Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Busy Week

We are in the middle of one of THOSE weeks... You know the ones - you're so busy you don't always know if you are coming or going.  The ones that involve vehicle swapping or taxi duty swapping.  The ones with meals on the run.  It's that time of year when school, sports and special events all overlap.  We're running to and fro between t-ball and softball practices, baby showers, wedding showers, piano lessons and the list goes on.  So, how's a family to survive?  Here are few things I've learned through the years.

1)  Be careful about making commitments/Manage your responsibilities:  We haven't always done this well, but I like to think we continue to learn.  At the beginning of this school year we had our children drop out of some activities.  They weren't very happy about it, but it was what we felt was best for the well-being of the family.  As this softball season approached, we carefully considered what we thought we could handle and what would be best.  This meant stepping down from coaching for my husband. 

2)  Plan ahead:  try to give thought to meals, snacks, sleep, transportation, etc. to try to avoid dropping the ball on anything.  When schedules change we have a tendency to forget something, so we put extra effort into planning ahead.  One of my current goals is to have us take water bottles with us whenever we go out in case errands take longer than expected.  We aren't very good at it yet, but we're working on it.  I also try to find easier meals for this time of year.  One of our favorites is quesadillas - you can change up the ingredients and if you don't fill them too full, they're portable.  I don't have time for baking this week, but next week I'm hoping to get back to making muffins and granola bars for healthy snacks on the run.

3)  Take care of yourself:  pay attention to your body.  I struggle with allergies at this time of year, so I'm working hard to manage my symptoms so they don't turn into a down-and-out infection.  We're trying to get more sleep to be better prepared for the busy times.

4)  Celebrate Completion of Commitments:  one of my responsibilities comes to an end for this school year on Friday.  I'm excited!  Not because I didn't enjoy it.  I did enjoy it and I'll probably do it again.  But it's okay to be happy about the upcoming break!

5)  Keep things in perspective:  remember this is just a phase.   We only have 5 1/2 more weeks of school!  After this weekend's wedding, we don't have any others coming up for a while.  Things will start slowing down.  This crazy time won't last forever. 

6)  Evaluate things that can be cut out:  This week, we'll watch less TV and spend less time on the computer to be sure we're giving enough energy to our other commitments.  And with that, it's time for me to go; I have lunch to make, cards to write, dishes to wash and the list goes on - Bring on the craziness!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Snack Bags and Bread Recipe (Bluebanacchini)

This is Cara's favorite print.  She took crackers( to go with chili) in her lunchbox  yesterday.
I recently ordered sandwich wraps and snack bags from Earth Swag.  I love them!  If you are interested in reusable wraps, check these out.  Not only are they convenient, cute, and waste-reducing, through Sunday they are 50% off!

We use the snack bags for crackers, cereals, snack mix, bread, or small sandwiches.  They fold up and fit nicely in lunchboxes.

The sandwich wraps are nice because you can fit a variety of breads or wraps in them rather than having a separate container for each kind of bread.  We've used them for sandwiches on regular or over-sized bread, tortillas and hot dog/hoagie or sub buns.

This is a piece of  a Pumpkin mini-loaf we ate for supper last night.  I just took the picture as an example.

To learn more about click the link and see what they have.  To get 50% off, make your order and type "earthday" (without quotation marks) as a coupon code.

My adult children have been begging for my Bluebanacchini Bread recipe, so I think it's time to share it.  It is a great snack to carry in your Earth Swag snack bag :-) 


3 eggs or flax substitute         1tbsp ground cinnamon
¾ c vegetable or olive oil       1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 c brown sugar                      1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c white sugar                    1 tsp salt
1 c grated zucchini                 1/2 c oats        
1 tsp vanilla                           2 bananas, mashed
1 c bread flour                        1 cup blueberries
1/2 c all purpose flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c wheat germ

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 5 mini loaf pans.

Beat eggs lightly in large bowl.  Stir in oil, sugars, vanilla and bananas.

In a separate bowl mix flours, wheat germ, oats, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients.  Fold in blueberries and zucchini.

For a special treat coat loaf pans with cinnamon-sugar oat mixture.  Fill loaf pans about 2/3 full.  Top with additional cinnamon-sugar oat mixture if desired.
Bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.

According to
Blueberries contain Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Manganese, and fiber and they are low in calories
Bananas contain Vitamin B6, Potassium, fiber and Vitamin C
Zucchini contains Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Lutein & Zeaxanthin for eye health, and it is low in calories
Those in addition to wheat germ and cinnamon gives this recipe immunity boosting properties to help you fight winter sicknesses. 
This is also a great recipe to help clean out your freezer in preparation for a new batch of summer fruits and vegetables.

I wish I had some zucchini left to make some myself...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Yard Eats

We finally got around to doing yard work on Saturday!  It was long overdue thanks to our unseasonable March temperatures.  Our March was crazy busy so the yard work went undone until we finally had a free Saturday.

I have learned things about my yard the last two springs.  So before we started chopping grass (and weeds, flowers, and whatever else was in the yard), I went on a hunting expedition.

A couple of springs ago, my friend Stephanie asked for some of my violets (or Johnny Jump-Ups as she called them). Puzzled, I asked why she wanted them to which she replied, "You can eat them!"  Now, my dad had taught me how to nibble on the end of Timothy grass and my mom had shown me how to pluck and nibble clover, but we had never eaten violets.   This was new to me.  But since my yard produces an ABUNDANCE of them, I thought I should pay attention and learn more about them.  Turns out violets are a fun, colorful salad addition.  Earlier this week I used leftover salad on my daughter's sub sandwich and the purple peaking out was quite attractive.

Inspired by my friend Heidi, I even tried Violet Jelly last spring.  It didn't turn out as pretty as the pictures I had seen on the internet, and one batch didn't set up right.  Furthermore, my family doesn't eat a lot of jelly.  So, I decided not to try jelly again this year.  But for those interested, Violet Jelly could be a fun project with pretty and tasty results.

If you choose to gather violets for salad or jelly, look for the nicest bunches.  We have them all over our yard so I stand back and look for the best spots.  I don't want to take the time to try to gather them all!  They're small and it's a little tedious.  But hey, it's free!

Dandelion Greens
Next, I gathered some dandelion greens.  So far I've only been brave enough to add these to a scrambled egg and bacon dish.  I seriously considered adding them to our weekend salad, but since my family doesn't enjoy salad too much to begin with, I decided I'd better not make it worse by adding dandelion greens.  In the egg dish though, there isn't much difference between arugula, spinach or dandelion greens, so it's an easy switch.  I have bookmarked Dandelion Jelly recipes, but I won't be trying them this year as again we don't eat enough jelly to be worth the work.  The book The Healing Herbs by Michael Castleman has a lengthy list of conditions dandelion can help treat and hey, it's free!

Next I gathered oregano.  Several years ago I planted an herb garden, but I didn't know what I was doing.  I planted long rows like a traditional vegetable garden.  I couldn't keep up with that many herbs!  I didn't think through what I would use most, I didn't keep up with what was what.  It was a mess.  I finally gave up and began mowing over the herb garden.  Last year I noticed a plant that kept coming back.  I asked my friend Stephanie to help me identify it.  She bravely pulled off a leaf and tasted it.  We finally decided it was oregano.  There is one main "bush" that I keep, but it has smaller growths all over  - those are what I harvested prior to mowing.  This can be added fresh to pastas, sauces or salads.  It can also be dried and frozen for use through the winter.  Oregano helps immunity in several ways, so I've been adding last fall's harvest to meals all winter long.  Oregano oil can help congestion, but as we learned in a winter time experiment - the dried leaves mixed with honey are hard to swallow and thus not recommended by my daughter for cold symptoms  :-)  Because I paid for the seeds probably about seven years ago, and because I do nothing to help it grow, I consider my oregano another yard freebie!

With the harvesting done, we began mowing.  My daughter and I took turns mowing.  During one of my times mowing, I smelled an oniony smell.  After I finished, I went back to the spot and investigated.  Sure enough I had some volunteer onions growing.  I pulled them up and put them in water to replant later.
Onions (volunteer)

Look around and see what freebies your yard has to offer.  Of course, follow standard precautions:  don't eat anything you're not sure about, beware of chemical treatments, use special care if you are pregnant and have stray cats that poop in your yard, etc.  With those cautions in mind, I can tell you I ate everything pictured and lived to write about it :-)  Happy Hunting!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Resurrection Weekend

Good Friday and Easter Sunday or Resurrection Sunday are coming up this weekend.  What do those days mean to you?  How will you celebrate?  I've been thinking a lot about the meaning of this season.  I've been impressed anew with my sin and my inability to help myself.  I've been impressed anew with God's grace, reaching down to me.  God sent his One and Only Son to this earth to die on a cross for my sins, your sins - to pay the debt I could not pay, a debt He did not owe.  Think about that...

On a lighter note, welcome to my first blog post.  Hopefully the first of many.  They won't all be preachy, but that's what was on my heart tonight.  This blog is for the girls I love.  The ones in the picture are my beautiful sisters (and me) -- examples of wise women.  But we are all still growing.  And I hope my daughters continue growing toward wisdom.  This blog is mostly for the thoughts that I hope my girls know as they grow up. Some of my girls are a little more grown up than others:  my daughters range in age from 24 to 5.   It will contain some of my beliefs, some of my trials, some of my homemaking tips, some of my recipes, some parenting thoughts, etc.  I'm excited to finally get this started - it's been in my head for a while now.

I wish you a peaceful Resurrection weekend. I'll be attending a Good Friday service, attempting to accomplish some catch-up around the house on Saturday and attending church on Sunday followed by a gathering at my son's house.  I'm trying to figure out if I have the ingredients to make Resurrection Cookies.  We made Resurrection Rolls last year, but the Cookies are a little more involved.  We'll see what actually happens...