Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: June 26th, 2013

Some new friends, some adventuring, and a whole lot of rest needed to recover from this week.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Meal Plan Monday: June 24th, 2013

Breakfast for Dinner

Greek Chicken Skewers with Avocado Tzatziki

French Dip with Tater Tots (my oldest son's favorite right now.)

Enchilada Casserole

Spring Rolls with Garlic Snap Peas

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

Oh, do I have something delicious for you today. I don't even like the foods involved and I think this is one amazing dish. And an easy new cheese recipe as well!
Stuffed Mini Bell Pepper with Marinara Sauce 

Mini Bell Peppers, stems cut and seeds cleared out
Jar of Marinara (Hey, we made ricotta, its fair to use a premade jar sauce)

Fill a pastry bag with a large tip and your ricotta. Use to fill peppers with the cheese. Pour sauce into shallow dish, place peppers on top. Bake in 350 degree oven until hot and bubbly. Serve with pasta.

Raw Milk Ricotta
Makes about 1 ½ cups

½ gallon raw milk (you can use whole, but not ultra-pasteurized)
¼ cup white vinegar1 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
Use a large, heavy (at least 8-quart) stockpot (see "other notes" above). The larger the pot, the less likely the milk will boil over (which is even worse to clean up than a scorched pot).
Without touching the bottom, stir together milk, vinegar and salt. Gently heat milk to 175 degrees, stirring occasionally.
Increase heat to medium-high and, without stirring, let temperature rise to 205 degrees. Watch carefully so that milk does not boil over.
Remove from heat, and let milk sit for 10 minutes and curdle.
Line a strainer with cheesecloth, or a thin dish towel, and place over a large bowl.
If curds are large, use a slotted spoon to transfer curds from pot to strainer. If curds are tiny, pour entire contents through the strainer.
Let ricotta drain 5 minutes for a creamy product, or up to 30 minutes for a drier cheese (good for filling for the recipe above).
Drained ricotta will keep two to three days tightly covered in the refrigerator. Ricotta will get drier while stored as the curds absorb more whey.
Meal Plan Monday

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: June 19th, 2013

Birthday, Father's Day, town festival, and some gorgeous weather filled out this week.

 We have some new visitors to the yard, too.

New dye!
Happy Birthday, to my husband!

This is what 10pm in mid June looks like in the Pacific Northwest! Still too light for stars.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Embracing the Schedule

Welcome to the June edition of the Simply Living Blog Carnival - Around the House cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. This month, we write about what we do to keep the little things from overwhelming us. Please check out the links to posts by our other participants at the end of this post.

The greatest thing my family ever did to keep up with our housework was our system of 5 Things. Not only was it the first "New Year's Resolution" to ever make it out of the month of January, we are now 6 months into it with only a few adjustments needing to be made for our surprisingly nice spring and our drive to start family biking. So, if you haven't read that post, go do read it now. Then come back and I can tell you how we created a system for keeping it up with the rest of our schedule.

Soon after starting our 5 things, my 3 children came down with the chicken pox. It was a very mild case for them all, and it was a solid month of quarantine, waiting for them all to finish. In that time, I learned I needed to embrace The SCHEDULE.

My husband and I are not schedule oriented. We like to go with the flow, see what happens, and just enjoy. Turns out, that is harder to do with kids. Even homeschooled ones. The first thing I had to look at is how to display our schedule. Some people prefer the ease of online calandars, so everyone can sync up and know what is going on, wherever they are. Unless you are my husband, who does not want a smartphone, or even one that connects to the internet. So we went to the great, old fashioned wall calendar. A giant one.

I filled in our recurring events, and found a day for each household chore (aside from daily dishes and laundry). I also arranged things for plenty of open days so it would be easy to move around if we decided to ride, or didn't feel well. You know, Life. Then I used a highlighter to make it easy to differentiate between chores, homeschool group, adult nights, and meetups. I also keep an updated planner to take on the go.

Then each evening at dinner, we look at the calendar, discuss what our plans are, and write our 5 Things on the refrigerator white board. It is great to include our children in the process, and they really get into participating the planning, making them more apt to help in the execution.

Who knew something as simple as a giant wall calendar could have such an impact on how our house is run.

Thank you for visiting the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. Read about how others are incorporating simple ideas around their homes. We hope you will join us next month!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Meal Plan Monday: June 17th, 2013

I am kind of dialing it in this week. Summer is here and we are busy trying to be outside as much as we can, so easy-peasy is the name of the game.

BLTAs (It was such a big hit, the request for it is high!)

Superfood Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Macaroni and Cheese with Kielbasa

Stir Fry

Bagel Pizzas

Taco Salad

Tuscan Kale and Chickpea Pasta
Meal Plan Monday

Friday, June 14, 2013

10 Things I NEVER Thought I Would Say as a (Natural) Parent at Natural Parents Network

Natural Parents Network: 10 Things I NEVER Thought I Would Say as a (Natural) 
ParentI have a post today at Natural Parents Network with 
10 Things I NEVER Thought I Would Say as a (Natural) Parent.

Parenting changes us. Things never even considered for conversations slip past our lips. When you step out of mainstream a bit, things tend to sound just a little stranger, until you realize they are just another part of your new life.

That is not a bath toy!
I know. It is squishy and pliable. It looks like a cup. And it is. Your menstrual cup. How do they always find that thing? All the more reason to boil it before and after use.

Continue reading the list at Natural Parents Network ››

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Frozen Green Dream

Welcome to the Festival of Food Carnival. This month, we celebrate Smoothies and Mocktails!  Hosted by Diary of a First Child and Hybrid Rasta Mama, you're welcome to join us next time, or if you have a previously published recipe you'd like to share, add it to the linky below.

Smoothie season! When it is too warm for that bowl of oatmeal and just want something cool and filling to start the day. Well, I am here to share our favorite tip for making smoothies and our basic concoction.

We start with a handful or two of greens. Doesn't matter what kind. Spinach, chard, kale, bok choy, if it is in my fridge it goes in the blender. Herbs can be good, too. Basil, mint, and lavender have been favorites.

green smoothieThen some yogurt. I usually get honey greek in the tub. About 2 heaping tablespoons.

Then fruit. Whatever you like. Fresh kiwis, frozen berries, whatever you have. Even avocados can help pull together a creamy smoothie.

This is where the trick (from my sister, in case it seems like I am taking credit for it) comes in. Fresh and even frozen fruit can be expensive. Canned fruit is pretty cheap. Keep a couple cans of your favorites (especially off season) in the freezer. You can take the time to put them in freezer bags, but we just put the cans right in. Then when we are ready, run the edges in warm water and carefully use a knife to carve it out. Our favorite is pineapple, as it is particularly delicious and one of the easiest to find in it's own juices.

Then just blend, blend, blend. Every so often, depending on fruits used, I need to add some liquid. Coconut milk keeps it lighter, but sometimes some good raw milk really bulks it out right.

Pretty basic, huh? The things I have really taken away from jumping into the green smoothie world: it is hard to mess it up when you stick to flavors you enjoy, greens are almost never the forefront of the flavor so don't be afraid to really use them, and always pour half of what you think you might drink until you get used to them. They can fill you up faster than you may think.

Please take a moment to visit the blogs of our other Festival of Food participants. The links in this list will be live by the end of the day, as participants are all in different time zones.

Stay connected! Be sure to "Like" the Festival of Food Carnival Facebook page.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Know Better, Do Better. Except When I Don't.

Welcome to the June 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting:
Parenting in Theory vs. in Reality

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants are sharing how their ideas and methods of parenting have changed.

I have taken care of children for almost all my life. My brother was born when I was two, and my dad says I took up caring for him from the very beginning. From siblings, to babysitting, to a homeschooling nanny, I had ample time to see the importance of parenting decisions, and most importantly how those decisions work out in the long run. Yes, there was a time that I thought spankings and other hurtful, shaming tactics were how you raised children. Then I saw their effectiveness fall to the wayside as the children grew and knew they were not teaching the lessons I wanted to teach my children. And by being a part of supervising homeschooling children, I would learn the true nature of learning and education. That it is possible to trust a child's intrinsic drive to explore and discover.

So, there were certain statements I made as I moved toward being a parent of my own children.
Laundry line
"I won't spank."
"If it is at all possible, I will not send my children to industrialized (public) school."
"I will breastfeed my child."
"I want to use cloth diapers."

And, I stand by these statements, even though all of them were shot down or laughed at by some people. So many people said I would change my tune when I was in the midst of parenting. Or well meaning people would almost give me "permission" to fail. That may be nice for some people, but when I set a goal I want SUPPORT, not naysayers.

Most importantly, I need support for when I loose my path to these goals. Because what I did find as I fell down the parenting rabbit hole was that even with full knowledge, education, and belief in these convictions about what kind of parent I want to be: all too often I fail. I can spout off all the reasons for my decisions, and support them with research and studies. But in the thick of it, sometimes I lose myself to the darker corners of my mind that recalls what my experience was as a child and forget that is not what I want in the present.

What I have had to realize is that I can't just make up my mind about what kind of parent I want to be. I can't just read about it. I need to surround myself with people who believe what I believe. Who practice the values I want for myself and my family. So we can support each other in changing how our brains process and move into responding in ways we may never or rarely saw growing up. And to laugh it off when we see a cloth diaper advocate with a babe in disposables and know that it means maybe she needs a little extra love in the moment.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • My little gastronomes — "I'll never cook a separate meal for my children," Maud at Awfully Chipper vowed before she had children; but things didn't turn out quite as she'd imagined.
  • Know Better, Do Better. Except When I Don't. — Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy was able to settle in her parenting choices before her children arrived, but that doesn't mean she always lives up to them.
  • Judgments Made Before Motherhood — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks back on her views of parents she came in contact with before she became a mother and how much her worldview of parenting has changed!
  • A Bend in The Road — Lyndsay at ourfeministplayschool writes about how her visions of homeschooling her son during the elementary school years have changed drastically in the last year - because HE wants to go to school.
  • I Wish Children Came with Instruction Manuals — While Dionna at Code Name: Mama loves reading about parenting, she's not found any one book that counts as an instruction manual. Every child is different, every family is different, every dynamic is different. No single parenting method or style is the be-all end-all. Still, wouldn't it be nice if parenting were like troubleshooting?
  • The Mistakes I've Made — Kate at Here Now Brown Cow laments the choices she made with her first child and explains how ditching her preconceived ideas on parenting is helping her to grow a happy family.
  • I Only Expected to Love... — Kellie at Our Mindful Life went into parenting expecting to not have all the answers. It turns out, she was right!
  • They See Me Wearin', They Hatin' — Erin Yuki at And Now, for Something Completely Different contemplates putting her babywearing aspirations into practice, and discussed how she deals with "babywearing haters."
  • Parenting Human BeingsErika Gebhardt lists her parenting "mistakes," and the one concept that has revolutionized her parenting.
  • Doing it right: what I knew before I had kids... — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud, guest posting at Natural Parents Network realises that the number one game in town, when it comes to parenting, is judgement about doing it right. But "doing it right" looks different to everybody.
  • A synopsis of our reality as first time parents — Amanda at My Life in a Nut Shell summarizes the struggles she went through to get pregnant, and how her daughter's high needs paved the way for her and her husband to become natural parents.
  • Theory to Reality? — Jorje compares her original pre-kid ideas (some from her own childhood) to her personal parenting realities on
  • The Princess Paradigm — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen had planned to raise her daughter in a sparkly, princess-free home, but in turn has found herself embracing the glitz.
  • Healthy Eating With Kids: Ideal vs. Real — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs had definite ideas about what healthy eating was going to look like in her family before she had kids. Little did she realize that her kids would have something to say about it.
  • How to deal with unwanted parenting advice — Tat at Mum in Search thought that dealing with unwanted parenting advice would be a breeze. It turned out to be one of her biggest challenges as a new mum.
  • How I trained my 43 month old in 89 days! — Becky at Old New Legacy used to mock sticker charts, until they became her best friend in the process of potty training.
  • My Double Life: Scheduling with Twins — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot was banging her head against the wall trying to keep up with the plan she made during pregnancy, until she let her babies lead the way.
  • Parenting in the land of compromise — As a holistic health geek trying to take care of her health issues naturally, Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama regrets that her needs sometimes get in the way of her children's needs.
  • Practice Makes Good, Not Perfect — Rachael at The Variegated Life comes to see that through practice, she just might already be the parent she wants to be.
  • 3 Dangerous Myths about Parenting and Partnering: How to Free Yourself and Your Family — Sheila Pai at A Living Family shares in theory (blog) and reality (video) how she frees herself from 3 Dangerous Myths about Parenting and Partnering that can damage the connection, peace and love she seeks to nurture in her relationships with family and others.
  • 5 Things I Thought MY Children Would Never Do — Luschka at Diary of a First Child largely laughs at herself and her previous misconceptions about things her children would or wouldn't do, or be allowed to do.
  • Policing politeness — Lauren at Hobo Mama rethinks a conviction she had about modeling vs. teaching her children about courtesy.
  • The Before and The After: Learning about Parenting — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work reminisces about the perspective she held as a young adult working with children (and parents) . . . before she became a mother.
  • Parenting Beliefs: Becoming the Parent You Want to Be — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how we can make a mindful decision to become the parent we want to be. Decisions we make affect who we will become.
  • The Great Breastfeeding Debacle — In Lisa at The Squishable Baby's mind, breastfeeding would be easy.
  • What my daughter taught me about being a parentMrs Green asks, "Is it ever ok to lock your child in their bedroom?"
  • Sensory Box Fail! — Megan at The Boho Mama discovers that thoughtful sensory activities can sometimes lead to pasta in your bra and beans up your nose.
  • Montessori and My Children – Theory vs. Reality — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares her experiences with Montessori parenting and describes the results she sees in her now-adult children.
  • I Like The Mother I Am Now More Than The Mother I Intended To Be — Darcel at The Mahogany Way thought she would just give her kids the look and they would immediately fall in line.
  • How I Ended Up Like My Tiger Mom With Peaceful Parenting — Theek at The Laotian Commotion somehow ended up like her Tiger Mom, even though she purposely tried for the complete opposite as a peaceful parent.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: June 5th, 2013


Visiting a different library than usual.

Chuck E. Cheese

Mini Hydroplane races

Putting on her pants.

Little garden harvest.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Return of Meal Plan Monday! June 3rd, 2013

Pork Chops with Baked Sweet Potatoes

Veggies and Rice

Chicken, Mushroom, Broccoli & Rice CasseroleCowboy Lasagna

Lentil Helper

Meatballs with Butternut Squash Sauce

Tomato Basil Pasta One-Pot

Chik'n, Broccoli, and Rice Casserole

3c dry rice, prepared
1 package Quorn Chik'n Tenders OR 1lb cooked and diced chicken
2 broccoli florets, cut to bite size pieces
2 Pacific Foods Cream of _________ Condensed Soup (12oz each)
                                  They have chicken, mushroom and celery, all are great in this recipe
2 cups grated cheese

Mix rice, chik'n, broccoli, and soup in a large casserole dish. Top with shredded cheese. Bake in 350 degree oven until heated through. Finish off under the broiler until cheese browns.

Meal Plan Monday