Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Kindness of Strangers

"They gave me candy, Mom. They are so nice!" was Dema's comment at every house tonight. He seemed sincerely surprised and amazed every time he went to a door and was given something. It was almost touching to see. He also loved giving out candy and was extremely generous (almost to a fault since we almost ran out of candy...the boys donated most of the candy they collected to our supply to hand out.) Dema kept telling me how nice everyone was and "this gentleman gave me money" and "that woman was so sweet to me and gave me 2 pieces of candy". Not surprisingly after all that excitement, Dema fell asleep at the dining room table while we ate a bit of real food and recapped the night.

The boys had their first trick-or-treating experience and it was a hit. (Josie slept through most of it on my arm.) Parker enjoyed going with the neighborhood gang (I use this word affectionately because this group of neighborhood kids are really great...I love seeing kids from 3 to 13 play together when they go to different schools, don't go to school, have different backgrounds, different races, etc. and they fight and have a great time together) and I think the candy was secondary.

This afternoon we did our last minute Halloween touches. We had some issues with squirrels eating our pumpkins. A few weeks ago the kids and I went to The Great Pumpkin Patch (owned by our friends Kit and Emily's family and is the best pumpkin patch we've ever visited...a fall tradition since Parker was born) with our friend Jenny and her boys. We had a wonderful time and picked out some great pumpkins (meant for making into pumpkin/squash type foods), but we left them out on the porch and the squirrels got to them thus most of them ended up being jack-o-lanterns. So we knew we couldn't possibly carve a pumpkin until the last minute unless we wanted it to be devoured by our bushy-tailed "friends" long before Halloween. So today was carving day.

My sister, Karen, came over and goddess bless her she helped the kids carve the pumpkins (it was so nice to be able to take pictures with Josie and not get too messy myself...I'm not good at pumpkin carving). Parker drew pictures on the pumpkins before she got here and our friend, Alicia let us borrow her award winning jack-o-lantern making tools. Parker pretty much carved them himself and did a great job. He made one pumpkin with three faces. I didn't think it would hold up, but it did. Dema helped with some of the carving and the saving of the seeds (although they both let Karen do most of the really messy work). They planted some of the seeds around the yard so we'll see what happens to our lawn next year...we may have our own pumpkin patch.

We had a little last minute searching for candles in the attic and then an issue with our handy-dandy lighter (Parker had to go to a neighbor's house to beg matches from them)so when the gang came by (promptly at trick-or-treating starting time), we were still scrambling to get everything lit so I went with the kids (unprepared with Josie on my arm) instead of staying behind to hand out candy as we had planned. It all worked out fine and I had fun watching the kids do their thing. Everyone was so nice waiting for each other. Dema's costume came off quickly since he was running after the kids and fell before leaving sight of our house. I carried his costume along, but he never wanted to put it on again. I was impressed a couple people knew Parker was a submarine and we had several very nice comments on his costume, but next year he will have to be something which doesn't take up so much space on the porch.

Parker has his bag of candy (the little that was left after we handed out what they collected) on his desk for the Halloween Sprite (Dema fell asleep before he could do anything) and he was going to open the window a bit for her to get in, but I said our windows have enough of a draft that a sprite would have no is supposed to get into thee 30's tonight and we don't need anything working against us on the warmth of the house. The Great Pumpkin come down the chimney.

All in all it was not a bad holiday. Tomorrow, I plan on spending some time remembering loved ones who have died and going to my mother's grave. She would have loved seeing the kids dressed up in their costumes and I'm sure she would have made something special for them to eat. I'm glad we have a some pictures of her last Halloween carving pumpkins with Parker on our porch at our old house when he was not even two years old yet. We will also be meeting some friends at a nearby park and they will start the day discovering their baskets of goodies left by the Halloween Sprite and Great Pumpkin. It isn't quite enough to make me really look forward to Halloween yet, but it is a start.

What a Tangled Web We Weave...

I want to go on record saying we never told our kids there was a Santa nor a Tooth Fairy, but Parker came up with them himself (probably from exposure to pop culture and other children). I tried to tell him they weren't real, but he would have no part of it. I don't like the idea of lying to children about anything, but he wanted and still wants to believe in things like Santa, the Tooth Fairy, etc. So...
spider web
I added a couple more myths to make Halloween easier and more interesting. During the course of the last few weeks we've read a lot about what Halloween means to different people through the ages and what different cultures do to celebrate this time of year and the stories which are told, yadda yadda. Very interesting stuff and so I thought why not add some myths of our own. I was chatting at the farmer's market with a mom about the dreaded candy and she mentioned a sprite who feeds on sugar and leaves a present. I thought, now that is a cool sprite and a great way to get the candy out of the holiday, but still have the kids go trick-or-treating with their friends like they want to (this the first time they have any interest in this).golden gliter fairyI added the Great Pumpkin who works with the sprite (we call her the Halloween Sprite) and leaves a little vegan candy since Dema wasn't buying that all the candy needed to go to the greedy little Halloween Sprite. Fine and dandy, we had our myths which was a great way to keep the non-vegan and high fructose corn syrup candy from entering their little bodies, they were psyched about it all.

Then enters the older and more worldly neighborhood friends (ones who obviously have parents who are stronger and don't lie to their children). The weather was great and the neighborhood was a buzz with children who had a day off from school (some teacher institute day or something). The boys were happy to go "practice trick-or-treating" with the other kids (they dressed up in their costumes and went around to houses, but didn't ring door bells). I was on the porch hanging out with Josie and keeping one eye on the boys when Dema comes running home crying. He was extremely upset and Parker came behind him to explainBlackcat.gif (13076 bytes) that the oldest boy in the group had said there was no such thing at a Halloween sprite, Great Pumpkin, and to top it off the Tooth Fairy and Santa are also a sham. Dema was very angry and Parker was confused.

I was a tad upset with this boy who just could not leave well enough alone, but then I decided that was misplaced emotions and during lunch (which happened to be a pancakes made with Silk Pumpkin Spice soymilk as well as more nutritious fare) I chatted with the Parker and Dema. We talked about beliefs and people believing in different things. They both decided they didn't mind that all the other kids didn't believe in the Halloween Sprite, Great Pumpkin, Santa, and the Tooth Fairy.

Later, the same neighborhood kids were at our house helping Parker and Dema paint their homemade costumes. My sister, Karen, came over earlier in the week and helped them start the processes by picking out cardboard boxes (which I, of course, have a ton of via the business) and cut out head and arm holes. Dema kept changing his mind what he wanted to be which works out well with a cardboard box which can become almost anything. He went from pumpkin to boat to many other things and decided on robot. Parker stuck with helicopter, but while his friends were helping him paint he somehow decided it looked more like a submarine. It really does and now we don't have to figure out the propellers on the top.

So while the painting was going on, I chatted with one of my favorite little guys to talk to (he wasn't painting because he was supervising). We talked about trains and other things, but someone brought up the Great Pumpkin. He said there couldn't be a Great Pumpkin because how did it go around to all the houses. Parker said he walked and the rest of the boys pumpkinwithhat.gif (5169 bytes)said that couldn't happen because it would take too long and then this boy said that the Great Pumpkin couldn't possibly fly because Santa did that already. Then we got into the flight situation and how that was difficult even for Santa and there was no way a pumpkin could manage it without a sleigh and reindeer. I loved how even the kids who knew there is no Santa and didn't believe in the Great Pumpkin were willing to sit there and discuss it in the amazing way young boys discuss things...a little bit of mystic, a little bit of almost adult-like reason, and somethingelse I can't put my finger on, but it makes me feel good. The whole discussion and the way the boys talked about it made me feel like there is just something right in the world. I felt like there would be no wars or problems if we just allowed these kids to sit around painting and working it all out.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tape Worm or Growth Spurt?

The other morning Dema woke up requesting pancakes in such a cute little Dema way that I had to make them. Parker was still sleeping in bed, Josie was asleep tied to me in a carrier, and Rob was biking to work so it was just Dema and me. I love mornings like this where I have some time one on one. Dema helped me make the pancakes and Parker was able to wake up to a warm breakfast.

I doubled the recipe so we could have pancakes the next day, but they ate them all by noon. I don't know for sure how many I made because they love small pancakes and I didn't count, but it was a lot. I had like two and they ate the rest...not in one sitting. Parker ate some pancakes (at least six), oatmeal w/flax seeds, molasses, and frozen peaches on top, a frozen waffle with blueberries (he likes to put a blueberry in each 'hole'), and some mixed frozen berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries). This was just breakfast!

The above picture was maybe half or even a third of the pancakes (along with a syrup dispenser we bought at Art Mart after the farmer's market a few weeks was the only one we could find which is glass and it is cool because you can control the amount of syrup and not make a mess!). The original recipe was from Vegan Family Favorites again, but I modified it a bit so here it is:

Tape Worm Pancakes (okay it needs a better title)

2 1/2 cups of unbleached flour
3 Tablespoons date sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Egg replacer for 2 eggs
2 1/2 cups soy or rice milk
2 Tablespoons Canola oil

There is nothing healthy about these pancakes so I suggest adding flax seed oil to the syrup and/or topping with fresh/frozen berries. Wisk all the dry ingredients together in one bowl and the wet ingredients together (including the egg replacer) in another bowl and then add the wet to the dry and wisk, but not too much or they won't be as fluffy. My kids love for them to be lightly brown and small and my husband doesn't think they are cooked until they are dark and likes them big so cook to please whomever you have to please (I opt to make them after Rob is at work so I can please just the kids and myself).

Parker doesn't really have a tape worm, but he is eating a ton lately, but Dema looks like he is the one putting on weight...don't know how that works. Regardless, I feel like I am constantly cooking and that they are eating around the clock...maybe this is how moms of teenagers feel.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Happy 71st Birthday, Dad!

Happy 71st Birthday Dad! I know we've had our ups and downs through the years, but I'm very thankful for our relationship. I appreciate your quiet, soft-spoken ways, your constant care-giving, your generosity, your attention to detail, your love of nature, your dry humor, your honesty, your patience, and your fierce loyalty. I even appreciate the way you save *everything* and underline people you know in the phone book, your love of maps, and your temper (which I'm pretty sure I inherited). I love the way you treasure handmade gifts from the boys and the way you hold and talk to them when they are infants. I love how you read books to us as children and read to my kids today...reading everything down to the copyright and at the same time you may add comments into the story.

I know we parent very differently, but I always feel like you respect those differences and that means a lot to me. As often is the case, as I became an adult I understood how wise you are and also how fragile...two things which are hard to see as a teenager. I love your "strengths" and "weaknesses" equally, no matter how frustrating they both may be at times. I didn't realize how much I learned from you until I became a parent myself. It was not always easy being your daughter, but I know it was not easy being my parent.

You are one of the most human people I know...always real, always who you get what you see. I am lucky to know you and I love you very much.

Lastly, I love that your insecurity about getting around on the internet may mean that you never read this post.

Happy Birthday

Monday, October 22, 2007

Handling Hunger and Monday Movie Review

Okay, I did it. Everyone told me they were doing it and it was fun and convenient, but I stuck to my morals and said no. Then more people told me about the reasons they were doing it and I thought about it, but still I didn't cave. I wasn't going to do it, but I did it and now I'm glad so there! In reality I had Rob do it which is really like me doing it anyway, but why split hairs?

We signed up for NetFlix. Really, I have a good excuse. First, I didn't want to because I love supporting That's Rentertainment, our local cycling advocate owned rental store. Well, while the selection for pretty much anything (including cycling movies) is great, they are lacking in educational movies for kids. We just supplemented with the library, but even their selection is lacking. Second, it cuts down on trips to the rental store. With cold weather fast approaching it will be nice to curl up for a movie on the computer now and then and not so fun to go biking to the rental place. We won't be giving up our local store, just doing the NetFlix thing too. (I feel like we are so cheating.)

Soooooo, I have two movie reviews for you, neither of which were available locally from non-chain stores.

Monday Movie Review:

Starter for 10
Starter for Ten

This was Rob's pick. I'll tell you a secret, he is a sucker for cute romantic films. He really is much more of a romantic than I am and I think it annoys him that I'm so jaded, but what can I do? We both enjoyed this film and I have to admit it was pretty cute. It had good acting, nice supporting characters, and although it was a little predictable, there were parts which were not formulamatic. I also like characters who are not all "good", "bad", "perfect", but more real and these characters fill that bill. It is nice to smile so much during a movie. It is rated PG-13, but it was pretty tame all in all.

Really Wild Animals: Totally Tropical Rainforest
Really Wild Animals: Totally Tropical Rainforest

Parker (7) really enjoyed this movie and gives it a thumbs up (I was going to have him review it in his own words, but he must play outside with his friends right now). He learned some things from it and both the kids laughed a lot. They wanted to learn more about several animals in the movie so it opened up my performing internet searches and looking up books at the library which I really like in a kid's movie. The kids couldn't stop telling people the facts they learned (like some piranhas are vegetarian!). I could do without some of the jokes, but the Parker likes to repeat the silly jokes too so I won't complain (he is entering his "goofy boy years" and I'm not good with goofy). I think I'll look for more in this series.

Have you ever...

gone to the store leaving your home sick from work husband and bought Edward & Sons Unsalted Plain Brown Rice Snaps, come home, looked in the fridge to find the left-over Chickpea Not Tuna Salad is not there when the only reason you bought the gosh darn Unsalted Plain Brown Rice Snaps was for those specific left-overs and realized you poor sick husband ate it while you were gone so you can't really get upset with him ('cause he is sick and all), but you are crunching on Unsalted Plain Brown Rice Snaps which taste really, well, unsalted and plain at the moment without any Chickpea Not Tuna Salad on them, and find yourself resenting said sick husband anyway? What did you do?

Well, I decided to heck with resentment and the fact that my kitchen was a mess and I was supposed to be cleaning it instead of making more of a mess and made more Chickpea Not Tuna Salad (this time with an added tablespoon of roasted pumpkin seeds which wasn't bad by the way) since the recipe is so simple (especially since I changed it to use only a tablespoon, bowl, and immersion blender) you could make it with one hand holding a baby tied behind your back (she wasn't actually tied behind my back, settle down folks, although I could have freed up my hand and tied her on my back using a wrap, but then she couldn't nurse through the entire thing). Maternal bliss still in tact and divorce discussion avoided.

Thank goodness for paragraph-long sentences which are okay in the blogging world and super duper easy recipes when you are nursing 'round the clock and get hungry at the drop of a nursing bra.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Chickpea Not Tuna Salad and Rob's Risotto

This was originally going to be Yeah That Vegan Shit's recipe Mock Tuna Salad, but I don't think I've ever eaten tuna salad and of course the kids haven't, but they love hummus so I thought I'd change things a bit.

Chickpea Not Tuna Salad


25 oz. can chickpeas
2 Tablespoons Vegenaise (you can add more if it is too dry)
2/3 cup minced celery
4 Tablespoons dill pickle (I think relish would work well too, but might be too sweet)
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
2 green onions, chopped (use the green part as well)
1 Tablespoon tamari (you could use 2 tsp., but I had my tablespoon out and used it)
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (optional...I like to add them for calcium and because they were handy)
pepper to taste

Put it all in a bowl and use an immersion blender until it is the consistency you like. The original called for mashing with a fork, but I had Josie in my arms and the fork thing was not happening. I shredded carrots on top served on Mirabelle's Ciabbata. Parker wanted black olives as well. Parker's addition of olives made me try it on Mirabelle's Olive Rosemary bread, which was very good. Next time I will play with adding roasted pumpkin seeds.

Rob's Risotto

16 oz. Arborio rice
2 medium yellow onions (chopped)
4 cloves garlic (sliced)
4 cups vegetable stock
2 Tablespoons olive oil
28 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 jar/can of tomato paste
1 tsp cumin
2 Tablespoon fresh basil (destemmed and chopped)
1 teaspsoon fresh oregano (destemmed and chopped)
salt and pepper to taste

Last week he made Simple Tomato Risotto from Vegan Family Favorites and it was very Vegan Family Favorites (cookbook)
good if you are in a hurry. This time he did his own thing combing what he learned from the last risotto and reading other recipes.

Heat the stock and chopped tomatoes and simmer. In another pan, heat olive oil and gently saute the onions, garlic, and rice (medium heat or slightly lower as you go). As the rice begins to stick a little (3-5minutes), add a 1/2 cup of tomato/stock liquid to the saute. Stir in well and then stir often until absorbed and add another 1/2 cup of liquid.

When the stock is almost all consumed add the tomato paste, basil, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper to taste. When most of the stock has been added cover to allow more heat build up and cook the rice. After all stock is added cover and allow it to cook 5-10 minutes to get the rice completely cooked.

We had the risotto with sauted kale and garlic and Mirabelle's Ciabbata again. This is a very tasty dish and a nice change from pasta, but I wish it was whole grain instead of white rice, but it wouldn't have the creaminess if a brown rice was used.

Just for fun, here is a picture of Parker and Josie talking.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

It's the Environment, Stupid!

Okay, I've never been a one issue voter, but I guess there is a first time for everything. I keep hearing about this candidate and that one...mostly Ron Paul lately and that is worrisome to me. I don't like his stance on the environment. It is all fine and good about the Constitution, but please people if the whole Earth is pretty much destroyed it won't matter one whit about anything else. Really, it is the issue. Nothing else trumps it this time. Environmental issues cause wars, disease, famine, all sorts of bad juju and it may already be too late to do much about it. We can't afford to not put this at number one right now.
I'm not telling you who to vote for *coKucinichugh*. Look at what the candidates say in their own words. Check out my sidebar and read the interviews.

PS. For those who don't know or may be too young to remember Clinton's campaign (Bill, not Hillary). Their slogan was "It's the Economy, Stupid!". I'm not a fan of calling anyone "stupid". There, I've set the record straight. :-)

Friday, October 19, 2007

You Have But Slumber'd Here

Sleep is something every parent I know talks about. I guess it is because we never seem to get enough or we are always trying to get our children to sleep. Our yoga instructor in Maryland used to say "Enlightenment is eating when you are hungry and sleeping when you are tired." Our three year old, Dema has the second one down.

A picture collage of my wonderful sleeper, Demetrius (partly named for a character in A Midsummer Night's Dream because that was Parker's favorite movie at the time). He falls asleep anywhere and everywhere. Quite often he falls asleep in the swing at the park. He has been known to fall asleep while eating at restaurants (sometimes still holding food and when he wakes up he doesn't loose a beat and will begin eating again). He is one of those children who will come up and say "I am tired and ready to go to bed." and just go or fall asleep wherever he happens to be. Sometimes we get a picture.

Although falling asleep in a carrier is not unusual for most babies/children, I had so many pictures of his dreaming in carriers that I couldn't help but include a few. Dema loved his carriers. I was able to nurse him to sleep and then wrap him in a wrap carrier without waking him up. He would bring me a carrier when he wanted to go to sleep before he could tell me in words that he wanted to sleep.

Although he hated his car seat most of his time as an infant, he would fall asleep. I used to sit in the backseat with him and nurse him with both of us in our seat belts...don't ask me how (no pictures of that thank goodness).

I bought a butterfly chair when Parker was little just because I thought it would be a hammock like feeling for little ones to sleep in. So far all three of them have slept in it when they wouldn't sleep anywhere else except with me in the carrier.

We have many pictures of Dema sleeping in the bike trailer. Taking him on a trip via bike was a sure fire way for him to get some sleep. Most of the time he has his favorite pillow, Parker.

When we lived at our old house, Dema went to the bathroom while I was cooking and I went to see why he had been so long and was so quiet (silence is usually a sign of trouble when it comes to kids). I found Dema had fallen asleep!

He has fallen asleep under the dining room table a couple times. I think this is his way of combining his two favorite activities; eating and sleeping.

I guess I'm just pushing him a little too hard during home schooling or maybe I'm too boring. I know I almost fell asleep at my desk in school a couple times. :-) Actually, the boys like to draw at their desks before going to sleep and the other night Dema didn't transition into the bed.

Dema talks a little in his sleep at times and will wake telling us about his dreams and other people's dreams. I'm not sure how he manages the second.

We do actually have six beds in our house (counting two futons which are couches or beds depending on our mood/need) for those of you worried that he doesn't have a "normal" place to get some rest. Now I'm off to use one of them.

Sweet dreams.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Scrumptious Layered Potato Casserole and Revolutionary Product Picks

I finally bought a little potty for Josie Friday to aid in EC-ing (Elimination Communication). I always prefer to just use the real toilet (less clean up), but I thought this would help at night. I either take her to the bathroom or change her diaper four times a night. I did this with the boys and they were done peeing at night by six months. Josie tried it out soon after arriving home. Dema was so excited and asked if he could go dump it for me. It was just pee so I said sure and he was so happy to help out and that Josie was going in her new little potty which he picked out. It takes so little to make him happy. Both boys love the color of the potty and are very into helping me EC Josie. She doesn't actually like to touch the potty so I have to hold her above it and it is a little awkward so I don't let them do this part.

Rob and the boys made Scrumptious Layered Potato Casserole from Vegan Family Favorites Saturday night. He used red onions and cut back on it quite a bit and I think it was perfect. We like onions, but he was running out of room in the casserole dish. The recipe called for vegan ground round crumbles and we used up some in our freezer. Several veg*n friends of ours have moved and they give us their perishable food so the crumbles were from a move. They added a nice texture, but it would have been fine without or better with seitan. This would be a great dish for meat-eating friends or satisfying meal on a cold day. It was also a great recipe for the boys to help with. The slicing and then layering was a lot of fun for them. Today the boys had some of their non-veg neighborhood friends over for a picnic and they ate left of Vegan Bake Ziti, Scrumptious Layered Potato Casserole, apples, and Weetabix (more about this later in the post under Parker's product picks) with Sunbutter and jelly.

This morning we had scrambled tofu (tofu, mushrooms, onions, sweet peppers, spices), oatmeal w/flax seeds, blackstrap molasses, and apples, and hash browns w/homemade ketchup (there is only one place in town where I can find the unsweetened ketchup we like and I keep forgetting to pick some up so Rob through together tomato paste, a pinch of sugar and salt...the kids couldn't tell the difference). We are in a little weekend breakfast rut. My goal this week is to plan out new menus. I'm not a big cereal fan (most of them are lacking in nutrients and processed so I prefer oatmeal, but there is only so much oatmeal one can eat) and I end up eating leftovers for breakfast quite often.

Parker lost another tooth yesterday. It was very loose and as is consistent with his personality, he tends to take his time loosing teeth (they can be loose for months) and for some reason the other top tooth is taking its own sweet time coming in as well. So, here he is missing his two top front teeth and may be wishing for them at Christmas since there is no new tooth in sight. He came in from playing to give me the tooth. He was all excited because his friend down the street "helped" him loose it by accidentally knocking his leg into Parker's mouth. I didn't ask since there was no blood and he was happy. Friends for seven year old boys will be a subject for another post.

Parker's Product Picks:


As I mentioned before, when our veg friends leave town we inherit some food. Parker and Dema love our friends Mike and Alison so they were excited to try any foods they left for us. Weetabix is one of these foods and I'm pretty sure they would never have been interested in them if it wasn't "Mike and Alison's food". (I'm guessing Weetabix was mostly Mike's since he grew up eating it in Ireland.) Now they are hooked. For those of you who haven't tried them, it comes in these little bricks (I think they call them "biscuits") which may be half the allure. Their favorite way to eat them is with some nut butter and jelly, but they will crumble them in soy yogurt, eat as cereal, or just plain.

Uncle Sam Cereal with Mixed Berries

Ironically, looking for Wheetabix (from the UK) led Parker to notice "Uncle Sam Cereal" which is not something I would even think to buy. I looked at the ingredients and said okay. He loves it with organic mixed frozen fruit, but I find it to taste way to flaxy for me. I love flax seeds (ground and oil), but this has too strong a taste for me, but Parker asks for more. Most cereals have whole flax seeds and this may be the case since it lists whole flax seeds on the ingredients, but I couldn't see them and the taste makes me believe the seeds may be ground. I found it interesting that I had never heard of this cereal before since it has been around 100 years.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fall is Here and It Just Aint Hempenin'

We blew off the Saturday morning Farmer's Market today for several reasons. One being we were all too cold to get out of bed. I know I complained about the heat and Rob said I would complain about the cold too...I said "no way", but here I am. I guess a few weeks of fall-ish 70 degree weather is too much to ask out of good old Illinois. We refuse to turn on our heat this early (even if we did it wouldn't quite kick on because it is a tad over the 55 degrees we keep it at in the winter). So we all ended up in the king size bed this morning keeping each other warm and chatting...this is the upside to cold weather for me.

Our friend Todd's mother is so thoughtful and sent Josie this adorable sweater and blanket she knitted for her. Josie will get so much use out of it and she is snuggly warm today. Todd's mom sent a blue one to Dema when he was born. It is so nice of her and really touched me. My mother was knitting a blanket for Parker (he was two) when she died and I had hoped to have it finished and give it to Dema when I found out I was pregnant. My father had other plans for it and had given it away to Crisis Nursery (a great non-profit organization which my mother supported). It still breaks my heart, but Todd's mother's sweet gift helped me heal. I don't think she'll ever realize how much her knitted gifts mean to me. I am so thankful for the many people in our lives who fill the "grandmother void" for our children since both Rob's mother and my mother have passed.

The other upside to the cold weather is it makes me feel like cooking...if nothing else it heats up the house.

I had leftover pasta and FYH vegan cheese so I made two smaller casserole dishes of Vegan Baked Ziti. I used jarred sauce again (this time Muir Glen Portabello Mushroom) and I really need to make my own sauce, but it was fine. The last 10 minutes of baking the oven was turned up to 450 degrees so it got a little more crusty (which is nice) and I liked having it in two smaller dishes instead of one big dish. We have potatoes, kale, pumpkin, and squash to use this weekend so more food pictures later.

Product Review: Nutiva® HempShake™ - Chocolate

I wasHemp Shake Chocolate, 16oz. shopping the other day and couldn't find our favorite hemp milk and I noticed this product and had an impulse buy. I thought the boys might like it since they like the hemp milk so well. I poured a tall glass of rice milk when we got home since they were in such a hurry to try drink from both of them and I was left to down the rest. It isn't bad tasting, but it doesn't dissolve no matter how much you stir so it has a grainy, gritty texture (nothing like the picture on the container Parker pointed out...another lesson in advertising and packaging). I'll drink the rest myself (hoping it is really good for me because that would be the only reason to consume it...that and the price), but I don't think I'll buy it again.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Compare Your Car to a Hybrid

Interesting calculator to see how your car compares to the available hybrid cars. Of course, your bike can't be beat, but this is handy to see how driving a hybrid would change your ecological footprint.

We have an issue with our car (a Subaru). Originally, we were wanting to go completely carless and still strive for this, but now we are looking for a vehicle which is gentler to the environment and can fit three car seats in the back. If anyone has a recommendation, we are open.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Vegan Baked Ziti or Not

I know what you are thinking (all 6 of you readers out there), where is the food already???? Linda never cooks anything, I'm pretty sure she eats, but where are the pictures of food? She talks about going out and things Rob makes (that saint of a husband since she is obviously sitting on her lazy vegan a** blogging all day while he's off at work making the money and then comes home to filthy house and whips something together for that poor family to eat)...but, what does she cook??? The non-vegans reading the post are smugly saying to themselves..see I knew being a vegan is hard work or see all vegans are lame or something similar and laughing a wicked little laugh.

Actually, I know you all (6 of you) weren't thinking about me, but while I form blog entries (most of which never reach the computer) in my head while hanging the laundry out to dry, I fantasize about an adoring blog public just waiting for my next post and hoping for some vegan porn (pictures of yummy vegan food...get your mind out of the gutter!). I like to see pictures of food on the blogs I frequent and I'm sure I'm not alone.

Rob doesn't understand why just pictures of food and not pictures of people eating the food. I've tried to explain that people eating food is not so attractive and possibly unappetizing. I mean do your cookbooks have pictures of food or pictures of people eating the food? I have to admit that at times I find watching people eat almost disgusting. (I realize after this confession we are unlikely to have many dinner guests except our invitation or when you do, you will slyly hide your chewing behind a napkin.) I guess that would be reason #653 why we haven't opened a vegan restaurant. It would be like opening a shoe store when feet give you the heebie jeebies. Of course, I still WANT to open a vegan restaurant because I want to eat there and hang out (which is reason #1-#7865 for opening a vegan restaurant) and no one else is opening one here. If they did, I would be kicking myself (or more likely Rob) for not opening it myself. Not that it is his fault mind you (don't tell him that because I'm always saying he is squelching my dream), he is pretty supportive of anything I want to do. He supports the business I already have, Tribal Life, even when I take any possible profit and buy more inventory with it so the best I can ever hope for is to break even. I keep telling him it is not about the money, but he says should try for non-profit status then since business needs to be at least a little about the
money. I tell him it is about meeting amazing, cool, people, and hooking up said people with products they can believe in or hooking up small businesses with customers who are amazing and cool. This is again why a restaurant would be nice because I could just hang with amazing and cool people all day...oh yeah and cook some food, do the books, yadda, yadda, but how hard could that be?? So then he reminds me that I have a bunch of amazing and cool friends (many of them customers) who I could spend time with if I wasn't so busy with my business. Whoa...hmm, he might have a point there, but I'm putting my hands over my ears and not listening while I search the world for fairly-made, vegan, environmentally-friendly products which are actually useful and don't cost a month's salary.

Where the heck was I?

Still no food pictures today, but let me explain. I did intend to cook something this afternoon (besides the normal lunch I made for the kids...please, I am not THAT lame). Last night my saint of a husband mentioned that he would like some vegan baked ziti. Sure, I can do problem, I'll just surprise him tonight with some Vegan Baked Ziti. So, I took all three kids out to the local health food store, stuck Josie in the Hug-a-Bub while she slept and still heard how I didn't dress her warm enough in this 60 something degree weather, spent over $200 on groceries (it has been a while since I've been there), and realized my 3 year old has become an expert in sneaking things into the cart while I'm not looking (maybe that accounts for the large bill). I came home and nursed my little girl while the boys helped unpack the bags (all reusable ones, of course, although it didn't keep the cashierACME Bags EarthTote™ - Heavy Duty Reusable Shopping Bag - Blackfrom asking "paper or plastic?) and put things away. Running like clockwork, I am supermom, I am so together...I am only trying to cook dinner and everyone else does this every day without an issue...shut up, I am making something new for my sweet husband and it will taste great.

Then an hour of nursing, changing cloth diapers, nursing, changing cloth diapers, hanging up clean cloth diapers on the line at the same time my little baby is wetting in a cloth diaper so I'm already do thing start to get so out of control??? I made lunch for the kids, not as complete as I was hoping, but a couple vegetables, a couple fruits, beans, and a grain so not terrible. The entire time I'm carrying Josie in a carrier or trying to get her to sleep in her bouncy seat. If she would just sleep in the bouncy seat, I could put the ziti all together and then just bake it when I know what time Rob will be home. No problem. Wait, she will NOT fall asleep unless she is somehow attached to my body. Then I get her really close and I hear my sweet little Dema in the bathroom saying "I'm doing a good job of wiping mom." Hmm, better see what is going on in there. Poop and toilet paper everywhere. Okay, Parker go make Josie happy in the bouncy seat while I get your brother in the bath. No, I'm not mad at you Dema, you did a great job, but next time it is okay to ask for help. Ugh! Why does so much of parenting involve putting things in their body and then cleaning up what comes out of their body?

Okay, finally, everyone is clean and Josie is asleep in the bouncy seat in the kitchen so I can finally look through my recipe books and put together this easy baked ziti from different sources (sauce here, vegan ricotta there). I realize I haven't eaten so I eat some of the kid's pasta while I flip through the cookbooks. Wait, I can't feel the kids pasta tonight since they had it for lunch. What else could I make. I look around at the full sink of dishes, the sleeping, baby, the $200 of groceries which need to be made into something and I decide I should do laundry instead, Josie wakes up and I nurse at the keyboard lamenting my planned dinner and think of something I can throw together last minute.

Why did I not inherit that gene from my mother which allowed her to stay up until 3am working on stuff for some worthwhile organization or typing up one of the kid's papers for school and still feed us three meals a day, clean the house, attend several meetings, grocery shop, etc.?

PS. I did go ahead and make the %$*(#! Vegan Baked Ziti in my lame, last minute way after blogging about it made me feel bad enough to get up and try again.

Make vegan ricotta from your recipe of choice (I chose one from my favorite Italian cookbook, Nonna's Italian Kitchen by Bryanna Clark Grogan, and doubled it)
Boil whole wheat Bionaturae rigatoni pasta for 10 minutes (should have been a little less)
Warm up jarred pasta of your choice (I chose Garden Vegetable Pasta Sauce)
Garden Vegetable Pasta Sauce
Slap a little Earth Balance on a glass casserole dish.
Put some vegan ricotta on the bottom of the dish.
Mix the rest of the vegan ricotta with the sauce.
Layer the pasta and sauce in the dish until full.
Sprinkle some vegan parm (I prefer to make my own, but ran out of time so used the canned stuff which I would leave out or use just nutritional yeast instead).
Shred some FYH (Follow Your Heart) vegan cheese on top (I used Monterey Jack just because)

Cook at 420degrees (if your oven is messed up like mine...400 for normal people) for 15 -25 minutes (depending on if you want it to get kind of crusty like Rob likes it).

I would make my own sauce next time and use less sauce (I was planning on making two dishes full, but didn't). I will make this again. I'd have broccoli as a side and we needed some olive rosemary bread from Mirabelle (our local bakery), but it worked for dinner and Rob has lunch tomorrow (already packed in To-Go Ware with a salad on top and the ziti on the bottom).