Friday, January 1, 2010

2010!

May 2010 bring you lots of joy, success, fulfilled dreams, profound change, growth, learning and many, many good things.


Photo Credit: "Happy New Year" by Koshyk on Flickr.com

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dark Chocolate Cake with an Unexpected Ingredient

I was really surprised to find a whole cup of sauerkraut as an ingredient in this cake!! It's vegan except for the butter which is easily substituted with Earth Balance or another vegetable-based margarine. The cake is a Weight Watchers recipe and I've never actually tried any from the site. Sauerkraut is a "filling food" which means it's a food that's good for you and keeps you feeling full long so it's pretty nice to find it in a dessert like cake! I was going to try it for Z2's little birthday celebration but since it's a new recipe to me, I think I'll use my tried-and-true recipe and experiment this one out later.

Anyway, here is the Weight Watcher's recipe:
Dark Chocolate Cake

Ingredients
1 spray(s) cooking spray
2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cup(s) sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup(s) unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup(s) butter, melted
1 1/2 cup(s) hot water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup(s) sauerkraut, pureed until smooth
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a Bundt pan with cooking spray. 
In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and 2/3 cup of cocoa. Add melted butter, hot water and vanilla extract; mix well. Add sauerkraut and blend thoroughly. Pour batter into prepared pan; bake in center of oven until a tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes. Cool cake in pan for about 20 minutes and then turn out onto a baking rack to cool completely. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder before slicing into 14 pieces. Yields 1 slice per serving.

Notes: You can easily change the flavor of this cake by adding strong coffee instead of the hot water or adding cayenne pepper and cinnamon with the vanilla.
POINTS® Value: 4
Servings: 14
Preparation Time: 8 min
Cooking Time: 60 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy

If you try it before me, let me know how it goes!

On another note . . . it's snowing where we are. Again. I've lived here all my life and I still hate the snow. (((sigh)))

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Coats and Car Seats

I'm admittedly anal very strict when it comes to my kids' car seats. No, I haven't had them inspected by a professional although I keep saying I will. But I'm 99% sure they are installed correctly and they don't ride in cars without a car seat. (There was that one time in the middle of winter when I was 38 weeks pregnant with Z2 and decided me and Z1 could walk to the avenue--him in his snowsuit. He got so tired and absolutely refused to walk anymore. I tried carrying him but that couldn't work for too long with my huge belly so I sucked it up and took a cab home--with no car seat!) Z2 is also still rear-facing and will be until he reaches the 30 pound limit for rear-facing on his car seat. Z1 is in a seat that harnesses up to 65 pounds. Car seats laws are hardly enforced and most folks I know with kids had their infants forward facing when they turned one and used belt positioning boosters with their older kids (and sometimes even backless ones if one at all). So I know that I'm more concerned about car seats than most folks are (in real life, at least). Heck, I'm more concerned than the hubby who really just does not see the point and lets me alone worry about the car seats.

A few years ago, I first heard the warning that bulky winter coats interfere with the ability of car seats to keep children safe in the event of an accident. The idea is that in the event of an accident, the coat would compress and the child could get tossed out of the car seat.

I really want to keep the kids safe in the car and I'd feel horrible if anything happened that I could have potentially prevented. But we only have street parking and I really can't swing the $199 to get a remote start installed. I had been trying to run out there and start the car but I can't lock the doors with the engine running and no one in the driver's seat. I devised a plan to use the spare key to lock the doors manually. That was working but I have to say, it's really cold and another added step to the numerous steps it already takes to get out the house is just . . . exhausting.

So what I've been doing is just getting to the car, hurriedly turning it on, while we just sit in our coats. Then after I get the engine warmed a little, I turn on the heat full blast, take the kids' coats off and proceed to strap the kids in sans the bulk. They usually have a fleece jacket on underneath their bulky coats and I have fleece blankets to cover them up with.

But let me tell you, yesterday it was bitterly cold. The wind was whipping around. I did not want to be fussing with taking coats on and off (although I did) and so I've just been thinking about a better way to go about this while keeping the kids the safest.

I did a google search and (surprisingly) didn't find many "official" sources on the dangers of bulky coats in car seats. Nonetheless, it makes sense to me that the coat would compress in an accident and I'm always surprised to see how much space there is in the harnesses if one of the kids was wearing something bulky the day before and is wearing something thin the day of.

In doing my google search, I found this:


And here's another good link with pictures how safely wearing a winter coat in the car seat should look.

I think it's a good compromise. All you have to do is make sure the harnesses are as tight with the coat on as they are with the coat off. So I think I'll try this safer way to wear jackets in the car seats.

Not today . . .

Well, I went to sleep last night determined to wake up this morning and do a strong workout of yoga and high-impact aerobics to make up for yesterday's completely inadequate workout. Thing is, I went to sleep late last night (at 11:00PM) trying to squeeze in some alone time (aka time without the kids) with the hubby. But this morning, I woke up with a massive headache. I tried to get moving even with the headache but any movement (especially downward dog) only intensifies the pain. I can't even think about doing any plyometrics today. I've tried to drink water and just sit for a while but all indications say I should have just stayed in bed on this cold, cold, cold morning. (((Sigh))) It seems I really do need nine full hours of sleep at night to be okay in the morning. And napping during the day doesn't help at all.

When will I get it? Wednesday morning workouts have to be short and sweet because Tuesday, usually the hubby's day off, is a late night. (((Sigh))) I wish I could go back to bed but the kids will be up in just a few minutes. (((Another huge sigh)))) These are the times when going somewhere to work out is a better situation than staying at home. I probably would have just laid out on the couch and slept another hour or so then gotten up and gone to the gym before the kids woke up. (((Yet another huge sigh)))

I'll get back on track tomorrow, hopefully.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy 2nd Earthlight!

Today is Z2's second birthday and I can hardly believe how the time has blown by. Z2 is still nursing but only to sleep and when he wakes in the morning. I had to reduce the frequency of nursing sessions because it was starting to annoy me. So here he is, this big boy, who still enjoys to nurse. He is such an amusing nurser, humming songs, "snapping" his fingers, taking breaks to dance a little jig. It's amazing how much he loves music!

Z2 has been acting like a two year old for some months now telling me "NO!" and demanding that things are his by screeching "MINE". I love his little 2 year old vocabulary. I love how he is such a huge mimic of his brother. I mean everything Z1 does, Z2 is going to try to do to. It's so cute watching him do it too. Well, cute and treacherous because as you can imagine, Z1 is much more steady on his feet so Z2 trying to do the exact same things sometimes is . . . dangerous. But Z2 doesn't care and I am tickled (and frightened) by his daring adventures.

So Happy Happy Birthday Z2! And many, many more!!

Today's Workout was a Fail!

All right . . . this morning's workout was really a lackluster disappointment. It was just fail-tastic!

But it's my fault. I forgot the hubby was going to be off to work early and had planned to do The Firm Classic 2. I had wanted something low-impact but if I'm going to do low impact aerobics, I need to devote 1 hour or more to really burn the calories. I didn't have that much time to today so I was trying to think fast about what else I could do. I decided to to do Self: Bikini Ready Fast!--low impact with lots of weight. I've done it before but I guess I forgot: I could have gotten more of a workout folding laundry and mopping the floors! I thought about stopping in the middle and doing something else but time just wouldn't allow. Plus I knew nothing would be really effective in 20 minutes unless it was high-impact and I just wasn't in that kind of mood today. So, working out was huge truck of fail today.

I'm going to make up for it tomorrow though. Tomorrow I'm supposed to practice yoga and I will but I'll do a short 20-minute routine and then do my Women's Health Train for Your Body Type DVD. I'm planning to do step aerobics on Thursday and Jillian Michael's Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism which I did for the first time last week and which was frickin' awesome (especially considering that I just can't stand 30-Day Shred). I'll be back to yoga on Saturday (Yoga Zone: Power Yoga for Strength and Endurance).

As you can see, I've got lots of variety going on which is definitely keeping me from getting bored and keeps me looking forward to working out in the mornings. Z2 is sleeping straight through to 7 o'clock consistently and I'm feeling really positive about my exercising and weight loss. I hope to have my 2010 goals listed on the sidebar soon.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Authentic Traditions

So whether you know it or not, today is the second day of Kwanzaa. I blogged about it last year and expressed how it feels a bit contrived/made up yet I still see a lot of value in the Kwanzaa principles (Nguzo Saba).

Well, this year, I took a book out of the library on Kwanzaa and even though we don't have a Kinara set up or anything, we're going through each day of Kwanzaa. Today's principle is kujichagulia or self-determination. Or course, if you know me, you know this is one of the biggest principles I'm trying to engender in my own life, i.e. living my life on my own terms and it would be a tremendous blessing if I could pass this principle on to my children.

Anyway, as I share these principles with my children, I still can't shake the feeling that Kwanzaa doesn't feel true to me. I am not African-American. My parents are relatively recent and voluntary immigrants to the United States. I know the geographic location where my family hails from. And I ache for authentic traditions.

My parents, being the staunch Christians that they are, made it a point to avoid all traditional celebrations and holidays. In fact, there are no pictures of my parents' traditional wedding (I don't think they had one) and I'm pretty sure my mother was not pleased that my cousin had her traditional wedding with "all that unnecessariness". I can't say that had we been exposed to our ancient traditions, I would still embrace them today but I feel like a part of who I am is missing.

This is complicated by the fact that although I understand my mother tongue of Igbo, I cannot speak it with any fluency. It makes communicating with my grandmother, who only speaks Igbo, a serious challenge. I feel like she is a treasure trove of information, history and wisdom and I am cut off. I've googled to find an organization of my dad's village people have here in the States. I know that folks are celebrating our traditions but I feel awkward. I don't really know anyone having lived in the States all my life, I don't speak the language and since I'm married, I technically am not from the village my father is from anymore but from the village my husband is from. Since my husband is American, technically/traditionally speaking, I'm from whatever "village" in America he comes from. In fact, because of this I could really only be an honorary member of that organization to which I linked above.

It's kind of frustrating that I should have a direct connection to my history and culture along with the traditions and celebrations but I don't. Do I try to forge one with my strangers from the village my dad comes from? Or do I just suck it up and embrace Kwanzaa as my own? After all, every tradition was made up/started sometime. If we really get into it now and take it seriously, it will be a real tradition for our great-great grandchildren.
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