An easy non-GMO list


I found a great list of all brands of food that are non-GMO. It is very easy to navigate. It is an easy way for you to ease yourself into changing the brands you already buy. Remember: don’t try to change everything in one shopping trip. You will drive yourself bonkers! You also should read tall food labels even if the package says non-GMO. You can never be too safe.

Sorry for the lack of posts the last few days. Life just sometimes gets super busy :). I will definitely see you tomorrow though!

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And don’t forget to share with your friends :)!

Mrs. Z’s Quick Kitchen Tip


Here is my quick kitchen tip of the day.  I haven’t tried any of these but I came across nine simple ideas the other day. I wanted to pass them on to you. They seem relatively easy and super helpful around the kitchen. My favorite is the microwave cleaning idea. All you do is put wet paper towels in the microwave for three to five minutes. The steam from the water after it is done supposedly helps you to wipe the grime away. I definitely need to try this!

Have fun with these kitchen tips. Let us know of any kitchen tips you may have up your sleeves!

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I still love you Kurt!


Everyone can speak the language of music.  Music can be used to identify a time period. People use music to describe a moment in their life. People even use music to describe how they are feeling. It is the one constant in our lives that remains the same. Notes and melodies flowing together as words paint a picture in your mind. This picture is different to each interpreter. Thus is the beauty of music.

Each generation has that one defining moment in music history. Our grandparents had the honor of being part of the Big Band era. If you have never listened to that music, you are missing quite a bit of American culture. The Count Basie Orchestra, Benny Goodman, The Glenn Miller Orchestra. I can keep going. I can still here my grandfather play these bands on his stereo in his living room.

Think about our parents. The 60s. The decade that fascinates me in so many ways. Any girl (and boy for that matter) can tell you where they were when John, Paul, Ringo, and George played on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. Or when Jimi Hendrix played The Star-Spangled Banner at Woodstock (it gives me chills every time I hear it).

But what about us? Those of us born in the 80s and had our adolescence in the 90s. I always wonder how we will be remembered. The90s had such an extreme change in music from the beginning to the end. I loved NKOTB! And N*SYNC. And The Backstreet Boys. But the 90s will always and forever mean one thing to me: Nirvana. (This is a link tho their MTV Unplugged Album. It is kind of long but definitely worth the time!) Yes, after naming all of those sugary sweet pop bands, I loved grunge music. Nirvana was the teenage movements way of saying “I am not a child anymore”.  We proudly wore our plaid button down shirts that were a few sizes too big. Our hair was, well, let’s not get into that one (some of my teenage years and the way I dressed I’d rather forget 😉 ).


Kurt Cobain was grunge. He was and will forever define the decade’s music.  He was gorgeous in his I-look-like-I-haven’t-showered-in-days look. Sometimes the words in his music didn’t make much sense, but they made this kind of awkward teenage girl feel not so lonely at times. I can still remember the day Kurt Cobain was found dead. April  5, 1994. Twenty years ago! Gone way too soon. Sigh. I still love you Kurt Cobain!  (As a side note: I loved Dave Grohl too! I still think he is dreamy ;). )

Tonight, Nirvana will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Yes, grunge will forever be part of American music history. And I will always remember the 90s as the decade where grunge was in and you had to wait to hear your favorite song on the radio and quickly press record so that you can have the song to play again and again. (Way too many ands in that sentence but when you are talking about grunge, grammar really doesn’t count.)

What were your favorite songs/bands from the 90s? How has music affected you? Comment below!

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To my fellow teachers


I was recently reading different blogs and came across this great post the other day. This one goes out to all of my former students. You are all amazing and I know you will do amazing things one day. I have been honored to have you in my life and you have taught me so much. Like I have always said to you, my students, I give you the tools necessary for life. It is up to you to use them wisely. I know that you are using them to the best of your ability.


This post also goes out to my fellow colleagues. You are amazing and are so dedicated to what you do. You shape young minds. You have the power to create a president, a lawyer, a doctor, a business owner, or perhaps a teacher. At times I am sure, no I know, that it can be downright scary in the education field. You are constantly being degraded my people’s comments. You are trying to live up to a standard that I am sure those that put them in place probably couldn’t even attempt to reach it. However, you are better than all of that. You are amazing. I have not been in the classroom for some  time now. But I stand with you in solidarity and am proud to say that I am one of you. You are the foundation everything in this world stands on.

It is testing season, so I figured the blog I mentioned to you in my first sentence would give you some inspiration. You can do this. You are much better than the 27th line!

Leave some love for those teachers and students below! I know it means a lot to them :).

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Can you write a Fifty?

I am taking on a writing challenge called ” The Fifty“. You have to tell a story or write about a moment in no less or no more than 50 words. This might be difficult for me. However, I love challenges. Tell me I can’t do something and I will try my hardest to prove you wrong ;). Well, here we go. By the way, this first paragraph will not count towards my fifty word count. It starts right now….

                A moment in time. A smile. A laugh. What were you thinking? It appears as though you are having the time of your life. Did you ever think it would end? It seems as if you felt this moment would last forever.  Or was it simply a moment in time?

So, what do you think? “What was my inspiration”, you ask? I actually had two inspirations. First, I saw a picture recently of my grandfather’s parents and siblings sitting around a table when they were young. Everyone looked so happy. I was thinking of that picture. Another one was this painting from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg. I had mentioned him in a previous blog. I absolutely love his work!


Why don’t you try a Fifty! Fifty words come up really quickly so think wisely about what you want to say. Leave it in the comments below. I would love to read them (as I am sure everyone else does!).

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Your first playmates


Cousins. If you are lucky enough to have them, they are your earliest friends in life. They are your first playmates. Even if there is a huge age gap, you know you will always have someone to go to if you need help, to play a game, or just a simple hug.

As years have gone by I have realized that my cousins are extremely important to me. They are the family that grounds me. They are the people that are excited for my good times and are sad for the not so happy times. They are the ones that I can be completely silly with and no one will judge (unless they do and I don’t really know 😉 ).  In my family we have multi generational cousins. I am still close with my  second, third, and fourth cousins. Yes, that’s right, fourth cousins! We may not see each other very often, but those two or three times a year that we do are amazing! You know that best friend you have that you haven’t seen in a while. Then you hang out after so much time has passed and it seems like you just saw each other yesterday? That is how it is with my cousins. All of them.  What is even better is, when you see them, and your relationship is so solid, that a simple “Hey Cuz!”  is all that is needed. I have had some of the greatest conversations of my life with these people.

My husband comes from a very similar family dynamic. He is also very close to his cousins. I honestly consider myself lucky to have married someone with awesome cousins as well. I don’t even think of myself as an “outsider” or someone who “married into” the family (unless, of course, I’m wrong 😉 ). They are all so welcoming that it feels like an extension to my own group of cousins.

My first cousins I see quite often (I’m just using a number order to better differentiate for you, my readers :) ). We have started a dinner where the cousins meet up several times a year. We decided these dinners will have a theme. Our most current one was Italian. The dinners are potluck, so everyone brings a dish that corresponds with the theme. After our big meal, we wind up playing Pictionary, Catch Phrase, etc. It is so much fun!

Try the dinners with your cousins. It really is an amazing time! And don’t forget to take lots of pictures. I know I love looking at old pictures of my grandparents and their generation at family gatherings when they were my age. I especially look for the smiles and the good times they were having. I try to imagine what they were talking or laughing about. I hope future generations will do the same with the pictures we have taken.

What are some favorite things you like to do with your cousins? Comment below!

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Mrs. Z’s Quick Kitchen Tip: The “Dirty Dozen”

Here is a quick kitchen tip from Mrs. Z. Sometimes buying all organic can be expensive.  I know I don’t buy all organic produce. Here is a handy chart of the “Dirty Dozen”.


Some charts vary in which are the worst and the best. However, the fruits and vegetables are the same on all lists. The “Clean 15” are fruits and vegetables with the lowest of pesticides. If you can’t buy all organic, these are the ones you can buy non organic. It still makes me sad that these are described as having low pesticides, which means pretty much everything we eat has chemicals in them. I guess it’s better than getting a large dose :(.

I hope this was helpful! Cheers to the weekend everyone!

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Please stop using plastic bags!!


Plastic grocery bags. They have been a staple in grocery stores for decades. Unfortunately, it is killing our environment. ABC 7, the local ABC news in New York, did a story about plastic bags the other day.  New Yorkers use about five billion plastic bags a year. In one year! That blows my mind! And that is just this city. Now think of all of the cities across the United States.  And all of the cities around the world. We are killing our environment one bag at a time.


In the same news story, a city councilman was interviewed. He is sponsoring a bill that, if passed, will charge consumers 10 cents when using plastic bags when they checkout at the store. I know this is probably going to come under a lot of fire. However, I do agree with it. If you don’t like being charged 10 cents, then buy 4 or 5 of the reusable bags. They only cost around a dollar at the grocery store. I know the local dollar store near me sells 2 bags for a dollar. I have so many of these bags. I keep 4 of them in my car and when I go to the store, I just take them out. Don’t get me wrong, I have been guilty of forgetting the bags in the car. At that point, I begrudgingly use the plastic bags. I know if they started charging for them, I would make a more conscientious effort to remember.

New York City is currently adjusting to a new mayor after 12 years. Yes, 12 very long years. The teacher side of me did not like our previous mayor. He was not very pro unions and, for some reason or another, looked down on teachers. I do want to admit something, though.  The environmentally conscious side of me thought he was taking this city in a great direction. He improved our recycling efforts, more green buildings that were solar powered were built, farmer’s markets were expanded throughout the five boroughs, etc. I enjoyed all of those efforts from our previous administration. Hopefully these changes will stay and the current administration will create newer ones.

One of those issues I hope our new mayor addresses are the plastic bags. I am hoping to raise awareness by this post. Remember to always bring your reusable bags with you on all of your shopping outings. And remember to be proud when you use them. I went to the supermarket the other day and there was an employee bagging at the end of the counter. I told him I have my own bags and that I would pack my items. Of course, I said it with a smile and very politely. He responded with “Oh, you are one of those people?”. I did not know who those people he was referring to were, so I showed my pearly whites again and said “Yes, I guess I am”. I then went on to packing my own groceries. The cashier also gave me eight cents off of my order. The store I shop at reimburses you two cents for each bag you use. I guess it’s better than being charged ten cents!


Here is some information on how plastic bags are hurting marine life. Poor babies!

What are your thoughts? Does anyone have any earth friendly tips for us? I would love to hear from you :)

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The Never Ending Challenge: Toddler Eating


Eating with a toddler seems like an enigma sometimes. One day this little tyke will eat just about anything. The next day, they don’t want anything to do with the same food you put in front of them 24 hours earlier. This little human is so picky. However, can you blame them? They are growing at such a fast pace at this point in their life. Their world is constantly changing. To us parents, though, it can be a journey. Sometimes, a very tedious journey.

When my son went for his 9 month check up, the pediatrician that I normally see was on vacation so we saw a different doctor in the practice. She went through the normal routine of asking questions. One of these questions was about his eating habits. I hadn’t really given my son any whole foods at this point except bananas, avocados, and other mushy foods. When the doctor had heard this she said that I should start giving him the foods that my husband and I ate all the time (except for the normal food restrictions of a child this age). She said I could supplement with pureed foods, however, I needed to start introducing regular food cut up really small so that I wouldn’t have a picky eater. As soon as I left the office, I went right into giving him our food for all meals. It took a good 2 months for him to get the hang of meat and just about any type of food that wasn’t pureed. It was definitely an uphill battle. On the upside, my son is a pretty good eater. Don’t get me wrong, there are days where he wants nothing to do with food. Or the only thing he wants is pasta or bread. But the good days outweigh the bad, so I’m pretty content. ( And what did my son want above all else for lunch today? Kalamata olives! Oh yes, he is definitely my son!)

Foods from different food groups

I do like to try to give my son foods from all food groups every day. It is definitely a challenge but it makes me feel better knowing he is getting the nutrients he needs. I find this site to be very helpful. It breaks the recipes up into breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as snacks and making your own “fast food”.

I also use a recipe book from the Cooking Light writers. It has over 700 recipes that take either 15, 20, or 30 minutes. I beg to differ on the time it takes to make certain recipes. However, there are so many great ideas! My sister got this cookbook for me 3 or 4 years ago and I have used it nonstop since. Thanks!! She is also the one who gave me the idea for this post as well. You’re the best ;).


One of my all time favorites from this cookbook is the Quick Vegetarian Paella. It calls for artichoke hearts and olives. If your kiddies don’t like these you can also substitute a favorite vegetable. Or you can add in a meat to bulk it up a little bit. Just a warning: It does take a while to get all of the ingredients prepared. This may not be an ideal recipe to use on a night where you are short on time.

pancakes meatballs_balls

I also like to cook ahead so that I have food already prepared in the freezer for those “oh man, time has flown by” moments. Once every two or three months months I make two dozen beef, two dozen chicken, and two dozen turkey meatballs. I usually chop up some type of vegetable and include that in the meatball mixture before I bake them. I then freeze them. I also make about two dozen pancakes. I always try to keep the freezer stocked with different frozen vegetables. Fairway sells a large bag of organic vegetables for a pretty decent price.


I hope some of these ideas were helpful. Remember: eating is  tricky business when it comes to children. Let eating take its course. Just keep exposing them to different foods and textures.  Your child will get there. (It’s funny. Tonight when I was serving dinner, my son didn’t want any of it. Go figure!)

If you have a recipe that is super kid friendly and your child/children love it, please share with us! Or any tricks of the trade when it comes to getting your kids to eat.

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