Block Party

Things have been mighty busy around here this week. Tonight we went to a block party at the end of our street and had a lot of fun! It was pot luck and I was completely lacking inspiration for what to make. (could have something to do with the sinus headache i was battling.) I still didn't know what I was going to do when I got to Whole Foods, so I grabbed their monthly flyer and perused the recipes in there. I found a simple recipe for Butternut Hummus and went for it.

I thought the butternut squash was never going to finish cooking, but the hummus turned out very well. I heard a couple of people commenting on how good it was, without knowing who had made it, so I was quite pleased with myself. Not that I came up with the idea on my own... but I executed it!

Anyway, the party was fun. There was plenty of food and drinks and Christmas lights and music. The whole thing was set up in a large bit of yard between two houses and I'd guess there were about 30 adults there, all from our block. The kids camped out in a backyard with Christmas videos on a big screen and the adults chatted around a fire pit. I planted myself on a comfy chair, near a heater and the fire, wrapped up in a blanket and chatted with whoever got close to me. (It is, ironically, about 20 degrees cooler than when I posted my complaint on Tuesday.)

Around 7:00, we herded our children into the car and drove around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights. As anticipated, we enjoyed it more than they did, but I reminded them (as i did last year) that this is just what parents do to their children at Christmas time. Our parents did it to us. We do it to them. They will do it to their children. Doug calls it the Circle of Life.

We went back to the party for a bit after that, but everyone was cold and tired by that point. Now the kids are in bed, I'm typing and waiting for my toes to thaw, and Doug has headed back to the party. Maybe I'll wrap a few more presents while he's gone. Or maybe I'll sit here and snuggle with a warm cat until I can't stay awake anymore...


Dreaming of a White Moderately Chilly Christmas

I have lived in Texas for 34 years, 7 months, and 21 days. I have lived in Austin for 16 years, 4 months, and [some number of] days. So why do I still get surprised and disappointed when it's 81 degrees in the middle of December? I mean, the weather is beautiful and all, but it's supposed to be cold outside! How am I supposed to roast chestnuts on an open fire, have Jack Frost nipping at my nose, and all that jazz when it's 81 degrees out?!?

I blame TV and movies for this dissatisfaction with an aspect of my life that I cannot change. (well, okay, i could change it by moving out of state, but that's not happening.) Every Christmas movie involves snow. Half the shows I watch on TV take place in a city where people actually have to wear coats when they step out the front door. I do everything in my power to avoid commercials because I don't want to be brainwashed, but somehow I overlooked this one!

(What do you mean, I have control issues? You take that back! Now!)


Well, cold or not, I guess I'd better start wrapping these Christmas gifts...


Food Waste and Mummies

The food waste is pretty minimal this time. You remember that strange concoction that I made before Thanksgiving? Well, we all ate as much of it as we could stand to eat and this is what was leftover. Remind me not to put fresh cranberries in my dinner anymore, m'kay? There are still some herbs and a bit of canned pumpkin languishing in my fridge, so I may have to post another update soon. It all depends on how creative I get this week!
We took a family trip to San Antonio today, to see the Mummies of the World exhibit at the Witte Museum. All of the 1st Graders at Lila's school have been studying Ancient Egypt and that included a brief study of mummification. I saw a LivingSocial deal for this exhibit and it seemed like a perfect tie-in. It was grim, but fascinating! Eli was creeped out by the whole thing, except for the mummified cats, which he declared to be "cute". We were all creeped out by the mummified babies.
The museum seemed like a great one for kids, but we didn't get to explore beyond the mummy exhibit. Once we came out of that wing, it was lunchtime. We were planning to eat lunch, grab a little quiet time in the car, then head back for more fun. Unfortunately, the kids couldn't manage to stay quiet for even 5 minutes in the car and they gave no indication that their rowdiness and disrespect would get better outside of the car, so we called it a day and drove back home.
Lila had her own little adventure when she got separated from us and was temporarily lost. Doug and Eli (who had had all the dead bodies he could stand) left the exhibit first and went out to the lobby, or so I thought. Lila was ready to go about 5-7 minutes sooner than me, so I told her she could head out of the exhibit and wait with Dad. I assumed that had worked out. What really happened was that the boys had gone into an adjoining room, which was not visible from the lobby.
When Lila didn't see them, she went out the front doors to look. (I suppose she remembered an employee telling us at the beginning that we couldn't re-enter the mummy exhibit once we left.) Someone spotted her and directed her to a museum security guard. I came out of the exhibit a few minutes later, oblivious to the whole thing, and was headed for Doug and Eli when the security guard stopped me.
I thought he was about to hassle me about not having a ticket or something, but he said they were trying to find the parents of a lost little girl. I said, "Oh, that's probably my daughter!" I followed the man outside and there she was, sitting calmly with a couple of Fire Department EMTs who happened to be there at the same time. The whole thing scared her, naturally, but she was very brave and was able to give them her name, my name, my phone number, and what city we were from.
The security guard called my phone to let me know where Lila was, but that didn't do much good since we were made to power off our phones before going in to see the mummies. There was just one little tear on her cheek - very pitiful. I picked her up and held her tight and thanked the men for helping her. On the way back to the car, I asked her if she needed to talk about what happened. She said, "No." I asked her if she wanted to talk about what happened. She said, "No."
Over lunch, we did discuss a little bit about good protocol if you get separated from your group and we decided that we'd have a meet-up location from now on, whenever we go to a big place like that. I'm just thanking God that it all turned out as well as it did and not letting myself think about all the things that could have happened!


Second Chances

Sometimes I forget that God loves to give us second chances. I have had a rough week that was really starting to snowball. I have been irritable and had very little patience with the faults of others. The number of errands that needed to be run this week was well above average and that, on top of all the holiday activities that we've been planning, left me feeling over-scheduled and out of control. Nothing triggers the nasty side of my personality like the feeling that others are trying to exert control (real or imagined) over my life. So I found myself distancing myself from my husband, snapping at my children, and... basically, being a jerk.

During moments of clarity, I was aware of my behavior and it made me sick. It's not something that I like to admit, but empathy is a trait that I have to actively strive for in myself. It does not come naturally to me. When I stopped to listen to my own words to my kids, I could hear the sharp edge and lack of empathy behind the words and I felt awful. Toward the end of the week, Eli started getting sick and that, sadly, only made things worse.
I want to make my kids feel wrapped in love and cared-for when they are sick, but I was still suffering from this awful irritability. I was trying to be compassionate toward Eli, but finding myself angry when he didn't act or respond the way that I wanted him to. I was also struggling against resentment toward him and his illness for interfering with my plans. And that just made me feel like a bigger jerk.
Like I said, it was all beginning to snowball. By the time yesterday afternoon rolled around, I was in a full-blown funk. I had decided that I was "ruining Christmas" and didn't deserve to be anyone's mother. Unfortunately, the latter sentiment is an old refrain for me. I lay in bed for a long time last night, with a sick 4-year-old coughing on the back of my head, and felt sorry for myself. I woke up this morning feeling just as crummy. Blergh.
But, this is where the God of Second Chances comes in. Lila was not home, Renee was not home, Doug and Eli were in the backyard, and I found myself alone in the living room. I couldn't muster the motivation to do anything more than lay on the couch and stare... but that was the perfect place for God to speak to me. He showed me the lies that I was believing: that it was my job to create a perfect Christmas for my kids, that I was failing, that I should give up.
He reminded me of what Christmas really is and how its perfection has nothing to do with my actions. It seems so obvious now! Christmas is a celebration of Jesus, the greatest gift ever given. If our focus is on Jesus, then it is a perfect Christmas. Participating in traditions and planning activities can definitely be fun, and they are a good thing - as long as they are pointing our focus in the right direction, rather than dragging our attention away from Him.
I was grumpy and rude to my family. That sucks and I can't change it. But I can acknowledge my sin, ask for forgiveness, and rely on the strength of the Savior we celebrate to help me do better today. I won't be perfect, but that's okay because He is perfect and He loves to give us second chances!


Today's Tears

I have been in such a funk today, starting even before I heard about that horrible thing that happened this morning. Now that I've finally taken the time to sit down and find out more about what happened, I am in tears. I just can't stop crying. I am so thankful for my babies. I need to post this photo, for myself, to remind me of what I have and how precious it is. Never do I struggle more with the idea of life being outside my control than when I consider something happening to my children.


A Glimpse into my Mind

I recently had a bruise pop up on my right thigh. I have no idea how it got there, but it was dark purple and roughly the size of a Ritz cracker. It always annoys me when that happens because it seems unfair. I could drop an anvil on my head and it wouldn't leave a mark, but I just wake up one morning and I have this big bruise and no story to go with it! What good is a bruise without a story to go with it?!? Anyway, the bruise is nearly faded now, but I noticed that there is a pea-sized knot under the skin in roughly the same spot.

Doug had already seen the bruise and last night I introduced him to the knot. This conversation followed...

Doug: That's weird.

Me: I know! I think someone injected something into my leg while I was sleeping.

Doug: I think you're right. It was probably the aliens! That's where they injected the tiny alien tracking device. If you cut it out of your leg, it's going to sprout legs and start running around like an insect!

Me: OR it means that I'm actually a paranoid schizophrenic living in a mental institution and this whole wonderful life I think that I'm living is actually an elaborate delusion and this spot on my leg is where they injected me with medication and the injection site has made it's way into my delusion, which is either a fluke or it means that the medication is starting to work.

Doug: I think you're on to something there. Maybe you should talk to your psychiatrist about that.

Me: No, I never tell him the good stuff. It would only worry him.


A Turtle and A Penguin

Today's Advent Tree paper said, "Take photos with Santa!" We've never made a big deal out of the Santa Claus side of the holiday and our kids know that he's not real, but Lila thought it would be fun to do pictures. Eli had to be convinced. He thought the whole idea of a big hairy stranger in a red suit was on the creepy side. He also didn't understand why we wanted to try and take photos with someone who doesn't exist. Once we explained that we were not delusional, but were talking about someone in a costume, and once we agreed that one of us would be in the photo with them, he finally consented.
Soon after we made our list and set up the tree, we saw a flyer for a Family Night at Chick-fil-A that included photos with Santa, an Elf Cow, AND Nate the Great! We couldn't pass that up, so we shuffled our Advent Tree activities to make sure it would work out. Nate the Great is a fantastic balloon guy in Austin and he can draw quite a crowd on his own. Combine that with Chick-fil-A on Family Night and Santa Claus... a guaranteed madhouse!
Surprisingly, there was no line for our food and we found a booth right away. Getting the kids to take a deep breath and focus on eating was a little more tricky. We assured them that Santa and Nate were not going anywhere while we ate. Also surprisingly, there was no line for Santa. At all. I guess Chick-fil-A is not the kind of place you go for formal photos with the Big Guy, but it was perfect for a casual snapshot!
The painful part was standing in line for our balloon creations. Doug and I stood in line for an hour. The kids went and talked to friends for a while and they played in the play scape for a while, but I still had kids hanging from my body and stepping on my feet for far too long. Heck, I had kids I didn't even know bumping into my butt and pawing at my back. I've basically forbidden anyone in my family from touching me for the next 24 hours. We'll see how that goes.
But, long line aside, we accomplished what we went there for. Just look at those cute kids with their cute balloon animals. He can make some truly impressive creations, but there is a time restraint in this kind of situation. We might have him come to Eli's birthday party next year. I'll bet he can make a mean-looking monster truck!



This was, overall, a lovely day! We wrapped up the week's school work in about an hour and a half, which left most of the day for fun (and housework). The weather was gorgeous (for April) and the kids spent most of the day playing with doodle bugs in the back yard. They don't know it yet, but they are getting little Doodle Bug Playgrounds for Christmas. They are always trying to bring their little friends into the house. With these, I will let them!

We ate at a new-to-us restaurant tonight (Corazon at Castle Hill) and it was very tasty! They use El Milagro corn tortillas, which were better than any others we've had. The queso fundido had a delightful, smoked-cheese flavor to it. The butternut squash soup I had was simply wonderful. And they honored our Groupon, even though it expired a week ago. Bonus!

The bad news: I think there was some gluten slipped in there somewhere. Everything I ordered was supposed to be gluten-free, but I started feeling decidedly crummy about halfway through the meal. It was either the tortillas or the queso. It's only 8:15, but I'm already thinking of going to sleep. The only thing holding me back is my reluctance to give up the one night of the week when I don't feel too bad about staying up late because I know I don't have to get up as early in the morning!

I will leave you with a photo of the garlic clove that tickled my junior-high funny bone last night.

The end.


Food Waste Confession

Dead Orange

Dead Cilantro

Dead Cucumber

Dead Parsley

On the plus side, I made two very sizable dishes recently and we ate each one for multiple lunches and dinners until they were gone. No Waste Rules! We still have some buttermilk and leftover pumpkin puree that need to be used before they go bad. Those pumpkin pancakes that Doug promised me haven't materialized yet. Ooh, maybe he could use them to make pumpkin chocolate chip cookies! Tonight I made an arrabbiata pasta sauce that should be good for a few meals. Yum!
Also, I think we might make it through our current bunch of cilantro before it goes slimy! The recipe it went with only called for cilantro as a garnish. I used it as such and then chopped the whole bunch and put it in a storage container. I have been adding some to our salad every night since then. I don't know why I didn't think of this before! Cilantro is right up there with hummus in my list of most-loved foods and it's a great addition to salad!


Christmas Miscellany

I'm home this evening and it's so delightfully quiet. The only sounds are from the dishwasher and the clicking of the computer keys. Doug and the kids are on a hot cocoa date at Mozart's and I'm contemplating a cup of coffee myself. There's a chill in the air (relatively speaking). Maybe I'll open the windows, so I can curl up with my hot coffee and a good book in a cold room. I picked up a copy of 7 at the library again today and I really want to finish it before I have to return it this time!

This conversation happened earlier today and it cracked me up:

Eli: "Can we wrestle?"
Me: "Sure. . . . I'm gonna win!"
Eli: "Of course, you're not. . . . I'm so fast and I punch so much, I'm gonna win!"

And to finish off this random post. A few photos of the Christmas tree decorating.

Doug was the designated Ornament Unpacker.
The kids took turns hanging the ornaments on the tree.
And we made it through the whole process with only one broken item!


Advent Tree

One of my favorite blogs to follow is Angela's Adventures. She recently published a post about an advent calendar that she'd made. I thought it was a great idea and I was between diversions, so I decided to make one too! It involves making 25 fabric pockets, putting a slip of paper with various Christmas activities in each one, and hanging them on a small Christmas tree. It ended up being a lot of work, but I love the way it turned out.
My first mistake was waiting until December 1st to begin a project that ought to be done by... December 1st. In my defense, I didn't get the idea until three days before, so I couldn't have started much sooner if I'd tried. I like to say that I work better under pressure anyway. That's really just a Procrastinator's Justification, but I'm gonna go with it.
I went out and purchased all the necessary supplies: silver glitter ribbon, chocolate brown canvas (they didn't have the color of burlap I wanted), number stencils, white paint, and a real Christmas tree to hang all the little pockets on. The real tree is also a kind of experiment. I have seen such an improvement in my allergies since I went gluten-free and then (mostly) vegan that I thought maybe I can finally be in the same house as one without experiencing anaphylaxis.
Now, I can remember every dish that each member of my family has ordered at every restaurant we've eaten at in the past month (or more). I know lots of big words and I can spell and appropriately use most of them. I can trim the claws of even the most frightening house cat. But... I am terrified of my sewing machine. Terrified. This was the first project I've undertaken that involved any real sewing and I didn't (still don't) know how to use the thing.
I asked Irene (Doug's mom) to teach me and she was more than willing to help. Unfortunately, the machine, which belonged to my grandmother (still living, but no longer in need of a sewing machine), is missing the bobbin. I didn't have time the desire to go back to the fabric store, so I ended up sewing all the pockets by hand. I stayed up until midnight on the 1st, cutting and sewing, with some much appreciated help from my husband.
I decided to call it a night, with five pockets left to sew, when I accidentally impaled my finger on the blunt end of my sewing needle. Thankfully, I was able to finish the rest of the work after the kids went to bed the next night. Doug, Renee, and I sat around and watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation while I worked and the only mishap that occurred was when I ran out of silver glitter ribbon (as seen in photo).
Now the tree is up and there is a fun Christmas surprise tucked away in each pocket. We had a Family Meeting on Saturday morning to discuss what activities we wanted to include, so the kids know what is coming but not on which day. I am enjoying the intentionality of the whole thing. It's easy to say, "I want to have a family Christmas carol time," and then never get around to doing it. Those little slips of paper and the eager children who read them are going to make sure our "wants" actually happen this year!


Christmas Musings

First of all, I apologize for the spotty posts this past week. My goal is to write an update Monday through Friday evenings, while Doug is putting the kids to bed. However, there were a couple of odd nights last week when he had conference calls and I was the one putting them to bed. Since I wasn't able to sit down and type up a blog post during that designated time slot, I just didn't do it at all. It's one of the less charming aspects of my personality.
I've been thinking a lot about Christmas lately (naturally). I've been trying to figure out why it tends to be such a bittersweet time. We are celebrating Christ's birth, spending time with family & friends, and listening to jolly music. So why does the holiday season leave so many people depressed? The over-simplified answer for my life is that I don't do enough to celebrate Christ's birth (and all God's other miracles) and spend special time with loved ones during the rest of the year.
If I made every month a holiday, what kind of difference would that make in my outlook? I could have a party every month to celebrate my blessings. I could find special crafts and traditions for our family to do together all the time. I could light a candle at dinner every night to remind us of some wonderful aspect of God's character. We could read Bible stories as a family every week. We could be as excited and thoughtful about birthday gifts and random acts of kindess as we are about Christmas gifts.
I know there are many other reasons for people's sadness. For many, all the merriment can seem hollow and artificial. We may be separated from those loved ones we'd like to be spending time with. There might be financial difficulties that leave us feeling guilty over not being able to shower our children with gifts. And there is definitely a magic to the holiday season that changes once you are an adult. An inability to recreate that magic in your adult life can leave the holiday feeling rather lonely.
What am I missing? What else leads to holiday sadness? And what else can we do to change it in our own lives?


A Long Post about a Tiny Creature

We took a 15-minute break (Recess) from our school work yesterday afternoon so that the kids could run around outside and burn off some of their energy. They were only outside for a few minutes when Eli started crying. Now, another main goal of Recess is for me to spend 15 minutes NOT in the same room as my children. (come on, homeschooling can get kind of intense!) So, I checked to make sure that no one was bleeding and counted to ten.
The crying stopped and I went on with my power-relaxing. About 60 seconds later, I was joined by Lila who insisted that there was a giant butterfly outside and I just had to see it. I told her, basically, that I really didn't feel like coming out to look at a butterfly. She went back out. Five minutes later, Eli came inside to tell me about this giant butterfly and how I had to come see it. I took a deep breath and told him the same thing I'd told Lila. He went back outside.
Once our Recess was finally over, I went to the back door to call the kids in to the table. I saw that they were both crouched down and examining something on the ground. I decided it was time to be a good mom and go see the butterfly. I'm so glad that I did! There was the butterfly, just hanging out in the grass. I thought it was pretty odd that this insect was just standing there and letting my kids get so close to it. I put a hand out and it crawled right up!
We all took turns holding the butterfly and exclaiming over its beauty. Since we were curious about why it did not fly away, I decided to do a little research. Lila noticed that one of it's wings was slightly torn (which you can see in the photo) and she hypothesized that this was the reason it didn't fly. But no, we read that butterflies can even fly with half a wing missing. I wondered if the cold weather had something to do with it. Bingo! Sure enough, butterflies cannot fly if they get too cold!
They are insects and, therefore, cold-blooded creatures. This little beauty was grounded by a cold front and a cloudy day. None of us were willing to leave the poor thing out in the cold, so I spent 15 minutes searching the house for something we could use as a butterfly cage. I finally happened upon a mesh laundry basket that I had completely forgotten about. For once, our Ridiculous Stash of Crap in the garage came in handy!
We made a little habitat for the butterfly and brought it inside. It only took Cookie about 30 seconds to spot the enticingly-fluttery-object-that-needed-to-be-eaten, so we moved it onto the dining room table where we could keep an eye on it. We really didn't know what to feed our little friend, so I put a slice of old orange and a tiny dish of sugar water in the cage. Lila added a pretty yellow flower. We had an amusing discussion about what to name it, but no one could agree.
Eli wanted to name it Beautiful because it was so beautiful. Lila wanted to name it Escape (ess-kah-pay) because it was looking for a way out of the cage. We finally decided that we could each call it whatever we wanted and then got back to our school work. We did not get all of our work done because of this diversion, but we learned a few things and had lots of fun. It's ironic that God had to beat me over the head with this teachable moment before I finally let go of my need for control and embraced it.
Our general plan was to keep the butterfly in the house for a day or two, until the weather warmed up and/or the sun came out. Doug and I were both a little worried that it was going to die, so we each tried to prepare the kids for that possibility. I was particularly worried since I never saw it eat anything and it didn't move much after the first couple of hours. And then there was the concern that we would take it out into the warm air... and it still wouldn't fly away.
However, I am pleased to report that it survived 25 hours in our care and we were able to return it to the wild this afternoon. Once Lila got home from school, we took the cage outside, found a bit of direct sunlight, and took the top off. The butterfly just sat there and basked for a while, so I put my hand out. It crawled up onto my fingers and then flew... to my face. It crawled around on my face for a while, which I choose to believe was a Tiny Butterfly Thank You.
It fluttered down to my chest, which I could only tolerate for a few seconds. It may be pretty, but it's still got 6 little insect legs and prickly feet! I tried to get it onto my hand so that the kids could hold it, but that's when our little friend finally found her wings again. We watched it flutter away into the late afternoon sun and we all felt joy and satisfaction. I also felt the disturbing sensation that there was still something crawling around on my body, but that passed.
Goodbye, Beautiful Escape!


I never said I was *good* at crafts!

Turns out that this color makes my daughter look like she's suffering from a chronic illness. Also, I have no idea how to dress a child for a biblical presentation. This is somewhere between monk and nun. So... she's a sickly and conflicted nun?

Unfortunate since I was aiming for Sarah (as in, Abraham's wife). *sigh*

You know the kid from the movie Signs who had the issues with water? She was constantly abandoning glasses of water because she said they tasted funny or they had amoebas in them? That's Eli and shorts. Forget, for the moment, that he refuses to wear pants, even when it's only 45 degrees outside. He regularly changes shorts (and sometimes underwear) because they have become offensive to him. Usually, he says that they were poking him (even though they have an elastic waist and he's been wearing them without a problem for hours). Since bathtime this evening, he has changed his shorts twice because he said they were touching a boo-boo on his knee.

To be fair, that's also me and deodorant. Shameful confession: I have half a dozen sticks of deodorant in my bathroom cabinet. Each one was purchased, with enthusiasm, and used for about one week. Then I decided it didn't work well enough or it didn't smell right, so it went into the cabinet and I'd get a new one. Why, you might ask, don't I just find a brand that I like and stick with it? I don't know. For some reason, I'm also compelled to keep trying new brands.

This is one of those situations where Doug just shakes his head and keeps his mouth shut. He's a very wise man.


Pain, thanks, and waste

I am fighting a major headache tonight. I don't know what is causing it, but my entire head feels like it's being squeezed. I was laying on the couch after dinner, hoping that the food and water would help. (I won't take any medicine unless I just can't stand it anymore.) Eli was snuggling with me and we started chatting about various things. After a few minutes, he told me that he had a "head egg" too. Cute kid!
Oh! I wonder if it's got anything to do with the big rainstorm that passed just north of us this evening...
I brought along a little craft for Doug, the kids, and myself to do while we were in Dallas. We made Thanksgiving necklaces! (I got the idea here.) I traced the notebook page outlines onto shrinky-dink paper and wrote "I am thankful for" on each one. Then we either wrote or drew pictures of things that we were thankful for. A hole punch, a little time in the oven, and a few jewelry supplies later and we had these fun necklaces! We made them Thanksgiving morning and wore them all day.
I have two food waste confessions, but no photos to go with them. Doug is very efficient and threw them out before I could take a picture. The breakfast cookies I baked last week got all fuzzy while we were in Dallas. I brought them with me, but failed to put them in the fridge. I got a couple of breakfasts out of them, but had to throw most away. Major bummer! When we got back, I found a package with one lonely tortilla in it that was starting to look like a science project.


"Mom's gettin' wacky with the leftovers again!"

I want to avoid as much food waste as possible while we're gone for Thanksgiving. Since we had a budding collection of leftover produce in the fridge, I decided to throw it all together into a meal and see what happened.
Here's what I started off with:
Main dish ingredients: Celery, parsley, tomato paste, cranberries, cilantro, chives, thyme, broccoli, and baby carrots
Side dish: Vegetable curry and rice
Salad: Baby arugula, romaine, cucumber, red onion, avocado, apple slices (i used the cilantro here too)

I chopped up the celery and broccoli, and threw in the carrots and cranberries.
That went into a skillet with a little olive oil and sauteed for a few minutes.

I added in the tomato paste, a cup of vegetable broth, the herbs, and a couple of other random things that got in my way. This simmered until I finished cooking the pasta (duck shapes) and heating up the curry. It was definitely an unusual dish and I wouldn't really recommend that you try to recreate it, but I am very pleased at being able to save so many various foods from certain ruin!

Unfortunately, I couldn't use up ALL of the ingredients. There is still quite a bit of celery and some of each of the herbs leftover. I know the celery will make it until next week, but you can probably look forward to some photos of slimy herbs when I get back to Austin!


Is it something in the water?

They're so cute when they're asleep, aren't they? So sweet. You can almost forget all the crazy-ass things they do when they're awake. I don't know what has gotten into these people lately, but it has left me standing in that mouth-hanging-open-with-disbelief posture far too often. Lila has been straight-up rude to everyone in the house. Eli is exploding things and making messes at the speed of light. And it's even worse when they start scheming together!
It's funny, in an exasperating way. But it's kind of sad too. These guys have always been remarkably trustworthy and well-behaved. They throw fits and make messes with the best of them, but they don't have to be watched at all times. They are (mostly) kind to the animals. They know what they are and aren't allowed to cut with scissors. They know how much candy they are allowed to eat each day. They know that food isn't allowed upstairs. And they are honest.
Until this recent bout of insanity, that is. I find that my trust in them is eroding and that makes me very sad! I should talk to them about it. Not in a threatening or guilt-trippy kind of way. Just an honest conversation about trust and how it is given, lost, regained, etc. I don't expect it to inspire an instant change in behavior, but I know my kids pretty well. When you talk to them in a mature way, they listen and really chew on what has been discussed.
Trustworthy adults don't just happen! They have to be taught.



Eli actually ate dinner tonight. And it wasn't pizza! Granted, he did not eat the main dish that I cooked (which was delicious, by the way). And he would only eat his lettuce if he could dip it in peanut butter, but we figured that's probably a healthier option than salad dressing anyway. But he did eat roughly one leaf of lettuce, a tablespoon of peanut butter, a tablespoon of roasted and unsalted peanuts, and most of a banana. For a normal person, that would be a snack. For Eli... it might be the healthiest dinner he's ever eaten. Seriously!
Doug was offered a free ticket for a stadium seat at tomorrow's F1 race events, so it looks like we'll be losing him for several hours. He did some research this evening and it sounds like 2 hours of the time he'll be gone will just be getting to and from the track. And that's with us driving him to a shuttle bus downtown! Oh well. I'm sure we'll find some way to keep ourselves entertained.
However, the more I hear and read about this F1 racing business, the more disturbed I am. People spend an unholy amount of money to attend these races! I'm talking about thousands of dollars per race, plus travel expenses all over the world. Think of the kind of difference you could make in the life of a struggling family with that kind of money! Think of the clean drinking water you could bring to a remote village somewhere! Think of all the good things you could do for other people!
Okay, okay. [deep breath] No more throwing stones. What could I do with my resources to help other people this holiday season? That's something that Doug and I were just discussing this evening! We have ideas, but no conclusion yet. I'll keep you updated.


It's been a long, full day and I'm very tired. I don't think I have the energy to be witty or thought-provoking (or even mildly interesting). I also don't have any good photos to share. Tomorrow I will save some energy for the evening, make sure I have something to talk about, and take some new pictures. 'Til then...


Today's Blunder

I'm posting early today because, frankly, I just need to vent. The day started off fairly well, except for all the sneezing. I took a Claritin and cleared that right up. (that's only the third time i've had to take anything this season!) Eli and I went to the gym, where I had a good workout and ran into a couple of friends. After the gym, we went to the library, where we got new books and I ran into an acquaintance and met another mom with a daughter at Veritas.
After that, things just got aggravating. I was already on edge for some reason. Hormones? Allergy medicine? I don't know. Little things were feeling disproportionately annoying. But, I was really looking forward to seeing Lila's performances in the Grade School Fine Arts Salon. Eli napped, I showered, we (Doug, Eli, and I) got ready to go and actually made it out the door at roughly the time I'd planned. Then we got to the school and discovered that we had missed Lila's music performance.
I got the end time confused with the start time and we showed up right as all the other parents were coming out of the auditorium. When Lila finally saw us walk in, she just dissolved into tears. My heart split right in half. I can't even tell you how bad I felt. And it did not help that other people kept mentioning comments Lila had made about us not being there or how you could see the change in her face when she realized we were missing her performance.
Worst. Mom. Ever.
We hugged her and apologized and felt like total heels. She cried for a while and looked so pitiful that her best friend's mommy nearly cried along with her. A couple of other moms said they'd gotten the whole thing on video and would send us the files. That helped a tiny bit. We asked Lila if she'd like to get up on stage and give us a private performance. That helped a little bit too. She sang all three songs for us and showed us the surprise they'd prepared for the parents (punch in the gut - oof!).
At that point, she seemed to be pretty well recovered. I asked her forgiveness (which she graciously extended) and we moved on to the Author's Share portion of the afternoon. That's where we got to see all the material our kids have been working on in their Writers' Workshop. Lila showed us a couple of cute stories and some very creative drawings. It wasn't quite what I'd expected, but it was good to see her pride in the hard work she's been doing.
Things continued on after that, in an up-and-down sort of way. I misunderstood where we were supposed to meet up with her dance class for the final presentation of the afternoon. Down. We got to see Lila dance to 'The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy' with her classmates. Up! Someone else made off with Lila's shoes, so we had to leave with a pair that was too big. Down. You get the idea... I just can't shake the terrible feeling over missing her music performance though.
Once we finally got home and the kids were doing other things, I went to my room and cried. Lila has totally moved on, but I am having a hard time forgiving myself for disappointing my child. I know it's not the first time, nor will it be the last, but oh! does it sting. *sigh*


Dance Class and Dinner

Dance class or the Ministry of Silly Walks?
Lila's elective for this first trimester has been Dance. On Monday, the parents were invited to sit in on class, to see what the girls have been working on these past few months. Doug couldn't get away from work to be there, but Eli and I went. I hadn't realized how hard those girls have been working! The class is an hour long and those girls were stretching, working on various moves, and dancing the whole time! Watching a room full of 6- and 7-year-olds try to do precise dance movements is predictably entertaining at times. Just the same, I was proud of my Big Girl!

I'm very pleased with myself this evening because I made a very yummy dinner that used up several leftover bits and pieces from previous meals. I had a cup (or more) of cashew cream, a cup of vegetable broth, half a tomato, two partial bags of uncooked pasta, and the last of The Head of Cabbage that Just Won't End. Those things, along with a tablespoon(ish) of tomato paste, five cloves of garlic, a stalk of celery, and some fresh parsley, chives, and thyme, all worked together to make a great, creamy pasta dish!

On a related note, I think you should be able to buy celery by the stalk. I'm not sure I've ever used an entire bunch of celery before it went bad. I'm very determined to use it all up this time, but that might mean celery thrown into every dish for the next two weeks! And furthermore, could I please get smaller bunches of cilantro? I love cilantro and will add it to almost anything, but I can't seem to use it all up before it goes slimy!
Anyway, I'm supposed to be talking about how pleased I am over this make-it-up-as-i-go-along, use-up-lots-of-ingredients meal. I highly recommend making a batch of Cashew Cream and experimenting with it in some of your recipes. It is so tasty!


My First Food Waste Confession

This lonely apple slice somehow managed to sit in the refrigerator until it achieved a rubbery texture that no one was willing to tolerate.

Yep, I just need to stop buying oranges. I did put this one to good use, however. I threw it at Doug's rump.

This was a large and lovely heirloom tomato. I have no excuse for allowing it to go bad. I could easily have added it to a salad or other dish.
There you have it.
Do you want to make a food waste confession?
Do you have a great food save that you'd like to share?


Stupid Daylight Saving Time

For the first 27 years of my life, I had no opinion on Daylight Saving Time. I enjoyed getting an extra hour of sleep in the Fall and I shorted myself an hour of sleep in the Spring (because i was too stubborn to go to bed an hour early). Beyond that, I didn't care. . . . Then I had kids. Now I spend two weeks out of the year cursing the person who decided DST was a good idea. The time changed on Sunday and my kids are still acting like crazy people.
I mean, I get it. Your brain and body get used to doing things at certain times and then that changes on you overnight. People are telling you that it's time to sleep/eat/go to school, but your body says otherwise. The result is fatigue, headaches, and tummy aches. It's even messing with my head (and body) a little bit. I decided today that Texas should secede and the Republic of Texas should definitely NOT observe Daylight Saving Time!
A little history, if you're curious...
Daylight Saving Time was instituted in the United States during World War I in order to save energy for war production by taking advantage of the later hours of daylight between April and October. During World War II the federal government again required the states to observe the time change. Between the wars and after World War II, states and communities chose whether or not to observe Daylight Saving Time. In 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, which standardized the length of Daylight Saving Time.
For more, you can go here.


This Post has Nothing to do with the Election

Things have been going very well so far with No Waste Rules! I haven't had to throw out any food since I last mentioned it. Can you believe that?!? No mystery leftovers! No rotten produce! There are a few odds and ends in the fridge that I need to find a use for pretty soon (any ideas for leftover tomato paste?) and a couple of oranges that are going to go bad if someone doesn't "take one for the team" (i just need to stop buying those). So I might be blessing you with photos of moldy food in the near future.
On Sunday evening, I made a Puree of Vegetable Soup that we've been eating for a few days. It was a massive soup, so we'll be eating it for a few more days as well! I love soups and stews and chilies and such because they tend to improve over time. This particular soup has tasted better every time we've eaten it. And I found some heavenly gluten-free focaccia bread to go with it (in the freezer section at Whole Foods). It's too expensive to buy very often, but great for an occasional treat.
The Chewy Ginger Cookies that I mentioned a few days ago are rocking my world! I've always liked the flavor of ginger snaps, but I just don't enjoy eating crunchy cookies. So these are perfect for me. The kids love them too, but have been too distracted by Halloween candy to eat many of them. I'm not complaining, however, because that leaves more for me! I still have a big hunk of dough sitting in the refrigerator, so we won't be running out any time soon.
If you're tired of "listening" to me talk about food, how about this little nugget: Eli sleep-walked during rest time today. He fell asleep in his own bed and woke up in my bed. He insists that he did not sleep-walk because he doesn't remember getting out of bed. I tried to explain to him that you never remember sleep-walking because you are asleep, but he's just not buying it. Now Lila's slightly jealous because she doesn't sleep-walk. Really...? No sibling rivalry there. No sir!


Weekend Getaway

Doug and I had a wonderful weekend away to celebrate 10 years of marriage! We dropped the kids off with some grandparents, where we knew they would not miss us one bit, and then headed to Burnet, TX. Well, I guess we were technically 20 miles outside of Burnet, but that's the nearest town. We stayed at Rainbow Hearth Sanctuary & Retreat Center. The whole point of the weekend was just to be... with each other, with God, with ourselves. We didn't really do anything.
This place is deep in the Texas Hill Country, as you can see from the photo - watch your step! Rainbow Hearth could be described as a Bed & Breakfast, but it's really more than that. The proprietor, Mariah, also does massage/bodywork. So it's kind of a spa. And since it is 20 miles from the nearest town, you eat all of your meals there and spend most of your time enjoying silence and solitude. So it's also a retreat center. You get the idea.
We really only saw the other guests (all three of them) at meals, but there were a few friendly pets that could always be counted on for companionship! (See my Facebook page for photos.) While the focus at Rainbow Hearth is not Christian, it is definitely spiritual. Many people might be uncomfortable with the messages they promote, but you can be assured that God and the Holy Spirit are there with you because They are everywhere you go. I just tuned out everything except Jesus and enjoyed my time with Him (as well as with Doug, of course)!
It was really strange to see and explore Lake Buchanan because the water level is extremely low. I will try and remember to post a picture or two on Facebook that have a good view of the lake. It's easy to see where the water level used to be vs. where it is now. I understand that our actions, as a society, are contributing to the current changes in our climate and landscape. I also understand, however, that climates and landscapes have been changing since our world was created. I find it somewhat fascinating to be able to watch it happen this time!
Anyway, I could go on about our weekend - I haven't even started talking about the food yet! - but I'm starting to get sleepy, so it's time to wrap up. If you are looking for extended periods of solitude (with or without another person) and silence so profound, at times, that you can hear your own heartbeat, then this is a great place to visit!
*Is it me, or does this read more like a poorly written travel review than a blog post? Did I mention that I'm sleepy?


Cheerful vs. Stubborn

I'm feeling pretty cheerful this evening. Tired, but cheerful. I have Chewy Ginger Cookie dough chilling in the fridge and I'm looking forward to a little late-night baking once it's firm. Lila helped me make the dough, which made us both feel good. Lila loves to help cook. Serving is definitely one of her main love languages. It made me feel good to know that I was showing her love and letting her show me love in this way because I don't do it very often. Let her help me cook, I mean. I usually want to be left entirely alone while I'm cooking. Even Doug's helpful offers and suggestions are usually met with a wild-eyed stare.
It's not that I don't appreciate the desire to spend time with me or help me out. I just can't think about anything else when I'm cooking and one question too many could make my head explode. Really!
Eli seems to have given up both eating and bathing. As soon as we were done with our day's school work, both kids disappeared upstairs. I didn't see them for an hour after that! When I went up to tell them that it was shower time, they ignored me. I finally got them to acknowledge that they did hear and understand the language that I was speaking, but no one came to be bathed. I waited around for 15 minutes (no great tragedy. i spent that time reading on my bed.) and then came back downstairs.
Lila, who doesn't really need help anyway, went ahead and took her shower about half an hour later. Well, she stood under the water for a while. She didn't discover until she was already in the shower and wet that their body wash was not in there with her. She yelled my name for several minutes (which i didn't hear because i was downstairs with the radio on) and then decided that she'd rather declare herself Clean Enough than get out and get the soap.
When we were 15 minutes away from dinner time, I reminded Eli that we'd be eating soon and he was welcome to join us once he was clean. I forgot that this strategy is not so effective on someone who opts not to eat dinner half the time anyway. He ended up riding his bike around and around the house while the rest of us ate. He is currently being put to bed. No dinner, no bath. Oh well... he'll eat again at breakfast and I know he'll bathe tomorrow night because he'll be at Grammie and Papa Joe's!


The Lunar Effect

We are still in Costume Land, but tonight I remembered to take a break for my blog! What you see in this photo is a lot of Work in Progress, including Eli's H.E.R.B.I.E. helmet, face and shirt, and Lila's jelly bean label. I think we've got their costumes under control. When I'm through with this post, I'll be cleaning off the coffee table (currently covered in glitter and markers) and bringing down our ironing board. I'm wicked excited about our Greendale Community College shirts! Go Human Beings!
I'm glad the day is winding to a close because it's been a long one. The kids were extra crazy all day. Now I'm going to say something that 75% of you will think is nuts and/or heretical: I'm pretty sure it was an effect, at least in large part, of last night's full moon. Six or nine months ago, I would have thought that was crazy too, but then I started paying attention. There were days when the kids seemed inexplicably loony (pun intended).
I noticed on one of those occasions that there was a full moon that night. On a hunch, I started taking note of the moon whenever the kids had one or two of these spells of lunacy and, sure enough, they nearly always coincided with a full moon. Weird, right?!? We cannot fully understand the way that God made this world, hard though we try. But I figure, Hey, if the moon can control the ocean tides, it can have an effect on my children's brains.
Go ahead. Grab your pitchforks and torches. But don't bother bringing science with you. :)


Blogger Currently Unavailable

We are deep in the land of costume planning and preparation. This whole Make Your Own Costume deal is a lot of work! We've had a stroke of genius for the grown-up costumes. Doug, Renee, and I are making Greendale Community College t-shirts!
I guess you'll really only think that's awesome if you've seen Community.
Anyway, I will try to type up a real blog post tomorrow evening.
Below is my Blogger Currently Unavailable image.


Various Forms of Pain

A quick update on the Insanely Spicy Curry (i know you 've been thinking about it): On the first night, after we finished dinner, I drained the liquid off, added more peas, coconut milk, and a couple tbsp of yogurt. Doug ate some the second night and said it was much less spicy. Last night, I spent way too much time thinking about what to do, then pulled it out and served it again for dinner. I added some corn, a little peanut butter, and mixed it with pasta. It is now a different creature than what I started out to make, but it's rather tasty and can be eaten without pain. I won't have to throw it out after all!

On an unrelated note, I fell down our stairs today. Really, it was only about one-third of the way down the stairs, but it sounds better when I'm less specific. I must have cried out in surprise/pain/fear when it happened because both kids came running. Eli looked at me long enough to determine that I wasn't bleeding, then went back to what he was doing. Lila tried to help me up, but I was still in too much pain to move. If I wasn't going to let her minister to me, then she had no further use for me, so she also went back to what she was doing.

Thankfully, I'm fine except for some scrapes and bruises. But, as I was evaluating my injuries a little while ago, I was reminded of a funny story that happened to me when I was pregnant with Eli. As a matter of fact, I was two days away from my c-section, so I was really pregnant with Eli.

I woke up one morning to the sound of a naughty cat scratching the carpet. I sat up, spotted the guilty culprit, and grabbed the nearest squirt bottle. (We keep these handy all over the house.) I jumped out of bed and took off in pursuit of the cat, squirting water at him as I went. We had wood floors in that house... and I was running... and I was squirting water in front of me as I ran... 9 months pregnant... Jump to Doug's point of view--

He is in the kitchen, making his breakfast and doing Morning Things. He hears a strange sound from the direction of our bedroom and looks up, over the bar, in time to see his extremely pregnant wife come running into the living room and then disappear. The next thing he sees is said pregnant wife's feet in the air. He comes around the end of the bar to see me, flat on my back, laughing my ass butt off. He, being concerned for my well-being, was not as amused as I was.

I still can't tell the story without laughing so hard that I cry. [she says, as she wipes tears from her eyes.] I mean, really, what good is a story like that if you can't laugh at yourself?


Costume Construction

Construction has finally begun on the Halloween costumes. Lila will be a bag of purple jelly beans. Unfortunately, we can't really put that together until just before we go out. We got some letter stencils to make the label (I love this!): Lila Beans, purple jelly beans. The bag will be a transparent trash bag and the jelly beans will be small purple balloons. We took one of the balloons for the making of Eli's helmet (see photo).
Eli will be H.E.R.B.I.E. the robot, from Super Hero Squad. Doug and I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out the best way to make a realistic H.E.R.B.I.E. costume. Turns out, Eli doesn't care about realism. When we consulted him on costume ideas, he just wanted to wear a gray long-sleeved t-shirt, and gray sweatpants. Uh, that is way easier than the ideas we were coming up with to make him look like he was levitating!
We got black fabric paint to draw the lines on his belly and sleeves. Surprisingly, Eli did consent to let Doug make a cool H.E.R.B.I.E. head helmet. I'm just hoping he also consents to put it on when Halloween gets here. What you see in this picture is the beginnings of our first-ever paper mache project. He requested extendable arms, but I don't think we're going to be able to pull that one off. I don't think we have room in our budget for replacing our son's arms with robotic prosthetics.


Official name of my undertaking: No Waste Rules!

Until about 30 minutes ago, I was feeling very triumphant about our reduction of food waste. Now I feel frustrated! But I'll get to that later...
This is actually a photo of the dinner that I cooked on Wednesday: Roasted Tomato stuffed with Yellow Rice. I probably should have cored out more of the tomato before roasting, but overall it was a yummy dish. It made three dinners and one lunch. I have cleared out all questionable leftovers and produce, and fully implemented all of my new No Waste Rules! So, from this point on, I will be taking photos of any food that I have to throw out.
Which leads me to my frustration with tonight's meal. It is a Simple Green Curry... that is too spicy for anyone in this house except Doug to eat. I was exceedingly puffed-up by the time dinner rolled around because I had not only cooked a healthy meal, but even turned the excess kale into kale chips (shockingly tasty!), added the leaves from the excess bok choy to our salad mix, and put peanut butter on the excess bok choy stems. Our plates were full of healthy food and nothing except ends and pieces got thrown away!
Then we took the first bite of curry. I don't feel like going into what went wrong - it's too frustrating. Let's just say this was a learning experience. Doug enjoys spicy food, so he was able to finish his serving, but it was a bit much even for him. I ate three bites and couldn't handle the pain. I thank God that Doug took the first bite of his food before any made its way into the kids' mouths. There would have been tears!
I absolutely refuse to throw leftovers away on my first day of fully-implemented No Waste Rules!, so I am desperately trying to tame them down. I have drained off the liquid and added some more coconut milk (it's not the super-creamy stuff though - it's coconut milk 'beverage'), a couple tablespoons of plain yogurt, and more peas. It's still ridiculously spicy, but I might have managed to tone it down about 10%.
Nonetheless, I will not be able to serve this to my children again (or myself, for that matter) and that means going to the store again tomorrow and cooking another meal while leftovers that might or might not get eaten sit in the refrigerator. [sigh] I am trying to remind myself that it's not a big deal and I can't expect to get things just right all the time, etc. None of that is at all comforting to a raging perfectionist, however.
Hmm... maybe God has more than one thing to teach me through this new way of doing things...


Story Time

Man, I really enjoy sitting around with friends (old or new) and telling great stories! Our family had an impromptu cookout with our neighbors tonight and we had so much fun! The grown-ups sat around in lawn chairs and talked while the kids ran in, out, and around us. Each of us was doubled over with laughter at one point or another. And the best part is that we were just talking about life. We told stories about our kids, our childhoods, each other. 
There was no cussing (that I recall) and very little "adult" humor. The funniest things in life are the things that happen to us every day. I thank God regularly for giving me such a strong sense of humor because it makes life so much more... fun! There are countless moments in each day when something unexpected happens and we have a choice to make. It's a choice that's made in a moment, almost without thinking, but it's so important!

It's the day before your daughter's very first day of school... and your toddler son pours carrot juice into her brand new (and mostly white) school shoes. What do you do?
You could get angry and punish the child for making a mess. You could obsess about the money you spent and the impossibility of getting carrot juice out of white fabric. You could feel burdened by yet another item added to your to-do list.

Or, you could stop and appreciate the humor in the situation. What are the chances that your son would choose to pour his juice into someone's shoes, especially those particular shoes? (And who left the brand new shoes sitting out on the mud bench, anyway?) Is it going to hurt your daugher to go to school with slightly orange shoelaces? No. Will it make a great story to tell your mom-friends (and the kids' grandparents) later? Yes!

Should your son think it's okay to pour carrot juice into his sister's shoes? Absolutely not. Will he and your daughter both learn a great lesson from watching their mom confront an unexpected and undesireable situation with humor and grace? You better believe it!
For the record, this example is not theoretical. It actually happened to me a couple of years ago. I'm not saying I made all the right choices in that moment. As I recall, I stood in the hallway with my mouth opening and closing silently for several seconds, then began to freak out. Eli did not get in trouble, but he definitely understood that it was not okay to pour his juice into someone's shoes. The laughing came later, when I started doing one of my favorite things - telling a great new story!


Our Latest Adventure

I am a frequent reader of several blogs. Two of them, The Frugal Girl and Simply Being Mum, are chronicling their efforts to reduce and/or eliminate food waste in their households. I have read their posts with increasing discomfort for months now. I want to do the same, but I don't care much for change. I'm also bizarrely defensive about my grocery shopping habits. I get a little hostile if Doug tries to suggest that I should get a different brand of vegetable broth or buy a few less apples.
Well, I'm finally going for it! I am putting my own boundaries around it (naturally - since when do i ever do exactly what i'm told?), but I think it will be revolutionary around here. Once I have the routine figured out and the fridge cleared of all current crap, I will begin taking photos of any food that I end up throwing away. I will post those photos here and use my readers as my priests as I confess my wastefulness. (For the record, these Candy Corn Cookies are not being thrown out. They are just cute.)

Step 1: I am only buying the ingredients for one meal at a time. Too often have I bought produce several days ahead of a planned meal, only to find it rotted by the time I was ready to cook.

Step 2: I will not cook a new meal until the leftovers from the previous meal have been consumed. Too often have I found fuzzy leftovers in the fridge that I don't even remember cooking!

Step 3: I will not cook food that I do not intend to eat. This one is actually a bit difficult for me because there are (quite) a few things that I don't eat, but I know that Doug loves them. However, this leaves Doug in the position of having to eat all of the leftovers by himself. Too often have I thrown away food that only went bad because one person could not consume it quickly enough. I do recognize that I could just cook small portions of those items and I might do so from time to time.

Step 4: The children will be served leftovers. This one might seem like a no-brainer (ew. i just remembered how much i hate that phrase...), but here's what Leftover Night looked like in the Peeler house prior to this week: Doug - leftovers; Angela - maybe leftovers; Eli - frozen pizza; Lila - frozen burrito. The kids didn't eat the food when I served it the first time, so I didn't make them sit in front of it a second time. Well, that rationale is breeding poor eating habits and a (greater) sense of entitlement. Too often have I allowed my children to eat processed and non-nutritious food because I wanted to avoid an argument.

This may seem excessive or fanatical, but I'm not kidding when I say that one person (or maybe two people) could be sustained by the food that we throw away in this house. I can't stand it anymore. I will not throw out food that another person would literally kill for! I welcome anyone who wants to join me in this journey...



 I have really been enjoying my time in the kitchen lately. I have taken pleasure in cooking for quite some time, but my endeavours have gradually turned toward baking (which i used to avoid) and vegan cooking. Okay, the Sauerbraten (pictured below) is neither baked nor vegan, but it was an adventure all its own. I was terrified that I was putting a great deal of cost and effort into a dish that no one was going to eat, but people liked it! They liked it!
I can't say that my husband is particularly enjoying my newfound love of vegan food. He would rather have a hunk of meat on his plate. I don't have a great deal of sympathy for him, however, as I know how often he goes to Chuy's for lunch with his co-workers. Chuy's, which I can no longer eat. Curse you, Doug Peeler! It's a good thing I like you... Anyway, I figure I'm doing him a favor by giving his body a break from the animal products when we eat at home.
The kids could not care less. Really. It's not like they ate the food that I cooked before anyway! And, as it turns out, Lila loves brown rice and quinoa. That's fabulously healthy! As for Eli, we are ecstatic if he eats one bite of food at dinner. I truly don't know how he maintains that delightful plumpness. BUT... it seems that a batch of homemade cookies can erase a lot of bad memories. Who can complain about Roasted Tomatoes Stuffed with Yellow Rice when there is a bucket of Candy Corn cookies in the pantry?
Well, okay, the kids can. But they forget quickly!