Monthly Archives: February 2011

Vegan Brownies

Some friends came over this weekend and made these vegan brownies from literally a can of beans and a brownie mix.

They are so good!

We are not vegan but I don’t really want to make regular brownies again. They are fluffy and cake like. And oh so easy!

How to make them:

1 brownie mix
1 can of black beans

Pour can of black beans (with water in it still) into a blender. Blend until smooth. Add brownie mix to beans, mix. Pour batter into greased 13×9″ pan. Cook according to box instructions.

Yeah, that’s it.

You could make these anywhere you have a way to mash the beans and a heat source. I’m thinking brownies while camping, what do you think?

Slime

Today we made slime.

Squishy, bouncy, stretchy, well, slimy slime.

It.

Is.

Wonderful.

I’m going to tag this as the best craft ever–after all who doesn’t want to make a craft you can play with???

Here’s how to make it:

1 cup glue
3/4 a cup warm water
Food dye
4 teaspoons borax
1 1/3 cups warm water

Mix together the 1 cup of glue and the 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Add whatever color food dye you want the slime to be and mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix the 4 teaspoons borax and the 1 1/3 cups warm water. Now pour the borax mixture into the glue mixture. Do not stir. Leave it for one minute and then mix it together. It will have become a thick gel-like substance at this point. (The water and gel will not fully mix together)

Pull the gel-like portion out of the mixture and put it in a plastic bag. Close the bag and kneed the gel until it is one consistency. Now take it out of the bag and play with it! (This is where I got super excited about this awesome new creation and had a difficult time handing it over to Weasley.)

You can keep it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh but it seems more pliable when warm.

Do not let this get on the carpet or clothing–it sticks to most fibrous materials.

Have fun!

Reading Time

This picture brings me happiness. A six year old boy sitting on the stairs fully immersed in a book. He is engaged in another world. Images that he is creating in unison with the words on the pages make his experience and this written world unique to him and his mind. What could be better?

There is so much knowledge to be had in the written world. There are so many books that share insight and ideas into the world we live in. Books help form a child’s character. Fictional heroes can show a child how to act and behave toward others.

A few years ago we turned off the TV. We still watch things on Netflix and Hulu but at least I can limit the content to documentaries or selected educational kids programs. There is just something about having my kids stare at flashing light for hours on end that offends me. Especially when it comes to cable television, my kids are being forced media’s endless, pointless and in some cases harmful messages. TV seems to have the power to turn your conscious mind off and just be fed whatever is on the screen. Books are different in that matter as I think they actually turn your conscious mind on. There are very few books I have read that I have not thought about, considered or that haven’t changed my knowledge about something in some way.

Now I understand that there are, well, not so great books out there. But there are a wealth of books out there. Why read a poorly written one? Or one that doesn’t interest you? You aren’t fed anything when you read a book–you have to read it. It isn’t in front of you talking to you, you have to go to the effort to get the information off the page. You have to take the initiative to learn from what you are reading.

Yes, I love books. And yes, I love that without TV, my six year old is at a fourth grade reading level and sits on the stairs riveted in his latest book.

You Call This Security??

Ok, so as I said in my last post we traveled to Saint Louis last week. Travel these days implies going through security. Yup, the good ol’ TSA. Always something to look forward to. Luckily our airport security experience went as smoothly as is possible with young children. In line, however, Weasley wanted to know why we had to go through security. He wanted to know why we take our shoes off, he wanted to know why we have to put our bags through the x-ray machine, he wanted to know why we can’t take large amounts of liquids or our water bottles through security. My husband told him we don’t talk about those things in the security line (never say bomb on an airplane).

I wondered if he’d remember to ask again later. Well, he did. The answer? Fear. My husband explained that every hoop we are put through in the security line is because of one person that tried to hurt people in a particular way. Why do we take our shoes off? Because of one man’s attempt to blow up a plane with his shoes. Liquids? One man’s attempt to blow up a plane with a bottle of liquid explosive. And we all know the reason security is so tight in the US to begin with.

But where does it stop? Crime happens every day all over the world. At what point are we prisoners of our own fear and no longer prisoners of the criminals? At what point are we too afraid to question our own government? At what point does it go to far? Has it already?

We do not question. We cannot argue. This is where the first amendment turns into “freedom of speech except when you are told to shut up.” As is the case in the security line, if my husband had told my son “we have to follow these rules because of fear of bombs” would we have been targeted by security? You absolutely know that if we had argued with security about something we would have been targeted. A few months ago a women in Phoenix got targeted by the TSA for telling them she didn’t want her breastmilk x-rayed. She got put in a glass “holding cell” and missed her flight. (You can read about it here: http://exm.nr/gdk9NG) And thus the TSA earns our silence. Why question when it’s just going to make your life harder? Point made.

But it goes beyond that. See, I was raised in a world of minimal security as a kid. I have now become used to airport security but it isn’t normal. I have become accustomed to following the crowd, doing as I am told, teaching my kids to follow the airport security rules. But here’s what really set me off…

When we visited Saint Louis I took my family to see the Arch. It is a fun childhood memory for me and my kids and husband hadn’t been there. It was a beautiful day and we were in great spirits. Until we walked into the arch that is. As soon as we opened the door we were met by security. Really? Security? Again? Here? 15 years ago when I was here this did not exist. We would waltz right in and enjoy the monument. Not this time. Everyone is a suspected criminal these days.

But here’s the clincher…

It took us a good deal of effort to get Wiggles into her stroller before heading toward the arch. My first thought at having to take her out of the stroller so they could x-ray it? “There goes seeing the museum–we’ll never get her back in the stroller. She’ll be running around in toddler joy now!” Not so. She took one look at that conveyor belt and knew exactly what to do. She got out, sat on my hip and went right back into the stroller.

Then it hit me.

After three flights in her sixteen months of life, my daughter had been completely brain washed. She knew how to follow security guidelines better than she knew how to feed herself.

Next, we bought our tickets to go up into the arch. We were then escorted through the ticket line. After handing in our ticket stubs we were asked to stand up against a concrete wall to have our picture taken. No, you could not refuse. And no, it wasn’t a money making scam for them to get you to buy your family portrait. If fact, they didn’t really sell it at all. It was a record. A record of every person who walked into that portion of the building. Our family picture taken up against that cold wall was now part of the governments record database. Remind you of something? It did me.

The problem is that I am freaked out by this. For my kids it is normality. Is my generation the last one to remember a world without security? Is my generation to last to remember when the constitution meant something? My kids are going to have freedom of speech except when the government tells you that you don’t. (Did you see this? http://huff.to/g9NIL3 ) My kids are going to have the freedom to bear arms until the government says they can’t.

I usually stay completely out of politics. But I wonder at what point the bully becomes the one “protecting” the people from the bullies. Some people are expecting marshal law at some point in the near future. You know, that thing that happens some times in the movies where the government basically puts everyone under house arrest and mans the streets with tanks? Yeah, it’s always so dramatic. I don’t think that is the kind of marshal law we are heading for. I think marshal law is taking place slowly. In the airport, in the Arch, in our towns… Something is wrong. My kids won’t know what it is. I do but what am I going to do about it? I’m certainly not going to argue… that would make my life… well… miserable….

Saint Louis

Last week we took a family trip to Saint Louis. I spent my teen years there and it was like going home. Went to my best friend’s wedding, got to see old friends and childhood haunts. It was a great time. Here are some pictures I took of the Arch. It was fun seeing my kids enjoy places I did as a kid.


Looking straight down from inside the top of the arch


Tug boats are awesome!


That’s a lot of stairs!


At the top!


Bridge over the Mississippi River


Saint Louis has a lot of really amazing old buildings that are abandoned. Fun photo ops for sure.

What’s On The Menu

Here is what’s on our menu for this week:

Breakfasts:
-Smoothies
-Waffles
-Cereal

Lunches:
-Ham sandwiches
-Cheese roll ups
-Tuna sandwiches
-Left overs

Dinners:
-Broccoli Beef and Rice
-Homemade Hawaiian Pizza
-Baked Chicken, Rice and Roasted Veggies
-Potato Leek Soup
-Pulled Pork
-Veggie Curry and Rice
-Veggies and Spiral Noodles

Simplicity One Step At A Time

I hate clutter. Hate hate hate clutter (yup, that’s a lot of hate right there). And we have lots of it. Ugh. But there is hope….

Spring is just around the corner and (according to that plump little rodent Punxsutawney Phil) it will be here before we know it. (He better be right–just saying.) Anyway, Spring cleaning is a great time to do more than just straighten and dust. I am taking this opportunity to simplify. In fact, I am taking it a step further. As part of my Lenten fasting this year, I am going to fast from things. I am going to cleanse my life from the clutter and unnecessary items that our family does not need. The things that hold us back, the things that make us distracted. I hate spending my time cleaning up clutter when I could be spending time with my family having fun. It’s time to change that. And it’s going to be great.

Yesterday I started with the kitchen. It took most of the day but I got rid of everything in our cabinets that we didn’t use. I set everything out on the counter and put the things that I realistically use back in the cabinet. The rest got sent to good will. I did the same thing with the pantry. And the freezer and fridge. It is easier to put things away and see what food I have in the pantry which in turn will make meal planning and grocery shopping easier. There, one portion of the house simplified.

Now here’s the hard part: keeping motivation and being patient. To truly simplify is a lot of work. And it takes time. Loosing motivation is the part I am hoping to avoid. In order to keep it from happening I am setting a time line. So over the next 8-9 weeks before Pascha (Easter), I am going to simplify this house. At least a room a week. So stay tuned. Things are going to change for the better.