Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Tale of Two Fleas

The question was innocent enough, “Babe, I found these two bugs on Emmit, what do you think they are?” I knew the answer before I even saw the offending creatures, encased between two pieces of scotch tape.

FLEAS!! Blech! Barf! Itch! Skeeve!

It was 10 o’clock at night, and my five-month pregnant self was all snuggled up in bed. The sane, logical part of my brain said that I wouldn’t freak out and that I would deal with the issue in the morning. Unfortunately, the sane, logical part of my brain fell asleep shortly after making such declarations and the obsessive, out of control part of my brain came screeching into my bedroom in a hazmat suit.

I spent the better part of the night experiencing night terrors and breaking out into a cold sweat. At a reasonable 4am, I dashed out of bed and began my crusade against creepy crawlies.

Being pregnant, I did not feel that covering my house in murderous chemicals was the way to go. My first step, and subsequently my biggest mistake, was to seek the counsel of Google. Whereas I expected to find some practical advice for the natural remediation of fleas, what I found was quite the contrary:

            For those unfortunate souls trying to use home remedies to treat fleas….

My rapidly beating heart brought me back to reality and I did my best to find any useful information that would not incite panic. According to the experts on the interwebs, I needed Borax, apple cider vinegar, endless vacuum cleaner bags and a strong will. As luck would have it, I was entirely prepared for this disgusting juncture in my life.

I wasted no time getting to work. I moved every piece of furniture, dusted the entire house in Borax, vacuumed, washed floors, washed anything that could fit in the washing machine and steam-cleaned whatever couldn’t. Then repeated multiple times. Bathed the cats three times, much to their dismay. Combed the cats every 15 minutes with a flea comb, which they rather liked. And then sprayed them down with apple cider vinegar, which they most certainly did not like.

And it’s a good thing I took these drastic measures, because I found NINE, yes NINE fleas in total, both live and dead. So maybe Flea Gate 2012 wasn’t the major catastrophe I thought it was, but it was still pretty traumatizing. The Obsessive Compulsive in me felt that once everything was thoroughly deloused and cleared for at least a month, I would finally be able to rest easy. Well, it’s been 9 months and I’ve seen no signs of infestation. So while I’m no longer in hyper overdrive when it comes to flea diligence, I do still inspect every speck of everything and flea comb the cats on the regular. (And still sprinkle Borax under the couch cushions for good measure).

Moral of this story? You don’t always need to turn to heavy-duty toxins; sometimes a good dose of cleaning and unadulterated fear is all you need. And don’t use Google. Ever.

Disclaimer: No felines and only 9 fleas were harmed in the making of this terrifying, if not educational, story. And before you think that I brought this horror upon myself, my cats always have been and always will be treated with Frontline. And for you know-it-alls, Yes, I do use Frontline Plus. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Banana Oat Muffins

My wonderful neighbor has been under the weather, and with the frigid temps that we've been experiencing, recovery is likely uninspired. I feel relatively healthy and sprite and even I have been using the excuse, "It's just too cold" for everything. Little man and I have been huddled around the space heater dreaming of warmer days.

So, in an act of neighborly goodness and in an effort to further warm the house, I cranked the oven to 400º and got baking. I would have been content to whip up confections all day, but my little guy is only content for about 12 minute clips, so I chose Banana Oat Muffins for their healthy deliciousness.

Note: I also made a batch for myself. I am not longer eating Paleo since it was not agreeing with me. But I am still off processed foods and have a very limited amount of dairy and gluten in my diet. I will make a gluten exception for homemade muffins.

Banana Oat Muffins
Makes about 12 smaller sized muffins/8 large muffins

3/4 c. wheat flour
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
3/4 c. milk (i used unsweetened almond milk)
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. mashed bananas (2-3 bananas)

1. Preheat over to 400º. Combine eggs and sugar. Add milk, vegetable oil and vanilla. Stir to combine. Add mashed bananas.

2. Combine dry ingredients. Add dry to wet mixture. Stir until just combined.

3. Divide equally among paper-lined muffin tins.

4. Bake at 400º for 16 minutes.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Clean Beef & Rice Soup

I'm going strong on my quest to eat clean. It's been a little over a week and I've eaten ZERO processed foods... that's right ZERO. I thought that it would be difficult to avoid prepackaged foods, but after my initial cravings passed (this was a slightly tumultuous time), I'm really happy to be eating uber healthy. Sticking to Paleo for breakfast and lunch and that's working well, but more on that later. (That sort of felt like when Johnny kept telling Baby they would practice the lift later.... Dirty Dancing anyone?)

Anyway, here is a delicious recipe for a clean Beef & Rice Soup. Its kind of like a stew, but more broth-like than gravy-like, so I call it soup. Feel free to call it whatever you'd like. It's clean because it's made with natural, organic ingredients. When you buy beef broth if you're not keen on making your own - I'm certainly not - be sure to read the ingredients. Just because the front says it's organic, that doesn't mean that you won't find preservatives. Just check until you find a brand that's not a LLPOF (liar, liar, pants on fire).

One more thing, this soup/stew is great the very minute it's finished, but if you really want it to knock your socks off, make it a day ahead and just reheat. It's one of those dishes that gets way better the second day. I think it's because a chilly night spent tucked away in the fridge makes the soup more appreciative of it's warm and steamy natural state, and therefore makes sure to perform at its very best to avoid another frigid night... but that's just me.

Clean Beef & Rice Soup
Serves 4

1 lb. organic sirloin, cubed
1 tbsp. canola oil
2 organic carrots, cut on a bias
3 organic celery stalks, chopped
1 organic medium yellow onion, chopped
2 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
4 oz. mushrooms (with stems), sliced thin
1/4 cup red wine
2 cups organic beef broth
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cups organic brown rice
1 organic tomato, chopped
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce

1. In a heavy-bottomed pot (cast iron is best in my opinion), heat canola oil over medium-high heat. Let it get good and hot. Season sirloin with salt and pepper and add to oil. Make sure to keep the oil hot. You are looking for a really nice brown on the outside of the meat. If the temp drops too low, you will end up losing all the moisture from the meat and it will pretty much boil - not what we're looking for. Once you have a nice sear, flip the meat and sear the other side. Once brown, remove meat and put to the side. Feel free to work in batches. If you overcrowd the pot, you will likely bring the temp too low to get a good sear.

2. Once meat is set aside, turn the heat down slightly to about medium. Add carrots, celery and onion. You want to get a little color on these, but mostly start to soften them up. Saute for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add thyme and sage and saute until fragrant. Add worcestershire and red wine to deglaze the pan (scrape up all the brown bits with a wooden spoon, that's flavor my friends).

3. Add broth, water and tomato. Bring to a low boil and reduce to a simmer over low heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add brown rice. Stir, cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes until rice is cooked, but still firm. You don't want mush.

4. Once rice is cooked, add the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Add a little at a time, taste and adjust as necessary. Right before you are going to serve, toss in the mushrooms. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Image Via

Every year my New Year's resolution is basically the same - lose weight, get in better shape, yada yada. Now I look back at pre-baby photos I think, "Lose weight?! I would do anything to look like that again!" 

But this year, when it would seemingly make sense to make the same resolution yet again, I've decided to get serious and make serious changes. 

In 2013 I resolve to be the best version of me and build a healthier life for my family.

Seems simple enough, right? But when you get down to brass tacks, I've actually set quite a lofty goal for myself. I refuse to join the ranks of resolution-makers that clog up the gym for the first two weeks of January and then call it quits only to pay for a membership for the next 11 1/2 months. (Shamefully, I was a card-carrying member of this army last year). In fact, sticking to my resolution strictly prohibits such financial waste and general laziness.

Keeping my resolution will require a detailed multi-layered blueprint, one which is still very much in the beginning stages. Because I truly do want to shed the baby weight and get back into shape, I'm beginning with food and fitness. And since I am required to eat in order to live, it makes sense to start with food.

I have vowed to Eat Clean. I've heard this term bounced around a lot in the past few months and thought it just another trendy diet fad. But after some research, I've found that Eating Clean is sensible, simple and incredibly healthy.

I am also following a partially-Paleo eating plan, but that's another post all together. I've been eating clean for 3 days now and I've dropped 4 lbs! Holy Hannah!! Besides the weight loss, I am so happy to know that I have not put any chemicals or unnecessarily processed foods into my body. I don't need it and my family doesn't need it.

Here's to a happy and healthy 2013!