Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Recipe: Red Quinoa and Cranberry Salad

I'm new to quinoa.  I know all about its awesomeness, its super grain powers, and ability to leap tall platters.  But I haven't really cooked with it.  And I now know that I was seriously missing out!  Not long ago, I had a fantastic red quinoa salad at a local restaurant, chilled and served with cranberries and limes.  I couldn't get enough.  So with Thanksgiving right around the corner, I knew that I wanted to try to recreate the salad for a spectacular side.  Try it!  You won't be disappointed.

Red Quinoa and Cranberry Salad

this generous amount will easily serve 8-10 as a side
2        cups organic red quinoa
4        cups water
1 1/3  cups dried, sweetened cranberries
1/2     cup finely chopped red onion
2        cloves garlic, minced
1       cup almond slices
2        tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1/2     cup olive oil
4        tablespoons white wine vinegar
2        limes, squeezed for their juice
1        teaspoon salt
1/2     teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Combine quinoa and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Put in the refrigerator to cool for 10 minutes as you prepare the remainder of the salad.

Combine cranberries, onion, garlic, almonds,  and mint in a medium bowl. Once the quinoa has cooled, stir this mixture into the quinoa.

To make the dressing, combine the olive oil, the juice from two limes, and the remaining ingredients; stir well. Pour oil mixture over quinoa mixture; stir well. Chill or serve immediately.


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Saturday, April 27, 2013


I figure since this blog has gone through a name change, a theme change...well, a complete redesign that perhaps I should take a look at other aspects of my life that could also use a redesign.  And, as I'm currently in the middle of reading Charles Duhigg's The Power of Habit, my habits seem a good place to start.

A 2006 study done at Duke University found that more than 40 percent of our actions are not made with any sort of intentional decision but rather made out of habit (xvi). Intuitively, this is something that most of us already know.  We have all had those mornings where we safely arrive in the parking lot of our workplace but don't really recall exactly how we got there.  Or, like I did just last week, without thinking drove to my child's preschool to pick him up on a day that he wasn't at school!  Duhigg pulls together research from a variety of psychology, advertising, and business studies to show just how easy it is to form habits based on cues we encounter in our daily lives.  Our reactions to these cues create a habit loop, leading to a craving.  And, as Duhigg writes, "When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making," which is what makes getting rid of habits incredibly difficult (20). But not impossible.

Habits, by definition, are those actions we do with out intention, without thinking.  And so this seems a perfect moment to pause, to reflect on what my cues are, and how I might change some of the bad routines I have in place to deal with those cues.  This is my moment to redesign my life.

So, I'll use this blog to reflect on my journey of replacing a couple of bad habits with a couple of good ones. Oh, I'll still post my adventures in crafting and reflections on raising two crafty little boys, but each Saturday I'll also pause to share my progress in acting with intention and the pitfalls I am sure to encounter along the way.  Now, to begin.  What are my cues?

I'm going to start my life redesign by acting more intentionally when it comes to two of my bad habits.  First, let's start with my exercise routine, which can be better described as a complete lack of a routine.  The alarm goes off each morning at 5:20 a.m.  On the mornings that my boys need to be dropped off at preschool/daycare, this makes for a very rushed morning.  However, the alarm goes off at this exact time on the days that my boys do not go to school as well, which generally leads to me hitting snooze three times and half-sleeping another 20-some minutes.  A waste of time. And since I know myself well enough to know that I will not get into an exercise routine in the evening after teaching a full day and then taking care of my boys while my hubby works evenings, mornings really are the best place for me to start a new routine, a new habit.  And since I have a very literal cue, my alarm going off each morning even when I don't need to wake early, I'm going to start getting up to run on the mornings that my boys don't need to be dropped off at school.  Can I confess at this point that even having just typed that above I'm feeling a bit anxious?  I don't think I've laced up my running shoes since just after my youngest was born (he'll turn 3 in August). But in another way this will be a welcomed change as there are very few points in my day to day life where I am alone.  I'm either in front of students teaching during the day, playing with my boys in the late afternoon, rushing through that whole dinner, bath, bed routine before my hubby gets home for the evening, and then off to bed myself.  A new routine in the morning might not only a good way for me to get back in shape but also a way to start mornings with a bit of time for just me.

My second cue comes when I step through my front door following my teaching day.  I greet my husband as he heads out the door for work, grab up my boys in a hug, and head for the cookie jar.  I get home about 3:30 each day and carbo-load, which if I was training to be a triathlete would be just fine.  However, I am not.  Not even close.  Unless of course you count picking up Legos from every crevice in my house as an Olympic sport (which honestly, some days it should be), I do not need to be taking in the amount of processed, carb-heavy foods that I am each day.  So, my second new habit will be to eat no-processed, local foods as snacks.  Okay, so no-processed food would likely be good enough here, but I'm actually interested in replacing two bad habits.  Not only do I need to cut overly-processed carbs from my current eating habits, but my family is also trying to include more organic, locally grown produce in our diet.So my snacks are a great place to start, not to mention that I'll also be setting a better example for my two sweet-toothed boys.      

So, there you have it.  I've proclaimed these redesigns publicly in the hopes that it will keep me honest.  Either way, I hope this journey makes for an interesting read in the weeks and months ahead.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Big News from Babee Crafts!

What an eventful (and event full) year 2012 has been.  I had the good fortune of growing Babee Crafts over this past year, adding new designs and expanding my design availability by participating in nearly a dozen fairs in 2012. Because of your continued support, I have been able to donate a portion of my profits this past year to the Sparrow Fund, Kiva, the American Red Cross, and soon to Anabelle's Wish. And my designs were picked up by four wonderful boutiques in the Philadelphia area, all committed to sharing the craft of handmade goods.  I am truly thankful for all the well wishes and support that so many of you have offered by connecting with me in person at local shows, through Facebook and Twitter, and through feedback left via my online shop.  How lucky am I!  

So you can imagine how difficult it has been to come to the decision to close Babee Crafts.  Although I truly love screening and stitching up new designs for little ones from all over, I need to take some time to craft with two of my biggest fans - my two little boys.  This past year I have shipped my designs to four continents and to nearly every state here in the US, but in 2013 I need to spend some time focused on those closer to home.

I will be closing my online shop following the 2012 holiday season. And although you will not be able to purchase Babee Crafts designs in 2013, as my loyal subscribers and supporters, I am offering you a very special coupon code to celebrate the 2012 holidays in eco-friendly fashion!  Please use coupon code "THANKYOU" for 20% off your total purchase.  And stay tuned, as the year draws to a close, I'll be sending out further coupon codes and specials just to you!

So stock up and celebrate while supplies last!


Thank you again for your support and well wishes.


Jen Ward
owner, Babee Crafts


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Friday, August 17, 2012

Fun Fork Finds For Friday

Just a little fork humor for this Friday morning.  What can I say? I'm an English teacher. I love alliteration! So here it is: Fun Fork Finds For Friday!
Click on the image to be taken to this Pinterest board

Here's a closer look at some of my favorites:

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Special Challenge

I am so excited to be partnering with the nonprofit  The Sparrow Fund this month, supporting their work in helping adoptive families around the world. I'm donating 10% of all my sales this month to The Sparrow Fund along with 58 other businesses (click HERE to see them all).

Until May 19th, we have a very special challenge in front of us that I want to share with you. An adoptive mom wanted to do something creative to support this nonprofit and their efforts this month to Build the Nest. And, she posted a blog entry today with that challenge -- for everyone who comments there with their first name, the store name where they shopped, and the total amount spent -- blogger Leah will MATCH dollar for dollar in a donation directly to The Sparrow Fund up to $1,000! So, if you make a purchase now through May 19th , not only will 10% of your purchase go to The Sparrow Fund, you can make that 110% simply by commenting on her blog! 

Consider being a part of this challenge! Come on over to Babee Crafts online shop and make a purchase. Then, simply go make sure Leah knows you did by commenting on her blog post (CLICK HERE) with your first name, my store name, and the total amount of your purchase with us. We want to make sure that at least $1,000 worth of sales named in those comments so we can get The Sparrow Fund this donation. And, we only have a few more days to do it!

Thank you so much! 

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Building the Nest

I can't say that remember exactly how I learned about Kelly Raudenbush.  I'm guessing that it was through the Philadelphia Social Media Moms network or some other bloggy, crafty, social media type connection, but I do remember that her organization - The Sparrow Fund - struck me as being an incredibly important resource for families in the Philadelphia area and across our country.

The Sparrow Fund is an organization that not only provides financial support to families seeking international adoptions, but more importantly training and support for families going through the sometimes complicated and confusing process of navigating international adoptions. As described on the fund's website:
"There are so many unknowns when it comes to adoption, and we believe that preparation plays a significant part in making the unpredictable road of adoption a little more smooth. Worthwhile training and national programs staffed by professionals offer invaluable services to help prepare the adoptive family as well as their child.
The Sparrow Fund was started because we do not want anything to be an obstacle in the adoption process. We are committed to see ONE MORE child with a forever family and ONE LESS orphan in the world."
So not long ago when Kelly approched me about helping the Sparrow Fund "build their nest," I just had to say yes! During the month of May, a number of businesses have joined together to help The Sparrow Fund by donating 10% of their total sales during the entire month of May! And Babee Crafts is one of those businesses! I was thrilled to have a number of people ask about The Sparrow Fund this past Sunday at Clover Market when I had my little donation sign front and center in my booth. And I even got to meet the owner of another donating business, Kate of Between the Buttons!

So please spread the love and help The Sparrow Fund build their nest this May.  Grab the button below if you are a fellow blogger to share on your site (cut and paste the script below the button). And please visit the sites below to shop and shop and shop some more–make that 10% really add up to help adoptive families in need! And, while you are shopping, personally thank them for supporting adoption, helping adoptive families, and being a part of the work of The Sparrow Fund.

web button
Agape Love BoutiquePhotobucketblogbutton3-Edit-Edit-1Photobucket
If you would like your store to be a part of this May fundraising event, please contact The Sparrow Fund to be added as part of this effort.
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