Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Cheese dip that isn't....

For those of you who are lactose intolerant or have loved ones who are, here is an INCREDIBLE recipe for a nacho cheese dip that you just won't believe. At least I didn't. It's from one of my favorite food blogs, Schmood Food. Another great name, I might add.

What I am amazed at, is the fact that the more I look at these vegan recipes, the more I think, given a few years time to acclimate to the unfamiliar ingredients and transitioning my children very slowly, we might, just might, be able to eat more and more vegan. I don't think we'd ever give up meat, we don't have a problem with local, free-range sources of beef and poultry, and we eat much less meat to be able to afford the better quality. But I can see eating more vegetable and nut based foods and fewer of the chemical concoctions that apparently make up many of our old favorites. I also didn't know how many ways there are to use beans. My new favorite is grinding them into flour and adding them to our bread dough. It makes the bread a complete protein. Considering how much bread my family likes to eat, especially my hubby, that's a very, very good thing!

Very exciting new recipes

There is a whole world of food blogs out there, such as one that I just discovered called Coconut and Lime (just love that name), which posted her original recipe for cranberry pancakes. This is dinner for us tonight. I have a whole Costco bag of cranberries waiting for tomorrow and while my family of 6 eaters will make a dent in it, that's about all that will happen and I'll be left with 3/4 of a bag of cranberries, desperately hoping I find the time to pop them into the freezer before they go bad.

Another new recipe I'm going to try is Thanksgiving bread, except I'd like to substitute mashed sweet potato for the pumpkin. We had sweet potato pie for the first time ever a few weeks ago and I was just floored at much it tasted like pumpkin pie. Ever since, I've been using sweet potatoes in any recipe that called for pumpkin pancakes.

I read an article this morning about how a typical person gains around 7 lbs. from Thanskgiving to Christmas. The author recommended simple ways to add extra activity to our days to combat the additional calories from these yummy meals.....such as taking a brisk walk in the morning and before and after eating, to increase our metabolism. I know there were other suggestions but that was the one that resonated with me because frankly, it's the only one that's even reasonably possible right now. I guess the sit-up and push-up competitions sound like fun but I'm not ready for that kind of humiliation by my lovely kiddos....

So I say, s'il vous plaît...if you will, take a stroll with your loved ones and strive to be conscious of and thank God for all of our gifts and blessings. I'm really a C.S. Lewis wanna-be....I really believe there's little that is as lovely as walking and talking for miles....the discussions can just be remarkable.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Happy 12th anniversary to us!

Anniversary delicacies by Z(11) and A(8) that even S (hubby) can eat!
Waking up to this scene (even at 6:30am) never fails to make my day.

Good thing the kitchen was tidied up last night or Z(11) would've never have been able to work his baking magic.

With a bit of effort, I turned a blind eye to the mixing bowl coated with rapidly drying batter perched on top of the open flour canister (there was still fresh ground wheat in there) and that Z(11) found and used the canola oil....I was trying to get rid of that wretched stuff. I had to focus on rescuing what was burning on the stove (pancakes sticking to my formerly pristine pan-Z(11) couldn't find the Pam spray) and help him scrape it off and flip the poor pancake.

Nothing beat his smiling face though. He and his sister A(8) had been whispering madly amidst themselves for the past few days, ever since they had overheard that our anniversary was approaching. They were 'quietly' working in the kitchen this morning until J(2) woke and joined them. Then A(8) read J(2) Cubbies book to her while Z(11) cooked and baked our breakfast feast. Pancakes, sausage, and minature cakes with lemon icing. (see pic above) What a team! This was music to my seems all I've heard of late is bickering between them.
Thank God for these celebratory times that offer some reprieve.

When I start to worry about his antics and wonder what is wrong with him, I need to remember these moments. They had gone to bed later than usual last night because they have AWANA on Wed. evenings and don't usually get to bed until around 9pm. I'm impressed that they set an alarm for 4:30!!! A(9) slept in Z's (11) room and she woke him when the alarm went off. That couldn't have been easy, he is not a morning person.
So, even though my kitchen is a disaster, there is a tower of bowls, bakeware, and pans to soak and scrub, even though J(7 months) and J(2) are a mess and in need of attention, we have a very full day ahead of us, and once again, I'm running heart is full of joy for the gifts God has bestowed on us. As my dear husband always reminds me, "these are the signs of life."
One of the many reasons I am thankful for him most of all.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Too busy to blog-

My two little amigos have been keeping me far too busy to blog.

One of my favorite blogs, Raising Five, (I don't know how to add links yet...haven't had the time to figure that out) talks about living first, then blogging. I don't know, maybe blogging should come first because otherwise it's like all the other things that I love to do that get sidelined. Besides, this is easy!

Scrapbooking, genealogy, organizing, yardwork (yes, I LOVE yardwork), sewing, quilting, even reading, take up such huge amounts of time that I always fall behind.

All I have to do with blogging is log on for a few minutes, type up a few thoughts, add a pic to share and there you go.....mission accomplished and I can go on with my day-feeling so efficient and pleased with myself.

Something to think about.

On another note, I've got something to share that has changed our family's life!!

We have started grinding wheat and baking our own bread. After months of trying to find healthy bread (no trans fats or high fructose corn syrup) and tired of spending $4/loaf just to have it gone the next day.....I discovered a blogger, Noise Overload, who shared her experience of grinding her own wheat and baking bread for her family. She also homeschools, which eliminated my previous excuse of not having enough time. I visited Bread Beckers website and discovered 2 facts impossible to ignore-that 90% of wheats nutrients are gone within 72 hours of being ground into flour and it takes only a few minutes to grind wheat to add to any recipe.

So I placed my order for one grain grinder and 45 lb. bucket of wheat. We were on our way!!

The results are amazing!! Really Amazing!! My children LOVE it, my sweet cravings are mostly gone, and quite possibly my gluten intolerant husband might be able to eat bread again. He's going to try a roll this weekend. I've read quite a few stories of others who were diagnosed celiacs who could eat bread from freshly milled wheat without problem. We're all eating less because this bread is so filling. I feel good about the kids eating it as almost all of the nutrients we need are contained in wheat. I think it's only missing 4. It's also less than $1/ loaf and easy, easy, easy to make! A few hours in the morning and we've got rolls and loaves to last a few days.

And I've lost 2 lbs. in as many days effortlessly. I must emphasize the effortlessly part because I've stopped walking-I had shingles for awhile and needed to slow down. A side note-if you ever think you might have shingles, see your doctor immediately-I did and because I started the medicine in time, the pain and duration were minimal, it was almost like I didn't have shingles at all! But I think you have to start the meds within 72 hours so get in there pronto!

Kicking my chocolate addiction and losing weight without even trying?

Something else to think about.

However, since J(2) is running around half dressed, J(7mos) is crying, and I'm late....perhaps living should come first afterall.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Last minute surprise masterpiece....

A(8) is having a friend over after school today. However, I didn’t realize they had noon dismissal until late last night. So I came up with this last minute lunch idea…courtesy of the internet, coming to my rescue yet again! It never fails, whenever I’m at a loss for a meal idea, I can google some ingredients and add ‘recipe’ to it and viola….a plethora of recipes at hand!

Putting barbeque sauce, salmon, and pasta together had never occurred to me….but what an awesome salad!! I used recipe measurements as a guide because I usually change it or add in additional ingredients….so I gave the sauce and mayo measurements as an idea to the ratio of sauce to salad. I think the best salads are the ones you make up as you go along anyway! I have a feeling that toasted almonds sprinkled on top would make this salad absolutely incredible, as toasted almonds improves just about anything......

Barbeque Pasta Salad

Cooked pasta, cooled (I used elbow macaroni but I think spirals would be pretty)
Chopped veggies (peppers, cucumbers, grated carrots, chives, etc.)
¼ cup barbeque sauce
2 tsp. mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped meat (I like chicken or salmon)

Mix barbeque sauce and mayo together, add meat and veggies. Then toss with pasta. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top and lightly mix together. Refrigerate at least an hour, however the longer you can chill it, the better. It gives the salad time for the flavors to meld.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

For your next potluck, instead of plastic...try CORN!!

I was racing through Costco late this morning, made possible only by the food vendors offering J(2) an array of yummy samples of food she’d never get at home. I mean really, that is what makes the trip so much fun. Other than the satisfying feeling I enjoy, when I see my cart loaded up with food that I know will last longer than 2 days….there’s just something frustrating about how quickly an ordinary box of anything goes in our house. When I buy milk, eggs, cereal, or lettuce at Costco however…it can last a whole week.

Once, a nice, elderly man, while waiting for one of these delectable samples, said, “you know, you could practically have lunch here.” I thought, you know, you’re right! Not that I would actually try doing that, but he was being witty and it was a funny thought. The rest of that particular shopping trip, the kids and I kept running into him at the different sampling areas. He’d just wink and say, “See?” It got pretty funny, to the point where I’d begin laughing right away whenever I saw him. I felt, actually, a little sad when it was time to leave. We talked a bit in the parking lot and that was that. I am more and more thankful these days for those random, friendly moments ….

Anyway, I realized at the end of the trip that I needed to get plastic cups for A’s(8) girl scout meeting. Well, I was not buying 1000 plastic cups…I already felt guilty enough for all the diapers we send to the landfill. I decided to stop at our local health food store hoping to find some recyclable paper cups. They're not very sturdy but definitely eased my conscious and made me feel I was still doing my part for the environment, even though I do still leave my van running at times and even drive while talking on my cell phone!!!

Imagine my surprise when the sales clerk informed me they didn’t carry paper, only plastic cups. “Really!!” I said with humor. I thought it was with humor, she just looked annoyed and defensive, saying they were tight on shelf space.

So I pick up the package of 16 oz. cups and what do you think they were made of?? Not plastic but CORN!! They looked like ordinary, sturdy, clear plastic cups. Plus, get this…100% compostable! I had never heard of such a thing, how can that be? Actually, I have found lately, that you can find recycled or sustainably produced almost anything!

Evidently, according to my highly dependable internet search, these cups break down completely in commercial compost in about 45 days!! (Is a landfill kind of like a commercial compost bin…seems like it would be, but I’m far from an expert.) It takes about a year for them to degrade completely in a homemade compost bin. Now, I don’t really know where my old compost pile is, it’s been that long since I’ve worked on my garden, but I think I’m going to start one back up.

And the first thing that’s going in, is the cup I’m drinking out of right now! Next year, this time…it’ll be compost! Now, how cool is that???!!!

Monday, August 20, 2007


J(4 months) and Z (11)
I can't wait to watch their relationship grow.

How many days until Christmas?

Actually, I don't know...but I know it's not going to be enough time....again. Every year I think I'll start planning earlier and earlier, but I have yet to actually follow through. I know I should be more stressed out about school starting next week but somehow that sounds do-able. I've started doubling batches of dinner and freezing them so we'll (theoretically) have many ready-to-pop-in-the-oven suppers for the next 6 weeks, which so far even though I've completely way over-scheduled us, still excites me with its....newness. The new clothes, school supplies, books, schedules....the possibilities!

And Christmas....well, I just found an old wall quilt (can you find it in my sewing corner pic?) that I started 7 years ago that I think I may actually finish this year. Discovering it led me to thinking about snowy mornings, hot cocoa, the relatively relaxed pace of winter. Every year I promise myself that I will not rush around, I will plan my time so wisely that the holidays will finally be a time of contemplation, rest, and enjoyment with my family and friends. Then reality hits and I'm rushing around town or staying up late shopping online and just trying to keep my head above water, let alone contemplate anything. Maybe I shouldn't be so is still only August after all. I am thinking of giving each child one special item that I know they will love and the rest of their gifts will be little trips and experiences here and there. They have so much, it's almost ridiculous. It makes me crazy and little sick to see how much they don't even use. They love to go places though, it might be money better spent if we take them on day trips and outings instead.
When a space doesn't have a specific purpose, like this corner of our family room, this is what happens in my house!

My new sewing it my little part of the universe....all to myself!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mes deux filles

A(8) and H(6), my S'math-playing buddies!

Day 1-Did I do it?

So, I know I said I would have breakfast with my husband Sean, I missed it. I didn't get around to hanging out with the kids because I was busy cleaning the house before their friends came over for the afternoon (the very definition of an exercise in futility, but yet I continue to do it) and tonight I almost forgot to do anything fun with them until H (6), reminded me that we hadn't played the game S'math (like Scrabble but with mathematical equations) yet. This was 9:00 at night and I had just finished telling her and A (8)to get into bed. However, they had waited all S'math it was.

Honestly, playing S'math that late at night, with a fussy baby on my lap, and with my hopes dashed on getting any free time for myself and still getting to bed at a reasonable hour, wasn't all that much fun. However-seeing how happy the girls were, was fun, and going to bed after midnight-totally worth it! Good night!!

Monday, August 13, 2007

"There's something about you-I just can't describe it!"

My dear friend, Leeza and I were chatting tonight, I can’t remember what about, when she mentioned that her husband, Davis, told her once "it's as if you had a sign on your back saying, 'Please, tell me your life story.'"

I had to chuckle at that because...yes....that IS how you feel when you first meet her and everytime after. There's something....that ne sais quoi.....that makes you sigh-and just start talking. Leeza is one of those rare people, who does not conceal who she is. She is who she is, very real and expecting the same of you. And you know it, somehow. For me, that was startling and educational because I was ALL about determining who a person truly was and if they were trustworthy before I spoke a word that really meant anything. So, I watched her (out of the corner of my eye), listened, and learned how to be real-how to be real and how to be a friend. (As in, she lets you say perfectify in conversation and doesn't say a word about it!) Just know...I was very, very tired and just trying to get my point across about perfecting something.

I started to agree with her husband Davis, with the statement that titles this post. She pointed out its negative connotation. She joked that perhaps she should have this written on her tombstone. Well, being as serious as I tend to be, I didn't find that funny in the least. However, we had a great laugh over the phrase and I loved the sound of it so much, I just had to use it in tonights mental meandering. This is, afterall, what I love to do!

Really though, Leeza should have her own blog. She says she doesn’t know what she would write about. Let me tell you what she would write about. She’d write about her intriguing interests…from early American history to antiquated medications, from her desire to see people understand the truth of who Christ is and his offer to save us to innovative quilting techniques (never HEARD nor CONCEIVED of before!), it would be fascinating material. I know-it’s fascinating simply to listen to. The humor she uses to relate the antics of her kiddos would cause you to spontaneously laugh out loud, later that day, long after you had finished reading.

Several authors who wrote articles printed in the magazine “This Old Schoolhouse” re-introduced me to this phenomena called blogging. In my little neck of the woods, it is indeed still very much the unknown. So I feel very cutting edge here! Anyway, I liked several of the articles so much that I checked out the authors blogs. Suddenly, I was in the land of like-minded people. Then I discovered I was pregnant with #5 and nobody I knew had that many children, so I searched for blogs of mothers of five for encouragement. It was my refuge when I tired of the wide eyed looks as people gasped, “You’re pregnant again?” (I could write a whole other post on that!) Hint: When an expecting mother is tired, hungry and bloated to the gills- there just isn’t ever a time or place to say such a thing. Just smile and tell her how beautiful she looks. (Just as Leeza did.) I never believed her but boy, I was always thankful to hear it. Blogs offer refreshing places where we can share the familiar struggles and glean real encouragement from women who are in the same season of life.

I’ll let you know if Leeza takes the plunge. I can’t quite describe it but there’s just something about her that you’d all love. (Besides then we could travel to blogging conventions together!)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

What will my life be about?

I got so caught up in the fun (and ease) of adding photos that I forgot that this is supposed to be about writing for me. Since having kids, I just don't write as much as I used to-I can't let anymore time get away. So this is serving a useful purpose in keeping my family and friends updated on our lives as well as providing a fun place to write purposefully everyday.

I've noticed more and more lately, the things in life that mean the most to me, I don't prioritize as being the most important. Doesn't that seem weird? Instead things that shouldn't be (and really, aren't) are what I appear to spend most of my precious time on. Such as cleaning and organizing the house, decorating, and chores, chores, chores. It's so highly ironic (as anyone who really knows me) because my house is such a mess! But there it is-it's true and I never even get ahead of it, not by a long shot.

Our pastor brought this up today. He asked us to specifically choose one thing that we knew we were called by Him to do in this life. I believe God trusted us with these children to love and raise them and teach them about Him. (And if we aren't put here to live for ourselves but to know and love God, well, I should be learning that myself). Then the pastor asked us, basically, how are we doing in that one thing. Well, honestly, I'd have to say that I believe Sean and the kids would think the house and my projects were the most important thing to me, simply by my actions. They can't read my mind. I even have to remind myself, to do what I should be doing (like looking the kids in the eyes and spending time with them, not racing around working, talking to them as I do so). However, there is that saying-what you want to do, you will find the time to do. So, it may be more true that I do prefer doing my projects than spending time playing games or being outside-those things that build relationships. Because that's what I like to spend my time and energy on.

So, there, that's quite a revelation for me....and all on a pretty public forum. That's an interesting experience. Ever feel like you don't really know yourself?

Hmmm....well, I don't want it that way, that's for sure. I don't want to waste my life mindlessly like that! That's crazy! Who cares about that stuff? I mean, it's well and good, and I need some order to function in a healthy manner. But not ahead of my relationships...which brings me to part 2....

I'm a good one to say, all the time, boy, I need to get together with....(insert friends name)....more often. I'm just so busy!! (whine, whine, whine) I can endlessly bemoan the fact that time flies by and I've lost touch with someone. But really, how lame is that? I have the same amount of time as anyone else....and it's not because of the kids because they LOVE to have company. It's ME....I feel like I've got to have the house all perfect before I can invite anyone over. Which is ridiculous because 1) like I said above, I never get ahead of the housework and 2) it's usually destroyed and I don't even care, 10 minutes after they've arrived.

So, I've got to find a balance here...and the first thing I'm going to start with is: instead of running around in the morning, I'm going to make it a priority to eat breakfast (or at least have my smoothie) with Sean before he leaves for work. I'm also going to play outside or a game with the kids once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I've still got responsibilities so I can't play all day. The kids do help me a lot around the house, sometimes that's a perfect opportunity for some interesting conversations. I wonder why playing is so hard anyway?? Sean is great at it, he plays all the time with the kids.

Above all, I'll remember, God gave us this wonderful family. Like someone once told me, "This isn't a dress only have one shot." It's a matter, as I'm reminded once again, of thinking on the right things. There are many good things and then there are the best things.

Looking to give your vehicle the newest "Mom Look"? Then check this out!!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Yep, he's still the man I married!

Well, really....what is there to say??!! To know him is to love him.
This was taken on an extremely windy day!!

Everyday that I see this view, I must remember to thank God for His gifts!

Jacqueline's (2) favorite place!

She was in my lap for a nano-second before racing off!
I'm slightly holding her down here for this shot.
This is our local "beach", sandy it is not, swimshoes are a must!

I love this....the only place she will insist on sitting for an extended period of time.
So I read that I should keep my writing down to about 500 words or less. I never knew I was so wordy until my first post. Boy, I am trying to reduce that bit by bit but it's taking forever. Everytime I change it and then view it, it doesn't look like it's changed one bit. Maybe I should leave it, for a later memory of my early blog days.

Just the two of us....

What you don't see are the children running around and how tired we are after an afternoon at the Biodome. Don't we look remarkably peaceful? Well, we look more dazed than peaceful....

My best friend took this of us in Montreal about 4 years ago. This is one of my favorite pictures. He naturally looks good in photos, I don't. I like this picture so much, it's in my living room, it's my screensaver, and it's the one I send to my family and friends. It's everywhere and I never tire of it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Nothing better than a nap in the air conditioning!

From Public School to Home School and Back Again…..

Two weeks before the school year began last year, we found ourselves suddenly in a difficult home schooling position. We had home schooled Z, A and H for the past 4 years with wonderful success. Before that, Z had attended kindergarten and 1st grade and A had been in a preschool program. I was all set for the fall, until we found out what was causing my new sensitivity to everything, whether odors, food or Sean’s suddenly not-so-funny jokes. Surviving pregnancy with me a number of times before made him very familiar with the symptoms….or warnings, depending on your point of view. The increased need to nap at all hours and the nausea, also at all hours, made it pretty clear to me that some things were going to have to change in the near future. So, we reluctantly agreed that Z(10), A(7) and H(5) would go back to school for the 2006/2007 school year. I wasn’t sure what to expect but figured one year couldn’t hurt-after all, I definitely believed (and still do) that a perfect choice doesn’t exist. There are pros and cons to both.

As the year began, the most apparent change for me was my freedom-I just had to be back by noon for the kindergarten bus. No more regimented mornings, I no longer had to keep track of 5 different things at the same time. I didn’t appreciate the structure back then. Not to worry though, 2 year old J and 4 month old J have me well in line these days. It’s a good thing that schedules work well in this house.

Back in the home schooling days, we usually began our school year with the Not Back to School picnic at Mills Park. There, many of our fellow home school friends would rejoice that we were somewhat prolonging our summer. Through the fall, we would begin our days slowly, completing our studies by lunch time (on the good days) and spending the afternoons at various places or just relaxing before the evening commitments. Realizing the control they held over their own day tempered their lack of interest in the less fascinating subjects like spelling and grammar.

Surprisingly, their interest in other subjects grew by leaps and bounds by the simple fact that there were few distractions and many options on how to teach and learn the material. Music and art lessons, co-op meetings, writing club, and time spent with friends rounded out our days. However, the driving to and fro from all of these very good things was also very wearing. When your friends live 30 min. away, you just don’t see them as often. That was something I missed for the kids; seeing your buddies everyday. Our end of the year assessment and testing affirmed that great academic things were occurring but the equally important social time was definitely lacking.

There are such a wide range of home schooling philosophies from super structured, classical literature-centered to a relaxed, unschooling approach, let-the-child-decide-for-themselves-what-to-spend-their-time-studying. Unschoolers we are not, I definitely like good literature and history and feel it is absolutely essential to understand where we came from to see where we are going. Cliché, I know, but I don’t have time to figure out how to say it any other way. The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer was what I used to put together our home school program. I highly recommend it for suggestions if you feel the need to supplement your child’s education, otherwise known as “after schooling”.

Most importantly, I see now that just as there is not one size fits all direction for parenting, the same is true for educating your children. From learning style differences, to individual talents that need to be encouraged, to your own opinion of what is important or not….all of these influence what direction your instruction will take. Some people send one child to public or private school and home school another. Some children take a few classes at a school and do the rest at home. Some learn in the car, via DVDs, reading, and discussion while driving between music lessons or dance classes. These are usually those who have some incredible talent who are very lucky to be able to receive their education outside of the traditional school. Otherwise they might not be able to develop their gift. So, as for our family, we are taking it year by year. This year, our kids are again going to school. If you know our toddler, well, then the reason is obvious! But I can’t promise that will be the case next year. I find that circumstances have a way of shifting. Since we have this incredible freedom of choice, we’d be crazy not to thoughtfully consider it.