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Snow Day Busyness….. December 11, 2009

Filed under: baking,domestic,food,parenthood — veggiemama @ 6:11 pm
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Most people who know me know that I have a hard time sitting still.  At all.  Pre-kids when Alex and I would vacation, he would want to sit on the beach.  That’s it.  Just sit on the beach.  What?  How BORING!  Run on the beach, sure.  Walk on the beach hand in hand, great.  Swim in the ocean, awesome.  But to just sit on it?  I don’t get it.  Plus if we’re away from our hometown I want to explore!  Go see new faces, places, seek out an adventure!!  Alex soon learned that vacationing with me was anything but relaxing, but we definitely have fun, see a lot and come home with lots of stories!

I now enforce that, “there’s always something to do” attitude with my kids.  We try and get out of the house everyday.  We usually do, actually.  If I have no particular plans for that day to get out of the house, I seriously have a minor panic attack!!  I’m not necessarily proud of this, or condoning that everyone should program their kids to exhaustion each day, but at this stage in my parenting life, it works for us to stay active and busy.  However, we live in Buffalo.  And, it gets cold.  And snowy.  It’s that time of year where it’s growing increasingly difficult to get out of the house with any regularity or in a timely fashion.  The flip flops at the door have been replaced with pink fuzzy snow boots, and now there’s a bin at the door containing mittens, hats, scarves, etc. for 2 little girls.  I seriously break a sweat just getting them both bundled and to the car between the screaming, the “hat on hat off hat on hat off” war, the “I don’t want to wear my mittens!  Well you don’t have a choice” battle, the “No Josie that’s my glove!” battle cry, it’s a small miracle we arrive anywhere on time or fully dressed for that matter.

Yesterday was our first official snow day of the season.  It was more like a wind day.  Yes, there was snow, but there was furious and angry wind that made things a lot worse and treacherous, I guess.  We were scheduled to have our Christmas party at the zoo’s preschool program in the morning.  Alex gave me a brief, “be smart” before he left for work in the morning which was his subtle way of encouraging me to not go to the zoo on a day like that.  I didn’t have a choice because I received a phone call shortly after he left to tell me that the zoo was closed, therefore, no Cub Club.  OK, kids, what are we gonna do today?  I was determined to have fun, not stress and enjoy time spent just at home.  I had dinner made, handmade ornaments in the oven, and a batch of cookies baked all before 9:30.  I probably should have spread it out a little better, but we had fun and enjoyed our cozy warm home in the midst of the wintry storm!  The rest of the day consisted of constructing choo choo trains tracks in all various directions, Strawberry Shortcake board games, dance parties, coloring books and more!

We finally did venture out after dinner to go caroling at a local nursing home.  Amelia did great and wished everyone a Merry Christmas and sung whatever words she knew!

Here was our dinner:

2 cups broth, 1/2 cup lentils, 1/2 barley, 2 chopped carrots, 1/2 chopped onion, 2 cloves garlic (minced), 2 chopped celery stalks.  Combine, cook in crockpot on low for 2 hours.  (side note – it was a perfect hearty winter meal.  And there is nothing cuter than a 2 year old with lentil breath.)

Here’s the ornaments:

1/2 cup salt, 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup water.  Knead the dough, roll it out with a rolling pin, cut with cookie cutters.  Put a hole near the top with a wooden skewer.  Bake at 215 for about 4-5 hours.  Paint the finished product.

Here’s the cookies:

3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
2-3 mashed bananas
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup tahini
1 3/4 cup oats
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Combine dry ingredients.  Mix together softened butter, egg, bananas, peanut butter and tahini.  Combine the dry ingredients with the wet.  Stir in the oats and the chocolate chips.  Bake at 375 for 13-15 minutes.

 

Apples and Oranges December 8, 2009

Filed under: domestic,parenthood,Uncategorized — veggiemama @ 7:18 pm

It amazes me how two children with the same parents can be so very different even from  such a young age as my two girls – 28 months and 7 months.  Amelia (28 months) is a hand full.  She is the reason people say, “That child is a hand full.”  She is a spitfire.  She is hyper.  She has boundless energy.  She talks non stop about anything to anyone.  She likes to be loud.  How else can I say it?  Let me tell you what other people have said to me.  “She’s not shy, is she?” – Lady in the Grocery Store.  “Does she ever stop?  She seems like she’s active all the time!” – Fellow Mommy of a 2 year old at preschool.  “She’s a girl who knows what she wants, isn’t she!” – Neighbor.  “That girl has no fear!” – Friend who has witnessed my kid jumping off the edge of the swimming pool, galloping away from me in public places, running up to strangers to say hi, petting random dogs, climbing up on a horse like she was born to be a cowgirl…..  The only thing that paralyzes her is the mere mention of the BIG, BAD WOLF, or more recently the hawk in our tree with big talons.  Yes, I was explaining to my 2 year old what talons are thinking I was seizing such a great opportunity to share with her about God’s creation and how the hawk was hunting for mice and of course she looked at me with her soft little tender eyes and asked, “Is the hawk going to get me in his talons?”  Thus, the fear of the hawk was born.  Oops.  With this strong personality comes a lot of challenges.  Did I say “a lot?”  What I meant to say was A LOT. She’s very strong headed, stubborn, and dare I say it, she can be a bully.  GASP!  yes, a BULLY.  It’s scary when your kid’s the bully!  And embarrassing!  And troublesome!  She’s tough as nails, and I think she has the same expectations for her friends.  We have a lot of daily battles – I stand my ground on the biggies, but she “wins” her fair share, too.

Josephine (7 months) on the other hand is much more reserved.  Already we can see it!  She’s content to sit and watch.  She doesn’t have to be front and center for everything.  She’s scooting around, not yet completely crawling.  Amelia at this age had mastered that task and was into e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.  Josie doesn’t say much, cry much, or really do much of anything other than watch.  Her older sister is quite the performer and is pleased to have such an eager audience.  My prediction is that Josie will be more cautious, quiet, compliant and softer in general than her big sister.  We’ll see if that holds true!

Josie’s obviously still in the “I’m learning how to eat” stage, but she’s not all too interested in real food as her sister was.  My freezer is stocked with homemade baby food goodness, I’m just hoping she actually wants to eat it!  I figure I’ve got a lot of soup additives if she doesn’t eat it!  I got more creative this time around and added parsley to almost everything I pureed and tomato paste to my pureed carrots.  I had made some carrot baby food from carrots out of my garden – that was cool to be able to feed them to my baby!  They were planted shortly before Josie was even born so it was neat to watch them sprout up together!

As different as they both are, I enjoy watching them discover themselves, each other, and the world around them.  I’m in awe of what Amelia does and says every day…  What a joy to watch these girls grow up under my care!  The keep me busy, they remind me to have fun, and they certainly keep me on my knees.  I’m loving this time of year and this stage with my girls!

 

PEPPERS! September 22, 2009

Filed under: domestic,food,health,vegetarian — veggiemama @ 2:06 am
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I got diddly squat out of my garden this year.  Nothin’.  The deer, on the other hand, had more than their fair share of broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini…… grrrrrrrrr……..  I had quite a decent carrot and spinach harvest, but I was really looking forward to homegrown broccoli.  ANYway, I’ve been frequenting farmer’s markets on the weekends to make up for the lack of my own homegrown goodness.

Our routine is this: packed lunches for 3, minus a fresh fruit.  Amelia gets to pick out her fruit from the market and we hit a nearby park and sup together as a family!  We love it.  This past Saturday, it was dog central at the Farmer’s Market.  I was in heaven and my flame for the Bernese Mountain Dog was re-ignited.  PRECIOUSNESS wrapped in fur.  This minor “distration” however, made me forget what I was looking for in the first place.  So, we came home with some focaccia, some late season blueberries and a few peaches.  NO peppers.  Oops.  Here’s where this story gets cool.  My elderly neighbor has a fenced in, deer proof garden and we often share crops.  We were pulling in our driveway and low and behold, said neighbor was walking across our lawn with a bag full of green peppers!!  I was thrilled!  Determined to use each and every one of them, here’s what I came up with.  It’s super easy and Alex said it was “blog worthy.”  I stuffed these peppers before the girls got up this morning and popped ’em in the oven later on – no fuss – perfect meal. 🙂

4-6 Green (or any color) peppers
1 cup cous cous
1 cup veggie broth
1 can black beans
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes with basil
any shredded cheese
bread crumbs

Cut the stem out of the peppers, remove the seeds.  Bring vegetable broth to a boil, add cous cous, remove from heat, let stand 4-5 minutes.  Drain and rinse black beans, add to cous cous.  Distribute the cous cous mixture among the peppers, stuffing to the brim.  Stand peppers upright in 2 qt casserole.  Pour can of crushed tomatoes around the peppers, creating a “bath” for the peppers.  Cover with shredded cheese, then sprinkle on some breadcrumbs.  Heat oven to 375, bake for 45 -60 min.

 

So happy together! September 15, 2009

Filed under: domestic,faith,parenthood,Uncategorized — veggiemama @ 7:29 pm

I’ve recently been assessing my parenting goals – what I want my children to value, how I’d like them to behave, and what I’d like their values, beliefs and behavior to be based on.  Namely, God’s Word. 

I often hear parents claiming that their goal for their children is that they be happy.  Of course I want my children to be happy.  I just don’t want that goal to be at the top of my list.

It is a huge charge to think that my roll as “MOM” and my husband’s title of “DAD” give our children their first perception and idea of God and who He is as our Father.  YIKES!!!  I can’t help but thinking of Paul writing so much of the New Testament from prison, and Job who had every earthly posession and his family stripped from him in an unsuccessful effort to cause him to curse God.  Do you think Job was jumping around with glee when he received news of his entire welfare being destroyed?  We are to praise God in all things, and consider it joy when we face all sorts of trials.  ButI don’t think that plays out to having a cheesy, happy, clappy Christian smile on our faces 24/7.

Bringing it back to my kids…..  My prayer is that they WILL rise and call me blessed even after I’ve deprived them of certain passtimes and toys that their peers can experience.  Or after I constantly correct them for being unkind, or selfish, or being a BULLY!  Yes, girls can be bullies  – at least I’ve heard that they can be.  ;)  I hope and pray that they realize while yes, of course I want them to be happy, but more importantly, I want them to trust God, realize His presence in all situations, and take the happiness in life as an added blessing from the Lord. 

Job 2:10, “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?”  Amelia & Josie, will you accept the good from your parents as well as the correction and lessons we allow you to learn the “hard way?”

I can imagine my challenge as MOM is only going to get more difficult and challenging as my kids get older.  I’m reminded every day when I look at my EXTREMELY strong willed 2 year old about free will and the power of that will.  My job is to show her God’s grace, mercy and love through my actions and pray that she grows to trust God.  She’s not mine.  She’s God’s, given to me on loan.  I will not take His gift lightly!  And I hope that she’s happy, but I also hope she’s much more than that.

 

2 July 26, 2009

Filed under: baking,domestic,food,health,Uncategorized,vegetarian — veggiemama @ 7:29 pm
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2 years ago, I had more time, more money, more freedom, more clear thoughts, more structure, more hair, more clothes, more decisions….  Now I have more crumbs, more sleepless nights, more diapers, more worries, more expenses, more laughs, more reasons to pray.  I wouldn’t go back even if I could!  My little girl turns TWO today!  Crazy!  The second year was much more enjoyable for me than the first – love the first steps, the first words, the first discovery of fear (think: THUNDER!!)  I love being Amelia’s mommy and can’t wait to see what adventures this year has in store for us!!

I have to share the recipe I made for her 2nd bday cake – last year I made her an organic, sugar free carrot cake loaded with wheat germ and raisins.  It was actually so good that my brother in law asked me to make him the same one for his birthday!!  :)  This year, I decided to do something with the zucchini from my garden that the deer haven’t eaten (SOOOO annoying) and of course I had two brown bananas I had to get rid of, so I added those, too!  I made 12 cupcakes, then poured the rest of the batter into an 8×11 cake pan.  (The cake pan took about 45 minutes to bake).  I will admit – it’s not very sweet, but it is tasty.  I sprinkled some powdered sugar on top and that made it even yummier! The cupcakes I frosted with a basic buttercream recipe (dyed red to look like ladybugs!) This is a yummy way to use up zucchini and I would definitely make this cake again!

1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups grated zucchini
2 ripe bananas (mashed)
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp allspice
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease large muffin pans and line with muffin cups.

In a medium bowl mix together the sugar, butter and applesauce. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in vanilla, buttermilk, zucchini, bananas and chocolate chips.

In a separate bowl mix together all of the dry ingredients. Add the liquid ingredients and mix until well combined. Spoon batter into muffin pans. Bake for about 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack – frost when cooled completely.  Or, dust with powdered sugar!

Zucchini filled ladybugs

Yummy ladybug

 

Goin’ Bananas July 21, 2009

Filed under: baking,domestic,food — veggiemama @ 6:38 pm
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Phew – it’s been a while.  I have two girls now but still feel like a “new mom.”  When does that end?  Aren’t you always a new mom?  Anyway, I gave birth to a beautiful baby GIRL (I KNEW it was another one!!) on April 22 – Josephine Pearl.  She’s amazing.  It’s already crazy to see how different the girls are from each other.

More on that later.  Amelia is a really REALLY good eater.  There are few foods that she doesn’t like and she at least tries EVERYTHING.  I don’t push her when there’s something she doesn’t like because there is no need to have that battle when there are plenty of other foods that she loves to eat.  I do find it odd that she doesn’t like bananas.  Really?  Bananas?  Come on.  But, I buy them and offer them to her in cereal, with peanut butter, etc.  We can never keep bananas yellow in our house for very long – it seems like they are brown a day after I bring them home from the store!  So we have a LOT of banana baked goods floating around our home.  Here’s my newest favorite.  (I got sick of bread and muffins so busted out my bundt pan!) 

Marbled Banana Bundt Cake

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 or 4 ripe, medium bananas, mashed 
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup yogurt (vanilla flavored OR “banilla” flavored.)
1/4 cup cocoa
1 cup chocolate chips (optional – but WELL worth it!)

Preheat oven to 350F and grease a bundt pan.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in the eggs one by one, waiting until each has been incorporated to add the next. Beat in vanilla extract and mashed bananas.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mix and stir to combine. Add in the yogurt, followed by the remaining flour mixture.
Remove 1 1/2 cups of batter into a small bowl and stir in cocoa powder and chocolate  chips.
Pour 2/3 of the plain batter into the prepared bundt pan, top with cocoa batter and spoon the rest of the plain batter on top. Run a knife through the batter gently to swirl.
Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed.
Turn cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
Serve plain, or dusted with powdered sugar.  Freezes well!

 

Burrrrritos April 8, 2009

Filed under: food,health,vegetarian — veggiemama @ 6:40 pm
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With the impending birth of baby #2, I am stocking my freezer with easy to reheat foods for our family.  A friend of mine recently had a baby and I made these burritos to bring over to her.  I doubled the recipe and froze half of it for us.  I wrapped the burritos individually in foil so if I need to only heat up one for my lunch, I can, or 2 for dinner, whatever.  If freezing them this way, make sure to spray the foil with non stick spray before wrapping up the burrito in it so it won’t stick when reheated!  I stick the whole frozen burrito, foil and all, in a 350 degree oven for about 45 min – an hour, or until heated thru.

These are good with some salsa and sour cream.  Yum!

Bean & Vegetable Burritos

 

1 Tbs olive oil

1 med onion, chopped

1 jalepeno pepper, chopped

1 Tbs chili powder

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp oregano

1 tsp cumin

1 large sweet potato, baked, cooled, peeled and diced

1 15 oz can black beans

1 cup frozen corn (or canned)

1 green bell pepper, chopped

2 Tbs lime juice

1 cup mont jack cheese, shredded

tortillas

 

Preheat oven to 350.  Heat oil over med high heat in large saucepan.  Add onion adn cook until golden, stirring often.  Add jalapeno, chili powder, garlic, oregano and cumiin.  Stir one min more.  Add 1 Tbs water and stir, remove from heat.  Stir in sweet potato, beans, corn, pepper and lime juice.

 

Sprinkle some cheese on a tortilla, top with 1 cup of filling.  Roll it up!  Repeat…..

 

Place burritos in baking dish (if not freezing) and bake at 350 for 30 min.