Friday, May 31, 2013

Recipe Friday: Recipe Overload

Instead of giving you a recipe this Friday, I'm going to give you a fishing pole.  You know the saying, "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish, feed him for life."  So here's your fishing lesson,  Weelicious.  My mom mentioned this site to me a long time ago and it wan't until just a few days ago that I got a chance to really look at it.  It's pretty cool!  The thought behind it is feeding your kids healthy, fun food, but it's great for adults too.  The link I gave you is too all her recipes, but you can also sign up for the recipes to be sent to you weekly, like I did.  Pretty cool!  She has videos to show you how to make things and some good ideas to mix up your every day items too.  (Using a melon baller to make watermelon balls (my kids loved these and Ellie had fun making them.) and using a vegetable peeler to make carrot "ribbons") Check it out!  I'm excited to try a lot of them.

**Vegetarians--this is not a Veg site!  There are some recipes that can be adapted or are meatless, but it's not totally a meatless resource--sorry!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

When Chopping Onion, Just Chop Onions

I've been reading Michael Pollan's newest book, Cooked.  I really love it, like I thought I would.  It's not as addicting as the novels I've been reading, but I'm really enjoying it.  I love his writing style.  Just like in Omnivore's Dilemma, he goes into details that most books just gloss over.  I like that.  It give his writing more authenticity than other "green" writers.  I just finished the section on "Water" in which he explores cooking in pots.  Of the 4 topics he covers (Fire, Water, Air and Earth) I think most people identify the water portion with "cooking".   This part covers stews, braises, soups, anything that cooks in a pot.  It was interesting to learn that almost all cuisines use onions in their cooking.  (Think about it...can you think of one that doesn't use onions? I can't!)  I learned that onions make you cry because of a chemical reaction (which he describes in detail--thank you Mr Pollan) designed to protect the onion from pests that want to eat it.  The onion also protects us.  Well, not me, but you, meat-eaters.  There's an antimicrobial compound in onions that actually makes the meat safer to eat!  These compounds survive cooking and protect us from the growth of bacteria on the meat.  Interesting, right?  An evolutionary predisposition to like meat and onions?  Maybe.  Not as addicting but WAY more enlightening than a novel.  Take THAT Nicholas Sparks!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Recipe Friday: Pineapple How To

Since this weekend is Memorial Day, and my job is to bring the fruit to our Memorial Day celebration, I thought I'd share how I peel and core a fresh pineapple.  Until I actually attempted it, I was always very intimidated by pineapple.  It's prickly and that skin is so tough, but it's SUPER easy to do, and fast, once you know how to do it.  There's just no comparison between a fresh pineapple and canned, or even the pre-cored ones you get in the produce department.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Prepping for Summer

I love summer!  I know some moms count down the last few days of school with dread, but I'm really looking forward to it. No more packing lunches, doing homework, sorting through backpack papers, running for the bus, missing the bus and driving them to school, fighting with Ellie about wearing socks since summer=flip flops, and most importantly, no Caden "focus pill".  I'm going to use these 3 months off to fatten that kid up!  Fresh summer produce should make that a snap!  

Of course summer also means I have 4 kids of various ages, abilities and interests to entertain all day.  We all love the pool, but it does rain and even get too for for the pool some days.  Plus, Olivia's still a little young to be out in the sun ALL DAY.  Enter the blue box.  I created this two years ago when Vince was still a baby.  I took a pack of note cards, a marker and a blue plastic index card holder and answered the question "what can I do?"  100 times.  On each card I wrote an activity, some for inside some for out, some focused on Ellie some on Caden, some geared for independent play and some needing some adult supervision.  I know 100 activities sounds like a lot, but just going around the house and naming some toys that don't get as much attention was good for at least 10.  The thing I committed to was stopping what I was doing when an adult supervision card was pulled. If they pull painting, I have to let them paint.  I like this because it forces me to do those messier projects that I usually put off until "later".  They have a 3 card limit, which means if Caden pulls play with Barbie pool, he has 2 more picks.  That keeps them from wasting a hour pulling cards and rejecting each one.  
This year I will have to update a lot of the activities I had in he old cards now that the kids are so much older, but I'm hoping some of them will still work. 

4 more days and we'll try them out!  Until then, back to packing lunches!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Raised Bed: Step One Complete!

For months now I've been talking about the raised bed I'm going to get.  I know you think it's probably just a hippie imaginary friend, but yesterday Mike-From-The-Office came over and built it!  I have pictures!  It's REAL!
Raised Bed from afar
My dad talked me into getting something smaller than I was originally thinking so that I could reach across the bed from both sides without walking in it, which was a good thought.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

It Started As A Good Idea...

I was driving home from the Y and noticed that someone had used a parlor palm in their flower bed.  "I have a parlor palm that's too big for my living room!  I can put it outside!"  And that's how it started.   I took said palm outside and put it in the middle of the window flower bed--it was too big for the space and just didn't quite look right with my other plants.  So back in it went.  When I was inside I noticed a sad looking philodendron that's getting beaten up in the kitchen.  I had it's partner on the front step two years ago and it did really well, until I left it out there well into the fall and the frost got it.  I thought maybe it would work in that front window.  It is mostly shade, but gets some direct sun in the late afternoon.  I put it out there, threw two old pots that I used to have bigger indoor plants in and it looked great!  I had found a way to repurpose some old pots AND I thought my philodendron would get a little more TLC outside than it was in the corner in my kitchen.

The front window bed that I need to fill

Monday, May 20, 2013

My Garden is In!!!

I did it!  My garden is planted!!  First, let me say how super happy I was with Dumont's Seed Company!  They had a great selection of plants and I got more veggies than I was planning to get.   My raised bed is still on the way so I had to show some restraint and save some things to put in there.  I did take the kids, which of course, did not turn out like I had envisioned.  Caden walked around complaining and playing his iPod.  Vince was tired and being ornery and climbing on bags of cow manure, of all things!  Ellie was SUPER into picking things out, which was almost a problem.  She was also really into pulling the wagon but isn't a very good driver (beware Canton drivers- February 2023).  It wasn't a smooth trip, but at least they were part of the selection process, even unwillingly. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Recipe Friday: Marinade

It's grilling season!  I love grilling because I don't do it, it leaves very few dishes to wash and it doesn't heat up the kitchen like the oven or a boiling pot.  Did I mention I don't do it?  That's what I like best.  Evan loves marinated chicken breasts, but only in italian dressing.  When I ate meat, I LOVED this marinade that I got from The Bride and Groom Cookbook.  This one works for chicken and fish, but also veggies.  I recently had Evan grill some eggplant "steaks" which were just slices of eggplant (I made a note to take off the skin next time) and I really like kabobs.  They're really versatile and they're an easy way to adapt a meat dish to meatless with little hassle.  I'm sure the fact that I'm blogging about cooking over a fire has nothing to do with the fact that I just finished the first part, Fire,  of Michael Pollan's book, Cooked.  Don't be surprised if next week you get something Water.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Seeds are In!

On Mother's Day my step-father-in-law tested out his new tiller in my garden.  Yesterday I planted green onions, lettuce, more kale (last years crop came back up), carrots (I got a sweet variety, hopefully they're not as bitter as last year's) and the herbs my mom got me at the nursery.  Tomorrow I plan to take a trip to Lowe's and get some plants and a trellis for my peas.  As you can imagine, I'm super excited!  I keep asking the kids what they want to plant, but I get things like "apple tree" and "date tree" so I think I might just have to take them with me when I go.  They're still in the concrete stage so actually seeing the plants with the picture of the veggie on it might be a little easier for them to contribute gardening ideas.

I also need to do some flowers and hanging baskets.  This is the hard part for me.  Last year was the first year that I put in flowers so I'm still working on what variety and what colors work best, not to mention how many I need and where I want to put them.  This year I want to do two or three pots as well, which will be an adventure.  I love this part of spring!  When I get everything potted I'll post some pictures...hopefully it all looks good!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Why Should I Recycle?

Yesterday we were at the library checking out DVDs, I mean books.  Vince was playing at the train table with some other little kids and I just about had as much as my bag would carry, when the display for non-fiction paperbacks caught my eye.  I spied this Usborne book and snatched it up.  I originally intended to have Caden read it, but when I started to skim, I found that it's a pretty good book!  If you click here, you can flip through it.

Monday, May 13, 2013


I don't have much a blog post today.  Instead, I updated my profile picture, the heading picture and my book list and website list.  I realized that I've read a lot of books and found a lot more great sites than I had listed on here.  So there, my blog is all cleaned up.  Now on to the downstairs bathroom.  Just as necessary to maintain, just not as fun!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Recipe Friday: Roasted Broccoli with Lemon

This is barely even a recipe, but we had it for dinner last night and it was really a hit.  Vince asked for thirds and was asking for broccoli for lunch today too!  It was fast and easy.  I served the lemon on the side so the kids could squeeze it themselves.  They really liked that then put the lemons in their water.  We're fancy like that.

I got this recipe from a cookbook that I got at the NCPL.  Now that we're going every week, I've decided to grab a cookbook while I'm there.  This one is called The Whole Family Cookbook by Michelle Stern.  I thought it would be whole food-based, but it's really more whole family based.  Each recipe has the steps broken down into how kids can help in the kitchen.  Pretty neat!  Stern also focus on locally grown food and eating seasonally.  I tried a few recipes from this book and I've been very happy with them all.  Check it out!  (After I return it, of course!)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

My New Little Friend

Today I was doing some laundry outside.  I finally got this great new drying rack and I was hanging some clothes up to dry in the sunshine today.  (I SO miss the sunshine in the winter!)  To my left, by the fence, I noticed something moving.  He stopped, I stopped and we just stared at each other for awhile.  "Hey, Little Guy!" and then he was gone under the fence.  Evan saw him last year when he was mowing, and I've seen the hole in the ground that is his home, but I've never seen him around.

Two loads of laundry and room for a third!  I love this thing!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Caden's Post

I got sick at school and my mom is making me do crappy homework.  i would help the earth by picking up trash on the ground.

we make food instead of buying stuff without chemicals.

we grow food.

Caden and Abby in the driveway.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mount Union Nature Center.

I have to make this a quick post today because I have lots of kid stuff going on.  I have Ellie's Kindergarten Music Program in 45 minutes and I just got home from Caden's 2nd grade field trip, but since it was so cool, I wanted to post it here before I forget.

We went to the Mount Union Nature Center last summer and hiked a few trails (aka got lost) but this field trip was really cool because it gave us a whole overview of the center.  We checked out the animals in the barn, went to the bird watching tower, saw turtles in the pond, pumped water from a well, maneuvered the labyrinth, and I nursed Olivia in the bird observation room and noticed all the little kid play things that wasn't really included on the tour for 2nd graders.  Last time we went I noticed that there are kits you can take from the Nature Center that have you doing little nature treasure hunt things.  My kids LOVE Nana treasure hunts so I'm sure they'd love this too.  I'll add a few pics from the trip too, but I just wanted to remind all you Stark Countians that this is a really cool  little nature get away close to home.

Monday, May 6, 2013


Ahhh, springtime! We had such a nice weekend outside! Caden was mad of course because we pulled him away from the computer, but it was worth the complaining for the outside time he got.

Friday night we all went to a movie--at the drive-in! We got there an hour early and still had to park halfway back! The kids had never been before and it had been a LONG time since Evan and I had gone. We set up on our tumbling mat with blankets outside beside the car, but it was too hard to hear and it got chilly so we all ended up in the van--Evan, Ellie and Vince in the passenger's seat, Olivia and I in the driver's seat and Caden hovering between the two--good thing we have a van with all that seating!  All the kids made it the whole way through the movie (except Olivia) and had their fill of popcorn.  Not only was it fun, a little different and semi-outside, but it was WAY less expensive than taking them all to a traditional theater.  Plus, we got the added bonus of watching someone back into a car right before the movie started!  Take THAT stadium seating!

Camped out in front of the van before the movie started.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Recipe Friday:Linguine with Artichokes and Leeks

I made this one last night for dinner--so good!  It was really fast and came together easily.

Linguine with Artichokes and Leeks

1 lb dry linguine or fettuccine
2 medium leeks (white and light green parts only, rinsed)
2 12 oz jars artichoke hearts, packed in oil, drained
3 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
3 tsp salt (I only added 1 1/2)
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 C grated parmesan (omit to make this a plant-based meal)

Cook the past according to the package directions.  Meanwhile, half the leeks, rinse well and slice into 1/2 in pieces.  Saute the leeks in the olive oil over medium-low heat until they're tender, but not brown. Remove leeks from pan and set aside.  Roughly chop the artichoke hearts and add to the pan, sauté for about 3 minutes.  Return the leeks to the pan, add the remaining ingredients and toss with the pasta.  Serve warm.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Bonus Recipe Day: Peanut Noodles With Broccoli

I've been reading a lot of cook books, and last week and of course I'm reading Michael Pollan's Cooked! so I have food on the brain.  I made this quick dish last Saturday when we were putting down mulch.  The kids liked it because of the "fun" rice noodles.  I added steak for Evan to make it a meat dish, but as it is, it's a fast and easy plant-based meal. Make sure you mince the ginger very fine--poor Vince hit a piece that I didn't mince too well and it was a little spicy.  I got this recipe from the Forks Over Knives Cookbook.  Ironically, it's the cookbook that I checked out from the library that earned me a free pizza!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The 100 Challenge

As I said before, I've been going to our library a lot.  It's becoming a Monday thing.  After I get everything done here at home (right!) we head over to the library in the afternoon to return and check out new stuff.  It sounds pleasant, but I need to get a new routine.  I somehow manage to pick the time when both kids fall asleep in the car.  Olivia never does get a good afternoon nap and Vince wakes up angry, hating the library and me.  I'm still going to do it though.  It's good for him and the few embarrassing screaming kid is worth the library time.  Our library (which is the North Canton Public Library.  I get this "our library" thing from my mom, who used to work in the Children's department and still refers to the library as "work" even though she's been retired for over 3 years.)  is having an Explore The World thing (for lack of a better word--really any other word would have been better, but I just found Olivia chewing on an orange marker so I'm a little frazzled writing this).  Each month the library explores the world of...something different.