Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tinkyada® Fusilli Brown Rice Pasta

My sister gave me one of the most thoughtful presents this past year. She knew that I really didn’t “need” anything and live in a relatively small home. So she went grocery shopping for me. She bought a bag full of gluten-free pastas and flours for me. Most of the ones she found were things I hadn’t tried yet. It was time to do some experimenting.

Tinkyada® Fussilli brown rice pasta is one of the pastas she gave me. I decided to try it in the kids’ favorite homemade macaroni and cheese. Usually I use Ancient Harvest® quinoa corn elbow pasta. In the past when I have changed just the shape of the pasta I have met resistance at the dinner table. This time though there was no resistance. The kids loved it. The noodles cooked up very nicely. They held their shape and had a wonderful taste and texture.

Okay the kids can eat Kraft Easy Mac but that is usually reserved for their school lunches or quick meals at home when I fine with just a salad. But if I want to also enjoy the warm gooey cheesey comfort food I need to make it from scratch. Usually there are no leftovers but if there are they can keep for a few days in the frig, but rarely last past lunch the next day.

My quick and easy working mom Mac & Cheese

  • 1 box of wheat-free elbow noodles
  • 6-10 slices American cheese
  • ¼ cup low fat milk
  • dab of Golden’s spicy brown mustard

Cook the noodles according to the directions on the box. While the noodles are cooking I melt the slices of cheese with the milk and spicy brown mustard in the microwave. After the noodles are drained they go back into the pot and the cheese mixture is mixed in.

Pictured is homemade macaroni and cheese with homemade lentil soup.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Food Allergies and Intolerances

In early 2002 I was diagnosed with a wheat allergy. Some members of my family were quite resistant to my new ‘fad diet’. Their lack of support was a surprise especially since there was at least 10 years in my grandfather’s life where he also could not touch the stuff. Over the past nearly 8 years my family has slowly come around. For the past 2 years they have even purchased flour to make pie crust I could eat and stuffed a small part of the turkey with a rice stuffing I could also have. To get to this point seemed like a small miracle. During this slow transition I have been telling them some of the facts and tips I have learned along the way.

Over this past year my sister has had some major health issues and scares. There is nothing like a doctor saying you might have an aggressive form of cancer to scare you to death. She went for regular check ups and for a biopsy that was inconclusive. She is a wife and a mother of two and was concerned for her own health and being there for her family. Over Thanksgiving we talked. She told me more of the symptoms and things she and her doctor were considering. I asked if she had been tested for a wheat allergy like mine or a gluten-intolerance like Celiac disease. I told her of the vendor I have known for years. I told her how this time last year she was sick in bed with the doctors planning exploratory surgery to find out what was killing her. Yes, killing her. She was in so much pain that she was working from bed with the help of her husband. She decided to try one more doctor before having major surgery that may or may not find the problem. The last doctor she saw told her to cut gluten out of her diet and see if that helped. After only a week or two on a gluten-free diet she was feeling better then she has the rest of her life. Yes, adjusting to the diet was a pain but she was able to get out of bed and enjoy life again. When I saw this vendor in October she looked great and we compared notes. She had found out that Celiac disease is common in those of Irish decent. It may have even contributed to her father’s death. I relayed this to my sister. We are of Celtic decent, grandpa had a problem (and still may), and I have a wheat allergy. In other words it rounds in the family. My sister said she might not remember all of this when she got home so I volunteered to send her an email.

She had an appointment with the doctor for something else and talked to him about it. She was hoping the doc would just say her big sister was crazy. Instead he paused and thought. I had recommended getting tested but he said the test were inconclusive and the best thing was to go gluten-free for a few weeks to see if it would help and if she could live with the diet. He said some find the diet so hard to live by they would rather live with the health problems. My sister decided to try the diet. Just over a week later I got a call saying I had won. I couldn’t remember entering any of her kid’s fund raisers and was a bit confused at first. Evidently after less then 2 weeks on the diet she had eaten something that convinced her she needed to stay on the gluten-free diet.

She is feeling better each day. She has a new “hobby” looking for recipes and products she can now eat. I’m hoping the years of eating gluten hasn’t left damage that time and a better diet can’t heal.

The moral of the story is… doctors are not always looking to allergies for the cause of medical problems and allergies and food intolerances show different symptoms in everyone. If something is ailing you talk to your doctor about the possibility of it being a food allergy or intolerance.

Here are some web resources for Celiac:

National Institute of health -

Connie Sarros -

Gluten-Free Girl -

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sweet n Sour

The other night I need to whip up a quick dinner to please the family while avoiding wheat, oranges, and cheese with the ingredients on hand. With just 6 ingredients I was able to make a healthy tasty meal that pleased everyone. Two of the four were frozen peas cooked in the microwave and some Jasmine rice I had made a double batch of 2 nights earlier. The remaining 4 created a very tasty sweet n sour chicken. I did my usual toss into the pan method but I believe it comes to the following measurements. Adjust them to your own taste.

Sweet N Sour Chicken

2 T Canola oil

3 boneless chicken breast, cut into month size pieces *

1 c Abbott Farms Peach Chutney

½ c Ketchup

In a sauce pan brown the chicken with the oil. Stir in chutney and ketchup. Heat until bubbly. Serve.

* The peach chutney is a fruity spicy preserve and can be replaced with one of your choice.

To make sure I did please ALL I pulled out enough cooked chicken to feed the kids before adding the sauce. They greatly appreciated it. They only begrudgingly tried a piece with ‘that stuff’ on it. Overall it worked. It was a relatively fuss free quick wheat-free dinner.

Friday, November 14, 2008

His and Her Germs

I never thought of myself as a germ-a-phobic but I really would like to keep the family healthy. I would like to slow down or avoid any potential cold epidemic that might try to infect the house. The kids have a stool so they can easily reach the sink to wash their hands and faces after dinner. There is liquid soap that can easily be dolled out and rubbed all over their hands before scrubbing it and al the dirt off. I also have a bottle of the hand gel so when you hear a scream for help in the other room you can get a squirt and clean your hands on the run.

They each have their own cup to hold their own toothbrush, tooth paste and Reach flosser. This should help the brush to dry out between uses and keep his and her germs separated. We each have our own tube of tooth paste. This also helps separate the germs and allows for each person to have the flavor of their choice. The Reach Flosser makes it easier for them to try to floss their own teeth and for us to do it for them. Tim was able to find a cute little robot timer to make sure they both brush for 2 minutes. I’ve gotten them each a child’s electric toothbrush to make sure they can scrub each tooth while they are developing their hand coordination and it is easier when we help them brush, too. The dentist praised us for both the timer and the electric toothbrushes. And finally paper cups. I know I try to be so green but with 4 people sharing the bathroom it is much easier to use paper cups. Both kids have sports bottles in their room for water so they are more for bathroom use then a quick drink.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fall’s Playground

One of the beautiful things about living in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States is we have season. We have beautiful seasons that each has their own feel, colors, scents, foliage and so much more. Our falls are known for crisp cool air, deciduous tree leaves changing from greens to yellows, oranges, reds and browns. My little ones have been having a great time looking for the most beautiful leaves they can.

This past weekend was on the warm side for fall and was a perfect sunny day to be outside and play in the leaves. The kids started out hunting for the most beautiful red silver maple leaf in the yard. They were having fun with their treasure hunt while I started to rake the leaves to a big open area in the side yard. I had a small pile about half way around the house when I was discovered. The leaf play began. The only rule was you could only throw, kick or push the leaves towards the designated spot. The kids were human bulldozers. They tossed leaves in the air, tumbled, and jumped in to watch the leaves fly up. I had the leaves from the back yard piled up and they thought I was done. I raked more from the side yard and doubled the pile. I tossed rakes full of leaves to tumble down around them and bury them a bit more. They giggled, laughed and shouted with joy. They took turns with my rake and a small child’s rake to stack the leaves as high as they could before jumping back in. I managed to get a good part of the yard raked and entertain the kids. We wrapped up the fun with a bath, lunch and naps.

I left the pile for the kids to play in for several days now. With predicted rain the big pile is going to get pushed to the curb for pick up. I’m hoping after things dry out a bit again I can make another big pile for them to play in before I mow and mulch them for the compost and garden.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Love Notes

A little while back before I started writing on their lunch cubes, I started to leave the kids love notes in their lunches. Most of the notes have pictograhams or pictures. The kids’ teachers have been helping them read the ones that have words. It may sound a bit corny but I want my little people know that I am thinking of them and I love them.

I use a 3x5 index card. I find using crayon is best. The wax based crayon does not run if condensation forms in their lunch bags or if something spills.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Little Guy’s First Loose Tooth

It happened. We knew it was coming. My little guy is growing up. A week ago he said his tooth was loose. He was loosing is first baby’s tooth. His dad pulled out the new tooth books he had gotten in anticipation of this great event. Nearly every night over the week a story about loosing your baby teeth was part of the bedtime routine. The little guy’s concerns turned to excitement. We could catch him actively wiggling his tooth with his fingers or his tongue. For two days I received request for soft food while I was cooking. The day was getting nearer.

Yesterday morning I packed a small plastic container in this lunch bag. It was empty with “baby tooth” and his name written on it. We were as prepared as we could be for this great event. As I pulled into a parking space at his school I heard a cheerful giggle and shout. “It came out!” He was holding out a tiny little front tooth in his fingers and grinning from ear to ear. He announced “my tongue has a window” as he poked his tough through the whole. I told him to sit still while I went to fetch the container from the trunk. We carefully put his tooth in and closed it up. As we walked into the school he showed off his old tooth to everyone within sight.

After dinner I made two new tooth fairy pouches for him to choose from while his dad made a paper tooth fairy doll – a boy fairy of course. We slipped the tooth into a small plastic pill box and then into a smilie faced tooth fairy bag. He proudly carried it off to bed to wait for the tooth fairy.

This morning the little guy woke up to find a golden dollar coin and a bright shinny penny where he had left his baby tooth. He announced that he is a bigger kid now.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Self Closing Toilet Seat

Okay so this is not the most interesting topic but when you become a home owner you have to learn about all kinds of things. The latest repair or improvement to our home is a new toilet seat. Back in January when I had the main cleared out the plumber replaced all of the gaskets and workings inside the tank and said he thought it would last for several more years. The set on the other hand was, um, well still usable. It was a vinyl covered squishy seat the former owner had left behind. It worked but it was starting to show its age. It was working and clean so we weren’t in a rush to replace it until this past weekend. Our son was spending a lot of time on the ‘potty’ and was getting a rash from the seam of the seat rubbing his skin. It was time to get a new seat. My husband took measurements and headed for the local Home Depot. He came back with a news seat that we all are ‘enjoying’. He found a Bemis® Whisper Close™ toilet seat. While staring at and comparing all of the available seats he recalled an incident where the old seat fell and pinched our daughter’s fingers. This seat slowly and quietly closes with a tap of a finger. This feature helps it to stay open too making emptying the child’s training potty easier too. It really does slowly quietly close itself with a tap of a finger. There is no toilet seat dropping in the middle of the night to wake up the rest of the family. It did run about 3 times the price of the cheapest seat but so far it is money well worth it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Pilfered Pumpkins

Lessons learned from this year’s attempt to grow pumpkins:

I must plant pumpkins earlier. We have seen 3 beautiful pumpkins try to develop. Two have made it to about the size of a softball. One suddenly stopped growing and then started to decompose on the vine. I didn’t do much inspecting but I suspect it was a case of bugs. It seemed to vanish like the watermelon that met the same fate. The photo shows the fate of the other hopeful pumpkin. Those nasty squirrels didn’t care that there was a gnome on guard, or they must have given him a really good bribe. Considering the damage those little varmints have done I’m really hoping that red tail hawk comes back to take them away. So the other lesson learned is I really need to find a way to better protect my garden from the bugs and the squirrels. Since pellet guns are not even an option within the neighborhood, I’m hopeful to find something which is organic and kid friendly.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

East Meets West: Phili Loco Moco

This may seem a bit crazy or even loco but this is the latest way for east to meet west. This is just another variation on the Loco Moco I discovered while visiting in Hawaii. This time I had an idea for gravy and no hamburger. So with a little creative thinking and using what was on hand I made a Phili Loco Moco. The chopped beef that I usually have on hand for the occasional Phili Cheese Steak substituted for the hamburger. The lack of gravy was solved with some beef bouillon, corn starch, and water mixed with the pan drippings. It was a bit salty but worked. I’ll need to find a less salty solution. Leftover short grain rice served as the base with a freshly fried egg on top. It did make a tasty breakfast as the children gobbled up toaster waffles.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

November Immortality Iris

This November Iris nearly caused my gardening neighbor to drive off of the road. Irises don’t bloom in November especially in the mid-Atlantic region. Our days are starting to get shorter and the temperature is dropping.

This beautiful white iris is a Germanica 'Immortality' bearded iris. It was planted in April in my tree stump garden. I did loose one of the irises I planted but I am happy to say this one is doing so well it is blooming a second time and the blossom looks even more gorgeous then its first. It is a beautiful contrast to the passing black-eyed-Susan's and the falling Silver Maple leaves.

I am just hoping frost which should signal for it to go dormant does not put it into shock.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bright Mornings

There is nothing like having your 5-year-old son sing “mommy is beautiful”. I don’t think there is a more perfect way to start a day.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bentos: Are You Looking At Me?

Do you ever have days when you feel like everyone is watching you?

Even though the kids’ school does not celebrate Halloween I thought I needed to send a little trick or treat for their lunches. This simple bagel lunch has been dressed up with some American cheese cut outs. The cream cheese and mozzarella cheese faces are made from raisins, dried cranberries and mini M&Ms candies. The little cookies are chocolate filled with panda bears printed on them. To make the meal healthy I rounded it out with some more raisins, baby carrots, and a box of apple juice.

My daughter said the faces were so cute she didn't want to eat her lunch. Her teacher had to convince her it was okay to eat her cheeses and bagels.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Social Butterfly Costume

The only sure way to get this man into a suit is to tell him it is a costume. This is our social butterfly dressed up for work. The beautifully embellished butterfly jacket and ‘bejeweled” top hat are the work of a good friend, Gaia.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Eureka A Ukulele Case

My little girl has been clinging to the box her ukulele came in to carry it everywhere. It came in a brown box and had no case of its own. I told her I would make her a case for her ukulele. She was excited by the promise and now I just needed to find a way to do it for her. I’ve never made anything like that before.

Last weekend we went to a Jo-Ann fabric and craft store to get some supplies. We came out of the store with a little fusible batting, extra wide bias tape, a 30” zipper and a pair of bamboo handles. Once we were back home I started with tracing the out line of her ukulele onto some packing paper and picking out fabric. I thought the pink and blue flower fabrics I got while on vacation in Hawaii would be perfect. I cut out and ironed together the front and back pieces with the fusible batting then put the whole project down for a day to think about how I was going to assemble the rest of the pieces.

Two nights latter I picked it up again. I was planning on taking it one step at a time to see how far I could get. I was hoping my daughter could use it the next day but there was no rush…. until she saw me working on it. Then I had to do what I could to get it done so she wouldn’t be disappointed the next morning. I was up until past 1 am but I finished it. When she woke up the next morning she asked if it was done. I told her it was and where I had left it. She took off for it. I saw her hesitate in front of it and give out the adorable little giggly squeak. She picked it up and turned it all around with a huge smile on her face. I asked if she liked it and she said yes and then said thank you. The look on her face made getting less then 4 hours of sleep the night before all worth it. She barely would put it down to get dressed or in to the car to go to school. When I left her at school she was still holding onto it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Roses Be Gone

Normally I love roses but mine haven’t been looking very good. The former owner of our home admitted she only did what she had to for them to survive. I tried to raise the bar and have given them some rose plant food and lovingly weeded the bed for 2 years. No matter how I fed or trimmed them they always looked straggly and out of control. This year because of other projects the weeds got away from me. It didn’t help that the only place it seemed last year’s fall grass seed grew was in the rose bed.

I decided the rose had to go from that bed. I also decided there really was no better place for them in our yard especially with 2 young children who like to play outside. I talked to my lovely gardening neighbor Pam and she agreed to take the evicted roses to give them a new home.

The kids and I made a trip to our local Merrifield Garden Center to talk to the experts and pick out some replacement plants. We picked out a beautiful yellow cone flower and a purple one too. We also picked single purple parachute plant and two beautiful short flowering plants with beautiful yellow and red flowers to go under the windows. I picked 2 Russian Sages to fill out between the windows. They don’t look like much now but they will get to be 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide. I transplanted some of the bulbs my sister gave me from one end to the other to add some balance to the 23 foot long bed.

All of the new plants are deer resistant, drought resistant and almost no care. I was told I can mow it once a year and be done. I do believe I will still have to weed it but that is still so much easier then old fashion roses. I had thought they always looked bad because of the soil and neglect but it was actually lack of rain. After 2 days of steady rain. Our rain gauge said we got over 3 inches and ½ of the bed was wet and the other half was sending up dust clouds. So glad I invested in drought resistant pants for that bed.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Recycling: Beds

I am a firm believer in buying used furniture. I love antiques which is just another way of saying old and used. If you don’t need it any more someone else might. Passing it on or selling are good ways of keeping it out of the land fill and saving the resources it takes to make a new one.

My latest acquisition is not an antique but is a formally owned daybed. The neighbor was redoing her guest room and wanted to sell the barely used day bed to make room for a new queen bed. I normally am not a fan of used mattresses but since the full barely used history came with these I took the frame and mattresses. It fits nicely in our sun room.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We Will Rock You

After months of the kids practicing the word ‘guitar’ I finally gave in and got them each a new instrument. We found William a ½ size acoustic guitar that fits him quite well. It came with its own case, too. Selena found ukulele that is just her size. I’ll need to make her a case to carry it to class. They will join my guitar lessons this week but they are telling me they already know how to Rock n’ Roll.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Selena's Sunny Butterfly Room

My daughter’s room is nearly finished. I just need to hang pictures and put things on the shelves.

Paint can be tacky for a few weeks so I’m waiting before putting some of her treasures up on her new plate shelf over her bed. I also would like to get some no-slip material to put on the shelf to be sure things aren’t going to fall if the wall gets banged hard. These are 2 plate sheves purchased from Michael’s Craft Store. We trimmed the joining ends flat and painted them white to match the rest of the trim in her room. I hope to use blue ribbons to hang pictures from the hooks along with some of her other treasures.

The butterflies took a while to cut out. Four of the butterflies were pre-cut wood shapes from the craft store. The others were made from enlarged or shrunk photocopies and traced onto craft wood. They are hung with a spongy removable 3-M adhesive designed to hang up to 10 pounds. When my daughter came home to find them hanging on her wall her face completely lit up as she gleefully shrieked “butterflies”.

The shelves around her dresser are working well. The blue canvas storage cubes I picked up at Lowe’s are working out much better then the two foam ones I found at the container store and cost much less. I am considering getting her 2 or 3 more for all of her tea sets and Match Box cars.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Colvin Run Mill

The kids were out of school for yet another holiday. Since we are currently unaffiliated with any place of prayer, I had to come up with another meaningful plan.

I collect hotel soaps etc at the office for a homeless shelter so I had brought that home. I sorted, counted and packed them up. I picked up 2 cases of Raman noodles on my way home the night before. I packed the kids each a cheese sandwich and a juice box along with a picnic blanket. I had 1/2 a loaf of homemade bread in the freezer which I defrosted and packed. I got the kids dressed and loaded everything into the van. We drove to the shelter and the kids helped me take in the 5 boxes which were very warmly received.

Then we were off to Colvin Run Mill Park (a Fairfax County park). The park has a running stream which usually has a few ducks. We walked past the working mill wheel, a gaggle of geese, and stood on the bridge to toss bread crumbs into the stream. The tradition is to go to a body of running water and cast out the crumbs (bad words, thoughts and deeds) from the year before. I told the kids to try to think of what they did right and wrong last year and think about how to do better next year. I tried but the interest was more on the 5 mallard ducks who swam over and the small fish which were enjoying the bread. We then walked to the picnic area of the park overlooking a different section of the stream where the kids had their picnic. We went to the store where I let each of the kids get 1 geo to break open latter.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fall Harvest

The kids had another day off from school to celebrate brining in the crops in from the fields. So I took them back to Frying Pan Farm Park. How else would you celebrate the fall harvest? My small garden is showing them some of the joys of having a garden but it doesn’t quite compare to going to a farm with big furry animals, wagon rides and fields of corn. I also wanted to fulfill my promise of a wagon ride since we missed the last ride while the kids were milking a cow last time we were there.

This time we arrived in time to see the small farmers market on the green. The kids thought it was really cool they could pick out their own pumpkin. They also thought the Chinese eggplant I bought was a really pretty vegetable. We loaded our fresh from the farmer goods into the van and headed to the wagon rides. We and one other mother of two had a wonderful ride around the farm listening to the history of the farm, what each building is used for and what they offer horse riders. We were even treated watching a beautiful red fox running through the cow pasture.

As we ended our ride the rain started. According to the it was suppose to be SMALL thunderstorms. So we headed to the close by barn with about a dozen other mothers with young kids. As the rain came pouring down the kids were entertained by the not so small baby pigs, the baby goat and her mother, two draft horses and a dairy cow. When the rain let up we jumped puddles over to the rabbit hutch and chicken pen. Then it started to pour, again. We waited for a little while under a very small shed porch roof. We tried to name all of the vegetables in the near by kitchen garden and I explained the fencing was to keep out hungry bunnies and other critters. We gave up and ran back to the barn. The kids thought it was great fun. We petted the animals for a bit longer hoping it would let up so we could get to back to the van without being completely soaked. I could see it just across the field but we need to go around a long fence to get to it. We were doing okay until my daughter announced she needed the potty. Since you don’t want to discourage a potty training 3-year-old we made a run for it. We ran to the van then once we were buckled in drove and dashed into the bathrooms. I am happy to say the little girl stayed dry, accept for the rain. We drove home to peanut butter sandwiches and very happy kids who took well earned naps.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What to wear?

My usual week day morning starts with shouts asking what the kids can or should wear to school. Over the summer the questions usually revolved around special colors or themes of the day at camp. The seasons are changing and there are days it is in the 80’s followed by days in the 60’s and back again. This is quite normal in the mid-Atlantic area of the US in the fall and spring. It all depends which way the wind is blowing. If our weather is coming from the south it can be warn and even humid. If it comes from the northern plains or Canada it can be quite cool and dry. I try to watch the weather every school night and dress the kids in layers so they stay warm and dry.

Since I am trying to raise independent self-reliant kids I’ve made a new poster to hang in the bedroom hallway. After I get the weather report I’ll move the pictures on the poster to show the kids (and their dad) what they should wear that day. If it is sunny and hot they can wear shorts and sleeveless shirts. If it is cold they need long pants and long sleeves. Today I posted a pair of long pants and either long or short sleeves. We’ll give the poster a trial period to see if it needs to be altered or tossed into recycling.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mt Vernon

I was very lucky to attend a meeting at the Mt Vernon Estate. I have lived here for 13 years and have only been to Mt Vernon on two other occasions.

Just think this beautiful historical landmark is living proof the power women have… even when we didn’t even have the right to vote. When the heirs of George Washington were ready to sell the government said no thank you. It was a woman who pleaded to her fellow patriotic ladies to help preserve this site for generations to come. Women across the United States sent in pennies, nickels and dimes and contributed enough to purchase the site. The organizing group is still restoring and preserving the site for us to see.

After our informative meeting we were able to take a tour of this beautiful estate. The organizer had arranged for us to go on what is being called the “National Treasure” tour. The tour is named for the Disney movie which used the site. The tour includes the basement, the ice house and a few other spots not included in any of the other tours. Our animated tour guide told us of the history of Mt Vernon along with the tidbits from the making of the film. Luckily the price of the ticket also includes a tour of the house too if you hadn’t had your fill of history.

In the basement is the original corner stone of the original foundation. George Washington extended the house on both sides so it is now nearly in the middle. There are no secret passages ways to any tunnels but there are well maintained brick lined sections ready to store the next season’s crops.

The Ice House does have a quite long tunnel from the river to its deep pit. It was a major undertaking to just haul it into this pit. When you stand below the opening of the tunnel by the river you have a hard time imagining them cutting the ice from the river, dragging and lifting it up the hill, pushing it down into the tunnel and then finally stopping it down to pack it tight. All that work for ice you could not eat but could be used to make ice cream and other treats.

Since Mt Vernon was a dairy farm it had its own creamery.

One of the other treasures hidden from the general public view is a 1938 Ford fire engine given to the Mt Vernon fire department by Mr. Ford himself. The barrels of around the car are whiskey aging to be sold in the gift shop.

After the National Treasure tour I did go through the house tour. And got to see my dream kitchen: so spacious and light.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sorry I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus.

This month has been a very busy one which means I have lots to get posted.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Avocado Slicer

The “evil” friend, Moi Mo, isn’t all that bad after all he did invite me to visit him in Maui and he introduced me to his handy dandy avocado slicer. I’m usually one for less gadgets and ones that are multi functional. A paring knife fore example can do everything an avocado slicer can and so much more and it takes up relatively little space in my very small 1950’s galley kitchen. When he was showing his off, I must admit I was intrigued. Little did I know there was a belated birthday gift waiting for me back on the east coast which was one of these wonderful gadgets. Three avocados latter and I’m loving it. The first avocado I purchased was huge. It took two passes to slice and scrape out all of the avocado tender flesh. The next two avocados were smaller. One I used the new slicer and it was sliced and even diced in seconds. The last one I tired the old tried and true paring knife. I will have to admit hands down the slicer wins.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Moon Pies

I have an ‘evil’ friend who introduced me to Fluff marshmallow cream and Nutella spread sandwiches while I was in Hawaii. You may ask “Why is this so evil?” Well because it is absolutely delicious and could be a perfect comfort food. It has a wonderfully creamy chocolate flavor from the Nutella hazelnut coca spread and the fluff is like the center of a gooey marshmallow. When made with Trader Joe’s spelt bread and just the right amounts of Nutella and fluff are applied it can taste like a moon pie (Wikipedia).

Moon Pies are one of those rare treats we had when I was in elementary school. It was an almost too sweet sandwich of marshmallow between to graham cracker cookies covered with chocolate. These are not something you would eat every day but there were moments when it would just hit the right spot and be just right to bring you to that “ah” moment. Since being diagnosed with a wheat allergy nothing else has been able to hit that same spot. Cotton candy may be even sweeter but it just can’t do it.

You maybe still asking why was he so evil to introduce me to a wonderful sandwich which can bring back wonderful moments of family vacations and childhood. Well just like so many of those other things that taste oh-so good they are terrible for any decent diet. I’ve tried to limit myself to half a sandwich after the kids have gone down for a nap or for the night so I can savor each and every creamy gooey nibble.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Parking Lot Wildlife Adventures

It is amazing what you can see when everyone is quite and ‘still’. This adorable little cotton tail lives on the grounds of the school. This wild hare seems to have resigned to co-existing with people and will allow quite slow moving children to get within 2 yards of him before he bolts for cover. He is so cute and adorable at the school but I’m so glad I haven’t seen any signs of him or any of his relatives in my garden. The squirrels, chipmunks and deer are doing enough damage on their own.

On another day the kids noticed the hole in the grass at the edge of the parking lot was “moving”. I repeated the usual warning of not putting their hands into the hole. We watched the leaves wiggle in the hole and caught a glimpse of a small black snake passing through. It was most likely a Elaphe obsoleta snake. The kids were curious what it ate, where it was going and if it would hurt the bunny rabbit. The snake was small enough that the adult bunny was safe.