Thursday, January 26, 2012

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

 Let the Good Times Roll!

Carnival season starts after epiphany (the twelfth night after Christmas) and goes until Lent. Festivities don't usually get started until it gets closer to actual Mardi Gras day, but in our home we take the tree down and start listening to our favorite Zydeco music on Jan 7.

If you want to get into the Mardi Gras spirit too, check out the Putumayo New Orleans Playground. It is zydeco music geared towards kids. This album is in the main rotation for our Mardi Gras kids playlist. It has favorites such as Choo Choo Ch'Boogie, Second Line and Whole Lotta Lovin' and When the Saints Go Marching In - Big Band style. I'm Loving it.

Mardi Gras is a family affair for us. My husband is in a crew in south Alabama so we've been doing the Mobile festivities, parades and ball (my favorite part) for years. He actually has been involved long before I came around. But, with my love holidays, I was destined to celebrate. 

My First Ball - 2007

Wait wait wait! Did I just say Mobile, Alabama? But, I thought Mardi Gras was in New Orleans! 

That's right there is a Mardi Gras Celebration in New Orleans and it's known for being the wildest celebration around. There are many little towns from the Panhandle of Florida to Louisiana that have their own way of celebrating, with parades and such. But Mobile is the Original Mardi Gras! That's right. First.

In 1703 the tiny French colony of Mobile observed North America's first Mardi Gras.
In 1830 a group of men dawned rakes, hoes and cowbells and took to the streets with much noise rightfully calling themselves, The Cowbellion de Rakin society. Allthough they marched on New and not Fat Tuesday, they were a true antecedent of Mardi Gras in Mobile and the first mystic societies, which were later formed in the 1830s.
Later, in 1857, the Mobile members of the Cowbellian de Rakin Society traveled to New Orleans and assisted with the formation of the Mystic Krewe of Comus, to this day New Orleans' most prestigious Mardi Gras society. 
There was a pause in festivities in Mobile during the Civil War. 

On Fat Tuesday in 1866, Joseph Stillwell Cain set out to raise the spirits of Mobile. He donned Chickasaw Indian regalia, called himself "Chief Slacabormorinico," climbed aboard a decorated coal wagon pulled by a mule and held a one-float parade through the streets of Mobile. Mardi Gras with all its frivolity was reborn!

Cain founded many of the mystic societies and built a tradition of Mardi Gras parades. In fact, he is remembered each year on Joe Cain Day, which is the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. Known as "the people's day," Mardi Gras revelers decorate anything they can push, pull, or drag for the Joe Cain Procession and parade, which is as much fun to watch as it is to ride. 

(Most of this info is from here)

Lottie all dressed up - 2011

As I mentioned before, Mardi Gras is a family affair for us. The Mobile celebrations are a different breed then the wild ones you have heard about. I for one, have not seen boobies flashed for the sake of getting the most loot, but notice that it's the cute kids getting pummeled with stuffed animals, beads, binky things and Moonpies.With parade spectators usually only being one or two deep, its not hard to get away with more loot than you can carry anyway, sans booby flashing.

 Sunnin' my baby belly - 2009

 Do whatch'a wanna - 2008

Happy Mardi Gras

A Healthier Me

Have you heard the tale of loosing one tooth for every pregnancy?

I've never had great teeth or great dentist visiting habits. Honestly, my teeth are awful (English genetics) and the dentist makes me cry. But, I was on my way to a fully fixed mouth when I became pregnant. Only one more root canal to go and a few cavities to fill. As soon as I found out I was pregnant in April I canceled my root canal appointment. This wasn't my first rodeo and I didn't want anyone in my mouth for an hour until I felt 100%, not to mention the X-rays. No, thank you.

That tooth didn't bother me at all until I was 3 days postpartum. My body obviously had other things to focus on. So, I go see the dentist, new Xrays and a hour of consultation determine that the tooth that was due for a root canal had another cavity in the side. A cavity that grew 5 times the size while I was pregnant. Was it the fact that I treated my pregnancy like a cinnabon eating contest or does pregnancy really suck the nutrients out of your teeth?

A quick google search leads me to this article that suggests it was indeed my Cinnabon eating ways. But I do believe that the gum swelling, nutrient sucking my body did during pregnancy helped too. Nevertheless, my tooth is gone and I never ever want another root canal, extraction, bridge fitting or even a deep scaling. For the first time in my life I am on schedule to have regular cleaning and fix cavities when they are small and not wait till my brain is rotting. This isn't a New Year's resolution, because those are usually given up for Lent. This is a life term goal. To stay on top the health of my teeth.

While talking with my dentist he mentioned a few more things. While I did genetically inherit bad teeth, habits are hereditary too. I want my children to have good teeth health. I want their habits to better than mine, and this means that I need to lead by example. No juice after dinner, no grazing on sweets & no anything after P.M. teeth brushing.

I was turned on to the book Cure Tooth Decay and plan to take heed. I don't plan to totally change my eating habits because I mostly cook real, fresh, nutrient rich foods, and consider myself a pretty healthy eater, but I have a SERIOUS addiction to sweet (as I sprinkle mini chocolate chips on my granola cereal). It is interesting to think that we can heal our teeth from the inside out. I am super excited to dive into this book. I'm sure I will be helping a number of other unknown ailments too.

I think that consciously eating healthy for a purpose will help with my overall health. Even though my routines make me more active than the average Jane, I feel like I have been sedentary for a year. It's not true, but this pregnancy was not met with the umph I had with my first. Maybe I was too..uh..busy? Yah, I'll go with that. I need to get moving, get stronger and eat better. No, that's not a New Years resolution either. Onward!

Happy New Year.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Gingerbread Ducks

As our sweet baby boy arrived one week before Christmas (on my birthday no less!) there were a few holiday activities that I didn't get around to doing with Lottie. Making gingerbread men was one of them.

After days of telling her "tomorrow we are going to make cookies" and forgetting that I don't have molasses, or need baking soda, I finally got everything together to make these stinking cookies. (Actually, they don't stink, they smell pretty good).

The recipe I used is basically a glorified sugar cookie, with added ginger, cinnamon & cloves. Next time I would add more of somethings, perhaps fresh ginger to make them have more bite in the front, instead of just a mild bite in the back.  I used whole wheat flour cause that's what I have and they still turned out moist. Well, half of them did.

Classic Gingerbread Cookies
Dry Ingredients
3 cups all purpose flour (I used whole grain wheat)
2 tsp ground ginger
1tsp baking soda
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Wet Ingredients
2/3 cup butter softened (Now that I see this measurement I think I only put one stick in?)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
  • Preheat oven 375
  • In separate bowl mix dry ingredients. 
  • In large mixing bowl beat butter 30 seconds. 
  • Add brown sugar & molasses; beat until combined. 
  • Add egg, beat until combined
  • Add flour mixture, beat until just combined
  • divide dough in half, cover and Chill for 3 hours.
  • Roll dough on well floured surface
  • cut into shapes
  • bake @ 375 for 5-6 minutes (Do not put the cookies in then sit down to nurse an infant)
  • cool and place on wire rack
  • Decorate
We mixed the batter in the morning then waited 3 whole hours for the dough to chill. This was the hardest part. Lottie asked me over and over "We make cookies mama?","We decorate cookies?","We make cookies? Now?", "We use sprinkles mama?"

Perhaps I talked up the decorating part too much, but while we waited we made and colored icing. I thought I was pretty ingenious with this part. 1. I didn't want to spend the money on multiple colors of icing from the store. 2. Even though this icing is PURE. SUGAR. its not loaded with a bunch of chemical crap that I can't pronounce. 3. I wanted to give Lottie some fun, arty, mixing colors, fine motor skills, extra mommy time :)

For the powdered sugar icing: 2 cups powder sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 2-3 Tablespoons milk. 
I used too much milk. Next time I would stick to just 2 Tablespoons.

I put 2-3 spoonfuls of icing in snack bags. 

3 drops of food coloring. Lottie picked out each color and I convinced her that we would do one color per bag. I know, I know, it would have been way more educational if I let her mix every bag into a lovely shade of "preschool grey" but mama wanted pretty cookies.

After smacking the bag a couple of times and the food coloring going nowhere I showed Lottie how to "tickle" the bag. Then she got the hang of dispersing the color, giggling as she squished.
"teekle teekle teekle hehehe"

 This is what the icing looked like when Lottie declared it done and ran off to play. Mama added a few more drops of food coloring and squished some more. 

This is our end product. Pretty. 
(I used a combination of neon and primary food colors, originally bought to make play dough - I cant wait.)

Then in the late late afternoon, we rolled, and cut.

Then baked.

Oh finally the glory! To Decorate!!
Cut the tip of the corner of the snack bag very small (did I mention, very small tip) and squeeze. Any larger then a smidgen will be to much. I also think thicker icing would make less of a icing puddle. 
See above picture.

Then roll and cut some more.

  Then burn.  Bummer!!

Maybe it was a good thing, because it was 8:30pm and my almost 3 year old had already had a fair share of mini M&M's and royal icing (which is basically straight up powdered sugar). Decorating another 16 cookies would have been the end of us for sure.

Eat and share!

I am pretty proud of those ducks & men. Of course, Lottie's creations are so super cute too.

Happy Decorating!