Saturday, December 31, 2011

Snapware and Prepping.....Resolution #2.

Resolution #2 is also a small idea but one I have been working on for a couple months and want to get it down like clockwork this year. My friend, Jenny, posted a picture of her fridge on her Facebook so here is a couple shelves of what mine looks like. We think alike. 

My goal is to have veggies and fruits prepped and ready at all times as soon as they are delivered or bought or picked. Since I am not doing plastic bags, and don't want them stored in plastic bags, I need to keep them fresh in containers. By having them all prepped and ready to consume, I find my smoothies are much better and I eat more. There are lots of varieties ready to eat so I eat more variety. It also looks so much more organized. I also wanted to get away from anything with BPA in it so I have now switched over to all snapware containers (I need an updated photo for my new containers) . They are BPA free and I love the rubber seals on the lids. Spill proof. 

I purchased a big set from Amazon that come with some great sized containers, especially for kids lunches. I have other sets great for larger produce as well. Costco also has a set of 42 I have been told. I need to go check that out!

I also love seeing the produce as soon as I open the fridge so I don't forget something hiding in the back. I hate when good, organic produce goes to waste. That way, I can plan my menus around what I need to use up. Jenny uses dry erase markers to write on the containers. Great idea. 

If any of you have some great ideas, pass them on. I would love to hear some. 

More ideas coming. This year is going to be my year of Fine Tuning. I think that is the buzz word(s) for the year. Fine Tuning. I need that. I feel like last year I just kept up and didn't really progress much. This year I am ready for a little tweaking and perfecting. I need that. Especially when it comes to a little "me" time. Tweaking is an understatement there. The gym misses me. 

Happy New Year! I am home partying it up with the littles while the husband works. Hooray for Me! 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pineapples and Preschool....

Pineapples are only $1 at Sprouts thru 1/4. They are sweet and delicious. I buy tons to freeze for smoothies. Stock up! Also, if you were bummed like me when they took the coconut sugar out of bulk section, you can still get it in bulk for a discount if you just ask! They will order it for you. You get a 10% discount on bulk orders. I don't know what constitutes "bulk", but I ordered 25 lbs. 

I have 5 spots left for preschool next year. 3 and 4 year olds only this year. Tuesday and Thursday's. $100 per month. One am slot and 4 pm. Email me or comment if you are interested. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2012.....going green, resolution #1.

2012 is fast approaching and that means I get to pick out some new goals. I know you can really start goals anytime, but I am a sucker for the New Year resolutions. I look forward to it. I have a whole gaggle of resolutions on my list this year and I would love to share a small handful of them with you.  I will run a little series of "resolution ideas" for you this week just in case you can't think of anything on your own. They really are good ideas. Promise.

#1.....Going green. 

 I know, nothing original but for some reason, this year, going green is a top priority. It is funny how you can pick and choose what important things in life apply to you. For instance, I didn't buy organic food until I read and understood what truly was covering my conventional produce. Now, I can't go back to conventional. That rule applies to me now. When Tate was diagnosed with Autism, lots of rules started to apply to me that were never in my world before. We can just sort of ignore things until we gain knowledge. When we catch the vision, we are then responsible for change. Going green has been something I have worked on now and then but after a conversation with my husband a couple months ago, I get it. Completely. Now, I can't be one of those who ignores the real problem. I am now included in that rule. 

I'll let you in on the conversation. 

My husband has been anti-water bottle for a couple years now. He has been great about bringing his own where he goes and setting the example. I mostly followed suit but when we were out of town, I would always bring a case for the kids. It was just easier. 

My family loves the ocean. It is our happy place. There  is something so calming and spiritual about being near such a grand creation. When my husband told me what his favorite surfer, Laird Hamilton said about water bottles, I took the bait and the rule applied to me completely. Laird said that years ago, he would encounter a water bottle out in the water every now and then but that in recent years, they are everywhere in the ocean, littering the beauty and the sacredness of the waters. I had heard the statistics of water bottle consumption in America but thinking about what that really meant didn't cross my mind before. Did you know that we use 2 million water bottles every 5 minutes!!!! Analyze that for a second. It is stated that we use enough water bottles every day to go around the world in a line 3 times. Our world is pretty big. Those statistics are mind boggling. With those statistics, our oceans are soon going to have little room for ourselves. Somehow we can just ignore it and keep drinking our water bottles because it is easier. Like it is really hard to refill a water bottle our selves or plan ahead and bring water bottles with you. We really are lazy people.

So, as of a couple months ago, I am water bottle free, unless there is an emergency. My kids are pretty good at this as well now. We have the collapsible water bottles and other BPA free Nalgene bottles that we take with us. Pretty simple. I feel so much better to not be contributing to the plastic overload in this world. I HATE to see all the water bottles littered everywhere after my kids soccer and baseball games. They are everywhere! We need to make changes.

The next part of my going green is at the grocery store. I used to justify the plastic bags since I needed them to wrap diapers in. Now, we are diaper free and they just collect under the sink. Now that I see the weekly accumulation, I am amazed at how much plastic waste I am contributing to. I went out and purchased reusable grocery bags and produce bags. The hard part for me now is actually remembering to bring them into the store. We forgot last night and I had each of the kids carry handfuls of groceries out to the car without bags. I am committed now so that means no excuses. We did look like a bunch of shoplifters. 

The produce bags are great. I found them on Amazon but it would really be easy to make yourself.

I don't need them too often since I get my produce delivered from the Backyard Farmer but every now and then when I hit the farmers market, I can't justify bringing in reusable grocery bags and then putting the individual fruits and veggies in little plastic bags. I won't even go into the idea of BPA's in the bags themselves. We are just talking pollution today. They don't weight really anymore than the plastic bags. Such a great idea.

I feel better to not be contributing to pollution. I know often we think we are just one person and it really doesn't matter but what if lots of "one persons" make a change. Make the rule apply to you, unless you hate the ocean and don't care if the world is filled with trash. Just an idea.

Stay tuned for more great ideas for the New Year.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. We were spoiled beyond belief. Thanks to everyone for making our season wonderful. The best was having my family in town. I am so blessed.

Check out the Amazon links on my sidebar!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Reindeer names

Just in case you are new to my blog and missed this great idea.... here is a revisit for you. 

Reindeer Names

Friday, December 2, 2011

Canyons and Parsnips.

I am still alive. It is just that time of year when my whole being wants to swell with all the family I can get and the blog world gets shut out. It is this time of year that I am glad that I don't get paid to blog and have to blog on demand. I do have things to say....I will fill you in on the conversations going on in my head but all in due time. I will be a little poky for the next month. You understand.

I just returned from the beautiful canyons of Utah. They are breathtaking and rejuvenating. It was wonderful to have life halted for a week and to just take in the beauty of the earth and the love of family. We packed 22 family members into one beautiful home for crazy fun. Conversations until 2 am, nightly; musical jam sessions by my amazingly talented family; all 22 of them attending and LOTS of food! I won't go into details about the Thanksgiving dinner but when you have a family of chef's; it comes out something of grandeur. I would rob someone for this stuffing. It is really that good. 

Now back at home, reality is awaiting. The reality is that I have been eating way too much treats and need to get back into the healthy lifestyle. My body is begging me along with pleading with me to get back into the gym routine. Such an inner struggle after two back to back vacations. I have had way to much meat and am trying to create meals with little to no meat and no dairy and no sugar and all organic and all from scratch and of course all under an hour. Sometimes I get stumped and I am sitting on that stump right now. Time to get some inspiration. 

I started to look through some cookbooks tonight for some new ideas. I am really sick of my usuals. It was soup weather and I wanted a new soup to slip down my palate. The Backyard Farmer delivered some tasty treats to me yesterday so I had a variety to choose from. (P.S., he now has corn/soy free chicken feed and organic beef and chicken. Yipee!) I had a pound of parsnips and found a soup that intrigued me. Creamy Parsnip and Apple soup. Don't knock it until you have tried it. Super yum.

First, in case you didn't know about the parsnip in detail, let me explain: 

  Parsnips have been around for a very long time. When the potato became popular, they in turn became a little less popular as they do take on the flavor a bit of a potato. They are a very under appreciated vegetable but loaded with nutrition and very easy to use. They look like a white carrot and have a mild flavor. They are great to roast or steam or add to a soup. They contain lots of folate and B3 which is super important for pregnant women. They are also low in calories and packed with fiber to help get the wast out of the body. They are a superior food for liver and kidney health. They are also rich in vitamin C and potassium. 

When selecting a parsnip, you want one about the size of a large carrot and with smooth skin. Peel them like a carrot and cut them as desired. 

Here is the soup I made last night. The flavor was perfect and I loved it pureed but the kids would have liked a little more chunks. I made it totally dairy free  but it tasted like a cream filled soup. You definitely did not need dairy in this. I served it with a whole grain cinnamon roll made with coconut sugar. Delicious and perfect for a cold night! Enjoy!

Creamy Parsnip and Apple Soup
Adapted from Martha Stewart

3 T. butter, olive oil or coconut oil
1 1/2 lbs. leeks
1 lb parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
3 apples, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
3/4 lbs. red or white potatoes, peeled and cut 1 inch.
24 oz. chicken broth
3-4 cups water
1 C. almond milk or milk/cream
salt and pepper

Prepare leeks by cutting top greens off so that the whites and the light green are remaining. Take off outer layer and slice into small circles. Saute in butter or oil for 5 minutes. Add parsnips, potatoes and apples along with chicken broth and 3 cups water. Add more water if needed so that veggies are covered with enough water. Pressure cook at second ring for 6 minutes or bring to boil and simmer about 20-25 minutes until veggies are tender. 

Puree soup in blender until smooth or leave some chunks. Add more liquid if needed. Add almond milk/cream and salt and pepper to taste. 

*****I will placing oil/supplement orders on Tuesday. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Baked Oatmeal....

I love baked oatmeal and have wanted to share this one for quite a while. I just kept forgetting to get a photo for you all. It is so easy and fills the belly for hours. It is a great cold weather dish. It is better for you if you soak it overnight but in all honesty, I have never done that with this dish. It will change the texture but it is much easier on the stomach if it is soaked.  I just have never planned ahead with this dish to do that. If you do, let me know how it goes. I will try to do better the next time!

Baked Apple Oatmeal
From Molly's Cookbook

1 C. whole rolled oats
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 tsp. sea salt
3 T. maple syrup 
1-2 peeled and diced apples. (I grate mine sometimes)
1 1/4 C. milk (I use coconut or almond milk)
Nuts if desired.

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a glass pie plate. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Pour into pie plate. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Don't over bake. Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit. Serve with a little milk, whipped cream or yogurt if desired. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tactile Creatures

Humans are tactile creatures. We were given the sense of touch for a reason and somehow, we learn best when we are using that sense. Touching inspires creativity and embeds images in our heads. We can soak up information through our fingertips. We learn best in dimensions. I try to foster creativity whenever possible. I will always buy sheet music, art supplies, creative experiences mostly whenever asked. My almost 18 year old asked where the modeling clay was on Saturday. When I told him we didn't have any, he responded, "Mom, this is a house of creativity! We need clay. We should have clay." 

He was right. We usually have clay but it was looking pretty shabby and I pitched it. Sorry. He went to Hobby Lobby, pointing out to me that he was the only "dude" in the store, and came home to sculpt "Terri" in all his moods. Each color indicated a different mood. Above is "calm Terri". Below you will see "angry Terri":

There were many more to follow. Here are all the "Terri's" after their photo shoot:

They are adorable and they make me giggle a bit. I love creative minds. He was right. We should have had clay. We will always have clay from now on. 

I try to provide a good tactile environment in preschool as well. Learning letters can be a little hard for 3 year olds. I have been using a salt tray for them to use their hands to "feel" the letters. It has been a hit!

Using jumbo letters, they can push them into the salt and then trace them with their fingers. This way, they aren't just seeing what the letters look like, they are feeling what they look like. I left this tray out when my kids came home and every single one of them made pictures in the salt. It stayed out all day and was a hit. Kids don't need video games. The best thing I ever did was to never buy a game station. 

Another hit at preschool is making "muffins" with beans and sorting items with tweezers:

This gives them an opportunity to work on their finger control, especially when using the tweezers. Cute little fingers!

My friend has a blog giving some great ideas for tactile experiences. She is a occupational therapist for kids and she has some great ideas! Check it out ; She is putting on my little sensory man we made at preschool yesterday. Her cutie is in my class. I will be stealing some of her ideas for sure! 

Go buy some clay. Pour some salt on a tray. Take away the video least for a while and let your kids create! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rainy Days and Rain Boots....

I woke to my alarm at 4:45 am and heard the rain hitting the window. There was a river running down my street and it was still pitch black. Yep...the gym was canceled. I couldn't possibly head out in that weather. Back to bed. It is hard to get things going on rainy days. I am so thankful that I have a day like today that can be scaled back to accommodate my rainy day mood. I am still in my cuddly robe, still bed unmade. I talked to my mom about the exciting Thanksgiving plans. I replied to emails and made cinnamon toast and a smoothie. I planned out my preschool plans on the 5 senses this week and almost have the dishes done. The garden was going to be finished today but now that has to be put on hold. I just may have to go see a movie with my husband instead. We both have Monday's off. Lucky Duckies. 

     I opened the pantry to see yellow rain boots next to the grain buckets. I love how having little ones around means that nothing has to make sense. I thought about how much I am going to miss the fact that little feet that once had yellow rain boots on were in my pantry. I will be sad at the day when things make sense. I will be sad when we are all grown ups. I love finding little finger prints. I love when the mirrors fog in the bathroom and small hands have drawn pictures in the steam. I love Tate's many, many pictures and notes covering my fridge; drawings of little ant people with top hats and nonsense words that mean something to him. I love to see my large son's name carved on his bed (don't tell him that, he got in trouble for that one) because too soon he will be missing from that location for good. I loved to hear 3 of my children singing to my daughter on the guitar last night in 3 part harmony. It was beautiful. I love that I can laugh every day at their funny sense of humor. 

Today is a day full of gratitude. How can it not be. It is fall in Arizona. It is cool and crisp and rain soaked. Everything is green. We are healthy and happy and the holiday's are around the corner. I want to capture every moment of it and make it last a lifetime. 

It is going to be a great week. Life is perfect just as it is. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Because A. I hate to waste food and B. I love to freeze things; I am getting pretty great at using my ice cube trays. Ice cubes are just the perfect size for blending and thawing and a perfect measurement for so many things like lemon juice in a recipe or pesto in a sauce. 

Whenever I have a little smoothie left over, it goes in an ice cube tray to use in future smoothies. Slushy smoothies are the best but buying frozen fruit is expensive so using some frozen smoothie or frozen juice is great. I also juiced some apples and froze them with some of the pulp. 

I have a big basil bush that needs to be used so I am going to make several batches of pesto to freeze in cubes for the winter. I usually loose my basil plant around December when we get a freeze so I need to stock up now. Pesto freezes great. Take a few cubes out to thaw and toss in on some pasta for a quick dinner. Even better, toss it with some cubed new potatoes and green beans roasted in the oven. Yum!

Lemon season is around the corner and good thing as I just used my last lemon cube. Can't wait. There is always neighbors begging for someone to take their lemons. You can freeze all kinds of citrus for a great smoothie or to throw in a pancake when thawed for flavor. So many ideas. What have you "cubed"?

Another frozen favorite is freezing bananas. Bananas are best for you when they start to get the brown spots. The sugars are being broken down. You have to eat them before they get mushy but they are extra sweet at about this stage, just before the banana bread stage. You can usually buy them for super cheap, like $.20 per pound in a bag when they get speckled like this at the store. Buy them up, peel them, cut them in 2 inch chunks and freeze them in a freezer bag (they don't get brown). You can then throw them in a smoothie or make banana "ice cream" as seen in my post here for a quick and cheap treat. 

If you want to waste a little time, I found a new blog, thanks to April. I am in love. Check out Soule Mama here. Where in the world does she get all that time?

Saturday, October 29, 2011


These are the seeds of my garlic chive plant. They are part of the reason why I haven't blogged for a week. It is all part of my "Homesteading" agenda. What is homesteading? By definition:  Homesteading is a lifestyle of simple self-sufficiency. 

I want to be a homesteader in every sense of the word. I want land, as in acres, with chickens, cows, goats, numerous fruit trees and gardens dotting the land. I dream about it. I crave it. Of course, with that dream comes time to actually work the land but my dream is there. I believe dreams can come true.

My neighbor, Shawn, has this same dream. We bumped into each other at the bookstore and he had a handful of "homesteading" books in his hands. Conversation sparked. He has "the dream" as well. We both came to the same conclusion that if we want that dream, we have to prove that we really want it and need to make our 1/4 acre into our own personal homestead now. There is really so much we can do with the land that we have. There are spaces that have not been utilized. If we can't "homestead" what we have, we have no right to gain bigger acres with bigger responsibilities. 

Therefor, I have been very busy. Not that I haven't always had a garden, planted fruit trees, bought chickens, etc. But, there is so much more I want to do. I sit here with a broken back and dirty toenails that still haven't cleaned up like I would like. I have been shoveling Cow stuff in my garden today. Really, all week. I decided to do all the tilling by hand with a little shovel and some gloves. I finished one side in just under 8 hours. I still have another side to go. My sidekick has been way too busy this week and it has been all me. It is a great workout! The ground was hard....really hard. But, it looks fluffy and dark and ready for plants. Super late but  nonetheless, I am going to have plants.

I also enjoyed pruning my very tall plum tree much to the amusement of my little neighbor boys as I scaled the fence and balanced with a trimmer in one hand. Believe me, it was impressive. I have also dried some seeds from my garden just pulled out for next seasons garden. Gardening is expensive. If you don't use some of your own seeds and your own mulch, the cost keeps adding up. I am trying to cut that cost down a little. We will see how the seed thing goes. If you want to dry your seeds, simply let that plant go to seed if seeds aren't produced in a fruit/veggie. Dry the seeds out and then store them in a packet in the fridge or freezer. Here are some cute seed packets to print:

There is something about working the land that is so completely satisfying. For me, nothing compares. I love dirt on my toes and hands. I love watering things. I love collecting my chicken eggs daily. I loved processing the 40 pound box of apples this week to freeze for later use. I love my new pomegranate tree with the promise of future backyard yields. I love the oranges and tangerines starting to turn a shade of orange. I love being able to go outside without the fear of melting. I belong on a farm. I was born in the wrong century. But.....I will have my dream. It may be on 1/4 acre for now but it will be perfect. I am a homesteader. I am really tired. I think everyone should have a piece of land to work. It brings you closer to the Almighty. Nature is purifying. I could go on and on about the health benefits of why we should all grow food but you all know that. But, it is for the mind as well. Life is too busy, too rushed. We all need a little time out to put our hands in the dirt and to smell the fresh air. 

Try it. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Roll up water bottles.

I have struggled to find a good water bottle that my teens will actually like to carry around school. I don't buy plastic, throw away water bottles unless on a trip in my effort to help save the world a bit. However, I have a teen in particular that will buy his own because I haven't found a water bottle cool enough for him to bring to school or one that will not leak at all.

In California last week, I saw this neat water bottle that rolls up when you are done for easy storage. It freezes, doesn't leak and looks "cool". Top it off, it is BPA free! Hooray. I bought a couple and after trying them out on the highschoolers, the little ones begged for their own. Amazon saved the day and we ordered a few more.

They have this great clip on them so they can clip right to their backpacks. Lightweight, stylish and durable. Thanks, Vapur. Great idea.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chicken Feed

Now that I am a chicken rancher, I get many emails about what I feed my chickens. This is a great question and one I have thought a lot about. The reason I have chickens isn't so I can spray off the chicken droppings three times a day just for is so I can have the best, most nutritious eggs sans the hormones and pesticides that are in store bought eggs. Therefor, if I fed them the exact things that are fed to commercial chickens, I would just be spraying off the patio in vain. I certainly don't know everything about chicken ranching yet, but with the help of my professional buddies I  get to bombard with questions, I am learning as I go.

The question I get mostly relates to corn and soy. Yes, corn and soy is in EVERYTHING!!!! We must all have DNA that shows up now with little corn cobs linking our double helix and coated with a glaze of soy. If you ever read a label to almost anything processed, you will find these ingredients in there somewhere. The problem with this is that these are super GMO'd and super horrible for you. Chicken feed is usually heavy laden with these two ingredients. I thought it was because it was the cheap way to feed them. I learned a little from my BACKYARD FARMER friend, Galen who always schools me on whatever I email him. 

Here is what he said to me when asked about corn and soy costs:

The biggest issue I run into is the impression that corn and soy are the cheapest grains and that is why they use them for feeds.  Soy cost twice as much as corn and corn cost more than wheat, Milo, peas. oats etc.

The protein is higher and that is why they use them. you have to add protein like fishmeal or blood meal to other grains to get the protein % to the proper level for the type of feed being made and the fishmeal and other protein products are very expensive.

A 50# bag of corn around  $15

A 50# bag of Fishmeal  $65-85

Chickens need their protein. To be good layers, they need the right composition of calcium, protein, vitamins and greens. I am sure they could survive off of about any scraps around, just like humans do on a regular basis, but to get the best eggs and lots of them, their diet is important.

What do I feed my chickens? Mine get to roam the backyard and eat lots of grass and bugs first off. They had a field day in my mulch bin as I stirred it and the little roaches came crawling out. Yuck. They eat everything we have left over: oatmeal from breakfast, pancakes, stale bread, rice, noodles , odds and ends from every fruit and veggie I don't use, kefir, etc. When I step out the back door, they run up to me like I am their queen. The chicken mama, as my husband calls me. They know I usually have something good in my hand and they greet me with all the love their little chicken bodies can show. I don't feel so guilty about wasting when I know in the end, it will turn into an egg!

For their grains, I use three different feeds. I get them all from THE BACKYARD FARMER. I use a layer feed, a scratch and an egg enhancer. 

The layer feed has extra ingredients for calcium like oyster shells and fish meal. His feed has corn in the ingredients but it is not the first thing on the list and contains fish meal and alfalfa as well. The Super scratch also has wheat and milo. The Ultra Egg enhancer is my very favorite as it turns the yolks a deep orange indicating the nutrients embedded in these fresh, backyard eggs. I give them a cup a day to munch on for all 5 birds. They go crazy when I sprinkle this down. The Backyard Farmer whips this up himself. He says he will be making a soy/corn free feed coming up but it will be more expensive. I am OK with giving a little corn, but I like that it isn't what my chickens live on. They get all sorts of grains and nutrients, all sorts of fresh produce and grass. They get vitamins and high grain feed. They look like healthy, happy chickens. 

So, my fellow chicken mama's out there; I hope this answers some questions. Like with humans, the key is moderation. If you could do all corn/soy free, that is best but since that is hard to find unless you are making it yourself, do your best to moderate and feed them all sorts of things balancing their proteins. I will keep you posted when THE BACKYARD FARMER has his corn/soy free feed available. Till then, I will keep on using my current mixture that is the best I can find. 

Remember, businesses will sell what is in demand. If we don't ask for it, we won't get it. Every time I go to Costco, I see more and more organic and healthy choices. I am so impressed and if we didn't buy it, they wouldn't stock it. They even had organic premade hamburger patties this last time. Love them! Support good food.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Getting in Gear

Whomever the person is who gave us fall break, bless them. We just returned from another glorious week at the beach. It was a little rough getting up this morning to an alarm but somehow, we dug deep and got out the door. I pieced some sort of breakfast and lunch together out of absolutely nothing in the fridge. Thanks to the chickens who welcomed me home with an egg to make some muffins and the few scraps here and there in the fridge. I wondered how it would be if I couldn't shop today and had to live off what I had for a month. I am halfway tempted to try it but after a week at the beach, I desperately need some good greens. Sure, we could survive. I do have a year supply but I would miss the fresh food and the garden isn't quite in yet. The chickens were privileged to the garden while I was away since the gate was left open and everything is pretty much down to the stalks. It was time to dig them up anyways but I was going to leave my pepper plants. No more. Hope they enjoyed their feast.

I want to do so many things right now that it is hard to do any of it. It just seems that when your list is so long, it is hard to focus on any of it if you know what I mean. I am picking up a 40 pound box of apples today that will need processing, I need to get my garden in this week, preschool lessons planned and taught, a merit badge clinic I need to teach on cooking, baseball and soccer games, etc. , etc. All good things but so overwhelming. Add to that the 20 loads of sandy laundry waiting for me and grandparents who need visiting. I just realized that it is also early release for parent teacher conference this week which means less productive hours at my house. Oh well, glad to have the kids home. I guess they will have to be put to work.

Anyways, I love this time of year. The holiday's are beginning. I am anxious for cool weather and family time. I love having my family together and know that that time is drawing more and more to an end. The oldest is applying for college now and soon a mission. I realized that at the beach this week, it may be his last time there with us for a few years. Big time mommy pains. How could time go so quickly? 

Thank you fall break. Thanks for letting me have my children for a week. Sorry we dodged out on the ball games but I just had to have them to myself. Just a little longer. Today I will work on my list. Laundry first, food next. At least we are starting out the week with great tans and fully rested spirits. Hope you all had a good break too.

If you live out in the east valley and want to get a 40 pound box of local organic apples to munch on this week too, shoot me an email. My friend has a few boxes of Granny Smith left for $40 for the box. Super great deal. They are going fast!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Chimichanga; Unfried, Uncheesed.

This was half eaten before I remembered to take a picture for you all. Not so pretty but quite tasty. I have been struggling to come up with some good Mexican food without cheese. Not all of us are completely dairy free at  my house but I have been trying to keep meals dairy free for a good handful of my household members. Now when you are also trying to do meat only a couple of the meals a week, the laying off of cheese is even more tricky. The thing I have been missing is the occasional enchilada or chimichanga. In desperation to make it seem like we were eating a chimichanga, I put this dinner together with a little inspiration from a recipe from Miss Molly's cookbook. It passed the food critic's in the house. I did put a little tiny bit of cheese in a couple and honestly, I didn't taste much difference in the non cheese ones. You could really go as low fat and healthy as you want with this dish.

Here is how it assembled, to the best of my recollection:

Baked Chimichangas

Flour tortillas, whole wheat or white
Butter or Olive Oil to brush tops of tortillas
1 cup cooked and shredded chicken (optional)
2 cups black beans
1cup corn corn
1 medium diced onion
1/2 cup diced red, yellow or orange bell pepper
1 cup pureed type salsa
1 -2 tsp.Cumin 
Cheese if desired

Saute onions and peppers in olive oil or butter until limp. Add cumin then all other ingredients but tortillas. Season to taste with extra cumin, salt and pepper. Add enough salsa to make mixture a little moist, not overly wet.

Fill tortillas with mixture and cheese if desired and roll with both ends closed. Brush tops with olive oil or butter and put in a pan. Bake at 400 for 25 minutes.

Top with shredded lettuce, tomatoes , cilantro, avacado's and whatever else you want to throw on it.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Apple season around the corner.

There is a sense around here that fall is coming. It is only 100 degrees today so I am almost giddy. I have faith that someday we will be able to pull out the hoodies and play outside for more than a half hour at a time. It will happen! That means, apple season, pumpkin pie, holidays! Hooray!

A couple weeks ago, we were up at the cabin and the apples were ripe for the picking. It had been a couple years since we have had good apples due to the frost and Elk. The kids were busy gathering bags full to take home to munch. We needed to use them up fast so we ate lots and lots of apple dishes: Apple crepes, apple muffins, apple crisp, apples and peanut butter, apple sauce, etc. I still had a big bag full so I did the lazy girls version of canning; my favorite.

I used my handy apple corer/peeler and in minutes had those apples in cute little rings. Immediately they were dunked in a bowl with half water, half apple juice (no sugar variety) and about 8 drops of lemon oil (essential oil) to keep them from turning brown. As I would peel/core the apples, I would put them in the bowl. This way , they were kept from turning brown while I was getting the whole batch done. 

After the bowl was filled. I gently put them in quart freezer bags, making sure that there was a some juice in each bag so that they were not exposed to air. I would seal them up tight so there were not any air pockets and into the freezer they went. I always have a backup plan in case we all loose power , long term and my freezer food storage would spoil. I have a 3 burner camp stove with 4 extra propane tanks filled and ready to used. I have lots of mason jars and  good pressure cooker/canner. I would can them immediately so then they could go on the shelf. Same thing for the meats in the freezer. I prefer to have my food frozen, not canned so I usually go for the freezer first with the canning back up plan. When I run out of room in the big freezer, I opt for canning but I haven't been that good lately to stock up as I should. Hopefully I will be better the rest of the year!

These apples are great to pull out to use for waffle and crepe toppings or apple crisp. I love that they aren't in a syrup to ruin the nutritional quality. Apples are sweet enough. They don't get mushy if you use good apples.

Until next Wednesday, October 5th, Organic apples are on sale for $.99 per pound at Sprouts. Great time to get your apples stash going!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Now that I am 17 1/2 years into child rearing and into my second year of teaching those cute little chubby fingers in my preschool classes; I have some opinions about early education. Now, granted, this is my opinion so take it for what may but there are probably a few out there who may also agree with me. This opinion probably has changed a bit over the years and really takes watching your first born go from womb to graduation. Watching my children's journey in education has inspired me in my preschool teaching and what these little ones really need to succeed in their primary education.

Everyone will learn their ABC's at a certain time in their life, barring disabilities of course. They will be able to count to 20, recite their colors and label shapes. It will happen if they aren't already there by 3. So many measure their little ones success and intelligence by what they know at 3 and worry way too much if those milestones aren't met. What I have learned is that the pre-school years should be focusing on getting ready to learn. Of course, learning academia at this age is also important but a huge focus should be on learning how to learn.

For instance, if a child lacks obedience for authority, ability to hold still and focus or inspiration to learn, they won't be nearly as teachable. If a child is allowed to run the show and dictate their every wish; that will carry into their education. If they lack manners or social skills, education and friendships will also suffer.
Therefor, these early "pre-school" years should be focused heavily on shaping these little primary students to be. If they come out of it knowing how to read ahead of the game and are the smartest cookie in the class; great! However, the most important thing is that they are ready to learn. They become ready to learn by holding still when it is required, being polite, respecting authority, being attentive, being obedient. When these are mastered, everything else will fall into place. Not everyone is a rocket scientist. We all come with different levels of intelligence but social skills and manners will make up the difference. Guaranteed.

Teaching these skills takes patience and diligence. It means not letting the little ones run the show. It means not giving up when it doesn't go smoothly. This can be done in a sweet but firm manner. I run my preschool like this and somehow, they all love me despite my rules. I expect them to listen, to be polite and to follow the rules of kindness. It is a learning process so it does take repetition. So many times it is easier to let the little ones get what they want so we don't have to endure the fight but this will only carry on to bigger things in life. You need to nip it in the bud early on.

I get to see lots of little personalities. I get warned by moms of their child's precociousness and stubbornness. I sort of like these challenges. It really doesn't take very long to get them in the groove of things. They learn the rules quite well since there really isn't an option for them. It can be done without time outs and belittling. 

Every child is different. Some are born with more ants in their pants than the others. Every mom can testify to that. However, I am a firm believer that each and every one of them can learn all the skills they need to be successful in the classroom. That is true for the typical child as well as those with special needs. Just a little more patience is involved. This must start in the home as early as can be. Children really do best with rules. 

For me, I feel that if my preschoolers graduate from my class with nothing else than learning to sit still when asked, saying "please" and "thank you" without being prompted, sharing and being kind to each other, respecting my authority and following the rules; my job has been done. Of course, it is great if they can learn the basic preschool academia as well but that is done over and over again the next few years of school.

Just my thoughts but for my children, I think this has worked. Even my little Tater with autism is an extremely obedient little one for his teachers. Not always for mom but he respects his teacher. He follows rules like their wasn't an option. I know by learning this early, this principle has blessed my children's lives. I thank the teachers who have persisted to teach this to my children and have not let them get away with things. I thank the teachers who have made learning fun and creative. 

Children need to be inspired and that means they need to be allowed to be creative and hands on. Just one fun thing before I end this sermon ; the picture above is something we do often for snack time. Toothpicks; love them! It makes snack time fun and educational. On this day, I gave them toothpicks, Cheerios and raisins. We were learning patterns so I would tell them how many cheerios and raisins to pattern. They loved it and it was much more entertaining than writing it out on paper. It also teaches them to sit and focus and to develop a better pincher grip. Just a little idea to pass along.

Thanks for listening.

P.S. I have ordered some extra immune boosting supplements and allergy pills for those who missed my order today. First come, first serve.