Monday, February 28, 2011

Life in all it's fullest is more than just dishes.

Life is not a series of tasks to be fulfilled.
It is to be lived and savoured, held close - filled with space and grace – space enough to respond to My call - no matter how inconvenient it may be when it comes.
Read the rest here.  I think this is a beautiful reminder of what really matters.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Happy Birthday Nannie!

The kids and I (and Nannie) made a yummy chocolate birthday cake for Nannie.  Kids had a blast stirring and measuring and hiding peanut butter M&Ms deep into the cake batter.  Nate spent the ENTIRE afternoon asking if it was time to eat cake yet and mean mommy kept making him wait until after dinner.  At one point he excitedly exclaimed, "time to cut the cake, I'll get my chainsaw!"  (not sure what that says about my baking abilities...)

Basic Chocolate Cake

2/3 cup butter, softened
1 2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 cups flour
2/3 cup baking cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup milk

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with the milk, beating until smooth after each addition.

Pour batter into a greased and floured 13 X 9 inch baking pan. Bake at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cake tests done. Cool.

We added a whipped cream and oreo cookie topping.  Delish.

Dress up to tidy up?  why not.  In case you are wondering, she is a "construction worker tidy-up fairy" (who didn't really help all that much with the tidying up!)

I love this age of make-believe.

Spring has Sprung (not really - but at least there are puddles)

We've all had colds these past few weeks (with my ear infection lingering on and on and on...), so not much has been done around here except a lot of grouching.
Some coloring.  Some cutting/pasting.  Too many cartoons. 

And of course, what every sick kid needs - PUDDLE JUMPING!

It may not make the cold feel any better (and quite possibly make it WORSE), but the first puddles of the season can't be missed!  Perfect way to break up days of snotty-nosed misery.

The kids also discovered scratchy crunchy snow (no fun), a swollen river (lots of fun to toss sticks into) and the first mud of the season.  It's going to be a fun spring (if it ever comes!)

Finding the ONLY patch of mud!

oh dear.  going to be a messy spring!

The one who makes the mess, gets to clean the mess!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

What to do with Leftover Noodles?

We eat a LOT of pasta.  At least 2 times per week - sometimes up to 4 times in one week!  And we never seem to be able to correctly measure how much dried pasta will make the right amount of cooked pasta.  We're all a little paranoid that we won't cook enough, so we over-compensate and cook too much.  Every time.  gah.

I do NOT like throwing food out.  It is food.  It costs money.  Many many many people do NOT have the luxury of throwing food out and I refuse to waste that luxury or treat it as anything less than a luxury.  Because it is a luxury.  Part of being grateful is consciously using and enjoying what we have been given.

I do NOT like microwaved second day pasta.  It's just not good.

My solution?

Second Day Noodle Soup (aka Minestrone).
It is very simple if you have even the most basic of soup making skills.
Start with the start of all soups - the holy trinity of onion, garlic and celery - sauteed in a little olive oil. 
Add a can of tomatoes with juice and your leftover spaghetti sauce. 
Add some veggie/chicken stock if it needs it (or even just water). 
Add a can of kidney beans (rinsed of course!). 
Add some carrots and whatever other veggies you have sitting in the fridge asking to be used up (peppers, mushrooms, peas, spinach...). 
Throw in a bay leaf, some oregano and some basil.  Simmer till the veggies are tender. 
Add the leftover noodles and simmer till they are warmed. 
Serve with Parmesan cheese and crusty bread and YUM - there is Second Day Noodle Soup.

Even the littlest of little people will eat this one up.  It has noodles in it right, so it must be good!

for my Bobby Love


my canvases just arrived from French Canvas in New Jersey.
fragile...must be from Italy!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

What We're Reading

Some of our favorites this week.

1.  Millions of Cats
by Wanda Gag

An old man searches for a cat to bring home to his wife to end their loneliness.  However, he can't decide on just one cat and comes home with "hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats".  Problem solved when each cat fights to be the prettiest and only the humblest little kitten remains.

2.  I Want to be Somebody New!
by Robert Lopshire

As soon as I was finished reading this book, Nate immediately demanded I read it again.  And again.  And again.  I have read it at least a dozen times this past week alone.  Wonderful message to just be you.

3.  Sam and the Firefly
by P.D. Eastman

Another book that thoroughly grabbed Nate's attention.  He LOVED the idea of a naughty firefly playing tricks on people. 

4.  Paddington
by Michael Bond

Another Paddington favorite.   This is the story of how the Brown's found Paddington sitting in Paddington Station with a note "Please take care of this bear" - so they do.  Cute.  For some reason, Nate loves Judy and looks for her on every page.

5.  Rama and the Tigers
from "My Book House" Vol. 2

Rama and the Tigers is a retelling of Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman.  I'm not familiar with Little Black Sambo and the supposed raciest overtones....  but I enjoyed this version of little Krishna who outsmarts the tigers who in turn attack each other and turn themselves into butter which is then used to make pancakes. 

What are YOU reading this week?  Happy story time!

Who Says Winter has to be Boring?!

The kids have been outside almost every day (when the weather is warmer than -7 - my personal cut-off).  Playing in the snow, digging snow, sledding down the front hill and down Daddy's man-made monster hill out back.  However, we have also had a LOT of days that are too cold for little people to be outside.  I think for the most part, they have found many fun things to do!

Nate figuring out shape puzzles
Anna "reading".  SOOOO cute!

Mr. Men coloring fun!  There is a coloring page for every conceivable topic online!

Adrianna built a mega-blocks road down the hallway.
Nate raced his cars on it.
I love the creativity that boredom breeds.
Cut and paste!  Thanks Nannie for magazines!
Workbooks.  Adrianna will complete any page with a picture of food on it.

Washing dishes.  aka: sloshing water all over my floor!

Number puzzle.  Adrianna figured this one out all on her own.
Counting up to 20 now!

Assembling an army of screws and muppets.
Homemade hammock. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Frugal Kitchen

I've decided to purchase a weekly organic local produce basket.  It's not too expensive but we have been trying to both cut grocery spending and also learn to waste less.  I've made a few changes to save some money in the kitchen.

1.  Vegetable stock.
This is surprisingly easy and cheap.  I've been saving and freezing my veggie scraps - broccoli stems, carrot tails and tops, celery leaves, parsley stems etc.  Basically, anything that is edible (ie: not rotten!), clean and yet I would ordinarily toss it.  I freeze all these scraps as I go.  Once my little scrap baggie is full, I put them in a pot with some onion, garlic and water (enough to cover) and I let it simmer for 45 min. or so.  Drain out the veggies and you have veggie stock.  Needs some salt and spices if you wish.  I then freeze it in muffin tins (each tin is 1/4 cup).  Last week I made 6 cups and it cost me one onion.  Compare that to the cost of boxed organic veggie broth (approx $4 for 4 cups) and I think I saved some money!

2.  Almond Milk.
I've posted this before, so I won't go into detail.  I buy my almonds from Bulk Barn.  One cup of almonds makes me 5 cups of almond milk.  One box of store bought is around $4 and 1 cup of almonds is - well, I'm not sure - but less than $4.

3.  Granola.
Cereal is expensive.  Especially the healthy organic variety that we usually buy.  It costs us about $8 a week - and that's not for granola.  Granola would be closer to $10-$12.  Soooo, I make our own.  It is so simple and healthy and both my kids and I LOVE it.  I've posted this before too, so I won't go into granola detail.  All you need is some oatmeal, honey, oil, and whatever other yummies you want to add - almonds, raisins, shelled pumpkin seeds, dried apricots, cocoa nibs - go nuts!  Kids love yogurt with granola and fresh berries for breakfast.  YUM.

4.  Cook from Scratch!
This is the biggest.  Anything in a cardboard box costs more (plus fills you with chemicals....).  Most of my meals are pretty simple - soups, stews, various salads, beans etc.  We buy HUGE bags of brown rice and have rice and beans at least 2x per week.  And, eat your leftovers!!  Leftover broccoli = cream of broccoli soup.  Leftover brown rice = stovetop coconut rice pudding for breakfast.  Leftover (stale-ish) bread or muffins = bread pudding.  (and we do have box food sometimes when time is really tight or I'm not as on top of my game as I should be...)

Next project:
Make my own yogurt!  I've been saving up my swagbucks* and I almost have enough to buy a yogurt maker.  We eat a LOT of yogurt - 2-3 big containers a week - about $10 worth - and that's not organic.  So I figure we can save a lot - even with buying organic milk to make the yogurt. 

* Swagucks
Search & Win

More of Adrianna's Pictures

I love how she sets up the pictures!  I'm just amazed that she is only 3 and yet she just sees how the picture should look.  She takes better pictures than I do!

puzzle pieces neatly stacked

organizational art
cow jammies

self portrait of the artist

more sorting and organizing


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

glamorous life

"she wears a long fur coat of mink,
even in the summertime"

(lyrics from glamorous life by shelia e.)

this is a graphite drawing of artist john currin's wife, rachel feinstein
27 " x 52"