Friday, March 30, 2007

My current favorite pasta sauce

I found this recipe for "Nice Spinach Spaghetti Sauce" a few weeks ago and tried it as I had some fresh tomatoes & parsley and even though I didn't have fresh basil, it was still mighty tasty! It's very fresh tasting, like nothing I'd ever had till then, not the same old same old pasta sauce.

This is how I made it:

2 tsp. minced garlic (from a jar in my fridge)
1 Tbsp. dried basil (I'm sure fresh would be way better)
1 can diced tomatoes
about 1 c. frozen spinach, defrosted
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup of olive oil
1-2 fresh roma tomatoes

I wizzed this all up in the blender, then either warm on the stove or lightly heat in the microwave. It turns a slightly yucky color, not nice and red, but the taste more than makes up for it.

Tonight tho I didn't have the jar of tomatoes, but did have some leftover spaghetti sauce and some tomato juice from a can of diced tomatoes, didn't have olive oil so just used vegetable oil and didn't have any fresh roma tomatoes, but it still turned out pretty good, had it with homemade gnocchi; not too shabby.

Clap your hands all ye people

Little Eli is wowing us every day. Today he took 3 steps before plopping to the ground. Then during supper (lentil stew for him) he started signing the word "more" (and I think he said "more," but it sounded more like "ma"). At first he was signing something closer to the word "food" or "eat," bringing his hand up to his mouth, then he started (on his own), bringing his hands together. Then after supper, DH called me into the family room to show me that Eli was clapping his hands for the first time ever. I just get such joy in seeing my babies blossom into little, intelligent beings. I stand in awe of God's creative power in such diminutive creatures.

Post Script... A little later when I was helping Gigi with her bath, DH called my attention to our little spider baby; he was "crawling" down the hall on his hands and feet, a very funny sight indeed. Where was my camera when I needed it? I can just hope he'll do it again for me so I can catch him in the act.

Tater Tot Skillet Dinner

Saute (salt the onion and sweat it over low heat) 1/2 onion, diced

Diced carrots (2) & celery (2 stalks)

Cook till soft (I added some water & turned up the heat)

Add (cook till soft):
Zucchini or yellow squash, diced (1) -or-
Frozen asparagus, cut up in small pieces
Frozen peas (1-2 c.)

2 c. tater tots

Cook till mixed & thicker. Tater tots will fall apart and resemble rice (test to make sure they are completely cooked).


1 can cream of mushroom soup (I use Amy's organic brand or make my own)
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1 tsp. parsley flakes
1/2 tsp. veg. broth powder
1 can Worthington Diced-Chick (or diced chicken with 1/4 c. gravy)

Cook together in a pan, whisk till well mixed.

Comp 001

My just turned 6 year old just wrote this today, his first attempt at writing, I thought it was cute, had to share:

The cat was happy
and said let's go to
play out side and
had lots of fun.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

I've kicked the can

Canned soup that is. Canned soups are hotbeds of MSG and related substances so, for the last few years, I just haven't had a need for them. Except that for some reason, I find it hard to replace cream of mushroom soup. I found a natural version at Kroger which is ok, but not dairy free, and just the other day I came across this recipe from vegsource. I'm really so excited to find this, it seems such a simple thing really, but to have a crutch really helps me, so "thanks, Bryanna, you've done it again."

(use as a substitute for same)

This recipe is adapted from the book “Whole Foods for the Whole family” (NAL Books), a la Leche league international cookbook, for which I served as an editor. The recipe is a combination of recipes of mine, and 3 other contributors.


2 T. Earth Balance or other vegan margarine (I used palm oil)
3 T. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
dash white pepper (I left out)
1 and 1/4 c. non-dairy milk (if you want a really mushroomy sauce, use 1 c. rich soymilk, such as Vitasoy Original, or even a soy non-dairy creamer, plus 1/4 c. liquid from soaking dried mushrooms) (I used the mushroom liquid from a 4 oz. can of sliced mushrooms)

1 T. minced onion
1/2 c. minced mushrooms (from 4 oz. can)
a little oil or margarine (I sprayed a little spray oil on the onions)

Saute the onion and mushrooms in a little oil or margarine until soft. Set aside. Melt margarine in a small saucepan. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until bubbly. Whisk in the “milk” slowly. Whisk and cook until thick. Stir in the onion and mushrooms.

Gluten Wheat-Meat "Chicken"

I tried a recipe that I found here called Bryanna's New Seitan "Chicken." After reading through several of the recipes, I figured out that when the poster had posted, something happened to the amounts so some of them are a little wacky. After reading thru most of this post as well as thru some of Bryanna's other recipes from and her own website, this is what I came up with and notes of how I did it (based on my ingredients on hand):

2 1/4 c. vital wheat gluten
1/2 c. Minute tapioca
1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
2 Tbsp. "chicken-style" veggie broth powder
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tsp. onion powder

2 1/4 c. cold water
1/4 c. raw cashew nuts
a few dashes of homemade Kitchen Bouquet
3 Tbsp. mushroom sauce (one of Bryanna's recipes from the cycling website I think)
a few asparagus tips, will probably add more next time

Mixed the wet together into the dry in my Bosch Universal mixer and mixed on 2 for 10 minutes, let it rest for an hour, then mixed again for another 10 mintues. Then I took it out, cut into 3 long loglike pieces and boiled in:

1 c. asparagus juice (from canned asparagus)
about 1 c. mushroom sauce
5 c. "chicken"-style broth
7 cloves garlic, chopped
a few dashes of homemade Kitchen Bouquet
3 1/2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes

I cooked the wheat-meat logs in the broth in my slow cooker on high for about 6 or 7 hours till they had swelled up and started to float. I tested them and they were done when they were more meaty and less like edible rubber (not that there is such a thing).

I like it because it kind of reminds me of the consistency of Worthington Chickettes which I used to love, but didn't love all the additives. It slices in deli-slice thickness with ease, and was very delightful in some chicken a la king that I made today. Yum-o. I want to keep trying more recipes, but this one did turn out pretty good. A far cry from the really spongy blobs I used to make that I had the nerve to call gluten steaks.

The only thing I find distressing about this is that I read the other day that slow cooking of protein creates free glutamates (like in MSG) and this is something I try to avoid so I'm not going to go overboard with gluten, but it's nice to have something to fill the "meat" gap when trying to follow non-veggie recipes (and the kids and hubby love it).

Patty, thrifty mom's best friend

My kids just love "Patties day" and my little secret is that it's really "use of as many leftovers as possible in the fridge day." Bwahahaha... But they're really pretty yummy. I usually make sure I have some leftover rice or mashed potatoes and then throw in any leftover casserole-type foods or side dishes or veggies... into the mix, add some salt if needed, bread crumbs, tofu if I have it, an egg or 2, bread them and fry in a Pam sprayed pan. Et voila, bye-bye space hogging leftovers (that no one really usually wants anyway, hello yummy patties. Just another of my dirty little secrets, lol. And in related news, a recently discovered ingredient of pot pie... leftovers.

Bye bye

Eli is learning how to wave, it's so cute. He kind of wiggles his fingers around when he sees us waving to him. I just love the cognitive things that are going on with him. You can just see the wheels turning, the light dawning about things. Like the other day he tried to open a cupboard door which he knew was supposed to open, but didn't because something was in the way. But it didn't stop him from trying and trying to get it to open.

We've started giving him some rice cereal and he LOVES it. Where's that been all his life? Well, nursing was pretty much cutting it, but not anymore, I guess.

His crawling is sometimes morphing into hands and feet walking especially over thresholds (I think because he doesn't want to hurt his feet). I also think that he really does want to be up on his feet, but just doesn't trust himself completely yet. It's kinda cute actually :)

Are you sure it isn't summer already?

My imood thingy says I'm "hot" which I'm pretty sure isn't a mood unless it means that you're hot and bothered or hot under the collar or hot to trot. No, I'm just hot, as in need of some ice water and a fan. Ugh. There's like no air circulation where I'm sitting. And we're only like a week into spring. Thankfully we're getting some weather that's going to be "much cooler," like down to the 70s. Whatever. I wouldn't call that much cooler but it'll do ;)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Baby Steps

Eli is starting to take his first tentative steps. He took one step for DH yesterday a couple of times, then I saw him take one tiny step today. He's still pretty wobbly on his legs, but he's starting to try. He can crawl really fast and is starting to push up with his back legs like he wants to stand, but usually doesn't. But he is letting go of things more and more to just stand there and look at something in his hands (usually).

So bummed!

We went to the local church down the road that we kinda like and after church was over and we finally got ourselves together to leave, we got to the car, Gigi said she needed to go potty. So I took her, leaving DH to get the boys in the car. We got inside and she promptly changed her mind and said she'd go at home. By this time DH was pulling up to the front of the building and we got in and headed home. Later that afternoon DH wondered where his phone was and I said "it's in the diaper bag." Then he got this "oh no!" look on his face. Apparently he had set the bag down while getting Eli buckled in and then went around to get Geo in (or something like that). Suffice it to say, it got left in the parking lot of the church. He went right over hoping that it'd still be there, but it wasn't. We called the pastor's wife and she called the few people who were still there, but they hadn't seen it. Someone else checked to see if anyone had picked it up and left it in the church, but it wasn't there. We called the local police, but they forward their calls on the weekend so I'll try again tomorrow. Along with his phone was my Palm Pilot (so bummed), my favorite sling, the kids' mini magna doodle things, some diapers & wipes, and some knitting that I was working on. DH tried to call his cell phone, but it went straight to voicemail so that was no help. We're praying it will turn up, but getting less and less optimistic. But, nothing's impossible for God so still hopeful. But, if it's truly gone, I won't be able to get another Palm for a very long time as we're living paycheck-to-paycheck at the moment.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

SOOoooo sick of being sick

So, we're on our third virus/flu of the season (within the past 4 or 5 weeks) and I'm ready to be done! This most recent time around, I just had a cough and it was starting to get better and I was going to be ok with that, the cough wasn't too terrible. Then Eli developed a runny nose (part of the cough or something new, not sure), and now I've got the drainage which I really very much dislike, my nose is getting raw and I don't have my Puffs plus to ease the pain. Now Gigi has a runny nose too, we are just getting each other sick and sicker. I'm upping my water intake which I should do anyway, also got to sleep in a bit this morning which was SO nice. I just really long for the day when we'll be in the clear and hope that when we get there, we'll stay that way for a looooooonng long time.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

My Nap

(Sometimes I just can't resist the urge to rhyme, ... sorry!)

Being drained of all my sap,
I was in desperate need of a nap

My body didn't want to settle
and Eli made noise like a kettle

I thought my nap plans were a bust
But DH knew they were a must

So bravely he held down the fort
While I slept like in a resort.

(thanks DH!)


I've been looking forward to going to the church down the road for the last 2 weeks now and wouldn't you know it, DH came down with a high fever last night (103.6) and was starting to talk goofy so I decided that it would not be a good idea to go and expose everyone at church with our virus, especially since the rest of us still have coughs and Eli is now starting to have a runny nose... So we had church here today (watching 3ABN) and we'll try again next week. It's too bad as today was potluck and we had been invited over to the pastor's house after lunch, but maybe we'll get a chance to do that another time. But I am rather disappointed. I'm so ready to be done with all this sickness!!! 'K, I'm off to pop some more vitamin Cs and Echinacea/Goldenseal.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Eli's bad day

Ouch! Poor Eli was the victim of gravity and distracted parents twice today. The first time we were at the food court getting lunch. Gigi needed to use the restroom so I took her. Then DH's phone rang so he put the tray of food down that he had in one hand, sat Eli down in a chair (he sits very well) so he could find his phone (in one of his pockets). In that short time, Eli tipped over (maybe reaching for DH? I don't know, wasn't there) and fell on the floor, clunking his head. Then at home, I stepped from the family room to our bonus room to say something to DH and I heard clunk/"waaaaaa!" Apparently Eli had been on the couch (he was on the floor last I knew, I didn't know he was on the couch, wondering if Geo put him up there to be with him). Anyway, it's been one of those days that I want to go sit in the dunce-mommy corner and dutifully wear my hat. Thank God there has never been a day so coincidentally bad in all of his life before now. I know that we'll be extra vigilant to make sure that he's down low, not where he could fall anymore.

On a slight side note, it's amazing how resilient little kids and babies are. Both times I checked his pupils just to make sure he wasn't suffering from a concussion or anything like that. Both times, apart from some crying at first, he's been fine, acting perfectly normal, wanting to eat, play in a baby play area, walk with his walker, play with Daddy... so thank God for that. I'm so glad that he has a hard head and a capable guardian angel.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

It's still so cool

Eli is just over 10 months old and he's starting to mimic big-time. He shakes his head "no" when he sees me do it, made noises into a pipe when his daddy did it, was trying to sing (bah bah bah) with a musical toy today, and pointed at me (from Grandma's arms) yesterday when he saw me walking across the yard (ok, not mimicking, but still very awesome). He's getting so good at crawling, plays better with his brother and sister now and also alone than he ever did before. He very much likes real food, gets downright insistent about wanting food so we're starting to teach him the sign for "more." I can't remember when we started with Gigi, but I think it's about time with him. I know I've been thru all this stuff with the first two, but even if I had 10 more, I would still be wowed by the things babies and kids can do. Gigi impresses me with her grasp of language, Geo does more and more things every day and shows a grasp of understanding when I talk to him that is neat (as in I can carry on deeper conversations/discussions with him than I can with his sister).

Poor Geo got yet another virus, this one affecting his lungs. Gigi, Eli and I have coughs (mine is very minor), but Geo had fever the past couple of days and has been lethargic. Today he started acting more normal tho, and his coughs are becoming more productive so I'm hoping that signals the nearing end of this bout. I'm so glad that better weather is on the way so that all this sickness can vamoose.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Church Shopping

This last Sabbath was our official first Sabbath away from our old church. We went and test drove a church about 10 minutes from our house (even closer than the last one), and we were pleasantly impressed. It's a church plant, a small church, maybe 50 members, but they did have a lot of children our kids' ages and everyone seemed to be very involved in the activities and also were very friendly. We felt right at home there. There was even a nice mother's nursing room with a window and speakers and a comfy chair and some cribs... There are speakers throughout the building so you don't miss much if you have to step out. The chairs were comfortable, the preacher was young and talented (he can sing and preach :), and there were quite a number of other homeschool moms in the church. I think with a little tweaking (adding a class for Geo so he doesn't have to go to Sabbath School with the babies, replacing snacks with a craft time, and eventually moving the ladies' rest room from its current spot near the front of the sanctuary to a better place in the entryway hall [which is in planning]...), I think we could be very happy there. It's only been planted since October and it seems to be growing fast so that could be good. It won't be this tiny forever. And it's super-convenient. But we do think we owe it to ourselves to check out 3 or 4 other churches which are sort of in our area as well just to make sure we find the best fit for our family. We want a church that has good programs for our kids so that's definitely a consideration.

Diaper Trouble

I'm thinking it's a result of the messy diarrhea diapers from Eli's 2 flus, (sorry!), but this last batch of diapers that I washed came out smelling a little off. I ignored it thinking they would air out in the dryer, but the smell only intensified. It was so bad that the smell (somewhere between sweet and skunk) got lodged in my nose and didn't want to vacate for a long time. Needless to say I had to wash them again, but it still didn't get much better so I washed them with Sport Wash (2 caps full) and they smelled considerably better after that wash, but woe to me, they still were holding on to a tiny bit of smell after the 2nd dry so here we go again, I'm washing them yet again, this time with 3 caps full of Sport Wash, hoping that 3rd times a charm. This wash certainly hasn't been worth my while with all the water and electricity and detergent I've used.


One of my favorite homeschool projects has been some alphabet letters that I made for my kids to learn how to read, spell, learn the names of the letters. I bought a couple of old Scrabble games from the thrift store for about $1 each and with a medium point sharpie marker, I wrote the lower case letters for each letter on the backs of each letter tile. That way they can learn upper and lower case letters. I have fun trying to come up with words for Geo to spell and I think he has more fun reading words that way than just reading them in print on paper (though he's doing much better in that aspect as well). The colorful tiles were in a thrift store grab bag; they already had letters on them, but I darkened them up with the sharpie too.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Bye Bye Babyhood

Well, Geo lost his first baby tooth tonight :) (sniff). I was on the computer, I had tucked him in bed and I heard tromp tromp tromps of not so tiny feet coming down the hall and he ran in and said (with a very satisfied grin on his face) "my tooth came out." He had gotten up the nerve to pull it himself. I had tucked him in bed with a little plastic bowl under his pillow for him to put the tooth in should it dislodge itself in the night, but it wasn't needed. I even tried to pull it twice earlier in the evening, but I don't think I gave it my all when I tugged (not wanting to hurt him too much) so it didn't budge for me. I'm kind of glad tho, it gives him more courage to be able to deal with stuff like that in the future.

Our Bible Friends

For school I do a bible class every day and my kids get very easily distracted if there are no pictures or something visual for them to focus on so I made these bible friends from the dolls and clothes from the website. I also added some of my own hair and clothing accessories. It's way easy, here's how I do it. I copy the images of clothes or people or whatever from their website onto my hard drive. I open it in Paint Shop Pro, increase the colors to 16 million, select the magic wand tool, click on the white background, then go ctrl+shift+i to get the selection around all the articles on the page, copy and paste into a new image which gives me a transparent background. There might be an easier way to do this but I haven't figured it out yet. Then I take the freehand selection tool and draw around each item and paste them into a new image, I do the magic wand trick again to make sure that the image saves the smallest dimensions possible. Then I save clothes in one folder, hair and hats in another, and misc in another. I have the dolls in a separate folder too. Then I open one of the dolls, click on shoes or whatever article of clothing I want to add, copy it, paste as a layer in the doll file, move it around to get it just right, then add another article of clothing or hair, headgear... till I have the doll the way I want it. Then I copy merged and paste into a new document, crop it to the right size and voila, my very own bible friend. Here are a few so you can see what I'm talking about (I made these in b&w so my kids could color them, but they would be pretty easy to color in psp):