Thursday, October 28, 2010

30 min tex mex quinoa (or rice) dinner

ordered some magazines from faith and josh and i just started getting the vegetarian times one - oh my goodness, it is awesome.  i turned down six recipes to try in the first one and that is a lot for me!

made the first one last night - it was supposed to be a 30 minute meal and, well, it was!
it also tasted delicious-even holly loved it.

here's my version of the recipe (in the order you cook it)

step #1:  look at the time.  make a note of it because 30 minutes later, this meal will be DONE!

step #2:  put a large pot on the stove, on medium.  in it, put 2 T of olive oil.  when the oil is hot, add 2T of cumin SEEDS and cook for 2 minutes.

step #3:  while they are cooking, open a can of black bean soup, a can of corn (do NOT drain it), and a can of black beans (and drain and rinse them).

step #4: after that 2 minutes is up (it should be smelling yummy!), dump in the black bean soup, , 16 ounces of salsa (i buy salsa out of the produce section of the grocery store, but the jar kind is fine too), 1 cup of quinoa OR white rice if that is what you prefer... but the quinoa is awesome!, the can of washed beans, and the can of corn (juice and all):  stir it and stick the lid on it. if you're cooking with rice, you may have to add a little bit of water.  since i used quinoa, i'm not sure about the rice.  it will be just fine if it is a little soupy - but you want it to have ENOUGH water!  either way, when it starts boiling, turn it down to med-low.

step #5: while that is in the works, wash and chop up some green onions.  i chopped up the whole bunch like you buy them in the store and put them in the pot and then stir.  now put the lid back on and just let it sit there and simmer until the 30 minutes is up (remember? you checked the time when you started!).  you can stir it again it if you want but in the mean time, get the table ready!

i served it with guacamole. and sour cream and cheese sprinkled on the top.  my pot made 5 hearty servings!

the only fat, really, is what you put in it as far as EVOO.  there is lots of healthy protein from the black beans and quinoa.  the carbs are all complex.  this, to me, is a perfect meal!  this also is the type of thing i was eating when i lost that first 30 pounds.  even with the sour cream and cheese.  i NEVER go fat free.  fat free = more sugar & calories (check your label!)  its all about calories!  this probably has about 350 to 400 calories per serving.  that's probably pushing it, too.

anyway, try it - i hope you love it!

eggs &dreams

lovin' the new egg background!  eggs are yummy.  i wish i had time to eat them every morning!

holly is a dreamer.  this morning, she woke me up saying "maggie, maggie, NO MAGGIE!"  i wonder if she got her cookies or something.  lol, what in the world could she have been dreaming?  better than the way she usually says "mommy, daddy, mommy, daddy, kendal..." in a very panicked voice.  i always wake her up from that one.  i don't want my baby having nightmares!

i dreamed about tornadoes last night (but suprisingly not a scary tornado dream).  i dreamed that i was in a car wash (it wasn't on) - one of those glass ones like they have at sheetz and it was me and andrea and jim (her husband).  and, we looked out and saw tornadoes all around us.  there was a grocery store about 2000 feet away and a bojangles the other direction about 150 feet away but we didn't think we could make it to either place.  about 50' away there was a culvert but we were dressed up in costume (for halloween?) and none of us could fit inside it because our costumes were too bit.  so, we just huddled around it.  that is when i woke up.  i remember thinking that the tornado was probably going to pick us up if it went over us, unless one of us wedged inside the culvert like a plug.  i have the strangest dreams.  good thing it never got to that.  i remember andrea was dressed like an angel in all white with wings and she was getting dirty down in the dirt of the culvert.  i had on some sort of box (robot maybe?) and jim had on black but i don't remember what he was.  maybe he had on a tux and was dressed up like a DJ.  hahaha (he is a DJ in real life).  anyway, at no point was i scared or panicked.  maybe that weather radio is helping!

ok, that is it.  time to load the car and wake up the kids.

Monday, October 25, 2010

new blog background

as this last monday comes to a close, i am sad.
this sorta abstract background adequately reflects my mood.

the kids were great today.  they ate well, played well, and gave me lots of hugs and kisses.  i feel like i am dying and i'll never get to see them again.  i know that isn't the case (any more than for every day that passes we are one day closer...) but it sure feels like it.

woe is me.  i should go find some worms to eat.  (i know only mom and melissa will get that reference...)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

old picture, new trick: watermarking

i've tried to do this before but never finished the task.
this morning, i finished.  i need to fine tune it though.

(it is supposed to be subtle - as to not be TOTALLY distracting from the picture.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

30 days of green challenge - condensed.

ok, so i'm giving up on the photography part of the challenge.  with a full work schedule looming in my future, i just don't see me finding the time to do that part of my challenge.  however, i've had a complete list of things-we-do since i started this challenge.

so, here's my list.

1.  hang clothes to dry.
2. wash dishes by hand - i think we've proven that dishwashers are the "greener" option.  unless, maybe you have a magic handwashing technique like chris.
3. we compost EVERY scrap of compostable food.  this means every non-meat-byproduct goes in the compost.  this reduces how much we put in the landfill!
4. compost grass trimmings
5. have weeds rather than grass
6. we landscape with local flora (i.e. draught tolerant plants) and onsite rocks (pulled/rearranged from our own property - which requires no shipping and saves gas and money)
7. nathaniel carpools to work (which is how we make it on 1 car).  starting in 2 weeks, we will carpool together.
8. we have only 1 car.
9. we recycle our clothes - donate or selling (i.e. yardsale, kid exchanges, etc.)
10. we keep our thermostat at 80 degrees in the summer, and intend on keeping it at 68 this winter. 
11. when i'm a SAHM - i shower every other day.  i guess this will change in 2 weeks.  don't think my work buddies will like my "other day" stink.  hahaha.  (not that i stink, but i'm always HAPPY when that second day gets here and i can take a shower.)
12. we use glass rather than plastic (for storage, drinking, and eating).  plastic is a petroleum product so by minimizing the use of plastic minimizes our dependence on petroleum.
13. i carry my own bags to the grocery store.  if i forget, i get paper - and then give them away to mom's school for the kids to carry their stuff in (recycling).
14.  take our lunch and breakfast in washable containers (usually glass) rather than plastic sandwich bags.
15. help grow produce at mom and dad's house
16. buy in season produce at farmers market (local or organic).
17. buy local eggs - only free range/cage free
18. buy organic/hormone free milk, cheese, and butter
19. use safe soaps and cleaners - never any perfumes, lots of vinegar and baking soda but my new favorite is the mint based method.  works on windows AND the counter.  i do NOT use antibacterial anything.  i have bleach spray but it is minimally used.  mainly only on the toilets.
20. we use steam for the floors, not any harsh chemicals.
21. push mow instead of ride mow (saves gas)
22. cook everything from scratch - less packaging, less waste, also less involved in shipping products since we use fresh produce and local dairy.
23. we have halogen floodlights
24. we use diapers that have no ink or chlorine.  we tried cloth but the kids outgrew what i bought.  yea, pottytraining would be ideal for the "less waste" part but, well, talk to them about that.  holly tries and kendal isn't interested.
25. we recycle EVERYTHING that is recyclable.  somethings we even have to take to another county to recycle.  like, boxes.  in our county we also have to sort everything - so we have practically an entire wall dedicated to recycling in our garage.  we now have WAY MORE recyclable and compostable material than we have real trash.
26. i cook in bulk and freeze leftovers for later.  this saves energy.
27. i can and freeze (some) fresh veggies and fruits.  all of them i get for free.
28. we don't eat meat (well, i don't eat meat - the kids eat minimal meat, nathaniel eats meat everywhere but here).  this saves gas (for transporting the animals for processing) and also the methane emissions.
29. i try to buy things with less packaging.  like, string cheese - there is a local dairy that packages theirs 6 pieces in 1 pack.  horizon brand individually wraps theirs.  each have a great purpose (like if you were packing a lunch, horizon would be convenient) but i tend to buy the less-packaging style.
30. we use corn litter in the cats' litter box.  i know this one sounds weird but when we throw it out in the woods, the deer eat it!  plus it is compostable (not that we put it in our compost pile), but it isn't clay.
31 (for good luck) - we also almost always buy wooden toys - again, i prefer to AVOID plastic if possible!

flowers? i don't smell any flowers.

life has gotten pretty fast here lately.  my blog is obviously suffering but until i figure out this whole balancing act - well, my blog really isn't that important in the grand scheme of things.  one day i'll  be able to blog more and keep you guys up to date.  but, just know that while i'm not blogging, i'm working and making time for my family and cooking and cleaning and eating and peeing and sleeping.  even the cats are lonely. 

i've had a great change for next week - i ended up having an opportunity to switch working at gymboree from monday to sunday which means that i don't get to go on a trip to the zoo BUT i do get to stay home with the kids all day on monday AND i don't have to beg my dad to babysit H&K on monday (since kate will be out of town).  AND, i am working next week on t,w, and th so i have off on friday, which means weather permitting, i think we'll go to hill ridge and have a family fun day.  it'll be our last one until we can travel to missouri for thanksgiving.

and what else is new... i'm shooting family pictures in the morning, a family of 4 - and then i'm working at gymbo tomorrow afternoon and THEN i have an awesome opportunity to help out a friend and be a #2 photographer at a wedding reception tomorrow night.  yes, i overbooked myself but if i want to become the best at what i love well, i need the practice.  and, that is what i'll be getting tomorrow.  lots of it.  they'll have sparklers so the best part is that i'll get to make more sparkler pictures AND i'll get to show someone else (another budding photographer) how to do them too!  i love sharing things like that.  anything to help someone else get to where they want to be!  but hey - she may be competition one day.  hum, maybe i better rethink that... ha!  just kidding rebecca.

where i work is moving offices to a new green building in downtown, and they have an example of the new cube in the building.  it is really nice and they are all concerned with outgassing of things - green includes air quality too. the rule is that we can't bring any stuff from home into our space (like coffee mugs for pencil holders, etc.).  we get to pick out 1 of 3 chairs and then we get 165 points to pick out office supplies - everything having different point values (dry erase boards, marker caddy, paper holders, shelves, etc.)  i was noticing how much of the products are plastic, though.  which, disappointments me. why don't they provide us with recycled steel or aluminum?  plastic is not only is a petroleum product, but this type of plastic is NOT the kind made from recycled products OR is recyclable when it is broken.  and, it looks like it would be easily breakable.  anyway, i don't have a permanent job but i am performing the job of a position that will one day be permanent (by somebody) so i get to pick out the supplies for an office space.  incidentally, our unit/group will be located on the 3rd floor.  sorta cool!  also, these cubes have taller walls than the ones we have now AND have sliding doors for privacy - AND also have a locker for coats and/or field clothes.  it is a really nice setup in there.  i wonder how much money is being spent on it!  and, how much perfectly good desk equipment like chairs and computer screens and chairs will be going into surplus!

i also got my first vegetarian times magazine yesterday.  i read it at lunch today.  i've had a real problem finding interesting recipes lately because all the other magazines i read frequently (martha stewart, weight watchers, cooking light, etc.) have very few vegetarian recipes.  so, i ordered veg. times.  i actually turned down 6 recipes i wanted to try!  that is a record for me.  two of them were "under 30 minutes" - i'm gonna stop by whole foods and pick up the ingredients for one of them today.  we need some quick meals to start making starting next week.  we are starved when we come home and, well, starving = junk food/poor meal choices = i haven't been loosing any weight for almost a month now!  if any are share worthy, you know i'll post them.  well, if i have time.

ok.  enough.  that is my brain dump for 3pm on a friday.  not long before i leave.

Monday, October 18, 2010

flashing lights, sirens, red alert

i've asked for help.  i'm not sure how else to say or ask for what i need.  but, noone has helped.  i guess that noone can help.

today was kendal and holly and my last "free" day.  tomorrow (as every tuesday), kendal has preschool.  next monday, i have to work at gymboree.  the monday after that, i start working 5 days a week.  it is one of the most dreaded moments in my life.

i'm not sure how to handle it.  i've not been sure how to handle myself all day today.

last night, i got away with myself.  i don't handle stress very well.  i KNOW that so i tend to avoid stressful situations when at all possible.  like, funerals, heated conversations, anything where there will be some emotion - i am just not good with it. when i get stressed, i tend to take it out on everyone else.  last night, kendal got the brunt of my emotion.  poor kid, i screamed at him.  over and over.  and, i still feel bad about it right this very moment.

i did it because i don't want to leave him.  and i just don't know how to stop what is happening.  i have to leave him.  and it makes me very, very sad.  i apologized to him and explained to him why i lost  my temper and he let me hug him and i'm sure he doesn't understand.  i'm not sure i understand myself.

i'm not sure anyone understands.  i've asked for help and it just doesn't seem like anyone really gets how much this hurts me.

i'm SO happy and fortunate to have gotten a job that i like and so i can help my family but i feel like i'm ripping my heart out in the process.  how much will my family suffer just so we can help ourselves?

i'm just not sure.  i've never been more stressed in my life.  i can't enjoy these last few days because of it.  i'm just so sad. 

i can't imagine being a military spouse.

30 days of green - day 4

day 1 - we air-dry our clothes.

day 2 - we compost grass trimmings.

day 3 - our family of four only has one vehicle.

day 4 - we "maintain" a yard of weeds rather than grass.  i know you're thinking this is just a laziness or skill issue (and maybe it is) but having weeds (that this fall, we figured out will self-seed if left long enough without mowing) require no water or fertilizer.  thus, this saves on water AND prevents unnecessary over-washing of fertilizer into ditches, creeks, and rivers.  we used to think that we wanted grass.  but, i think we've decided that weeds are just fine.  it looks green - and is only ugly when you get up close to it. :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

halloween is like the prom for kids

i read that title on someone else's blog today (i was blog-dropping) and i was thinking about how when i was growing up, we didn't ever have much of a halloween.  one of the un-perks of living in the sticks.  we visited our immediate neighbors, and that was about it.  we never got much candy (from trickortreating - father and tuter gave us plenty!) and we also never got trick-or-treaters.  i LOVE the way my kids get to "celebrate" halloween. 

i hope in the next 10 years their costumes get more elaborate as their imaginations grow and they get to have those fluttery tummy bugs in the hours leading up to the moon-rise.  i hope that i can help them be as ghostly and gobliney as they want to be, no matter how much work it is.  halloween is about fun.  and, i want them to have it!

this year, they are wearing their glow-in-the-dark skeleton pajamas for halloween.  i hope it isn't too cold.  otherwise, they'll be jacket-ed skeletons.  :) 

(holly's are just like this but pink. they both glow in the dark!)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Black Bean Pumpkin Soup
Adapted from Gourmet, November 1996
Yield:  A LOT

Four cans of black beans (about 4 1/2 cups), rinsed and drained
1 can drained petite diced tomatoes
 1 medium onion, chopped
3 small shallots, minced
4 garlic cloves minced
1 Tablespoons plus 2 heaping teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons EVOO
4 cups vegetable broth  (or beef broth for more flavor - i used vegetable broth though)
1 large (or 2 small) can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup dry Sherry (or a sweet wine)
3 Tablespoons vinegar

Garnish: sour cream and sausage crumbles if you want some meat on it.  The original recipe recommends toasted pumpkin seeds (but I didn't eat it with that).

In a large soup pot, cook onion, shallot, garlic in EVOO over moderate heat, stirring, until onion is softened and beginning to brown. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 25 minutes.  Use a submersible blender to moderately-puree at some point - it will be a dark gray brown (like black bean soup).  It does NOT taste like pumpkin.

Serve soup garnished with sour cream and sausage if you must.  Also, toasted pumpkin seeds. It tastes fine without anything - i ate it with a chunk of fresh crusty bread.

this soup is OUT OF THIS WORLD and though it has "weird" ingredients, it is not a weird soup.  it is very healthy!  even mark, who "doesn't like beans" liked it.  and my dad, who told my mom to "make me something else" when he found out what i made for dinner - also liked it and had a bowl.  it was delish!

30 days of green - day 3

bet you thought i forgot!  i had to take more pictures.  and, then have time to post again.  :)

day 1 - we air-dry our clothes.

day 2 - we compost grass trimmings.

day 3 - our family of four only has one vehicle.  not by choice, exactly (when i lost my job, i couldn't afford my car payment so i had to sell my car), but now that we DO only have one car, it definitely isn't so bad.  we make it work by doing other green things.  we'll probably only have one car for as long it is possible.  which, i think will be until the kids start school.  then, we will reassess.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

the lara revolution

i discovered larabars a couple of months ago (few months ago...) on a whim.  i've been trying different breakfast/energy bars for a while now trying to find something to munch on for breakfast - and larabar has been the only one that i've liked.

this larabar is made of dates and nuts.  nothing else.  no sugar, no vitamins, no additives or preservatives - well,  maybe some spices, like the one i had today (the ginger snap) which also had ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. OH MY GOD.  it was spicy goodness. 

i wish it came in a larabite rather than a larabar because the whole thing is 240 calories, which isn't so bad for a whole breakfast meal but it'd be even better if i could stop at half (120 calories) and save the rest for an afternoon snack or something.  YUM YUM. 

if you are interested, whole foods has them the cheapest that i can find - $1.25 a bar.  i've seen them elsewhere for up to $2.00 a bar.  so when i say whole foods has the best price, i mean it!  they also have a buy-a-box-save-10% deal.  i may buy a box of this ginger snap!  its my favorite flavor yet.  the cookie dough is also delish.  same as the peanut butter...

try one!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


i bought kendal and holly new pjs and matching slippers yesterday (it is finally cold enough in the mornings to need slippers). 

kendal calls the slippers - slipperys.  "hey mommy, where are my slipperies?"  "holly, look at my slipperies"  "daddy, i have raccoons on my slipperies!"  we can't help but laugh every time he says it.
we also can't help but also call them slipperies too.  it is almost time for mommy to both get out THEIR slipperies unless daddy will let us turn on the heat at night!  i'm used to 80 degrees (inside) and not our new 65 to 70 degrees indoor temperature yet! 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

our first real day of fall

yesterday was our first real day of fall.  it was wonderful!  we had a yard sale too.  that was fun, but not worth our time hardly!  guess that is just one of the drawbacks to living in the sticks.

one of the best parts of the day was seeing the kids walk out of the door.  i was so excited the night before about the impending cold morning that i organized their closet for the fall season.  i went ahead and picked out their clothes for the saturday too - so nathaniel wouldn't have to pick out their clothes.  so when they got up, he went inside and dressed them.  when they came outside, they were like little balls of sunshine walking out the door.  SO full of color... it was nearly blinding.  maybe i went a little overboard with holly, maybe not.  she looks good in mismatched but coordinating color.  needless to say, both of their outfits are from gymbo and holly has, pretty much, that ENTIRE line.  she calls it the owls (but they call it the homecoming line).  i like it called the owls.  it is absolutely adorable.  kendal's clothes were bought in the summer during the red balloon sale.  i think that shirt was like $4 or something.  who says you can't buy cheap clothes at gymbo?  that is cheaper than walmart!  *but much better quality!

ok, so i worked there last night and it was awesome.  that is such a great place!  i'm on a gymbo kick right now.  :(  sad to phase it out of my life.  (but happy to phase in something i went to college for that pays more than minimum wage!)

anyway, while we were NOT busy at the yard sale, i decided that i'd try to practice with my photography!  they were already cute as can be, why not capture it?  so, i was trying to go for some professional-quality pictures.  i think i did OK considering they HATE it when i take their pictures.  thank god for the bird melissa gave me for my birthday. (what bird?  too bad i can't take a picture of myself.  oh wait, i guess i can take a picture in the mirror... later maybe.)

Oct. 2, 2010 my beautiful children



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