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.