Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Supper Tonight

Tonight we made a really yummy pasta dish with cauliflowers and capers from this recipe:

Michael Symon's Angel Hair Cauliflower Parmesan

I was a bit skeptical the first time we made it, since I'd never had cauliflower before, and assumed I wouldn't like it.  But I was wrong.  The cauliflower, and the entire dish is really good.  The capers add a really great salty, tangy taste that counter-balances the mildness of the cauliflower and pasta.

Tonight we added a little twist to the original dish, and made it with purple cauliflower.  It was only 50 cents more than white cauliflower at the store, and I figured we could afford that "splurge."  I was also hoping that the fun color would help convince Jonathan to eat it, but it didn't work after all.

We also added some fresh spinach at the end.  We needed to use it up, and wanted another vegetable with the meal.

Overall, it was a very tasty dinner and a very pretty one, and I'm looking forward to left-overs!

Monday, September 24, 2012

First Day of School

Today marked our first day of "official" homeschooling.  We would have started earlier, but the whole moving thing got in the way.  Today included starting to learn a Bible verse (Deuteronomy 10:12), math and reading/writing.  We're both learning how the process works, and how to keep him engaged.  He did a really good job, and I took him to lunch to celebrate his first day of school.  Of course, he wanted to know why we won't be able to go out for lunch every day!

Here's his photo from the first day of 1st Grade:

And for the sake of comparison, here's his photo from last year's first day of Kindergarten:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cool Cleaning tip

Ok, today's cool cleaning tip is Baking Soda and Lemon Juice.  These two common household ingredients can be combined into a scrubbing paste.

We set a metal colander in a bowl this weekend to hold ice (the colander holes let the melted ice drip through so that the ice doesn't sit in a puddle) and left it for too long.  As Brian was doing dishes tonight, he commented that the colander legs had left rust spots in the bottom of the bowl.  I poured a bit of baking soda on the spots, dripped some lemon juice (bottled is fine) on the soda and then scrubbed with our normal dish-washing sponge.  After a few minutes, the spots were gone.

I've also used this combo in our bathroom.  We have a toothbrush holder and soap dish mounted on the wall of our bathroom, both 50 years old.  They were looking kind of grungy, and I'd just read about the baking soda-lemon juice paste, so I decided to give it a try.  I mixed the paste in a small container lid, applied it to the holders and let it sit for a few minutes.  I came back in a couple minutes and scrubbed and was rewarded with a shiny set of holders.

So, next time you have a stubborn spot, say in your kitchen sink, your bathtub, or a bowl, give the baking soda-lemon juice team a try!

Monday, March 12, 2012

All packed up...and nowhere to go.

Last weekend, I walked into the den to find this...

In case you can't tell, that's Jonathan lying in a suitcase.  We've been looking for replacements for my old ones, and he found this one at Goodwill.  It was only after he got it home, that we realized it was way bigger than anything we already had.  Big enough, I joked, to pack Jonathan in - that's a couple hundred dollars saved every flight we take!  He decided to test it out, and as you can see, he fits!  With room to spare, actually - he's got a full-size pillow and a couple blankets in there as well.  As you can imagine, the suitcase became his hang-out space for the rest of the morning.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Go ahead and call me a geek, but one of my favorite things to do is organize.  I love transforming a space from total chaos into something neat and orderly.  In the last few months, I've been able to do this in two different areas in our house.  

The first space I worked on is our "pantry."  Before we bought out house, the garage was converted into a third bedroom.  They also carved out a laundry room and another space we call the pantry.  Inside the pantry is a closet that we call the pantry inside the pantry.  Anyway, the larger pantry holds a tons of stuff, including all of our tools.  For the first few years, this space was really disorganized, with toolboxes stacked under recycling boxes, folding chairs sliding down the wall, and all sorts of paper goods spilling everywhere.  I didn't take a picture of this embarrassment, so you'll just have to take my word for it.  I do, however, have a picture of the final result:

We hung peg board with different hooks to hang some of the tools that we wanted easy access to, or the tools that were difficult to store elsewhere.  We also bought a small tool drawer box for things like screwdrivers, wrenches, and the drill.  On the left side of the wall, we hung some shelves on standards, to hold things like paper towels, plates and cups.  It has been really helpful in keeping youth supplies separated from our family's.  I would love to say that eight months later the room still looks like that, but I'd be lying.  But, because the bones of organization are there, I at least know where things or stored.  Even if I do have to wade through the recycling to get to it!

Yesterday the organizing bug bit me again, and I overhauled my craft supplies storage.  I have one corner and most of the closet in our study for my craft table and supplies.  But yesterday, the area had gotten so chaotic, I could barely see my table, much less work on it.  So I rearranged, cleaned out, and added some more storage, so now I can actually use my table again!

I added a cork board to help me keep my lists of things to do and craft ideas organized.  If I can see the list, I'm more likely to get stuff done, right?  I've also hung my cricut cutting mats on the wall to keep them out of the way and flat.

One of my favorite challenges while I'm organizing is to do it without having to spend any money to get it done.  Yesterday I reorganized everything without buying any new shelves of containers.  The shelves below used to hang in our bathroom, but we took them down several months ago, and they've just been sitting in my crafts closet since then.  Now they're up in the closet, holding everything from scissors to blank cards, to finished projects waiting to be posted to etsy.

I was also able to re-purpose a set of wire shelves that have been sitting in the top of a closet since we moved in.  The wire shelves are the kind of thing sold to hang on the back of a pantry or cabinet door, to hold spices, or cans or other small items.  They also happen to be handy for holding glue, punches, and other small containers.  You can see that I've saved a few metal containers from the trash, and I'm using them to hold small items.  You could also wash out and save glass jars, with the added benefit of being able to see the contents.  

By adding the extra shelves, I was able to pull all of my craft supplies into one corner.  Before yesterday, I had most of my things in the closet, but then some were left in a chest of drawers on the opposite side of the room.  Now everything is in one place, and much more accessible during a project.  

We don't have a door on the closet, so a few months ago I hung a set of curtains in the opening.  The curtains hide everything in the closet when I'm not working, and can be pushed off to the side when I do need to get into the closet.  They are a lot more convenient than the door would be here.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with how things turned out.  I really feel like I've made my space one that I can be that much more productive in.  Of course, I haven't been able to test out this theory yet - I was too tired after all this organizing to even think about starting another project!  

Saturday, February 4, 2012


After trying for a while, Brian has finally succeeded in broadening my food likes. At least a little bit. Recently, I've developed a taste for Mediterranean foods, becoming a huge fan of hummus. After buying a food processor a few weeks ago (partly justified by my desire to make hummus at home) I've been browsing for a hummus recipe that seemed authentic and doable. This afternoon I finally decided on a recipe and made some hummus. And I am glad I did!

I found the recipe at this website: http://mideastfood.about.com/od/appetizerssnacks/r/hummusbitahini.htm . The site has lots of recipes for middle eastern foods, including several variations on hummus. I thought I'd start with just a basic recipe for my first attempt, but I've got my eye on several of the variations for future Saturday afternoons.

The only modification I would make to the above recipe is to use just a bit less olive oil. The final product was not as thick as we would prefer, but overall very yummy! Or at least Brian and I thought so. Jonathan wasn't convinced!

One other note about the recipe: it calls for tahini, a paste made of toasted sesame seeds and olive oil. After reducing the tahini recipe (found elsewhere on the same site) to an amount needed for two batches of hummus, the amount of sesame seeds was too little for the food pro to process. So I just dumped the sesame seeds and olive oil into the bowl with the other hummus ingredients, and the seeds got processed just fine. All in all, a very yummy snack that I will definitely be making again.