Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Recent sewing

Well, I've been trying to get back into sewing more. Of course, the fact that my girls and myself are running low on clothing helps :)

First, my youngest has been asking for more flannel nightgowns for over a year. They are so easy, not sure why I put them off for so long. Now I want to keep making them but she has enough. I'll have to try it in knits over the summer. This is the Kwik Sew pattern. That shiny flannel backed satin was terrible to sew. That's why it's been in the bottom of my stash for at least 8 years!


Next up was a Girl Scout dress for my youngest. She always wants to wear a dress and the leader always says to wear a GS shirt... problem solved!

a super-girl (superhero) skirt for my older girl. She needed something quick for school and a fun circle skirt was perfect

and pillowcases to donate to my unit at work. I love making these and they are the perfect use for that fabric that no one loves in my house of growing up kids.

This is a beaded lace knit wrap that I was testing for a friend. I'm loving it!


Sunday, December 29, 2013


Part of this getting back to healthy eating is trying new recipes. Many of my old standards don't meet all my current nutritional desires. I recently got a new cookbook from Costco, CookingLight Way to Cook Vegetarian. I LOVE this cookbook!  There are wonderful pictures and easy to follow instructions.

No pictures from today's meal, but it is a keeper. I'm now writing notations IN my cookbooks so I know what everyone thought of the meals. Tonight's dish was "Polenta with Spinach, Black Beans, and Goat Cheese". My husband loves polenta and spinach, but isn't too crazy about sun-dried tomatoes (and this dish had a good amount). The kids have never had polenta and I've never cooked it, so we were in for an adventure. First, the whole meal, including prep, took less than 30 mins. Great for a Sunday evening in our house. Second, it was easy to modify for my bland eaters. I just served them the polenta and then something else on the side. And third, it is pretty healthy. I prefer us to eat mostly non-meat proteins and this hit the spot (13.8 gm per serving).

Opinions:  My oldest and youngest tried the polenta without the other stuff. My youngest wasn't a fan, but she's feeling moody today and I wasn't pushing it. My oldest really liked it with a little salt. My middle girl liked it. She loved the sun-dried tomatoes and beans. My husband liked it a lot, but wished there was a little less of the tomatoes. I liked it just the way it was written.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Back on track! Meal planning and a new recipe.

I've been lazy and got WAY off track food-wise these past few weeks. I've been eating so many things that really I shouldn't be eating and it shows.

So, time to get back on track.

I have found I don't do really well with walking into the kitchen/house with just an hour or less to plan for dinner. I do MUCH better with a plan, even if it's a pretty simple one. In the past, when I do my planning, I will write it on a pad of paper and then try to keep track of it. This doesn't work so well for me.

I'm scattered at times. I have ADD tenancies that make it near impossible for me to keep track of that pad of paper and even remember to look at it. I know that sounds bad but it's true. I will forget to look for the paper until I'm hungry. Never fails I had to start making something earlier those days. So, I'm trying something new and I'm going to really try to stick to it!

I use Google Calendar. I have to put everywhere I need to be on this. If it's not there, I probably won't make it on time. I love the Google Calendar because I can access it anywhere. No more excuses. I access it on my phone and on any computer. Also my husband can access it from work or on his phone (no more of that "what are we doing tonight?" questioning). We have our calendars synced so I can see what he enters on his and he can see what I enter on mine. I look at it several times a day.

Which led to the idea of putting my meals on the calendar and an approximate meal time. Eventually I'll get good enough to put the cooking times on there for myself because prep always makes me later than I planned. I also can put a reminder on there for stuff I have to do in the morning/afternoon (crock pot meals). AND, my husband knows what is for dinner every night :) I put the meal in the title and the location of the recipe in the comments.

Which leads me to tonight's recipe. I recently bought the book Fresh & Fast Vegetarian  on ebay. It arrived damage and the seller offered me it for half price. Turns out, this is a great book - even more-so for under $5! Tonight's dinner was "Bulgur pilaf with roasted vegetables" (pg 112).  My husband loves grains, especially rice and the nuttier flavored hearty grains. I love roasted vegetables. It seemed like it was made for us. Basically it's oven roasted veggies (peppers, red onion, carrots, zucchini) and bulgur cooked with onion and raisins. It turned out to be a very yummy and filling meal.

Christmas Cake

Christmas eve is our more serious Christmas celebration day. We hang out together and attend church. We always end the day with a family dinner and cake to celebrate the birthday of Jesus. This started long ago when my oldest was little and asked why Jesus's birthday was the only important birthday we didn't celebrate with a mommy-cake. Very true.

This year I made a simple cake with a twist. The kids didn't help me make it this year, so I decided to make it a surprise and swirl it red and green inside. The red came out a little pink, but it was still fun.

I made white cake like I normally would. When I got to the step where I would pour it into the pan, I separated it into two bowls and colored the batter with food coloring (and left a little natural colored). Then poured the green into the pan and then the red - kind of making color splats. And into the oven it went.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Crazy craft season

I know my fellow crafters feel the crunch.

These are the weeks when we have to get down to business and get some crafting done!

My to-do list:
1-3 more Christmas dresses for my little one.
a holiday season skirt for myself
finish crocheting wrist warmers for dd1
headband for dd1 (or two)
sew up totes for all the teachers (with 2 kids in middle school this has become a major project!)
sew up/craft something for dh's bosses

today! --- finish up ornaments to hand out to people at our church event tonight, buy something to become a centerpiece for the table, make sure the boy gets some school work done :) , Christmas shopping, and shower!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Frustrations with school and sympathy from a dyslexic mother

Well, the school year has started and it's been a bit of an adjustment for us all. My girls decided to go back to M-F full time school (vs the home school hybrid). This has meant longer days and actually more work at home. My older girl is dyslexic and school can be very hard for her. She works very hard and wants to do well.  This year she's at a small academic charter middle school, which she picked. I'm still not sure if it's the right school for her.

The second week of school I went to back to school night and met her teachers. Not one knew about her dyslexia or that she had a 504 plan. I was surprised. I really didn't expect them to know the details of the plan, but I did expect them to know it existed and that she was dyslexic. There are 60 children in a grade level. Twenty in each class. So, I informed them and scheduled a meeting with the director. We had the meeting and all seemed well. All her teachers signed off on the 504, which is pretty simple. Her main accommodation is extra time.

My girl came home from school and was a little concerned that she'll never get to eat lunch with her friends again. Naturally, I took this to be normal 6th grade pre-teen drama. When I asked her about it, she told me that they were doing multiplication time tests and had to get 85/100 in two minutes or less and the students will have to stay in for lunch detention until they reach the goal. For an average student, this may be eventually doable, but I am pretty sure this goal will take more than a year for my girl to meet. She has been practicing her times tables almost every day since last December. The first time she took the test she got 22. The next time 27. The time after that 33. She's very proud of this 33 and quick to point out how much of an improvement this is.

In English class they are having spelling tests. Her first test she got 3/15. When I had met with the director, I mentioned that I was forseeing spelling tests as an issue and she didn't think that it would be an issue. I wanted the teacher to have my girl do vocabulary tests in place of spelling tests. The response I got from her teacher was pretty much a "no". She would have to continue to do the tests like everyone else. When she got below 60% correct, she would have to do spelling practice (extra homework) and then lunch detention on Thursday to try to retake the test (the regular tests are every Friday, so this will mean two spelling tests in a row).
X did not do too well on this first test. I talked with any student that scored 12 or below. I have asked these students to practice the words (examples: 5x each, copy/cover/write/check, pyramid writing, practice tests, or rainbow writing) and then come and retake the test by tutorial on Thursday. (With the new spelling words being tested on Friday, I don't want the lists to overlap.) If X doesn't know which way she should practice the words, I can help her during tutorial. Students can retake the test during lunch or tutorial. Students can also retake the test as many times as they need to get a score that they are pleased with.
I will hand grade X's spelling tests, as outlined in her 504, but she will continue take the tests with her class on Fridays. At any point during the school year, X can practice her words over the weekend and retake the test as many times as she needs or wants to the following week.
This is a website students can use to practice spelling words. We will continue to post the spelling words to this website throughout the year. 

I find this all so frustrating and I feel for my child. At the end of 4th grade, she was convinced that she would have to repeat the grade because she was stupid. At that point we found out she was dyslexic and started tutoring and took her out of the public school system. She was doing so well and felt that she could do anything... I don't want her to loose that feeling.

All this brings flash backs to my childhood and the struggles I went through. I remember practicing my multiplication tables for hours and hours - for years. Being rewarded with various things - even money. Being punished with detention and extra homework. I remember being stuck on the same spelling list for half a year in 6th grade, having friends practice the words with me before school so I'd be able to play at lunch time. I remember hating the fact that I could read above grade level, I could barely write well enough to pass a writing assignment. I remember being so frustrated in 7th grade English that spelling tests were bringing down my grade that I cheated on a test (and then felt so guilty that I was literally sick)... and I remember giving up. Knowing that I would never be able to spell like other kids and that there must be something wrong with my brain that made it impossible for me to do math in my head or memorize numbers, like my younger brother.

Eventually I learned ways to cope with my disability. I understood math concepts very well and could do the work. I just had to work out each of the multiplication facts as I did them and learned to write them on my scratch paper as I went along. I was an instant lover of Word programs when they came out because spell check is my best friend. I graduated with ok grades in high school. At the university level, I did really well. The way classes were taught and tested seemed to work pretty well for me. I graduated with two degrees and a 3.8 GPA (I even had a 4.0 a few semesters).... I never knew I was dyslexic until I tried to figure out why my girl struggled so much with school. My mother could see the similarities. We don't struggle exactly the same way, but many things are the same. I still don't know all my multiplication tables. I can't memorize phone numbers or addresses very easily (after a few years of frequent use I can usually get it). I can't spell very well and have to laugh when I misspell a word so bad that not even spell check and figure out what I want to say. Reading out loud is very difficult and slow for me, but I somehow taught myself to speed read along the way. Reading on a computer screen is very hard and I have to print almost everything longer than a paragraph or I'll totally miss the point. I sometimes just have to laugh at my word mistakes when I'm talking to others.

I keep hoping that my girl will struggle less than I did and she'll be able to learn how to make school work for her. She's so smart and a very positive person and I don't want her perspective to change. Her teachers always tell me that she is one of the hardest working students in their classes. She wants to do well and works hard. I know it's frustrating to her when she gets a low score on a test. I am working on encouraging her to keep trying and to keep looking at the positive side of things. I don't want her to loose her optimism.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Cook Book Review

I got a new book to try out last week and I've been happy with it. It's not flashy and doesn't have a lot of pictures (I do LOVE lots of pictures in my cookbooks so this is a minus for me), but the recipes are good and easy to make.

Quick-Fix Vegetarian by Robin Robertson, also author of Vegan Planet.

The title of the book says it's a vegetarian book, but all the recipes are vegan. That said, they are not unusual vegan recipes. Most of the recipes are the type that you can feed your non-vegan friends and have them like it. The book includes appetizers, soups, salads, skillet meals, pasta dishes, oven baked dishes, slow cooker meal, sauces and desserts.

I have made three of the recipes from this book so far and they were all great. The ingredients were easy to find and the directions easy to follow.

My husband and daughter LOVED the "Potato and Onion Pierogi with Broccoli and Walnuts".  It's one of their favorite dishes I've made this month. As I have said before, I have two other children who are not so adventurous with food. A great thing about this meal was that I was able to easily do something they would like too. The first step is to boil water and add the broccoli, without any spices. I was able to scoop out some of this broccoli when cooked a little for their veggie and then made some whole wheat couscous with some Earth Balance butter. It was a simple modification to make a slightly different meal for them.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fajita Salad

I really want to eat more salads at home. While I'm great at making simple (boring) salads, I don't have much variety. When I go out, I love a good salad. So, why can I not do this at home? 

I wanted to be able to make a lower calorie/fat salad that has lots of flavor and something that will work for more than one meal.

Tonight was fajita salad. I used to make chicken fajitas all the time, but haven't made them in a long time. When I thought about it, I realized making them without meat would be simple. For the fajita mix, I thinly sliced one onion, a small zucchini, and a red and yellow bell pepper. Heated up a little coconut oil in the pan (probably could have skipped the oil. I used to use olive oil but wanted to try the coconut in this recipe) and then added the veggies. Once they softened, I added some Mexican spices, stirring frequently. I also cooked up some flavored black beans (canned black beans, rinsed, and a can of green chilies).

My two simple eating children, had bean and cheese burritos. My husband decided he didn't want salad, so served his fajitas and beans an a tortilla.  My husband likes a little cheese, so I added that to his tortilla.

For myself, I chopped up a head of romaine lettuce. Then added  the slightly cooled fajita mix and beans. Topped it with a handful of cherry tomatoes, cut up, and half an avocado. YUM! I didn't have any good dressing so I just ate it like this.

Today, the next day, I had a repeat meal. It was quite good. I did add a small handful of tortilla chips and a tablespoon of ranch dressing, which is not my favorite. It was very good and filling.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lemon Basil Pasta

A few days ago I got a bunch of great vegan and vegetarian cookbooks from the library. Many were hold/requests so they took a little time to get to me.

I already have one Happy Herbivore book. This recipe was from Everyday Happy Herbivore (on the table 30 minutes or less).  The cookbook has some great and simple recipes.

This was the Lemon Basil Pasta. The recipe only has 5 ingredients: whole wheat spaghetti, cherry tomatoes, lemon juice, basil, and capers. I added asparagus. I think peas would have tasted good too.

Everyone loved this dish. For those who like cheese, a little of Parmesan would be great too. Two of my kids ate their noodles and veggies separate, but it was easy to do.

1st day of school sewing

My youngest is going back to the local public school this year and today was the first day of 2nd grade for her.

This little 7.5 year old is an artist and my strong willed child who knows what she wants and doesn't go with the crowd. Due to this, her clothing sometimes is a little interesting, but usually it works. Being the first day of school, she 'needed' a new dress. In reality, she really does need some new dresses because she has a lot that are way too small (over 2 years old) and worn out (worn by her sister for 1-2 years and then her for another 2 years).

She decided that she wanted an owl dress and found this cute Alexander Henry owl fabric in my stash. Then she decided she wanted to have an owl on the top. I drew one but then she wanted to draw it herself. Of course, this made the process take a lot longer in time, but turned out very cute. She picked the fabric for pieces and put them together. Picked the colors for all the fabrics. She instructed me on what type of stitch to do and drew the finer details on the owl for me to sew over them. As we went along she changed a few features in her design, but it worked out.  She specifically told me not to make the face round and keep the circle not a circle (which did drive me a little crazy).