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Sample Menu

One of my big struggles trying to get started with vegetarianism and using fair trade, was that it required me to cook differently from how I grew up, and I had no idea what to make for dinner! So now that I’ve been at this for a bit, I will share a sample menu. Maybe it will give you crazy hippie readers a few ideas!

Breakfast options
Bagels/cream cheese
Cereal
Homemade instant oatmeal (http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2012/10/the-secret-to-making-homemade-instant-oatmeal-packets.html)

Lunch options
PBJ, Pimento, or tuna sandwich/wrap (I keep pimento cheese and tuna salad made up in the fridge)
Jar of soup (I keep mason jars of leftover chili/soup in the freezer. Nuke them, and eat them straight from the jar. Fewer dishes!)
Leftovers

Snack options
Breakfast/lunch options
Protein/granola bar
Fresh fruit
Veggies/humus (I keep pre-sliced veggies in the fridge)
Trail mix

Dinners
Homemade Mac n cheese (freeze leftovers for another day!)
Spinach lasagna rolls (freeze this too!)
Roasted asparagus and new potatoes (http://www.cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice.com/roasted-new-potatoes-and-asparagus/)
Broccoli cheddar soup (http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2012/03/08/broccoli-cheese-soup-recipe/)
Veggie chili
Alfredo fettuccini (my fav)
Black bean and cilantro/lime rice burritos (this is also good with some fried potatoes in it)
Monterey beans and cheese (Jonathan’s fav, altered from a recipe of my moms)
Red beans n rice (also an adaptation of my moms recipe, plus some things from a Cajun cookbook)

Everything is served with fresh bread and/or salad or veggies. I just look through the supermarket and buy whatever looks fresh. I like to keep chocolate chip cookie dough balls in the freezer (fair trade chocolate) for easy sweet tooth cures.

Let me know if you want any of these recipes! Hope this gives you a few more options!

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My First Little Lettuce Sprouts!

My First Little Lettuce Sprouts!

So having herbs in the house gave me an idea; here in Oklahoma, it is really hard to grow lettuce. I mean, winters are freezing, and summers are too hot and dry. We have a few weeks of 60-70 degree temps in the spring and fall if we are lucky, so there are 2 very short growing seasons. But what if I grew them indoors? It is the perfect temp range! And I will have fresh lettuce and spinach all year round! So I planted seeds. And now I have cute little baby lettuce-es and spinach-es! (you can see one really well against the orange side of the pot) Lets name them. Any ideas?

Update- Tim’s cat, Tobi, knocked the pot over!!! But I rescued them, and about 3/4 survived. They are about 1 inch tall!

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January 24, 2014 · 7:45 pm

Confessions of a Pyro

Maybe I’m a bit of a pyromaniac…I love the smell of something burning. It’s warm. It relaxing to watch the flame. I’ve heard that many people even use a candle as a focal point for meditation. Candles give you flame, but they don’t always give you the rich, smokey scent. Then I discovered incense. It burns safely, and it smells like heaven. Each scent has its own emotional effect on you. Cinnamon to help you sleep, passion flower and vanilla are relaxing, they say Jasmine brings you good luck. My favorite are the spicy ones. They are warm and comforting, and smell like something you would find in some exotic, far away land.

Community is a huge part of a monastic lifestyle, and hospitality is a huge part of community. I love to burn incense for my own family, but I fill the house with it anytime we have company. I think it says to our friends, “you are welcome here. Settle in and get comfortable.”

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Peaceful Parenting

My husband handed me the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. Wet and naked, umbilical cord and all. I loved her instantly. I had loved her during the 9 months we were expecting her, but not like this. Cheesy as it sounds, “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder began playing in my head. I was so exhausted from 26 hours of labor that I could barely hold my head up, but I held her anyway. She was so beautiful and so perfect. I couldn’t take my eyes off her.

 

As my friends and readers already know, peace is extremely important to me. Bringing up my beautiful Rose in an atmosphere of peace is vital, But kids didn’t seem to lend themselves to peace. We’ve all seen that mom yelling at a screaming, spoiled toddler in the supermarket. Not exactly peaceful. I’ve also seen how my parents and their friends raised kids. These children demonstrated perfect and instant obedience to every command, they were quiet in church, and took “no” as an answer. These kids were much better behaved, no one can deny that, but at what cost?

 

These well meaning families ascribed to the teachings of, among others, Michael and Debi Pearl, and their book “To Train Up A Child.” This book and its teachings have been linked to the deaths of at least 3 children: Sean Paddock, Lydia Schatz, and Hana Grace-Rose Williams. The Pearls teach that strong discipline must be maintained through physical punishment, or not only the sanity of the family, but the soul of the child is at risk. Children must be spanked (Michael Pearl suggest 10 swats with a plastic piece of flexible tubing) for even small infractions, to prove to the child that the parent is in charge. Eventually, the rebellious will of the child is broken, as you might break the will of a horse. In theory, this makes the soul something God can use.

 

In day to day life, this means regular, often daily or even several times daily, spankings for children as young 6-9 months of age. Growing up in a household like this was anything but peaceful. The kids all did as they were told, true, but everyday there was screaming from the back bedroom. There were tears and welts.

 

I knew that I wanted something different with Rose, but I didn’t have the foggiest idea of what that meant. When she got to be about 8 months old, it got real. She started getting into trouble. She wanted to touch things she shouldn’t, she wanted to be held constantly, and every time I took her outside to crawl in the grass, she made a beeline for the concrete patio steps. I spent all day, every day, fighting her. Jonathan came home to us both crying. This was not peace, this was chaos.

 

I was told I should swat her when she touched off-limits items, or leave her behind the babygate to cry and she would get used to playing alone. But Montessori education told me that children only cried when they needed something, or when they were overwhelmed by emotions of helplessness or frustration.

 

My study of child psychology taught me that it was hard on children to cry. Methods that require leaving a crying child only work because the child, believing him/herself to be abandoned, gives up hope that someone will come.

 

I had learned that the consensus among child psychologists was that it was damaging to children to be spanked. Some people tried to combat that with theology or “doctors don’t really know what they are talking about” arguments, but if science and medicine were able to so eradicate polio that it is world news when we have a few cases in Syria, they must know something. The church had not believed Galileo’s theory about the earth revolving around the sun, and they taught at one time that certain races never developed past childhood, and needed to be enslaved for their own protection. Theologians seem to end up on the wrong side of history and science too often for my comfort.

 

I knew enough child psychology to know that children closely watch and copy adult behaviors. (There was a famous study done with Bobo Dolls that is detailed here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobo_doll_experiment) Wasn’t spanking just teaching her to be violent, or that might makes right?

 

I  knew that while spanking could scare a child into changing behavior, it was not changing their thought processes. It was just conditioning, training as you would a dog, not teaching independent thought or ethics.

 

How could I treat this baby girl with a forcefulness that I would never even treat a dog with? How could I tell her that it was wrong to bully or beat up other, especially smaller people, and then bend her little body over my knee for a whipping?

 

Lastly, I had too much personal experience with people who had been deeply hurt by spanking. Please take a minute to read the story of a friend, http://cdugan0.tripod.com/RoyLessinOpenLetter.html

 

We needed a solution that was not just peaceful for me, but peaceful for Rose too. Wasn’t there a way to use psychology as a friend? To show her by example how to live life, treat her with respect and dignity, and help her clear her own place in the world? To find a way all of us could have peace in our lives and hearts?  

 

I started reading. I read about 2 year olds who had been terrors, and having a relaxed, punishment free life calmed them down. I read about even large families where the children were not only responsible, capable, and confident, but incredibly empathetic. I read about mothers, so happy with their little ones, and never afraid that they might have to haul them to the back room for punishment, never listening to screams without the relief of running immediately to their side to rescue and comfort. It was amazing and beautiful. They called it “Peaceful Parenting.”

 

Basically, I was looking at this all wrong. Rather than leave her crying behind a baby gate while I worked, why not put her in a sling and carry her? Babies need lots of touch, perhaps as a newly mobile baby, she was feeling insecure and she needed more love. Besides, it was better for her to learn how the world worked, not be separated from it. As for touching things and climbing the stairs, that was natural. She was curious. I should remove objects she can’t have, and when at all possible make a way for her to gain those experiences her mind is craving.

 

This jived perfectly with all my reading on child development at the time. Curiosity is a need for a child that age, as is touch.

 

It wasn’t easy…I mean, I was used to the “shout-no-across-the-living room” type parenting. Starting around 6 months, all disobedience resulted in a swat, so the little ones would learn what “no” meant very early. Peaceful Parenting actually discouraged using the word no. Instead, it suggested, childproof, and redirect the child to something they can and should do. Get up, and get involved in the child’s life. Not in a forceful, controlling way, but in a coaching, side-by-side way.

 

People judged me and said I was spoiling her, but I was desperate. I was craving a peaceful way of parenting.  I strapped her to my side until she asked to be allowed to play in the floor. I took her up and down the patio steps till she was exhausted. We pulled the batteries out of an old x-box controller so she wouldn’t take Jonathan’s. It worked like a charm, and I was hooked. There was no going back. Sure, this was a lot of work, but parenting wasn’t supposed to be easy anyway. And it got easier as she and I both got the hang of it.

 

Today, Rose is 13 months old. I have learned about understanding her non-verbal communication and her developmental stages. Most importantly I have learned patience. Peaceful Parenting is not as satisfying as swatting a kid and getting instant behavior correction, but it is so much more beautiful. It has made me so much more attentive to her needs, and a better mom for that. It has made her closer to us because we have learned how to include her in our lives and activities. She is well behaved, not because of fear, but because of habit, and because her natural desire to do what pleases the people around her. And my favorite; every time I call her name, she runs towards me with excitement, and never fear.

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Finally getting around to my Hanukkah post

Sometimes I feel like years of cooking for my family growing up was all for naught. I learned a certain way to cook as a girl, but cooking consciously for a family requires some new skills. It’s like trying to learn to write with the wrong hand. I know how to do this cooking thing, I really do…but you can’t tell from my disintegrating felafels or burnt-in-places-but-raw-in-others fish fillets. I gave myself the challenge to cook fish every week until I had it. Then it happened. My Cajun flounder was well done, slightly dry but very tolerable! I did not even have to offer to cook the boys something different! This momentous evening happened during the week of Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday celebrating light defeating darkness. While I don’t know if my cooking challenge would really count as darkness, I sure did defeat it! Like a boss!

In celebration of light, Jewish use oil in everything; oil lamps to light the house, oil in menorahs, and plenty of deep fried foods. The same night as my fish success, I conquered latkes. Latkes are a traditional deep fried potato pancake (similar to hash browns) that I have tried to make more times than I care to mention. This time, I read an amazing tutorial on them by a woman who understands the struggle that comes with learning a new style of cooking. http://theshiksa.com/2013/11/27/how-to-make-crispy-latkes/   I did everything exactly as she said. It took much longer than it should have, because I had to wash my hands every few minutes and pull my phone out to check that I was following her directions precisely. I pulled out my ancient food processor, grated potatoes, rinsed them, squeezed them out in a cheesecloth to perfect dryness, and mixed them with eggs and bread crumbs. Dinner was beautiful. Maybe I can master this cooking thing after all! I hope you had a happy Hanukkah!

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I Like Who I am Becoming.

The idea for this blog came from a dream Jonathan and I had for our home; that peace and safety would prevail here. Like a sort of embassy, no matter what was happening outside, if you could make it here, you would be greeted with hospitality, protection, and comfort. Shed your worries at the door. Easier said than done.

I recently was confronted by some difficult and scary subjects for me to think through. I had prejudices, contradictory beliefs, and emotions that had more to do with oppression, ignorance, and shaming than any kind of truth. For a few weeks straight I was stressed, grouchy, and angry. Even as I was desperately trying to create a place of peace for others, I was forgetting to find peace of my own.

Awhile back, I had a huge heart outline drawn on the bathroom mirror, framing the face of the viewer, and the phrase, “I like who I’m becoming” in one corner. While it was up, I heard each of the boys say something to the effect of, “I like who I’m becoming” in their own words. Maybe it was sneaking into their psyche… This is true for me though, I do like who I am becoming. I like the direction my life is taking. So why wallow in what happened a decade ago? It doesn’t matter anymore.

I am sure everyone reading this can think of things in their history that they wish had gone down differently, but they didn’t. This is who you are, in part, because of where you are from. So don’t avoid or bury it. Embrace it. But then turn back around, and get your sights set ahead again. It doesn’t really matter how I (or you!) ended up this way, but I did. And I like what I am becoming.

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Veggie Master List

As we have been becoming more vegetarian, it has been so much more important to me to keep the veggies fresh! I found that many veggies will keep for a long time if you treat them right, and I have created a master list of every veggie I regularly use, and how to keep it. I get the veggies home, and after a day or two in the fridge, they often look better than when I bought them! I hope this is as helpful to you as it is to me!!

 

Asparagus- Upright, loosely placed in a glass of water at room temp

Bell Pepper- Airtight container in the fridge

Broccoli- In fridge, wrapped in a damp towel

Carrots- Cut off tops, place in closed container with damp towel

Celery- Wrap in foil

Cucumber- Wrap in damp towel in fridge

Green Beans- Damp cloth placed over open container

Green Onions- Loose in crisper

Lettuce and greens- Wash, shake or spin dry, place in airtight with place paper towels

Mushrooms- Open container, covered in a towel

Onions- Cool, dark, dry place, spread out so they aren’t touching

Potatoes- Cool, dark, dry place

Snow Peas- Wash, place in airtight container with paper towel

Spinach- Loose, open in fridge

Tomatoes- Counter top

Have fun!!

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