Thursday, July 31, 2014

Recipe Friday: Whole Wheat Couscous

I LOVE this recipe!  I'm a big fan of couscous in general, not only because it's good, but also because it's fast!  This recipe I got from my mom, who got it from Weight Watchers.  It's a great dish to take to a covered dish or family gathering.  ( Know this because my mom brought it to a family get together and that's how I first tried it!)  It's got a lot of flavor and is pretty easy to assemble.

Done with Cloth Diapers

Well, it's over.  My long, long, long relationship with cloth diapers is over.  Olivia has taken an interest in potty training and while I don't think she's going to be fully trained for awhile, I found that cloth diapers are REALLY hindering her ability to train.  She LOVES to change her clothes (and also show everyone her butt--this she gets from her brother) and she can take her training pants on and off by herself, but the diapers really trip her up.  SO, we've moved from diapers to training pants.  There are, of course, cloth training pants and I'd LOVE to use those, but I'm not really willing to spend that much money on something she'll (hopefully) only wear for a few months.  I DO love the Gerber training pants for little ones.  They're just an extra layer of fabric for when they're *almost* there, but not really what we need right now.

I was a little sad to say goodbye to the cloth.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Doggone North Canton

If you live in the North Canton area, I hope you've seen the signs for the Multi Rescue Dog Adoption and Wellness fair that will be held at Witwer Park on August 9th from 10am-2pm.  I have and, of course, I'm interested in anything with DOG in the title.  My favorite rescue (despite the fact that they gave me my horrible little JackJack), Save A Mom Pregnant Dog Rescue will be there and I always love to go see the dogs they have (if you're in the market for a puppy they currently have at least 3, maybe 4 litters that will be available soon.)   I decided to do a little blog post about the Adoption Fair and when  I Googled it to get more info I unearthed a goldmine!  I'm SO SUPER EXCITED about this!  This fair is actually the grand finale to a week of Dog activities.  I should have know, the North Canton Public Library is a big sponsor, hosting activities all week in support of this event.  (In case you didn't know the employees of the NCPL (well, the Children's Department at least) are dog people. I KNEW there was a reason I loved that place so much!)  There are also events sponsored by the YMCA and a Chipotle Fundraiser.  The whole promotion is organized by Pawsitive Ohio.  I'd never heard of this organization so I checked out their website.  SO COOL!  This is a non-profit organization that works for shelters and rescue groups in NE Ohio.  From their website:

About Pawsitive Ohio

Pawsitive Ohio is a 501c3, non-profit organization with the goal to to be a catalyst for change and a conduit for the various animal welfare groups in Ohio. We will be an advocate for the amazing shelters, rescues and their volunteers in this area—moving forward and working together to end the deaths of homeless dogs in Northeast Ohio.
Our focus will be raising funds to create low-cost spay/neuter opportunities, facilitating comprehensive adoption events, supporting pet retention and overall pet parent education, to create a community in which no dog has to die in a shelter simply for being unwanted.

HOW awesome!?!?!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this concept!  I'm so excited to help with this week's events!  There's a place on their website (scroll all the way down) where you can pledge to do various things this week in support of Doggone North Canton, both for individuals and businesses.  Many of them cost nothing (give my dog an extra walk, belly rubs or cookies).   Here's the complete list of their activities for the week:

Doggone North Canton

A Week Long Promotion Dedicated to Dogs and the People Who Love Them:
it’s time to come together to celebrate, and advocate for, man’s best friend during Doggone North Canton, August 3-9, 2014.
Sunday, August 3, at 1 p.m.
Downtown North CantonDowntown Dog Walk (a program of the North Canton YMCA)
Dogs are the best exercise companions, and the North Canton YMCA encourages you to complete a one-mile group dog walk today! The group will meet in Bitzer Park and walk south toward Ro’s Custard Creations, where $1 doggie cones will be offered. Human and dog watering stations will be provided at participating partner businesses along the way. Please keep your dog leashed and keep in mind that not all dogs are social with other dogs.
Monday, August 4 from 6-7 p.m.
North Canton Public LibraryAdult Program: Paws & Prayers will explain how to get involved in fostering a rescue dog, including supplies, contacts and expectations. You might be surprised how easy it is! Register beginning July 21 at
Tuesday, August 5 from 6:30-7:30 p.m.
North Canton Public LibraryChildren‘s Program: Read to Sarge, the Tail-Wagging Tutor. Call 330.499.4712 x318 to sign-up for a ten-minute reading session with Sarge the Golden Retriever (adopted from GRIN).
Wednesday, August 6 from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Blackening Spice

I usually do a recipe on Friday, but I think tomorrow's going to be a little busy so I'm doing one today.  I know you're probably sick of hearing about my new obsession, Vegan Cooking for Carnivores, but this was a spice that I tried last night on my sautéed tofu and I thought it would be great to share.  It's was really good on the tofu (I cubed it, sautéed it and then put it on a salad) but it would be really good on meat as well (probably chicken would be best).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review of Vegan Recipe

A few days ago I blogged about a Vegan cookbook, Vegan Cooking for Carnivores by Roberto Martin.  My brother in law raved about the Red Beans and Rice recipe and I thought I'd give it a try, so last night for dinner that's what I made--for everyone.  I decided that I wasn't going to make all these recipes for me, since they're supposed to be so similar you won't miss the meat.  Well, for me, this was a very different meal than I've had in a long time.  It was very hearty and filling and the flavors were something I can't recall eating since I've stopped eating meat.  It really WAS like eating meat.  I like the fact that Chef Roberto tells you which brands to buy because this vegan sausage was really very good.  Evan liked it as well.  He disagreed that it was filling and thought it would have worked better as a side (and to be honest, in the future I'd probably make it more as a side) but he thought it was good.  Now, let me just try to explain that Evan giving it praise is high praise indeed.  Anything "vegan" or "vegetarian"  he's usually a pretty tough critic, so I was ready for him to turn his nose up at the vegan sausage in this recipe, but no.  The kids didn't like it, but I would have expected that.  It's not something that I would have normally chosen to prepare, and honestly, probably would have been one of the last few recipes I picked to make from this cookbook (mine came in the mail the   other day!) but since my brother in law and the cookbook author both said it was the best in the book, I thought I'd try it first.  SO, I'll be returning the copy to the North Canton Public Library (this link should take you directly to the book in the catalog so you can put it on reserve) so check it out!  It's so  much fun to find a cookbook that has lots of new ideas to try!  I'm so sick of making nachos, breakfast-for-dinner and spaghetti (the kids requests EVERY TIME I ask them what they want for dinner) and there are a lot of "normal" recipes I've kind of missed over the last 5 years.  It will also be good for Olivia, who's never tried some of these flavors since she's always been a vegetarian.

Also, a note about basmati rice.  AWESOME!  I've cooked with it before, but the red beans and rice recipe called to make it alone and serve the beans over it.  It's really flavorful and smells great while cooking!  I think I'll use it more often when I bake big batches of rice and freeze them to use later.  I've been sautéing kale and cabbage and tossing some black beans and leftover rice in there for lunch.  I feel SO good about eating like this because it's eating WHOLE foods, which is my ultimate goal, it's vegan, which I always feel is best, and it's filling, which is important since it takes awhile to do and it needs to get me through the rest of the day while I clean and child-care.  I usually sauté with toasted sesame oil then add a little mirin, soy sauce and rice vinegar to add flavor.  I love asian flavors, so this is my favorite, but I also sauté with olive oil and add lemon pepper.  Not sure why I added that part.  I guess I figured you're all spending your afternoons, thinking, "What's Melissa having for lunch?!?!"  Kids are starting to swarm me.  Can't reach the keyboard anymore....

Monday, July 21, 2014

Killing Weeds-Naturally

Yesterday I did some yard work.  Every day I do a little (it's part of my new initiative to complete tasks in and around the house that I've been meaning to do for a long time, but keep forgetting about i.e., family photo albums, getting rid of the brush pile, pruning shrubs and trees, etc) but yesterday I worked outside for a few hours.  Evan and I pruned a pine, I hacked back a shrub and I weeded. And weeded.  And weeded.  I used to weed every weekend at the other house and I had things under control to the point where it would only take me about 15 minutes to weed all the beds.  I'm sure I'll eventually get to that point at this house, but right now, I'm fighting weeds with some strong roots.  I know I've posted this recipe before, but I'm posting it again, because I love it.  It's easy and cheap and SAFE for pets and kids (and you too!).

Friday, July 18, 2014

Recipe Friday: Guacamole

Tonight we're celebrating Evan, his mom and his step-dad's birthday at our house.  I'm making one of Evan's (and mine!) favorite appetizers--Guacamole!  I LOVE the guacamole from Chipotle, and I have to to say, I think this recipe is as good, if not better.  Nothing weird and vegetarian or vegan about it (although it IS both) it's just a normal guacamole recipe from my old standby cookbook Bride and Groom First and Forever.  Warning!  If you're making this for a group I recommend AT LEAST doubling the batch.  All I''m going to say is that Vince helped me make it once while we were preparing dinner.  Between Vince, Evan and I the whole batch was gone before dinner was even ready.  Vince wasn't even using chips, just a spoon.  Yes, it was gross.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Vegan Cooking For Carnivores

I was going to blog about my houseplants and how I've been neglecting them and give some tips for how to diagnose problems in house plants, but I'm super excited about this cookbook so I figured, I've ignored the plants thus far, what's a few more days?

OK, so the cookbook.  After I did the blog about the children's book on veganism, I started thinking about eating vegan.  THEN, I remembered a cookbook my brother-in-law recommended to me after his month of eating vegan.  It's by Portia de Rossi and Ellen Degeneres's personal chef, Roberto Martin.

By brother-in-law said they LOVED this book as they transitioned from carnivore (which actually annoys me.  Human's aren't carnivores!  We're omnivores!  If you're a carnivore you eat JUST meat!  Come on people!  This is primary science class!  Sid the Science kid teaches this stuff!) to vegan.  So I checked it out at the North Canton Public Library--they NEVER fail me! I've been holding off looking through it until I could really sit down and devote some time to it.  Well, last night I did and WOW!  I'm SUPER excited to try almost everything in there!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


I've always wanted to be a runner.  I ran middle school track, but I really hated it.  My stepmom always used to tell me I looked like I runner with my long legs (I'm 5'3''.  She comes from a family of very short people.) and I think I wanted that to be true.  I chose to be a sprinter so I'd have to run as little as possible.  We had to select 3 events and I always chose a "field" event as well, to keep my distance down.  (Yes, that's right.  I threw both discus and the shot put.  Girls that weigh 100 lbs are notoriously the best shot putters.)  I can remember how much I hated those first few weeks of training, which was really just some college kid that coached us making us run from the middle school to the (current) high school and around the old crappy track across from the stadium.  It was terrible for me, someone who wasn't really a runner. If they had started me slower, allowing me to build up some muscle and some endurance, I think I would have liked it.  So as a teen and an adult I "hated running."  I avoided the treadmill even when I started REALLY working out after Ellie was born and frequented the YMCA.  I always envied Evan, who would occasionally (and I mean OCCASIONALLY) go out for a run that was about 3 miles. It baffled me.  I was winded and my shins hurt after a few meters.  So when we got a treadmill in our basement (for Jack, who has been on it a total of once) I decided to give running a try.  And to my surprise, I like it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Garden: In a Container

I said I wasn't going to do a garden this year, and I haven't, but I couldn't go without doing SOMETHING.  So my mom bought me a giant pot and I put in some herbs (basil, rosemary and cilantro) and one vegetable. I knew that I had to pick something that would stay small (no vining squash) and something that I could really USE, not something that was fun to grow (carrots).  I decided on eggplant.  I realize this might be an odd choice for some people, but for me, eggplant is a summer staple.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Vegan Is Love

I'm not a vegan.  I WISH I could be, but I'm just not committed enough to make the jump.  That said, I found a great book on being a vegan.  It's simply put, explained in such a way that it makes me feel like I SHOULD be a vegan.  It's called Vegan is Love: Having Heart and Taking Action by Ruby Roth.  I found it at the NCPL (of course!)  when I was looking for some religion books for Ellie.  (She's asking tons of questions about God so I thought I'd see what I could find in the way of children's books.)  I was really pleased with the simple messages this book conveyed.  It didn't tell you what you should do, is just states what vegans believe and how they act.  It addresses issues dealing with