Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bulgur, Brownies and Bread

 Bulgur, red quinoa, mint, parsley, lemon, tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, olive oil

Bulgur Salad/Tabouleh
3/4 cup bulgur
1/4 cup red quinoa
Cook quinoa according to package directions. Soaked bulgur in 3/4 cup boiling water. Once quinoa is done cooking I added it to the bulgur to continue the "soak".  While soaking, mix "dressing":

zest of one lemon (optional, but good)
3 T lemon juice
3 T olive oil
2 tsp. finely minced garlic

Add to bulgur/quinoa and begin chopping vegetables:

1 cup chopped fresh parsley 
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup sliced green onions
3 cups chopped tomatoes
1 1/4 cup chopped cucumbers
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste 

Once the bulgur has absorbed all the water, add veggies and herbs. I also added a bit of sauteed spinach because, in my mind, the more greens the better! The flavors are even better after spending the night in the refrigerator. 

~I found this recipe at Kalyns Kitchen.
~Read about the benefits of mint and how to harvest here.

While in the kitchen, I also made bread and brownies. 
Brainy Brownies and Bread
I used my favorite No-Knead Bread recipe but was short on flour (I had used up some when I made brownies). The recipe calls for 6 1/2 cups of flour. Using what I had on hand, I used almost 4 1/2 cups of spelt flour, 1/2 cup of ground flax, and 1 1/2 cup ground oats (ground oatmeal). I also added about 1/2 cup whole flax seeds just before baking. This make a very dense, but yummy, bread.

The brownies have blueberry-spinach-goodness hidden inside. Like I said, the more greens the better. :) Added bonus? Getting kids to eat greens. 

The Brainy Brownies recipe comes from my "The Sneaky Chef" cookbook and can be found at The Sneaky Chef's website.

Melt on stovetop:
6 T. of butter
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

While these are melting, mix:

1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. purple puree (spinach and blueberries)
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla extract

Add and mix in melted chocolate/butter when cooled.

Add and mix:
1/4 cup + 2 T. Flour Blend (see recipe) ----- I used spelt flour
1/4 cup rolled oats, ground in food processor
1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
Sprinkle of sea salt (recipe calls for 1/4 t.)

Grease (I use coconut oil) a 9x13 or a 9in. square pan. (these brownies don't "rise" and are on the thin side so I prefer the 9 in. square).

Bake for 30 minutes at 350.

The kids love these brownies and don't even know that they are kinda good for you! 

Hearth & Soul Hop

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Heart FULL of gratitude.....

for weeds that become the most beautiful flower in the eyes of children, 
  for the simple joy of licking the bowl (or the spatula),  
 and for the magic found in a sink full of bubbles.

May I always embrace the magic and joy that can be found through the eyes of a child.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lunchtime Happiness

My lunch today was delicious....

Cheese Quesadilla (whole wheat tortilla with my favorite Trader
Joe's White
Wisconsin Cheddar)

Bulgar (and quinoa)

Sauteed veggies ~
baby spinach, tomatoes,
cucumber, peppers
and mushrooms.

Yum. I enjoyed preparing this meal just as much (or maybe more) as I enjoyed eating it. I don't know...something about the vibrant colors, the rhythmic motion of chopping vegetables and the aroma. I soothes me. I makes me happy.

Or maybe it's because I know that no one (all my little "Littles") will be interested in eating my lunch. I don't have to share my yummyness.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Produce Bag

Over the past couple of weeks I have been slowly cleaning out the laundry room. The laundry room is the dumping ground for tools, craft supplies, stock pans which don't fit in any of the kitchen all the stuff that has no other home. Things get dumped, the door gets closed and the room is ignored. So anyway....this is the bag I grabbed out of the laundry room today. I also grabbed the stack of embroidery hoops. I had found the hoops at a garage sale years ago and had intend to make butterfly nets with the daycare kids. The bag of tulle is the leftover material for the tutus that I made at Christmas. I'm done making tutus. Time to find a new project. 
Before I even started searching for ideas (I became sidetracked. No surprise there.) I stumbled across a tutorial on making reusable produce bags:  I did a simple version. I'm not very skilled with sewing so simple is good. No drawstring. I cut the tulle to the desired size.
I used my rotary cutter on my flexible cutting mat (don't try this at home.......the mat has a nice slice it  now)

I folded the tulle in half (the fold became the bottom of my bag) and sewed up each side. I made the bag on the large side leaving room to gather the material at the top to tie. 


Homemade Dishwasher Detergent and Dish Soap

So  "No Grocery Week" also means no money spent on anything that can be lived without.  As mentioned in my "No Grocery Week", I did buy apples and bananas. I also bought toilet paper...and milk....and formula. Only the essentials necessary to get me through the week and as a child care provider that list of items are necessities. Although I was out of dishwasher detergent and the ingredients to make more, I figured I'd hand wash dishes for the week........until I started to run low on dish soap. Not to mention I spent some time in the kitchen yesterday and had tons of dishes. Time to alter some recipes to make do.

<b>Title:</b>  Mrs. Walter Collins

<b>Creator (Photographer):</b>  Sloan

<b>Publisher:</b>  Agricultural Communications Office of the Texas Agricultural Extension Service

<b>Place of Publication:</b&...

The dish washing detergent recipe that I finally found and like includes citric acid. I'm out of citric acid. Hmm....I do however have a few lemons. I made my recipe without the citric acid, added a tablespoon to the dishwasher, cut a lemon in half and squeezed! One of daycare helpers enjoyed this task. The powder I used was equal parts borax and washing soda. The dishes are clean. So I will be alternating between hand washing and using the dishwasher. My experience tells me that after a few days the detergent will cause the dishes to become spotty. Besides I'll run out of lemons quickly if I use the dishwasher twice a day.

 I haven't found a dish soap recipe that I love. I usually add a little of my homemade soap to a jug of store bought soap just so it last a little longer. One thing that I've found with homemade dish soap is that it's not good for soaking dishes. I have the habit of filling the sink with hot, soapy water and dishes and then leaving it to "soak" (even if there is nothing that needs soaking). It's my way of putting off a task. When I do this I find that as the soap sits and the water cools, an oily residue begins to develop. I don't have this problem if I wash the dishes right away. Solution? Wash the dishes right away. Really, it's that easy. The recipe I used was 1/2 cup grated homemade bar soap melted in 2 cup water, let cool and add 1/2 cup Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap. I added this mixture to the itty bitty amount of dish soap that I had left. It works. Last night I did have a crock pot that was in dire need of a "soaking" so I sprinkled baking soda on the baked on spots, let it sit for 5 mnutes, filled with hot water and let it soak while I washed the other dishes.

Misc, bubble (November Scavenger Hunt)

There. The dishes can still get done.

Living Green Link-upPhotobucket

Thursday, April 19, 2012

No Grocery Week

This morning, as I cleaned up the breakfast dishes, I did the prep work for dinner and my lunch. My lunch is often different from the children's lunch. I usually have soaked oats or a smoothie for breakfast, veggies (most often a mega-salad) for lunch, and then for dinner I eat what I fix for the family (this usually includes meat). I'm not inclined to be a vegetarian but I am working towards eating more vegetables. No meat at lunch means that I focus on filling up on veggies.

This week the grocery budget is zilch. I did pick up bananas and apples because I was out of fruit. So no lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber or my favorite, avocado. I am always amazed at what I can create when I make the best of what I have to work with. It's fun and I like the challenge.

So after breakfast I started the soup for tonight's dinner, during which time I started thinking about what I would eat for lunch. Dinner was fairly easy thanks to the freezer full (now half full) of chicken that I purchased last fall. On Tuesday morning I put a chicken in the crock pot which supplied us with chicken, potatoes and carrots for dinner. On Wednesday night I used some of the chicken to make Chicken in a Marinara Sauce over whole wheat pasta.

After supper last night I topped off the crock pot of remaining chicken and bones with water. The crock pot cooked all night to create my broth for tonight's soup.

6 cups of chicken broth 
1/2 cup of chicken
1/3 cup Bhutan Red Rice
1/3 cup black beans
1/3 cup salsa 

Skillet Potatoes with Beans
2 cups diced potatoes
1/2 yellow pepper (diced)
Diced onion
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup black beans
dash of sea salt

Sauteed in Wildtree Roasted Garlic Grapeseed Oil. As I began eating my taters I decided sour cream would taste great on my creation. I also remembered that my most recent batch of Viili yogurt was extra mild. The yogurt was perfect! YUM! I might have this for lunch again tomorrow. :)

Rest in Peace Giz

The years have started to blur together. I think our beloved rooster, Gizmo, was about six years old. Or may he was older. Regardless, he was one of our first birds. We were especially attached to Gizmo over all the others because he was the egg that I turned methodically everyday while it rested in the incubator. He was the one egg out of a dozen that hatched. In fact he was overdue. The 27 days were well gone but something told me to give him just a little more time. He was the one I helped break free from his shell (although I read later that I shouldn't have helped). Gizmo was the one who stood apart from the others with his shiny black-blue-green feathers. He was majestic in his beauty. As he aged he became feisty. He'd follow me around the pen, feathers rustled up as if I was not welcome on his turf. I think he just didn't want to be overlooked. He wanted me to pay attention to him rather than the eggs which I was collecting. Funny guy, our Gizmo. Yesterday he fell asleep but did not awake. Farewell my feathered friend. Thank you for the lessons you taught me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Never too Old to Learn New Tricks

This past weekend my husband and I spent two days with fellow homeschooling parents at the MACHE (Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators) Conference. This time was spent listening to experts. Many of the speakers were more than just seasoned home educators but each had their own unique talents in various fields. Each session had so many good choices that I had a hard time picking which ones to attend. We heard topics such as raising disciples, organizing the home, brain integration therapy and healthy eating.

Phil Downer, author and president of DNA (Discipleship Network of America), and his wife, Susy, were the weekends keynote speakers. I was impressed with Phil's honesty and his devotion to his family. He and his wife began homeschooling with the purpose of raising their children to be disciples of men. Often, as I reflect on my son's progress, I contemplate if I'm teaching him well enough to succeed in the "real world". Although important, I believe it is just as important (if not more important) that I'm raising a son the will make a difference in the "real world". I pray that he will do great things to serve God.

Dianne Craft was not a name I had heard before and after hearing her speak I am surprised that I hadn't. AMAZING! A woman with a gentle spirit who has loads of experience. She home schooled her own children, worked in special education, is a Certified Natural Health professionalism (using natural treatments for attention, learning and behavioral issues) and is the president of Child Diagnostics. Her workshops (she had five sessions of workshops, we caught two) explained the way the brain works and how for some children the brain has "glitches" which makes learning difficult. She taught exercises to open up those brain gates. I strongly encourage you to investigate her philosophy and her strategies.

Friday afternoon Barry and I split up to go to separate classes. While Barry went to hear Derek Carter speak on how to be a supportive home school dad, I went to hear Derek's wife, Cheryl, speak on organizing the home. I like organization classes that are taught by someone who isn't a born organizer. When Cheryl introduced herself as a "recovering messy" I knew that I could learn from her. I don't speak the same language as born organizers. Cheryl is the author of several books on organizing and parenting. Now to put some of her suggestions to practice.

Our final workshop was Peggy Ployhar's, Healthy Eating=Healthy Family. Nine years ago her son was diagnosed with Aspergers and shortly thereafter she began making big changes in the food that she fed her family. Her food journey has been similar to mine as she strives to provide her family with REAL food. During the workshop she taught us how to make fruit and nut bars (even shared samples! They were even better than Larabars.), bean dip, soup with sprouts and homemade crackers. I was enlightened to learn that I could start my own co-op by finding some friend to order together in bulk. It's on the to-do list. I may have to invite her over sometime so that we can share tips over glasses of kombucha. Check out her blog here.

The speakers were top notch and it was nice to have a little get-away with my husband. After last weeks "weariness" the conference was just what I needed to inspire me to continue in "fighting the good fight". The tasks before me really are amazing blessings.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
  • Refrain:
    Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
    Look full in His wonderful face,
    And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
    In the light of His glory and grace.

I've been a bit weary lately. Sometimes life just seems...well, hard. I'm ok with hard but sometimes hard begins to wear on me. Spring is coming in a hurry and I'm just not ready. 

The coop I purchased for my chickens is adorable and perfect... for two hens. I was hoping to move home six. 

The bees are coming soon and I haven't studied my books. I feel inadequate and ill-prepared. What if I fail? What if I kill my bees?

The garden? It is a mess and I want to "re-decorate".....but when? My seeds? Yeah, I don't even think half of them sprouted.

Oh, and the playroom that I started a YEAR ago? The walls are finally painted but I still need to paint the trim. 

Let's not even talk about taxes...or laundry.

I'm tired and discouraged. But when I start to throw my hands up and shout, "I CAN'T DO IT ALONE!", I remember that I am far from alone. I have a Savior who rescues me from the pit of despair. I remember that everything I do should glorify HIM. I need to turn my eyes "upon Jesus" and all the "things of the earth", all these projects that I want done, will dim. Those things will eventually get done....or they won't and that's ok. 

Press on, oh weary traveler. 

Psalm 18:32 It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.

Psalm 27:14 Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Three Gifts Opened Up

1. The Bible, opened up. Last night I was blessed to watch The Boy read our evening passage. 

2. A door standing OPEN in heaven

Revelation 4:1 
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here and I will show you things which must take place after this."

 ....and he was in the throne room. Twenty four thrones and  twenty four elders around the "One the throne". Thunder, lightening, voices, seven lamps of fire. Four creatures full of eyes and wings singing with glory and thanksgiving, 

"Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!"

Albrecht Durer - 'St John and the Twenty-four Elders in Heaven' from

Albrecht Durer's "St. John and the Twenty-four Elders in Heaven"
and ....(verse 9-11)"Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:

"You are worthy, O Lord,

To receive glory and honor and power;

For You created all things,

And by Your will they exist and were created.”

3. Open My Eyes, hymn by Clara H. Scott

"Open my eyes, that I may see glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key that shall unclasp and set me free.

Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my ears, that I may hear voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
And while the wave notes fall on my ear, everything false will disappear.


Open my mouth, and let me bear, gladly the warm truth everywhere;
Open my heart and let me prepare love with Thy children thus to share."

Dear Lord, open my eye to see your truths, open my ears to hear your truths and open my mouth to share your truths! Thank you for your many blessings.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hiding, Held, Heard.......

Today, on the prompting of Ann Voskamp's Joy Dare, (you can find her April list here). I am searching for gifts hiding, held and heard. It's like a treasure hunt.

Hands held. The joy of holding babies hands as she practices for her first steps.

Toddler hiding behind his hands in a game of peek-a-boo.

JOY heard in the laughter of children playing.

My journey in finding everyday blessings for God is SO GOOD!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Super Salad

As I strive to eat well (and hopefully in the process I will also shed a few pounds), my weekday lunches usually consist of a veggie packed salad. I have come to crave my noonday salad. 
Bowl full of lettuce (spring mix), kale and spinach. Dice: one avocado, a handful of cherry tomatoes, a chunk of cucumber and half of an orange pepper.
Top with feta cheese, homemade Italian dressing, pumpkin seeds and slivered almonds. Yum.

Italian Dressing:
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Wildtree Zesty Lemon Grapeseed Oil
1/4 cup Wildtree Roasted Garlic Grapeseed Oil
1/4 Balsamic Vinegar
3 T. Wildtree Italian Salad Dressing Mix

Now if only I could resist the "treats" (potato chips, pizza, cookies, etc.) that my husband keeps bringing into the house. It seems I lose weight during the week only to regain it on the weekends. Two steps forward, two steps back.....

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wildtree Wednesday

Spice/Miscellaneous Cupboard 
Last week, as I was searching for something to satisfy my sweet tooth, I came to the conclusion that I have a LOT of Wildtree. I have one cupboard dedicated to spices and such. The middle shelf is completely filled with Wildtree. As a Wildtree representative, I've purchased many of the products in order to be familiar with the product I'm selling. Some of these are must have favorites (like the Guacamole Seasoning) and some....well, they just sit on my shelf. I decided I need to get adventurous and start using those herb blends that I rarely use. 

Wildtree has recently added a 10 day menu planner to the monthly newsletter. Instead of deleting my emailed newsletter as I normally do, I am vowing to try a few of the suggested recipes. Looking at the recipes, as well as the ingredients that I already have (no trip to the grocery store needed!), I picked Lentil Sloppy Joes, Rockin' Moroccan Carrot Soup and Basmati Rice with Spicy Chick Peas. 

10 Day MENU PLANNER includes additional recipes such as Easy Soba Soup, Asian Ginger Lettuce Wraps, Artichoke Risotto, Asparagus & Portabella Scampi, Eggplant Polenta Parmesan, Barley Bake and Simple Stir Fry

Lentil Sloppy Joes

4 hamburger buns
2 tablespoons Wildtree Natural Grapeseed Oil
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup dried lentils (that's 1/4c. per bun.....I may increase this amount)
2-3 cups water
1 ½ tablespoons Wildtree Sloppy Joe Blend
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar (Substitute maple syrup)
½ cup tomato sauce, low sodium

In a large skillet, heat the Grapeseed Oil. Add the onions and peppers and cook until the onions are soft and translucent. Stir in the dried lentils, the brown sugar, 2 cups water and the rest of the liquid ingredients. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until lentils are tender. 
Check after 5 minutes and add more water if it is too dry. Serve on toasted buns with your favorite side!

Calories 400; Fat 10g; Saturated Fat 1g; Carbohydrate 66g; Fiber 10g; Protein 15g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 520mg.

Rockin’ Moroccan  Carrot Soup
6 servings

2 tbsp butter or Natural Grapeseed Oil
2 medium yellow onions, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
3 tbsp Wildtree Rockin’ Moroccan Rub
3 Carrots, Peeled and diced
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
4 tsp Wildtree Veg Bouillon Soup Base + 4 cups water (Substitute 4 cups  homemade bone broth)
½ cup cilantro
¼ cup mint

In a large saucepan melt the butter/oil over medium high heat. Add the onions, peppers, and Rockin’ Moroccan Rub and cook until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the carrots, potatoes, water, and Wildtree Vegetable Bouillon Base and simmer for 30 minutes, covered. Blend smooth in batches, adding fresh herbs while blending. Serve with a cheese or crouton garnish. 

Calories 230; Fat 6g; Saturated fat 0.5 g; Carbohydrate 40 g; Fiber 6 g; Protein 5 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 1250 mg

Basmati Rice with Spicy Chick Peas
4 servings

1 cup basmati
3 cups water
1 ½ tbsp Wildtree 
Veg Bouillon Soup Base
1 cup peas,frozen
1 tbsp Wildtree Natural Grapeseed Oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp Wildtree Jalapeno pepper Blend
1 (15 oz) can chick peas, drained (Substitute prepared dry chick peas as I avoid canned products)
½ cup panko bread crumbs (I'll omit this)

(Optional: replace chick peas with ½ lb cooked chicken breast)

In a med sauce pan add the basmati rice, water, and Bouillon; bring to a boil. Continue cooking for 10 mins. Add the peas. Continue cooking until peas are heated through, about 2 mins more. Drain if necessary and set aside (keep warm). In a med nonstick skillet heat oil over med heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until fragrant and onions are tender, about 3 mins. Add the Jalapeno Pepper Blend and chick peas and continue cooking until heated through, about 2 mins more. Meanwhile heat a small nonstick skillet over med heat. Spray pan with pan spray; add the panko bread crumbs and toast until browned. Serve the basmati rice with peas topped with the spicy chick pea mixture; top with toasted bread crumbs. This dish is very refreshing served with yogurt and fresh lime sauce. 

Calories 310; Fat 2.5g; Saturated fat 0 g; Carbohydrate 63 g; Fiber 8 g; Protein 11 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 470 mg

In case you are not familiar with Wildtree ~ Wildtree products are natural and contain no additives, no preservatives, no food dyes, no MSG, and no GMO's. The products are produced in a peanut-free/tree nut-free facility. 

To order Wildtree products visit my online store HERE