Tuesday, May 20, 2008

This Cracked Me Up :D

I received this in an email yesterday from a parenting site. I laughed out loud, because I immediately had two friends in mind after reading this.

Thrown Together Easy Lasagna

Tonight, I had intended on making spaghetti (this was planned since yesterday.) However, apparently, the last time I asked Tony to grab spaghetti noodles from the commissary, he didn't. With the commissary closed today, like it is every Tuesday, spaghetti was out of the question. I looked through my noodle shelf and found a box of lasagna noodles, and thought, "Hey, why not?" I grabbed my copy of Veganomicon to look at the cashew ricotta recipe, and it turned out I didn't have quite a few ingredients, so I adapted the recipe quite a bit, but we all liked how the lasagna came out.

Someone posted the original Veganomicon recipe here (the second ingredients list, and the third directions paragraph to make the cashew ricotta.) (Actually, I've had that entire dinner in that post, and it is really good!) Anyway, here is what I ended up doing:

1/2 c. cashew pieces (approx. 4 oz.)
1/4 c. water (Now that I think of it, I probably could have left this out, or lessened it, since I used silken tofu)
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 lb. firm silken tofu, drained
1-1/2 t. salt

I processed the cashews, water, oil, and garlic in a small food processor. Then I blended that mixture, the silken firm tofu, and salt in a blender.

I cooked whole wheat lasagna noodles as directed. Cooked up some Morningstar Meal Starter Crumbles, seasoned with onion powder (out of onions) and Italian Seasoning. Warmed up two jars of spaghetti sauce, with added Italian seasoning, and parsley. Then I layered the lasagna: sauce, noodles, sauce, cashew ricotta, crumbles, noodles, sauce, cashew ricotta... etc.

My version of the cashew ricotta did not come out with the consistency of ricotta, instead it was very creamy. But since it was in lasagna, the creaminess was a nice texture. I will be experimenting with the spices the next time I make this. Overall, it was a fairly easy dinner, and uses ingredients I always have on hand, and most importantly everyone liked it, so this will be a keeper!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Simply Amazing

I decided to go ahead and keep the ultrasound appointment that my doctor scheduled, to make sure everything was okay, and to see if I could get a better picture. :) I did! It looks better in person than the scan, but oh well. Still too early to tell the sex of the baby though. In the middle of the exam, the ultrasound technician said, "Looks like we woke someone up." I laughed. I've been all smiles since then. :D

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tofu, Tofu, Tofu: A few recipes, and some venting

I made a super delicious fajitas dinner a few weeks ago, and completely forgot to post it. Whenever I need "comfort food" I usually tend to cook up some Mexican food, because well, I ate it a lot growing up, and it is my favorite. This dinner was so good, and I wish I had taken a picture of it, but we dug in too fast. :)

Tofu Fajitas (altered from an old Mexican cookbook I have)
Firm Tofu
finely grated zest and juice of 2 limes
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 onions
3 bell peppers (1 red, 1 yellow or orange, and 1 green)
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
guacamole, salsa, and vegan sour cream, to serve

For the Tortillas:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup margarine (I use Smart Balance Light)
1/4 cup warm

1. Slice the tofu into thin rectangles. (I only used 1/4 lb... and you'll see why in a minute.) You could use more. Place tofu in a large bowl. Add the lime zest and juice, sugar, oregano, cayenne, and cinnamon. Mix thoroughly. Set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make the tortillas. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Rub in the margarine, then add the warm water, a little at a time, to make a stiff dough. Knead this on a lightly floured surface for 10 to 15 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic.
3. Divide the dough into 12 small balls, then roll each ball into a 6 inch round. Cover the rounds with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out while you prepare the vegetables.
4. Cut the onions in half and slice them thinly. Cut the peppers in half, remove the cores and seeds, then slice the flesh into 1/2 inch wide strips.
5. Heat a large frying pan or griddle and cook each tortilla in turn for about 1 minute on each side or until the surface colors and begins to blister. Keep the cooked tortillas warm and pliable by wrapping them in a clean, dry dish towel.
6. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Stir-fry the tofu for 5-6 minutes, then add the peppers and onions and cook for 3-4 more minutes, until the tofu is cooked, and the vegetables are soft and tender, but still juicy.
7. Spoon the tofu mixture into a serving bowl and take it to the table with the cooked tortillas, guacamole, salsa, and vegan sour cream.
8. To serve, each guest takes a warm tortilla, spreads it with a little guacamole and piles on some of the tofu mixture in the center. Add vegan sour cream if you want.

*Grandma-you would have been so proud of my tortillas!!!!*

And today, I had another yummy vegan dinner.... (of course, what else would I be blogging about?) lol Also, growing up my grandma would make chicken tenders with mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn. Well, while trying to figure out what I was going to make today, I decided to try to veganize that favorite dinner. It was a success! Here is what I did:

I made the tofu "tenders" by using the Pan Fried Tofu recipe (again only using 1/4 lb of tofu.) (I also didn't make the mushroom gravy.) Instead, I made a white gravy by using a recipe on the back of Kentucky Kernel Seasoned Flour, but you could just make your own favorite white gravy. Then I made mashed potatoes and corn. It was very yummy, and Carlee loved it. We all did actually. This will be a frequent dinner, I'm sure. :)

Now, on to the venting..... Our commissary does not carry firm tofu. So, for the past year, we've had to buy it at an Italian grocery store that is almost an hour away. So, needless to say, I stock up when we go, and still, we only have it once in a while. In addition to it being a journey to buy, after conversion of currency and weight, we are paying almost $30 US Dollars for a pound of firm tofu. Yeah. $30 dollars. Ouch.

I really would like to start relying more on plain tofu in my recipes, though, instead of relying on the over processed soy meats in our commissary's freezer isle. While I am grateful for them, and would still use them on occasions when I need a quick meal, I would prefer to use the normal tofu on a regular basis instead. About a month ago, Tony and I requested that firm tofu be added to our commissary's inventory. A few weeks passed by, and we hadn't heard anything. So, the next trip in, we asked to talk to the manager.

"Oh, yeah, I looked into that. We have it on the shelf," he said. We got so excited. "We've had it for a while." Then I knew he was wrong.

"No," I said, "You haven't had it. Firm tofu? No."

"Yeah, it's by the oriental food."

"No, that's silken tofu. I requested Firm Tofu." I pulled out a container of silken tofu from our bag of groceries. "It's not this, this is for creamy stuff, we need firm tofu to be able to stir-fry and such." It took a few minutes of explaining which kind of tofu was which, and how much we were paying for it out in town. (When I requested it, I specifically asked for firm tofu, and even wrote a brand name and UPC number down.... ugh.) So, he said he would look into it again, and call us.

A few more weeks went by and I finally received a call in which the manager was really sorry, but he couldn't get it in because it's considered produce and they would have to go through Italy to get it. They would need to find a producer, distributor, and then it would need to pass numerous US inspections for them to allow it on the shelves. I didn't take that for an answer. "Well, are you going to try?" He answered they would still try, but that it probably wouldn't happen any time soon. (I'm guessing like nowhere near the time frame of our last year here.) He promised a phone call if he learned anything new.... (trust me, I won't hold my breath.)


Sometimes, I can't wait to get back to the States! (Okay, a lot of times, and for more reasons than just food!) I guess we'll have to make a trip to that hour away grocery store soon, because I just used my last package of tofu. :(

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Trying to Decide on a Homeschooling Method

I just finished reading Homeschooling Methods: Seasoned Advice on Learning Styles, in order to try and decide which method I will be using to homeschool Carlee. I'm so glad I found this book. It is a Christian oriented book in which each chapter has essays about different methods of homeschooling, and each chapter made me excited about each method! haha. But overall, I think I am still more inclined to the "unschooling" or "relaxed" method of homeschooling, where you don't follow any certain curriculum or use textbooks really, but instead follow the child's interest, read "real" or "live" books as they call them, and use the world as the "classroom."

However, I plan on working in parts of other methods as well, as they interest Carlee, including some Charlotte Mason ideas. Some of her ideas I already incorporate naturally into our lives, such as putting an emphasis on nature and being outside. I will also use whatever Carlee is interested in using at the time. For example, right now, she is really interested in workbooks, she loves them! So, I'm just going to follow her lead.

Perhaps I'll be using more of an eccletic method, then, since I will probably be borrowing from all of the different methods. Maybe we'll even do some unit studies, once she gets older. I really liked the idea of learning Latin from the Classical method of homeschooling. The book brought up the point that learning Latin really helps comprehend English vocabulary better since you can recognize the root words and their meanings. And of course, since Carlee is such a social butterfly, a few homeschooling co-ops and activities such as girl scouts and sports, etc. are surely in her future. I'm very excited to see the student Carlee will grow into.

Today, after a women's church group event, I was talking to one of the ladies and found out that the homeschooling group I had joined a few months ago was in fact not the actual group! It was a yahoo group they had started and that was supposed to have been deleted a long time ago! I was wondering why no one was posting or discussing anything. So, as of today, after sorting things out, I am officially a member of the homeschooling support group here. I plan on attending their monthly meetings, and they're even going on a field trip this Friday! How cool is that?! :) Can you tell I'm so excited?

So, currently, Carlee is doing really awesome with her learning. I've been homeschooling her now for 2 months. I wondered if perhaps I had started her too early, but felt reassured when I remembered that she was the one who started learning her alphabet first (I'm still not sure where from,) and initiated wanting to learn more and more. I really have just been following her lead, and we've been pretty relaxed about the learning anyway.

We have a fairly stable schedule where we work on one letter a week (that Carlee chooses,) a number, a shape, a color, and an extra concept (right now we're working on one set of opposites per week.) We do crafts with the letter, learn about animals that start with the letter, practice counting with various objects (her favorite is with a deck of cards,) read a TON, sing songs, read poems, play A LOT, work in preschool workbooks, etc etc. And she loves all of it! She really looks foward to "school time" and I'm glad that I started it now, because she knows that this is something that is just hers (for the next 4 years anyway.) She knows that it is something she won't have to share with the baby when he/she gets here. Because as she puts it, "Babies are too little to do school, only big girls get to do school." She is definitely becoming quite the big girl. :)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

Mother's Day always means so much to me every year. In my whole life, the one thing that remained constant and that I knew I could 100% count on being there, was and still is my mom. Through fun times and hard times, my mom, my sister, and I were always happy because we had each other. My mom taught me the most important lessons in life. Besides, my mom, there were also a few other main female role models in my life. My maternal grandma was always (and still is) very active in our lives. Then there are my two great grandmothers who were very active in my life growing up as well (my mom's maternal and paternal grandma.) As you can see, women were a strong influence on me, and what I perceived as the glue that held families together. They were/are strong, caring, and loved unconditionally. They've all helped me become the woman I am today, and I credit it all to them and to God for His placing me in this family. They are exactly who I needed in life, and I was blessed to have all of them.

I hope all of them have a wonderful Mother's Day, and all you mothers out there as well! Enjoy the day, and know that you have a profound impact on your children's and so many other people's lives as a mother and grandmother. You are a blessing to many, I'm sure.

The incredible women of my life:

My mom, Martha, while pregnant with me, and my grandma, Janie, behind her (1984.)

My great grandma Martha, who passed away almost 3 years ago. For some time, we lived in a house that was right next to her's. We loved that. :)

My great grandma, Eugenia, with Carlee (2007.)

... and the woman they helped create: me.
My first day as a mom (2005.)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

"I want it ALL!"

I am such a sucker for a good deal... and if you're a good salesperson, then you're pretty much guaranteed to make a buck off me.

I went to a tupperware party yesterday, and came home with nothing.... but with a lot on its way. haha. The tupperware lady had a great demonstration of the stackable organizing containers. I loved how they fit together, how long they keep food good, and that they are the only things the military will ship my spices in. (I just found that out yesterday!) Well, if you purchased the 10 piece kit the demonstrator put together, you automatically qualified to get certain things at 40, 50, or 75% off! The wonderfully prepared saleslady had a poster prepared with the title, "I want it ALL!" She added everything up, and showed you how much it would cost normally, how much you'd pay today, and how much you saved. I couldn't help it... I DID want it all.

You see, I am horrible at organizing. Really horrible. Tony is the organizer in this household, and it's funny because he's borderline OCD with it, and then you've got me. The only time I'm organized is if Tony goes in and redoes everything. I try to keep it organized... I really do, but somehow it always goes back to the way it was. (And really, it IS organized in my head, because I still know where everything is somehow...)

Anyway, I decided I really wanted to try to organize the kitchen pantry. The lady even does free consultations to help you figure out what containers you need and how many. We're considering having her come over.

I finally decided on the "I want it ALL" deal, except trading one thing out for another. I got the 10 piece organizing set to start with. I also ordered a set of 6 fridge containers I've been wanting for a while now, that were 1/2 off (swapped out for a set of 2 containers in the prepared deal.) They keep your veggies and fruits fresh longer, and my friends love them. I also got a set of mixing/storage bowls in very cute colors for 40% off. I drew the line there.

It didn't help that this was my very first tupperware party, and that I was extremely impressed with the product, and that the lady was an awesome demonstrator. I spent more than I meant to, but Tony wasn't upset, he was actually happy I was going to try to organize the pantry. So, we'll see how that goes, and hopefully I'll give an update soon! :D

My morning dose of laughter

I was just checking my email, and Carlee ran up to me and exclaimed, "Oh no! Mommy! I forgot my bat!" (she has a pretend baby bat sometimes.)

"Oh no! Well, go get him," I answered.

"He's crying. Because of the monsters. The monsters are eating him!" She turned around and ran to the stairs. On the way up, I could here her singing a high pitch tune, "I'll save you bat. I'll save you bat."

LOL where does she get this stuff?

Monday, May 5, 2008

First Belly Shot

We bought a kite for Carlee today, and took her to the park to fly it as soon as we got home from base. Tony got a picture of us, where you can see the belly already. (The way my sweater fits makes my belly look a bigger at the top then it really is, but it really does stick out at the bottom like that. I'll try to take a better one soon.) It amazes me how different this pregnancy is from my first. I didn't show with Carlee until 4 (or maybe a bit more) months, with this one I was uncomfortable in my normal jeans by the end of the first month. I am now 3 months! Woohoo! Second trimester here we come!!!

Friday, May 2, 2008

My Husband's Other Life

I hardly ever blog about our life as a navy family. It's our life, it's just seems so normal to me, because it's what we deal with day in and day out. I hear a lot about how my husband deals at work, and what he deals with, and then there's a lot I don't hear, because I'm not allowed to, and I'm fine with that. We're looking at starting to choose orders in August, and we're looking into where we want to be when Tony goes on his next deployment. It really is a big decision, especially now that we'll have another little baby.

Anyway, we recently heard of a new show called CARRIER that just started showing on AFN. I think it's been showing for a while in the states on PBS. We watched the first episode on the PBS site today (since we missed the first one aired here,) and Tony said, "Yep, that's what it's like." I'm looking foward to watching the rest of the season with him, and seeing what life is like on the ship when he's deployed or underway, since I really only get to hear snippets from him. By the time he gets home from a deployment or being underway, the last thing he wants to do is think about being at sea. So, if you want to check it out, the PBS site has almost all the shows online, and I think the season finale will be airing soon in the states.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

what's under there?

Last Saturday, we had a garage sale and my neighbor had planned one for the same day. (It's funny because we did the exact same thing last year, too.) Well, afterwards, we boxed all our leftover stuff, and so did the neighbor. Tuesday was the neighbor's checkout inspection, and I guess she decided to just leave a huge box of left over clothes by the dumpster.

Around lunch the doorbell rang. When I answered it, my husband's chief's wife was standing at the door. "There's a big box of clothes by the dumpster," she said. I nodded. "Can you help me get it, and can I keep it here until I get home from work?"

"Okay," I said. She explained she volunteered at a homeless shelter in Palermo, where they take in immigrants seeking asylum, and they basically have nothing. So we hauled the box over to my porch on Carlee's wagon and she caught the bus to work. She and her husband stopped by later that night to get the clothes. I helped them sort them out, as there are different camps for the men and women. Everything was fine, and they were happy with the huge amount of clothes.

So, yesterday, I babysat a friend's daughter while she had her packout (I've lost 4 friends in the past week to PCS moves!) She came to pick up the baby around 2 pm, and afterwards, Tony and I decided to go for a walk. When I got outside, I noticed this weird black string on the front porch under a desk we have out there. "What is that?" It was connected to a tiny piece of fabric and had a few other strings.... then it dawned on me... "IS THAT A THONG?!" I said outloud.

"What!?" Tony said looking at the same tiny piece of fabric. "Where did that come from?"

I started laughing, "I guess from the neighbor's box of clothes." We looked at it for a few seconds... "Oh my goodness, I hope N didn't see that when she came and picked up the baby!" I immediately felt so embarrased. "Tony go throw it away." I wanted it off my porch!

"I don't want to touch it," he said. But he was going to the garbage anyway, so he picked it up by the very end of a string and walked off with it. I couldn't stop laughing... I really hope no one noticed it and thought it was mine. That would be so embarrasing... but of course, even if they saw it, no one would say anything... (to my face anyway.)