Sunday, October 30, 2011

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week


Servings: 25

Prep and cook: 15 min


1 c frozen peas, thawed

1-2 T olive oil

1 tomato, diced

2 T onion, minced

¼ c fresh cilantro, minced

3 small ripe avocados

1-2 T lemon juice

Salt and pepper

Directions: Place peas and olive oil in blender and puree until smooth. Scoop into a bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well using a fork to mash up the avocado. Taste and adjust lemon juice, salt and pepper. Scoop into the serving bowl. Place a pieces of plastic wrap over the top, pressing it down against the guacamole and removing all air pockets. Place in fridge until time to serve. Best to make at least 1 hour in advance to allow the flavors to blend.

Notes: The magic ingredient in this recipe is the peas. The peas and lemon juice help keep the green color for a long time. The peas also add a touch of sweet flavor, but no one will guess that there are peas in the guacamole. I made this last night for a party and it was a huge hit. I caught someone using a spoon to get the very last tidbit out.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Send us your feedback!

Don't forget to fill out the survey! We would love your input to help us build and strengthen our community of CityMamas.

As always, feel free to email or call one of your co-chairs too :)

October Meeting Notes: Get Organized!

Last Thursday, CityMamas hosted Beth Giles of NW Organizing Solutions.  We had over 20 mamas in attendance!  It was great to see so many familiar and new faces.  We each introduced ourselves and gave a little insight into our organizing questions and problems.  Many of us had similar day-to-day organizing issues.  Beth has been kind enough to send us her powerpoint, which can be found here.

For those of you who want a little more context, I took a few notes:

We spent the first half discussing TIME. 

Beth gave us each two paper plates, stapled together.  On the first paper plate, we wrote everything “on our plate” – not just work and family, but all of the things that take up our day, that occupy our minds, e.g. hosting birthday parties, tending to a friend who is going through a divorce, dealing with in-law issues, driving to soccer practices or swim lessons, etc.  We each scribbled away.  Then she asked us to think about what we could take off our plates to free up some time and emotional capacity.  For everything we say YES to, she pointed out, we are saying NO to something else.  

She asked us to make sure that all of these things on our plate are priorities and reflect our values.  For instance, a client of hers once wanted to connect better with her child and so she joined the PTA.  The client realized that while this gave her a better connection to her child’s school, that was not her original intent.  Do the things on our plates reflect our values?  Could we take something off the front plate?  

She said that she gives clients a “time map” (see slide).  She has her clients write everything on the time map – broken into 15 minute increments – that they do every day.  A majority of time may be taken up on little things, such as hair care, packing lunches, cleaning the kitchen, etc. – not on the big things that we write down in our calendar and schedule time for.  Then she has her clients color code the list to see where time is going – for instance, “School Preparation” or “Cleaning”.  If you are looking for extra time in the day, then you will need to lose something on the time map.  She also suggested synching your calendars with your family – using Google calendar or other software.

[On a personal note, I actually keep thinking about that front plate – which was completely full, and I’ve already taken some things off.  Haven’t tried the time map exercise.  Anyone else tried this yet?]

She talked about having a “To Do List” of things that don’t have to be done today, but all of the things that need to be done soonish.  This should be a running list of short and long term tasks.  Short term meaning “stop by Jo-Ann’s to buy art supplies” and long term meaning “paint the living room”.  She suggested having a “Daily List” that is separate – of all the things that can realistically be accomplished TODAY.  She said to keep the “To Do List” available to draw from, in case it is convenient to cross something off from it. 

She also suggested to set a timer for tasks during our day.  Her example was sitting down at the computer.  Do you really need to be on for more than 10-15 minutes?  How long should you allow yourself to check FaceBook, for instance?  She recommended “Fasting”, or abstaining from electronics for one day/week.  One mom shared that her extended family practices the Jewish custom of “Shabbat”, or freeing oneself from the regular labors of daily life.  Today that translated for her family into unscheduled time every Saturday, even staying in their pajamas until two in the afternoon.  [Does anyone do something similar?]

Beth also suggested to schedule time for two things that don’t often get scheduled: FUN and CATCHING UP.

Next, Beth talked about SPACE.

Beth said that for each “space” in our homes, there should be a goal.  For instance, the goal for  the kitchen table may be an eating space, so we shouldn’t dump stuff on it that makes it difficult for it to meet its goal.  The bedroom goal may be resting or sleeping, maybe watching television, so the bills don’t belong in there. 
As far as “stuff”, she says to sort and purge.  Group “like” things together, and get rid of things we don’t need or use or want.  If we are sentimental about some things, e.g. clothes or items from our childhood or our child’s baby items, or “collections”, e.g. tea cups, there are many solutions – such as saving one or two items, taking a picture of the items (making a book with the photos?), making a quilt with the items, creating a shadow box, etc. She offers resources on her website for great places to donate used stuff.  

[Please share with us if you’ve done any of the above with your “stuff” – e.g. quilts, etc.  I finally took some time and created shadow boxes with baby items – a baby hat, shoes, i.d. bracelet from the hospital, birth announcement.  Photo on left is from Martha Stewart, not mine.]

As far as organizing the things we do keep in our house, she suggests creating “zones”, e.g. a reading zone for books, a chair, magazines – with everything that goes with reading.  She recommends creating a “landing zone” for all of the items that you “dump” when you walk in the door – such as a bucket for shoes, hooks for bags/purses and keys, etc.  

And she says that you must MAINTAIN your system.   

The slides also cover examples of space management, and PAPER.  [I needed to leave at this point in her presentation, so if anyone wants to share what they learned from the PAPER portion, please comment below.]

Happy organizing!

p.s. Here are Beth’s links, and a letter from her below:

Facebook link for weekly tips
Email if they’d like to sign up for monthly organizing newsletters

Hi City mamas,
Thanks for coming to the organizing workshop today.  It was great to see you all and hear what you are facing in your lives and homes. I  appreciate the opportunity to share with you some of the things that I see make a difference in people’s homes and schedules every day.  

The monthly organizing email article comes out the beginning of each month, and if you’d like weekly tips, you can like us on Facebook.

I will send separately the articles on the topics you requested. If your questions are not addressed in that article, there is always the past years’ worth of organizing  articles (and also another series of downsizing articles) on my website at NW Organizing Solutions newsletters You can also find a list of great resources  where you can sell, donate, or recycle. 

NW Organizing Solutions serves homes and home offices in the Portland metro area and in Vancouver. If you would like more information about how we can help bring order to your home or if you’d like to set up an organizing session, please feel free to contact me.

Happy organizing,

Beth Giles / 503-709-0791
Professional Organizer/Senior Move Manager
NW Organizing Solutions
We help families bring order to their homes

Survey, Library, & November mtg

  1. If you haven't filled out our online survey, please take a moment to share with us what you'd like from the group.
  2. If you've got books you'd like to donate to a "cityMamas Library" drop them by Darcy's office or interoffice (one at a time, please: 106/600)
  3. Mark your calendar for the next cityMamas mtg - November 17th (one week later than usual due to PPS in service day). The lunchtime mtg will be held at noon in the Fir Creek room on the 3rd floor of the Portland Building). The topic will be on what's next for cityMamas and reviewing feedback, talking among whoever attends. Part social, part "business." Even if you are new to the group, we hope to see you!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Creamed Corn
Servings = 4
Time = 15 min

1/2 small onion, diced
2 T butter
2 cans corn, drained
1 c whole milk, divided
1 t salt
2 T sugar
1/4 t black pepper
2 T all purpose flour

In a large, heavy skillet melt the butter. Fried onions until softened. Add corn, 3/4 cup milk, salt, pepper and sugar. Stir and bring to simmer. Whisk together remaining 1/4 c milk with flour. Pour into the corn and stir until it just starts to thicken. Remove from heat. Use an immersion blender to blend until desired consistency.

Notes - You can use 2% milk instead of whole to trim calories and fat, but it won't be a creamy. You cannot use 1% or skim milk because it won't be thick enough (fat to flour ratio).

Monday, October 10, 2011

October Mtg - Get organized with a professional organizer!

Get inspired to tackle your family’s organizational obstacles!

CityMamas Affinity Group presents a brown bag lunch 
With Beth Giles a professional organizer from
NW Organizing Solutions

This Thursday, October 13th
Noon - 1:30 (feel free to come to any part)
Portland Building, 3rd Floor Fir Creek Room

Light snacks provided

Also a reminder to fill out the online survey to help us learn more about what you'd like out of the group, please take a moment to let us know! 

Here a great article that Courtney found on 10 steps to control clutter

See you on Thursday!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Classic Chicken Noodle Soup
Servings = 8
Time = 30 min

2 chicken breast halves
1/2 bag egg noodles
4 c chicken broth
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 can corn, drained
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken breasts in a Pyrex bowl with a lid and cook in microwave until done through, flipping once - about 10 minutes. While the chicken is cooking, chop the veggies. When the chicken is done, remove to a plate and let cool.

Cook egg noddles according to directions, omitting the oil. While the noodles are cooking, in a large pot add chicken broth, veggies and spices. Bring to boil, stirring frequently. Shred or cut up the chicken and add to pot along with drained noodles. Taste and adjust spices.

Notes - You can use any spices you like - basil, rosemary, oregano. You can substitute turkey for chicken. You can also use any veggies you like in the soup. To make it vegetarian, omit the chicken and use vegetable broth.

Picture - Jordan, 9 yrs old, helping me chop veggies. She is wearing goggles because the onions make her eyes water. Believe it or not, the goggles actually work.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Cheap Baked Beans
Servings = 10 - 12
Time = approx. 2.5 hrs (30 min active)

2 c dry black beans, rinsed
2 c dry pinto beans, rinsed
14 c hot water, divided
2 tsp salt, divided
1 lb bacon ends
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1/3 c ketchup
1/2 c molasses
1/4 brown sugar
2 T mustard
1/4 tsp black pepper

In a large stock pot, add beans, 8 cups hot water and 1 tsp salt. Bring to boil; boil for 2 minutes. Turn off heat, cover and let soak 1 hour. Drain and rinse. Return beans to stock pot. Add 6 cups hot water and bring to boil. Simmer 1 -1.5 hours or until desired consistency. Drain and return beans to stock pot.

While the beans are cooking, fry bacon ends until crispy - cool on paper towel. Drain the grease, but don't clean pan. In the remaining bacon grease, fry onion and green pepper until just tender.
When the beans are done cooking, tear bacon into bite-sized pieces and add to the beans along with the onions, green peppers, 1 tsp salt and the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Taste and adjust molasses, sugar, salt and/or pepper. Simmer for 10 more minutes to let the flavors meld.

Notes - Dried beans are very economical and easy to store in bulk. You can get bacon ends at your local butcher. Bacon ends are the parts of the bacon cut off when those lovely strips are made - the ends are cheaper than the strips. You can also use plain sugar rather than brown sugar, which is a little cheaper. These baked beans freeze well. I make a batch and freeze half in individual servings for a quick meal another time.