Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Monster Food

Traditional Tuesdays
Whole wheat pasta, eggplant and green beans chopped small in my Vitamix, garlic, salt, and fresh basil, oregano and thyme. I told Chili this was Monster food, and that monsters like it because it has lots of vitamins to make them strong and healthy ;) She ate it all!
Check out more Traditional Tuesdays recipes here

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Interesting New Flora

What we refer to as the "snake tree." Some cool spikeys.

We call this the "swamp monster tree."

These we call "naked trees" due to their apparent lack of bark.

Some more spikes. Palm trees are so cool!

Just a few images from our morning walks. We are enjoying the novelty of all these new things!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Repurposing Project #8: Pillowcase dress

What a personality! She certainly has some spunk! Here is Chili's dress from the same sarong skirt. Now I just have to do some adjustments so that it will stay tied and in place - 3 year olds are always on the move! Stay tuned, Nena may get one too...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Good Anytime Meal: Potatoes with veggies

Traditional Tuesdays Chili likes a little smile to start off the day. She thinks everything is better with ketchup :)

This is a common breakfast meal (and sometimes my lunch if there's leftovers). The ingredients are pretty basic, you might have most of them in your fridge, and if you don't, be creative! You can't go wrong with potatoes. Onion, carrot, yellow pepper, and yellow squash blended small in a blender or food processor, or simply cut up. I find that if they are smaller they are less noticable to fussy eaters. It seems more like a sauce, and less like veggies. Some oil, some garlic, and salt and sometimes cumin, and of course potatoes, that I cut pretty small(I add a little cayenne or fresh ground black pepper to mine, but Chili won't eat that, sounds ironic, doesn't it). I added a bit of water to clean the blender and added that to the pan. I have found that it sticks less on my stainless steel pans if I use a little liquid. Cover and cook until done, stirring and testing throughout the cooking. It's done when the fork goes into the potato easily (but you probably already knew that, right :) Switch out one of the ingredients for an instant variation, or swap a spice for a different flavor. Last time I added a little piece of fresh oregano from the garden. Easy, delicious, and healthy!

See more great recipes at Traditional Tuesday blog carnival.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Repurposing Project #7: Skirt

A sarong skirt from a garage sale, cut and added pleats, attached to the band of a pair of maternity pants. Very comfy, and very cool in hot weather. It was pretty much free, except for the 2 needles I broke on the sewing machine making it. Lesson learned: Beware of the metal buttons on the front of a pair of jeans! To come, Chili's matching dress...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Nightime visitors

Look who I found in the backyard when I went to take out the garbage!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Repurposing Project #6: Bread Bags

Made from curtains I got at a garage sale. These were "something to remember me by" gifts for my two besties before I moved...I am wondering if there's enough fabric left to make one for me.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Beef and Brocoli with Chinese Vinegrette

This recipe was so delicious and relatively simple (as far as cooking from scratch goes). Roast from the crock pot(shredded), carrots and onion grated in my blender, fresh garlic, grated ginger, and brocoli. Cook onion, garlic, carrots, and brocoli, and ginger until done. As far as seasonings go I added salt, red pepper flakes, a little sesame oil, and rice vinegar, and a pinch of sugar. (I didn't put the vinegar or oil on until the end.) I served it over brown Jasmin rice, and yum! We will DEFINATELY be having this again.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Raising Bilingual Kids - The Challenges

Raising bilingual kids is no easy feat! I have to admit that since pregnancy with Nena, the amount I speak Spanish has gone down. Sometimes my plate is so full, or my patience is so low, that the first thing that comes out of my mouth is English. I have to constantly remind myself to speak Spanish. Then there is the fact that Chili watches shows on Netflix a little every night, in English. I wish they would put some kids' programs in Spanish on there! So now she is talking increasing amounts of English(ok, almost exclusively English), although she understands 100% of what I say in Spanish. I am hoping with the move that she will be exposed to a little more Spanish. We continue to try every day to increase language exposure with the goal of acheiving fluency in both languages. Poco a poco...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


That's right! We are on the move again. This time out of state. Finally, we are headed to someplace warmer. We are excited for new opportunities and can't wait to get started! I'm excited for the extended gardening season, but I don't know if I will have a place to garden our first year.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Two Beauties

Aren't they precious??!!!

Saturday, March 26, 2011


1 lb ground beef
1/2 shredded cabbage
shredded carrot
mung bean sprouts(optional)

Put in pan, ground beef and onion first, then carrot, ginger, and cabbage and sprouts towards the end so they are only partially cooked. Put mix in egg roll wrappers. Fry in sesame oil. Yum!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cool Cowl

To start with, the word cowl isn't at all appealing to me. Doesn't sound fun, sophisticated, or like anything I would want to put around my neck. But I was inspired by this, and went to the store in search of yarn. I fell in love with this yarn. The color is vibrant and it is a wool/silk blend that is incredibly soft. It was different than the yarn in the pattern I saw, which was probably all the better since the weather is turning warmer anyway. I cast on 60 stitches using size 7 yarn and size 15 needles. Then I knit until I ran out of yarn. This is my result.

Friday, March 11, 2011

CT scan results

Here is just a quick summary of what the CT scan showed. The specialist said that it was not a pulmonary sequestration although there is some sort of abnormality in the lungs. The CT scan shows some enlarged bronchials and some cells that appear black on the CT scan so there is also something not normal about them. The specialist said he didn't have a name for this abnormality as it is not something common. The only way to "fix" something like this would be to take it out, and to do that, he would have to take out the whole lower left lobe of the lung, but considering that it has not caused any difficulties for Nena yet, that option seemed a little drastic in his opinion. Should it cause pneumonia, he would be concerned that there would be some lung scarring, possibly damaging other areas of the lung. If she would have several cases of pneumonia, we would probably have to take it out. If she continues healthy like she has been so far, and has no signs of development on follow-up X-rays then we would probably leave it alone. So it sounds like good news. Although part of me would like to have a permanent solution and know that she's "fixed," it's also good to be able to avoid surgery for the moment.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chocolate Bean Cake

3 eggs

1/2 c sucanat (or sugar)

1/3 c butter (I used coconut oil instead, I'm sure canola or even olive oil would work too)

3 T cacao powder (or cocoa powder)

1 tsp baking powder

a little salt

1 1/2 c cooked garbanzo, White Northern, or black beans

or 1 can (make sure to rinse and drain them)

put ingredients in food processor or Vitamix blender (wet ingredients on the bottom if you are doing it in the Vitamix), blend until smooth, grease pan, I put it in on 350 for 35 minutes in what I think is an 8 X 8 inch glass pan, top with powdered sugar

It was good. It didn't taste like beans. It has a slightly different texture than if you would have used flour, but I didn't dislike it, just different. It reminded me of brownies.

Friday, February 18, 2011

What? Did you seriously just say that?

From a fast food bag, "Our Secret is No Secret. Why does ********'s food taste so good? Because we make it the way you would. With 100% beef. White meat chicken. Farm fresh produce. From some of the most trusted brands in America."

And the chicken says, "An Excellent Source of Happiness."

WHAT??? There are just so many things wrong with this. I don't even know where to start. First, the idea of marketing fast food as healthy baffles me. Second, they make it the way I would??? um, sorry but no. And selling happiness, I don't think so.

Maybe it should read:

Why does ******'s food taste so good? Because we are careful to make sure it doesn't even resemble real food. We put all kinds of artificial flavors and preservatives. With beef from food lots where cows are walking knee deep in manure, fed food that is not part of their natural diet, crowded into cramped quarters, and pumped full of antibiotics so they won't be sick. With chickens who are bred to have breasts so big they can't even walk, much less forage for food like chickens are supposed to. With produce covered in pesticides and shipped from who knows how many miles away.

But then, who would buy that?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Repurposing Project #5: Tissues

So, I had a ton of receiving blankets, and I figured they might as well be put to good use. It occurred to me that they might as well be cut up and made into tissues since that's what they get used for here most of the time. I like that they are much softer than other alternatives for a little nose that is suffering a cold(or mine for that matter) and that they can be washed and reused. Other than the idea, I can't take much credit for this project. It was my sister-in-law who did most of the serging while I cut threads (yeah, impressive I know). So a big round-of-applause for my sister-in-law for hooking me up with some pretty nifty tissues!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Repurpsing Project #4: Backpack

This was one of Chili's Christmas presents, just never got around to posting. I used some leftover fabric that I was going to make into a dress (but THAT never happened. If you are a crafter/sewer/knitter you probably know about those projects.) and part of an old mattress pad that doesn't fit anyone's bed (used to have a bed that fit it, but no more). It's not anything fancy, but she has a good time playing with it. It needs some sort of closure, but I haven't decided what would be best, and so it is eternally propped open.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Thoughts: How Can We Make a Difference?

Although I am not real convinced that my voice has clout with politicians, I am convinced that my money does have power. Where I choose to spend it, and whom I support with those choices does send a message and make an impact no matter how small...but what if another 100 families in my city made similar choices? What if thousands all over the country did the same? How many people would it take to make a change in our current food system? I don't know. Maybe my changes are only a drop in the bucket, but I can be sure that the changes we are making help align our family values with our food choices.

In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle it states that if every U.S. citizen ate one meal from local, organic ingredients we would save 1.1 million BARRELS of oil every WEEK. That sounds like a lot to me. And that's only a start. What if everyone ate mostly locally??? Doesn't that make you think?

Currently in our country we farm 1.2 acres/person in our country. Based on predictions for 2050 we will only have about .6 acres/person...so change is coming. Maybe we won't have room to farm corn for the corn syrup for the 219 gallons of soda/person we drink in this country? It is possible to have enough food/person. Barbara Kingsolver calculated that their food footprint for their whole family was about 1 acre (this includes their own produce, animals, farmer's market produce, grain, and dairy). And they ate for about $.50/family member/meal! So the question is will we change when we are forced to, or will we be proactive and be part of positive change.

Here are some things you can do (if you aren't doing them already):
1-grow as much of your own food as possible
2-store and preserve(freeze, can, etc) as much our your own food as possible
3-buy as much of your food as possible at the farmer's market
4-use a food coop to buy large quantities of things like grains
5-for the rest of what you buy, look for products with the fewest ingredients and least processing(the more ingredients, the more things had to be shipped to the factory just to make the product)Example: if you have the choice between a box of cereal and a tub of oatmeal, the oatmeal has the least ingredients and least processing
6-Find local sources (farmers) for beef, chicken, pork, eggs, etc.

Maybe your family isn't ready to embark on the same journey that Barbara and her family did. Mine isn't. But we are committed to making changes, small changes over time that we can stick with. I hope you will think about what changes your family can implement.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Animal, Vegetable Miracle Thoughts: Bacteria and Dirt

Bacteria. Yuck, right? Make you sick, right? Except for the good ones. Strains that can be helpful. But have you ever noticed? We don't call them that. Bacteria, I mean. We call them cultures, or probiotics, or whatever else, just not bacteria. Somehow I don't think Activia would sell quite as much if they used "Good ole bacteria in every bite" as their slogan. And what about those commercials showing all the bacteria in your mouth. Better get yourself some good toothpaste to kill them off.

Dirt. Yuck. Nobody wants that in their house. Get it out. Out! And certainly don't get it on your clothes or put your hands in it. What? Food comes out of that? Certainly we can't eat that. It's DIRTY! Better buy your food from the grocery store where they sell clean food.

:) Just saying, we have some conceptions in our culture that we are going to have to change if we are going to eat locally and healthfully. If we are going to get a new generation of youth interested in gardening and where their foods comes from, we are going to have to get over the yuckiness of digging in the dirt. Especially if their parents aren't introducing them to those experiences at home. We are going to have to recognize the interconnectedness and balance of each organism in our environment, even bacteria and dirt.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Thoughts: Kids in the Garden

So, if we will be forced to change how and where we get our food as the amount of fossil fuels we had dwindles, that means my life, but even more so my daughters' lives will be affected by this. They will have to eat differently. Which makes me think: How will we help them do this? What knowledge will we share with them? They will need knowledge about agriculture. About how things grow and how they can grow them. They are not (in the current system) going to get that in school.

Carla Madigan writes, in the book The Backyard Homestead, about this lifestyle being "...a way to pass along to your own children skills for self-sufficiency and to create in their minds the memory of time spent doing something practical and fun with the people they love. It's amazing to me that I can still remember so much of my food life from when I was a child. Something from those days must have stuck with me, because I've become a person who gardens, forages, bakes, makes cheese, and puts up fruits and vegetables, much like my parents did."

Yes, that is the hope that I have for my daughters. That they would have positive memories of times shared as a family and skills they can use in the future. That they would also see value in resourcefulness, frugality, the flavors of homemade food, and being good stewards of this Earth.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Thoughts: The Future of Food

After listening to the audio book of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, there are a lot of thoughts floating around in my head. These next few blog entries will be an attempt to organize those thoughts and hopefully, urge you to think too. :)

In her book, Barbara talks about how farmers are barely making a living while the rest of us play make believe about the important part being the grocery store. For us, that's the focus, isn't it? Going to the store to pick up food. Rarely stopping to ask where it comes from or how it is grown. In grocery store sales, so little goes to the farmer who actually grew the food, making it almost impossible for farmers to make ends meet, and turning over the responsibility of growing our food to ever larger companies. Companies who have little connection with the land that they work and no relationship to the community where the food is sold. Is that where I want my money to go?

My kids are growing up in a generation that is the first that statistically will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents and in a time where the government advocates that kids eat fruit and vegetables while giving subsidies to commodity crops that get turned into junk (aka high fructose corn syrup).

Everyday we use millions of barrels of fossil fuel to ship food from halfway across the country. We are going to run out of them eventually, depending on fossil fuels to get our food is not something we will we able to continue to do. Produce from Texas and California will someday be a thing of the past.

So we start thinking of doing things different, which usually in our minds equals what we will have to give up(soda, processed food, etc). This book gives new perspective to eating locally. What I can't eat...No, eating is about comfort, nourishment, and delicious smells. We should enjoy it. But restraint=indulgence. When we wait for the season, we taste things that are the freshest and at the peak of their flavor. We shouldn't settle for tastless tomatoes in December, but change our meal plans to accomodate what's in season, and learn to store things to have them out of season. Also, when we eat things that are homemade instead of processed and shipped, we enjoy a superior product!

Additionally, the varieties of fruits and vegetables companies pick, are usually just a few varieties chosen because they look nice on shelves, keep a long time, or transport easily. But relying on just a few varieties makes us more suseptable to pests, disease, and famine. Variety is mother nature's way of ensuring the survival of a species. Using just one variety goes against the evolutionary change necessary for survival.

So, will we allow companies to control the quality of the product we receive? Will we allow them to be in control of the seeds? Will we start to make changes in our food system now, or wait until fossil fuels run out and we are forced to make them? I, for one, will not.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

La vaca Lola

Thinking about cows today. We went to pick up a fourth of a cow from the meat locker from a local farmer. Mostly grass fed, but finished on some oats. Excited to have the freezer stocked up with local, natural meat! Chickens and beef! Won't hardly ever have to buy any meat at the store!

However, this is what Chili was thinking about. She's also had cows on the brain. There's a couple of kid songs on Youtube that she's been watching. This is what she thought we were going to get today. I think she was kinda bummed. La vaca Lola seems a little more fun.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fermented Ginger Carrots

My first experience with fermented veggies. And YUM, I will be making these again, as well as trying out some other kinds of ferments.
I used:
2 c of grated carrots, tightly packed
1/2 T of freshly grated ginger
1 T sea salt
Mix all ingredients, and press or pound to release the juices. Put in a mason jar, and press until the juices cover the carrots. Leave at least an inch at the top of the jar. Cover tightly, and leave at room temp for about 3 days. Then put in cold storage or the top shelf of the fridge. I have especially liked eating them with black beans and eggs. They have greatly improved my digestion of beans ;)