prepared.

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

We worked finger by finger down the trees- we first did all the pinky finger marks on our trees and worked out way down… much easier that doing each tree separately.  Though it took considerable guiding to ensure Baby Bird’s prints made it in each proper place, she had a blast yelling “Smooosh” each time she squished her finger into the indention and left a print.  Oh, how that girl loves to smoosh.

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

When I decided on fingerprint trees, I hadn’t quite decided if the fingerprints should represent ornaments or lights.  Once all the color had been applied, the fingerprinted trees looked adorable but they just didn’t feel complete…

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

So I added a “string” to make fingerprint lights which felt much better!

Once they were dry, I hung them from a drying rack outside and sprayed them with a coat of low gloss acrylic sealer.

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

While the trees dried, I move on to the reindeer handprints which were insanely simple by comparison.

Paint the handprints brown.

Seriously.  That’s it.

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

Once the paint is dry, spray them with a sealer and apply eyes, a nose, and a bow.

Done.  Wham, bam, Happy Holidays Ma’am!

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

I love that they feel totally different from the Santas and Penguins with gave as gifts last year, but are every bit as homespun and heartfelt!  Between these, the cinnamon clay ornaments, and the reindeer tea towels we have in progress we now have holiday gifting from the toddler locked down. Such a nice feeling.

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

Baking Soda Clay

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/3 cups cold water
  • 1 tbs cooking oil (I use olive or grapeseed since we don’t keep canola or mixed vegetable oil in the house)

Directions:  Whisk baking soda and cornstarch together in a medium sized saucepan.  Add liquids together and slowly whisk into dry ingredients.

Place saucepan on a burner at med/med-high heat and stir frequently with a silicone spoon/spatula.  Mixture will boil and then begin form clumps- once you see the first bubbles reach the surface of the mixture, move from stirring frequently to constantly, scraping the bottom of the pan as you go.  Mixture will soon form a thick mass that holds its shape and will be the consistency of slightly dry mashed potatoes.

Turn mixture out into a glass bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel to cool slightly.  Once cool to the touch, turn out onto parchment and knead until very smooth.

Preheat oven to 175 degrees F.

On parchment lightly dusted with cornstarch, roll out dough to a thickness between 1/4- 1/2 inch.  Less than 1/4 inch thick will cause cracking and breakage during the drying process.

Cut dough into desired shapes.  Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake in oven for 90 minutes, rotate sheet and flip ornaments, and return to oven for 30 minutes more.

Once dry and cool paint, decorate, and varnish as desired. If painting a more detailed design, brush ornaments with a damp sponge before painting to allow better paint manipulation as paint adsorbs quickly.

Gifts from the Heart (Quick and Easy Edition): Cinnamon Apple Clay Ornaments

16 Dec Gifts from the Heart: Super Simple Cinnamon Clay Ornaments (No painting or varnishing actually required!)- Go Running, Mama!

Gifts from the Heart: Super Simple Cinnamon Clay Ornaments (No painting or varnishing actually required!)- Go Running, Mama!

Looking for even more ornament ideas?  Check out our Salt Dough Ornaments and Cinnamon Clay Ornaments!

Friday morning- the day after hosting what Baby Bird referred to as her “ornament play party” at our house- we had play plans with my good friend Laura and her daughters.  It was actually our turn to host Laura and her girls, but since she has an infant it just feels easier for her when we are on her home turf… but I’m not one to shirk my hostessing duties (especially for a mom with an infant) so we offered to bring lunch and the activity along with us so she didn’t have to think about it. Since we’re on a homemade gift making binge at our home, I offered to make some cinnamon clay to bring along so the girls could make some gifts.

We’re on a roll with ornament creation at our house because ornaments make awesome, heartfelt seasonal gifts for loved ones from the littles.  Laura and I have similar parenting styles, so I knew that she too would be into a little homemade gift making time, but I didn’t want to invade her home with the level of mess that accompanies most ornament projects so i decided that cinnamon clay was the right choice for two specific reasons- cinnamon clay requires no real additional painting or sealing and it makes your home smell amazing when baking them in the oven which is a great value add for an activity you tote to a friends house.

I like to keep our cinnamon clay nontoxic and foodsafe, so I leave out the white craft glue that many recipes add.  Ours is simply equal parts cinnamon and applesauce plus the addition of ground clove and nutmeg.  My Cuisinart Mini Prep makes quick work of mixing it up and then it only requires a few minutes of extra hand kneading to get the feel for the correct consistency.

Gifts from the Heart: Super Simple Cinnamon Clay Ornaments (No painting or varnishing actually required!)- Go Running, Mama!

Roll it our between 1/4-1/2 inch thickness and then all that is required is some cookie cutters and a straw to poke the hole for the string.  This makes a pretty easy project to give the kiddos free reign in design once things are rolled out since I don’t have to worry about depth of handprints or perfect paint jobs later on.  Baby Bird has developed a habit of making light patterns in the dough with her cookie cutters before actually cutting a shape which makes for an end design with a visually interesting texture- obviously a young van Gogh in the making.

Gifts from the Heart: Super Simple Cinnamon Clay Ornaments (No painting or varnishing actually required!)- Go Running, Mama!

You see the photos flanking this text?  That you are witnessing here is some very serious toddler art discussion time!  Though “I am making a BIG snowman!” “Well, I am making one teeny!” might not sound all that profound, but it’s something pretty major when you consider that it shows thoughtful comparison and evaluation of a peer’s work.  Toddlers are amazing little creatures!

Gifts from the Heart: Super Simple Cinnamon Clay Ornaments (No painting or varnishing actually required!)- Go Running, Mama!

Really and truly, all you have to do it transfer the cut shapes to a cookie sheet lined in parchment, punch ribbon holes with a straw, bake them in the oven (heed my ornament flipping instructions in the directions- these little suckers like to try to curl up on ou!), and call it a day while your house smells like heaven. Tie a cute ribbon around them, hang them on the tree near the lights or as a finial on a lamp et viola!  A fantastic smelling, super easy, toddler generated creation.

Gifts from the Heart: Super Simple Cinnamon Clay Ornaments (No painting or varnishing actually required!)- Go Running, Mama!

But if you get the itch to over-achieve, you can get out the fabric paint (isn’t everyone channeling 1987 at their house with a healthy stash of puff paint?) and paint a little cookie border.  Gold star for the extra effort!

Even with that little addition, these are still the quickest and easiest baked ornament craft we create at our house.  Hooray for that!

Gifts from the Heart: Super Simple Cinnamon Clay Ornaments (No painting or varnishing actually required!)- Go Running, Mama!

Cinnamon Clay Ornaments

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar free apple sauce (not chunky)
  • 1 cup cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbs ground clove
  • 1/2 tbs ground nutmeg

Directions: Preheat oven to 175 degrees F.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor (a Cuisinart Mini Prep does the trick perfectly!) and pulse to combine.  Turn out onto parchment generously dusted with cinnamon and knead with cinnamon dusted hands.  If mixture is slightly sticky, knead in more cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg to your personal preference.  Knead until clay dough is smooth and elastic but no longer actively sticky.

Roll out between two sheets of parchment dusted with cinnamon.  For best results, roll dough between 1/2 inch and 1/4 inch thickness- the thicker the ornament, the longer the dry time but the less curling.  Use cookie cutters to cut designs and a straw to punch a hole for ribbon.

Remove shapes to a cookie sheet lined in parchment and reroll the remaining dough to cut additional ornaments.

Bake at 175 in 30 minute increments, flipping ornaments every half hour.  Bake time to dry will take between 1 1/2- 2 1/2 hours, depending on thickness of the ornaments.

Gifts from the Heart: Helping Hand Heart Cookies

15 Dec Gifts from the Heart: Helping Hands Heart Cookies- A great edible gift using your little's handprint and artistry at Go Running, Mama!

Gifts from the Heart: Helping Hands Heart Cookies- A great edible gift using your little's handprint and artistry at Go Running, Mama!

We’ve got hearts and hands on the brain at our house right now.  Baby Bird and I send lots of time talking about feelings and sharing affirmations, and it seems that hands and hearts are frequently in the rotation.

“I like your gentle hands… thank you for your caring heart… I’m glad I had your helping hands around… I appreciate your kind heart.”

These are good times, my friends.

It also makes it extra special to make our favorite cookie gifts for the helping hands in our lives since Baby Bird is becoming  hyper-aware of how kindness and helping affect her day and the lives of those around her.  Dance teachers, tutors, neighbors, and the nice ladies that give her big hugs at Daddy’s office- kindness deserves to be recognized and affirmed.

When making gifts I like Baby Bird to be as involved as possible in each step, and cookies are a pretty perfect way to engage her because she can contribute to each step.

I pre-measure all of our ingredients and let her add them to the bowl.  With a little help, she’s a great whisker too!  I even let her run the final pass of the rolling pin when rolling out our cookie dough.

And of course, her hand print creates the cookie shape for this gift.  I create a stencil of her hand and then hand cut the cookies from the dough with a knife.

Gifts from the Heart: Helping Hands Heart Cookies- A great edible gift using your little's handprint and artistry at Go Running, Mama!

I also create a heart outline stencil.  Once I’ve cut the cookies I lay the stencil over each one, paint the interior of the stencil with an egg wash, and let Baby Bird sprinkle the stencil with colored sugar.

Gifts from the Heart: Helping Hands Heart Cookies- A great edible gift using your little's handprint and artistry at Go Running, Mama!

We let the cookies cool completely on a rack… which is normally when Baby Bird volunteers to “help” taste them.

Gifts from the Heart: Helping Hands Heart Cookies- A great edible gift using your little's handprint and artistry at Go Running, Mama!

Once they are cool, Baby Bird gets to decorate the cookies with cookie markers all by herself!  She is always so proud of this part because she gets complete creative control.  And she always snaps a few “fingers” along the way, so I’ve learned to make about half a dozen more cookies than we need.

Gifts from the Heart: Helping Hands Heart Cookies- A great edible gift using your little's handprint and artistry at Go Running, Mama!

The end result is beautiful in a way that only gifts made by a toddler can be- so sweet!

Gifts from the Heart: Helping Hands Heart Cookies- A great edible gift using your little's handprint and artistry at Go Running, Mama!

Then we bundle up a pair of hands (right and left!) and attach a note thanking our special friends for their helping hands!  It makes a great gift for people who aren’t close enough to us to truly want a toddler made craft to hang on the tree or display in their home- but who would probably do so out of politeness- but who deserve a heartfelt gift for the way they contribute to our lives.

Gifts from the Heart: Helping Hands Heart Cookies- A great edible gift using your little's handprint and artistry at Go Running, Mama!

Helping Hand Sugar Cookies with Sanding Sugar Hearts

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (plus some additional for rolling)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk for egg wash
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • colored sanding sugar

Directions:  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together sugar and butter until light and fluffy.  Beat in 1 whole egg and vanilla.  With mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture and beat until combined.

Divide dough in half and flatten into disks.  Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and freeze for about 20 minutes to firm.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Remove one disk of dough and let stand 5 minutes.  Roll dough 1/8-1/4 inch thickness.  Cut handprints by hand or using a cookie cutter.  Carefully transfer handprints to a parchment lined baking sheet and place in freezer for 8-12minutes.

Combine egg yolk with 1 tbs water to make an egg wash.

Remove from freezer, place heart stencil over each cookie, paint with egg wash, and sprinkle on colored sanding sugar.

Bake for 8-15 minutes depending on handprint size and thickness.

Allow to cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes and then transfer to cooling rack using a spatula.

Repeat with remaining dough.

Gifts from the Heart: Homemade Ornaments

2 Dec Go Running, Mama! Homemade Salt Dough Ornaments- Easy, Inexpensive Homemade Gifts

Go Running, Mama! Homemade Salt Dough Ornaments- Easy, Inexpensive Homemade Gifts

Looking for more homemade ornament ideas?  Check out Baby Bird’s amazingly awesome Baking Soda Clay Ornaments and Cinnamon Clay Ornaments!

 

Baby Bird might be less than three years old, but we’ve helped her to establish the tradition of making homemade gifts for her loved ones (and she’s got a whole lotta people to love) each holiday season.  Last year we made salt dough ornaments with her hand and foot prints that turned out absolutely adorable.  I’m seriously sad I didn’t make a few extra for our tree!

A few days ago I got a text from another stay-at-home mama friend on a budget asking for the how-to on our salt dough ornament activity from last year, so it seemed like the perfect thing to share right here!

Salt dough is easy and inexpensive. It take a little muscle to knead it to the right consistency and a little more patience to get it to dry out fully before the painting stage, but the moderate effort required is well worth the absolutely precious outcome.  You’ll be hard pressed to find a more impressive gift project using items that exist in your pantry!

The first step is a simple one: Mix up a batch of salt dough in your stand mixer (recipe below).  You aren’t going to eat this one (although if your little one nibbles a corner during the creative process- it is non-toxic!) so you can mix like crazy without having to fear over-glutenizing the flour.

Go Running, Mama! Homemade Salt Dough Ornaments- Easy, Inexpensive Homemade Gifts

Once everything is well mixed, turn out the dough and knead it well.  Toddlers love to help with this step even though their assistance doesn’t really help.  Who cares!  Helping hands and working hands learning to care and assist at home.

Knead until smooth, then cover with a damp towel and let it rest for about a half an hour.

Go Running, Mama! Homemade Salt Dough Ornaments- Easy, Inexpensive Homemade Gifts

After the rest period, I rolled the dough out to about 1/2 inch thickness on floured parchment on a cookie sheet.  The cookie sheet is totally necessary if you’re going to do little feet and don’t want those feet on your counter.

To get the best hand and foot print impressions possible, I moved the tray to the ground and had Baby Bird step hard on each foot for a footprint or get down on the hands and knees and really lean into her hand print- salt dough can be resistant at times.

Once I had the basic impressions, I cut around them with a knife and removed the excess dough.

Then, I brought the tray down the the floor again and had Baby Bird lean into her prints one more time to make sure the impressions were set deeply into the dough.

I cut holes using a straw and then they were ready for the oven!

Go Running, Mama! Homemade Salt Dough Ornaments- Easy, Inexpensive Homemade Gifts

It’s important to make sure the ornaments are completely dry before you paint and seal them or they will never really dry out… and could get moldy. Ewwww! (Moldy ornament does not equal beloved gift)

After the first three hours, rotate the pan as needed and flip the ornaments if the back side doesn’t seem to be drying.  After turning off the oven, I just left mine in over night in the warmth of the oven to ensure they were completely dry.

Go Running, Mama! Homemade Salt Dough Ornaments- Easy, Inexpensive Homemade Gifts

The painting is the fun part!  I’m sure Baby BIrd would have loved to assist with this part, but I was keen on making penguins and Santas that really looked like penguins and Santas.  If the design isn’t the important element for you then let your little one dive in!

Go Running, Mama! Homemade Salt Dough Ornaments- Easy, Inexpensive Homemade Gifts

Footprints make ideal penguins and snowmen, while handprints are great Santas and reindeer.

Go Running, Mama! Homemade Salt Dough Ornaments- Easy, Inexpensive Homemade Gifts

Once painted, let your ornaments dry completely.  Don’t forget to paint the backs once the fronts are dry- ornaments have a tendency to spin around on a tree!

Go Running, Mama! Homemade Salt Dough Ornaments- Easy, Inexpensive Homemade Gifts

Once the paint is dry, hang your ornaments on a rack outside and give them a quick shot with an acrylic sealer to keep them looking lovely for years to come!

Go Running, Mama! Homemade Salt Dough Ornaments- Easy, Inexpensive Homemade Gifts

How happy do they look!? So happy.

Go Running, Mama! Homemade Salt Dough Ornaments- Easy, Inexpensive Homemade Gifts

Salt Dough- The Basics

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup table salt
  • 3/4 to 1 cup warm water

Directions: Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Combine all ingredients (beginning with only 3/4 cups water) in stand mixer and mix until completely incorporated.  Add more water- a teaspoon at a time- if needed.

Once fully incorporated, turn out onto waxed paper and knead until smooth.  If choosing to add food coloring, do so at this point by adding small amounts of gel coloring between each kneading.  Allow to rest about 30 minutes at room temperature, covered by a damp towel.

On lightly floured parchment, roll our dough to a thickness between 1/4- 1/2 inch.  Less than 1/4 inch thick will cause cracking and breakage during the drying process.

Cut dough into desired shapes.  Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake in oven until dry 4-8 hours.  After the first 3 hours, check hourly for dryness.  Rotate the sheet and flip the ornaments as needed to ensure ornaments dry evenly and completely.

Once dry and cool, paint, decorate, and varnish as desired.

Breaking Bread and Cheddar Garlic Drop Biscuits

24 Sep Go Running, Mama: Cheddar Garlic Drop Biscuits

I’m sure everyone has heard the saying “The best parents are those without kids” right? Man is that ever true! I’m not meaning it is a catty way here- I’m sure every parent can rattle off a dozen instances that a well meaning childless friend has yammered on in platitudes about how to raise the ideal, well adjusted child- and instead am thinking of all the ways I set myself up for parenting failures, disappointments and otherwise mega-frazzled moments by constructing rigid rules based on what “all the experts and research say” makes the best kid.

By now I’ve learned that the “best kid” is a well adjusted child with a mom who isn’t totally freaking out about how every little detail might derail her future trajectory to multilingual, violin playing, eco-sensitive rocket scientist success.  There is nothing more contagious than stress and anxiety, but I had my share of early parenting moments where I was thinking micro instead of macro.

For starters- We were a “cloth diaper or die” family. Honestly it wasn’t too much extra work in our everyday lives since I’m a stay at home mom, but it did make traveling tough. I was still at a point where I couldn’t allow myself to move away from not cloth diapering for a brief moment in time. It’s what is best for my child. I kept fretting. It’s what’s best for the environment. For some reason, I was convinced that using a disposable diaper would condemn me to early parenting failure. I would be a quitter.

And the last thing a hyper-hormonal, post partum woman needs is to feel like a quitter.

So when we moved from Chicago to Austin and the washer and dryer didn’t arrive for over a week, I insisted on hand washing and line drying all of our diapers while caring for an infant. I nearly lost my mind. More importantly, I think I also nearly drove my husband out of his. Boxes to unpack, damaged items to catalogue, 110 degree temperatures, and a crazy woman greeting him at the end of each day wearing a baby in a carrier and silently weeping over the fact that the diapers weren’t soft enough when they line dried. In reality, it probably wasn’t as bad as I’m picturing… but then again maybe it was.

It didn’t matter. I couldn’t give myself a break or cut myself some slack. I wasn’t ready for that yet. I wasn’t confident enough in my mothering abilities to realize that giving myself the flexibility to make changes in my style and unrealistic expectations wasn’t going to ruin my child. But time progressed… and I learned to relax. We took a few vacations during which I allowed myself to use disposable diapers. When Baby Bird moved up to trainers and the cloth ones we purchased were too big for her little thigh, I allowed myself to switch to disposables. Now she would fit into cloth trainers, but I’ve kept her in Honest Company training pants (which makes me feel less bad about my cloth diaper divorce) because I’m okay with not having to do the extra load of laundry.

Okay… so I could be swayed on types of diapers, but there was no way I was going to fold on my next parenting ideal- facilitating Baby Bird growing up in a world devoid of pink washing.

Go Running, Mama!: Breaking Bread- Cheddar Drop Biscuits

Growing up without gender biases ROCKS!

When we found out we were having a girl, I declared that we would remain gender neutral and not impose traditional roles and gender expectations. Nothing pink… nothing rhinestone… nothing princess… which worked for awhile. We were even able to manage a very gender neutral “SXSW” themed first birthday. Shortly after said birthday Baby Bird’s independent personality arrived which, as it turns out, is pink with sparkles and a tiara on top.  Eeek!

Thankfully this wasn’t my first go round with allowing myself flexibility on my staunchly decided upon parenting methods, and I quickly realized that allowing Baby Bird the opportunity to be who she wanted to be from day to day was far better and wiser than the alternative- denying her personality in the name of keeping pink zebra light up shoes away from a formative little girl.

Go Running, Mama!: Breaking Bread- Cheddar Drop Biscuits

When Baby Bird has her say in celebration terms…

And her preferred footwear is still sneakers- pink… but sneakers none the less.  Because she loved to run and jump and dig and build and poke things with sticks.  And even though this year’s Halloween costume wish list reads like the cast of a Disney Princess movie, she asked to be “a runner like Daddy” for Halloween last year.

Go Running, Mama: Breaking Bread and Cheddar Drop Biscuits

We were also a screen free family. When we moved into our home, there was no television. Well… there was a television that was only hooked up to a computer or antenna for Olympics or similar sporting events. I was determined that Baby Bird would grow up with an authentically Waldorf early childhood. When we purchased her an Innotab for a flight, I felt phenomenally guilty. When I learned that she could navigate my iPhone just from watching me and select the music she preferred I was distraught- obviously I relied too much on technology.

One day when she wasn’t feeling well and I had a mountain of email and product review blogging to catch up on, I snuggled Baby Bird on my lap, opened two separate windows on the monitor and let her watch an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. That day she fell in love with Mickey Mouse and learned to count to twelve… from a television program. I was simultaneously horrified, aggravated, and relieved.  I little bit of the right kind of screen time wasn’t going to ruin my child.

Go Running, Mama!: Breaking Bread and Cheddar Drop Biscuits

Baby Bird meets her hero

After that, the iPhone wasn’t off limits all the time.  iPads weren’t evil.  Computers are positive tools.  And television? I allowed Baby Bird to watch a program here or there. Her brain didn’t rot. She didn’t become commercially dependent, media obsessed, inactive, or uncreative.

Though we didn’t go all in and subscribe to cable or satellite, we plugged the television back in and bought a Roku box. It hasn’t kept us from engaging in activities as a family. Every meal isn’t spent glued to a program. We are still happy, healthy people. We break bread together in a civilized manner.

And the hubs and I aren’t above binge watching a series every now and then when Baby Bird is otherwise disposed… which is how we became Breaking Bad devotees. And how we ended up glued to our television at 6 am on Monday morning watching “Granite Slate”- because we can’t watch it live without cable, so we had to wait until the moment it was available on Amazon Prime the next morning. So… I’d call that pretty darn devoted for “screen free” folks.

Devoted enough that when Baby Bird sees the series promo photos pop up in the corner of Amazon Prime each time we open it she will exclaim “That’s Breaking Bread!”

Yes, Baby Bird… yes. That is Breaking Bread.

I’m not going to correct her. I’d far prefer she think I’m watching a show about eating meals together than a show about meth.

In the end, that’s just good parenting, right?

And below? A gratuitous drop biscuit recipe. Because a post about “Breaking Bread” requires the world’s easiest- and tastiest- carbohydrate option.

If Heisenberg wrote a drop biscuit recipe, this would be it.

Go Running, Mama: Cheddar Garlic Drop Biscuits

Cheddar Garlic Biscuits

  • 1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbs + 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp traditional Herbes de Provence (excluding the lavander often included in Americanized versions)
  • 3 tbs palm shortening
  • 4 tbs cold butter, cut into small cubes + more for to brish baked biscuits
  • 1 1/3 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 c whole milk

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Pulse dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor to combine. Add the shortening and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the butter forms pea sized chunks.

Transfer to a mixing bowl. Stir in cheese and milk and mix until well combined taking care not to overwork the dough.

Drop scant 1/4 cup portions onto a baking sheet lined in parchment. Bake 13-17 minutes, until golden.

If desired, melt 2 tbs butter and brush tops of baked biscuits with a pastry brush.

Makes a dozen biscuits.