Sunday, April 28, 2013

Meatless Meals - Sharing a Few Recipes

Sharing a few recipes:

It's amazing the amount of people when you tell them you don't eat meat ask 'what do you eat then?' As if if you don't eat meat there are no other choices for food. We are going on 2 years eating meatless and it has been a wonderful journey for our taste buds. We cook more at home than we ever did, and we enjoy cooking. It has been exciting and fun to explore new recipes.

We usually scour the web for our vegan/meatless recipes then make variations to suit our needs and our likes. We eat vegan at home but when eating out, let the kids make their own choices. For the most part our daughter stays away from chicken with the occasional burger. Our son just recently has decided against all meat except on occasion seafood. Which we still eat seafood several times a month. Our goal down the road is to grow all of our own food, on our own land to provide for ourselves without the reliance on grocery stores for most of our nutritional needs.

This is one of our all time favorites:  Curry Cauliflower and Broccoli Soup
Didn't snap a pic this week before everyone ate it up!  Whenever we have a cauliflower or broccoli sitting around we always use this recipe:
 Our variation- we use a whole head of broccoli, skip the onion (our kids don't like it) and use onion powder and add 4 finely chopped red potatoes, or any other vegetable in for that matter! We also half the amount of cheese in it - - oh and it's so good, we usually double this recipe on purpose to have leftovers! When you think curry you think spice- but its so mild, our son likes it too!

Another stand by, over mashed potatoes: Vegan Gravy
I know, vegan right, but its really great!
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup all purpose flour
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions: Heat oil and saute onion until translucent. Stir in flour and soy sauce to make a paste. Whisk in broth, season with sage, salt, pepper, garlic, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 8-10 min until thickened.

Spinach Enchiladas w/Verde Sauce
Not the best picture after we'd eaten half the pan- but so good! Usually we make Enchilada's with onion, tomato, olives and mushrooms and cheese with red enchilada sauce as a meatless version but we decided to try something new.
1 1/2 cup sour cream
1 (7oz) bottle of green salsa
1 bunch of FRESH spinach
2 cups Monterey Jack Cheese
1 package of corn tortillas

 Directions: In bowl- stir all the sour cream and half the bottle of salsa together, mix well. Chop spinach finely. Take a 9x13 baking dish and spread enough mixture to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat the tortillas so that they are soft. Fill each tortilla with spinach, small pinch of cheese and drizzle with mixture, then roll and put into pan. Once all of these are lined up, pour remainder of green salsa on the top of the tortilla's and put the remainder of cheese on top. Bake at 350 for approx. 20 minutes until heated through and browned slightly on top.
So quick and easy with not very many ingredients, my kind of recipe! And a yummy way to get the kids to eat their spinach too. We served with vegan refried beans and spanish rice.

Shepherds Pie
From last week...pic posted a few days ago- but here it is again:
Super easy and simple and the kids loved it.
1 package 'meat' crumbles
1 onion chopped
1 package of frozen veggies (we used green beans, corn, pea's)
8 tablespoons butter (we use earth balance non-soy)
1 cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
salt, pepper, garlic, other seasonings of choice

Directions: Quarter Potato's and boil in salted water, about 20 minutes. We left our skins on, you can peel them if you'd like.  Melt 4 tablespoons butter in pan, saute onions. Add crumbles, cook. Add Worchestershire sauce and seasonings. Add vegetable broth.  Once cooked, Add frozen vegetables until cooked through. Mash potatoes in bowl and add remainder of butter and season with salt and pepper. Place crumble mixture in baking pan. Smooth mashed potatoes over crumble mixture. Bake in oven at 400 for approx. 30 minutes. Broil the last few minutes to brown the top.  We served this dish with rolls and a salad.

This was such a hit, our son ate it for the next few days for lunches!

A few quick and easy meals:

Throughout the week because of evening activities we need quick and easy meals quite often or at least a couple times.
Make your own Veggie Sandwich with Homemade potato chips
Pasta Dishes with fresh vegetables on top (our fav is asparagus and tomatoes) with garlic bread and salad
Oven Roasted Red Potatoes with Roasted Squash/Zucchini with Salad and Rolls
Homemade Vegan Chili and Queso's
Veggie Stir Fry with Rice

I also try to prepare meals ahead of time or freeze some things for easy reheating on busy nights.

Going meatless was a huge change in our ways in the beginning but now it is a wonderful way of life.

Homeschool & 4H Science - Dissection

**Warning Graphic Pictures Below** of Dissection of a (dead-in-shell-duck).

For the purpose of learning, for homeschool and 4H, the duckling eggs that did not hatch, we dissected them to see if we could find out what went wrong. We also dissected them to find out of the embryos had fully developed or if there were any problems.

Our momma duck laid a total of 11 eggs. When candling 1 egg definitely was not developing. 10 appeared to be and as time got closer, 1 of those 10 didn't look like the others. 3 hatched out within the first 48 ours. 1 more pipped at day 4 but never made any more progress. After the first 48 hours momma duck cared for the live ducklings and rarely sat on the nest. We gave it a week- candled and did not see any movement.

When dissecting we found out that 2 eggs had nothing in them- they barely developed. One was a red spot in the middle, with veins but nothing else. One had a little bigger blob in the center but nothing else. The remainder 6 eggs all had fully developed ducklings inside which 5 had pipped through the membrane but did not pip through the shell and 1 had pipped both the membrane and the shell but never made it out. It was a good learning experience for everyone. We have read through blogs and sites about using incubators vs. letting the mother hatch them out as well as helping chicks/ducks hatch or letting nature take its course. In our hatch we did not use an incubator but let momma duck sit the 28 days and hatch them and we did not help any of the ducklings hatch but let nature take its course.

We used this resource found online (its about dead-in-shell-chicken dissection) as a guide to talk about this activity: Dissection of a Dead-In-Shell-Chick

We used tweezers to carefully start at the air pocket and pull away pieces of the shell.
 When opening it further, the bill was through the membrane in the air pocket.
Most likely the duckling died of suffocation after it ran out of air.
 You can see the duckling curled up inside.
 The duckling is fully formed with no abnormalities.
It was a great learning experience and all of the kids participating did well. They were not grossed out, merely interested in finding out about these babies and why they didn't hatch.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ducks, Cavies, Vegan Meals

We've had a fun week, worked hard, played hard and had some ups and downs....

Our duck hatched out 3 live babies. 1 passed away. We have 2 healthy babies and we are so thankful for them. The other eggs she laid, although when candling we saw babies, momma left the nest to care for the live babies and never returned, so they did not make it. We were saddened hoping for a lot of babies, but are blessed that we have these two healthy ones.

The babies now live in our home made brooder box. They are eating well, drinking well, and thriving.

Our daughter has immersed herself this week into working on her cavy site along with the help of her brother and I. She has made a lot of progress but tells me it still has many revisions left and work to be done.Weebly is a wonderful site- extremely user friendly so that even kids can use the tools to make sites and its FREE.

Both kids have had fun using the camera, taking pictures for their websites. They've also both been learning to use Adobe Photoshop and all the tools.

We've had 4H meetings for rabbit, cavy, poultry and waterfowl and enjoyed teaching new friends about animals and practicing and learning with our other group members.

Next week we travel to California, to get a tour of a Ranch and meet a ton of animals as well as see about adding a new cavy to our growing brood then we are off to visit grandparents and pick up another cavy there.

Vegan Meals
We've started purchasing our baskets again from Bountiful Baskets which is such a wonderful opportunity to receive so many great fruits and vegetables at a fraction of the cost. We also purchase whole wheat bread and sourdough when I'm not baking our bread- or in this case when Summer is coming and I really don't want that oven on! Two of our vegan meals this week.....

Vegan Shepherds Pie with Crumbles
 So good with that mashed potato top!
 Mushroom Rice with Cream Mushroom Soup, Cream Celery Soup and Mushrooms, Celery, Onion and Garlic and a bit of salt and pepper.
We served the rice with cooked asparagus with butter and salt.

The boys worked on a wood working project this week, building a wooden catapult that shoots mini bean bags. At the library our daughter checked out multiple crafting and painting books. She went to work hard on learning to paint flowers which turned out beautifully. We ventured to ballet class, gymnastics and all had an afternoon to play tennis together in the gorgeous weather we've been having.

It was a wonderfully blessed week together.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sneak Peek - Ducklings!


Started yesterday evening...we had two babies, this morning we had one of 3. And tonight two more eggs are doing the 'dance' wiggling and ready to open up, new babies ready to greet the world!

Momma and Daddy- two babes under her- right before we moved Daddy out
 Momma and her first babe, the other two tucked behind..hiding
 We have a total of far!
Excitement in new life! Life is amazing...tonight as we saw two eggs pipped with a little hole in each as they were wiggling back and forth, life is so precious and wondrous. We are thankful we get to experience this as a family.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Children with Sensitive Souls

A sensitive son. 

Not all children are made equal, in fact they are all different, come in different sizes and packages and personalities. So we must think they can not all be made to deal with every situation the same. Differences that make them unique, that make them who they are. My two children- as different as different can be and I love them both for it.

A sensitive soul since he was little...a space or protective 'bubble' around himself at times noticeably larger than other children have. Interactions, human interactions, interactions for the first time with unknown people are scary, intimidating for him. Being the center of attention, all eyes on him is scary, intimidating for him. We all have our own space tolerance although I think when someone over steps it we handle it, we adjust- he hasn't learned how yet, it truly bothers him, makes him cry at times, makes him angry at times. We work on this every day. I remind myself of patience, understanding, love, compassion for what his soul goes through as we go through these situations with him. Perfectly fine once someone or a group is no longer a stranger, after a comfort is found, after a trust is bonded after a connection formed...but the start, the beginning- so very hard. Like a little hermit crab, sinking into his shell, peering out- wanting to be part of the interactions, not knowing how, afraid, slowly but surely after several times, coming out all the way to enjoy the light, enjoy the interaction. I pray for guidance frequently as I learn to guide him, be there for him, support him.

So proud today that we entered one of those interactions, a new youth group. He tried and I'm proud of him for that. He sat and watched, then he interacted, then he needed to be away- so we sat quietly outside, he then voiced he was ready to go back in and join in, we watched more, he interacted more, then we again left the group to get some fresh air once again and he voiced he was done for right now. So, we did not go back in but waited until his sister was done.

I will never give up on him, I will always be there, whether its just the comfort of me sitting near him in silence or speaking reassuring words to him. I will keep taking him to new places, with new people and new interactions, to help him, teach him, guide him. It may take time but I have all the time in the world for my children.

Patience, Understanding, Love, Compassion

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pictures!! Work & Play

Pictures from last week! Well at least most of them recovered...the rest on my laptop :(

My boys being plumbers.
 Nearly finished brooder box for the ducklings.
 Cleared out an outdoor coop for the 'big boys'.
 The big 'ugly' boys...we tease that they are so ugly they are cute. But they are extremely sweet.
 Start of our daughter's career research- She wants to become a Cavy Judge.
 Picnic at the park before Library trip..resting.
 Drawing in the sunshine of the park.

 Kids taking turns with the camera- they want to have several websites to showcase their animals and teach other kids about caring for animals. WONDERFUL idea's they brainstormed together.

Happily saying I will have more pictures to come for this week...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lost without Pictures - Weekly Update

A blog with only words and no pictures, what a shame, what sadness. I need pictures. I rarely read blogs with only words. Something about a picture....even a blog with no words and just pictures- amazing, interesting, connected. So, this week as I have problems getting pictures on my desktop after a coffee spilling accident on my beloved laptop which has put it out of use temporarily I am extremely disappointed to not be able to share snap shots I have taken thus far this week.

So, here's a little update on our week.... to come later...

Weekly Library Trip
Picnic Lunch at the Park
Tried a new Recipe- - Spinach Enchilada's 
We are on duck watch..waiting for eggs to hatch!
Indoor gardening
Plenty of Reading
Animal Studies
Animal Breeding Studies
Math Games
Board Games
Battleship was a favorite this week
Movie Night with Dad- Wreck it Ralph
Built a duck brooder
Picture Taking
Having a business talks
Dad and Son were plumbers and fixed a toilet.
River Trip- only the kids went into the freezing water!
Lots of HUGS and KISSES and LOVE

Such a beautiful week, a little on the hot side, we kept constant animal watch due to high temps but also have been on duck watch as the eggs should be hatching little ones out any day now. We ventured to the River and had a picnic lunch at the park. Our weekly library trip was bountiful as we found 4 books to purchase off the for sale shelf as well as plenty to borrow.  We studied, worked, and played=it was a good week.

Where our interests are this week:

Our Son, 8yrs old: Pulleys, Electricity, Ancient China, Gardening, Egg Hatching, Battleship, Math Problems

Our Daughter, 12yrs old: Duck Hatching, Cavy Breeding, Building a Brooder Box, Career Research, Business Math, Japanese Movies, Hair Styling.

Mom Studies...have led me to checking out Vegan Magazine for more delish recipes, a Quilting book, Canning, Backyard Homestead projects and Goat Keeping. 

Dad wasn't able to venture to the library with us but he has had his own house projects which we appreciate him so dearly for...fixing the swamp cooler- yeah air!, hanging shelving above the fireplace- a make shift mantel- happiness, new wardrobe into our bedroom, fixing the kids toilet with our son's help, and starting to get boxes moved....

Eventually we'll get organized, completely unpacked and settled! or at least that's the goal!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Rodeo - Kids Showing Animals

Yesterday I was blessed to be able to have the entire day off of work, rarely happens but it was wonderful so that I could concentrate on spending the day fully with my children and husband. We attended the Rodeo where they held a smallstock and largestock open show for youth kids. Our daughter showed her rabbit, cavy, waterfowl, poultry in Junior division as well as handled a goat for the first time at a show which was a wonderful learning experience. Our son, younger, showed in the PeeWee division for Poultry and Cavy. His 2nd time showing Poultry and 1st time showing a cavy ever. What confidence they need to stand up in front of everyone. What great friends and bonds they make with these children, families that share this strong common interest and love for animals. Its always a great experience attending a show, for both our children and us.
A few pic's from the show:
Grand Champion Jr. Waterfowl
 Grand Champion Jr. Rabbit
 She also won Grand Champion Jr. Poultry and Grand Champion Jr. Cavy
 Grand Champion PeeWee Cavy
 Grand Champion PeeWee Poultry
 Junior Goat Participant
It was a wonderful day with friends and families, watching our children do what they love best, their animals.

Friday, April 5, 2013

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Linking to Soule Mama
An oldie but good memory.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A little R&R with Fabric Painting Birds

Between dishes, working, grocery shopping, homeschooling..while the kids enjoyed some free computer time together I decided to relax with a craft and painting instead of moving to the next item on my never-ending to-do list. Its nice to do something for yourself and take a break! My thought was to tackle some furniture painting...but I decided I was too tired for THAT big of a project!

I had some fabric paints lying around and during a trip to Target today was inspired by a sweet yellow piggy-bank ceramic bird..couldn't find the picture online. But I'm loving the little birds you see here and there in the stores.

Collected a few pictures I liked online..and an old shirt from way back then that is way too tight- added a strip of navy material to the back and fabric painted some cute birds on branches in the front...I'm sure actual stenciling would have worked better, but for these, I just free-handed it.

Now to dry....quick, simple afternoon project, and a new spring tee!