Friday, September 27, 2013

Recipe Friday: 3 Bean Chili

You may not know this, but Tuesday is a very special holiday.  Tuesday is October First and it is the OFFICIAL start of the Halloween season.  On October first you may begin putting up your Halloween decorations and wearing your Halloween clothes (if you have decorations up, you need to get them down ASAP and if you don't have a Halloween outfit you need to really get on that this weekend.)  This is the legacy my mother has left me.  We used to be the only Halloween crazies when I grew up, but now everyone is catching on to the fact that Halloween is The Best.  If there's one dish that says Halloween to me, it's chili.  This is because my mom always made chili when we went trick or treating.  My grandparents would come over.  My grandpa and my step-dad would sit in the driveway and pass out candy to the 100+ kids that came over.  My mom and my grandma would be inside doing "mom stuff" and we would go trick or treating.  When we came home we would always have a warm bowl of chili waiting for us.  So, in continuing with the tradition, every October first I make chili.  Now that I don't eat meat it's become a little more of a challenge, but I found this recipe from Dr. Sears and it's pretty good!  It's not mom's but some traditions can use a little tweaking.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Quick Post: Finger Foods

I'm having a hectic day today so just a quick thought for today.  I read at that you could coat finger foods that are a "gross" texture (bananas, peaches, plums, etc) with wheat germ.  I did this for Olivia and it was AWESOME!  Not only is it much cleaner (easier for them to pick up and less dropping and smashing) but it's also a bonus serving of whole grains!  I LOVE this!  I tried it myself to see how it changed the taste of the food and

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Get Into the Garden

Garden of weeden
As I continue on my path of fall celebration I'm tackling #10 Get Into Your Garden.  Sunday is typically my gardening day.  I weed, harvest and freeze any tomatoes or green beans that we're not going to be able to eat right away.  This past Sunday I ripped out a lot from the garden that's done producing leaving not a whole lot left except an eggplant plant, a few pepper plants, a fading tomato plant that still had a few green guys on it and of course, the kale.  My raised bed is a hot mess with weeds and dead plants.  I'm going to work on tilling it under and working in some compost.  I'm planning to pretty much just leave my other garden and have Evan put some mulched leaves on it when he starts mowing them.  I'm also going to make mental notes (actually I'll probably make another blog on that) about what I want to plant again next year and what I want to forget about.  Right now I can say I'm done with the watermelon and cantaloupe.  Two years of baseball sized
watermelons tells me

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Celebrating Fall

Yesterday I found 11 ways to celebrate fall and decided to try to do as many as I can to fully enjoy and appreciate my favorite season.  So, today,  while doing #8 on the list (Seek to improve your health) on the elliptical at the Y while Vince is at swimming,  I decided to work on #7 Contemplate.  I'm supposed to think about the ways I've neglected my inner growth over the past year and how to fix it.  I feel like I really HAVE neglected my inner growth over the year, especially this summer.  I felt like this summer I was  constantly in survival mode with all the kids home and getting Jack.  Now that the kids are back in school and Vince has started preschool and is back at his Y activities,

Monday, September 23, 2013

OFFICIALLY Officially Fall

Welcome Fall!  The kids are back in school.  The weather is turning colder.  We went to Yankee Peddler.  Pumpkin Spice Late is back at Starbucks.  All of these things mean that it's fall, but it's not OFFICIALLY fall until the Autumnal Equinox.  For those of you that don't know, the Autumnal Equinox is the day in the earth's revolution when my mother and her "friends" dress in black hats and dance around a fire in the forest. Also when the sun is in line with the Earth's equator and the days and nights are equal in length.  

If you noticed, a few nights ago we had a beautiful full moon.  It was the Harvest Moon, so named because, "Before artificial lighting, farmers took advantage of the full moon's light to harvest their crops. In late summer and early autumn, many crops ripen all at once, making lots of work for farmers who had to stay in the fields after sundown to harvest all the goods. Such moonlight became essential to their harvest, and the Harvest Moon emerged, according to NASA."

I've said before, I love autumn.  I'm not sure what it is about the cooler weather and the changing leaves, but it's easily my favorite season.  Evan loves it too, but for different reasons.  (Football).  I love Halloween, of course, but just the whole fall season, hearty soups and stews, winter squash dishes, baked breads and warm cider (cold cider too for that matter!) makes me was to celebrate fall, simply just as a season.  

Friday, September 20, 2013

Recipe Friday: Baked Ziti

Evan's not a huge fan of meatless dishes.  Even spaghetti he thinks should have meatballs or meat sauce.  He's also not a huge fan of things that are home-made and "should" be store bought (bread, tomato sauce, NATURAL PEANUT BUTTER).  So when he sampled this dish right out of the oven and exclaimed, "It's GOOD!", tasted more, and said, "No, it's really good!"  I knew I had to share this recipe.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bonus recipe: ricotta veggie dip

I had two great recipes that I tried this week and I wanted to share them both.  They're both from the Weelicious book-- can you guess what I used for menu planning this week?  Today I'll give you the snack and tomorrow the entree.  This dip was SUPER good.  We used pita chips but you could use veggies as well.  Vince was a huge fan!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Four Years!

Happy Birthday to my little guy, who's actually not so little anymore!  Four Years Old Today!  He's only marginally excited.  He was excited to open his presents, and show them to his friends at school, but other than that, birthdays are still a little too abstract.  I think the fact that his birthday party is this weekend and today is his actual birthday is a little confusing.  I know it always really messed the other kids up.  But he's pleased today.  I wished him a happy birthday and he wished me a happy birthday too.  I had forgotten about that.  So we went over the proper social norm for the "Happy Birthday" exchange and we practiced it once before I sent him into his classroom.  "Happy Birthday, Vince."  "Hap--Thank you!"  I'm hoping he'll remember the rest of the day.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

This Year It Was For The Kids

Ever since I moved back to Canton in 2006, my mom and I have gone to the Yankee Peddler Festival in Canal Fulton.  I know I blogged about it last year, likening it to how it would have been greener to live in Colonial times, but this year I'm just basically doing an ad.  My mom and I used to go and look at all the exhibitors booths, looking for Christmas presents, hoping to find a unique, hand-crafted gift for those on our list that wouldn't like something from a toy store.  We'd slowly walk from booth to book admiring, and let's be honest, rolling our eyes, at what each vendor had to offer.  My mom says that it's not truly fall until we've gone to Yankee Peddler.  I agree.  It really feels like the beginning of fall and all the fun that comes with it.  However, this year, it was for the kids.
Ellie and Vince couldn't WAIT to go!  Olivia was mildly amused, as usual, and Caden backed out at the last minutes, which worked well for Evan that used him to help with yard work (bet Caden was kicking himself when he was picking up dog poop!).  They are finally old enough to remember last year.  So this year we went to Yankee Peddler, not to admire craftsman, not to experience a Colonial village, not to walk around in the woods and experience the first tiny bit of fall in northeast Ohio.  No, this year we went to Yankee Peddler to get faces painted, American Girl doll clothes, lemonades and most importantly, see the butterfly house and get a chrysalis.  We DID happen to look at a few exhibitors booths.  I went to my Olfactory Patch and got an oil to refresh the potpourri I bought last year, Mom got to look at rag rugs and dried flowers and of course the kids went crazy in the candle tent.  Like, it was a toy store crazy.  It was kind of weird and a little alarming that they both were grabbing at the glass jars faster than I could help them.  (I have to admit, the beer candle really did smell like beer!)
It was a different kind of YP trip than in years past.  But it was ok.  Mom and I both enjoyed watching THEM enjoy YP.  We've seen all the booths, and pretty much know what they have to offer, we've kind of exhausted the gift ideas, but it WAS fun to see how much fun the kids had watching the Redcoats fire the muskets, or stopping to watch the street magician and the puppet show.  On one of our MANY visits to the port-a-potties I realized there's a difference between doing things FOR the kids and WITH the kids.  In the past, we've gone to YP WITH the kids.  This year we went FOR them.  Next year, I'm sure, too.  As we were leaving, giant bag of kettle corn in hand, a gust of wind blew the leaves from an overhanging tree.  "It's raining leaves!"  Ellie yelled, as she ran ahead, with outstretched arms and twirled around in circles as the leaves rained down around her.  Yep, it's officially fall.
Mardi Gras Ellie
Watching the puppet show
With a butterfly at the butterfly house--notice the face paint on his shirt.
In the stockade.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ending on a Positive

If you live in the plain Township area you really should come sit in my neighborhood around 7:00 pm, or as we call it family walk time.  It's really quite a specitcal.  There's Caden, running way ahead of us, Ellie wandering out into the middle of the road while she's playing with some little stick or lead she's found along he way, Vince lagging behind carrying an action figure and whining that his legs are tired or he wants to go down "his" hill.  There's Evan walking Jack, the whole reason for our walks, and me pushing Olivia, who may it may not be awake, in the stroller.  That's the visual.  What you hear is constant corrections from Evan and I. "Caden, slow down and wait for us!"  "Ellie, get out of the middle of the road!"  "Vince, come on.  We're GOING to go down your hill."  Repeat for the duration of the walk.  When we get home it's even more craziness while we try to get all the kids showered and in bed and wrangle a wild puppy who's trying to get into everything.  There's a lot of yelling and nagging.  Evan and I yell and nag as well.  It's unpleasant.  I don't like it and I've started following Gandhi's advice "Be the change you want to see in the world" (Which, while googling, I found he may never have really said.).  So I'm going to change our bedtime routine.  I'm going to do it

Friday, September 13, 2013

Recipe Friday: Sauerkraut

As I said, I'm back to the YMCA.  Back to the Y means back to exercise, but also back to reading.  I'm embarrassed to admit, but I'm still working on Michael Pollan's book Cooked.  I read so much at the beginning of the year that for awhile I was thinking about trying to read 100 books in a year...and I think I could have done it if I'd kept up at that pace, but then Olivia started to nurse less and my reading time decreased.  Yes, I'm blaming my toddler for my lack of reading.  Mother of the year.  ANYWAY, I'm on the "Earth" section of his book where he talks about cultures.  I really recommend the book, I've found it to be really interesting.  I'm loving this section on microbes.  (Did I really type that?!?)  It's a big part of our food and our culture, but we don't really talk about it.  We're so afraid of bugs and try to kill everything off, that we don't think about the good bugs.  Yogurts are currently

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Triclosan Article

I got this from Evan yesterday.  Every once in awhile he does something that makes me think he doesn't totally think I'm a crazy hippie.  This is an article about how Proctor and Gamble is going to remove the harmful antibacterial chemical Triclosan from some of their products. They plan to phase it out of their products by 2014 but as of now there is no plan to remove it from Colgate Total toothpaste.  Triclosan is an antibacterial chemical that

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

H.U.M.A.N. Vending Machines

I started back at the YMCA yesterday.  It feels like forever since I've been there!  Vince is back in swimming and Art Gym Swim class so every Tuesday and Thursday I'm back to working out.  I'm excited!  While I was there, I noticed that they've changed their vending machines.  They now have H.U.M.A.N (Helping Unite Mankind and Nutrition) healthy vending machines.  Not only are the items in the machine healthy (no candy bars) they also donate 10% of their profits to charities that

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Welcome Home

I want to blog about the beach again.  I want to actually BE at the beach again.   But I'm not.  I'm home.  Yesterday was Vince's first day of pre-school and because it is a cooperative school, I was the parent helper for the day.  I love being in the classroom and getting to know the kids.  I just generally like being around them because I think they're funny. Vince's teacher was introducing me to the class and she said Vince's last name.  "If that's Vince's last name his mom is Mrs..."  I looked at his best friend, Blake, and said, "Come on Blake!  You know this!" and one of the other kids yells out "Mrs. Youknowthis!!!"

He was excited about school, just not about his brother using him as an armrest.
Again, he was excited, just refused to do a normal smile!
To balance out the fun we also come home to a leaking hot water tank and a broken washer. Yesterday comprised of a lot of waiting for "guys" to come.  Thanks to my dad, we now have a new hot water tank and we're in the process of searching for a new washer.  I do a lot of laundry and really beat up my washer (as proven by the short life of the last one) so I need something that's heavy duty, large capacity, and of course green.  Most washers are energy star now, so it's not going to be that hard to choose a green one, but I still want to do some research and see what my best options are.  I went to Lehman's last night to look at some REAL green washers and I found a great $20 option--a washboard!  There were also some others that were MUCH more expensive, including a $900 one that I really looked at because it was about the same cost as a traditional washer.  Not the same.  I was trying to figure out why these were a better option when I realized they all had one thing in common--no electricity.  Ah, Amish.  I hate to admit it, but I think that's a little TOO green for me.  I'd LOVE to say that I jumped at the wash tub and the wringer, but I didn't.  I looked at the pile of laundry I brought home from vacation and thought otherwise.  Guess today will include a trip to Lowe's! Welcome back from vacation!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Back from the Beach

Last week we went to the Outer Banks.  I was going to blog about it, but realized it probably wasn't a good idea to announce on the web that I was going to be leaving my house unoccupied for a week when I've posted so much about where I live.  I blogged in my head a lot while I was there, but of course I've forgotten most of what that was.  So I'm just blogging about nature today.  My last morning at the beach I got up in time to see the sun rise over the ocean.  I don't really think I'm a