kids lunches

My kids are definitely snackers.  I don't think there is any way around it.  I am actually ok with this, although many people would not be.  I feel like it is the best way to get food into my kids at the moment.

They eat a pretty good breakfast everyday.  Oatmeal with blueberries or bananas and cinnamon and nutmeg.  Seriously, everyday they eat that.  I like oatmeal, but I am more of a butter and brown sugar kind of girl, and I am not sure I could eat it every. single. day.  So they have a good start to the day.  Then they typically will have a snack a couple hours later.

But what to do for lunch?  I am always at a loss.  By the time I get everything done in the morning that I need to, I am starving, and end up making food for myself around 10am - which is typically a salad.  I know, strange at 10am, but it works for me.  So I am not really hungry for lunch when the kids usually eat around 11 or 11:30.  And not feeling like making a large meal that no one will eat (besides Matt).

Last week I decided to give them a bunch of things to choose from and hope for the best.  They ate pretty much the entire plateful, which surprised me.  It was a lot of food I thought :-)  What did I give them?  This:

frozen strawberries
carrot sticks
crackers with peanut butter (yes those are ritz crackers, yes I know they aren't the healthiest choice)

Ever since I started making this type of a lunch, they have been really good about eating everything.  Of course it is heavy on fruit, but fruit is good for you.  Sometimes they get kimchi, ginger fermented carrots, or pickles.  Sometimes they get a green smoothie and homemade bread and butter.  And, they are going down for rest time better.  I think because they are eating more.

Of course, dinner is still whatever I make, but I don't think that catering to them at breakfast and lunch is a bad idea.  I am home all day with them, and while I would love for them to eat some of the other meals I make for Matt and I, if they don't, this is very easy to throw together.

What do you make for your kids for lunch?  Do you do snack type meals?  Keep in mind that my kids are almost 4 and 19 months :-)

project simplify - week 4

This week we got to choose our own "hotspot" for Project Simplify.  I had no idea what to do.  I knew I wouldn't have enough time to really get through an entire room, since I am still in the middle of making my house work for me.  Instead, I decided to go with the two armoires that we have.

When we bought the house, it was split into a duplex.  There was the downstairs part, where we were going to live, and the upstairs part, where our tenants were currently living.  Well, we had TONS of work to do on the downstairs, so we weren't really quite that concerned that there didn't seem to be any closets.  That was until we moved in and realized we had no place to put our clothes.

So we bought these beautiful armoires from Pier One, they match the rest of our bedroom furniture.  Of course, when we bought them, they didn't have a place to hang clothes either.  Apparently, armoires are no longer made to hold clothes, but instead to hold TV's.  So my handy husband fashioned a couple of bars to put in their, and we removed the shelves.

i actually alphabetized my DVD's a couple weeks ago...i kept all the important know like Center Stage and Willow...oh and of course Legally Blonde

After we realized that the renters we had were not great, and also realizing that what is now our master bedroom would make a perfect studio apartment, and we decided to move our bedroom upstairs.  Well, my beautiful armoires...they are kind of heavy...and not really able to be moved upstairs without a lot of trouble, so they stayed downstairs...with our clothes still in them.  Eventually, my husband built us a closet bar upstairs, and our armoires sat downstairs, pretty much empty.

Jeepers there is a lot of empty space in there...I guess putting things back in their place helps!

Finally, last year, I realized what I wanted to use them for.  One was for Emma's (and eventually Jack's) school stuff and books.  So while that one is completely messy and disorganized, it has a good purpose.  The other one, I would use as kind of a personal storage cabinet.  It ended up being a hodge podge of books, board games, DVD's, printer paper, extra notebooks.

I finally was able to come up with some good ideas for storage.  All of the little pieces that go to Emma's word plaques, shapes, other little odds and ends, well I put those in ziploc bags.  While I really like the boxes that they come in, they are impossible to keep in there, which is evident by the fact that I am randomly finding little letters all over the place.

The other armoire I will keep as a storage cabinet, but since summer is coming our blankets will be housed in there, as well as the printer supplies.  And probably I will keep extra notebooks and some of my green living books in there as well.  I am hoping that Matt can build me a couple more shelves for the cabinets, because there is a lot of wasted space.  Great for a large TV, or hanging clothes, but not so much as book shelves.  I need to make room in the school closet for Emma's new books anyways, which we will be getting soon.

I am pretty happy with how everything turned out.  And I am hoping that it stays organized.  But, I also have to remember that there are three other members of my family, who don't necessarily take the same care when taking things out of the armoires, and then putting them back in.

How do you get your family to help your recently cleaned stuff stay organized?  I haven't found a trick yet that works :-)

Linking up at the Spring Into Organization Link Party!

3-2-1 Stop e-book winners

Sorry I didn't post these yesterday, the day escaped me!  Which is also why my project simplify post isn't up quite yet.  But, it will be soon!

Winners are:

Jessica Snell
Amy @ A Faithful Journey

I will be trying to get in contact with you regarding how you can download your book.  But, if you see this post first, please e-mail me at  Congratulations!!!!


I am pretty excited!  Why, you ask?  Well, because I have finished the front of Emma's sweater dress.  Yay!  I am so happy that I have something more substantial to share this week knitting wise.  Of course, this makes, what, the 4th week I have been knitting the front of this dress?  The back will be much easier - I hope.  I am planning on using garter stitch so that I can tell the front from the back :-)  Or maybe I will change my mind once I cast on the back.

I am still reading Radical Homemakers.  I have to say that I am enjoying it immensely.  It seems to be what I am striving for, for my own family.  The first half of the book has been all about the history of the home, and at what point people *needed* to leave the home for employment.  It has been incredibly instructional.  There were a lot of things that I hadn't really thought about before, like the women in the colonies being able to source what was locally available, so that they could break away from England without fear of not having some product available to them.  The fact that before the industrial age, everyone was home, everyone had a job to do, and everyone seemed to know what function they had in the family.

I really like the idea of the entire family being home together.  Working together, learning together, living together.  My husband works at home, and I am incredibly happy about that.  But, I do want more.  I would love for us to be able to work around our house, plant vegetables, have animals, and not have to worry about where the next pay check is going to come from.  Wouldn't everyone?  Of course, that doesn't seem quite possible in these days.  With student loans, mortgages, credit card debt, no time to farm the amount of food we need to support ourselves for a year, it seems out of reach.

This story is about the people that have decided to make sacrifices in order to make that life a reality.  They don't have two cars, they use what is available to them.  They don't have their kids in several extra activities out of the home.  It is definitely a book that you need to read slowly (a problem for me).  I have found that reading a bit and then setting it down so that I can think about what I have read has been important.  Making notes along the way of passages I want to revisit.

What else am I reading?  Well, today, the new Sonlight catalog came in the mail, and I am really looking forward to looking through that.  I already know that I am going to be buying the kindergarten program for Emma, and I am anxious to order it.  But, I do love reading through all the books and other information that is available.  Even if you don't homeschool, I think homeschool curriculum catalogs offer some great information!

If you look at my post from yesterday, you can see that I also read What the World Eats.  This was an incredibly emotional book for me to read, and made me reconsider a lot of what we eat, what we take for granted, and what I should be doing to use the food we already have without wasting.  I think that everyone should see this book.  Incredible.

I am joining the yarn along again this week!  I can't wait to see what everyone else is reading and knitting!  And I will be closing comments on the 321 Stop e-book giveaway this afternoon and posting the winner later on today.  If you haven't entered yet, make sure you do!  It is a great book on cutting out all the *stuff* in your life!

hungry for change

I recently watched the documentary Hungry For Change.  You can find it here free online until March 31st.  I am all about food documentaries.  I think when I first saw Food, Inc. I knew my eating habits were going to change.  And they have...a lot.

 I thought that I had probably seen all the food documentaries I needed to. Food, Inc., Forks Over Knives, Super Size Me, Foodmatters, I have seen them all, and probably another half a dozen as well.  But, Hungry For Change was different.  Instead of addressing only the types of food we eat, it addressed the nutrients in the food, the chemicals that food processors put in the foods.

There were several new bits of information that I learned from this documentary.  One of the things that I probably should have known but didn't, was the different names that MSG comes under.  Did you know that the government allows MSG and free glutamates to be labeled as 50 different names?  I mean, when I look to see if something has MSG in it, I am looking for monosodium glutamate.  Isn't that what you would look for?  At this point in my life I try to not eat anything that has ingredients I can't pronounce, or foods I wouldn't actually recognize growing in a garden or on a farm somewhere.  But, my first time being pregnant, well I was only looking for specific ingredients, like MSG.  I had no idea that MSG and free glutamates were used to enhance flavor in 80% of processed food.  What?!

Another part of this movie mentioned the book What the World Eats.  I had heard about this book a while back, but never read it.  So, of course I checked it out of the library immediately.  Talk about a total slap in the face.  To think of the struggles that I have in making sure I have nutritious, healthy food for my family.  Being concerned about dairy, making sure we eat enough variety.  Sneaking in treats now and then.  Wow, looking through this book was a complete eye opener.  I wasn't expecting to be so disgusted with myself, but I was.  Absolutely disgusted.

I can't believe what I take for granted, even when I think that I am not providing enough good food, I now have a visual of what a family in a refugee camp has available to them.  For $1.22 per week, this family of 6 eats and survives on very little food, mostly grains, barely any fruit and vegetables.  And I complain about trying to get my food for the month on a $400 budget for a family of 4.  It literally made me sick.  I have completely been reevaluating everything related to food since I read this book.  Not because I want to deprive my family, absolutely not, but because I want to make use of the food that I have available to me in a better way.

I don't want to throw away leftovers because they have been in the fridge for two days.  I don't want to hear anyone complain that they "don't prefer" beans and rice, because we have had it already this week.  I don't want to hear about the need for sweets in someones diet because they feel deprived.  How can you feel deprived when there is so much available?!  It was definitely an eye opener.

Have you seen this new documentary?  Have you read What the World Eats?  If not, I can't recommend it enough.  Especially since I have been taking Whole Food Kitchen through Beauty that Moves, it seems very interesting to me, especially with the struggles I face on what the right foods are that I should be eating.  This week in the workshop, it is about celebrating the family dinner table.  I think that this week I need to step back a bit and concentrate on all the choices I do have, even on a "tight budget" by American standards, and just be thankful.

hanging laundry again!

Last week was absolutely beautiful!  We had weather in the 80's most of the week, and the sun was shining.  We spent quite a bit of time outside, and it was wonderful.  It got me ready for the end of winter.  Even though our winter hasn't been as cold and snowy as winters past, I am ready for the cold to be gone.  With the return of HOT weather, we started (we meaning I) hanging the laundry outside again.  I didn't turn on my dryer once last week.

Granted, I wasn't doing all of my laundry on one day.  I ended up doing two loads of laundry pretty much every day.  Yes, I do a lot of laundry.  I am not entirely sure why that is.  I think mainly because we don't have paper in our house, so we use rags in the kitchen, cloth napkins, cloth toilet paper, cloth diapers.  A lot of cloth that needs to be washed about every two days.  It was really nice though, to go outside early in the morning and hang the laundry out, and then see it hanging out there throughout the day.  Having my kids playing hide and seek between the clothes was extremely cute (if I do say so myself).

I want to continue to hang the laundry outside now that it is technically spring.  I'm not entirely sure how that will go though.  This week we are back to the low 40's for temps...I am not looking forward to that.  I think that one load of laundry, especially heavy cloth diapers (pre-folds for those wondering) will end up taking the entire day to dry, or possibly longer.  When that happens, there is such a draw to run the dryer.  But, I am starting to feel like we are wasting electricity by using the dryer when the outside would work just fine.

I hope over the next month to see how much my electricity would go down if I always hang my laundry.  I think it will be kind of difficult to gauge because I am sure that I will cave and use the dryer when I need something dried quickly, but it would be nice to see a change in the electricity bill.  I have been thinking about electricity a lot lately.  It is something that we definitely take for granted.   I am hoping that hanging my laundry regularly will help me lessen my dependence on electricity, and the benefit of a lower bill would be nice :-)

Do you put your laundry out in the summer?  All year round?  I would love to hear your experiences when it is cold out!  Or would you rather not see clotheslines in your neighborhood?

I'm linking up at the Barn Hop and Your Green Resource!

Project Simplify - closets, counters, and drawers

Well, this week I needed a bit of extra time to get everything organized the way I wanted, and I am by no means done.  In fact, I could have picked 6 other places to work on as well, but they didn't make the list this week! 

Last week, I had wanted to make my front entryway into a pantry/closet.  Well, it was already a closet, and it did hold the few bulk things that we had.  It also becomes a storage space for garbage.  I was able to clean up the entire entryway and now Matt and I know where we are going to add some more shelves, and hopefully enclose the space this spring/summer.

I realized after I cleaned this space that we needed to get a better system for our shoes which are currently in the pink bin and where I am standing to take pictures and the bags for our trips to the store and farmers' market.  We have our seasonal shoes in the bin, and then whatever we are wearing currently out.  I would love to get some type of shoe rack.  Also, maybe making a few extra stops to the redemption center would probably be a good idea :-)  To be fair, I had moved all of the bottles from our basement to the entryway so my husband could take them back.

There, that is much better :-)  Although, I now know that I need to go back to Sam's club, because we are running out of food for the month :-)  Much the same as after I cleaned my fridge out!

The next spot that I wanted to concentrate on is the junk drawer in my kitchen.  Everyone has one.  I swear I organize that thing once per month, but certain people really do consider it a junk drawer, and treat it accordingly.  It doesn't help that the babes have started opening it up to take out the flashlight, or the bag of balloons...which is now way in the back of the drawer.  

Have I ever mentioned that we don't have closets in our house.  Well, that isn't completely accurate.  We have the closet that is in the kids' room, and we have the closet that is in my craft room...although it is more of a bar hanging from the ceiling.  It used to have a front to it, but darn if people in the 1880's had a need to put a hanger in their closet, because that closet was not deep enough for a actually didn't even have the bar, instead 5 hooks in the back of the closet...awesome.  And we have one other closet in our house, also not deep enough for a hanger, so it is currently empty.  I think I might see if Matt can put shelves in it, and then maybe I can use it as a linen closet.  Anyways!  I digress!

Because we don't have a closet, we have made the upstairs entryway into a walk-in closet.  It works out pretty well, since we aren't renting out the studio apartment anymore.  Instead we have made it into an awesome master bedroom.  That entryway is just big enough for all of our bedroom furniture and a lovely metal hanging rack!  And it has a door, so I tend to just throw stuff in there and shut the door.  Honestly, Matt is supposed to be responsible for putting his clothes away, that doesn't happen, so I shut the door.  It is to save my own sanity.  "Heather, why don't you put the clothes away?"  Thanks for asking!  Matt works in our bedroom, so by the time he gets out of work I no longer have energy to do laundry, and I put it in the entryway, threaten to throw away all of Matt's clothes, and then shut the door :-)

Oh, and those rails for a bed?  Well, that would be the other reason I don't do the laundry at night.  Our kids sleep in the room with us, and if I can get them asleep and then go downstairs for some quiet time, I do :-)  Eventually we will move them to their bedroom.  But, as of now, they are in our room.  Emma has a nice little bed set up in the corner of our room close to our bathroom (which is nice in the middle of the night), and Jack is sleeping in the bed with us.  See that luggage too?  Yeah, well that actually does fit in the third closet I mentioned above, so it will be living there from now on, hopefully under the make believe shelves.

That pile of clothes, that is the clean laundry, not including all the stuff I pulled out of the drawers.  I have gone through all of my clothes, Emma and Jack's clothes.  The only one left is Matt.  I separated out all of his clothes today, and put the few things that I think he needs to keep away, and the stuff I knew needed to be thrown away in the garbage.  Now there are several organized piles in our bedroom that he needs to make a decision on.  And if he thinks all 20 button up shirts are going to join the 4 that are hanging on that metal rack...he has another thing coming!

Ahhhh!  So much better!  Yes, I still have a lot of skirts...I could probably pare those down a bit further, but some I wear when I am gardening, some are for church, and some are for wearing around the house in the summer.  I'm not sure a lot of people wear skirts while gardening, but it seems to work for me, so I am going with it!

Other questions you may have about this space...what are the boxes on the top shelf - those are winter scarves/gloves/hats etc.  The two bins, one holds our winter clothes, ie long underwear, sweaters, snow pants, and the other holds the baby clothes that I am holding onto.  The garbage bags, aren't they supposed to go in the trash - nope, those are all of my cloth diapers.  We are on our way out of the diaper days (Jack asked to pee on the potty when he woke up this morning, and then actually did!), and I have pre-fold sizes from newborn through much larger than our children will ever be.  Last question!  What the heck is that huge TV doing in your closet?!  Well, we got a new TV after the bulb went on this one.  Why buy a new bulb when you can buy a brand. new. internet tv.  Well, that was our thinking last winter anyways :-)  And we just like to hold onto electronics...I'm not entirely sure why.  You should see our speaker collection.

How are you all doing with your spring cleaning?  I am still going strong.  I haven't decided what my hot spot for next week is going to be.  But, I do hope to continue bringing you my new and improved spaces over the next weeks while I continue to clean!

Don't forget to enter to win this great new book on minimalism, 3-2-1 Stop, stop running and start living.

Linking up at the Spring Into Organization Link Party!

potato salad recipe

Today I was supposed to post about my project simplify hot spot this week.  Well, as you can see by the title of this post, I did not finish my hot spot yet.  I need another day.  The weather has been so nice, that cleaning up inside the house hasn't been a huge part of my week :-)  Instead, I will bring you an awesome potato salad recipe.

Last weekend was our first time grilling this year.  What I think about when grilling is not what meat is on the grill (I had grilled marinated portabello mushrooms - yum!), instead I think about what salads will be on the side.  Last weekend I happened to have the last of our potatoes from our winter CSA, and fresh eggs from the farm - clearly, potato salad was on the menu.

Potato Salad recipe

3 pounds potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces
4 hard boiled eggs*
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
4 celery stalks, finely chopped
~ 1 Tablespoon tarragon vinegar - or apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup real mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon spicy brown mustard - or whatever you have on hand
salt and pepper

Put potatoes in a pot of cold salted water.
Cook until done.
Pour potatoes in a bowl and sprinkle about 1 Tablespoon tarragon vinegar on hot potatoes, and mix up - my mom has always eyeballed this part - and so have I, but I think around 1 1/2 Tablespoons would be how much I put in.
Cool potatoes and hard boiled eggs in the fridge.
When potatoes and hard boiled eggs are cool, peel eggs and chop into small pieces.
Add celery and onion.
Add mayonnaise, brown mustard, salt and pepper to taste, and mix it all up.

This is the only potato salad recipe that I like.  It is what my mom has always made, and it is delicious!  Please make sure that you use real mayonnaise, nothing like a low fat alternative.  We use Cains mayonnaise, although I'm sure homemade would probably be better for you :-)

*I recently found out how to hard boil farm fresh eggs, and it isn't waiting a week and a half for them to age enough so the shell peels easily!  Instead, before you put them in the water to boil, take a push pin and make a little hole in the large end of the egg.  Don't push too hard, or some of the egg white will leak out while cooking, but just to let a little steam get in there and pull the cooked egg away from the shell.  Best trick I've learned all year :-)

I'm linking up at Your Green Resource and also at the Barn Hop!  Don't forget to enter to win the new e-book 321 Stop - stop running and start living here.

3-2-1 Stop review and giveaway

No pictures this week for my yarn along post.  Why not?  Well, thank you dear reader for asking!  The short answer, I haven't knit anything since last week, and I figured you didn't need to see ANOTHER picture of the front of Emma's sweater :-)  The longer answer?  It is absolutely beautiful outside, and has been for the last week.  With temps projected to be near 90 the rest of the week, I am most definitely outside in my garden!

I have been reading though.  Today I want to introduce you all to a GREAT book by Lorilee Lippincott of Loving Simple Living.  It is called 321 Stop - stop running and start living.

From the book site:

3-2-1 Stop is a how-to memoir of learning to love simple living. Lorilee uses personal stories, as well as tips learned along the way, showing how to create a life that makes space for what is most important. Embracing minimalism, she tackles and teaches how to make the hard decisions of simplify the home as well as the schedule. She understands that a full life, really doesn't need to be that 'full' at all. Beyond that, Lorilee addresses the hidden emotional hoarding that keeps our souls running.  

I really enjoyed this book.  I have been going through a purging phase recently by way of Organized Simplicity, but this book goes beyond becoming clutter free.  It puts the *stuff* out of your life, but also out of your thinking.  3-2-1 Stop allows you to take a look at your whole life, and what you want to accomplish.  What is important to you?  She is not saying get rid of everything you own, although you may want to when you finish this book!  Instead, she is giving you permission to let go of what may not be healthy in your life right now.

I had the opportunity to ask Lorilee a few questions:

What was the biggest driving factor for such a drastic change from the normal American lifestyle?

It doesn't seem near as drastic now. When we really decided to make a change I was very overwhelmed and stressed out with everything I was trying to balance.  As a family we really wanted to travel and have more time with the kids but we never had money and we were always to busy.  We can't grow a money tree and play all day, but making the changes we did made a huge difference to both finances and time.

How would you encourage someone just starting on this path of simplicity/minimalism?

It isn't as big of a deal as it seems right now.  When we first started getting rid of stuff and talking about moving it seemed like this huge thing to us.  It was hard to figure out what we actually wanted to keep and getting rid of stuff was hard.  We thought that people might think we were going broke or crazy.  Looking back months later I hardly remember the stuff we got rid of.  People probably still think we are a bit crazy, but most people are curious and interested.  I would rather be a bit crazy and interesting than normal anyways :)

So go for it! Keep on. It is worth it!

What was the hardest part of your journey?

In the minimalism journey it was the fear of what people would think.  I still struggle with it.  With writing the book the whole thing has been scary as well.  People talk about the problem of writers block but I think it is much harder to get over the fear that no one will want to read what I have written.

How have your kids reacted to the change in their lives?

Well, they were little when we did our dramatic change and move last year.  Ages 4 and 7.  They want time and space to play, they want attention and love and family time.  Stuff or no stuff isn't much of a deal to them.  They are enjoying less stuff when it comes time to clean up :)  My daughter talks about wanting her own room again someday and my son wants to live in a hotel... so we can never make them both happy.

What overall message do you want people to take away from your book?

I want people to understand that they are in control of their life.  If we are stressed or overwhelmed it is because we have allowed to much to get in.  I want people to realize that they can choose the life they want instead of just living the life that society has handed them.  Intentional living is the core.

Lorilee has been gracious enough to offer THREE copies of her new e-book!  Please leave a comment on this post in order to enter the give away.  For extra entries you can do the following - just leave a comment saying you did it:

Post about this giveaway on facebook
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I am of course linking up at the yarn along, hopefully everyone else made more progress on their knitting than I did :-)

Whole Food Kitchen - week 7

I can't believe we are already in week 7 of the whole food kitchen workshop.  It seems like it has passed pretty quickly, although everything seems fast these days.  I guess that is what happens when you have kids and you get older, time no longer stands still like when I was in college waiting for spring break :-)

The past several weeks have been on what I would consider the fundamentals of a whole food kitchen, each grouping of foods - fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, meat, and dairy.  The information that has been provided has been extremely well rounded I believe.  Especially the information about meat and dairy.

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time you know that we rarely eat meat, and more recently I have decided to go dairy free.  Honestly, I am not completely dairy free.  I still have cream in my coffee; although I haven't been drinking coffee lately.  Instead I have been having tea in the morning.  It took a bit for my body to get used to the lack of caffeine, but overall I feel better, my head is clearer, and I am sleeping better at night.  And I do have parmesan cheese on my popcorn when I have that for a snack in the afternoon.  But all that Mexican food that I cheese.  I have found that my body doesn't actually crave it the same way, and when I have had cheese a couple times since I gave it up, it wasn't really that satisfying, and I felt like garbage afterwards.  That is saying something.  I was a cheese-aholic.  Now pizza is made with no cheese for me, instead lots of veggies and red pepper flakes.  My Mexican is eaten with lots of salsa, beans, and veggies, but no cheese.  And my soups are made with coconut milk instead of real milk - which I actually like better :-)

I watched Forks Over Knives again this weekend.  If you haven't seen it, you really should.  It is on netflix instant view.  It isn't a gross movie, like Food, Inc. was; it is mainly information, and personal stories.  It reiterated my desire to not have dairy in our lives.  The amount of disease that animal products seem to be linked to, well it is overwhelming.  A lot of people talk about changing your diet as being an extreme choice, but when the alternative is taking multiple medications in order to combat high blood pressure or cholesterol, or a host of other problems, it seems like a no-brainer to me.

This lifestyle obviously isn't for everyone.  My husband constantly resists it.  He thinks he feels better when eating meat and drinking as much milk as a baby cow can, and maybe he does, but at this point, I feel better about eliminating these two food groups.  My kids really don't know any different, they have grown up eating beans and grains, fruits and veggies, and if they don't want it, they don't eat.  Perhaps a hard line, but it is the path that I have needed to travel more recently.

It has been wonderful to be in this class because it has given me an entirely new flavor base.  One that I hadn't thought of creating before.  I have always loved Thai curry, but never made it myself.  Now, it is in my regular menu rotation.  I cook a lot of beans, but mainly put them in Mexican dishes.  Now, I pair white beans with lemon and pasta, make hummus, put black beans in my salad.  I think that my family is very appreciative of all these new flavors.  My next step is to try out tofu.  I won't have it regularly, I am still concerned about the estrogen effects of non-fermented soy.  But, I think once in a while as a side is fine.  Definitely it won't be the center of our meal.  And even when I cook meat for my husband, it is now such a small portion compared to the veggies we have on the plate.  Regardless of my feelings on meat and health, I think that having a smaller portion is more environmentally friendly.  There is no need to eat a 16 oz t-bone steak for dinner...for one person!  (we have never done this, but I am just saying :-))

Have you been searching for a more whole food based diet?  Have you eliminated anything that you really love?  Would love to hear your stories!

Garden Happenings!

It was 75 degrees yesterday.  In March.  Craziness!  That isn't to say we won't have a foot of snow in 2 weeks.  We do have this one little piece of snow still left in a corner next to our house that doesn't get much sun.  But, seeing as how I am so anxious to get outside, I went for it, and it was awesome!  We did our first grilling of the year, I think a record for us, and started to clean up the yard.  Most people clean up their yards in the fall, we sort of do that I guess.  I definitely close up my vegetable garden, but the flower gardens, well, I leave them alone.  They keep coming back every year, so I figure I am doing something right - mainly leaving them alone :-)

Irises coming up
I have scaled back the amount of seeds I plan to plant this year.  In fact, I didn't place an order at all.  We had considered moving - again.  It is an annual end of winter consideration I believe :-)  We have land in the next town over that we want to build order to build on the land we need to sell the house.  Last year we put our house on the market for a whopping 3 days, and then had second thoughts.  Jack was still quite small - 7 months - and I didn't think I would really be able to get the house ready for showings.  We  live in our house.  Last year was entirely stressful, having a baby and a toddler.  And this year, well this year I feel like I am just starting to find my groove (partly in thanks to getting my energy out writing this blog).  While we haven't completely ruled out moving out of this house, I don't think that selling it will be the reason.

So there will be no onions grown this year, and I haven't started one single seed indoors.  I still hope to try my hand at starting tomatoes since we don't plant them until after Memorial Day, but everything is scaled back.  I'm still going to crowd the crap out of my little garden, and probably not weed the second half of the summer, but I am excited nonetheless.

I didn't get nearly the amount done that I had planned.  I wanted to plant peas and spinach today, even with the possibility of more snow, it just seemed like the time.  Instead, I started raking out my garden beds.  I think I am going to make four 4x12 raised beds.  I am also planning on putting up a fence and hopefully growing berries along the fence.  I still have hopes for chickens, just need a place to put them (hint hint Matt).

My much pared down list of seeds is:

Chinese Cabbage
Coral Shell Peas (love these!)
Bordeaux Spinach
Multicolor Bright Lights Swiss Chard
Raven Zucchini
Black Coco Dry Beans
Indy Gold Bush Wax Beans
Provider Bush Green Beans
Yellow Crookneck Squash
Boothby's Blonde Cucumber
Calypso Pickling Cucumber
Sugar Pie Pumpkin
Carnival Squash
Allsweet Watermelon
Spaghetti Squash

Seeds I am attempting to start indoors:

Hale's Best Jumbo Melon
Sugar Baby Watermelon
Pink Brandywine Tomatoes
Beefsteak Tomatoes
Roma Tomatoes


Sweet Basil
Italian Large Leaf Basil

OK, so that still seems like quite the large list :-)  I still have high hopes apparently.  And that is the best way to garden I believe!

All was well in the world.  Well, that is, until Emma stepped on this fun spiny thing.  After much screaming, a cherry popsicle, and some tweezers, she was fine.  Her Daddy dug up the offending plant and threw it over the edge of the bank on the side of our road.

And then I had the lovely fortune of being attacked by the same type of plant while I was taking of picture of it on the shovel Matt was carrying.  Yup, it jumped right up and bit me on the side of the foot, awesome.  Any idea what this is?  Is it a thistle?  I have no clue, but we have gotten rid of the 2 that we found in our yard today :-)  Clearly, bare feet need not run through our yard quite yet!

I am linking up with the Barn Hop again today!  Welcome if you are new!  Would love for you to follow me!

Fried Rice Recipe

I love fried rice.  Until a couple years ago, I didn't realize it was something I could easily make at home.  I think that before I really started cooking a lot from scratch, I just assumed that food I liked to get out at restaurants was off limits in the kitchen.  Not anymore.  In fact, now I find that while I like to go to a restaurant to have a drink, the food seems to always be lacking.

This recipe for fried rice is great because it can be done with whatever you have available for vegetables.  You can add meat, not add meat.  Add more seasonings if you want.  Lot's of veggies and a little rice, or a lot of rice and a little veggies.  Very easy to change up, and since I am one for constant changing of food, this works well for me.

I made fried rice this week because we were going to get our last CSA pickup of the winter (sad!) and needed to make room in my fridge.  Although, I guess I could have just done my project simplify earlier in the week...but I didn't think about that.

Fried Rice Recipe

1 1/2 cups soaked brown rice*
1 small cabbage, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 carrots, grated
2 cups broccoli
1 1/2 cups peas
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons tamari
1 inch freshly grated ginger (optional)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
4-6 beaten eggs
Mongolian Fire Oil for individual bowls to taste

Cook soaked brown rice and set aside.
Chop up the cabbage and onion and grate the carrot.  I used my vegetable peeler, since I was already peeling the carrots and didn't feel like getting my box grater out.
Coat the bottom of a very large fry pan with high sides with olive oil.
Saute the cabbage, onion, and carrot with 1/4 cup tamari and ginger until soft.
Add broccoli and peas - mine was frozen.  If you use fresh cook the broccoli with the cabbage, onion and carrot, and add fresh peas at the end of the recipe.
Pour veggie mixture in a bowl and set aside.
Scramble the eggs in the pan. Add the toasted sesame oil while you are scrambling the eggs.
When eggs are cooked, add rice and 2 Tablespoons Tamari.  Mix until combined.
Add veggies back into pan and mix until combined and warm again.
Serve with the Mongolian Fire Oil - I use a lot - and extra Tamari to taste.

*Have you heard about soaking your grains?  I know most people know to soak dry beans before cooking, but do you know why you soak them?  Here are a couple articles that you can read to learn about soaking rice.  If you don't want to read them, but want to know how to soak rice for this dish, I used 2T raw apple cider vinegar and 4 cups of water.  Put in a container with the rice, and let sit overnight, or at least a few hours before you cook rice.  Then drain off the water.  You don't need to rinse the rice afterwards, the soaking is meant to neutralize the phytic acid in the grain, the water doesn't then have the phytic acid in it.

Project Simplify - the fridge

I had planned to get my entire kitchen/fridge/pantry all clean and tidy for this week.  Well, that has not happened.  Never underestimate the amount of time it takes to go through one's refrigerator after a long winter of root veggies from the winter CSA.  I never realized how much actual dirt was in there...gross, I know.

Actually, my entire house seems to be a disaster right now.  After reading the chapter "A Home That Works" in Tsh's book Organized Simplicity, I started to re-arrange my furniture again.  It is a habit I am never going to get over I'm afraid.  So right now, I am trying to figure out the best use of each room.  Currently, my dining room is full of boxes of stuff to donate to good will, or to bring to the consignment store.  I even managed to get rid of two boxes of books - a big deal for me.  Have you seen my recent book post?! ;-)

I am slowly getting through everything.  And, like always, my hope is to be done before my kids graduate from high school!  Of course, that means that I am constantly going in 100 different directions.  I do love the idea of dedicating time to one space each day, but I don't have that kind of dedicated time.  When my kids are doing school I can work in one room, when they are napping I move to another space, when I am cooking I try and deal with the entryway and laundry.  Instead I live in constant chaos for a few months until I finally get things the way I want.  Usually around that same time I decide to move things around again.

I need to make a trip to the donation center soon though, because the boxes of stuff are kind of in the way.  Why don't I just make the run myself?  Well, between the kids car seats and other stuff I need to bring with me on a trip out with the kiddos (portable potty anyone?), I don't have room for more than a couple boxes.  I would rather make one big trip and just pack the car full :-)  So it has to wait until the weekend when my hubby is available, and since he has been working on a deadline for the past 6 weeks, it hasn't happened yet.

But this week is all about the fridge.  I started to take out all the food in there.  I had no idea that some of my fermented foods from the CSA had scum on the top.  Yes, I have heard that you can scrape the scum off and then eat what is underneath, I didn't find that too appetizing though, and since I am the only one that eats the stuff, I decided it should go.

When I was finished, I realized that we have very little food in the house and I need to go grocery shopping!  It is funny to open the fridge, see it full of food - whether or not the food is actually still edible - and still not be able to find something to eat.  Well, now I know why that is.  Although we do seem to have enough condiments in case TEOTWAWKI happens in the next few days :-)

I was definitely impressed with myself though.  I took out every shelf and drawer, washed them all, got rid of the bad food, reorganized the spacing of the shelves.  And since I have finished, I notice that I open it up to just admire my job well done.  Not great in the way of energy conservation, but it makes me smile every time I open it!

The freezer didn't get as thorough of a treatment.  It is a bottom drawer freezer, which I love, but doesn't organize very easily.  Especially with my bags upon bags of frozen veggies/fruit/beans.  But, I have the food relatively organized.  Enough so that I can easily find what I need.  I had also hoped to get to my "pantry" which is actually part of our entryway.  That also didn't happen, but it is on my agenda for tomorrow I hope.

How did you all do?  Have you been enjoying the spring cleaning?  I certainly am.  I am also trying to get as much done inside so that this weekend and next week when it is in the 60's-70's I can be outside in my yard working on the garden.  70' March!  Awesome :-)

I'm linking up at Live Renewed for the spring cleaning challenge as well as at Project Simplify and linking up at the Spring Into Organization Link Party!