Monday, April 25, 2011

Vegan Eating, Week One

So, I'm a procrastinator. I know it and will admit it freely. Generally I like to be done planning my weekly menu before the week actually starts, but that didn't happen this time. I just finished the menu today and have to go to the store this afternoon or no one will be eating anything! Alright, here's this week's vegan menu (side note, when I refer to milk it will always be either soy, rice or coconut):

Monday: Breakfast - cinnamon oatmeal with fruit (bananas/apples/raisins), Lunch - ramen (noodles with mushrooms and spinach), Dinner - stir fry (peppers, onions, mushrooms, broccoli) over soba noodles

Tuesday: Breakfast - cereal with banana & milk, Lunch - homemade hummus on toast with carrot stick and apples, Dinner - sauteed mushrooms over couscous and oven roasted asparagus.

Wednesday: Breakfast - millet (cooked, then pureed with almonds, milk, nutmeg and cinnamon), Lunch - PB&J with fruit, BBQ tofu with mac-n-cheese (I'll post a recipe for vegan mac and cheese below) and sauteed green beans

Thursday: Breakfast - cereal with banana & milk, Lunch - leftover BBQ and mac, Dinner - mushroom risotto and broccoli

Friday: Breakfast - Fruit Salad (apples, bananas, raisins, coconut, almonds with a peanut butter sauce...I guess I should post the recipe too), PB&J with fruit, Dinner - red lentils (I'm going to try something fancy with that...I'll post the recipe if it turns out tasty) over rice.

Saturday: Breakfast - smoothie (frozen strawberries, frozen banana, frozen peach, milk, OJ and maple syrup or sugar), Lunch - veggie wraps with hummus, Dinner - black bean burgers and roasted potatoes

Sunday: Breakfast - Oatmeal with fruit, Lunch - leftover black bean burgers, Dinner - Pasta with sauce and veggies, salad.

This menu is not super different from our regular menu, just much less cheese melted on things. I am also eliminating soda (which I am ashamed to say that I have a slight addiction to, but in my defense, I really only have one soda a day, two MAX and probably not even every day). Alright, disclaimer over. On to the recipes.

Vegan Mac-n-Cheese (sauce to pour over whole wheat macaroni, makes enough to feed a family of 6 for dinner and lunch the following day. And these are approximations because I rarely measure anything)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp flour
2 1/2 cups unsweetened milk (I use soy, but it works with rice or coconut too)
1/2 - 1 cup nutritional yeast (depending on your own taste, I like a lot)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp turmeric (it makes it nice and yellow)
1 tbsp mustard
1 tbsp basil
1 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder (or you can use fresh garlic, minced)
sea salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add flour, stirring constantly for about a minute (you're making a roux - think that's how you spell that). Slowly add milk (whisking constantly) letting the mixture thicken before adding more milk. Add broth. Stir and simmer over medium low heat to thicken slightly. Whisk in all of the seasonings and spices (there's not order to this, just do it). Last, add the nutritional yeast. Whisk everything until it's smooth and creamy. I just pour the sauce over macaroni and serve, but it can be baked in the oven (in the fashion of baked macaroni).

Peanut Butter Sauce for fruit salad (this also works with cashew or almond butter)

1 cup of peanut butter
1 cup of milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup (or less depending on how sweet you like it) of maple syrup

Put everything in the blend and blend until smooth. You can add more milk if it's too thick. Pour over fruit salad of diced apples (I like Fuji or granny smith), sliced banana, raisins, almonds (or any other nuts) and unsweetened coconut flakes. It's a very filling breakfast

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It's time again...

I think it's time for another round of better eating. Not that I have terrible eating habits, but the last couple of years have been a huge change from what I've been used to as far as eating goes. The fact that I was vegetarian for a good ten years consistently (and on and off from the time I was 12) makes eating meat now even more of an issue for me. My older kids were raised vegan for quite a while and all of the children are vegetarian, so for me to eat meat seems thoroughly hypocritical. Fortunately for me, they are grossed out by the thought of meat, so it's not a huge issue of them feeling slighted or anything. I still maintain a mostly vegetarian diet. It is SUPER rare that I purchase meat to cook at home, but I will eat it if I'm out. But I've noticed how tired I am and how stiff and achy I feel. All of those thing are nonexistent on a vegan diet. SO, I think I am going to attempt a 30 day vegan diet. You may remember that I tried a 30 day raw fast last year. I think I made it about 2 weeks, but in those two weeks I felt better than I had in a long time. I figured vegan is a whole lot easier to shop for and along the same lines as how I cook now, so it won't be too much of a shift for the kids. I do think that Zion will flip out at the lack of yogurt and string cheese in the house, though. That girl loves some dairy products! I think I will start Monday. That'll give us a chance to eat the stuff that's already in the house, eat at the going away party for my mom on Friday and probably make something cheesy for my brother while he's here over the weekend. No use setting myself up for failure by starting before then. So, now I'm off to find some good vegan recipes to create a menu for next week. I'll post the menu once I've put it together.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What we do each morning...

Some families like to start their school day with a prayer or the Pledge of Allegiance. I think that starting your day the same each morning gets the kids mentally prepared for school. It separates their free play time in the morning from their more structured day (if you have a structured day). We do not pray or do the pledge. What we did was come up with our own set of expectations for behavior in our home and out in the world. The children are every involved in the creating of our house rules. Our rules morph as our children do. So I thought I'd share our current ones.

I am in control of my actions. I can choose to behave in a positive way. No one can make me think, feel or act in a way unless I choose to. I can choose to be a good influence on my sisters, family and friends. I can choose to be responsible, mannerable, strong and kind. I can choose to be my best everyday.

1. I will not question adults that I trust. (we made this rule because we were having a lot of "why do I have to do xyz, when (insert sister's name here) doesn't have to do xyz?")
2. I will not interrupt
3. I will take care of my belongings
4. I will use kind words.
5. I will be honest.
6. I will take responsibility for my actions and not blame others.
7. I will do everything to the best of my ability.
8. I will respect myself and others.
9. I will be a good influence on my sisters.
10. I will be satisfied with what I have and not feel entitled to have more than I need.

Jena is in charge of helping Bijou to recite the house rules each morning until she memorizes them and even Zion likes to follow along (in her own language, of course). Now, our house is a mass of chaos quite often (I'd like to see a house full of kids that isn't), but the rules do give us something to refer to when things get too out of hand. What do you do to start your school day? (Or keep some sense of order if you aren't home schooling.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Little Girls' Room

The little girls' room makeover is finally complete! Yay, me. I have to say that they really are enjoying having their own space. My mom hasn't moved yet (she's leaving in a couple of weeks), but the bigger girls have already moved into their new room and my mom is their temporary roommate. I still have some work to do on their room. Anyway, here are some of the perks of the room redo (that were not featured in the room spoiler post).

This is their little chill out/reading nook. The orange rocking chair was mine as a kid (and another lady's before that) and is about 60 years old. It's been painted and repainted so many times that I couldn't get all of the old layers off. So I just painted it orange and did a little rough sanding. I couldn't sand the seat very well (it was very close slats), so I cushioned and upholstered it with a nice soft fleece. The little piano is one of those Melissa & Doug ones that I spray painted a glossy black.

(I probably should have vacuumed before I took this picture, but honestly, this is what it looks like most of the time...)

Zion's awesome quilt was a HUGE score at a local yard sale. Sometimes it pays to show up at the eleventh hour. I acquired this hand sewn morsel for literally nothing. They were to the "fill up a garbage bag and we will sell it to you for $3" point in the sale. The quilt was originally marked $125 (I repeat, hand sewn), but If I hadn't bought it, it was going to Goodwill. So they were happy to shove it in a $3 bag for me.

Jena and I made paper cranes from scrapbook paper scraps and some maps of NY city that I had laying around. Those we made into the lovely crane mobile.

The play mat was definitely a labor of love. Their floor was a large expanse of ugly blue carpet and I wanted to make a play mat for them to build block towns and play with their little wooden people. It took me a few days to draw and paint the little topographical landscape and sew on the little felt trees. My dining room/craft table will be forever speckled with green paint (this is why we can't have nice things).

And finally, I figured while I was painting religiously for days, I may as well make the play mat two sided. So what does every preschooler need in their bedroom? Yeah, hopscotch. Double the fun. The girls have been really good about keeping their new room neat while spending a lot of time playing in there. Next up, getting the big girls' room looking like a big girls' room.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Who are you and what have you done with Zion

Somewhere in the last few weeks my sweet, squishy Zion has turned into a shrieking, boneless, miniature ball of snack craving madness! I know, it happens to all sweet kids at some point between birth and college, but it remains a shock when it happens. It probably wouldn't be so shocking if it didn't seem to happen overnight. Don't get me wrong, she's still a pretty sweet kid. She still climbs in my lap and gives me kisses and buries her icy cold feet into the warmth under my shirt (thanks for that by the way). It's the times that she wants pasta at 9am (ten minutes after breakfast) and slides, limp, from the chair into a puddle on the floor. Or when she wants to ride her tricycle to the cul-de-sac at a snail's pace (LITERALLY) when I need to be in the kitchen making dinner and the entire neighborhood is treated to her brain melting scream. Or when she refuses to be strapped into her car seat and turns herself into the letter "c" making it impossible to get a grip an any part of her body. Who is this kid? She looks like my Zion. She smells like my Zion. She has that cute baby voice and crazy language like my Zion, but MY Zion would never do me like this. MY Zion loves me and proclaims (to anyone trying to get within five feet of me), "My mommy too!!" This look alike Zion is cute and all, but I still wonder what she did with my original Zion....

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Party over here...

Ultimate Blog Party 2011
It's Ultimate Blog Party time again over at 5 Minutes for Mom. Woooo! I love a good party, especially a party that I don't have to cook for or clean up after. So welcome to my blog party. Grab a cupcake, a soda, some chips, whatever and make yourself at home (excuse the mess, i have a bunch of kids). So I guess I'm supposed to introduce myself to those of you that I don't know.

I am a freelance artist and homeschooling mom of four bad apples (also known as the lady clan, the girlies, the kiddos, the tribe, etc.) Jena, Ashni, Bijou and Zion. I live in the south by way of St. Croix (three of my four girls are Crucian, the baby was born here). I guess I am another "Mommy Blog". I talk about a lot of different things going on around our house (school, food, art, parties, vexations, crafts, grievances, projects, annoyances, successes). We do a lot of things and I try to record those things here. Honestly, a blog is a lazy homeschooler's ideal record keeping system. Despite living in the suburbs and driving a minivan, I am not a soccer mom (no offense to soccer moms. We need soccer moms!). With four kids the vehicle options tend to be limited and our rent is cheap. My kids know no kids' songs (they are into Janelle Monae and the Noisettes at the moment) and I am okay with that. I make stuff out of necessity (i.e. I like awesome stuff but don't have the money for awesome stuff, but I am smart and crafty and will make awesome stuff out of crap that I already have around the house). I have an eclectic style to homeschooling. I don't homeschool for religious reasons, I homeschool because I love it. My kids are smart and have lots of friends (Who's an unsocialized homeschooler?). So yeah, that's kinda who we are. Welcome...